A useful tool in social work (and indeed in life) is to be able to hold an assortment of different versions of reality in your head at the same time. And that is what is going on here in New Normal land at the moment.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how transplanting bacteria from a healthy person’s gut to someone suffering from irritable bowel or other digestive problems can dramatically improve their health.
Two of my patients went to see their GPs last week, one for back pain and one for digestive problems. Both were sent away with prescriptions for antidepressants.
So this is the new way to live forever, according to the latest guidelines.
It’s a thing we all worry about these days, as we get older, and it’s now overtaken heart attacks as a major cause of death in the UK.
Yes, it’s that time of year again. Though of course, people are less likely to need aphrodisiacs in spring, when the sap is rising and – as the joke goes – ‘young men’s fancy turns to what young women have been thinking of all year’.
No, it’s not about drinking two litres of water every day; I hope that myth has now been thoroughly busted.
For a lot of people, the first step into herbal medicine is when they get fed up with HRT or antidepressants or whatever, and try to find something in the herb world that will do the job without the side-effects.
Starting to feel the cold? Now is the time when the lovely warming spices come into their own: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice.
Hippocras: the clue is in the name. It’s basically mulled wine, but the quantities of spices that go into it are enough to give it real medicinal qualities.
In social work we used to do '6-month Reviews' where we cast our eyes back at where we had come from and where we seemed to have landed up. (Other definitions are available!)
Of course, it comes around every year, but the cycle of feasting followed by ‘detox’, or insane overconsumption of rich foods and then complete abstinence, just when you need some solid sustenance to get you through the winter, is neither good for man nor beast.
You could not make it up. Already I was writing the headline. 'Cancer victim in midst of chemotherapy served eviction notice two weeks before Christmas.'
0800: Wake up and realise that I am half blind. Put on specs. Now only quarter blind. Right eye is glued shut and red and puffy and dribbly. Yeugh.
Armour on, weapons primed, bullets at the ready, let battle commence, because cancer is aggressive and sometimes deadly and there is a fight to be fought.
The NHS designated 14th-20th November as National Self-Care Week.
Och, and it was all going so well! Three chemo sessions called FEC successfully under my belt, some tiredness, temporary steroid-based insomnia, but only in the few days after each treatment.
I’m looking out at Exeter Cathedral Green on a fine autumn day.
‘Coffee gives you heart attacks, but tea makes you live forever’ ‘Caffeine is addictive and leads to nervous exhaustion’ ‘I’m useless without my two cups in the morning’ …and so on and so forth.
Chemotherapy and good side effects are not usually discussed in the same sentence but one unexpected outcome of an elephantine infusion of toxic and unpronounceable drugs has been that after fifteen years without it I have regained my sense of smell!
'Grief! Why are people baking bloody Victoria Sponges and cupcakes to pay for a MacMillan nurse? Aaaargh!
If you’re making jack-o-lanterns for Hallowe’en this year, you’ll end up with a lot of pumpkin flesh and seeds.
It is the first visit and they sit staring at me. I am here to read poetry.