Being surprised and inspired

So here is my next weekly blog. I’m sitting and writing it at Dave’s on the day of London Pride. I think the march has just left Baker St and the sun has just come out after a massive downpour. Though whilst I’ve been writing it’s gone backwards and forwards between sun, cloud, and pouring rain. Such a shame that it’s not a day of solid sunshine but one of those things. I’m tempted to pop and see Conchita Wurst perform at Trafalgar Square but I’m also having a lovely chill day. Did a jog this morning after first popping down to Victoria station at 7.30 for a coffee and people watch. I was a bit worried about my calves but everything held out and it was a great jog covering a good distance plus adding 30 seconds of jogging time on top of what I did last week. Increasing by 30 secs every week should build up nicely and I can see I am progressing by how far I have run each time.

This week has certainly been less frenetic than the last one. It’s had its moments but, overall, its been far easier to cope with things. The biggest thing that has made a mark on me was the unexpected kindness and understanding of a stranger that occurred when I went to the anti-coagulation clinic on Friday. I take warfarin as one of my eight meds a day because I have a genetic disposition to develop clots on my lungs (pulmonary embolisms – PEs). I’m having a tooth removed on Monday (can’t wait) and so I needed to make sure my INR measurement indicated that my blood wasn’t too thin so that I don’t bleed too profusely. I had to attend a poly-clinic with several NHS services being operated from there. In many ways it showed the NHS at its worse. Packed with people including some waiting for two clinics that had been cancelled and they had not been informed. Then a very elderly man collapsed and I tried to explain to one of the nurses that he was there for anti-coagulation not to see a GP as the nurse thought; the nurse was rude and told me to mind my own business. I have the misfortune to meet so many rude nurses – yep they’re under pressure but who isn’t? It turned out there were several people waiting for the anti-coagulation clinic and I was the youngest as usual with all the rest being retired. They had all got there before me so I pointed out I had the 9.30 appointment to which they replied that everyone had been booked in at 9.30. Indeed one said how she hoped she would be seen soon because she had tickets for Wimbledon. Disaster as I had to be in work asap to deal with some key deadlines. Doctor for the clinic arrived ten minutes late and was then whisked off to see the man who had collapsed. By the time he came back I was really worried about what time I would actually be seen and how I would meet the lunch-time work deadlines I had. But then one of the old ladies who I hadn’t been enamoured of to that point suggested that I go in first as I had to get to work. I was so surprised and grateful as normally people at the clinic stick rigidly to the fact that they had arrived ridiculously early to be first in line even though they’ve got the whole day with nothing else to do. I thanked the lady profusely, emphasised to the doctor that I needed to be done quickly (he pointed out there had been an emergency to see to though he seemed to have forgotten that he was ten minutes late as well) and then I thanked the lady again on the way out. Such kindness and respect for other people’s difficult situation happens so rarely. And I met my work deadline though it was touch and go. And I’m pleased to say that I reciprocated this kindness today when I went for a coffee at Victoria and the lady behind me in the queue seemed quite agitated. So when my turn came to be served I offered that she could go first if she was in a hurry which surprised her and she said that was not the case. What goes around comes around…

This week I’ve also had two very inspirational visits linked to my work. The first happened on Monday evening when I attended the Apps for Good awards at the Barbican. Apps for Good is a fantastic organisation that aim to improve the teaching of technology in schools and they do this by encouraging young people to develop ideas for new apps some of which are then actually developed into digital products. There were some great app ideas on show and the enthusiasm of the children & young people presenting their ideas was contagious. One of the category winners was an app to provide info to LGBT young people. That such an app idea could come from a mainstream school, reach the final of the competition, and then be selected by the panel as the winner really does show how far we have come on mainstreaming LGBT issues. I met some great adults as well like some very cool teachers and a friendly tech guy with a brain the size of a planet.

Then on Wednesday I spent the whole day visiting the BAC (Burton Addiction Centre) O’Connor Centre. This is one of the most inspirational voluntary organisations I have seen in a long time. It was established, and is still managed, by the total bundle of energy that is Noreen Oliver. Noreen has built up almost a small village within the town of Burton centred on abstinence based recovery. There is a detox unit, a residential unit, move on facilities as well as a radio project and a social enterprise tea rooms serving fantastic food – I had the toffee, caramel and pecan cake which was to die for. Noreen has built up a physical presence, a group of people at different stages of recovery, and a staff team that is totally obvious and respected within the wider local community; she’s really challenged the stigma against people in recovery. And it was amazing the way those people in recovery (for both drugs and/or alcohol) looked up to her. I’ve had addiction problems in my life and got myself out of them through abstinence which I keep up now. I did that by leaving the people and places that were reinforcing my problem and I continue to do so. I wish I had known about the type of abstinence services that are out there like the one Noreen runs and even groups like NA and AA. If more people knew about this then more people would know how to deal with their addiction problems – simple. I left my day with Noreen feeling emotional, humbled, and inspired. For a taste of what I’m talking about read this article. The only negative on my time with Noreen was around getting there. Train service from St Pancras to East Midlands Parkway was fast and on time both ways. But please East Midlands trains get some new trains – carriages without plug sockets are a no-no in this day and age.

So what else has happend this week? I finished ‘In the Plex’ which was interesting and I plan to write a short separate blog to reflect on it. I’ve started Barbara Vine’s ‘The Child’s Child’. Barbara Vine is really Ruth Rendell and this is her first book I have read. I’m reading it in time for the Velvet Book Club on Thursday. I’ve never been to a book club despite reading profusely and it’s turning out to be a book that I like which was not what I thought would happen; my initial feelings being that it was quite twee. I’ve had some good exercise sessions this week – my jog this morning as well as a session with my friend and trainer Sara where we punished my legs. I’ve worked with Sara in the past and she’s a lovely person. And she’s now become a great personal trainer. I would recommend her to anyone – boys included despite her web address I’ve also been a female warrior at my ‘normal’ gym doing a good session on Thursday though I did have to lower some of the usual weights I use. My food intake’s not been too bad. I’m definitely not on a diet (don’t think I have the willpower currently) but I am on a cut down and on a couple of days in particular I’ve been very pleased with myself for stopping eating when I was full. I saw my life coach Kerr this week. I was assigned to him several years ago for support when I found out I was positive. And we’ve kept in contact since with a quarterly meeting simply to keep an eye on things. It’s actually really good to have someone to be able to check in with over a long period of time. I wasn’t sure what we were going to talk about but the hour was easily filled and I left with some new thinking around the way I plan my time and how I store info about it – my ‘psycho diary’ as someone once commented on my filofax its mass of lists and crossings out.

And finally… I’ve had some nice social time this week. Obviously I’ve spent time with Dave and he seems OK. And mum’s on good form as well – still hating the World Cup and Wimbledon so doing everything she can to avoid their ubiquity on the television. I met up with my old friend Dave on Tuesday and we went for a lovely Indian, not eating too much. We’ve known each other nearly 30 years. And on Thursday I caught up with the ever amusing Tim & Bob. Always such fun together and a great meal at the local Turkish restaurant. Part of my ‘problem’ is that I love food and the excitement of going out to eat, trying new food, and dining at favourite restaurants. The same night I was with Tim & Bob, my Dave was out with his old friend Elizabeth Emanuel for a new range of clothes she was launching.

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