Good health is something we take for granted

Mon 4 – Sun 10 Oct 2021

A week where issues around health came to the fore after a surprise discovery. But good news in the completion of two good reading books and started two more good ones. One I have started linked to Black History Month. Finally, I continue to offload stuff and try to live more lightly.

Health – a shock to the system

Generally I consider myself in good health. OK I deal with various chronic health conditions including being HIV+ and a propensity to develop blood clots. I take a daily cocktail of meds (indeed, collected a complete renewal of all of them from the pharmacy on Saturday). But I have good health in that there are people a lot worse off than me. Indeed, I often think about my dear friend James who died prematurely due to cancer.

Potential prostate problems

Managed to get a GP appointment with my own doctor last week. She’s good and nice which is why everybody wants to see her. You have to phone at 7am, wait in a queue, and take whatever time you are given. I went about my knee but the health shock came with the results of bloods I had done at the hospital in July. I had forgotten about them but they showed that I may have a prostate problem. So more bloods taken to double-check.

It’s only when good health is threatened that you realise what you might lose. Prostate problems are common for older men and don’t always lead to cancer. But it’s that sense of losing control of your health and body; that reminder of your own mortality.

Possible osteoarthritis

This attack on my good health was exacerbated by the doc examining my knee. She thinks it’s osteoarthritis so another indicator of old age and lost good health. Getting old doesn’t instantly mean bad health but ensuring you stay in good health gets harder and harder with every year of ageing. Something you don’t think will happen when you are young but it just comes.

Walking in b&w

More medical appointments

So back to the doc’s next week to find out new blood test results to indicate if there could be a prostate problem. Or whether the previous bloods were just an anomaly. Next thing may be the dreaded finger up the bum examination.

And I need to set up an appointment with the local muscular-skeletal service to investigate my knee. But I think that’s about maintaining the current situation rather than being able to ‘correct’ it.

Weight

Look, we all know a key component of good health is not being overweight. But obesity levels are going up all the time. I know weighing less would mean lower risk of cancer and reduced joint problems. But good intentions are not enough. Bad news in that my weight went up a bit last week. Basically returned to over 13 and a half stone, all the good work I have done in reducing it over the last few weeks has come to nought (details here).

man weighing himself

Last week, I did have periods of significant reduced calorie intake but I also had periods of over-eating. I do enjoy eating out, I feel like I’m treating myself. And I did some great long purposeful walks. But I eat a lot based on stress and I can’t do the exercise I need to do due to not having enough time. Good health really does depend on so many factors beyond the simple message of eat less, exercise more. If I want to maintain good health as much as possible then I may well have to make dramatic changes in my life.

Mental health

Good health isn’t just about physical health. It’s also about mental health. Indeed, in my previous blog I acknowledged how the coming of autumn and winter affects my head – read it here. Plus clearly physical and mental good health are linked and intertwined. So perhaps in response to last week’s shock to my belief that I was in control of my health, I did several things which helped my mental health:

  • I read. I love books and reading is the single thing that makes me happy.
  • I changed routine. As per normal, my weekend was due to be spent with mum. Previously I have written about the importance of routine and non-routine in life (read it here). But I decided to spend the weekend with Dave and chill doing very little. Mum completely understood.
  • I carried on getting rid of physical shit in my life. If you own less then you worry less.

More details on all of these in the following sections.

Books

A good week for books. I completed two enjoying both of them. And I have started two news ones – one inspirational and the other joyous escapism. Didn’t manage to make the Velvet Page book club as I hoped to but apparently the book being considered was only getting a mixed reception.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

‘Now and Then’ by William Corlett

Finished this book which is about how our lives can be fucked up by what happens in our formative years. School is absolutely crucial to good health in later life and it is amazing how often we live with the trauma of our school years. This is what Corlett’s book is about – two boys who love each other at school but their relationship is treated as something wrong leading to one of them bearing the scars for the rest of his life.

‘Repercussions’ edited by Gary Russell

Regular readers will know about my big soft spot for Doctor Who. And I completed another collection of short stories last week. They maintain my good state of mind though are ultimately quite forgettable. The theme of the book was about the things we do and the repercussions that happen. Every action has a reaction whether good or bad. Worth thinking about in the pursuit of good health – whatever we do, there are always repercussions.

‘Black Spartacus’ by Sudhir Hazareesingh

Began reading this biography about Touissant L’Ouverture on my kindle as I was walking about. Touissant was the black leader of an eighteenth century slave revolt which led to the founding of Haiti as an independent post-colonial state. Touissant is a fascinating character who made a major achievement and I’m partly reading the book in honour of Black History Month.

Culture from the Saatchi Gallery graduate show

‘The City in the Middle of the Night’ by Charlie Jane Anders

This was the other book I started reading but in the old-fashioned way – a paper version and particularly whilst I’m out drinking coffee or just before I go to sleep at night. Nice lesbian sci-fi fantasy. Well written, thoughtful, and easy-going escapism. Just what we all need sometimes.

Family and Friends

Time with mum and Dave

Spent time with mum last week like the good son that I am LOL. But also had a break from routine to boost my good health. Normally I spend weekends with mum but last week I decided to stay over at Dave’s. Thankfully he has generally recovered from being ill though still has an annoying cough.

Dave was very happy we had the weekend together for a change and it was a good alteration of routine for me. But it also worked because we recognise when we both need space. Like Friday night when he went out to a big drinks event and I stayed in to drink and listen to dance music on the radio. And then Saturday morning when I went to the library and had coffee finding lots of opportunities to just sit and read.

tunes in darkness

Not enough time with friends

Good health partly links to a good circle of friends. Though some people can be very happy being by themselves. Philip in Spain remains fine. Good news in that I arranged that dinner with my old school friend Pete as I acknowledged I wanted to do in last week’s blog – read it here. Must remember to give him the Corlett book when we meet up.

Sustainability

Good health = learning to let go of physical crap

I think I am exhibiting good health in that I have moved from the opposite of my hoarding phase. I am now in a phase of offloading. Obviously I don’t want to go from one extreme to another. But I have got too much crap I don’t need in my life. And if I can live with less then that is a good thing. So ongoing sorting of stuff to sell online, donate to charity, or take to the exchange.

Plus always seriously considering whether I need to buy things. And, if I do, consideration if I can buy secondhand. Repaired a split in a pair of jeans last week. They won’t last forever but putting off buying new as much as possible is good for the environment.

This is all linked to the thing I have written about previously on the attraction of a nomad lifestyle, of not being tied down – read it here. The draw of rejecting materialism though the romanticism of this is in stark comparison to people forced into it by factors such as being a refugee or through poverty. But if you choose the nomadic lifestyle then you can’t really live with crap because you can’t carry it around with you everywhere.

Extinction Rebellion

Work – Tech for Good

Last week’s blog (here) featured the prep that was going on for our first two pro-bono tech consultancies. One started last week and seems to be going well. The kick-off meeting happened on Monday with daily stand-ups and the first weekly showcase on Friday. My team expressed how much they are enjoying it which is great.

And we continued prep for our big delivery project starting on Monday. We are actually already having daily stand-ups even though the project hasn’t officially started yet. Also pleased to meet up with a charity to see if we could work together helping them to access funding to do tech work they know they need to do.

As previously stated, I continue to be in awe of the skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm of my Thoughtworks colleagues. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with them. And I am still learning so much in this new role about how to delivery tech projects. As well as good aspects of the private sector that the not-for-profit sector could use.

Controlling stress

Work gives stress. I think that is true of all work even if you are doing your ‘dream job’. And, to be honest, how many of us are doing our ‘dream job’? Mine would be running a bookshop but I’m not naive enough to think I wouldn’t ever feel stressed doing this.

But maintaining good health means controlling the impact of stress on our lives. And I’ve come up with a small simple way to make work a wee bit less stressful. I simply change the environment I work in on a regular basis. So Mondays I work at Dave’s. Wednesdays I work from mum’s. Friday I go into the office. Not a luxury everyone has and I will change the routine sometimes. But I have realised that staying in the same environment is not conducive to good health for me.

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

Lyndon B Johnson

Other good stuff about last week

  • Carried on with trying to achieve daily personal development in learning German and Spanish as well as getting more familiar with Python. Didn’t manage every day last week but always worth trying.
  • Little in the way of art and culture. Dave started watching ‘Squid Game’ to find out what all the fuss was about and I got sucked in. The impact of Korean culture within the global setting is fascinating.

The Week Ahead

  • Hopefully get to see my GP again and have confirmation on the prostate situation. Plus will make an appointment regarding my knee. Theoretically also got an INR check on Tuesday. Could this all lead to a potential return to good health or is that illusory?
  • Should finish the Charlie Jane Anders book though not sure will get through Sudhir Hazareesingh’s as well
  • Must spend more time with mum than did last week – back to my normal routine
  • Week 2 of 3 in the discovery project at work continues and the big delivery project starts, exciting potential to benefit hundreds of thousands of people
  • Carry on with daily personal development. Plus try to see if I can get more time with friends and more time with art and culture.

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