Monday, 29 May 2023

Opinion: Getting good medical outcomes is a fight to be heard - I

Not operating at full potential

On a scale of 0 – 10, I would probably put the quality of the service I get by default from the National Health Service (NHS) at a 6. If I want better outcomes, I need to challenge the system and the process to do much more.

Comparing my experience with those of others who interact with me about their issues and challenges, I seem to be getting a much better deal than them in the responsiveness of the institutions and establishments and more particularly from the personnel that man the points of access I utilise.

General practice without practicals

I do have a GP, but I never met her even though I have been registered at the surgery for close to 8 years, the only times I visit are usually to get the annual flu jabs if I need anything else; it is impossible to get through on the phone and when you use their website, my most recent application took 10 days to get a response and that was to ask me to pay for a possible referral from the GP who was to call me in another 3 weeks.

Ah! The GP in whose docket I was, retired from the practice 18 months ago, and it was when the surgery contacted in the response that I found out who my new assigned GP was. My main engagement with the NHS is actually elsewhere, my GP just gets informed of and updated on the observations and recommendations.

It is my body first

As I have had to fight for better personal outcomes in pain management, suggested treatments, and delayed intervention both in the Netherlands and the UK, the lessons I have learned personally and from others reviewing issues with healthcare delivery can be useful to others.

One key point I always make is, “It is my body first, before it is your guinea pig.” That was what I told a team of consultants and an insistent neurologist when after months of chemotherapy they wanted to perform a lumbar puncture, which I was not keen on. They relented.

At another time, the pain medication was insufficient, and I had to disabuse the notion that black people have a higher pain threshold and can endure much more suffering that the medical establishment defaults to think we are becoming junkies rather than people who need simple relief. Yes, after the consultant expressed some bafflement, he did increase the dosage of my Fentanyl patch and the pain considerably subsided. I was grateful for it. It is documented research that there is racial bias in pain management for black people. [NIH: Racial bias in pain assessment and treatment recommendations, and false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites]

Be forthright without fear

I lived with a diagnosed condition for more than 3 years that presented a co-morbidity, and each time I went for my biannual check-ups, it was noted but not dealt with. Everything with done around the periphery of it but not the essential action required. At one such consultation, I said to the consultant, I am very aware of my morbidity that you have observed and done nothing about for years, what do you intend to do about it as you all know it is getting worse.

I guess he was shocked by my forthrightness that within a month I was put on the latest medication and the condition was eradicated in less than 12 weeks. I have found I need to ask questions, seek satisfying answers, and deliberately go over a review of my test results to observe trends and mitigations to attain outcomes.

You cannot use the NHS from a stance of passive participation, you need to understand your condition fully, be knowledgeable and clued in on your medical notes as well as the medical personnel. There was one visit where my file was not available, when I finished, the doctor commended me for giving a detailed situation as good as a medical file. You need to read up and understand everything along with studying developments concerning your medical profile.

This might well help you

Anyone who needs access to the healthcare establishment, they should listen to the Reith Lectures delivered by Dr Atul Gawande on The Future of Medicine that covers topics like, Why Do Doctors Fail? and The Problem of Hubris, amongst others. I believe there are many tips and ideas you can gain about attaining the best outcomes in your engagements. [BBC: The Reith Lectures: Dr Atul Gawande - The Future of Medicine]

I started this blog to write about why I have not received some of the outcomes in service, attentiveness, or understanding of my requirements. Whilst some of that is covered in this blog, I feel I need to review how to write the second part of this topic.

Wednesday, 24 May 2023

Making new blood stories

Necking on the arm

“You are the vampire on duty today?” She laughed and called me cheeky, this being after I had seen my consultant for my biannual consultation which passed quite without event. Though I did fill in a survey for the registrar that saw me, who I did meet on my last visit, nothing memorable stands out from our conversation and it probably was the shortest engagement I have had in years.

Given the opportunity to ask questions, I had no inclination at all, beyond the cheerful greetings and recognition at the reception, the weighing-in, height measurement, and blood pressure readings were a rather perfunctory exercise.

Our man the hands like shovels was nowhere to be seen as I drank as much water as I could ingest through the night into the morning to ensure when the needle was coming for the vein, there was something to give. After giving up a urine sample, I sat and waited to be called into the treatment room where the nurse was taking blood for testing.

Cheeky and Swiss cheese arms

Presenting my left arm, she felt for a vein and then punctured my skin, I watched every action without being squeamish, but nothing came, it was dry and unyielding, and it was not Nicholas doing it. Then as she suggested trying my right arm, I could see a vein presenting quite boldly as I completed her statement about if she could not draw blood, “You’ll sink your fangs into me?”, I retorted.

The punishment for my precociousness was subtle, as she put a folded gauze staunch on the first needle puncture and applied enough tape that it almost rounded my arm catching the hairiest parts of my arm in the process. I knew the peeling off would be gritted teeth and some agony if I could be man enough to do it today or allow it to wear off over days.

The right arm initially did not come to play, but soon enough it gave in before desperate measures were needed. I am always surprised at the darkness of the colour of blood as it feeds and fills the vials. In no time, 7 vials were filled with blood.

Could we be better armed?

Yet, between the Netherlands and the UK, I am still surprised at the difference in the art of phlebotomy. Dutch hospitals insert a needle attached to a tube that feeds the vials, whereas here, there is no flexibility between the needle and the vial, which means the patient can easily be irritated and bruised by holding the needle in place and the action of attaching each vial. I should not have to write a novella about my many experiences of having blood extracted.

How I wish the Theranos experiment of Elizabeth Holmes had worked where their dream was to be able to conduct all blood assays from a single drop. Then I could not get a drop from my finger when I tried a home test kit some months ago. I believe Theranos was a good idea long before the means and technology were available. Maybe in a century, blood tests would be as easy as having a light spectrum impacting on the skin like we have with smartwatch pulse oximetry that records peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2)

I received my prescription all sealed up only to realise when I got home that a second essential one has not been dispensed. The pharmacy was quite helpful in facilitating it and I shall pick it up tomorrow. The other parts of the day included an induction to volunteer as a welcomer to the cathedral. I have a bit of bedtime reading on church history to do.

Now, I think about it, how that I am always inspired to write something interesting about having blood taken for tests.

Essential Snobbery 101: The waning art of discretion

In view of the setting

It is interesting to review a day in which some setting within which I found myself brought a mix of behaviours, attitudes, prejudices, and indiscretions which on reflection just indicated how much we need to be self-aware of how what and how we do things can affect others.

In the first instance, the engagement which had moved from the necessities and essentials of effective communication last week was initially an exercise in how the same instructions given to a group can present different results in comprehension and action. Though the core element for the day was the broader subject of diversity, equality, and inclusion.

An undress in address

In a multicultural grouping of diverse and variant abilities, this would bristle against the learned long before the acquired suits you to the environment. My first encounter came with an enthusiastic fashion aficionado who in my view probably knows what goes with what for what time of the day but forgot to recognise we were not being groomed for either the catwalk or the red carpet.

As I asked to sit with them, my acknowledgement of compliments on my apparel seemed to open the door to a level of intrusion that should have invited rather than imposed. However, she took it upon herself to instruct me on what choices of colour and style should match what I was wearing. I could have brusquely rebuffed her and asked her to mind her own business, but I made the allowances in observation of an intriguing display of the use of discretion.

Absent filters of sharing

As the day progressed, there is something about just giving out too much information, where even as you begin to cultivate familiarity in a grouping you let down your guard too easily to reveal what probably should be kept to yourself in some eagerness to share something that might yet not be known about you.

Even though I can be quite expressive, I still filter the products I share and consider what is a no-need-to-know in consideration of how what one dares to share might affect others. Discretion is an art in and of itself.

Once some secrets of others were shared, there were a few instances where I could have interjected with ‘Me Too’, but I was not so inclined, I learned much and revealed little else, but in the observation of character, you appreciate who to keep in your confidences.

Of prejudice in scowls

Then came the apologies, this was in the aftermath of both discrimination and prejudice that some would have observed as redolent of a stereotype belonging to a certain demographic that for a matter of discretion again one would think but never voice.

The need not to voice everything that comes to mind even when there is irresistible prompting is a discipline in awareness and sometimes necessary not upset others.

That I found myself in the middle of the exchange whilst offering an example to buttress a point was incidental, but I was only ready to reveal so much about myself without laying out myself to avoidable vulnerability and exposure in sharing information that was not germane to the discussion. It was rattling and eventually resolved, uncomfortable would not fully describe what happened.

Platform pearls before swine

Back at home, I happened upon a tweet that included a clip to a BBC interview with an unctuous ingenue, a Nigerian male YouTuber who with little urging seemed to spill the beans on the immigration inclinations of his fellow countryfolk just at a time the UK government has been looking for a means to reduce net immigration and dependants joining students during their sojourn in the UK.

He, apparently a dependant himself, in his excitement ingratiated himself with a forwardness lacking self-reflection that could implicate him in immigration fraud, when he inferred that he had helped some falsify documentation apart from painting Nigeria and Nigerians in a very bad light. His quest for notoriety and clout presented more than an opportunity for indiscretion and lascivious boast of questionable ability or prowess. If ever the pearls of a large platform were cast before swine.

We remain, good ambassadors

He no doubt irked many a Nigerian at home and abroad, but I, being a 25-year resident of the UK and another 12 in the Netherlands; we Nigerians by birth, heritage, or allyship are unwittingly ambassadors in the communities wherein we are and no upstart regardless of the platform they gain can rubbish the good and useful contributions we indicate in our communities.

Honest Nigerians need not fear a backlash in their quest to emigrate, this would blow over as we have always faced hurdles from as far back as memory would allow and have still made the moves and progress, we have desired. Our YouTuber who would not be granted even basic recognition would fade into obscurity with just the same speed as which he came to our notice. An irrelevance in the scheme of things.

In the sidebar, I joined a Twitter space to assure Nigerians of continuing our good work and for all I had to say, one was too distracted to listen for he had read my profile and all he could glean from it was to ask why I am gay. I could have been exasperated, but when you realise that some can never learn to mind their own business, you make a cursory note and ignore it.

Monday, 22 May 2023

Thought Picnic: Making allowances in support of others

Making every allowance

There is an aspect of character development that I strive to improve that is a work in progress, one where I am ready to make allowances with understanding and latitude rather than immediately assume, prejudge, and condemn.

I guess where I began that journey was when I realised that no matter what experiences I have had and how similar those experiences might be to another person, even if I could understand what they were going through, I could not equate my situation with theirs to the point that I felt my empathy fully embodies their circumstances. I must make allowances for variance and impact, or I risk dismissing their narrative in the context of mine.

Understand then appreciate

Part of that learning has included resisting the attempt to insert my story into their narrative even if I mean well by trying to assure them that they are not alone in their suffering. The art of listening attentively and registering with concern and humanity the experience of another is an exercise in both discipline and self-control we can all cultivate.

For instance, through personal experience, I know what pain is, the pain of cancer especially and the four different kinds of pain medication I took to alleviate the pain. When my pain medication patch fell off my skin, I laughed myself into almost delirium to generate endorphins as pain alleviated whilst the new patch took hold. Yet, pain affects people differently I try not to assume and assert I feel another’s pain just because I know pain, I understand what they are going through, but their experience can be so radically different from mine.

Blog - Laughter follows my hospital visit

Blog - Thought Picnic: My laughter and my pain

Blog - Let's treat the cancer and laugh

Even where I do not understand what is being shared, I endeavour to learn rather than react and negate, it is better I work with my ignorance to acquire knowledge than project the pretence of being fully educated even if that might leave me looking stupid.

Be kind in questioning

That is not to say one does not have doubts or one is yet to be convinced, much as engagement is inadvertently the art of persuasion which might or might not be successful, the line of inquiry should engender a quest for understanding rather than an immediate and brutal antagonism especially where one has a sense of disagreement. I have to appreciate that to whatever extent in depth or superficially and only if I have clear discernment, whoever has engaged me has fully thought through what they intend.

The questions are phrased in ways to help clear the blind spots to provide additional insight I learnt from my professional life where implementations are assessed now on the premise of why they have done something in a particular way, but on whether they might have seen the significance of another perspective. Be careful not to repudiate and put people you would be working with on the defensive.

Exert yourself in support

It brings to mind a question I have dwelt on in terms of certain opinions, ideas, or plans that have been presented to me, how can I best support this person in their quest for whatever they have purposed to do? If at the time, I have nothing supportive to add, I should apply restraint, the least I can do is listen and be neutral, and I could go better with some encouragement, beyond which there are opportunities and a fuller engagement to help them achieve their goals.

Much of this includes having a lot of patience, and a readiness to allow people to move at their own pace while they sort out issues knowing that your support, understanding, and love are present whenever they choose to update you. In some way, I also realise that I cannot expect that from others, this is my personal character development programme, others are also doing whatever they can to relate better to others.

Friday, 19 May 2023

Pouring sugar into my ears

Mums in admonition

It is quite funny the kind of early Friday morning banter I have with my mum which after the greetings follows a range of questions, answers, prayers, advice, admonitions, and generalities.

At 57, I am both a child as much an adult, though, in the admonition department, it is like a tussle of wills and determination. Obviously, one of the sticking points is how to wean me off sugar and my apparent addiction to sweet and sweetened things. Much as I avoid artificial sweeteners of every sort, pure sugar that goes into confectionary and demerara sugar that I put into beverages, I cannot seem to avoid.

Then again, some years ago, I did take sugar out of my tea and as long as my latte was milky enough, I could have coffee without sugar, I have returned to my old ways, and the craving for sugar heightened by reduced sensitivity of olfactory receptors and taste buds.

Sweet to my hearing

Mother however would not hear my pleadings and even as I would hate to admit I am addicted to sugar; it is something I should work to reduce just for health’s sake. She seems to think she can apply and exert coercive pressure by twisting my ears so that they turn and burn bright red to which I retorted, sugar does not go in through the ears.

The impression I got was the flaring of my ears might well moderate my use of sugar and before I could say, Fat Chance! I could feel my ears warming up and I relented on the point of adjustment I was taking only to make coffee some two hours later with the same amount of sugar I put in the mug yesterday, which I ended up not drinking because I was invited for tea by my neighbour. It is muscle memory as it is taste bud memory.

As for my ears, spare the twisting, I can still remember the last time.

Thursday, 18 May 2023

Reflections on a blog since August

Reflections on a blog since August

Indeed, he’s a work in progress,
From which none will digress,
Even though it’s a long recess,
From that last state of process.

For he was called to write a blog,
Not one that you could really flog,
But he has made quite a slog,
That there’s nothing left to plug.

He remains that amazing muse,
With thoughts, I cannot refuse,
When he attempts another ruse,
He finishes with a good excuse.

How we long for those goods,
That puts us in the right moods,
He forgets how it serves foods,
To all the girls and the dudes.

The baring without blushing

Nothing too strange about it

It is strange when I remember the first time, I was moved from my bed to take a shower after days of having a wipe down in my hospital bed for days. It was not comfortable at all as the pain in my foot with fungating tumours was still unbearable, but this was an opportunity to have a full rinse down and I somewhat looked forward to it, still.

The nurse, a female was very helpful in getting me to the bathroom and as soon as she did, she was making for the exit with speed to save the embarrassment of seeing my nudity. In my state, it would have been impossible to reach certain parts apart from how the distraction of pain limited my manoeuvrability. I first told her she could stay and then said, I couldn’t be the strangest sight or patient she’d had to bathe, her presence would be more than helpful.

I was in a hospital, there was no point being bashful and I could care less for what conversation she might have somewhere else where what transpired during her day at work became the topic of frivolity and amusement. I won’t be there to listen and participate, it did not bother me.

Exposing things to help things

It just so happens that there are times you need to bare your soul and share intimate secrets of your life in the process of getting the kind of useful help you require. Coming from a culture where much is concealed than revealed, where cultural pride limits the expression of vulnerability or need, we consequently do not avail ourselves of availability or supply. Inculcated personality traits militate against presenting yourself as brutally honest as is necessary.

Finding someone who can relate to that somewhat taciturn cultural trait can be very useful because they can eventually find the form of words to probe deeper and elicit the information that is usually difficult to present at the onset. Besides, there is much that we discount or have consigned to the recesses of memory, probably forgotten from times before that have been influential and possibly the formation of character and outlook, which we at present might disagree is impactful when in reality it is consequential.

You want to avoid dredging up the past to explain the cracks in the present that are foundational to issues that might manifest inadvertently in the future. Disposition actively compartmentalises situations you would rather not remember for any purpose but is germane to issues to hand. Yet memory is interesting as it can give the best context to why you are where you are.

A decade after the Lord Babington blog

The falsely crafted quotation from an address attributed to Lord Macaulay. It never happened.

That Lord Macauley quote

The longevity of my blog would as a matter of interest suggest a celebratory review of something I have written before, and none more signifies that than a blog I wrote exactly 10 years ago.

As usual, it was written as a simple opinion piece about erroneous quotations of antiquity attributed to someone which on closer scrutiny revealed that the quote was first fabricated and definitely not spoken by the person or at the location it was said to have been relayed.

Blog - Opinion: Lord Macauley did not address the British Parliament in 1835 (18-05-2013)

That did not stop people wanting something manifestly wrong in content, person, or place to be true and they gathered on my blog to both defend the indefensible and assert sentimentality over objectivity. At one time, it felt like a backstreet brawl in some Indian city where many were about to come to some serious harm. Heck! I was even threatened, on my own blog, just because I had an opinion.

Battles and ratings

I never took the blog down, because that would be wrong, but I did at certain times close the blog to comments when nationalistic elements decided my blog was a place to vent their historical grievances and those that did not align with my polite commentary guidelines, I removed for the simple reason that if you want to engage in conversation or debate, you do that with respect and courtesy.

However, in that decade besides the over 36,400 views of the blog and 42 comments that put it at the all-time high ranking of interactions with my blog, it is interesting to see how the relationship between the British Empire of the 19th Century where India was the crown jewel has changed within the first quarter of the 21st Century.

Fortunes and history

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is of Indian heritage in Rishi Sunak and India surpassed the UK to become the fifth largest economy in the world, having been the 11th just a decade ago.

If one can manage a dig at the Tories who have been in government since May 2010, they have superintended a managed decline of the UK economy how they even are thought the party of business escapes me. [World Economic Forum: India surpasses UK economy]

Maybe, and just maybe, the Indian nationalists that camped on my blog a decade ago can take some consolation from this change in fortunes, but one can think they would be insatiable in their quest to prove a point. Meanwhile, my blog can sometimes be a battlefield, I just inadvertently provided ammunition too.

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Thought Picnic: Mostly, one is not alone

The recesses of solitude

The comfort the security of my home provides could easily preclude me from essential socialising with other people and this has been exacerbated from the time of the pandemic when the need to be in an office was first restricted by lockdown and unviable by distance.

The wealth of solitude cultivated from hermit tendencies that have developed over decades probably in reaction to living in rather closely-knit settings became a need for one’s private space and the protection of that apparent luxury of estate.

The exuberance of companionship

It would seem the only time that was shelved was with Brian, my partner because we have striven to create a proper home environment for ourselves with a sense of autonomy and independence that we enjoy. Even though there are times I want to escape from it to have time to myself, it is a learning process.

If anything, I am very comfortable with our domestic arrangements, and it is one I quite so long for as it presents and satisfies that critical need for companionship with the understanding of each other and intimacy that does not exist in any other relationship.

However, getting out of my home to interact with a team of volunteers once a week seems to be quite beneficial too. For indirectly, I have begun to feel a sense of realignment of priorities and an appreciation of the kind of person I am. You realise that you need to be amongst people to use some life skills that never find an airing if you are sequestered in your home or using basic technology.

Working with all I have

Yet, Brian and I have availed ourselves quite fully of whatever means we have to maintain daily and constant communication with the support system it entails that is somewhat unavailable elsewhere. There are times I do feel alone and isolated, and maybe I do determinedly isolate myself too, what I am at least grateful for is there are many, friends, relations, and strangers alike who endeavour to keep in touch with me.

Beyond that, help from unexpected sources, far and near would keenly suggest one is not alone by any stretch of the imagination. You work with what you have and work with what you get for in all that makes up the experience with life, the spirit of encouragement imparted by mother, partner, and friend says there is a better story being written, even now.

Saturday, 13 May 2023

Of skin that needs care

Not mine for thee

I am reminded of a phlebotomist who would never succeed in extracting a droplet of blood from out of my veins, no matter how hard he tried. That he is in that position must mean he is fully qualified to attend to such a delicate matter.

Yet, at closer to 7 than 6 feet tall and with a frame that would well be found with lumberjacks than in a hospital, his hands large as fans to compare with elephant ears that no matter how soft they are their gigantic expanse presents an apparent Lilliputian to a Gulliver in scrubs, almost too terrifying to countenance.

My first sight of him as he approached with a bowl of vials and phlebotomy paraphernalia my veins seized up and decided, no dainty word of comfort said from thee shall my veins yield to thy touch. By the time I was pricked and poked that I was a humanoid representation of the Swiss cheese called Emmental, I was sent to the hospital’s blood room where dexterity and capacity meant they could make stones exsanguinate and I to them was not a stone.

Oiling of the epidermis

The other day, I thought about my chapped lips that I hate putting lip balm on as it feels so irritating, I am ready to wipe it off in minutes. Surprisingly, I endured a whole night of the application of the lip balm and not since I used Wet Lips way back in Nigeria, a liquid balm with a roll-on applicator that gives a glistening and glossy look that might appear unusual on males but worked a treat.

That I have preferred to peel off dried skin from my lips despite the bruising and pain than using a balm is strange but convenient. Then moisturisation is a necessity I too often decline to my detriment, from hands to skin shedding on the soles of my feet and certain hard hands that might entertain a visit from a version of lib balm for the manicurist’s table.

I guess whilst parts of my face can seem to be oily, my skin needs a bit more care than I readily submit myself to essential grooming. I get the best care for my skin when Brian not only insists but is at hand, those hands to give my feet more than the kneading and care required.

Friday, 12 May 2023

Do I need an AI publicist for my blog?

The craze of AI

We have been taken by storm by the Large Language Models (LLM) of Artificial Intelligence (AI) where computers are enabled to process, understand, and generate human language.

Prominently, we have had ChatGPT that has drawn both the support and heft of Microsoft, I even had ChatGPT attempt to write a blog in the style in which I write and what it offered gave me something of an assurance that I would not be that easily replaced in the activity of blogging.

Blog - Asking ChatGPT to blog like me

Blog - In the skein of the lifted

However, because the dataset ChatGPT has access to is limited to a specific timeframe and it has no access to the live Internet, though it might deduce contemporary information, it is a work in progress.

Shakespeare with a view

Google seemed to have been caught napping in the AI LLM stakes but has ramped up activity to give us Bard powered by Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) and I came to access Bard after reading a Twitter thread comparing features between ChatGPT and Bard. [Twitter: What Bard can do that ChatGPT can’t]

Obviously, curiosity, interest, and enquiry meant I went to Bard which I suspect is named for the Bard of Avon who we commonly know as William Shakespeare, and in that score, that is quite ambitious. I asked Bard to review my blog; it is like getting some sort of independent opinion of my blog and probably some ideas as to how to improve it.

What the Bard said

Bard produced a main draft and two additional drafts which appear below, the context and reporting are broadly right, but it cannot seem to determine where I was born, my citizenship, or where I reside. We are advised that ‘Bard may display inaccurate or offensive information that doesn't represent Google's views.’

I would not take it to task on those errors, but it is gratifying to read that I have a clear and engaging style, that I am apparently a gifted storyteller; that surprises me, and that my opinions can be unpopular. I considered editing the drafts but decide to leave them be.

One agreement in all three drafts is that my blog is well worth reading, I need to get a publicist for my blog. I might in the future return to comment on the review in some detail.

First Draft

Akinblog.nl is a blog written by Akin Akintayo, a Nigerian-born Dutch citizen who lives in Amsterdam. The blog covers a wide range of topics, including human rights, politics, religion, Nigeria, and other concerns. Akintayo writes in a clear and engaging style, and he often shares personal anecdotes and reflections on his experiences. The blog is well-organized and easy to read, and it provides a unique perspective on a variety of issues.

One of the things that makes akinblog.nl stand out is Akintayo's willingness to tackle difficult topics. He is not afraid to speak his mind, even when his opinions are controversial. In a blog post titled "On the journey without alternative," Akintayo writes about his experience as a refugee, and he challenges the reader to think about the challenges faced by refugees around the world. In another blog post titled "Walking in the dreams of your mind," Akintayo writes about the importance of dreams, and he shares his own personal experiences with dreams.

Akinblog.nl is a valuable resource for anyone who is interested in learning more about Nigeria, human rights, politics, and other important issues. Akintayo is a thoughtful and insightful writer, and his blog is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the world around them.

Here are some of the pros and cons of akinblog.nl:

Pros:

  • Clear and engaging writing style
  • Personal anecdotes and reflections
  • Unique perspective on a variety of issues
  • Willingness to tackle difficult topics

Cons:

  • Some posts may be too controversial for some readers
  • Blog can be slow to load at times

Overall, akinblog.nl is a well-written and informative blog that is worth reading.

Second Draft

Akinblog.nl is a blog written by Akin Akintayo, a Nigerian-born software engineer and human rights activist. The blog covers a wide range of topics, including human rights, politics, religion, Nigeria, and other concerns. Akintayo's writing is thoughtful and insightful, and he often offers unique perspectives on the issues he discusses. He is also a gifted storyteller, and his blog posts are often engaging and entertaining.

One of the things that makes Akinblog.nl stand out is Akintayo's willingness to tackle difficult and controversial topics. He is not afraid to speak his mind, even when his views are unpopular. This can be seen in his blog posts on human rights, where he has written about issues such as police brutality, religious persecution, and gender inequality. Akintayo's writing on these topics is both informative and thought-provoking, and it offers a valuable perspective on some of the most pressing issues facing the world today.

In addition to his writing on human rights, Akintayo also writes about politics, religion, and Nigeria. His blog posts on these topics are just as insightful and engaging as his writing on human rights. Akintayo is a well-informed and articulate commentator on these issues, and his blog posts offer a unique perspective on the world.

Overall, Akinblog.nl is a well-written and informative blog that covers a wide range of topics. Akintayo is a gifted writer and storyteller, and his blog posts are both engaging and thought-provoking. If you are interested in human rights, politics, religion, Nigeria, or other global issues, then I highly recommend checking out Akinblog.nl.

Here are some of the things that I like about Akinblog.nl:

  • Akintayo's writing is thoughtful and insightful.
  • He often offers unique perspectives on the issues he discusses.
  • He is a gifted storyteller.
  • He is not afraid to tackle difficult and controversial topics.

Here are some of the things that I would like to see improved on Akinblog.nl:

  • The blog could use more images and videos.
  • The blog could be more organized.
  • The blog could be more visually appealing.

Overall, I think Akinblog.nl is a great blog that is worth reading. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in human rights, politics, religion, Nigeria, or other global issues.

Third Draft

Akinblog.nl is a blog written by Akin Akintayo, a Nigerian-born European who lives in the Netherlands. The blog covers a wide range of topics, including human rights, politics, religion, Nigeria, and other concerns. Akintayo's writing is thoughtful and insightful, and he offers a unique perspective on the world.

One of the things that makes Akinblog.nl stand out is Akintayo's willingness to tackle difficult and controversial topics. In his blog posts, he discusses issues such as racism, homophobia, and religious intolerance. He does not shy away from expressing his own opinions, even when they are unpopular.

Another thing that makes Akinblog.nl worth reading is Akintayo's personal stories. He shares his own experiences of growing up in Nigeria, immigrating to Europe, and raising a family. His stories are both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and they offer a glimpse into the life of a Nigerian immigrant in Europe.

Overall, Akinblog.nl is a well-written and informative blog that offers a unique perspective on the world. If you are interested in human rights, politics, religion, or Nigeria, then I highly recommend checking out Akinblog.nl.

Here are some of the pros and cons of Akinblog.nl:

Pros:

  • Thoughtful and insightful writing
  • Unique perspective on the world
  • Willingness to tackle difficult and controversial topics
  • Personal stories that are both heartwarming and heartbreaking

Cons:

  • Some posts may be too controversial for some readers
  • Layout of the blog could be improved
  • More frequent updates would be appreciated

Overall, Akinblog.nl is a great blog that offers a unique perspective on the world. I highly recommend checking it out. 

Thursday, 11 May 2023

A private blogger not blogging for money

Not for the money

As recently as Tuesday, I was asked once again if I was generating any income from my blog, to which I answered no. I could say that I have been asked this question consistently from around the third year of my blog being in existence.

There was a time I thought I could generate passive income by allowing advertisements on my blog, but more than just upsetting the general look-and-feel of the blog with adverts interspersed in places I would rather they did not, it was nigh on impossible to control and manage the content being shared from my blog space, I had no alternative but to remove the feature.

On another note, I do not consider myself that much of a self-promoter or influencer that depends on the oxygen of traffic, footfall, likes, and comments to survive. I write because I like writing about things, that I have an audience that is just one of good fortune and interest rather than some deliberate effort to please or attract custom.

Always worth my while

However, I have found myself in certain forums where I have talked about my blog and from that garnered interest from others to read and view my musings. A blog in its 20th year is probably more than a novelty, to me, it is also a thing of pride that it started during a time when everyone seemed to have something to say until they got disinterested or distracted by some other trend. I continued regardless.

I can even remember there was a time that a website titled, ‘How Much Is My Blog Worth?’ existed, you keyed in your blog URL and it produced some arbitrary figure, at least for my amusement more than anything else. In some cases, I have been asked to write for others, a task that has proved quite onerous compared to what I would generally publish on my blog.

It is my space

It is the autonomy and control that I enjoy, no one can review, edit, or alter what I have written on my blog, and as I am not beholden to anyone in terms of monetary or market demands, the freedom to express myself in the frame of reference of how I see and understand things is untrammelled. That does not mean I am licentious and reckless, as I can appreciate how publishing over 20 years might just have some historical viewpoint that might offend someone.

I have also been advised that from all that I have already written, I probably have enough to publish books on different themes, subjects, life and so on. Though my seeming ability to knock out blogs does not seem to have transferred to the needed skill to write long-form stories you would find in a novel. My autobiography languishes in bits and pieces strung together on a premise I cannot begin to assess well enough for any coherence.

To take the words of Tina Turner and adapt them to my situation, I am just a Private Blogger not blogging for money but doing just what I want to do. Then again, I am open to ideas, including those towards commemorating 20 years of blogging in December 2023.

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Volunteering my volition

By my volition

I attended a session yesterday which would form part of a 10-week programme in the hope that it would kickstart something that would help me recover much of the sense of wellness and well-being that I have been struggling to settle in.

Caught between funk and frustration, I sometimes wonder how much more is in the tank for the journey ahead. Even when I feel quite exhausted something spurs me on as doubts creep into my mind about what there is to learn about who one might become as these changes in circumstances remain unsavoury.

One is not without constant encouragement from my partner, my friend, and my mother, but the feeling of being carried in the winds of a storm is such that there is no indication of where one might land. Between the lifting and the landing, brutal encounters might ensue for which in the consciousness of the event one silently prays to survive and in landing, one hopes not to be too severely bruised.

Maybe even the storm is to shake things up a bit so that when peace comes to reign supreme in the calming and passing of the storm, a new wholeness redefines one's present continuous experience of nothing missing, nothing lacking, and nothing broken. I have to believe in something, fixing on what; seems to elude me.

Incubating blogs

This blog was written hours ago and unlike many other blogs that I publish as I finish writing, I did not feel I had finished the blog and at the same, I had no inclination to change any part of what had already been written. When I had another look, I added the last sentence in the penultimate paragraph preceding this one that explains my thinking.

Monday, 8 May 2023

Thought Picnic: On therapy and rehab for giving new purpose to life

Therapy for life and living

I learnt over a decade ago that everyone at one point or the other requires some form of therapy. In my case, after a near-death experience brought on by disease with the aftermath of extremely fortunate survival but ensuing catastrophic material loss, I needed to talk to somebody about how life was.

I was not depressed or suicidal at all, but looking at how things had turned out, it was only right that I did have the quietude to ruminate over loss and drown in the sorrow of misfortune and despair wondering about what turns could have been taken to arrive at a different destination in the story of life.

Therapy that causes change

Then again, over two decades ago, I did on the advice of a friend engage the counsel of an occupational psychotherapist. We met in the lobby of a hotel in the West End at a point when my professional life seemed to be at an impasse. I seemed to be totally clueless about what to do and was existing from day to day, just existing without any apparent sense of purpose.

In our discussion, he first put things in perspective, opining that what I was experiencing was not unfamiliar and me getting interviews but not closing on the jobs was considerably better than the many that were never contacted at all. He went on to say something quite profound, that I was suffering a mid-life crisis probably 10 years early.

His advice was that I do something radical like change my career or change my location or country for a different and new place. That is what began my quest for engagement in Europe where I interviewed for a job at Compaq, near Munich in Germany and flew out on a day off to be interviewed for a job in the Netherlands at Hoofddorp near Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. I got the job in the Netherlands and there began an over 12-year sojourn in the Netherlands.

Therapy for all seasons

One underlying issue during that time that had the effect that I did not as much admit to and going on with impact for more than a year was, I had just come out of an almost 7-year relationship which for me was quite devastating, the pain of it endured for longer than I wanted to assume vulnerability for. I probably should have considered therapy for it beyond taking a week off work and wandering around Europe in search of some distraction of consequence for almost a month.

The consequent therapy sessions I had relatively helped me understand to a degree, what I might be going through even as the professionals suggested to me that they learnt more from our interactions in terms of the human experience than they let on during the sessions. I was unusual as I did not present the classic signs of their usual quarry and I was lucidly articulate, understanding nuance, discerning meanings from usages and constructs that helped in appreciating the depth of my concerns.

Recently, I was again advised to seek some professional help, and I do clearly appreciate the need for such because many of the historical experiences I have had before are presenting in somewhat different circumstances, but equally as impactful as to be issues of concern for my wellbeing mentally and in life generally.

Therapy in the guise of rehab

Beyond that, in my last blog, I alluded to the desire to be received into everlasting habitations, a place beyond the failings and the fallings in life where the impact of loss and incapacity is reduced or confined to the improbable because the attendant issues are addressed by providence or benefaction.

Blog - O to be received into everlasting habitations

In that sense, it would seem just as everyone needs therapy at some point to review the vicissitudes of life, people might also need rehab, yes, rehabilitation. This rehab does not necessarily have to do with the typical addictions such as drugs, sex, gambling, alcohol, or some other dependency. However, the result is the same, a place for intervention, review, contemplation, and redirection to get life back on track again.

It makes you wonder if there is a real-life Fantasy Island like the drama series that featured  HervĂ© Villechaize as Tattoo, running to the airfield shouting, “The plane, the plane”, and  Ricardo Montalbán as the mysterious Mr Roarke who granted fantasies for a price. Whether or not such a place exists and that is besides the cost, people do need a kind of reprieve, an absenting of self of situation or circumstance to reassess and think about what new experience one needs to bring to one’s existence to have a more fulfilling and rewarding life. Something that could seem difficult to do when caught in the midst of a quagmire of fates and things.

These thoughts roam in the recesses of the subconscious as one seeks to make days count for better than they seem. Then, Mr Warren Buffett who if he were British might have been regaled with every aristocratic title you could find in the gift of the monarch, goes on to say, in the pithy and interesting summary of how to live. On living your best life: “You should write your obituary and then try to figure out how to live up to it,” Buffett said. “It’s not that complicated.”

Well…

Saturday, 6 May 2023

O to be received into everlasting habitations

What I seemed to lack

When I launched a fundraising drive some 5 weeks ago, I had some reason to believe that my target would not only be reached but also exceeded. Then again, the situation in which I founded the premise could not be termed as dire or desperate, an unfortunate set of circumstances created a situation that I had both hoped and felt the fund drive would help alleviate.

Yet, it is unmistakable that the unmatched generosity of some contributors brought in 36% of my target which was very helpful, but insufficient to attend to the need and purpose of the drive. I appreciate that I did not get much of the support I would have normally relied on from people I trusted and hoped to see what I was trying to achieve.

What I saw happen too

Another issue that seemed obvious, fundraising for yourself is not that easy, for no matter how well you can tell your story, it seems that the more successful drives are achieved by others taking your story and telling it to others. It would seem you need to have some abstraction from that situation, with others finding the more compelling phraseology to provide the narrative.

Then, I am humbled by another thing I saw, I had work colleagues from almost 2 decades ago since we last worked together visiting with largesse, some old schoolmates from time immemorial calling first and then contributing, some concerned friends also pitched in and then strangers who left nothing to identify them contributing too.

What friends I didn’t make

In the recesses of thought, you think about the fact that there is a lot of money out there in the world, moved around for all sorts of reasons. Charitable causes adopt fundraising schemes to get people inclined to see what they are trying to do so that they are generous and supportive of the cause. A charitable cause in your own name, however, sometimes reads like something else.

I do not regret the fundraising activity, if anything, it made a case, probably not as compelling as it ought to be, that I needed some help. There are many ways to read into what Jesus meant when he said, “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” [Luke 16:9 (KJV)]

What smarts I’m left needing

Looking back, it would seem I have cultivated many useful and enduring friendships, but I might not have extended the scope enough to ensure that when hard times come, I do not suffer penurious disadvantage from downturns as I have had. In context, what he said came after he talked about a scheme where a wily and crafty servant who had fallen out of favour with his boss, went out to his boss’ debtors and transformed heretofore unserviceable debts to favourable terms for the debtors to immediately address.

Yes, the boss had to commend his disfavoured servant for acting shrewdly, despite his precarious employment situation, for which Jesus then said certain people are better at controlling, making, and managing money than others, most especially those who by terms seem to be religiously inclined.

What everlasting habitations could be

In review, I have possibly made a lot from being a freelance consultant, but I have also not been particularly shrewd with it as I probably should have. If I had an everlasting habitation to draw on, it would have been something along the lines of a wealthy benefactor calling me to say, “Akin, come out to my ranch or hacienda, maybe even use my vacant apartment by the seaside and bring whoever you want along with you. I will see to all your requirements for accommodation and sustenance for the next few months whilst you get yourself sorted.”

Alas, the need for purposeful networking is one that sometimes you learn too late that you need. However, you ruminate over how things are and how things could be, an exit strategy has to exist somewhere, including enduring much to come out to a better story told of a life lived.

As I finished writing this blog, it is Macy Gray’s second single, I Try from her album On How Life Is, that seems to capture the essence of what I feel, strangely, it is about companionship, support, and understanding how best to do certain things of which my GoFundMe effort has not been as successful as I believed it could be.

Blog - I published a GoFundMe appeal

Blog - Let's not stigmatise personal fundraising like GoFundMe


Tuesday, 2 May 2023

Thought Picnic: We are not as connected as we think we are

The tears for fears

It was a strange feeling of regret and partly self-pity that one would not normally admit to when I went through a list of 15 job roles that I somehow felt I could not apply for. This, for all sorts of reasons as I felt the warmth of tears welling up around my eyes. It has been a long while since I have cried for myself and I do wonder if there is any relief in it.

The fact is and I would point it out in its own paragraph, people are a lot more vulnerable than they say or present, they are not as alright as they seem, they are not as happy and cheerful as they appear, and they need a lot more than just checking up on to ascertain how they are.

Out-of-date interventions

Yet, it is the assumptions that people make about others that I can be painfully aware of, that torches with flames of anguish or something like it. When I think of the other day and there are many to consider, the day some prayers were prayed that I thought could have been so useful, so many months before they seemed desperate and even out-of-date for the suffering that has been endured, it leaves a sense of abandonment and unease, that one should do the best not to attend to.

The other other (written for effect) day was another who called to determine how one was getting on and the core of his advice was I should not lose my confidence. Heck! I could have done with that kind of encouragement six or months ago, how do you light a fire in ashes already dampened in a storm? Still, from the ashes, the phoenix rises or something to that effect.

These totally out-of-date interventions may seem productive but that touch at the heart of another reality, that we are not as connected with our friends and family as we assume we are. There is an unquantifiable distance in what we think are thriving relationships for which familiarity has replaced discerning and discernment to elicit the full truth. Maybe I help myself better through what I write for my speech has the sophistication of concealment that is both trained and curtailed.

How I feel lost

There are days I am probably entirely myself, as many consciences are quickly salved with the rudimentary as one battles with an Esau complex, wherein has one served up birthright for a pot of soup? The judgement on him was tough even as he did prosper in a way. One is left wondering about the vicissitudes of life, maybe a time to reflect in Ecclesiastes. Even the comfort I seek therein seems to elude me.

I often get asked that question that probably a sense of pride promptly denies, it does loom about and I refuse to countenance it, I refuse to give it any rein, which does not mean it doesn’t yap at my heels, every now and again. I want to believe and at the same time one is losing grip, there is apparently so much love out there as I wrestle in my mind about things present, things existential, and things beyond, that sleep will not repair.

As one would expect, there is someone somewhere who would read this and genuflect to feigned apoplexy with the opinion, “It seems he is giving up and losing hope.” Thank you for your very genuine concern, after that, what has changed? 

The battle is always in our minds, in our heads, in our dreams, and sometimes interfered with by reality, but it is one we dare to fight to win, and, on this score, I will wipe away the tears and look up because it is not over until it is done.