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Life in a time of covid-19 - part 4: kindness

Do you remember that tight feeling in your hand at the end of exams - the clawed, feels-like-I-dipped-them-in-cement-three-hours-ago stiffness of fingers clamped round a pen; the numb divots in finger pads, and the heavy, whole arm and shoulder ache? I remembered it yesterday. First we had loo-roll shortages, swiftly followed by a complete disappearance of pasta and paracetamol and dog food and nappies, now there are shortages of medicines. But before you panic ... yes, there's a shortage of some things, but most common medicines are available in many different brands or there are 'similar enough' medications to make logical swaps. Though by the end of yesterday, logic was beginning to give way to desperation as our pharmacists started calling patients to check if they had really run out or could wait a couple of weeks. We live in very strange times. These shortages are a small and probably temporary part of that strangeness and will be lost as the bigger picture comes in…
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Life in a time of covid-19 - part 3: fear and gratitude

First - no I didn't: have to don PPE at work yesterday (... see the Life in a time of covid-19 - part 2 blog if you're confused). This was a huge relief. But I have vastly more than huge respect for all those who did. As GPs ... I've never admitted to being one here before but hey ho times change ... we are usually on the frontline but right now the frontline has washed into the A&E departments and we are left with phone calls; lots of them. We're doing what is called telephone triage which basically involves speaking to many worried well; issuing too many prescriptions for antibiotics to sore throats and earaches; and trying to diagnose rashes from descriptions of how red or sticky they are. Video calls are coming but what looked like plain sailing last week has veered off into choppy waters with messages not sending properly or sending twice or the process freezing on screen almost like its afraid of something; maybe its moment of being the rabbit in the headlig…

Life in a time of covid-19 - part 2: happy place

The words 'happy place' probably turn the title of this blog into an oxymoron, coming after the eight words and numbers that precede them. I don't think many of us are feeling particularly happy at the moment. Me - I'm anxious; nervous; and sitting on the edge of my chair (which is possibly more to do with the general decrepitude of the chair and its broken undercarriage than any agitation I'm feeling).

Why ... am I anxious - not why do I persist with a broken chair?

Well - partly the obvious, the p word ... pandemic; but also two other words beginning with p. Might I have to put on PPE (personal protective equipment) at work tomorrow? Personal and protective.

Personal - to me; to keep me safe.
Protective - is it?

I'll park that particular worry for now and deal with it tomorrow. There's nothing I can do about it today.
You see, this is why I need to focus on my happy place. Why I need to escape.
If I step back for a moment from the anxious little beetles …

Life in a time of Covid-19 - part 1: a rant against idiots

It feels like we are stuck in the opening credits of a disaster movie. But this is a cinema we cannot leave. And there are too many directors trying to tell us - the extras - what to do. So we stop listening and follow each other. And as the cameras roll, the dystopian world of the film descends into chaos and panic. The problem is this film is real.

So what are our options?

Well, it appears that a lot of people have selected option 1. The panic option. The option driven by an escalating drip drip of confused and contradicting information. The rabbit hole we hurtle down in a frenzy of wide-eyed suffocating fear as we search and search and search for information on the internet; read terrifying tweets and skip the too doom-laden headlines that we see, but are too scared to open.

Some have selected option 2. The it-won't-happen-to-me option. The we-suddenly-find-ourselves-on-a-paid-and-mortgage-free-holiday option. The scientists-are-jargon-spouting-nerds option. The irresponsible,…

On starting the year the way I mean to go on. And the secret to happiness.

'The way I mean to go on' ... what does that mean?

At New Year, we ask ourselves and each other, 'What are our resolutions?' I have written about this before. Hundreds of people have written about this before; every minute of every hour of every January 1st ever since someone first had the bright idea that on the strike of midnight when December 31st trips over into January, it would be a bright idea to recalibrate; to promise ourselves that we would change. And we all know what happens to most promises. They get broken; most of them before the end of January. No, strike that out and let's be honest, most are broken by the end of the second week of January; sunk with everyone else's broken promises into the murky gloom of dying resolutions and dark mid-winter.

So for a moment, let's break this ramble down, reiterate a bit, and return to where I started - resolutions are pointless promises made out of desperation when we look at the lives we have created for…

The Owl and the Pussycat. And a long procrasti-rambling rant.

"To think is easy. To act is hard."                                                     Goethe
Never were words more true - think about it. I think about the things I want to do; thinking about them is easy. Getting down to doing them is so hard that most of them go un-done. And little wants and wishes pile on top of last year's wants and wishes and the big wants balance precariously on the top of the heap, for a while propped-up by to-do lists and well intentioned plans but too soon they too are replaced or forgotten and sink into the bog of lost dreams. But these are small, personal things. And small personal inactions. What of the bigger things that we think about?

We can all think about the big things such as world politics and economics. We can all worry about them. But to act on our thoughts? That can be hard. It risks taking us beyond our comfort zone. It risks making us confront those who would perhaps disagree with us. It is easy to think - to worry - to hope. G…

On finding paddles and taking a long procrasti-ramble up an idiom

Lord Byron - that maverick, troubled thinker and poet - said

If I do not write to empty my mind, I go mad
I haven't written for a while. Perhaps I have gone mad.

Indeed, perhaps I have ...

Perhaps the whimsy that is the word jumble in my head resides in Aristophanes's cloud-cuckoo land. Either there, or perhaps it has flown away with the Celtic fairies of my youth. Don't you just love a good idiom?

Idiom - derivation: probably from the Greek idioma meaning private or peculiar phraseology (ref. Oxford Dictionaries online); definition: a group of words that when presented in a particular order take on a meaning that is not obvious from the meanings of the individual words eg. over the moon, on the ball, piece of cake, hit the sack, let the cat out of the bag, and method in my madness ... which there is. But mine is innocent; not the murderous method of Hamlet's madness. And if you'll give me the benefit of the doubt, I'll cut to the chase and deliver the goods as …