Wednesday 30 November 2022

A catchup on the check-up

As things seem to be

Five weeks later than schedule, I was back in hospital for my biannual check-up which follows the usual routine of reviewing the results from tests conducted on my last visit, how I am both medically and mentally, along with other issues that might come up.

In these straitened times that even I in all my denial of reality sometimes suggests does not affect me, there is a sense of dissatisfaction in the state of affairs, a sad feeling of betrayal of confidences and trust that gave the impression of prospect where there was none, then with quite limited resources to hand, one is constrained in agency and autonomy.

It goes without saying that all these has its effects to either a greater or lesser degree on one’s health. Yet we soldier on believing that the travails of the present are temporary and would pass into the annals of recount and raconteuring with a wistful acknowledgement of how trying times have blessed us with an appreciation of the better things that have followed.

Something quite unexpected

In the review of the last battery of tests, I was unaware of an indicative test that had been conducted as neither my general practitioner (GP) nor I were informed of the result. My understanding was the test was rarely done and only annually, if necessary. However, on the consultant’s screen, I could see a third is the depreciation of an indicator that signalled my ability to fight infection with no clear reason as to why that might have happened.

It is a matter of concern, but one will have to wait for the results of tests conducted on fluids taken earlier today to determine if that was a mistake, an aberration, or a trend. With the new computer records system, you are notified of the result as soon as it is known.

Those hardworking kidneys

Beyond that, I wanted some close attention paid to my kidney function tests as the antiretroviral formulary I am on has been administered for over 12 and a half years. One of the components in the combination therapy can cause kidney impairment and I wanted that aspect monitored. However, looking at the trends in my kidney function tests over the last 4 years suggested I did not have anything to worry about.

The discussion nevertheless allows the consultant to pay a bit more heed to the indicators apart from being acquainted with the fact that I quite knowledgeable about my condition, the therapies, and developments in HIV medicine with the view to obtaining the best outcomes for my health and wellbeing.

Drink lots of aqua

Having had 3 instances where drawing blood was an ordeal, my cousin had given me some advice some months ago, so, from the moment I woke up, I was drinking lots of water, something Brian noted as unusual for me. By the time I was at the hospital this morning, I had drunk over a litre of water.

When I went to see the phlebotomist, my veins were in the Christmas spirit as for how my blood filled the vials, we could intone, “Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.”, and soon, 7 vials were filled without the need for another prick in my arm.

Everything is electronic now, things are called up on computer and there were no forms for new appointments or prescriptions, you just had to give your name and date of birth along with some other personal information to get things done. The days was slow and tiring, in general, I felt good. I will just wait for the results for comparison and the next meet-up is in 6 months, I guess.

Saturday 26 November 2022

Thought Picnic: For the wind that blows

Amongst uncertainty

The legendary Bob Dylan song asks, “How many roads must a man walk down, Before you call him a man?” I guess that is a question that comes to mind at certain times, even so, uncertain times of difficulty and adversity.

Then I think of the many roads I have walked down for which my manliness has been met with doubt, many that have left me wondering about how each day comes and goes with the battle against helplessness, abandonment, and incapacity, whilst striving to exhibit agency and autonomy.

There is a pressing of issues that demand attention towards which for now there is little resource to meet, yet one is persuaded that the momentary unpleasantness will give way to the better of life and expectation.

In the wind

Hardships that visit to lay markers down in the stories we get to tell, each time we pray we are not exhausted by prevailing circumstances much as we are comforted by the encouragement and support of those who hold us dear.

It belies one’s fragility that the outward appearances of stoicism are just that, there is much strength and there is weakness, good fortune, favour, and blessing are the buoys of hope that carry us along that we do not sink into despair or despondency. Sometimes, you wish for just a miracle and then even the normal course of events are miracles in and of themselves.

The answer is blowing in the wind, I guess to feel that realisation, you need to be out where the wind is blowing and not have your hat blown off.

Saturday 19 November 2022

Inspired by thoughts and things

Disorderly words

Not for a while wrote I an ode,
To wit they ask you call that large?
For the many words to make the code,
Sit back and be entertained in a barge,
For in that we find a lovely abode.

Frequently the letters race about,
Never in the order that you seek to write,
When you do, you’re much in doubt,
Afraid that it won’t read as bright,
Yet all this is not for the clout.

Said him, I’ll show you what large is,
Obviously, it must be about what it means,
Not really with regards to all of this,
In the script that gives more than it leans,
Towards the world that’s sealed with a kiss.

Monday 14 November 2022

Caught in the process that fails to serve

In the waters of fate

I live a very grateful man, many times afflicted by the issues of life, some by commission, others by omission, and a few by sheer incompetence. Much as I hate to view myself as a victim, there is nothing as fundamentally stripping you of dignity as to be lost in the system or some convoluted process.

The apparently structured processes, dry run to the nth degree that catastrophically fails when met with reality and completely missing facility for recalibration out of example and lessons learnt to be corrected.

It is like falling into water and drowning whilst lifeguards quibble about whether to throw in a lifebuoy, a lifeline, or jump in to save me. Maybe, just maybe, they see me flailing in the water between gulps, crying out orders to them on what to do, and then it occurs to them, there is a life that needs saving.

In the effects of indecision

Yet, one cannot sit in a pity party, you press on. Heck! This is someone who has survived life-threatening circumstances and had moments or stretches of one misfortune, infirmity, incapacity or another, I need to get a grip.

It is just that many times when processes are put in place, the critical success factor which pertains to the fact that someone is affected by that process is missing. You do wonder if ever the question gets asked in the design process, is there a person affected by this process and if impacted negatively, what mitigating steps are in place to promptly ameliorate and remedy the situation without adverse consequences?

In the hope of survival

In view of that, a lifeguard has thrown in a lifebuoy but from the perspective of the drowning, it is an act of disinterest and indifference, boxes are being ticked and that is what counts in process evaluation, whether lives were saved, are not of statistical significance, only that the saved should feel undying gratitude for being noticed at all.

In all the slow progress made, patience is a virtue that I am daily equipping myself to practice and endure, I have to trust another process that is unscripted, I will not only survive but also thrive.

Saturday 12 November 2022

Thought Picnic: In the rivers of black identity

The river as it flows

I was invited to listen to Leon Bridges River; which also appears in HBO’s Big Little Lies original TV soundtrack, with the thought that the song was a significantly meaningful reflection for the black race, but there was a pause as that statement was made with the feeling that across the pond and history, things might not necessarily have the same import that they thought it should.

Attentively, I listened and tried to grasp the essence of it, I felt obligated to see things from their perspective as the lyrics though unseen but heard clearly did speak but did not catch on. In all honesty, it was best not to feign pretence as we were exploring the deeper issues of black identity. It hadn’t heard of Leon Bridges before.

River does evoke much about history and redemption, but in the words of the refrain, “Take me to your river, I wanna go”, the river was a place of routine, where you bathed, fetched water, washed clothes, and had fun, it did not carry any form of sacredness associated with cleansing and baptism as my interlocutor surmised. [Genius Lyrics: Leon Bridges River]

The river somewhere different

I felt that as there was no restriction to go to the river that flowed by the village, its great value might have been lost in its apparent familiarity. At my first hearing, meaningful as the song might well be, it would take more listening to it to have the deeper understanding being asked for at that time.

Later, I thought about where the river could mean just as much to me, it involved a different qualification in The Holy River by Prince, from the Emancipation album; there he sang, “Let’s go down to the holy river, If we drown we would be delivered,” that alone in its introduction was taking me to a special and sacred place of discovery and miracles. I was taken from the time I originally heard the song. [Lyrics from The Holy River]

Blog - Thought Picnic: Find your holy river in which to drown

This river was not a place of fun but a grotto of sorts, it was filled with a different kind of symbolism and mysticism, a place your approached with some dread and yet the anticipation that if everything seemed to go wrong, it would come out right regardless.

The subconscious of eternal existence

I found myself thinking of enclosures and openings, why I am totally averse to wearing anything like ankle chains, and then finger rings or neck chains. I wear a bangle of betrothal, but it is open-ended. I could give a reason, but I felt a profundity in the fact that the time we spend on earth is but a subset of the eternity of our existence.

We are in genetic and ethereal terms the result of an ancestry that doubles up each further generator of our origin that goes back from two parents to four grandparents, to eight great-grandparents, to sixteen great-great-grandparents and so on. If we do procreation, we begin a new chain that is a subset of our progeny.

It had me wondering where a tendency to fussiness or aversion comes from without influence or education, quirks and traits that attend to similarities with people we have never encountered but are strong in our personalities that some might even be inclined to the belief in reincarnation. I do not assume to suggest that I am competent in any form of existential philosophy, I would consider myself a total novice.

However, what I came away with was once again how so diverse and divergent the cultural and historical identities of the black race are, where the search for one's roots is a journey of discovery and the acceptance of self with being comfortable in one’s skin is a process of continuous learning involving complementation and jettison in various measures that we evolve and restate who we are depending on where we are.

I guess there is more to meditate on.

Wednesday 9 November 2022

In the absent books of writhe

The un-chronicling of naughty

“You’re a naughty boy”, that’s something I had heard many times from when I was a boy and even so now that I am someone’s lover boy. With that comes the threat of something one might or might not enjoy, but that is left to be seen and felt.

Apparently, there is a journal, a mythical black book with fictional ideas of what a naughty boy has done, written in invisible ink, one would suppose because evidence of all that is as scant as watching the divinations of a shaman, for only they can see whatever they see and interpret what is not within the purview of the supplicant.

It could be put down to the usual banter the jousting between a black book with blank pages, then again; if the pages were black, what is written therein might not be seen but for the sake of highly fluorescent ink against the fact that the evident notepad with a pen always within reach and the propensity to tap away at a keyboard to produce a blog.

Maybe it is not a contest, just a whimsical notion of readiness and lethargy, no winners to celebrate, just that naughty is all part of a spectacle, present with many and left to fester by some. Then, rather than call someone else a naughty boy, history came crashing in with an excellently deployed putdown, along the lines of before your cheeky face appeared. That should leave some chuckling with a naughty giggle.

Thursday 3 November 2022

Learning from the letters

Letters from the past

In the process of writing one’s story, much research still needs to be done, the many things you think you remember from things said and related, over time that should be reviewed and confirmed. The confusion of dates and events along with those involved.

I thought I was going type out the sketches of memory percolating in my mind over the last couple of weeks, but at the same time, I had been thinking of reading letters going back 30 years just to fill in some gaps.

Reaching for the trusty shoebox, I read the first lover’s letter from April 1992 and many subsequent letters afterwards with some dates confirmed and what feelings we had for each other then. My parents each with their entreaties about what should be doing in the UK, full of advice on how to approach things and the obligatory badgering about making introductions and getting married.

Letters with a blast

On the event side, it occurred to me that there were things I might not have noticed, marriages, births, and deaths placed in their perspectives of relationships, celebrations and there were quite a few, who was doing what and where, especially how they were getting on, I had not read these letters since when I received and read them the first time.

Other things that could wear you down from all quarters, as questions, requests, demands, and pleadings extending beyond relations to friends and passing acquaintances, many with the view that you are living large abroad with no responsibilities apart from that which regards them. If one were to put a cost to the tranche of requirements, you would be totally wiped out. For those of us with regular engagements, you had to ignore and withhold a response totally.

Yet, there were many more letters to read all of which read out in my head in the hearing of the voices of the authors, that itself brought a kind of mental strain even though none had the contemporaneous urgency that portended the time of writing, I had to give it a break and find another time to read a few more.

Letters written to last

Though, in one of the letters from my mother with some useful historical content that I jotted down from my notes, she also revealed that she once worked at Vono Tipton. Vono was also known in Nigeria for beds, bed frames, bedsteads, bedding, and furniture. What I did not know was that VONO is in fact an acronym for Vaughan Only, No Others. The company was founded in 1896 by Ernest Vaughan and at one time, the largest employer in Tipton. [The annals of Tipton industries]

As for the other pertinent pieces of information I gain, I would suppose those would be woven into the stories to be found in my book.

Wednesday 2 November 2022

You can only play the cards you have

The things that I watch

I am a fan of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that anytime I light up my Amazon Fire Stick 4K*, I log on to YouTube and catch the most recent episodes that were recorded within the last 24 hours. The kind of insight and commentary he brings to the issues of the day usually has me applauding from my sofa in awe.

One section of his monologues that intrigues me is the lead-in to his Meanwhile polemics, it is made up of two counterintuitive deliveries almost nonsensical yet quite studied, I have myself wishing I could write like that. Then again, talk shows have writers, so these are more a confluence of crazy ideas than the individual genius of one, though the innovation itself might just be that of one person. What do I know?

The cards you’re dealt

Anyway, in another segment that gets played every few weeks, a guest is invited to participate in the Stephen Colbert Questionert, a series of 15 questions that presume to give a better knowledge of the person being interviewed. On this occasion, it was James Taylor who for the last question, Describe the rest of your life in five words, answered, “Play the cards I’m dealt.”

Now, I am not a card player, I only barely know anything about hands in poker even as I have if I remember correctly written code to randomly deal cards to present a winning poker hand, 2-Pair, Royal Flush, 4 of a kind, that sort of thing. I doubt I would ever have the proficiency to play cards for money and not that I would countenance that level of folly.

Any fool’s poker

However, I understand a few principles around the game, when cards are dealt, you cannot choose what you get, that’s just luck or fate, depending on how you view things. When the betting starts, reviewers might suggest the hand you have has more chance of winning the pot than the other person. Then other cards are put on the table, so that between the 3 you have in your hand and the 2 that end up on the table, you come to a decision, on who has the better hand.

Forgive my amateurish descriptions. Sometimes, you’ll fold because you do not think you have a chance, maybe you can raise the ante because you are surer about what you have got, then, there is a bluffing where you suggest you have the best hand and dare the other person to call your bluff, beyond the basic skill, it becomes a game of wits. Someone with the right kind of resolve can win over a good hand and this happens.

Fundamentally, whichever way the game goes, you can only play what you have got, never what you wish you had. Then even if you had everything in line but your bluff was not up to standard, the game might end early without you getting others to commit more to the pot for a bigger win. Let me exit the stage left at this point.

You can only play what you have

In life, we analogously in a card game where by fortitude, destiny, luck, fate, or blessing, we are dealt an experience of life that we have to live to the best of the capabilities and possibilities we possess. Nothing is perfect and even the perfect goes awry. We are left with having to live life as we find it and make the best of it to the squander or the prosper, then it could just be average and that in itself may not essentially be bad, just do your bit.

We can daydream and wish we were living another life, get into a transponder and be translated into that alternate universe where all those dreams are living realities in the midst of the same faces and issues of life. A good hand in a bad setting of a paltry pot for the winnings. You begin to realise the futility of it all, for no matter the number of infinite universes we might visit, the same human issues will exist. We might as well stick with the universe we know rather than the one we are introduced to as newly arrived foreigners in a strange land.

This is not against the march of progress, we can do a lot with what we have, we can have dreams, live with hope and march towards the realisation with purpose and determination. We can only do that with what we have rather than what we wish for. And so, I could well understand what James Taylor meant by “Play the cards I’m dealt.”, for life whichever way you live it or refuse to live it would always be, what you make it. And from the music, according to Leon Patillo, ‘all of your dreams can come true.’

Blog - The bird in hand is all you have

* All my media content is now delivered through this device to my Smart TV, I switched off my TiVo device over 2 months ago because it was just consuming electricity, the device allows me to download all the apps I need to watch everything I am interested in.

Tuesday 1 November 2022

Thought Picnic: How still I see me lie

Met in thee

There is a calmness that you find to gain some refuge from concern and worry, something that registers from that line in O Little Town of Bethlehem that speaks of the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Thee being the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ as we countdown to the celebration of Christmas, the Sunday past being the Fourth Sunday before Advent. It goes without saying that I am a man of faith, a spirituality that sustains me through times that do fill me with the dread of insufficiency and incapacity, that I fold into a shell of seclusion.

Met with constraints

There are things I would have been quite forward to do that my hand has been shortened by circumstances and situations that exacerbate fears, but all those are held at bay by hopes buoying confidence that change will come and change things so radically.

Occasions have come and gone to which an appearance was difficult, and support could not be provided, then many would not know why, it is just that times failed the opportunity and not for the want of trying.

Personally, there was pain, deep pain, but life teaches us only to stretch to what is available and not beyond the resource to the point of suffering, you can only work with what you have.

Met on experience

Life presents many cycles, and the recurrence of events and experiences does not offer the same solutions, you have to learn anew and then commit that to new experiences, learning is a continuous process for which in my own life, I am grateful that wherever I have been set in my old ways, I find that I am upset into new ways.

Realities are another thing, seeking assurances in a turbulent world where trust is finite that you are questioning yourself about what you have been assured of. This is where communication and the ability to do it well to elicit the information you need matters. How to turn sleepless nights into restful nights full of sweet dreams and the awakening to the freshness of a new day, energised to live and thrive in the moments you are given.

Met to befriend

Most of all, friendship and love are at the heart of the calmness, in love, there is someone to lean on whose voice is indeed a strength and stay much as they rarely realise who and what they mean to me. In friendship, is one that reads me better than I can read myself, whose support is unflinching and ever-present.

From relationships past comes structure and symbiosis, we seem to exist for each other, cheering on with encouragement and praise, we find the words of comfort to weather the challenges that waylay us in our pathways. This is not the stuff you take for granted, it is what you cultivate so that you are not left alone absent of people who cherish you and care deeply for you. The world I live in is about relationships and that is how even in the darkest hour, the dawn would soon be upon us.

It shall pass, it never stays still, for the motion of time is always the harbinger of change bringing us to the living splendour of dreams coming true beyond anything we could have ever countenanced. I strongly believe I have a better story to tell.