Thursday 3rd February, 2011
I arrive at the hospital.. Joel is doing ok, he's comfortable, and smiles when he see's me. It's a good start to the day when he smiles. I give kisses all round (well, to Joel and Louise - I don't think the nurses would like it, and as for the other patients...)
I grab the key for the kitchen cupboard and go to make a drink for me and Louise.. on the way to the kitchen, I see 'Nurse X' by one of the isolation rooms. I smile and say good morning. She ignores me, and turns her back to me and carries on writing. Miserable toad. We've been watching her with other patients and she has a terrible bedside manner.. I'm not sure she's cut out for working with children. In fact, I'm not sure she's cut out for working in medicine. Hair Salon maybe...
I make a cup of tea and dwell on the walk back to Marks and Spencers later.. I'd found my receipt for the cookies in a carrier bag in the kitchen cupboard yesterday (I've been storing plastic bags.... I think I've become my nan while in hospital). I'd called them yesterday afternoon and spent about 15 minutes on hold waiting for an operator, and then asking for the manager of the food department, I was put through to what seemed like a shelf stacker. They certainly didn't have the telephone manner I'd expect from a manager.
The conversation yesterday went something like:
Me: "Hello, I wonder if you could help me - I bought some lemon meringue cookies on Tuesday from your branch and....."
Them: "Hang on... <muffled: no, I think they go over there somewhere, hang on.. no, it's a customer>... Hello?"
Me: "Hello, I bought some lemon meringue cook..."
Them: "<muffled: No, over there.. I dunno...> Hello - Sorry, can I help you?"
Me: "I bought some lemon meringue cookies on Tuesday, came to eat them yesterday to find out the best before date was yesterday as well, and the disp....."
Them: "Well that's ok isn't it?"
Me: "No - the display until date was 19/01/11!"
Them: "Well it's only the 2nd, what's wrong with that?"
Me: "It's the 2nd of February... these have a display until date of 19th JANUARY!!"
Them: "JANUARY??? Blimey.. Well bring them back and we'll sort it out"
Apart from being ignored while he chatted to someone else in the background for the first part of the call, I didn't hold out much hope that anything would be done... so the thought of having to make another trip into town today just to return some stale cookies wasn't something I was looking forward too - especially considering the weather didn't look very nice, and it was VERY windy! I also had better things to do with my time than have to trapse through town on an unnecessary trip.
Joel has done really well this morning, and has done some more homework exercises on the BBC Bitesize website. He's doing really well on these - even beating the hardest levels... He looks great in himself, and he's proving to be cheeky with his humour still.. he's very sarcastic at times, which is annoying, but cute and hilarious at the same time... He's charming with it, not nasty.
I decide it's time.. I grab my scarf, my gloves, and my coat.. and the bag with the stale cookies, check the receipt, and head on into town for the showdown. I'm miserable. I hate being shortchanged on customer service, but this is Marks and Spencers we're talking about.... what could go wrong?
I return to the store and head to the food department hoping to find the manager. I have no luck, but having walked around looking for a manager, I browsed the aisle where the cookies originally were. The shelf was empty - they'd removed the whole stock of Lemon Meringue cookies... perhaps he WAS listening after all then when I called last night.
I carried on walking around the department and eventually got fed up of looking for a manager - so I approached a middle aged lady unpacking chilled foods.. at least a middle aged lady might be a bit more helpful than a young lad new to the job, I thought.
"Excuse me", I asked, "Could you tell me where I can find the manager please?"
"Can I help?" she quizzed.. "I'm a supervisor".
Umm.. a supervisor of what, I thought.. you're stacking shelves..
"I'd really like to speak to the manager about some cookies I bought which are way past their Display Until date"... she took them from me, looked at them and said "Well we have 3 day sock checks, it shouldn't get past 3 days days" as if in disbelief at my claim that they were still on display TWO WEEKS after their Display Until date. She saw the date on the packet and said "Oh, but this looks like it's been missed for all 3 checks!". No shit!
She took me to a till, asked me for my receipt, and asked if I wanted something else instead... I said no, and she handed me the cost of the packet back, having crossed it off my receipt. "There you go love, I'll make sure the relevant people are told"...
That was it??? No "Sorry for your trouble", still no sign of a manager.. I have a feeling that it was the end of the matter completely.. I doubt a manager would even find out about it.. I don't mean to be sceptical or assume that they'd be covering each other's back there, but it smacked to me of trying to sweep it under the carpet.. I still can't believe I didn't even get an apology!
TWO WEEKS past their Display Until date. Yuk.
I return back to the hospital with my One pound Seventy whatever it was and a right grump. Not even an apology. Disgusting. TWO WEEKS!!!
I see Joel, and he smiles at my return. It warms my heart.. then I think of the time M&S have just wasted and I'm eating away inside.
While I've been away, Jill came to take Joel to do some baking which he missed yesterday (thanks to Nurse X not changing his dressing!!). He's been baking gingerbread rabbits! I can't wait to see them - the cookies he made last time were delicious, and even met with Eve's Royal Seal of Approval!
Joel has to wait for Jill to finish the 'hot hot hot' bit and for them to cool down before we can eat them, so in the mean time, I take Joel into the playroom (actually, he specifically asked for ME to take him to the playroom - ME! Not mommy, but ME!! Perhaps his condition is much worse than I'd thought... he NEVER wants me to do anything with him when he's got the option of mommy being there.. anyway, we head to the playroom and we set up those little 'abacus' type things with the bright coloured 'things'. I have no idea what they're called.. they're pretty, but can't imagine they'd be much use for shopkeeping... makes you question why they're all over the tills at Mothercare... stick to barcodes and scanners I reckon.
We have some great fun.. Joel is playful and the sun shines..
After a short while, Joel decides he wants to go back to bed... and that I can tidy the play room up.. thanks matey. I duly oblige. Normally I'd insist he tidys things up after he's been playing with them, but I'm not going to be that cruel.. Not today anyway. :)
Joel is keeping his spirits up... and from nowhere comes "I wonder where my gingerbread rabbits are?". Within 30 seconds, and as if by magic, Jill appears carrying a small bag. We still don't know if Joel had seen her hovering around the ward, but the timing was impeccable.. she approaches Joel and says "I nearly forgot about these Joel". They look great.. Louise tells me that when Joel was sorting the ingredients, he had to count the chocolate chips that he was using for the face. Being the cheeky little scamp that he is, he asked for more as he wanted to do a neck tie, a scarf, and a big smile. Clever boy. Mommy notices two chocolate drops stuck together and says "Oh, look at these.. you could use these for a tail!". Joel gingerly picks them up, studies them, lifts his head to the sky and like a Roman emperor being fed grapes, offers the large mutant chocolate drop to his open mouth before declaring "Or, I could just eat it..." as he chomps away.
Before long, there are only two cookies left.. so I decide I'd better get a shot now while I still can...
One rabbit has a huge grin, nose, eyes, and a belly button. I'm not quite sure what the other one has. I think it's either myxomatosis or a David Beckham style tattoo... either way, they taste delicious. So, even if Joel doesn't make it as a vet, at least he has a possible future with gingerbread rabbits.
Joel is booked in to see Dr. Barry, the optometrist, again first thing in the morning.. 8.45. I'll still be at school dropping Eve off at that time, so I tell Louise I think I may see if Atif and some of the regulars are going to Starbucks for coffee... makes no sense in me rushing to Birmingham only to get to an empty bed and sit there for an hour... Besides which, it'll give me chance to update everyone on Joel's progress rather than one by one in the school yard. Someone asked me recently, "You must get fed up with everyone coming up to you asking how Joel is? How is he?". I replied that I don't.. it's natural for people to want to ask how he is, and I really don't mind people asking about him - it shows they care about him and of course how Louise and I are coping... Then one by one, five other people ask how Joel is.. and I repeat the same story.. Perhaps I should get a spokesperson.. I wonder if Max Clifford would do a discount? Perhaps I should just update the blog a bit more frequently.
Anyway - please don't be afraid to ask how he is - I really don't mind people asking.. I just thought it funny, that's all...
I get home quite late.. I'm missing Joel all the way home. Eve is fast asleep in my bed again - starfish mode. I cover her back up with the quilt and the blanket, she wakes up, smiles at me and puts her arm around me for a hug. I rub her back for a while and she carries on snoring. She's lying right next to me, and I'm missing her. Funny how you can still miss someone when they're right next to you. I know she's missing us too.. at least though, she isn't crying as much now.. but that saddens me.. she's growing up too fast and unfortunately I worry she's going to get too independent too fast.. I just hope she knows how much we really do care about her....