Busy with Stuff that Matters

How I used to be busy

What a busy week it’s been. But busy with life things that matter. I think back to my old life when I was working and I was always busy then. But it was stuff of which 80% didn’t matter. Countless emails with everyone copied in to avoid people complaining about being left out but generating more responses.

And the same with countless meetings. Obviously if you are in a meeting then you are busy. But on stuff that matters? And meetings to formulate agendas, meetings in advance to prep and sort out our position then post-meeting meetings to do the post-mortem and plan next actions. Plus appraisals, supervisions, development plans, etc.

Now my life is busy with other stuff

My life is currently focused on the wellbeing of others and myself. Looking after my mum; taking her to and from the hospital. Looking after my own health as I’m getting older. Controlling my diet and taking regular exercise to keep myself well. Spending time with people I really care about.

One day I may well have to go back to the world of work. But when I do, it will be with a new attitude that calls out on the stuff that doesn’t matter. And, tbh, I’m not sure many people will want to be called out on the corporate / management / business bullshit that exists and we’ve all been indoctrinated into.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

T.S.Eliot

My intimate medical procedure

Big thing last week was going to hospital for a medical procedure to do with my prostate issues. I had a flexible cytoscopy. This meant after a local anaesthetic, a camera was inserted into my urethra so observations could be taken on my bladder and prostate.

I was nervous, who wouldn’t be. It’s putting all your faith in people you’ve never met to deal with some of the most intimate parts of your body. But the staff were nice – much nicer than the doctor I had to deal with previously. But it is a procedure that does hurt at times. And I could see it on the TV screen in real time – I now know what my prostate and bladder look like!

Water is inserted to help the passage of the camera which meant I was peeing very frequently after it happened though this felt really uncomfortable. I had to take an antibiotic to reduce the risk of a urinary infection. Pleased to say the pain on weeing subsided through the day. And I didn’t pee blood which was something that could potentially have happened.

Got to see the hospital doctor again. But I’ve only just started a third medication to combat my prostate issues. So they may well want to see how that impacts before deciding on surgical action. I was told quite clearly previously that they are reluctant to operate on men under 60.

operation

My new med and Shingles vaccination

As part of my prostate problems, I’ve been prescribed a new med – so now I am taking 3 different ones to deal with it. This is a med that aims to give more control over the bladder. I think it might be working. But the main side-effect is a dry mouth and that is definitely happening. I’m finding it quite hard to sleep waking up during the night feeling completely dehydrated.

Plus on Wed I went to have the second installment of my Shingles vaccination. I had a mild reaction to it last time and same again. A needle in your arm is bound to hurt but it has gone on for several days. Suspect this won’t be the thing that kills me. Apparently the vaccination doesn’t need to be repeated and lasts for life. Though it would probably make the symptoms less severe rather than meaning I can never catch it again.

A cocktail of meds

Gym…

As I said in my previous blog (read it here), I love going to the gym. But only managed to get there twice last week which annoyed and depressed me. The sessions themselves on Mon and Wed morning were good though it was busy in the gym on Wed. I worked hard on some key body parts.

24 gym sessions since the start of 2024 divided by the annual membership = £22.90 per session.

…but illness strikes again

The plan was to go for a swim on Thurs and to the gym again on Fri. I suppose I plan my life so there is at least one ‘thing’ to do each day – probably why I often feel busy. But sometimes events just overtake you. A bad night’s sleep because of my dry mouth and vaccination hurting on Wed night. Plus I felt like I had developed a cold (again).

So Thurs became a rest day. My decision not to swim was helped by a notification on Wed that the pool was closed ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’ (the mind boggles). Although then on Thursday confirmation that it was open.

Another bad night’s sleep on Thurs and I woke on Fri feeling like crap. The cold had really kicked in. No way I could get to the gym and I basically spent the day in bed falling in and out of consciousness. Had a hot bath in the evening but definitely felt like I had been hit.

Gradual recovery over the weekend. Me and Dave managed to see Patrick on Saturday morning but I felt quite knackered and slept on Sat afternoon. Sunday was another do-nothing day with a big sleep again in the afternoon.

My slow recovery

Weight

Basically the same old story that I lose weight with illness. Getting knocked back with a cold again depressed my appetite. Such that I lost a pound and am now at the lightest I have been for years. Perhaps also demonstrating how a life of being busy with real stuff actually makes us less likely to over-eat due to the stress of being busy in modern life ways.

Death puts things into perspective

Part of the reason I am highlighting being busy with important things in life compared to bullshit ‘management speak busy’ is because I found out about the death of a contemporary. Elizabeth Balgobin was a similar age to me and had fulfilled many important roles in the voluntary and community sector. I always found her a kind and fun person to be with. She died tragically young of cancer. Things like this really put into perspective what matters in life.

I would also highlight a brilliant article that was brought to my attention earlier last week. It’s written by someone with a tragic cancer diagnosis. And it emphasises the importance of living life to the full enjoying every bloody moment. I would highly recommend you read it here.

Dying but still beautiful flower

Mum: Gratitude to my brother

Lots of time spent with mum again and helping her to deal with her medical issues including ferrying stuff between home and the GP practice for the pathology lab. I did have a bit of a panic on Monday when I tried phoning her after the gym and got no response. This did cause me to imagine the worse. But turns out mum was fine when I got home.

My partner Dave came with me to my procedure on Tuesday and we agreed that we had been to the hospital with our own issues or supporting mum and Patrick a crazy number of times since December. Indeed, it feels like we’ve been living at that bloody place. Thus I was so grateful for a break on Wed when my brother, despite his leg injury, was able to take mum to the hospital for a clinic visit and to get bloods done.

Old Friends: Emma and Dom

Being ‘busy’ in modern working life often means we ignore friends and family. And yet we all need the support of our social network more than ever. So it was nice to hear from my friend Emma that she is in the UK and we should meet up. Although she’s here because her parents aren’t well which isn’t good.

Then on Wednesday gone, I met up with my old mate Dom. We’ve known each other for years and I really admire the way he gets on with life and has a very fulfilling existence. Another person who has kept himself busy but with stuff that matters.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

C.S.Lewis

‘The Bone Chests: Unlocking the Secrets of the Anglo-Saxons’ by Cat Jarman

My first book finished last week. It’s a lovely book about history and archaeology. Basically there are 6 chests in Winchester Cathedral that supposedly contain the bones of kings, archbishops, and saints. Once there were 10 until Parliamentarian soldiers attempted to destroy them during the Civil War. The spilt bones were collected up and put into the remaining chests.

This is a lovely bit of investigative non-fiction. Four main things I took away from this book:

  • The destructive power of religious extremism. The puritan zealots destroyed some wonderful historical objects. Same as religious crazy people these days. Apart from the chests, they also destroyed windows, monuments, tombs, and wall paintings. What a stupid waste.
  • The power of bones and relics. There are some people who inspire us such that we want them to stay forever. And so we take reassurance from their remains. Look at the way some graves become shrines or the way some bodies are disposed of secretly to avoid this happening.
  • The amazing power of modern archaeology. The mixed up bones of various people have been sorted and modern testing done to try to identify who those people actually were. In doing so people not expected to be there were uncovered.
  • The chaos of Anglo-Saxon England itself. Kings came and went with scary rapidity. A country torn by family rivalries, early deaths, religious violence, and Viking raids. Even supposed heroes such as Alfred and Cnut come with baggage.
A black crow

‘Burn: The Misunderstood Science of Metabolism’ by Herman Pontzer

This is the book given to me by my friend Brian. And like ‘The Bone Chests’, non-fiction. There is something to be said for reading stuff that is real and you know nothing about. This pushes your boundaries and gives you new perspectives as much as fiction. And this is a book that explains how our metabolism works. The way calories are taken in and our hormonal system monitors the processing of them giving out messages about what more (or less) is needed.

The key message is that exercise can’t make you lose weight. That there is a limit to how many calories we can process and burn each day with many being consumed by internal body processes. And the level of exercise to be done to really impact this is an extreme only met in unique circumstances. Food determines if we are fat. However, exercise in itself is a good thing that improves the health of the body in so many different ways such as reducing inflammation and strengthening muscles.

And we cannot under-estimate the importance of evolution; the way we have lived for the last few thousand years cannot over-ride what our bodies have evolved to do over millions of years. Our bodies have evolved to keep us alive not to fit a modern theory of beauty. But we have moved so far away from what they were designed for which was finding food, escaping predators, and reproducing. Not sitting in front of a computer screen. Thus to stay healthy we need to go back to things like eating just enough to survive, not consuming over-processed foods, and living less sedentary lifestyles.

  • It’s another busy week but much of this is busy stuff that matters
  • Like taking mum for another scan on Wednesday
  • As well as meeting my friend Fang Fang for dinner on Monday evening and travelling out of London on Friday morning to see Emma
  • Meanwhile Dave will be dealing with a lot of stuff for our friend Patrick
  • To fit with the above, I’m going to have to alter my exercise routine. Assuming my illness has fully passed, the plan is gym on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. With a swim on Wed morning.
  • I’m reading a big book about the revolutions that took place across Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century. Monumental events that shaped the modern world and resound with life today. Don’t think I will finish it next week but it’s a good read.
  • Carrying on with my daily language learning

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