Book Review and Sisterly Solidarity

Emma Barnett.  I’ve not heard of her before September, probably due to my living abroad for several years.  She’s a journalist, often on Newsnight and BBC Radio 5.  Barnett has recently published a book.  I heard her being interviewed about it in September.  I was impressed.

This is the book: Period.

Image result for emma barnett period

Full of various euphemisms…

It’s not normally the kind of book I would read.  Normally I am interested in books on history, humour, languages, but not “wimmin’s things.”

Why did I buy the book?  Well, several reasons:

  1. I was listening, lying in bed, and sat up to listen to the interview.   Barnett was engaging and entertaining in her interview.
  2. I’m a man.  I think it is good to know how 50% of the population is affected.
  3. I’m a bit Berlin Wall-ed out.

My copy arrived on Tuesday.  I’m now so far halfway through the book.  It’s good.  It’s informative, educational, entertaining.  Ten percent of British women have endometriosis.  Compare that with the number of British people who have type 2 diabetes (10%).  Spending on research into the latter is 35 times more than on endometriosis.

I sit at my desk, laughing at some parts, sucking in air at other parts.

I then text a female friend of mine (FFM) about the book, saying how I never realised what women have to go through:

  • Menstruation
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause

FFM writes back:

Yeah, we all to get used to it between the ages of 12-14.  Too bad if you don’t feel too good during that week.

The empathy…

It then occurred to me, do some women have an attitude of:

I have periods, too.  Suck it up, buttercup.

I’ve known women who have intimated to me that they prefer to see a male doctor because he will be more sympathetic than his female colleague who has the aforementioned attitude.

Tell a man, “it’s that time of the month,” and he’ll:

  • Offer you a hot water bottle
  • Offer you a pack of Ibuprofen
  • Let you lie on his sofa and bring you a duvet
  • Tell you he is so glad he is a man
  • Crack a joke about PMT and lightbulbs to lighten the mood

Women – show some sisterly solidarity!

Have an empathetic day, won’t you!


Which part of “no” don’t you understand?

January was quite an eventful month for me, to use British understatement.

On the 16th my Dad died.

The day after that I my left arm and hand and my right leg went lame.  I could not hold a pen, fork, razor or walk without being in agony.  Later in the week I was admitted into hospital with a suspected stroke.  Don’t worry, folks, it turned out I had an inflammation on the top of the spinal cord, very successfully treated with cortisone.

All this medical drama meant I had to spend two weeks in hospital.  Time to catch up a bit of reading.  My local padre even brought me a copy of Brothers Karamazov, although I wasn’t really planning to spend that time in hospital, if truth be known.  Ah, and the smartphone, the best friend of the hospital patient.  Hours of surfing Facebook and watching YouTube video clips.

As for visitors, well, I had a steady stream, including Schatz and various people from church.  I had advised everyone to check before coming to visit, as I was often (especially during the first few days) being whisked off to CT scan, MRI scan, endoscopy, ECG, etc etc etc.  Why check first?  Well, I refer the Honourable Gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago.  I didn’t want anyone to turn up when I had just been whisked away.  And what if I already had another visitor seeing me?  What if I just wanted to be left alone?  Do I really need to explain the permutations?

In the case of Billy (Billy No-Mates) – yes.

Within minutes of my telling everyone by Whatsapp that I had been admitted to the local hospital, I received a reply from Billy:

What hospital?  Which ward?  What are the visiting hours?  Have you informed the chaplain?

Shucks, it would have been so nice to see the words, “Get well soon.”

Billy could teach rubber-necking at the Department of Rubber-Neck Studies at Nosey Parker University.  I did not want him visiting.

My reply:

I do NOT want any visitors until further notice.

Actually, I was bearing false witness.  I just didn’t want Billy visiting me.  Sorry, folks, unkind as it may seem, his presence would not have been conducive to good blood pressure, nor would his tendenciy to:

  • Talk at length about his recent circumcision op or his podiatry appointments
  • Make sweeping statements about other people at church being like pharisees
  • Drone on and on and on about how nobody was helping him with his problems
  • Be the subject matter expert (“Co-Trainer”) on everything from German funeral procedure to Nelson Mandela to crop rotation in the fourteenth century
  • Rattle on about any hobby horse of his but your own concerns

Fast forward to my second Sunday in hospital.  I was on day four of intravenous cortisone.  One side-effect of cortisone is it sent my blood sugar sky-high, making me very sleepy.  Oh, and two weeks of hospitalisation had made my muscles rather weak, meaning I was prone to wetting myself slightly.  Not nice when wearing grey shorts.

The time was 14:00.  I had had a deep sleep after Sunday lunch.  I was just waking up.  Or was I?  Was it, in fact. a nightmare?  I heard my nurse say in heavily-accented English:

Ja?  Room twenty-sree?  Zat is ze room.

That was my room.  I swallowed hard.  Even harder than when I was given my endoscopy days earlier.

  • Someone was looking for my room
  • That person did not speak even basic German
  • Someone who would turn up to visit me without checking first

Should I stick my sleep apnoea mask on again and pretend to be asleep?


Too late.  Billy walked into my room and greeted me.  Luckily I had climbed back into bed, and pulled my bedding up to my neck, thus hiding the fact that I had wet myself.  Some consolation.

But I was still groggy.  I had four days’ stubble.  Despite the cortisone, I still could not shave.

Billy takes a chair and sits next to my bed.  He proceeds to tell me he had found a flat, was getting a kitchen ordered, he wouldn’t have to move back to England, he’d proved everyone wrong, that the housing advisors from Diakonie were absolutely useless, and then asked how I was.

I tell a lie.  He did not ask how I was.

Ginge in Germany:

Billy, I did ask you to check first before coming to see me.


Well, I did text you, but you don’t reply.

Ginge in Germany:

I was asleep.  The cortisone sent my blood sugar up and made me sleepy.


Anyway, new flat… blah blah… kitchen blah blah… Bristol… yak yak… me me me me me me me.  Monologue...

Ninety minutes of me, me, me with a captive audience.  (I assume nobody wanted to babysit him after church service today.)  Then my phone rings.

It’s Schatz.  God has proved his existence.

Ginge in Germany:

Sorry, I need to take this call. 

Billy gets up and leaves, telling me he’ll visit me again in two days time.  (“Is that a threat?” I wondered.)

It’s always a pleasure to see my friends.

(Er, excuse me.  From whose viewpoint?  Not mine.)

I thank Schatz profusely for ringing me.  Else Billy would have graced me with his presence till beyond teatime… bedtime… the Radio 4 Shipping Forecast.

I go back to reading my book about East Germany.  Maybe I should lend Billy a copy.

He might then understand a bit more about respect for boundaries.

Have a respectful day, won’t you!


Sunray Down

Sunray is down.  Sunray passed away died one week ago.  Sunray is was my Dad.

How do I feel about his passing away death?

  • 80% relieved
  • 10% “It hasn’t really sunk in yet”
  • 10%… well, I’m not sure

Thankfully when death came, it came quickly.  Heart attack on the way back from the shops.  I had feared bluebottles at the window, police having to smash down his front door and find his lifeless body on the sofa.  I am grateful that when the end came, it came relatively swiftly.

For the last three to four years Sunray had not been enjoying life.

  • Riddled with arthritis
  • Out of control diabetes
  • Personality disorder
  • Depression
  • A sad, lonely, unwashed, embittered old man, his only company – a bottle of whisky and twenty Benson & Hedges cigarettes
  • Estranged from almost all his family
  • At best, tolerated by the rest of his family

A very pitiable end of life.

Will I go to his funeral?  No.  Will there even be a funeral service?  No.  Sunray had fallen out with his family so badly over the years, that nobody was prepared to organise or pay for his funeral.  Maybe his ex-Squadron Sergeant-Major from Army days would have come.  But nobody else.

Despite his faults I did love and care for him.   Agape love.  My last contact with him had been a phone call four days before his death, a very jovial call.  Was he on the way up?

I will visit his grave later in the year, say a prayer over his grave.  That is more meaningful to me and to him than a Theaterstück of a funeral service, where kind words and cliches are said to an almost empty room.  I’m not bothered about seeing his body one last time.  I am more concerned about his soul.

Heavenly Father, I beg You, have mercy on Dad’s soul.  Amen.

Have a merciful day, won’t you!

My Low-Blood Sugar Diet: Progress Report

No news is good news.  Allegedly.

Here is the good new.  I saaw my GP at the start of August, three months after starting on the low-blood sugar diet.

My HbA1c reading was: 6.3 units.  The previous quarterly reading was 7.1 units.  So, over a 10% improvement.  My GP was very happy.  I was happy, too.  He was genuinely interested in what I had to done to get the blood sugar results down.  NB: Anything less that 6 units is where you should be.  My next aim is 5.9 units.

Now the not so good news.  Over the last two months I lost focus on food intake.  Ice creams in the summer become addictive.  I had gained some of the weight I had lost.

Start weight: 122.4kg.  Lowest weight: 118.3kg.

Today I weighed in at 119.4kg.  Good to be back under 120kg again.

However… that was stagnation, not stability.  I am now back on track, combining at least three hours’ worth of bike rides a week with my original low blood sugar diet (albeit with the occasional lapse).  I am focussed again.

Have a progressive day, won’t you!


Blood sugar diet: day 62

Note: I have omitted the “of 56.”  This is a way of eating, not a time-limited diet.  This is a healthy eating regime.

  • Starting weight: 122.4kg
  • One week ago: 120.3kg
  • Today: 119.5kg

So, progress.  A bit of a “ratchet effect,” but again heading in the right direction.

My aims this week:

  1. Reduce the ice cream after lunch to every other day.
  2. Keep on bringing chewing gum to work.  It reduces my desire to eat.
  3. Avoid the vending machine.  The peanuts are tasty, but it’s just habit.  Three or four days of avoiding them, and I’ll have broken the habit.
  4. Go for two or three bike rides this week.  Tonight I need to go to the local Lidl supermarket. I will integrate the cycle ride into my normal daily routine.

A few observations…

  1. I had some wine gums this afternoon.  I felt sleepy afterwards, and I wanted more and more.  Like with smoking, the best way to give up, is don’t even start them in the first place.
  2. I need to avoid my local cafe.  Not only is it full of ex-Yugloslavs rattling on about how great the war in the early 90’s (don’t get me started, please), their bread rolls, while tasty, are full of white carbs that make me sluggish and want to lie down and snooze when I get home from work.  Tomorrow onwards I shall head straight home and have the Mediterranean food I bought this evening.  Prawns and mushrooms and delicious items.  Dee-lish.

My aim next week is to be 118.nkg.  The lower the n, the better. 🙂


Have a WoEful day, won’t you!

Blood sugar diet: day 55 of 56

  • Starting weight: 122.4kg
  • One week ago: 119.5kg
  • Today: 120.3kg

No, there is no need to hard sharp objects.  I am not feeling gutted.  Admittedly, very slightly disappointed.  However… I still see this increase in weight as a blip, albeit a slightly longer one.

So what has happened this week?

The answer: the weekend.  On Friday I had the munchies at work and visited the vending machine.  On the weekend I had two lovely, tasty meals: Schnitzel with chips, followed by a nice big strawberry cake, and then later in the day, mixed grill, followed by several drinks down the cocktail bar in the Altstadt.   Calories galore.

So what now?  BAU: business as usual.  After the weekend I have gone back to the normal diet (way of eating).  Here’s why I am optimistic.  On Sunday morning I weighed 122.5kg.  This morning, two days later, I weighed over 2kg less.  I know that it takes me 3, maybe 4, days to lose the weight I had gained.   I’ve noticed the pattern. Now, tonight, having just had my evening meal, and (sorry to be scatalogical) not having been for a “number 2,” I weigh 120.3kg.  (Bearing in mind that I tend to lose over 0.5kg overnight with exhalation and toilet trip, I anticipate weighing  119.xkg in the morning, and then continue the downward trend over the week.

Moreover, I know that I will be burning the calories this week, as I need to cycle to three meetings at church this week, and then do humping and dumping of supplies for our Saturday Tour de France garden party.  (The key thing to do this week is to be fairly strict on the weekend, as well, to make sure the weight loss gets back into full swing.)  Church is half an hour away by bike, one way.

So, another blip.  That’s all it is.  A blip.


Have a calm day, won’t you!


Blood sugar diet: day 48 of 56

  • Starting weight: 122.4kg
  • One week ago: 118.3kg
  • Today: 119.5kg

Despondent? Nope.  It’s a blip.  Schatz and I went away for a weekend, staying in a lovely spa hotel.  Lots of nice meals.  Am I worried?  No?  Am I being complacent?  No.  I know that as soon as I’ve got back on track on the Monday, the weight comes off.  See my previous posts.  One positive side-effect of the heatwave is: my appetite gets suppressed, and that helps a lot.

So a short, sweet post.  As far as I’m concerned, the blips are part of BAU: business as usual.  So is the downward slope in weight over the weeks.


Have a BAU day, won’t you!