All about being ill and spiritual thinking

Mon 12 – Sun 18 June 2017

Being ill

On the world-scale

grenfell tower on fireThe defining feature of last week was the dreadful fire at Grenfell Tower; basically the avoidable death of people killed for being poor and the dreadful performance by our Prime Minister who seems to have a complete inability to be face-to-face with normal people. Like so many politicians, convinced of their own importance and correctness then hating having to deal with normal people who mess up all their personal plans and ambitions. Though the complete failure to step up to the mark and provide leadership by the local authority (the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) whose building it was and tenants they were was also something to behold.

But at a personal level

nothing but bedIt was simply me being ill; a horrible cold and diarrhoea with no Dave to look after me as he was away for work from Sun through to Fri. My ill feelings had started the week before as noted in my previous weekly blog. Whilst acknowledging rough nights of sleep and coughing, I though I was not that ill and had things under control. Indeed Mon I still felt just about OK to go to the gym. But by Mon evening at the Tech4Good meet-up, I felt really rough and went straight home to sleep afterwards without eating.

The nitty gritty

Tues marked the low point of being ill. This is when the stomach problems started kicking in and I was straight to the pharmacy as soon as it opened to dose on anti-diarrhoea medication. Indeed, useful my HIV meds have changed as under the old ones there was an inter-action that meant I couldn’t take most common medication for treating this problem. I felt rough for the next few days and didn’t eat much at all. Nothing on Tues, soup on Wed, pasta and soup on Thurs. I must have lost weight. Losing weight is one of the best things about being ill as me and my friend Jane joked about when we met (see below).

All through this, horrible nights of sleep – coughing up crap and getting up to go the toilet. My phlegm did change from green and chunky on Tues and Wed into pale yellow and more slimy later in the week.

‘Just keep on buggering on’ and sleep therapy

The result of this being ill was that I needed to pace myself through the week. Perhaps I should have taken time off sick. However I have a very strong work ethic – I will be at work unless I am literally dying. And I had several important things to do. So I did what needed to be done and did not over-do it. A major part of dealing with it was giving myself over to the therapy of sleep. I was going to bed and slipping into oblivion asap. Early nights (8 or 9pm) make for waking up early (6 or 6.30am) but my body still had some hours to rest completely.


My wonderful friend Jane

This was the other feature of last week. And not in some big religious bang way but subtly. Primarily motivated by meeting my friend Jane on Thurs. We have known each other for several years, introduced by a friend on a retreat to Walsingham (now that is one quirky place). Jane has had another brain haemorrhage with the resulting hospitalisation. She looked great having lost 3 stone – again the benefit of being ill. We had a lovely catch-up on a day of beautiful weather. She is inspiring in how she deals with her problems with a deep faith. But she is open and questioning without being dogmatic. And she doesn’t seek to convert or preach. For me, strong faith is personal belief that hurts no-one else nor screams in people’s faces (perhaps a bit like Tim Farron’s who is a perfectly decent liberal).

Missing Calpe

calpeAnd this week at Calpe in Spain, the retreat is happening that only takes place every two years. I have been about five times but I decided to skip this one as I felt I was getting into a bit of a retreat rut. That perhaps I was doing it because it seemed the right thing to do. I’m still not sure if I should have gone or not. I hope everyone there had a good time, I am pretty sure that they would have done. And perhaps being ill would not have made it so good. As I have learnt in the past, having diarrhoea on a plane is one of the biggest nightmares possible.

So where is my spirituality?

I don’t know and perhaps that is all I can know. I realise I can be impressed by others’ quiet and determined faith whilst being totally turned off by extremists of any faith. But I know faith can be perfunctory and rut-like. Perhaps nothing to do at the moment beyond acknowledging spiritual awareness, staying open minded, and booking in to explore my faith further at some point in the future.

Tech for Good

Work days last week were Mon afternoon then all day Tues and Wed. Unfortunately exactly when I was most ill. So I took a policy of doing just what I had to and surviving. Apologies for anybody who came across me on these days and didn’t get a chance to see me at my best.

Tech & HIV followed by meet-up

bloods takenMon afternoon we agreed the 9 projects to go to assessment under our UK Tech and HIV programme. A good and thorough discussion. Shame that ultimately we can only fund about half of them. Then onto the monthly Tech for Good meet-up at the Westminster Hub. Loads there (150?) and an attempt via short talks with a panel to identify the future. All good stuff but I was simply not in the mood and spent most of the time sitting quietly at the back focusing on trying not to feel too ill. I didn’t ask any questions nor enter any discussions afterwards, just straight home and to bed.

Tech4Good Awards

Tues was a late start thankfully. At 11 we all gathered at the BT Tower for the public announcement of the shortlisted projects in each category of the Tech4Good Awards. Speed dating followed where we all had a chance to meet each other – judges, sponsors, shortlisted, etc. Lunch in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Tower was followed by the 3 hour judging panel to agree the winners. For that I was joined by my wonderful colleague Pontso. Some great projects and fascinating discussions. Decisions were not always easy but we got there. There will also be a chance for the public to vote for their favourite of all the shortlisted projects.

TK Maxx and Stoke Wavemaker


Wed and I was off to Stoke. My project Wavemaker was being visited by some staff from TK Maxx who had been heroes in fundraising. It was great to be able to show off this fab little project. Ben and Alex manage it, and introduced what they did with fun enthusiasm. We had 8 people from TK and they were led through exercises in creating a circuit, instructing robots (thereby using coding), and doing some laser cutting. Then they had a chance to meet some of the disadvantaged young people who can use this digital resource centre. I think everyone enjoyed themselves and a big shout-out to the guy from TK who was working nights and had come straight to the visit from work then had to get home to grab some sleep before starting work again.

Health and efficiency

woman doing tree poseEvents and being ill got in my way of doing too much exercise last week. I did manage to get to the gym 3 times: the mornings of Mon, Sat and Sun. No jog-run because Dave’s mum was down at the weekend so I couldn’t use his flat as my base. Probably no bad thing as I was still recovering and it was hot.

What was good last week was though I didn’t get to the mini-yoga session at work on Thurs morning, I did start my 5 week intro to yoga class on Thurs night. Again I took it really easy but it was good to go through the nuts and bolts. I have done yoga but about 12 years ago and now I am older, fatter, stiffer. Hopefully this is the start of something major to tackle my growing joint problems.

INR schock

warfarin tabletsDid have a bit of a shock on Fri when I went to get my INR done. Now we knew changing my HIV meds may have affected it and there would be a need to change my warfarin dosage. But we thought that period had passed and previous tests seemed to show that. On Fri it was the highest ever at nearly 6 meaning danger of internal bleeding. So immediate temporary halt on taking any more warfarin and regular checks over the coming weeks till everything is back in a good place.

Personal development

Languages and family

Illness and stuff meant I didn’t get any DuoLingo done at all on Tues, Wed and Fri. But a real pick-up over the weekend and that was the time when I did some coding. Fundamentally I had a lot of time to myself as Dave was busy looking after his mum. Indeed Sat was quite therapeutic with me in splendid isolation pottering around in the warm weather and catching up on the pooter. We did all meet on Sat evening for a very nice meal to celebrate my mum’s birthday.

Friends and long-distance skyping

Apart from seeing my friend Jane on Thurs, I also had a catch up with my mate Jamie on Fri lunchtime. He was fine and off to Sitges that day [envy]. His latest play will be performed in Aug. Then onto the train station to meet Dave’s mum and escort her back to his place. He didn’t get back from his overseas work trip till the late afternoon. I then had to do a work conf call at 5-5.45 as some of the participants were on West Coast USA. Knacked by Fri evening especially with the temperature pushing upwards.

Books and reading

Still reading two books but finished neither last week. Indeed once I had done the things I needed to do in a day then with my illness I was too whacked to do some reading as I usually would. However, I did listen to some Dr Who audio adventures:

Black and White (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy + companions Ace & Hex)

The Doctor is still absent for much of the story. Ace and Hex pal up with rival / alternative companions Captain Aristedes and Private Sally Morgan to find him. They are taken to to the setting of the classic, epic, Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. But they don’t arrive at the same time. It’s all slightly confusing but sort of comes together at the end where there is a heads-up of where they all need to go to find the Doctor. Overall, pleasant to listen to if you just chill and enjoy but not a classic.

Gods and Monsters (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy + companions Ace & Hex)

The follow-on to Black and White. The four companions find themselves in some sort of place outside normal time and space. It’s a sort of fantasy land where old gods are playing games and fighting each other. The Doctor is here and the companions rescue him. The key thing we find out is how the Doctor and his companions have been manipulated for a long time. Indeed, Hex is a direct creation of one of the old gods. And part of the escape from this world involves Hex giving up being one of the Doctor’s companions. Again OK and enjoyable but potentially too clever for its own good.

 An Earthly Child (eighth Doctor Paul McGann)

A fun short adventure. There is no companion. Rather it is the story of the Doctor going back to see his original companion and grand-daughter Susan (when he was the first Doctor William Hartnell). She stayed on Earth with her new love to help out in sorting out the mess left after the Daleks had been defeated in their invasion. It’s a nice, self-contained story about what happens once the Doctor has gone and how things don’t always work out as planned. There’s also a bit of a moral about going back over old ground.

Looking ahead

Another busy week:

  • Hopefully get my INR under control and complete my recovery from being ill
  • Second yoga workshop on Thurs night though not sure I will make the yoga at work session that morning
  • A discussion on crowdfunding on Mon followed by our workshop for projects we are funding who are interested in having a go at it on Wed.
  • Meeting 10 Queen’s Young Leaders on Tues. They are flying in from the West Indies to do a residential with other young people from across the Commonwealth. I’m catching the Gatwick Express at 5.15am.
  • Meeting my old friend Fang Fang for a catch up meal on Tues night and then my mate Dom on Thurs morning
  • Aiming for two gym sessions and a jog-run
  • I am going to have that long-planned for massage session – the plan is Fri afternoon
  • Duolingo/language learning every day and some coding practice
  • Finishing the current two books (one paper and one kindle) I am reading
  • Listening to at least a couple more Dr Who audio adventures

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