Asbestos & My Week

I’m sat in the dentist waiting room once again while I write the bulk of this. My teeth get an awful lot of attention, mainly because they are truly awful. I dread to think the amount of money I have spent on them over the years, and the countdown to my impending wisdom teeth removal is under a month now.

Well where do I start otherwise? It’s been a very interesting week so far. Returning from a holiday is always hard, it can only be made harder by finding out the rest of the team are on leave or are sick so you’re the only one available to work! It took everything I have to remain positive and not feel under pressure but I’ve made it through the week so far! Luckily our other trainee came back on Tuesday so we’ve been running the mortuary between us for two days with some help from other members of staff from across the hospital. It’s been a real learning curve but a great experience for us both to put under our belts.

I’ve completed my revision cards for my exam like a nerd, and when I do revision cards I don’t mess about. Thanks to Laura D for the awesome pretty cards, I’ve created a beautiful set of hopefully memorable information. Little sad cat faces poking out are where information was missing or needed, what else would I possibly use?

In other news, I’d like to talk a bit about asbestosis. Why? I guess it’s something that comes up quite a bit at work and it feels like it’s a bit of an unfamiliar thing for a lot of people. We all know that asbestos is bad, and are quite used to hearing things like ‘then they found asbestos!’ or ‘poor soul, exposed to asbestos’ but do we really know why or how?

If you google asbestos the first thing that comes up is a claim lawyer. Then a company who can safely dismantle and remove your asbestos. Then a link to an asbestos safety course. This pretty much sums up the current asbestos world. It’s unsafe, it needs removing and there’s big money in it.

Asbestos is a combination of naturally occurring minerals which form as crystals. It was mined and used in abundance in the 20th century for being strong, soundproof and protective of heat, fire and electricity. It seemed like the in thing to have and use. It was only later that people realised the fibres of these minerals were incredibly easily inhaled, and could causes terrible illnesses later in life including forms of lung cancer. It is a well known fact that if a husband was exposed to asbestos, the wife could have inhaled asbestos too from washing his clothes and therefore suffer from the same illnesses.

The illnesses associated are mainly known as asbestosis or mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a scarring of the lung which can cause the function to be severely impacted, giving the person a tight chest, shortness of breath and a cough. This can lead to other complications including cancer, one of which is mesothelioma. The effects of these I have seen in people is a build up of fluid around the lungs known as pleural effusion, and pleural plaques which appear as solid white or cream areas on the surfaces of the chest cavity and diaphragm.

We do tend to live in a world know where sadly if there is a blame there is a claim. Going back to my original point, the first link you get on google is a claims lawyer. Claiming for asbestosis is popular and rewarding if proven, but often the forms of cancer described above do not appear until decades after exposure. Asbestos is widely banned across the world, although some countries like Russia still regularly produce and use it.

Things like this always make me wonder what will be the next thing we discover isn’t wonderful after all but actually very damaging. It’s my hope that the rigorous testing of products now can only help reduce things like this happening in the future but also things do slip through and are only found years later.

MG x

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