Diff’rent Strokes

28 08 2021

So these two nuns are walking through the woods, discussing high philosophy and ambling along the leafy path.

Around the corner a young man comes running towards them, wearing nothing but a smile and a pair of running shoes.

One of the nuns has a stroke, but the other is too slow.

So a funny thing happened last December.

Funny weird – not very amusing (a little like that hand-tooled vintage joke I remember from a 1980’s era Rag Mag from my youth).

There I was, painting the living room all wrong, under the studied guidance of Mrs E. when I found myself having to duck and weave to avoid the unseasonably strong sunlight coming in through the bay window getting in my eyes. By and large I was successful in placing the several window frame bars betwixt my eyes and the fiery nuclear holocaust we can “the sun”, and merrily continued painting the wall with undercoat. Mostly, even if I may say so myself, “staying inside the lines”.

Then as I turned to re-load the roller with paint, I was aware that my vision was a little off on the right hand side. That had been the side nearest the window, and I initially put it down to the temporary blind spots we get when we’re incautious and look directly at the sun. As I stood with my back to the window though, I became more alarmed as I realised my blind spot wasn’t clearing up after the few seconds one might expect.

It amazes me now to think back and recall that, being of a scientific bent, my first instinct was to characterise the issue fully. Not panic (I saved that for later), but to move my head around with hands up and test the nature of this phenomenon. In a nutshell, I could still fundamentally see (which was actually quite confusing), but the right half of my vision had gone. “Hard down” you might say. Anything to the right of my nose was invisible, but my brain was doing its best to fake that it knew what was there, so I wasn’t initially aware that that was the issue. (A bit like getting startled by a question in class when you’ve been dozing… No? Never happened to me either. Honest). So this was key, because I’d figured out I had the same issue with both eyes, 50% gone in both eyes, not 100% gone in the right eye.

A quick call to “first born” – now a fully in-harness practicing optometrist – by Mrs E., and the tentative diagnosis was “stroke”. If both eyes are effected, it’s likely the data analysis rather than the image acquisition, which would more likely affect one eye, or both eyes in different ways. The trick here was to call my own optometrist for an official analysis. This results in a referral letter which speeds things up later. By doing a “proper” eye test, including comparing images of your retinas with older photos, they can categorically exclude eye issues, further pointing the finger at “the noggin” and damage therein. (Downside is my insurance only pays for one eye test every 2 years, so I got dinged for this emergency re-test).

The most irritating part of the optometrist visit was the tech moving me from equipment room to equipment room by saying “follow me” – totally ignoring the fact that I could only see half of what was in front of me. This was made all the worse because they’d insisted on dilating me which makes your eyes next to impossible to properly focus if there’s more than a few photons in the room! I ended up shoulder-checking an expensive-looking (I think) wall-mounted TV which was on the right hand side and I hadn’t seen until it leapt out and attacked me. Thankfully it was well secured and didn’t fall down or crack. Probably.

By the time I was officially tested, my vision loss was restricted to the upper-right quadrant in both eyes. First born had tried to reassure me that my sight would return. Probably. Mostly. Though she hedged her bet by saying “there might be some loss of sensitivity”… er, OK, so not really, then?!

Essentially I now had documentary proof from an expensive bit of kit (with a crappy thermal till-roll printer from the ’90s) and a letter from a licenced optometrist that in her opinion I’d likely had a stroke or potentially a tumour and should be admitted to ER.

Vision loss top/right in both eyes

So, as expected, the letter got me straight in to ER with barely time to warm up the chair in reception, despite others having been there long enough to have taken root. One dear lady in the reception area was on the phone to a friend discussing her schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder and how she really knew when she was herself. Given my new introduction to brain damage, I found this accidentally overheard conversation frankly petrifying. What else might have come loose in chez Elephant?

Once into ER proper I had a few holes poked in me, a few vials of blood taken (I asked if I could have it back when they were done with it, which just seemed to confuse the poor phlebotomist who was plainly not used to dealing with Yorkshiremen) and an IV fitted “just in case it’s needed later” (it wasn’t, though it gave me hours of fascination watching the small amount of blood slopping about in the tube), blood pressure taken, ECG, etc.

After about 5 hours or so of sitting in a chair in ER while COVID patients were shuttled into “warm rooms”, I was taken for a CT scan, and about an hour after that a doctor told me I’d probably had a minor stroke. OK, so 6 hours to be told what I knew when I came in. Still, the experience proves the old adage that time heals all things. Over the space of those 6 hours my eyes had un-dilated (I’m sure there’s a more fancy word for it) and my eyesight had slowly returned. The only actual treatment I’d had was to be left quietly sat in a chair – don’t underestimate it!

At about 9:30pm, having successfully avoided any further painting and decorating for the day, I was prescribed some blood thinners and sent on my way with a promise I’d get a call from a cardiologist and the stroke clinic in due course.

So – no mention of whether I should be driving, when it’d be safe to go back to work (I’d taken a couple of days off because I was finding it hard to look at a screen for very long), or whether this was the start of something major.

Thank goodness the Internet is so full of (mis)information! Otherwise I’d have been short of possibilities to scare myself with…

Happy to say that several months on and nothing else has fallen out of the wheelhouse. Normal service seems to have been resumed.

Scary, but I was lucky, it was actually a transient ischemic attack (TIA) .

Take the symptoms seriously:

FAST Stroke Recognition
Experts use the acronym FAST to remind people how to recognize the signs of a stroke and what to do. FAST stands for:

Face. Tell the person to smile. Watch to see if their face droops.
Arms. Have the person raise both their arms. Watch to see if one is weak or sags.
Speech. Ask the person to say a simple phrase. Listen for slurred or strange-sounding words.
Time. Every minute counts. Call 911 (or your local equivalent) right away.

If you or someone with you shows any signs of stroke, don’t wait. Quick treatment is crucial to survival and recovery.

Call for emergency services. If the symptoms pass quickly, you might have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a brief blockage of blood flow to your brain that often comes before a stroke. Don’t ignore this warning sign.

Ryan Reynolds wants me to scratch my balls… and he doesn’t even have a mo!

28 01 2016

Source: Ryan Reynolds encourages men to scratch their balls (for health reasons)

Know The Glow

4 06 2015

Heard about this on the radio this morning. As an employee of Canon, I thought it particularly interesting.

You know that annoying “red eye” you get from flash photography, where the blood vessels in the retina cause a red glow in the eyes of the people you’re photographing? Well… sometimes it’s not red. It can be yellow or white… and that’s usually not a good thing!

Turns out it can be an early diagnostic of several eye problems. Some very serious. Early detection is key to good outcomes from treatment. So – go take some photos of the ones you love!

Here’s a web page for more information: Home – Know The GlowKnow The Glow | Know The GLow.

To give you an idea of what to look out for they also have a gallery of examples.


The perfect excuse

6 02 2015

According to the august aunty Beeb, too much running is bad for one. That’s good… my ankle was starting to hurt, and I needed a few days off the circuit, as it were.

The Vancouver Sun Run draws ever closer and my bloody FitBit sneers from my wrist if I dare to even consider watching a drama on TV.

My daily regimen consists of a sprightly walk at lunchtime – weather no matter (this is Vancouver – you’d be a bit limited if you were fussy about the rain). In the evenings I’d been alternating between the gym and a run, followed by walking the dog.

Once my ankle started to flare up (in sympathy with the hamstring and calf cramps that had preceded), I decided that perhaps this “mind over matter” thing had its limits. It wasn’t so much the low level pain. It was the blunt fact that I’m not getting any younger and am well and truly out of warranty now. I don’t think you can get the spare parts any more.

The last few days have seen me and devil-dog having über-long walks in the evening instead, rather than my run. This is much more gentle on my ankle, but I can still keep a decent pace, and it even seems to loosen up my ankle a bit. The added benefit is the hound drops straight asleep as soon as we return.

Anyway – all that just to say that the BBC concurs… too much exercise can be seriously bad for you. As bad as doing none at all! It can cause your body to reconfigure itself (and not just in the abs of steel way). Your very heart muscle can change in response to the extreme strain it’s being asked to work under, and that, dear reader, can be a very very bad thing indeed. So – as in many things, moderation is the key. Of course, sex and chocolate are exempt under royal decree, but it goes for pretty much everything else.

BBC News – Training very hard ‘as bad as no exercise at all’.

BBC: Ice-cream vans never used to be so hard to catch

Abby Normal

20 10 2014

Ever seen “Young Frankenstein” with Gene Wilder?

Classic spoof of the Gothic horror genre.

The monster’s brain is wrongly selected and shall we say is less than optimal.

These Belgian organ donor ads riff off the idea. Classic dark humour…

More at Ads of the World.

Anti-Smoking Ad Pokes Fun At Social Smokers, Replaces Cigarettes With Farts – DesignTAXI.com

20 03 2013

“Just because I fart at parties now and then doesn’t make me a farter”

Anti-Smoking Ad Pokes Fun At Social Smokers, Replaces Cigarettes With Farts – DesignTAXI.com.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb5q2eie4ko]

Ever been affected by a girl?

22 04 2012

The world could use a good kick in the pants

Any Plans Tonight? Sexual health posters hit Manchester streets | The Drum

13 01 2012

Now I’m all for having a good night out. Or a naughty one for that matter. But as my mum always used to say (before she gave up entirely on me)… “If you can’t be good, be careful!”

There’s a new series of sex health advertising being launched in Mancheser, UK, targeted at the young and sometimes TOO spontaneous youth of the city.

Check out the full story right here on The Drum: Any Plans Tonight? Sexual health posters hit Manchester streets | The Drum.

Any plans tonight? Make sure you're ready to rock

Any plans tonight? Make sure you're ready to rock

And here’s some trivia for the Canadian (and potentially US) readers…

Note how the cars in the photo are parked facing the camera… on the RIGHT hand side of the road? The UK drives on the left, but there it is quite OK to park on the wrong side of the street. I remember getting a right old rollocking when I first came to Canada and did the same thing. The back of the street sign on the top/right of the photo shows it’s not a one-way street, BTW, for those amongst you who were about to type “but what if…”

Also – can you see the woman adjusting her stockings in the office window? No, me neither…

You can’t beat a good book

29 12 2011

I love reading. Mainly books obviously, but I distinctly recall comparing the nutritional content of Kellogg’s cornflakes and Weetabix from the packets as a kid (Weetabix win by the way), so will read pretty much anything. Even fashion magazines if push comes to shove – read elsewhere on this blog. Newspapers are an exception. I’ve never really been a reader of newspapers. Despite writing and managing the sale of software to the worlds great titles for nigh on 20 years A diner from them, sure – it was a rite of passage to eat a bag of chips on ones way back from Scouts of a cold winter’s evening. (Or a warm summer’s one, but that’s somewhat less evocative don’t you think?)

Posh chips - in the Financial Times

Posh chips – in the Financial Times

With “scratchings” if you wanted extra cholesterol. Which we always did. (“Scratchings” are bits of batter that fall off the fish in the fryer… they’re free, and sometimes even have bits of fish in them. Hey – it was Yorkshire, and it was like a free raffle to see if you got protein with your starch and fat!) The whole thing of course just being an excuse to consume near-fatal quantities of salt and vinegar (also, you guessed it, free!). You had to be careful the malt vinegar didn’t soak through the paper and make it soggy though, or you lost your chips on the street, and the crows got them instead. The crows near us could hardly get off the ground without an extra long run-up and a tail wind. Actually, you know – this is an aberration of memory. The crows are a BC thing. As a kid in Yorkshire, it was starlings that used to do the clean up.

On reflection it’s amazing I ever made it to my 20’s and a subsequently healthier diet, let alone the dotage I now enjoy. Maybe beer dissolves cholesterol. Sign me up for that study…

An aspiring young artist went one stage further and wrapped her entire local chip shop in newspaper as a school project. Kudos! Bit of a fire hazard though, no?  Just sayin’… such an Engineer.

Metro: Jade Bennett's art project

Metro: Jade Bennett’s art project

So how did I end up at an entire chip shop wrapped in newspaper? Ah yes – the love of a good book. Though I’ve never quite understood it, I gather reading on the loo is quite common in some circles. Maybe it was the lack of heating in my formative years or something, but I’ve always subscribed to the “get in, get done, get out” philosophy myself. Never struck me as something to linger over. But I do like a languorous read at other times. In bed on a Sunday morning for example. I know folk who read in the bath, too. Again, possibly due to lack of heating in the bathroom as a kid, but baths are of the “in, done, out” category to me. Unless of course I’m pondering some great mystery in life. Like how to balance my bank account, or what new foods tasted like before we discovered chickens. However, to the best of my knowledge I’ve never felt the need to lie naked on a bed reading while some dodgy old bloke “did art”. This young lady had no such compunction it seems, and allowed Jean-Jacques Henner to paint her while she read sans vêtements. Perhaps it was a good story, and she was just a little forgetful…

Jean-Jacques Henner: La liseuse

Jean-Jacques Henner: La liseuse

Musée d’Orsay: Jean-Jacques Henner: La liseuse

Tea: why it really is the best drink of the day | Mail Online

27 12 2011

OK, so the UK’s Daily Mail isn’t exactly what you’d call high-brow… though I never managed to finish one of the cryptic crosswords, so maybe that’s just me being snooty. However, I came across this report there of a little study done in Bilthoven, Holland to test possible health benefits to 800 men over a 10 year period.

Tea: why it really is the best drink of the day | Mail Online.

If only I can get to 65 in the first place I should be good, since my daily tea intake must be in the ankers range!