Adventures in Wymondhamland

England is proving to be a discombobulating combination of weird and wonderful, of surprise and delight one moment and frothing rage and disbelief the next. Mostly it’s been good; good in a way that I never encountered in HK ~ like this morning, for example. I’d placed an order with an online retailer (planning ahead for Christmas!) and of the four items I received, there was one wrong. The serial code on the order and the item packaging matched, but the actual item was incorrect. So I emailed their Customer Care via the website but pretty much resigned myself to being shunned a la iTunes, which has so far ignored six polite email requests I have sent asking to be reimbursed of nearly £40 for a faulty Tomtom app I purchased three months ago.

So imagine my surprise (and delight) when I got a call this morning from a lovely lady apologising for the error, assuring me they still had the item I actually wanted in stock and would express courier it to me immediately, and that as a token of their appreciation for my kind understanding, I could keep the extra item as a gift.

I know, I know what you’re thinking: “Eh?”

It’s a true story and not an uncommon one here, as I am finding out. HK prides itself on customer care and customer service, but I have never experienced the kind of polite, genuine grace there that I frequently encounter here, whether from shop assistants or postmen or contractors (all of whom have also been a good laugh) or whoever else.

But then there are the goodly folk of Wymondhamland. My immediate neighbours are extremely nice, friendly and helpful sorts, but bloody hell, the rest of the population of Whispering Oaks must have all graduated from the Driving School of Complete & Utter F*ckwit B@stards. The streets around the houses are narrow, do not have any markings on them, and there are many twisty-turny blind corners and no road mirrors to help you see if some fricking lunatic has just pulled out of his drive at 40mph without bothering to check if his path is clear. Add to that the bizarre situation in which people eschew their private garages and off-street parking (at least one of each for each home) to park straddling the kerb on both sides AND literally on the corners… wtf.

Went to see my GP (a new one) yesterday. She was lovely, taking lots of time to go through my medical records and talk about my treatments etc ~ I told her I was finding it a bit odd to only have seen the RA specialist once since arriving, and to be told at that appointment there there was no need to return until July 2014 (I kid you not). In HK, you see, I saw my rheumy every 4-6 weeks i.e. after each batch of blood tests. Of course, his enthusiasm to see me could also have been down to the HK$1,600 consultation fee he pocketed for each visit, ha ha.

Anyhoo. Turns out the UK rheumy had sent a report to my GP’s surgery after my September appointment, but no one had followed up. The rheumy advised that my steroid dosage could be cut back to 2.5mg a day (my GP and I were both a bit startled by this because it’s a big drop to make so suddenly, with no recommendation for a staggered easing back of the dosage), and that I need to have a baseline opthalmology test because of the Plaquenil.

So while I was p*ssed off that I could have been cutting back on the Prednisolone all this time, it was a relief to know that my case is finally in the hands of a GP who seems to be eminently capable and interested. We’re tapering off the Pred from 5mg to 4mg a day for the next few weeks (until my next appointment), and if I’m tolerating the change well, she will cut it back further to 3mg.

Fingers crossed that once the Pred is cut back, I can finally start shedding weight (or at least stop piling on more). Nice GP lady says the steroids not only cause major water retention, they also trigger the body to store fat. Everything I’ve read online from other RA sufferers taking Pred all points to massive weight gain in every instance ~ in my case, I’ve put on an eye-watering three stone plus in the last 12 months (that’s 42lbs+ or around 20kg+) with a subsequent spike in my triglycerides (not good).

Amusingly and largely by coincidence, I received a letter via the clinic inviting me to take part in a weight-loss study they’re doing ~ if I qualify and depending on which criteria I match, they could well sponsor me to join WeightWatchers for the next 12 months. I think it’s brilliant; please god let it be like Fat Fighters and Marjorie Dawes.