This is a new experience for me. I have never written a blog before, or even kept any sort of journal so I am a little baffled by how to proceed but I will try. I have tried to write this so everyone can understand it, as you will discover so I use a lot of random phrases from my military years so I apologise if it is hard to read. I am also awful with grammar and stuff like that (give me numbers any day of the week) so further appologies for that. Enjoy,.
I am 25 (it's currently December 2012) single man. I live on the boarder between London and Essex (just inside the M25, so I call it greater London) and I am a former member Royal Navy. That is pretty much me. I am going to sum up how I got to where I am now quite briefly if possible so If you are interested, please read on and try not to judge me.
I joined the Royal Navy at 17 after realising psychology, sociology and law really were not the right subjects for me at sixth form. I joined at 17 years and 6 months exactly (strange coincidence) which means the first 6 months of my serviced counted as "boys time" as I was under 18 and therefore didn't count towards my total 22 year contract or pension clock (it wasn't something that really bothered or affected me). I joined as a Marine Engineering Artificer (MEA) which is a fast tracked apprentice.
I learnt more about engineering in the first year than I could have thought possible. Within three years I was promoted to Leading Hand (equivalent to Corporal in the Army as that all anybody has heard of) and had qualified at sea on a Type 23 Frigate, then returned for some advanced training. I received a Foundation Degree in Marine Systems Engineering after 4 years due to my training (it was something they sorted out with a local university, I didn't have to do anything extra for it as all the requirements were met by the training the RN gave), and went on to train for Submarines.
It was during the academic training for this that I injured my back, nothing work related, just a random injury that I thought I could shrug off. How wrong I was. This injury prevented me joining the Submarine service,going to sea, getting promoted or doing anything at all that didn't involve paperwork (I hate paperwork) until I was fit again. As you could possibly guess, I wasn't exactly happy about any of that.
Anyway, after countless amounts of being messed about by the NHS (oh yes, the forces shoves you on the NHS waiting lists despite the advertised "private healthcare") and physio (actually really good physiotherapists working for the MoD so I can't complain about that), it was only getting worse. then came the point where I was referred to a MBOS or Medical Board of Survey. This is a two part assessment for anyone that has been medically downgraded for over 12 months. Typically, the board I was scheduled for in July 2010 was cancelled so I ended up on the September 2010 Board. Good you might think, just wait.
The first part of the board is a formal verbal assessment by some high ranking Medical Officers which went very well. All my paperwork was good, I had a glowing recommendation from my boss's (2 highly respected Warrant officers) that could have had me put forward for god if the position was open, my doctor agreed I should make a full recovery if given the time and correct treatment and as soon as I walked in they said I was safe and not to worry. The alternative was medical discharge which I was very scared of. I was told I had a year and if I wasn't fit, I had to return for another assessment (P7P 1 year for those that understand).
The next part was the second part to the MBOS and the part that had me worried. It was the Employability Board. This board sat 4 weeks after the first part and was done closed door without you, so the first you know is when the signal is released to the whole fleet at once and you have to wait for someone to tell you. This Board is made up of Branch Managers (senior staff that control the manpower allocation of a fleet and sorts out who is drafted where). They are what I classify as bean counters, at least while they are in that role. they are more concerned with budgets and numbers that people. I can understand why, I don't blame them for doing their job, that would be very ignorant of me. But I do blame them for just seeing people as numbers and not people. Anyway. I digress. Their role in this is to identify if there is a place for you in the medical category recommended for you by the previous medical board (the first part with the high ranking Medical Officers), also if it is financially viable to keep you in that position.
2 days prior to this board being due to release this information, the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR 2010) was published. As most will remember it called for lots of cuts to the Armed forces, 5000 from the RN. As a result, the signal only said that the board did not sit as a result of the SDSR. We later found out it was to amend some rules that allowed them to make different decisions.
They released the results with the following months results in November 2010 and I was on the first list of people to be cut from the RN as a result of the SDSR. Needless to say, I was devastated. It was one of the very few time I shed a tear. I knew it was a possibility and after the board was postponed to amend rules, I knew it was even more likely. I think I just didn't want to believe it so I chose to believe I would be safe.
I finally became a civilian in April 2011, exactly 6 years and 2 month (to the exact date, another weird coincidence) after joining up. Since leaving I was registered as disabled and I use a walking stick to get about (I wasn't allowed to in the RN, I had to hobble which was very humiliating). As I had my Foundation Degree, I enrolled at Portsmouth University straight into the final year of the Mechanical Engineering Degree and graduated this year (July 2012) with a First Class Bachelors (Honours) in Mechanical Engineering. I am still unable to get work as no company will hire me with my back in the condition it is in but there is some hope yet.
After starting again with the NHS and getting messed about, again, I (my parents as I'm not earning, but I am determined to pay them back) paid for a private consultation with a very highly regarded spinal surgeon in London. I saw him after an 8 day wait (quicker than I could have dreamed) and he explained to me exactly what was wrong and the best way to fix it with surgery (the NHS kept suggesting steroid injections and physio as if it was a wonder drug despite me having tried both repeatedly, then made me appointments to see someone different who didn't know why I was there). Needless to say, I was keen but hesitant as I had an idea how much it would cost private.
After asking about my history, medical and not medical, and finding out I wasn't a typical private patient, he told me how to get his treatment on the NHS without waiting years (a closely guarded secret that for some reason GP's pretend not to know). To help with time scale, I saw him in early November 2012, I had an NHS appointment with his colleague 1 month later for a further assessment and conformation and was told I am scheduled for a surgery window between January 18th 2013 and March 1st 2013 (somewhere in that 6 week period, still awaiting the exact appointment but it has only been 3 weeks since I saw the colleague). So It looks like I am going to be fixed and get the treatment I needed to keep my job in the RN. Its too late for that now obviously.
Well that is the "short" summary of how I got to here. I haven't touched a lot of the things that happened around this time as I am quite a private person but I may enlighten on or reveal more facts about me at a later point.
Thanks for reading if you have read it all, sorry its so much but I really felt the need to vent as it is all on my mind. If you want to message me, feel free of add gmail.com to my username.
Previous PostsThe last few years in a summary and how I got to where I am now., posted December 28th, 2012
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