The Hassle of Dealing with Simultaneous Crap and Brilliance

The ultimate purpose of very many self-help / personal development books and courses is to get you to a point where your life is free of hassle. Or, at least, everyday hassles are neutered and minimised. I think the reality is that we have to deal with hassle, annoyance, and frustration all the time in life.

Indeed, some people (and perhaps I expected it) think that my life is easier as I am not working at the moment. Certainly it is wonderful not to deal with office politics, avalanches of emails, and tedious exhausting zoom meetings.

But I still have issues to deal with not least my increasing responsibilities in looking after mum. This increasingly brings me into contact with a health and social care system that is both crap and brilliant at the same time.

Brilliant in that it exists. I look at America and despair. How can it be right that people can die homeless on the street from cancer and no-one cares? Or that it has the highest number of people in the world who have to declare themselves bankrupt due to health care bills. The NHS is wonderful in that it is always there but, my God, it is painful to deal with sometimes.

Under pressure

  • A week dealing with the health service on mum’s behalf: thank God it’s there but loads of hassle
  • Time with my partner Dave now his busy time is over and also with old friends Dom and Philip
  • Mixed news: a good book, the gym has reopend, and QPR wins. But weight goes up and greenwashing at COP28.

Mum

Another health service run-in

Mum has got big healthcare issues and we had a hospital appointment the previous week that led to recommendations to change her regime of meds. That should have been picked up by her GP surgery but they wanted more clarification from the hospital. A series of fraught conversations with the practice pharmacist who basically told me to re-contact the hospital to sort it out.

So I tracked down the hospital doctor who promised to leave some of the new meds at the hospital pharmacy for me to collect. Went there on Thursday and found he had left enough for the next 18 months. But I then had to wait an hour and a half for the pharmacy to make up the prescription. I had to get assertive in the end to ensure they got everything sorted – average wait for other patients needing to collect meds was a mere 20 mins.

What being ’empowered’ really means

Last week gave me memories of when the hospital pharmacist made me chase my HIV consultant to sort out issues with my meds. And when I spent a year chasing a repair with the Housing Association. What is it with some public sector professionals that makes them so rude, aggressive, and uncaring?

Mum was really upset by it all. Obviously, she was worried that her medication wouldn’t be sorted and the pain she has endured would get worse again. I sorted it but when we are forced to become ’empowered’ to sort out services we should receive, doesn’t that often just mean that we are letting highly paid people get away without delivering the service levels they are paid to do?

It’s all just so tiring

Meanwhile, I do everything I can to sort issues out for mum as well as providing practical assistance to make her life as nice as possible. This includes collecting meds, collecting her new glasses, and doing shopping. Though I need to make sure that mum does get out and about for some exercise. TBH, it’s amazing how tiring it is dealing with the hassle and worry you get from being a carer often caused by outside agencies.

Dave: Hassle over and Christmas excited

Dave has been living through his busiest time of the year workwise. Hassle all the way but, thankfully, he knows how to handle it and it is just once per year. I’ve been giving him space (and waited in for his repair to be done on Tuesday) but by Friday everything was over. So we managed to get some time together at the weekend doing normal stuff like watching Dr Who.

Dave actually loves Christmas and he has been getting really excited about decorating his flat, turning into Winter Wonderland. He also loves crap Christmas movies and made me watch one with him on Saturday night.

lights on the tree

Friends to the rescue again

Dom

One of the best ways to get over everyday hassle, is to spend time chilling with friends. Two nice meet-ups last week. First was on Monday evening when me and Dave met with my old mate Dom. Nice just to spend time chewing the cud particularly about the various issues as we are now all turning into old men.

Phyllis

Then on a bitterly cold Saturday, I met up with Philip for lunch in Soho. We were supposed to meet on Friday but this got shifted. Great to see him but it reminded me why I avoid the West End on weekends as it was so bloody busy. Me and Philip ate at our usual place and had a lovely time mainly talking about life in the future as we both head towards retirement.

Be happy and grateful about nice things

Gym and swim: Just like old times

Hoo-fucking-ray, my gym has re-opened after a few weeks of building work. It has been a hassle with it closed but I am so pleased it is back. Made it there 3 times last week varying the exercises for each of the main body parts on each visit. I’ve also started a new routine with 3 sets of reps but declining from 12 to 10 to 8 each set with the weight-levels being increased each time.

107 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £4.60 per session.

dumbells in the gym

Also fitted in a swim on Thursday morning. Bloody cold morning and it’s always an issue motivating yourself to get out on freezing cold days. But did 22 lengths with the majority being front-crawl which I really enjoy now. I’ve definitely moved past the point of feeling like I’m drowning every time I do it.

Weight: Bad news

So the upward weight trend, noted in my recent blogs, has continued. Not good and I am back over 13 stone. I am really trying to eat more healthily (see below) but I realise I need to cut back more. Could be that in building muscle I am putting on weight. More likely that the couple of blow-out meals I had last week have had results. But I don’t want to lose the feeling that I am in control. And I want to keep under the psychologically important level of 13 stone.

lose weight now

Dietary changes: Good news and a simple new rule

As reported in my previous blog (read it here), I’m dealing with the fact that I am borderline diabetic. TBH, the online service to help me deal with this isn’t really working. However, I am aware that I need to lose more weight by cutting down generally. And I am aware that I need to eat more fruit and veg which I really am trying to do.

I am also trying to cut down on carbs. Dom gave some good advice which is to avoid white food: so limits on bread, pasta, pizza, pastry, rice, cake, potatoes (everything nice in life). Unless this stuff is brown i.e. if it’s wholemeal bread, pasta, or rice. So brown over white as a way forward.

Carbs

QPR: A corner turned?

This season to date has been a series of low points. And in my previous blog, I wondered if the positive impact of the new manager had worn off. Our away match against Stoke on Tuesday night may have been a massive turning point. 1-0 up to 2-1 down against a team with 10 men. But then a bit of luck with an own goal and we won 4-2.

This must have given some lift that got us to a 2-0 victory away against Preston on Friday night. Never under-estimate how much a change can come if you can just get that initial breakthrough.

QPR old skool

COP28: Greenwashing and oil deals

The week of the international climate conference in the UAE. Can a petro-state really deliver change and success in tackling global climate change? Or is this just greenwashing in the way that Saudi is doing with sport to improve their image abroad? Meanwhile, the hosts are using the event to do oil deals – read about it here.

I feel you also have to be deeply sceptical of the ability of these events to really change things when it is full of important people flying in and out on private jets which simply add to the carbon in the world. Do we see the real behavioural change that acknowledges the shit we are in – no.

An escape mechanism

Another way to escape from everyday stress and hassle is by having a hobby and if that hobby is about developing useful skills then how good is that ! So I continue to do my daily language learning on Duolingo. And I’m back to my gym routine where I can do this learning whilst I am taking a breather in-between sets.

‘Winter in the Worlds. A Journey Through the Anglo-Saxon Year’ by Eleanor Parker

Sometimes it’s good to read a ‘left-of-centre’ book, one that you might not normally touch. This book by Eleanor Parker is quite an academic study of the Anglo-Saxon annual calendar particularly based on poetry of the period. It’s fascinating that we still have some of these written down in what was probably a very oral culture.

It is fascinating how agrarian, pre-industrial societies operate in a world dominated by the seasons and weather. We’ve lost that with central heating, air conditioning, and electric lighting. Indeed, for most of us, life is not based around whether your plants grow and if your harvest could be taken away.

This book beautifully shows how people’s lives were dominated by nature and they were very aware of changes coming and going. But it also shows how early Christians were trying to reconcile the Christian calendar with the traditional Roman and pagan ones. Indeed, there’s a lovely story about how the Anglo-Saxons were very aware of the great Roman ruins but actually knew very little about the people who had built them.

I think there is definitely something to be said about overcoming the hassles of modern life by becoming more aware of nature. Switching into when the world tells us to be slower and sleep or have energy and do things. At the moment, nature is definitely saying relax, keep safe and warm, don’t stress.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

  • Getting away from hassle for a bit (hopefully) by spending a few days in Brighton to catch up with some old friends: Dave, Emma, Beth, Antonia, Rob
  • Back on Thursday and aiming to get to the Velvet Page Book Club later that day if I’m not too knacked
  • Dave’s enchantment with Christmas continues with him insisting we go to see ‘Muppet Christmas Carol’ at the cinema next Sunday – it’s an annual event that I could do without but hey ho…
  • Will catch up with mum on my return to London and spend some time with her
  • Carry on with my 2 current good reading books. On the kindle, it’s the sci-fi cult classic of ‘The Sheep Look Up’ by John Brunner. As a ‘real’ book, it’s the Booker Prize 2023 shortlisted ‘In Ascension’ by Martin MacInnes
The reason why we are here

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