The Anonymous Widower

Government Announces £25m Brexit High-Speed Medicines Train

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to this proposal!

August 15, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport, World | , | Leave a comment

Dialysis-At-Home Developer Quanta Raises £38m

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in today’s Sunday Times

Strangely, in my almost seventy-two years, I’ve never met anybody, who is undergoing dialysis, although one of my friends did give one of his kidneys to his brother.

But reading this article in The Sunday Times, I feel that for those undergoing dialysis, things may be improving.

  • The £38m will launch Quanta’s machine with the NHS.
  • More people will be able to have dialysis-at-home.
  • The company hopes the machine will be launched in the US this year.

It is very much a good news article.

To me though, it shows how technology is increasingly being developed to improve healthcare.

Surprisingly, the machine uses the same technology as that used to mix soft drinks in bars.

July 28, 2019 Posted by | Health | | Leave a comment

An Outing To Oxford

I do a bit of research for a Californian lawyer, who helps small and medium-sized high-tech and other ventures setup in the UK.

He likes my opinion on the plans of start-ups and established businesses with respect to their location in the UK.

A couple of days ago, I received this e-mail.

John and his friends are funding a new venture being setup in Oxford.

The proposed CEO is a recently-widowed sixty-one year-old Canadian, who will be moving to London, where her daughter and family currently live.

Can you tell me, what it would be like commuting out from London to Oxford perhaps three days a week?

I should also say that at the moment, she is in need of having hip replacement surgery and proposes to have that in London, where she will be near to her family, during her stay.

She wouldn’t be able to walk a long distance.

This was my reply.

I can’t see much of a problem, as knowing John, the business could probably afford a few taxis and Crossrail will hopefully start running within the next eighteen months, making the London end straightforward.

Today, I went to Oxford leaving on the 09:50 train from Paddington and returning on the 13:01. Partly, to see if there were any pitfalls in the plan and also to have coffee and a snack with an old friend in the City, who helped me very much with the algorithms for Artemis.

These are my thoughts on the journey.

Trains

I travelled out in a comfortable nine-car Class 802 train. I’m not sure, whether it was the same on return or a shorter five-car train.

The outward journey was busier than the return journey, as I suspect that quite a few people live in London and work in Reading or Oxford.

But I did get a table both ways, so I was able to lay my copy of The Times flat and read it properly.

Cost

Off Peak Day Return tickets with a Senior Railcard, are  £18.30 in Standard Class and £49.25 in First Class.

As I have a Freedom Pass, I bought a Standard Class Off Peak Day Return between the Zone 6 boundary and Oxford for just £13.05 with my Senior Railcard.

I consider my ticket to be good value for a pensioner’s day out!

Journey Times And Frequency

Both trains took about an hour.

There are also two fast trains per hour, many of which are nine-car trains, with the remainder being five-car trains.

,Coffee, Tea And Snacks

I was surprised to see a trolley on the train.

But I don’t think much business was being done.

Oxford Station And Oxford City Centre

There were plenty of taxis at Oxford station, but I walked the distance both ways in under twenty minutes.

A friend, who has had an NHS double hip replacement, reckons she could walk it easily.

The biggest problem would appear to be the traffic and the narrow pavements

Note, that there are a few maps and some decent cafes and restaurants.

Conclusion

Travelling from London to Oxford is a very feasible daily commute and there are many worse ways of spending an hour on a train.

July 18, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport | , | 2 Comments

Rats Are More Intelligent Than We Think

I heard this story from a retired gamekeeper, who was very much a proper countryman, after I said I had had a stroke and was on Warfarin.

When you raise chickens, especially free-range ones outside, rats can be a problem, as there’s nothing they like better than a nice piece of chicken.

So Warfarin is put down to poison the rats.

Anybody like me, who is on the drug, knows you must ignore Vitamin K, which is found in leafy green vegetables. I do generally eat my five a day, but they are mainly fruit, tomatoes, beetroot, beans and potatoes.

Apparently, modern chicken feed contains high levels of itamin K, as there are probably a lot of green forage crops in its ingredients.

So as the rats are also looking for their vegetables to go with the chicken, they’re eating the chicken feed.

And the Vitamin K in the chicken feed, could be giving them protection against the rat Warfarin-based rat poinson.

I also suspect, there could be a bit of natural selection at work!

July 18, 2019 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On eScooters!

Consider.

  • This article on the BBC is entitled Emily Hartridge: TV Presenter And YouTube Star Dies In Crash. It is an extremely sad tale and it has led to the inevitable call to ban electric scooters.
  • There is also this article on the BBC, which is entitled Iris Goldsmith: Teenage girl dies in ‘quad bike’ accident. This is another extremely sad tale and many are questioning, what a teenage girl was doing, riding a quadbike.
  • And then there’s this article on the BBC, Which is entitled Govia Thameslink Fined £1m Over Gatwick Express Window Death.

Young people and some older ones too, often do stupid things.

Many also crave danger and go mountaineering, riding on the tops of trains or jumping into rivers from a great height.

Doing things out of the ordinary is a natural reaction and is one of the reason, why humans are the most successful species on this planet.

I think the problem is the way we bring up children.

  • My parents let me do anything I wanted up to a point.
  • They also taught me lots of skills.
  • From about twelve, I used to cycle all over London.
  • I spent endless hours in my father’s print works doing things that would be frowned upon now, because they are too dangerous.

A couple of months ago, I was interviewed by a sixth-form girl student, in the volunteering I do at Barts Hospital in giving experience to prospective doctors.

She had lived in an over-protective environment and hardly left home on her own.

It was almost child abuse. She didn’t say, but I suspect she’d even been driven to and from school.

When it came to our own children, C and myself were fairly liberal and it was strange how, two became very street-wise and had the occasional scrapes, whereas the other was generally well-behaved.

Perhaps, we didn’t get everything right, but I like to think, we gave them a good appreciation of risk!

And that is one of the mot important things to learn in life, as often, those that ca’t assess risk, come to unfortunate ends.

I do feel my youngest son’s unhealthy lifestyle was a factor in his getting pancreatic cancer, especially if he was coeliac like me! But then he wouldn’t get tested!

His daughter though, seems to have a good appreciation of risk, but then if your father dies, you probably do!

To return to the eScooter, which is where this post started.

They Look Fun!

They certainly look fun and I constantly want to have a go on one.

Remember, I have crashed a twin-engined aeroplae and ridden horses in the Masai Mara.

At seventeen, I also sat on the back of a motorcycle, the wrong way round and went through the Mersey Tunnel.

Was I wearing a helmet? Of course not!

Are They Dangerous?

The risk depends on where they are used and how competent the rider is!

Ask any A & E doctor, what sport causes the most injuries and they’ll say something like rugby or horse-riding!

When A & E doctors start complaining about eScooters that will be the time for action.

Would Training Help?

Training isn’t the important thing.

However experience, especially that gained in a safe environment is important.

But to legislate that training should be mandatory will only have the reverse affect.

Conclusion

It’s a difficult problem, but we must teach everybody to appreciate risk.

When I joined ICI in 1969, I went on a formal Health and Safety course.

It has proven to be invaluable all my life an I haven’t worked on a chemical plant since 1970.

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport, World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

France Stops Funding Homeopathy

The title of this post is the same as an article on page 31 of Thursday’s copy of The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

French patients, who use more homeopathic remedies than almost anyone else, will no longer have them funded by the health service after scientists deemed them useless.

The French have shown a lot of sense here!

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Health | , | 1 Comment

Phone Call Cuts Hospital Readmissions

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on page 18 of today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

A single phone call to an older patient who has been discharged from hospital can almost halve the odds of readmission, research suggests.

I have mined health-care data in the past several times and often something simple drops out from a simple analysis.

Some analyses produce the obvious like you gets lots of leg injuries on Saturday afternoons, due to football being played.

I also believe that analysis of health data in an area could pick up more sinister links.

This could be picked up by artificial intelligence scanning the various databases, but until such systems are fully developed, a lot can be picked up by analysts using simple tools. Even Excel can find a lot of problems, if used properly.

 

June 14, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , | Leave a comment

M4: Alternative Solutions To Motorway Travel

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

It is a good read giving both sides of the problems of commuting.

This is an important section from an expert.

Prof Mark Barry, a transport expert at Cardiff University, said the M4 has been important in attracting manufacturing, but there have been negatives.

“The downside is we’ve built a lot more housing, retail and other business parks around the M4, that’s then made us over-dependent on the car,” he said.

I think Professor Barry is highlighting a problem, that is seen all over the UK. Like the United States, housing, office, medical and leisure developments are being built, where the only way to get there is by car.

I don’t drive because my eyesight has been damaged by a stroke, but I still have a full life, with more travel than the average man of 71.

June 14, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

My Unusual Body

I say unusual, but I suspect there are others out there with similar problems to me.

I was delivered in 1947, by the almost exotically-named; Dr. Egerton White, who was the family GP. He had all the expected characteristics of a three-piece suit, a corporation, a long watch chain and the obligatory Rover car. He also had a rather unusual blotchy skin, that leads me to think he was probably of mixed race.

I was small in stature, not the healthiest of children and was always going to see him and his partner, a Doctor Curley!

  • At times, I would cough my guts out for hours on end.
  • Later I remember my mother saying to my future wife, that I had difficulty eating as a baby, and I would fall asleep as she fed me.
  • Often I would spend three or four months away from school and I can remember spending hours with my head over a large jug of hot Friar’s Balsam.
  • At one point, someone said it could be the lead in the paint in our house, so my father burnt it all off and replaced it.
  • My mother used to make gallons of home-made lemonade according to one of Mrs. Beeton’s recipes, which must have helped, when I drunk it.
  • Doctors White and Curley were puzzled and at one point the new-fangled drug penicillin.
  • It should be remembered that in the 1950s, even in leafy Southgate, where we lived, the air was thick with the pollution from coal fires for a lot of the year.

In the end, one thing that helped was a nasal spray cooked-up by a pharmacist called Halliday. I can still smell it and suspect it was little more than the base chemical still used in some nasal sprays available from pharmacies.

Although my poor health persisted at times, I still managed to pass the 11-Plus and get to Minchenden Grammar School.

But I remember in the first year, I had virtually a term away.

From about ten or eleven, my health gradually improved.

I can suggest these reasons.

  • Getting older helped in some way.
  • I was exercising a lot more by cycling around, although it was up a hill to get home.
  • My parents had bought a house in Felixstowe and we would spend weekends there. Although, as I got older I hated being away from my friends with little to do, so I tended to stay in and read.

In the 1960s, my health seemed to improve dramatically, when I spent three years at Liverpool University and a year afterwards working for ICI at Runcorn.

Liverpool is a Maritime City and in those days, the air was much better than London.

But I also got married in 1968 and I can never remember serious noughts of coughing, sneezing and breathing difficulties in the time Celia was alive.

Although, she did often say that before I went to sleep, I would always sneeze three times and sometimes she would even count them.

She also regularly said, that my sneezes were rather violent at times. They still are!

In the late nineties, I was diagnosed as a coeliac. Regularly, I’d go to the GP around the turn of the year with a general run-down feeling.

Nothing specific, but then an elderly locum decided I ought to have a blood test, which would be the first of my life!

The result was that I was very low in vitamin B12. As a series of injections didn’t improve the situation, I was sent to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests.

I was diagnosed as a coeliac, initially on a blood test and then by two endoscopies. Note that Addenbrooke’s used to do them without anaesthetic, as it means the patient can easily get into a better position and doesn’t break teeth. It also means that the hospital doesn’t have to provide as many beds for recovery. Certainly, I’ve had worse experiences with highly-capable dentists!

I thought this was the end of my health problems.

It certainly seemed to be, except for occasional breathing difficulties early in the year. I can remember having difficulty climbing Table Mountain.

My stroke was brought on by atrial fibrillation three years after Celia died.

It happened in Hong Kong and before it happened in the restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I had had a walk and remember how well the air felt early in the morning in the City.

The doctors said I had had a serious stroke and I was kept in hospital for twelve weeks on the 29th floor of a hospital with the sun streaming through the windows.

I remember one incident, where I was accused of throwing my water away and not drinking enough, as I wasn’t urinating. But I was drinking, so they checked my waterworks thoroughly and put in a catheter. Nothing improved. Thankfully, eventually they gave up!

So where was all that water going?

Another curious thing in Hong Kong was that their automatic blood pressure machines sometimes didn’t work well on me in the morning. So they resorted to traditional devices and a stethoscope.

After the stroke, I was put on long-term Warfarin and I have been told several times, that I if I get the dose right, I won’t have another stroke.

Now moved to London, I possibly made the mistake of moving to a house, which gets too hot.

One day I collapsed, panicked as I thought it was another stroke.

It wasn’t and UCLH thought that I needed to be put on Ramipril, Bisoprolol Fumarate and Spirolactone.

Since then another cardiologist has dropped the Spirolactone.

As I said my body is unusual in strange ways.

  • If I have an injection or give a blood sample, I don’t bleed afterwards or need a plaster. With a new nurse, it often causes a bit of a laugh!
  • My nose seems to be permanently blocked and I rarely am able to blow it properly.
  • My feet don’t have any hard skin, which is probably unusual for my age.
  • I used to suffer from plantar fasciitis, which seems to have been partly cured by the Body Shop’s hemp foot protector.
  • I drink a large amount of fluids, with probably six mugs of tea and a litre of lemonade or beer every day.
  • I always have a mug of decaffinated tea before I go to bed.
  • I often have half-an-hour’s sleep in the middle of the day. As did my father!
  • My eyes are very dry and I have a bath most mornings, where I put my head under the water and open my eyes.

Perhaps, the strangest incident was I went to sleep on the floor after a lot of tea, with the window open.

I woke up to find I couldn’t see! There was nothing wrong with me, but my large living room was full of steam, like you’d get if you leave the kettle on.

I came to the conclusion after that incident, that the only place the water could have come, was through my skin.

This was also suggested by a nurse, who said he’d got leaky skin.

As someone, who understands physics, could this leaky skin be the cause of my problems?

And do the drugs make it worse?

My Grandfather

He died at forty, long before I was born.

He was an alcoholic, who eventually died of pneumonia.

Could his drinking like mine, have started because of a need for fluids?

I used to drink a lot of beer until I was about twenty-four, but my father had suffered so badly emotionally because of the death of his father, that he had instilled the right attitude to drink deep in my mind.

Conclusion

This has been a bit of a ramble!

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Tell Patients To Ditch Diesel, Doctors Urged

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on the front page of today’s Times

It may be a sensible idea, but a lot of patients wouldn’t like it.

I suspect too in Inner London, where I live, the message has got through, as you meet more and more people, who are deciding that driving is not for them!

May 24, 2019 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment