Rant Rant Rant

I’ve had another unplanned absence from the blog, as I’m sure my more committed readers are aware. A good friend that I met through the blog, Julie, requested I add a complaints section so she could voice her dissatisfaction at the lack of posts recently. Lucky for me, I’m sharp enough to realise that this was actually a compliment. Adding a compliments section sounds far better for my fragile ego so I’m considering this; I couldn’t take a section dedicated only to complaints, it’d give the blood nurses a place to fire back.

I have been writing for the blog over the past week but I haven’t managed to be happy with anything I have produced. Last week I felt like I was on quite a roll and was getting into a good swing with the posts. There were a few drafts that were very developed, and I was happy with them. The problem I’ve found is that every time I have gone back to them since I had treatment on Saturday, I haven’t managed to engage with the same mood or I’ve found myself over-editing the stuff that is already there as opposed to adding anything new. The result is similar to trying to get your toddler to eat their vegetables by forcing them to sit at the table, but all they do is push the peas and carrots around the plate. You commit a lot of time but don’t really change any of the result. If you then combine that with being in week 1 of a chemotherapy cycle again, after having an extra week off during the last cycle, you may start to sympathise more with my lack of posts… or maybe you won’t, but that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

The lack of posts has been hanging heavy on my mind. There’s an annoying duality about the blog, as there is about many things in life that have a positive effect on us as individuals. The blog helps me greatly in so many ways, as a form of catharsis, as a means of communicating what is currently going on with my treatment and, more generally, a means of connecting with others in similar situations. The negatives are more visible when you start to realise that this source of positivity has a corresponding negative effect on you when you are not meeting your expectations with regards to it. This week I have spent more time thinking about how I can’t seem to write anything I like and getting angry at myself over it than I have just sitting down and enjoying writing something. It has become a source of distress as opposed to an outlet for any stress I am feeling. The source of the problem is actually myself, of course. If I didn’t put pressure on myself to NEED to write something, then I wouldn’t feel such an obligation to make something work and I’d likely enjoy writing more, which would make me post again. This is why I have been taking a few days and just accepting that it hasn’t been the right time. I don’t want this to become another stick that I beat myself with; I’m already disappointed in how little I’m reading, how little I’m doing yoga and how much this chemotherapy cycle seems to have rocked me again. Disappointment is not something I am in short supply of when it comes to my own expectations of myself recently. The blog is supposed to be my happy place; apparently, I need to take steps to keep it that way.

There are other things that are frustrating me too, of course. Not every source of discomfort and negativity in my life is due to me not reading enough books, which in itself is an obscure standard that I set myself without realising I do so. I got a call from my life insurance provider the other day, which was at its best comical, and at its worst, incredibly frustrating. I say ‘my life insurance provider’ loosely as they are not my life insurance provider anymore, due to them cancelling my cover as soon as I was diagnosed with cancer. This was because I had reported abdominal pain to a doctor a year prior to being diagnosed, but was cleared of any cancer after doing an ultrasound and various tests. The problem was that I was never given a formal diagnosis of anything else, so the life insurance company saw the opportunity, and cut and run. I’m not their biggest fan since they did so. The person who called me asked if I was ready to renegotiate my life insurance. This confused me somewhat, and I asked him why I would renegotiate the life insurance that they cancelled due to me having cancer. He then went through his records and found the part which said I had been diagnosed with cancer. “Oh, sorry about that,” he said, apparently sincerely. “Yeah, you’re going to need to recover from that and then wait a couple of years before trying to get covered I’m afraid mate.” It seemed he had forgotten who had called who.

The next day I got contacted by another agent at the same firm. After airing out my frustration that they kept trying to sell me life insurance that they had cancelled, she informed me that I could be covered for everything APART from anything cancer-related… I’m not sure why these people think I would welcome this sort of news with open arms. I think we are guided by a different set of moral principles. Not that I am blaming these individuals, I understand they are likely following processes that are standard throughout their company. I like to think I’d have more awareness of how an individual would respond to such things, though, and change my approach accordingly. Isn’t that the whole point of being a good salesman? They just made me hate insurance companies more than I already did.

My other frustration is my employer putting up barriers to me returning to work. I always naively assumed that if you catch cancer, especially at a very young age where it is statistically extremely unlikely, you would be supported by a plethora of company and government policies. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. What you quickly find is that there is very little there to support you. I work for a Local Government authority in a very left-leaning part of the country, and they have been awful in supporting me. The HR department actually told me that it isn’t their responsibility to deal directly with employees, but it is their job to offer support to managers where they require it. So, if my manager is struggling to deal with the fact that they have a 28-year-old employee who has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, HR will support her, but will not take on any responsibility of speaking to me directly. It is astonishing. When I sent an email to the HR department to voice that I am struggling, I actually got an email back from the HR representative beginning with “Hello Dan. I hope you’re doing well today.” I’m hoping that she got the award for ‘Most tone-deaf employee’ at the year-end awards. It all just makes you feel that they couldn’t care less about the situation, and are not attempting to do anything to help you out of it.

I’m wanting to return to work part-time, but they seem to have other ideas. Despite the fact that I am managing to run a few times a week, have started a blog that I regularly contribute towards and have raised over £7,000 for pancreatic cancer UK, they seem to be determined to find ways to limit my return. They requested that occupational health write a report on the situation as an independent third party company who have some medical expertise. The report that they produced was laughable at times, even floating the idea of Ill Health Retirement… what the point of this would be, I don’t know. Now they want a report from my specialist backing up that I can return to work in some fashion, but I am struggling to get through to the oncology team to get this report. It’s such a frustrating situation and not one that I like to complain about too often. It isn’t worth the mental stress at the minute, there are far bigger things to focus on. There are entire policies supporting a phased return to work, but it seems there is no actual desire to put these policies into place in my situation.

I didn’t plan for the first post to become this ranty but maybe that is what I needed to get out of my system. This chemotherapy cycle has been quite interesting so I feel I have quite a bit to say about it, but I’ll save all of that for the next Chemotherapy Diaries post. The weather is beautiful this morning. My friend Kirsty is visiting from London for a few hours so I’m going to make sure we get out in the sun and enjoy the day! The next post will be more positive, I swear. Hope you have a great Friday!

15 thoughts on “Rant Rant Rant

  1. So we’ll written as always Dan. I feel for you & understand how frustrating it all is at times. I feel exactly the same if it’s any help, but unlike your amazing ability to put thoughts into words, I just get stressed & want to run back to New Zealand where I keep convincing myself things are a lot smoother running & not as unfair there. I also relate to your now feeling committed to writing your blogs on a regular basis, please don’t feel like that, not on my account anyway. I do find that people without cancer (not on purpose) don’t really understand what a huge mental pressure it can be & that you need time to yourself to annalize the situation especially when you have to take huge u turns. So just don’t feel guilty. I feel privileged to feel I know you especially at this time when I also have cancer, all be it in a different format. You have helped me enormously. I have to go for a big heart scan today at Wythenshawe hospital which I am not looking forward to being poked again, this is as a direct result of my particular liver tumour which is inoperable. So I’m having to dig deep for mental courage today. From the mad lady who waved & beeped at you 🤣 Gaywin

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    1. Thank you Gaywin! It’s really nice to hear you say that I’ve helped you – that makes me want to write much more than anything else! How did the scan go? Those things are always so scary 😦 x

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  2. I can’t even imagine this! Why would they think that not giving you help and support would be an option? I am sorry that things seem to keep getting worse. Much love and good vibes to you! Thank you for sharing it all though. Mad props to you for keeping it together through all of this. Cheers!

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    1. Thank you! I’m not sure really, it’s all just crazy to me. The nurses at the hospital seem shocked by it too, they say companies usually bend over backwards to help people out. It’s quite unbelievable really

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  3. Dealing with insurance and work problems just seems like an unnecessarily evil burden when going through cancer treatment. Sadly, I learned after my diagnosis that many people are much less empathetic than I expected them to be; some people are amazing, of course, but I don’t think they work in HR or insurance (no offense to any similarly employed empaths who may be reading this). I live in the U.S. so I remember having many frustrating phone calls with our health insurance company during treatment. “Do you really need this chemo drug? It’s so expensive.” “Yes, if I want to live..?” [eye roll] It was apparently such a monumental task for them to help me save my life for a wee bit when I actually needed them for once. Hah, it can be comical looking back, but so frustrating in the moment. I really hope they listen to you on the work situation and that the life insurance folks stop bothering you.

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    1. You just don’t think about all these things when you don’t have cancer do you? In the little time you probably think about it, you assume that if you catch cancer there will be so much more there to help and support you. It’s really frustrating and disheartening. I can’t even imagine the extra barriers you guys have over there with health insurance etc, it must be such a nightmare. Thank you for sharing this – it is really encouraging to hear other peoples struggles (even if it’s annoying to hear what you had to go through too!!). I’m hoping to have a breakthrough with work soon but we’ll see

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  4. Christine Watson says:

    Dan i think you are more entitled to rant than most people! Things are bad enough without the other stress put on you. Even through the ranting i can still detect your strength and know that after the rant you’ll be back to the trying so hard to be positive again. You’re still inspiring lots of us and wish we could do more for you cos you’re worth it xx
    Chris xx

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  5. yay for voicing your frustrations! … about time! and yikes to the insurance reps that tried to “re-sell” your canceled life insurance policy back to you (note: not that i’m trying to make excuses for them, but i’m guessing that these yo-yos are simply “cold calling” from a queue of prior policy holders– without taking the time to review why the policy was canceled in the first place). very poor customer service for sure. personally, i’d hang-up if they happen to phone again. no use wasting any precious time or energy on them! as to your work situation– well, that just sucks! i’m sorry that they are not welcoming you back (in any capacity) with open arms. why do regular people make everything so damn hard? so many hoops to jump through– i’m sure it feels, and is!, exhausting. i sincerely hope you feel better now that you’ve gotten that off your chest! enjoying your friends and the sunshine is always the very best choice in life. and baking … nothing says love like cake and cookies.

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    1. There really are so many hoops to jump through, it’s totally exhausting! Cake and cookies are a great way to make yourself feel better about the state of the world though 😁. Hope you’re doing well and thank you for the encouraging comment 🙂

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  6. Laura says:

    As an HR manager I feel ashamed of their stand and, in my humble opinion, ignorance.
    The HUMAN resources department ignoring the needs of all HUMAN employees not in management is not only contradictory to the whole idea of the department, but to me sounds like repairing a bicycle, maintaining it and caring for it, without checking the pressure in the tires. The air in there may be invisible to the outside world, but if something’s off there, I doubt you’ll ever win a race.
    Sorry, I seem to have joined your rant 🙊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy to have people join my rant! And it’s especially encouraging to hear people from the field saying that it’s wrong. Sometimes I think I’m going mad in the situation and I’m the problem somehow. The fact that they don’t want to get directly involved in a situation which clearly isn’t accounted for in the processes just worries me so much – it’s actually dangerous! And even when I said that to them they just reeled back the policy and dismissed things. Absolutely crazy! Doesn’t make you want to stick around and work for them, that’s for sure…

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