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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Haiku on Quickly/ Give/ Space/ Learn


Goldfish darts quickly
Hiding under lotus leaves
Heron's shadow still

Her breath came quickly
As she opened the front door
He was back from war

The old school bell tolls
Small children line up quickly
A to Z Conga


Give love this Christmas
Such a priceless little gift
That could last all year

Give words, I will know
Give me work, and I will live
Give love, I will grow

Give up on despair
Give out some positive vibes
Give in and be loved


If we do not learn
From history of conflict
We will repeat it

Don't gather data
Information or knowledge
Learn wisdom to be

I am a teacher
With the privilege to learn
Every single day


He left a small space
A moment for reflection
Before the punch line

Space in my suitcase
Might have trouble with customs
I could declare you

The space if you left
Would fill the whole universe
With dark nothingness

Friday, January 23, 2015

Haiku on Match/ Brush/ Minute/ Form


In amongst the crap
Sometimes you find a haiku
Matching the day's word

Small puzzle pieces
Turned over and then around
To match the image

Used to be smoker
Then I found love of my life
And she has no match

Match flares in the dark
Heated bodies intertwined
In light he loved her


Canvassed ideas
Basic design in outline
Brush full of paint

A speeding ticket
Small brush with the boys in blue
Very expensive

A sudden panic
Sneaky fox in chicken coop
Brush caught in the fence


Minute reflection
Builds into a symphony
If you take some notes

Cosmic perspective
This green planet we call home
Minute speck of dust

The smallest candle
A minute beacon of hope
On the darkest night


Some form sand to art
Creating exquisite glass
Some bomb worlds to sand

He sat on the form
Bum-hardened all through school days
More callused at work

Tentative at first
Symphony in classic form
Melding hearts to soar

The form defeated
Convoluted arcane words
He never did join

On Transverse Myelitis and Guilt

The other day my wife and I were discussing the sinks in our bathroom. There seemed to be a bit of a blockage to the flow. So I removed the drain plug on each, scraped away the muck, made sure the spring mechanism worked to actually plug the sink, and replaced them. They seemed OK to me. This morning I was reading in bed, and she suggested more attention was needed; the sinks were still draining a bit slowly. I suggested getting a brush we have which can be inserted down the sink to brush away any residue on the pipes. Before I knew it, she had done it, and returned triumphant. Well, great! But those jobs used to be mine. And I used to find it no effort to get them done. In fact I have, in the past, taken great delight in assisting the building of a new back end to a house, completely remodelled a kitchen, scampered up and down ladders to paint inside and out of a house.... and so on over about 40 years of my life. Yes, I am a professional man, and an academic, but I am also ‘a bloke’. And I have always taken great delight in achieving bloke things... Yes, I know, very sexist of me... But, the truth.
These days I can still walk somewhat awkwardly, but it is slow and I get tired very quickly. I do a sedentary job, in town, a couple of days a week, but driving for an hour to get to work, getting a coffee mid morning, going to the loo, or just fetching the next patient tire me out. By the end of the day I am satisfied, have enjoyed what I do, but I am exhausted. And walking becomes hard, and that is the time I may get a bit of foot drop – and that can lead to a fall – and that could spell potential disaster. So Jan, a professional person in her own right, comes into work and does see some cases of her own while I am seeing my people. But, in the main, she comes so that she can drive home. I would (and do) struggle doing that. I love that she gives me the support. I love that she is happy to see herself as my carer, but I feel guilty.
Now, Jan does the washing and all that entails. I can, once in a while, help hang things on the line, or help to take dry clothes off the line. She does the shopping; occasionally I can go with her, but usually supermarkets can wear me out in about 15 minutes – up and down aisles, reaching for things, lifting, avoiding people, neon lighting... So Jan does it. I do sometimes help to unload the car – especially heavy items. But I am exhausted quickly and have to sit down. I feel guilty watching her bustle about. She does all the cooking, and takes delight in making sure we have the best possible diet for a neurological disorder; after all she is a dietitian who has published books on care for the elderly...
Jan has some physical problems of her own. Her hands show signs of arthritis, and too much lifting or hard work causes her pain. She is prone to migraine when she is under stress, and needs to retire with analgesics. If she is struggling, I feel guilty. If I was able to do more, then perhaps her hands would not be so sore. If I was able to carry more of the burden of everyday living, perhaps she would get fewer migraines. She never complains, she never berates me for not helping enough. We have been married nearly 50 years, and have always had a good relationship based on kindness and mutual appreciation. We do well. But I feel guilty.
Is the guilt useful ? Probably it has helped me to try to do a bit more exercise every day, to try to be that bit more helpful every day. I have one of those health apps on my phone. It measures every step, every stair I climb. It describes me as ‘sedentary’. Bloody cheek... But that is driving me that bit more. On the other hand, I do have to measure what I do, and I am aware of the little things that suggest I am slowly deteriorating, despite trying to do things to stop that process.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not depressed. I am not mentally flagellating myself. I am not feeling guilty about feeling guilty. I sleep well, eat well, and life has its own quite satisfying rhythm. I enjoy music and film, and sport on the TV. I enjoy writing my papers and books and this blog. I am happy in what I can do, given my impairment. I just feel guilty that I cannot do more in my life’s partnership. I guess I will just have to live with that.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Haiku on Pleasure/ Eager/ Consider/ Stumble/


Being here with you
Musing over our shared past
Is such a pleasure

Who's behind the game?
Taking pleasure watching war
Who provides the guns?

Does sun take pleasure
From giving such light and heat
Or is it just there?


Soft snow sunmelting
Eager to join small river
And journey to sea

Small child in a cap
Eager to start first school day
And make some new friends

Rain all downpouring
Eager to join the parched earth
Sharing a new spring


Be quietly who you are
Turn off The Bad News

The world is at fear
Consider focus at home
Love those that you love

Consider your pain
Focus on its origins
It slip slides away


Pretended stumble
Followed by neat judo roll
He escaped captors

Man stumbles along
From catastrophe to worse
Occasional truth

Stumbled out the door
Goodbyes ringing in my ears
Please have a nice trip

Monday, January 12, 2015

Haiku for a loved one on Valentine's Day

It is nearly Valentine's Day 2015.
You may be wondering what to buy a loved one (or someone you would like to love.
This tiny book has lovingly crafted sensual haiku which may provoke an erotic atmosphere

Over 100 pages slightly naughty haiku written in a classic 5-7-5 style
Japanese images

Haiku on Proud/ Force/ Tomorrow/ Style


Proud green hills rolled on
Heaped scars telling the story
Of old eruptions

To my grandchildren
The most inspiring people
Proud to have met you

Told funny stories
About each of his life scars
Proud comedian


Over lengthy years
His vital force slowly waned
Now an empty husk

Deep inside us all
There is a force of nature
It's known as kindness

Something has to give
When force meets opposing force
Collateral Us


Chocolate today
I will be good tomorrow
Cross fingers promise

Today is sweet grass
Tomorrow is through the wood
Next day the mountains

Focus on today
Tomorrow will never come
Live the here and now


A style disaster
Rag bags from a jumble sale
All worn together

Wintercold poems
In the Manley Hopkins style
Hoarse to the ice storm

Dry sense of humour
As arid as the outback
Australian style

Friday, January 9, 2015

Prevention in Mental Health

If you have the slightest interest in prevention of mental health problems, then this book may be a good start. 320 pages

Transverse Myelitis and Exhaustion

OK. I am semi-retired. 
So I have been back at work for two days (Wednesday and Thursday). That means we drive for about an hour in motorway conditions to get to work. Unloading the car, we walk carefully down a small slope to the office. Then I work from 9am to 3pm with 30 mins for lunch. Then we walk back up the short hill and get back on the road for home. I have managed my caseload well, feel energised by the work that I do, have a sense of having a meaningful role in helping others. But by the second day I really have had enough.
I now know from my clever little iPhone, that I take a total of about 1700 steps on work days. But in contrast, when we are home I move around the place, and then try deliberately to take a walk of at least that length a couple of days a week. So no different.
So what is making the difference? I don't think it is working with people - I have been committed to doing that for 50 years, and love it. I don't think it is the people at work - they are delightful. I eat reasonably well, even though my TM has led to considerable muscle loss, which means I am 15 Kilos lighter than my fighting weight. Air conditioning - I don't think so.
It may be that I do not drink enough during work days - there is just not enough time between patients to manage frequent visits to the toilet. So often when I get home I try to make up for this in the evening.
But, by Fridays, I feel like doing little but sitting, and doing work (or having fun) on the computer... I feel tired, my legs do not work or walk as well as usual, and it takes till Saturday for me to feel enthusiastic enough to want to walk or swim or go briefly on the indoor bike, or meet family and friends. Just nothing seems to make much difference. We have tried changes in diet, shorter days, sharing driving with my long-suffering partner - it is good but does not make a difference.
My back aches in the usual old place, and the referred pain around my right chest is always worse. I have tried various sitting positions, added cushions, taken breaks, and nothing makes much difference. I don't like taking medications. But on Fridays I often do take a couple of paracetomol, which takes the edge off. I refuse to take anything stronger, preferring to use meditation and acupuncture points to relieve acute pain.
So today is Friday. I just feel exhausted.

Damned transverse myelitis. Five years and not remitting...

At least I CAN walk (sort of).
But at least I CAN work.
I count myself as lucky.
Tomorrow I will push for a bit of exercise. Perhaps we can have a short swim later today...

Haiku on Lake/ Good/ Rip/ Shop


Lake of Scotch whisky
Eager maidens cavorting
The fool's endless dream

At the water's edge
Hesitates to cross the lake
Fearing the Far Side

Lady of the Lake
Offers Excalibur phone
Unbeatably sharp


Achieve what you can
Success is a good feeling
Just don't harm others

Do all that they say
And you are rated as good
Go solo, you're not

Percentage of good
New world low of four per cent
Not a critical mass


The fates divided
Rip in the fabric of time
Shall we mend, or not?

A strong tidal rip
Took him away from the shore
And back to the beach

Alarm shatters sleep
Ripped from his bed untimely
He starts a new day

I take great delight
In the small things of my life
Like a pin dropping


The family girls
Opportunity to shop
Relationship gift

Christmas is coming
Deck the halls, boughs of holly
From the online shop

Not a shop for miles
Wandering along the beach
Such peace and quiet