A painful topic: what doctors need to know (according to patients)

You could easily substitute “depression” for “ichthyosis” in this piece. Plus, I had no idea that ichthyosis sufferers were so misunderstood by medicos as their disorder is so visible!

Doctor's bag

What doctors need to know (according to patients)

Ok, so I was wrong. I really liked the RACGP good GP television commercial. It had some flaws but I thought they were small in the grand scheme of things (see my last post). But many patient advocates did not agree and were unhappy about the lack of communication portrayed in the video.

Blogger Michelle Roger commented: “My current GP asks me what I want to do, what I think is most important and together we sort through the problem at hand and potential solutions. I feel valued and heard and trust her more knowing that she listens and knows me and my family.”

“That for me was missing in the video. It was one-sided and the patients appeared little more than props to be talked at. In fact the patients had no voice at all. A problem that still permeates a lot of medicine.”

Crockey health blog posted an article

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Orphan Choir read and reviewed… a little late but done

Although I had to wait 2 weeks before I could start my Book Challenge, I manage to read and have a good think about it.

Choir in the chapel

The Orphan ChoirThe Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the excellent writing style for the first 25 pages and then I became saturated with what I felt was the self-indulgent rambling of a neurotic woman. I understood after reading more that the self-indulgence of the main character was probably somewhat justified, but it spoiled the whole tale for me because I wanted to throttle Louise Beeston more than finish reading! The style struck me as rather English Major but it was easy to read even when the character was bugging me. A slight loss of momentum and maybe some disconnection happened about 2/3 the way through as I felt there had not been enough contribution from the other characters. Some observations of Louise’s behaviour towards the neighbours and the local environmental health officers might have been helpful as well as some insights from her young son. The ending was done quite neatly and left a sense of mystery with a few awkward moments.The author tried to bridge the beginning of Louise as a neurotic whinger and denouement (where Louise seems to have completely changed her whole attitude to life) and wavered a bit in order to not give away too much. This would have been a good novel to workshop before it was sent off to the publisher in my humble editorial opinion. But then, maybe what Hannah did was the best anyone could hope for as it was a really knotty problem to finish without destroying the point of the story.

View all my reviews

So I took on a Read my Library Challenge…

I was looking for an easy online challenge and came across one that only required me to read one book in a month. Sounded like me in my current frame of mind!

So I’m
palmbw going to check out my local public library which is funded by the local suburban council, Unley, Adelaide, South Australia. I used to borrow quite a bit when I first joined on becoming unemployed in 2007 but quickly exhausted their supply of craft and garden books. I found that the novel section was rather dominated by romantic and/or historical fiction and modern thrillers and that the latest additions to the collection were reserved months in advance.

Now I will have to go down there and pick out something from the shelves. Fingers crossed. I rather fancy a rambling, thoughtful tale by an Indian or Pakistani author but I wonder what I will discover? I’ll let you know. 😉

Twenty three year countdown!

I had a read over at Judith Westerfield’s Blog and used her link to the Life Expectancy Calculator. The result is the title of my post: I have 23.6 years of life left in which to occupy myself.

Having already made some minor changes to my life, despite struggling with early retirement, some unattractive social scenes and major depression, I feel that the following may be a good guide for the future:


Rebecca Webber says:

“Major life changes are never easy, because your instincts and the urgent matters of the day work against you. But when you learn to focus on your future self, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.”

In the last couple of years I’ve managed to get my depression under control and eliminate the side effects of the large dose of pills I’m on with the help of a “mild” shrink and a very focused cognitive psychologist. With their help I avoided killing myself because I couldn’t see a place for me in the future and I avoided running away because I couldn’t see a future living in the current place. In addition, I’m quite proud of the fact that I’ve shed most of the weight I gained all those years ago on those slug-making anti depressants like amitriptylline and I’ve made regular exercise almost automatic for at least one day per week. By the latter, I mean that every Thursday morning I can get up when the alarm goes off, have breakfast, shower and go straight to aquarobics without giving it a second thought! No more “Oh maybe I won’t go because it’s so freezing this morning” and no more feeling too immobilised by hopelessness. Instead I’m off like clockwork to hear all the news from my pals at the class, maybe even meet one or two for a coffee date afterwards.


When I had 85 years to spend!

When I had 85 years to spend!

However, apart from fulfilling my need for socialising by continuing to meet new local people via Facebook, I need to become relaxed enough to allow myself to enjoy my hobbies, instead of feeling guilty that I’m playing, not working. That will be the sense in which I plan to REINVENT myself over the next 23 years. I know I have some tools provided by my therapists and my reading, such as Mindfulness meditation, but I now must develop more of those practices as HABITS just as I have with the aquarobics. Now I’ll go and play the REINVENT video again, and maybe over again to see what insights I can glean that sound as though they would fit with my inner self and current economic and social circumstances. There’s no point in doing something that involves money and I can’t be exhorted to “travel often” without that either! Wish me luck.

All comments and advice are welcome, unless negative, of course.

A comedian stands up for sums. From New Scientist

Sounds like a great read with a bit of involvement.

PLEASE everyone, look into the fun side of maths for your kid’s sake. Kids need to enjoy maths and appreciate it is just a set of rules and facts they can commit to memory, just like any other subject. You don’t have to be good at maths to enjoy its many aspects in our daily lives.

A comedian stands up for sums – physics-math – 04 November 2014 – New Scientist.

What does it all mean?

I loved this blog from Scientific American, which recalled all the waffling I have done about injecting meaning into my life in order to live. Probably, anyone with the slightest tendency to introspect grapples with this at some time. I am just grappling with moving forward at the moment so this struck a [harmonic minor] chord:

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/2014/11/03/to-feel-meaningful-is-to-feel-immortal/#comment-901
  • Another re-start

    Here I am, re-starting again after not getting far in 2013. However, neglecting my blogs has been accompanied by finishing my Masters and a small but promising start on resuming my hobbies! I need to complete the paperwork [somehow] and go to a formal graduation so I can believe I REALLY HAVE finished the Masters in Public Health.

    As for my hobbies, I’ve managed to resurrect my sewing machine in the past week and I was already bumbling along on it before I gave it a good servicing. I deliberately got onto Pinterest and started collecting ideas for sewing/patchwork/quilting/beading/general maker-ing so I’ve acquired some patterns via the interwebs and made a few blogger contacts.

    About the only sewing I’ve done this year has been the manufacture of a small-scale parachute which a friend needed for a short film she was making as part of a Diploma Course at MAPS [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/user/MediaArtProduction]. She bought the fabric while I designed and manuafactured it. Researching the shape and mechanics of the parachute was quite fun and the props people were quite taken with it!

    Obviously, my mood hasn’t been wonderful or I would have been back into regular blogging etc. Last year I lost some momentum mid-year and was rescued by referral to a cognitive therapist (psychologist). My response to the cognitive programme was pretty remarkable for me because I sailed along and finished my dissertation really quickly after spending a regular time on it every day for a month.

    I hit a big snag on the interpersonal front last September or so when a new photography pal suddenly went all peculiar on me, cutting me off dead for 4 months. We eventually linked up again but he’s cut me off again this year and it’s been 5 months so far. I’m pretty sure he has Asperger’s syndrome but finding a label doesn’t open up any alternative communication channels, worse luck. Mini parachute making a soft landing in the box hedge

    A friend helped me sort out the Tax Man and that was a great relief. The Tax Dept had been chasing me for years and I hadn’t succeeded in fighting them off. They assumed I had a business that was bringing in a huge income and started demanding $1 100 a month for every month I hadn’t completed a form! I tried to cancel my business number online but they demanded I come in myself and identify myself with my passport. I took it in but it had expired that day [shiiiittt]. They said they’d only accept a new passport for ID. I couldn’t afford a new passport – no income – couldn’t pay over $300. Sooo the round about route to getting an identity was to become an Australian Citizen- without ID – so I did the test, got tipped and teed up an accountant to clear up the tax mess. Now I’m clear and have received a small refund, so I’m happy enough not to be pursued any more. Bastards. I would break down on the phone to them and was unable to speak. They didn’t give a stuff. Basically said that I had to clear it or else they’d sub poena me for court and off to the clink if I couldn’t pay up!! Wonderful! What a department.

    Anyhow, after all that singularly unspectacular tale, I’d better get back to #NanoWriMo which I started yesterday. My debutante novel has the title “Glitter” and it’s based on a dream I had, which already inspired my friend’s short film “Grace” which used the parachute!

    Breakthrough flash of insight!!

    After having a dream last night that kept recurring in different forms, I’ve had a real breakthrough insight into what my depression is all about!! Amazing! Now this may be a real no-brainer to everyone else, BUT, I’ve discovered that [due to my upbringing] I know fuck-all about relationship maintenance!

    My relationships become un-rewarding for me because I DON’T PROVIDE ANY RELATIONSHIP MAINTENANCE in the way of affection to my partners. I don’t put more than the slightest bit IN so I eventually find I’m getting nothing OUT. Gradually my poor bloke becomes more and more discouraged about his input efforts with me, ergo I feel the zip is gone and I shut down and get depressed.

    Now I’ll have to set about being demonstrative and that will be difficult and may not work immediately, but it’s POSSIBLE, so I’ll give it a go.

    Flash of insight

    Flash of insight

    How’s that? I feel quite proud of myself for sorting that one out after sixty years living in a black hole!

    We need this program in Oz: Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions


    Ruby Wax

    Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions | Channel 4 goes mad | Documentary | Blog | Time To Change.

    Reading the summary and readers’ comments on this British TV program from their Channel 4 made me think about how I am coping right now with my own head.

    Crepe myrtle from L Street

    Crepe myrtle from L Street

    In the midst of a few physical health issues I’m not doing too badly. As the people in the above program and the commenters pointed out, I could do with some company and a  bit of real-life support. I feel a bit stigmatised as people don’t invite me to stuff. Now maybe they’ve just forgotten about me because I’m not around much or maybe I DO make them feel uncomfortable. That must be the difficulty about having a mental illness that doesn’t make you think or behave in  unexpected ways – you can never quite tell if a drop off in friends is just chance or if they’re deliberately avoiding you.

    As I’ve said before, I never really feel lonely and I AM alone during working hours; I just feel the need for different environments and social input from different human beings. Now I can’t drive or walk to the bus stop, my lack of regular company apart from Spotrick and the cats has become more salient. What strategies could I use, apart from spending even more time on the Interwebs?!

    Need to stop thinking about…

    I’m wishing tonight, after having a pleasant dinner out, that I could stop thinking about things that touch me too deeply. Tears are welling in my eyes and threatening to fall down my cheeks as I can’t do anything to help. I’ll try to concentrate on something I COULD do last weekend.

    I managed to help my young friend Olu “Climate” Idowu from Nigeria raise the last couple of hundred dollars that enabled him to attend an important meeting in Ethiopia. He has been running a program to teach youth to sustainably work the land so they can become employed and feed themselves and their families. By flocking to urban areas, rural people in developing countries have lost the skills they thought would be useless in the city. As Olu and I were chatting on Facebook I also got a message from Thalini who is training to be a surgeon in NSW, Australia, wondering how to do something that I know all about, and I thought !! Bingo!!

    Maybe Thalini would have some of the cash Olu needed for his conference and I could in turn help Thalini with her problem! It worked and didn’t cost me a cent of the money I haven’t got!

    So this week I became an international online entrepreneur! That must be an achievement I can be happy with.

    What techniques can I use in the future to stop myself becoming too sad and emotional about problems that other people are in a much better position to fix? Genuine help needed!

    Positive post script:

    The rescue cat pictured below was adopted and neutered. She was previously on death row at Manhattan Animal Rescue in New York City because she was found roaming the streets. She was approximately 5 years old, and as you can see, not the most attractive-looking animal you might expect to take home.

    Kitty's got the blues

    Kitty’s got the blues

    I contacted a heap of people who lived in or near NYC to try to get her a kind, warm home. Someone responded and I am so very relieved.