Global warming and the fine art of ambulance chasing

Utilizing hospital transportation services proved challenging for this columnist

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

Share this article:

Share article via email
main graphic for the column

Who’d have thought of the following shenanigans? It only took four days of constant badgering to fix.

Last summer brought exceptional (actually, likely to be semi-regular from now on) hot weather in the U.K., with parts of England surpassing 100 F for the very first time. This caused a massive surge in subsidence insurance claims, especially for houses built on clay in the 1920s and ’30s. These older houses have shallow foundations.

I’d never thought of that. I congratulated myself for living in a house 177 feet above sea level. Nay chance of flooding — at least in this century.

However, we do live in a slightly older house that was built on clay between 1914 and 1918. That’s right around the time of World War I.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out we have an equally small foundation. That’s according to our neighbor, who added an extension to his home, which is identical to ours, a few years back.

So what on earth’s man-made changes to the atmosphere has this got to do with multiple sclerosis (MS)? Or is your diarist doing his normal trick of spinning yarn just to puff out his material? It really will turn out to be seamless, peeps.

So now let me introduce the other strand of the story.

Recommended Reading
banner for

MS news notes: Ocrevus, assistive devices, virtual reality, Briumvi

Going underground

The neuroglial wing at Charing Cross Hospital in London sent me a text a week ago. It was for an appointment in a week’s time.

Saint Jane (my wife) normally takes me in my mobility van. The drive takes about an hour. But was she available? No. That’s the day our leylandii trees, which have been an excellent screen for our front garden for the 27 years we’ve lived here, had to be cut down. They were extant when we bought the house. Oh, and the lovely cherry tree we share with our neighbor’s front garden had to go as well. That’s why we’ve been chatting with him recently.

A tall hedge borders the front yard of a home in London. It completely blocks the view of the street.

Hedge today. (Photo by Jane Davies)

A photo of the same front yard from the same angle, minus the hedge. In its place is a bed of dirt, and the street and other houses are now visible.

Gone tomorrow. (Photo by Jane Davies)

No tornadoes or hurricanes for us; our global warming effect has been far more insidious. Last November, we noticed a large crack by the bay in our front room, which, because of my MS, is now my bedroom. Getting out the front door became really difficult last summer, and locking it was a nightmare — until rain eventually came and swelled the clay. Yes, we only know that now.

We were dealing with the dreaded subsidence. Our insurance company did ground tests and blamed it on the roots of what had always been our perfect hedge. The leylandii trees were sucking away the water in the clay, so they all had to go.

No matter — I’d try moving the date of my appointment. But it was actually with my MS consultant, whom I hadn’t seen face to face in some four years! The next appointment they could give me was in the summer of 2024. Eek.

Going overground?

No matter — I could utilize hospital transportation services. I’m far too disabled to use public transport on my own, and although our iconic black taxi cabs are designed to carry wheelchair users, I can’t rely on them to turn up, deal with my physical problems, and secure me with safety belts.

No problemo — except the hospital transport operators kept telling me I was out of their area. My protestations that I’d been a patient at this hospital for 13 years and had used this very transport service on many occasions meant nothing. Computer says no. Not my phrase, unfortunately, but purloined from a brilliant running sketch in an old hit BBC comedy show, “Little Britain.” So what was I supposed to do? I was advised this was a problem for my local doctor’s office to solve.

Only it wasn’t. The incredibly concerned Dionne from the office’s admin team told me she’d try to find out what was going on. This was on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, the ol’ journo neurons in my brain kicked in, and I got on the case myself. I phoned the company’s head office and was assured that as long as I was within the M25 (London’s ginormous ring-shaped road) I was covered. As I’m some 8 miles inside it, and indeed am in the Greater London area, what was the problem?

Right, back to the transport operator armed with this information. Computer says no. I was advised to try the helpline.

Bingo, sorted. Only took two days. Except Saint Jane had overheard me scramble my cell number. I blame MS, er, my far-too-easy get-out-of-jail card for absolutely anything.

The next day, it was back to the dreaded operator to change my number. Surely they couldn’t interfere now. No, but the booking hadn’t been confirmed in the system. I foolishly asked why? Computer says no.

Back to the helpline. Oh, it’s because the return journey hadn’t been booked. There — now it has been.

On Friday, Dionne rang. Forgotten her, I had. She had someone from Charing Cross Hospital on the other line.

“That’s incredibly lovely of you, but I finally managed to do it myself.”

“As I’ve got them, why don’t I just check?” she helpfully suggested. With the way things had been going, that was a very good idea.

Turns out the return journey had been canceled! But we got it sorted, and a few days ago, I made it to the hospital and back.

The computer can go stuff itself.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Jenny avatar


Fantastic. However can global warming , climate change be together in one sentence I thought?
You nailed it . Computers !!#@!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.

Damian Washington video 2 thumbnail