Welcome & enjoy.
The authorities have asked me to send them my poop in the post. Not all of it, mind. That would be ridiculous. Why shouldn't the powers that be commandeer a code brown from one of its citizens? They're most welcome; it was only going to waste. And it isn't a joke letter: the requisition order arrived on official paper. Smooth …
Indeed, and it’s only every two years. My second one disappeared in the post. Imagine that. Now instead of a small sample you just have to dip the test strip. A big improvement.
I’ll be up for it later this year. Just getting used to being 55 and 56 looms up at me. At least I shall be employed, as what is the question. If the HR bods get their act together finally I should be a science tech at a local secondary (well across Dundee) thought that MIGHT get interrupted in May.
I am in a position to confirm that the last NHS kit I received was definitely easier to use than the little spoon the German doctors prescribed last month - a tiny little thing that seemed more suited to free icecream samples.
Which makes one wonder either about German doctors, or about me - I'm not sure which is more worrying.
I think in Cymru it's actually Club 60+, and then every three years. The latest one was much simpler than the first!
And being a bit serious, please, please, please use the test kit if you get sent one. Several friends have been hit with bowel cancer, and it's really not nice.
A friend of mine only found out he had early stage prostate cancer because of a routine test, as he lives mostly in France, rather than the UK. It's a routine test there. Back here I have to ask, repeatedly for a reluctantly given PSA test. All clear, but my father died of it and I don't want to.
"Back here I have to ask, repeatedly for a reluctantly given PSA test."
The standard PSA test is apparently unreliable as an indicator. - giving both false positive or negative results. Research is under way to find a more reliable test that could be rolled out for general screening.
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"...In Japan, they would at least have hired an illustrator to decorate the leaflet with cute little cartoon mascots cheerfully shitting..."
When I was gainfully employed, I shared an office with the person who sent out the screening kits (space is at a premium in NHS Labs, and the Lab IT office had a spare desk...). She spent the first half of the week taking out the cute japanese instructions and replacing them with ones deemed to be more professional looking.
<icon: don't light warning...>
Here across the pond, your GP has to prescribe it.
Hopefully the UK test is more reliable than the standard US test, Cologuard, which returns what I consider far too many false positives, leading to unnecessary colonoscopies (and also far too many false negatives).
P.S. Cologuard does take a page from the Japanese and their ads feature an animated talking box.
But modern, grumpy me just whines that it doesn't have a numeric keypad
Grump-ye-not, Dabbsy, from their Kickstarter it looks like their $150k stretch goal is indeed a USB keypad (doesn't say it it's E-Ink or not, but why do it if it isn't?). It must be on their radar at least.
Bung them another $45k and voila!
There was another attempt at this few years back (Optimus Maximus, using mini OLEDs on each key?), but the approach of using a single display (rather than one for each key) is probably a lot simpler to make.
This raises the question of why you would want a numeric keypad with configurable captions. As far as I know the numbers are the same on most keyboard layouts, even those that use non-Latin characters.
I suppose you could switch to telephone layout when using the computer to dial phone numbers. Bring back the OPD!
I can't answer the first question, but a keyboard should do USB-C now because we're being dragged into the era where laptops are dropping USB-A ports whether we want them to or not. At some point, we're going to live in a world where all the cables end with USB-C and look the same while being different and not always working. When our stuff breaks and we have to buy new stuff, it may be one where that's the only available option.
"Grump-ye-not, Dabbsy, from their Kickstarter it looks like their $150k stretch goal is indeed a USB keypad (doesn't say it it's E-Ink or not, but why do it if it isn't?). It must be on their radar at least."
It should be easy to program a key as "Num Lock" and create a number pad that appears and disappears as needed like using an extra shift key.
a self-collected stool sample is greatly to be preferred
And the current French test kits are much easier to use then the older ones, which required surgical dissection of the sample material with an implement resembling plastic airline cutlery, prior to spreading it onto the sample card like marmite. Apparently the sample return rates have gone up considerably.
I got a colonoscopy as 55th birthday present from the NHS ... I assume with COVID they've put that program on hold and are doing the poo sample check that I was told I'll get as a 60th birthday present forward instead.
Alternatively it may be that the colonoscopy program has turned out not to make any (qwaly valued) effect ... I seem to recall the hope was only to reduce colon cancer deaths from 3 per 1000 to 2 per 1000 (ie. from very small risk to a slightly lower very small risk).
I got a colonoscopy as 55th birthday present from the NHS
I was looking forward to mine (as best as you can look forward to these things, for peace of mind) since I was expecting that the huge central hospital or one of the several supporting clinics nearby in town would be the location of the auspicious event. For reasons best known only to the NHS, I was told to attend the hospital in the county's main city instead. Given the instructions regarding timing this left me with the choice of, post laxative, running the risk of accidentally shitting myself on the 50-minute bus journey or of accidentally shitting myself on one of the two 20-minute walks to or from train stations. I asked for an appointment closer to home, which they were able to set for eight months later, but which of course has now been cancelled. I'd be only too happy to provide a sample instead.
I got a letter from the NHS explaining the procedure and asking if I was interested in having a test. I replied in the affirmative, and got the 'kit' through the post a few weeks later. My problem was that for something designed to acquire a small sample of, well, 'shit', it was remarkably difficult to get anything to actually stick to it. The small blue plastic 'paddle' (is that the right term?) was right slippery. Still I did eventually get something to stick. And got the all-clear-for-now, result later.
Incidentally, all of the packaging and leaflets were properly recyclable, so good for the NHS.
BTW, Mr Dabbs, Sir. Your talents may be required. The UK is looking for someone to head up the UK's Ministry of Justice IT, you could be a shoe-in with your abilities:
And you'd get all your 'please shit in this envelope' letters in English too. ;o)
That's how it was here (NE Scotland) until a few years ago - back to the childhood game of poo sticks! Now the single sample in a plastic collector - reminds me I must be due a retest soon.
The latest game me and the missus have been playing weekly is snot sticks (aka covid tests for the ONS). Hope I don't get the two games confused in the next round!
OK, I'll bite. Surely you meant your "sixth decade" ? And after spending several minutes picking the appropriate icon for this essential post I noticed the tooltip on the Sherlock Holmes one and decison made. I remember geting my first poo-in-the-bag invite: it arrived exactly on my birthday - unlike the "humorous" cards from my relatives. And now back to reading about Perseverance - seriously good software!
In 2015 my results came back requesting another sample - end result, positive. Then a colonoscopy showing up a tumour.
At this point I had NO SYMPTOMS whatsoever.
I ended up with a stay in hospital, a loss of 50cm of lower bowel, an incision running from sternum to groin held together with 36 stables and an ileostomy bag for 6 months while the gut healed.
Not a lot of fun but if it hadn't been for this test I'd be DEAD now!
I cannot second that with enough vigor. I lost my brother to colon cancer last year after a 4 year battle. He was only 50 when diagnosed and even after surgery it had spread to his liver. His early diagnosis finally sent me to the doctor (I'm 4 years old) for my first and the findings from that resulted in need for surgery. I was blessed with having caught it much earlier and have had no spread. Now I go every single year to make sure I don't recur. Folks, please--no matter how unpleasant the test (and I've never had a bad experience) you **DO NOT** want to put yourself or your loved ones through what happens if you avoid it.
Particularly so if you have enjoyed alcoholic beverages a lot. One of my former work colleagues died a couple of years ago after being diagnosed with 'non-treatable bowel cancer'. Several of my friends who 'liked a drink' have died before being able to enjoy their pension funds.
While I may have the occasional contretemps with other commentards here on el Reg, it would be a lesser world without you (well, without some of you, the ones who downvote my posts without explaining why are very naughty boys/girls, and not the messiah at all).
"I cannot second that with enough vigor."
Seconded. We lost my wife's brother last summer and, things being what they are, there was no way we could go over to NI for the funeral.
I'd ignored a couple but after a bit of a scare in the autumn got a check which fortunately was -ve. Won't ignore the next.
"[...] an incision running from sternum to groin held together with 36 stables [...]"
A young friend has Cystic Fibrosis. One of its negative effects is on the digestive system. He had to have an operation to remove part of his intestines that had started to become knotted.
It was keyhole surgery and he was disappointed at the tiny scars afterwards. Then as he was packing to leave hospital he collapsed with internal bleeding - blood pressure went through the floor. No keyhole this time - the emergency team just slit him open down the centre line.
Afterwards he showed off the wound held together with large staples. After he had them removed it took a little while to realise they had missed one.
Apparently he now looks like Adam - as his navel has been effectively erased.
Clinical and medical waste is banned, but "biological substances (diagnostic specimens including urine, blood, faeces and animal remains" are permitted within the UK. Mustn't exceed a total volume/mass of 50ml/50g per parcel, and packaging must comply with Packagging Instruction 650.
(Mine's the one with Royal Mail leaflet RMDG19 in the pocket, what I happened to pick up yesterday)
They love doing medical tests in France. Every village seems to have a laboratory where you can drop in to drop off your pee/poop. Or have them pull some blood for the battery of tests your GP prescribes for every visit. Analysis results within 24 hours mostly.
And an ultrasound instead of the Doc's fingers. Very civilised.
Mr Dabbs>Japan, they would at least have hired an illustrator to decorate the leaflet with cute little cartoon mascots
You mean Unchi-kun? Did you really think a poop mascot did not already exist in Japan?!?
I was advised to make sure to post it between the main holiday periods, as the test (ahem)material is only "good" for a few days after "production" so any delays (postal or personnel) are to be avoided. I think mine came with a little plastic spork to send it back on (I haven't been brave enough to attempt it yet!).
The Ergo M575 is actually a repack--Logitech put out something very similar back in the late '90s and I loved it, used one for years. I have to admit that my current 5 button mouse is actually a lower end gamer unit, but I use it because it's large enough to git into my hand with no "clutching" needed. I discovered smaller mice were actually making my hand cramp up over time.
Having started to get nasty Carpel tunnel some years back, I switched to trying to use a trackball. Nah. Just ended up with a sprained thumb.
For quite a while now I've been using various incarnations of the Anker/Perixx vertical mouse. Basically a different shape so the hand is vertical, and larger than a standard mouse, but otherwise you still move it around. Very comfortable. No carpal probs at all now. They're about £15 from You-kno-who, and tend to conk out after 2-3 years, but well worth trying.
If anyone reads past the tsunami of scat puns and other fetish-based comments, the Logitech Ergo - the one I have is the MX Ergo - is absolutely the best mutant mouse you can get!
I've been using trackballs of the Logitech variety since the 90s and - when combined with a gel-filled wrist support pad - carpal issues are a thing of the past. For me, anyway,
The wrist pad was a later addition as a result of a hard and painful callous on my wrist where it rested on the desk.
Trackballs and I don't get along as I draw quite a lot and I find that harder with a trackball. Each to their own, I guess. I have used the Logitech MX Anywhere for years (now in its' 3rd iteration) as I have a few glass tables, and somehow the darkfield tech seems to work on that, and it's small enough for travel.
As for poo per post, I got that surprise mail a while back when in Belgium as I am indeed also of that age. All free, and the result is sent to you by letter, and electronically to your GP.
Yeah, fine motor axis parallel is a bit difficult, and I curse people who stack their menus three levels deep.
The original (W95? 98?) drivers for my Trackball Optical had a setting that let you set the y axis at a not-90° angle to the x axis to help with that. (Say what you will, the old MS peripherals are pretty sturdy. I think my TO is old enough to vote now and still runs like a champ, as long as your fingers provide a bit of grime to keep it running smoothly.)
I'm surprised even a mouse works for you for drawing.
I'd always use tablet and pen for that. I discovered those years ago when I worked at Quantel, and found that a mouse is rubbish for the kind of absolute positioning we needed, and tablet (aka bitpad) was great, just like drawing on paper etc.
Depends on your type of drawing - for me it's mostly layouts so you have lines and objects that snap to a grid (no, not the mongrel that Microsoft made of Visio, I use its grown up cousin on MacOS, Omnigraffle).
If I want to draw freestyle I would agree, for that I have Affinity Designer on my iPad, with a pen.
With nothing but boredom in my weekend's diary, your column instantly inspired me.
I'm going to get as many people in this miserable isle to defecate into a prepaid envelope addressed to Mr B Johnson, Downing Street.
Under the guise that they are responding to a genuine healthcare letter.
What a lark!
I can't understand how people use those pyramid mouse things instead of a proper hand-shaped mouse, designed over decades of engineering to fit within a human hand. Whenever I have to manipulate somebody's computer controlled by one of those things I'm left with pains shooting up all the diodes in my lower arm.
The first time i got to experience (briefly) working with a trackball, it was indeed about grapefruit-sized. It was part of one of the control desks for the gas distribution network here in the Netherlands. This was the era of Ball Mice Without Any Concern For Ergonomics; some were even utterly anti-ergonomic like a square block of plastic with only microscopically bevelled edges and creaky switches that you'd need a hydraulic press on to activate them. So anything else would already be tremendously better, and this trackball was glorious. Good thing it was let into the desk or I'd have tried to take it. Soon after, Logitech started offering the TrackMan Marble FX, not as big as a grapefruit, more like a billiard ball, and so I got one. And after finding it near-perfect, another one as spare.
I now have six; three in use (although one is at work and 'in use' is a bit of a stretch), three spares. That should do.
And keyboards that break in two: some do with only little encouragement, and they deserve it fully. Usually they end as many more parts; the key matrix foil can make nice lampshades.
... got a request for faeces sample with a sampling kit and the brochure. Deciding to be a good citizen, gathered the sample. Then read the brochure and discovered I gathered the sample all wrong. Said "Oh, well..." and threw everything (incorrectly gathered sample, rest of the kit, and the brochure) in the trash. Now I'll tell this story to my grandchildren: "This is how your grandpa couldn't get his shit together..."
P.S. Mr. Dabbs, I want to thank you for all your rants I enjoy!
I got the most downvotes ever when I posted a tongue in check comment on a leak of medical data.
The point being that anyone over 60 shared their medical history with anyone who would listen including random strangers on the bus.
Just to prove this thread consists entirely of people over 50 sharing their medical histories.
(No personal experience in the Colon department, but we could start a new thread on Prostate tests)
I've got a madcatz mouse, not the most expensive one, mad not crazy. A "4+" it's great!
tho for nearly a grand $AUD the top of range ultra light ( doesn't even have a battery in it , requires a special mouse pad to power it, ) was tempting .
it's really comfy and not distracting at all once i got the lights under control.
Expensive doesn't mean good, but good is ALWAYS expensive,
and i'm old, the misses is gone so now so I CAN have nice things , Fu*k the grand kids they can buy their own!!!
I read the story without looking at the author's name but was soon able to guess (didn't AD write for some of the early computer mags - remember those printed paper things we used to rely on before the internet).
Anyway as an oldster I can confirm the the process has improved, the earlier little wooden strips to place samples under little cardboard windows on 3 consecutive days (like a kind of reverse advent calendar - each day fill a window with shit, close it and post it to someone), were a real pain in the ... (how appropriate) calling for a major clean up of one's person and of the "bathroom environment".
I advise against sending shit through the post in any other circumstance, it can cause offence.
The NHS has a series of gifts in store for you as you age, the pleasant one comes next when the pharmacist told me to put my money away, I'd become so old I didn't need to pay for prescriptions. And then (men only) there's the Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening.
Any bloke over 45 should be thinking about asking the GP for an occasional Digital rectal examination if there are any of the early signs of prostate problems. Some GPs aren't very keen as the "digital" bit is not in the high-tech sense you might first consider, this being an IT forum (it involves a rubber glove) but my view is that they get paid a lot more than me and I used to metaphorically "shovel shit" in an IT sense (for HSBC) so make them earn it.
On to the other topic of the article: ergonomic everything. Over 20 years ago my wife bought a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard. After a few months the letters were wearing off the keys so she complained. The complaint was not acknowledged in any way except one, a carton of about 10 more keyboards arrived unannounced. They weren't UK standard but a version with some accented letters, still QUERTY and quite useable, just minor quirks like the @ sign not in the usual place. As a "proper" typist she considered the keyboard more comfortable but as a two finger typist I found it less so. They kept us, friends and family, in keyboards for many years.
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