Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Gissa job!

My inbox contains all sorts of invitations, offers, information and presentations. But there aren't many like THIS: 

I mean, just look at it! Unfortunately, I'm not a 'couple' looking for our 'next adventure'. But if I was I'd not be telling you about this in case you applied for what at any other time would probably be my dream job.

I mean, just look at it. What's not to like?

Anyway, if you fancy it, get in touch with them here: https://argyllholidays.com/recruitment

And if you get it... d'you fancy inviting me up to review the site for you? 

Go on! 

One good turn deserves another!

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Great for both children and adults!

Operation Ouch! magazine is the official children’s magazine of the award-winning BBC TV show. Packed full of interactive puzzles, eye-opening experiments and awesome facts, it follows twin doctors Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken alongside Dr Ronx as they explore the fascinating worlds of medicine and human biology.

We were sent a copy for my daughter to review. Here's what she thought...

In "Ouch!" magazine you can read all about the body, how it works, and get tips on how to stay healthy. I enjoyed reading it and I think it is a good magazine.

I especially liked the section on pages 22-23: ‘Can you run barefoot?’ It taught me a lot about the soles of your feet and why it is very important to have sensible footwear on whilst running. I was extremely surprised when I found out that your feet have 200,000 nerve endings! No wonder stepping on a piece of Lego hurts so much! I also enjoyed reading about hiccups and what causes them. It helped me understand where they come from and what you can do to stop them (nothing). I also tried the balloon breaths on pp. 58-59 but that didn't go well as I couldn't stop laughing. 

If there was one thing I think they could improve it would be the contents page. A few of the subjects covered in the magazine are listed on the back page but I wasn’t told where to go to if I wanted to read about eyes, for instance. I think that a more traditional contents page would have been better.

Overall, however, I think that this magazine is great both for children and adults. You can learn lots from it and has bits in that will make you laugh. I would recommend it if you are into the body and how it works, and if you need to do some research for a project.

Out of the mouths of babes, eh? 

Friday, 25 February 2022

Ukraine explained...

In case you, or your kids (your own or those you teach) are wondering what the hell is going on, the following brief explainer might be helpful. After all, the finer points of Ukrainian history and politics aren't something we're all automatically familiar with, and even if we were, there's still a lot that's unclear if not downright confusing. 

I mean, what is Putin doing? Contrary to what people like Arron Bank's are saying (and, let's just say he may have his own, personal reasons for doing so) Ukraine is not Russian in the same way as the Isle of Wight is British.

Far from it. Ukraine became a member or the USSR exactly a century ago in 1922. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union it became an independent nation state in 1991. So far, so good. 

The problem, as far as there is one, is the Russina-speaking oblasts (regions) of Donetsk and Luhansk. There's been a conflict there for some time, between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces. On the face of it, that might seem analogous to, say, Basque or Catalan separatist movements in Spain, or republican struggles in Ireland. 

But... those two Eastern oblasts make up the huge Donats coalfield. Yes, coal. Lots and lots of it. Coincidence? Maybe. But the "mere" fact of a region being populated by people speaking a language hasn't generally been considered grounds for an invasion. The German military occupation of Czechoslovakia, that began with the annexation of the German-speaking Sudetenland in 1938, anyone?

What underlies the whole thing is the fact that since 2014, when the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was removed from office after widespread protests. Russia regarded his overthrow as an illegal coup and refused to recognize the new government. Shortly afterwards they (Russia) annexed the Crimean peninsula, which is still regarded internationally as part of Ukraine. 

Having effectively got away with that, it was, perhaps, inevitable that Putin would eventually go further. A large, pro-Western country talking about joining NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, effectively a military mutual-aid agreement between 30 Western nations) on its border might be regarded as a threat, but... well, that's what the Ukranian's wanted. The 2014 Revolution of Dignity (also known as the Maidan revolution) came about because pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych had refused to sign a free-trade EU association agreement. As soon as he fled the country, that contract was signed and shortly afterwards Petro Poroshenko became President of Ukraine following a landslide victory. That seems a pretty clear indication of the "will of the people." Certainly far stronger than the so-called "will of the people" that resulted in us, here in the UK, leaving the EU last year. 

So, so... I hope that helps. I realise it might actually make things worse. But it's important to understand, and to get your information from a reliable, non-partisan source. (Ok, ok, I make no secret of being a dyed-in-the-wool remainer but apart from that...) 

What's also important is to do whatever you can. There's a good list of organisation you can support who are striving to get help to those who need it most at this terrible time. And they, of course, are the innocent men, women and children of Ukraine. 

Here's a link that explains how we can help them: 


Tuesday, 2 November 2021

"A very powerful and much-needed addition to the library of pain-related literature"

I was delighted to meet Dr Deepak Ravindran last month as part of the Flippin' Pain community outreach
tour of Lincolnshire. I'd read his excellent book The Pain-Free Mindset: 7 Steps to Taking Control and Overcoming Chronic Pain this summer and thoroughly enjoyed its accessible and digestible mix of pain science and common-sense advice. Dr Ravindran is consultant pain specialist with Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation and has many years experience of helping patients (like me) to cope better with chronic pain. 

So, as a patient, I thought I'd offer him the chance to read my patient's-eye book on the subject, Where Does It Hurt? This is what he had to say... 

Reading the biography of someone with lived experience of pain is always a honour because it gives us the opportunity to look behind the curtain of someone who looks 'normal' to the rest of the world but is living with an invisible illness that can easily prevent them from living their lives to the full.

Tim Atkinson shows the unique issues of a lived expert in pain management in this book. An accomplished writer, he uses his diagnoses and management of his psoriatic arthritis to chart the difficult and time-consuming journey while observing the unique eccentricities and foibles of primary and secondary medical care with a great sense of humour and liberal references to other major writings.

Tim takes us on a journey through the most common treatments offered for pain management in the UK with a scenic detour through their history and an explanation of how they came to be. I found the chapter on history of opioids, mindfulness and BDSM particularly fascinating. He has also been able to present the newer understanding in a simplified and easy-to-grasp manner and as a clinician, I found seeing how a patient is able to distil and present the new complex science of pain processing very useful.

Ultimately, Tim talks about expectations and understanding the power of taking back control and agency as being key to manage and overcome pain. He has tried a variety of therapies and comes away with that powerful message that the language of pain needs changing. Even more important is the belief and ability to take control and do something about  pain rather than being a passive recipient of healthcare. Coming from a patient advocate who lives with pain, that is a very powerful and much needed message to everyone who suffers from chronic pain. 

Thank you, Tim, for writing this book. It is a much needed addition to the growing library of pain related literature for patients and healthcare professionals.

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