I had an eye test… and they found 2in tumour in my brain: Woman had orange-sized growth which GP failed to spot
When Amber Carter went for an eye test, her biggest fear was that she’d have to wear glasses. Instead, the 23-year-old was told she might have a brain tumour.
She was rushed to hospital where scans confirmed the diagnosis, and the next day had a nine-hour operation to remove a growth that was so big it ‘freaked her out’.
Miss Carter, an assistant manager at a perfume shop, said: ‘I was having really bad headaches and sickness last summer and my right arm started to get weak. ‘I was in so much pain and feeling really tired all the time and some days I couldn’t get out of bed.
‘I’d been to the doctor several times but nothing was getting done so I changed my GP and the new one suggested I went for an eye test.
‘At that time my biggest concern was that I might have to wear glasses but in the end it saved my life. The optometrist noticed that both my optic nerves were swollen and rang the hospital in Bath for an appointment within two hours and everything happened so fast from then.’
Miss Carter, from Chippenham, Wiltshire, was given CAT and MRI scans which revealed she had a tumour on the right side of her brain. Afterwards she was taken by ambulance to the specialist centre at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital.
She said: ‘I didn’t really know what was going on at that stage, but everyone was fussing over me. ‘I had a second MRI scan in Bristol and that confirmed the tumour and I was admitted for surgery the next day.
‘When the surgeon brought my scan picture up it was under his arm but I could see how big it was and it freaked me out. They compared it to the size of a small orange, about 5cm [2in] across. ‘I really thought that was it for me then.’
She added: ‘They actually shaved part of my brain away because the tumour had grown so big.’
Miss Carter woke from the operation, last October, with no feeling on her right side. But, mercifully, she was told the tumour was benign and that all traces of it had been removed. She needs physiotherapy three times a week and has yet to regain the full use of the right side of her body. But she can now walk unaided for short distances and hopes to return to work in a couple of months’ time.
Miss Carter said: ‘They don’t know if I’ll get all the sensation back, but I’d rather have this weakness and know they got it all out.
‘I’m so grateful to the optician. If I hadn’t made that appointment I probably wouldn’t be here today.’
Optometrist Anna Lewin, 33, of Haine & Smith in Chippenham, said: ‘I could see that her optic nerves were swollen in both eyes and that can indicate the presence of a tumour. ‘She needed to be checked immediately at hospital and I rang them myself and got her in.
‘She was completely shocked to find she’d got a brain tumour – her biggest fear when she arrived was that she might have to wear glasses. ‘I would always urge anyone suffering similar symptoms to have an eye test as a precaution.’
Elderly patient with suspected heart failure had to wait 18 HOURS for a bed after she was admitted to A&E
Kathleen Gummer, 76, arrived at a packed Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, south London, at around 6pm on January 20. But at 12pm the following day she was still in A&E, as staff had been unable to find a bed for her on a ward.
Her daughter, Jacky Ware, 56, from Plumstead, south London, said she had called a doctor on January 20 when her mother started feeling unwell. Because of suspected heart failure, an ambulance was quickly called and Mrs Gummer was rushed to Woolwich.
Ms Ware said: ‘The initial assessment was done quickly and the wait for a doctor was a reasonable one. ‘But then she was just left on a stretcher because they didn’t have any beds in any wards anywhere.
‘They didn’t even have any pillows for her which was a surprise. The staff did their best they could by folding up blankets for her. ‘Eventually, about 1.50am they got her off the stretcher and into a bed. She was in agony.
‘By 2am I needed to go home and she was in a bed. But when I phoned the next day at about 11am or 12pm I was told that she was still in A&E. They still hadn’t found her a ward. It’s just appalling.’
Ms Ware said her mother, diagnosed with pneumonia, was now well on the way to recovery.
The hospital has denied reports that ambulances were being diverted away from Woolwich at the weekend.
But Mrs Gummer’s case will raise further concerns about proposals to close Lewisham’s A&E, putting more pressure on neighbouring Woolwich which would serve 750,000 people across three boroughs.
Ms Ware said: ‘I have no complaint with the staff – it’s the resources. They can’t keep up with the current demand. For someone to sit there and say that it can cope if another A&E closes is just ridiculous. It can’t.’
A spokesman for the South London Healthcare Trust said: “We have apologised to Mrs Gummer for an unacceptably long wait in A&E last weekend.
‘While the vast majority of our patients are treated in A&E within the four hour maximum waiting time period, there are times when patients wait longer due to the availability of beds if there are sudden surges in A&E attendances or if there are particular issues with discharging patients who are medically fit for discharge.
‘In the small number of cases when a patient does have to wait in the A&E department before being admitted to a ward, it is normal practice for spare beds to be brought into the A&E patient bays where they are cared for in the same way as if in a ward.
‘Last weekend there were unfortunately a number of patients who had to wait for longer than we would have wished and this was in part due to a smaller number of beds being available due to norovirus and a lower than usual number of discharges due to the severe weather conditions.’
British university chiefs will vet tougher new High School leaving exam that aims to end ‘resist culture’ that has led to dumbing down of qualification
A-level candidates are to return to sitting their exams at the end of a two-year course in a bid to end the ‘resit culture’ that has led to the dumbing down of the qualification.
In addition, the tougher new courses are to be supervised by top universities.
The shake-up, to be announced today, aims to end years of political meddling in what was once regarded as the ‘gold standard’ of exams.
Education Secretary Michael Gove wants to abolish the reliance on coursework and ‘bite-size’ modular exams, which are taken throughout the two-year course and often resat.
This follows evidence that they have left students unsuited for the rigours of university.
Under the radical plans, pupils who start their courses in September 2015 will no longer sit simpler AS-levels after one year of their course as a stepping stone to A-levels.
Mr Gove has written to exams watchdog Ofqual revealing that he has secured the backing of the Russell Group of top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, to oversee the new A-levels.
Their professors will join new subject committees in core subjects – English, maths, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography and foreign languages – to draw up the content for the exams over the next two years.
They will then review each exam paper every year to ensure that content and questions are sufficiently tough. Exam boards which fail to deliver will be condemned.
A senior official said: ‘At the moment, pupils spend far too much time worrying about exams, revising for exams and doing exams.
These changes will mean pupils get two years to get properly to grips with a subject and prepare them for university. AS-levels will no longer be simple stepping stones to A-levels but rigorous exams in their own right.’
Ofqual has already revealed that pupils will be allowed to take just one resit in order to prevent repeated attempts to artificially boost grades.
Allies of Mr Gove say the reforms, which have been signed off by the Liberal Democrats, will return A-levels to the rigorous reputation they enjoyed before the last Labour government.
And by effectively handing over the content of the ‘gold standard’ exams to universities, he will end political influence by the Department for Education. Mr Gove hopes that means his reforms cannot be overturned if Labour wins the next election.
A source close to Mr Gove said: ‘Michael is withdrawing the DfE from A-levels and giving power back to universities. ‘Now, a minority of private schools teach far beyond A-levels while many state schools are wrongly told that A-levels are sufficient to satisfy the best universities. This must change.’
But the plans will be resisted by the teaching unions and the National Union of Students.
Mr Gove is also expected to make further announcements about the future of exams at 16 after the Mail revealed last year that GCSEs are to be scrapped and replaced with a more rigorous exam on the lines of the old O-level.
Promiscuity OK in homosexual marriage, says BritGov
A touch of realism? Homosexuals are notorious for promiscuity
Plans to allow same-sex couples to marry in Britain could pave the way for the concept of adultery to be abolished in law, experts have said.
Under the Government’s draft Bill only infidelity between a man and a woman constitutes adultery.
So while the law would give same-sex couples the right to wed, they would not be able to divorce their partner on the basis of adultery if their spouse went on to be unfaithful – unless they cheated with somebody of the opposite sex.
It also states that a straight person who discovered their husband or wife had a lover of the same-sex could not accuse their unfaithful partner of adultery in a divorce court.
Lawyers and MPs have argued that the distinction over adultery – which arose after Government legal experts failed to agree on what constitutes sex between same-sex couples – would cause confusion.
They warned it would create inequality between heterosexual and homosexual married couples who found themselves in the divorce courts, and said it would likely result in adultery being abolished altogether as a grounds for divorce.
The lawyers who drafted the Government’s Bill managed to swerve the contentious question of what constitutes sex between homosexual couples by adding a clause which states that only ‘conduct’ between a married person and a person of the opposite sex would constitute adultery.
Leading divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag told the Daily Telegraph the impact of the clause could lead to the concept of adultery to being scrapped from law altogether.
She said abolishing the act of adultery as a basis for divorce would be the only ‘appropriate and balanced’ way to deal with the distinction between same sex and straight couples arising from the new Bill.
Why can’t we laugh at the old jokes any more?
A ‘racist’ joke in Fawlty Towers has been cut because it might offend. Well, it might – if you didn’t get the joke
John Cleese and cast in Fawlty Towers. Lines like the major’s might not be very nice. None the less, this is how a lot of people used to talk, and it’s not much use pretending it isn’t
Strange place, the past. It appears to have been full of people who had next to no understanding of 21st-century mores. For some reason, they all seem to have carried on as if it didn’t remotely matter how their 20th-century attitudes and language would be judged by us, their descendants and superiors, in 2013.
This week the BBC was confronted with this problem when airing a repeat of Fawlty Towers. The episode had a scene with the words “wogs” and “niggers” in it. The old major, played by Ballard Berkeley, is explaining the difference between the two. The line gets a big laugh from the studio audience. Or it used to. This time, the BBC cut the line out.
The reason given was that it contained language that might offend. Well, I’m sure it might, if you didn’t get the joke. The joke’s on the major. At first it looks as if he’s about to scold someone for being racist – but then he turns out to be racist himself. So we laugh at him. The joke’s actually quite PC.
But still it was cut, because these are words the BBC now feels uncomfortable airing, certainly at 7.30pm. It’s happened before. In 2007, a joke about gay men being sticklers for cleanliness was removed from a repeat of Porridge. It makes you wonder what’s next for the cutting-room floor.
Take Monty Python’s Life of Brian. In 1979, Life of Brian was thought shocking because it mocked man’s weakness for superstition and doctrine. Today, I suspect a broadcaster would be more shocked by the scene in which a male character is ridiculed for his desire to change sex. “I want to be a woman,” he says. “From now on, I want you to call me Loretta… It’s my right as a man… I want to have babies… It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them… Don’t you oppress me…” Plainly, we’re meant to find him absurd, and to agree with the male colleague who grumbles about the man’s “struggle against reality”. (“What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?”)
Given the outrage this month when the columnist Suzanne Moore joked about transsexuals – and the even noisier outrage when another columnist, Julie Burchill, used the phrase “chicks with d—-” – I doubt such a scene could be written today. Lynne Featherstone, a Lib Dem minister, demanded that Burchill and her editor be sacked. What would she do with John Cleese? Hang him by his tonsils from Tower Bridge?
Soon, we’ll start to find Nineties comedy failing the 21st-century rectitude test. For some, this process has already begun.
Last year, Word magazine ran an article claiming that the “Scorchio!” sketches in The Fast Show – first broadcast in 1994 – were xenophobic. “Humour born of bored English comedians sat in luxurious holiday villas,” it growled. “Greek, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish people all sound the same! How hilarious.” Maybe if the BBC repeats The Fast Show it could edit those sketches out. I’m pretty sure the Ralph & Ted ones were OK. Hang on, though – the joke is that a man has an unspoken crush on another man. Is that homophobic? Oh dear. Future generations are going to be very cross with us.
Lines like the major’s in Fawlty Towers might not be very nice. None the less, this is how a lot of people used to talk (it’s how quite a few people still do talk), and it’s not much use pretending it isn’t. Because that’s what this type of editing is: a pretence.
George Orwell, incidentally, used to write disparagingly of “the pansy Left”. He was, by 2013 standards, homophobic. Should publishers erase his prejudice from his essays? Or would that be a little, well, Orwellian?
Thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians plan to flood UK in 2014 as employment restrictions relax
Hordes of Romanians and Bulgarians are already preparing to head for Britain in search of work, according to a Mail on Sunday investigation.
Employment restrictions will be relaxed on December 31, and the UK will throw open its Jobcentres and benefit offices to what pressure group Migration Watch predicts could be as many as 70,000 people a year for the next five years.
The Government refuses to reveal its own estimates and the authorities in Romania and Bulgaria are sceptical of Migration Watch figures, but have not compiled their own.
However, our research in the EU’s two poorest countries found plenty of migrants among their combined populations of 29 million waiting for the chance to travel to Britain.
As soon as they find a job, they will also become eligible for a raft of income-related benefits far more generous than anything on offer in their home countries.
Access to welfare payments in Britain is easier than in either Germany or France, which will be relaxing work restrictions at the same time.
One job agency in Bucharest told our undercover reporter it already has hundreds registering for work in the UK from 2014 and the waiting list is so long they are no longer accepting applications.
Posing as a jobseeker, the Romanian reporter was told there was no point in even putting her name on a waiting list to travel to the UK in 2014 because of the huge numbers of her compatriots who had already applied.
Bosses at two other Romanian work-placement companies said they expected to send record numbers to Britain when open access is granted to the jobs market in the New Year.
The reporter approached three Romanian employment agencies stating she was an unemployed graduate who was struggling to find work in Romania and was keen to take advantage of the change in the law and move to Britain.
At the Albatross Travel agency’s offices in north-west Bucharest, a staff member told her the firm routinely arranged coach-loads of migrants to be driven to Britain to take up jobs on farms.
But the agent added: ‘We have so many people who want to travel to Britain in 2014 because of the lifting of the work permit restriction, there is no point in even putting you on the waiting list.’
An agent for Blue Mountain Recruitment in Bacau, north-eastern Romania, said there were likely to be large numbers of British job opportunities if she returned later in the year.
‘Currently it’s very hard to find a job without a contract,’ he said. ‘But in 2014 that will change and we’re hoping to send many more people than we have before.’
Tatiana Geogea, director of Best Opportunity in northern Bucharest, expects her company to help at least 1,000 Romanians travel to Britain next year – the company’s previous record was 700 people in a year.
‘There is little doubt the numbers will increase,’ she said. ‘I just don’t think the English are willing to pick strawberries on a farm. Romanians have a terrific work ethic.’
Across the Danube in the Zhenski Pazar market in Sofia, Bulgaria, virtually everyone we spoke to said they would come to Britain.
‘I would love to go there and next year I will take my family,’ said Roma cigarette vendor Plamen Aljoshev, a 53-year-old father of two.
Slavka Mitova, 29, a mother of two who runs a butcher’s shop in Sofia, said: ‘There is no future here. The young people should go to England and make money.’
Why England? ‘Partly because of the language – young people are speaking some English,’ she said, ‘but your country has a reputation for fairness and treating people well.’
The only state benefit available in either country is child benefit, which is £3.50 per child per week in Bulgaria and £3.69 in Romania. In Britain, a single person can claim up to £71 a week in jobseekers’ allowance and a couple can claim £111. Housing benefit varies depending on local authorities. Child benefit adds another £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 for each one after that.
The Department of Work and Pensions confirmed to The Mail on Sunday that visitors from the European Economic Area who demonstrate that they ‘have or retain worker status may be able to claim income-based jobseekers’ allowance, income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit, income-related employment and support allowance, and state pension credit’.
‘We are obliged under EU law to pay some income-related benefits to EEA workers, self-employed people and jobseekers,’ said a spokesman.
From January 1, 2014 that will also include the Bulgarians and Romanians
Stupidity: Romanians and Bulgarians to be told: UK’s too cold for you in advertising campaign to try and deter them from coming to Britain
Britain actually has an unusually mild climate for its latitude
Plans have been drawn up for an advertising campaign denouncing Britain as cold and wet to deter Romanians and Bulgarians from coming to the UK.
Ministers are working on ideas to prevent an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe when restrictions are lifted on citizens from the two countries moving to the EU next New Year’s Day.
A public information campaign would warn those considering a move that they won’t be able to cash in on state largesse – and that the weather is bad.
Under proposals being examined in Downing Street, the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions, the new migrants – who are expected to number at least 70,000 over the next five years – would face tough restrictions on the benefits they could claim.
One option would see new arrivals deported after three months if they don’t have a job. Another plan would require those arriving from Romania and Bulgaria to show they have the means to support themselves for six months.
The ‘nuclear option’ would be to declare an ‘economic emergency’ to defer arrivals – though government lawyers are nervous about the legality of such a move.
Once the plans to limit the amount of money new arrivals can claim are in place they are likely to form the heart of an advertising campaign later this year.
A senior Government source told the Mail: ‘By the time people are able to come here we would want to have something in place and we would want people considering coming here to know what they could expect.’
A minister said an advertising campaign was needed to ‘correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold’.
David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May are concerned new arrivals will wreck efforts to slash immigration – a key election pledge.
One of those involved in discussions said: ‘Every single thing we’ve done on immigration risks being blown out of the water by this. Bettering Labour on immigration is one of the best cards we have.’
But despite the warnings of restrictions, agencies have sprung up in Romania and Bulgaria offering to arrange work in the UK.
Britain has a buoyant job market, in contrast to some EU nations, and access to welfare payments is easier than in Germany or France, which will be relaxing work restrictions at the same time.
One job agency in the Romanian capital Bucharest told undercover reporters it has hundreds registering for work in the UK and the waiting list is so long they are no longer accepting applications. While the minimum wage in the UK is £6.19 per hour, in Bulgaria it is just 73p and, in Romania, 79p.
The average weekly wage is £63.50 in Bulgaria and £86 in Romania. The only state benefit available in either country is child benefit, which is £3.50 per child per week in Bulgaria and £3.69 in Romania. In Britain, a single person can claim up to £71 a week in jobseekers’ allowance.
Housing benefit varies depending on local authorities. Child benefit adds another £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 for each one after that.
Visitors from the European Economic Area who demonstrate they ‘have or retain worker status may be able to claim income-based jobseekers’ allowance, income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit, income-related employment and support allowance, and state pension credit.