Saturday, January 28, 2006

Emotional Dumping Grounds

Joanna from Salisbury writes to ask me why I hate cats. I think she’s referring to a comment from an earlier post where I wrote of the dangers of Kombucha.

I feel I should explain.

I don’t hate cats.

Honestly, I don't.

The issue isn’t about cats. The issue is about how other people behave when they hear that I am a nurse and psychotherapist. You see, people who aren’t my clients or patients tend to assume that I actually enjoy hearing about their problems, their husband’s eternal infidelities, this week’s latest emotional crisis or how the sore on their cat’s ear is doing.

It’s why I never use the canteen or staff areas on my lunch breaks.

As a therapist, the pleasure from my job comes from being able to solve problems and assist people to change, not to listen to drivel for hours from people who have no intention of ever changing.

On hearing of my profession, the other reaction is for people to try to hold me accountable for the terrible way uncle Derek was treated when he was in hospital having his prostate operation; or they demand that I explain what has gone wrong in the NHS; or want to know the latest on MRSA and hospital cleaning staff budgets.


I have one - fortunately remote - relative who regularly demonstrates his complete lack of understanding about health care provision by always telling me, “Oh, I thought you’d be a doctor by now?” and then insisting upon telling me all about the political drives within the NHS before asking me for my opinion on such matters.

(I really don't know, honestly, that isn't what I do)

So whilst it might seem heartless to say that I don’t care about the cat, the emotional crisis or the infidelities, it really isn’t intended as a negative. It isn’t about that.

It is about social survival.

It all started when I learned a valuable lesson when I was 18. Spotty, social awkward and uncomfortable in my gangly limbs that resulted from a late growth spurt, I found myself approached at a bar by a slightly older, yet highly delectable young woman.

“Well, are you going to buy me a drink?” she said looking at me much like a vampire cat eyes its prey.

I couldn’t believe my luck. My anxiously fumbled wallet sprang out from my pocket and a double G&T was ordered faster than you could shout, “premature ejaculation!”

“Thanks,” she said as I handed her the drink. She didn’t say anything else. She just walked off back to her friends and continued to have fun.

I stood there like a dork - dying a thousand deaths - whilst trying to look unaffected and cool.

How is this relevant, you may ask? Well, I noticed a pattern with the “emotional dumpers” – you know, the ones who only ever come to you with the latest crisis, hurt and misery they are desperate to tell at length. You know the ones. They are professionally helpless and lurch from one crisis to another. When one issue resolves, they immediately locate another and they’ll be round again next week to tell you all about it.

I'm not talking about close friends and family here, or other relationships that are multi-dimensional - I'm talking about those helpless souls that only come to you with a crisis. Crisis is how they relate to people. It's their "thing".

I noticed a pattern.

They dump their misery on you – and when they feel better, they go off somewhere else and have fun over there. They never come to you for fun. Oh no. They have other people for that.

They come to you for a misery transfer!

They only come to you because you are the one that plays their misery game.

They get a drink at your expense and then they go off and have fun elsewhere with the fun people. They don't think of you as one of the fun people.

It’s for this reason I’ve stopped telling people socially what I do for a living. Last night was a case in point. I was at a party and I made the fatal mistake letting slip my profession whilst telling a story.

It happened immediately.

A girl within the group hijacked the story – which up until that point was light hearted – and we were all regaled with a 30-minute rendition of the domestic crisis that seems to follow her around everywhere she goes.

And then…..and....... then…… she..... asks……me…....the….. fatal…..question…..

“So, what do you think?”


What do I think? How the hell should I know? My brain went into coma within the first three minutes of her miserable tale of helpless woe. It's a conditioned survival response, I'm sure. But now I have a problem. She wants my opinion and I am now being made into an active participant in her game - if i contribute anything now, it'll surely only encourage her. This situation was suddenly very desperate.

I looked up. All eyes were on me waiting for my response – I could sense the desperation of polite people.

Please, their eyes implored, please do something or please tell her to fuck off or something, help us, please!!

But I didn’t say anything. I just jumped up out of my chair and bounced across the room to where people were having fun. No polite exits - just cut and bounce.

Precisely 45 seconds later this girl was at the bar with her tongue down some random guy’s throat. It’s amazing how quickly people switch their emotional state when no one will play that game with them.

I do wonder if that guy bought her a drink afterwards though.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Swamp in The Airing Cupboard.

This is the swamp in the airing cupboard.

My entire house smells of the stuff, I smell of the stuff and Official Housemate's posh linen especially smells of the stuff (heh!).

Would you drink this?

Join usssssssssss.....don't be afraid......

Tantric Dreams?

Strange things are happening.

Last night I had a dream whereby I visited a long since forgotten childhood event. The nature of this event isn’t important – the subsequent unpleasant feeling it left me with is.

What's strange is that until this dream, I’d never been consciously aware of the residual negative feeling. In the dream, I realised how often I’ve had this feeling and how often it's driven and directed behaviours in me that I usually regretted afterwards.

In my dream I found myself as an adult with a conscious awareness of this feeling and so I started EFT tapping to rid myself of it once and for all.

Nothing happened.

I tapped on the opposite side of the body and still nothing happened.

I was puzzled.

Suddenly, a female person - well known to me and never thought of in a sexual way before -appeared and showed me a most novel application of EFT.

(Information on EFT can be found at Gary Craig's site:

I guess my years of studying Tantra are also paying off.

The feeling disappeared and was replaced with something far more fun.

In NLP there is often reference to “unconscious competence” – this is like learning to ride a bicycle. At first everything is a conscious effort, but after a while the child moves the skills to an unconscious level of competence and no longer makes conscious effort in riding the bike. It seems with the daily application of EFT an unconscious competence at resolving engrained issues has arisen.

I practice daily.

I am continant.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Minky-1 The Bubbing Rat

I must confess to a weekend of alcoholic indulgence that has left me feeling rather peaky today. I was doing well and wasn’t missing the booze at all really, but a phone call from friends with a pub invite kind of swayed me.

I drank…and I enjoyed it! Ha!

This peekiness could also be due in part to a sleep deficiency. Minky-1 escaped from her cage last night and made her way up to my bedroom at 4am. She’s getting really good at navigating her way round the house and has learned how to open doors. I've just got to teach her to close them again behind her.

I awoke to her pulling my hair whilst making her familiar “Bub! Bub! Bub! Bub!” noise. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that. Waking up to find myself being eaten alive by a bubbing rat is enough to give anyone a restless night.

Needless to say, I shall be returning immediately to my detox adventure with vigour. The lure of clear healthy skin, boundless energy and that strange sense of self-assurance is just way too appealing.

The self-assurance thing is strange in itself. I find it hard to explain, but essentially all those petty self-doubts I used to have around other people vanished. When I’m around other people, I feel nice. In some odd kind of way, I’m turning into a people person.

The indirect psychological change thing really interests me. Years ago I worked with a guy who was a nutritional therapist. Many of the “alternative” therapists tend to be a bit wacky with some strange and often unintelligent ideas, but this guy was amazing. His ideas were strange though.

He absolutely believed that all psychological problems were nutritional in origin and all psychological problems should be treated nutritionally.

“Your cells can only build themselves out the atoms and molecules you put into your body.” He told me. “If you give them rubbish to build with, the chances are high that what they build will be rubbish.”

Essentially he claimed that humans are remarkably adaptable psychologically and we evolve and develop according to our experience, but homeostasis is always maintained thus keeping us on a positive path.

“The nutritionally healthy brain,” he said, “always develops to overcome traumas and psychic hurts - it is strengthened by its experiences - but only if it has the right building blocks from which to build.”

The guy was a very clever man and taught me a lot. I’d always given credence to his theories only in part, not totally.

However, the changes that have occurred in my own psychological behaviours have me intrigued. I am finding changes occurring where I never expected to find changes.

This is good. I’m metamorphosing.

I change.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

I Smell Funny

I smell funny.

I first noticed it earlier this week – I was just settling down to a quick online game of “Day of Defeat” (possibly the best multiplayer online game ever) when I got a waft of something quite unique. My first thought was that I’d left a window open and somewhere nearby a sewer had burst. Next was the rats – I have two rats called “Minky” originally bought as a psychology training experiment – this situation changed when I realised that it was in fact me that was being trained by them. Cute, furry and with razor sharp wit, they know exactly how to get me to give them what they want. From next month I’m charging them rent.

So, no burst sewers and no rats with stomach upsets. This left one unpalatable possibility – it was me. And since the smell seemed to follow me room to room, I guessed this was the case. I cupped my hand over my armpit and took a sniff.

I nearly fell over.


I smell bad because of the Kombucha. It has taken me a few days for the realisation to arrive. It isn’t sweat exactly, it’s my skin – my skin smells. As for Brown Matter – I now have to ensure the window is wide open prior to evacuation. I expect a call from Environmental Health any day now. I’m going to check Ebay for gas masks. I used to have one I picked up from a car book sale for £10. It was one of those, “Wow! It’s a gas mask!” moments and I just had to buy it.

I returned home and proudly showed Official Housemate of my purchase.

“What the fuck do you want a gas mask for?” She swears a lot.

“Ummmm…It’s like a shoes-for-women thing,” I floundered.

My guess is that it’s a boy thing that girls just don’t, or cannot, understand.

The mask spent the next few weeks sitting embarrassedly in the Holy Drawer of Junk and I re-sold it a month later to an eager collector. When he looked at it, he kind of caressed it with an excitable glint in his eye. I took the money and hurried him out of the door quick – excitable guys with fetishes make me nervous. They remind me of a family dog we used to own that used to try and shag the cat whenever it got excited. I did feel sorry for that cat, it really never stood a chance.

So yesterday you can imagine my delight when Official Housemate arrived home seconds after I emerged from the bathroom.

“Jesus! What the fuck is that smell?” I do wish she wouldn’t swear like that.

“It’s the Kombucha.” I explained.

“What? In my airing cupboard?” She complained, clearly concerned for her posh embroidered linen. The implied ownership of the airing cupboard didn’t go unnoticed.

“No, in my bottom,” I continued.

“Oh Jesus, you didn’t do a colonic with it?! Oh dear God! You are sick, seriously, you need help.”

She's still upset that I used her coffee for the earlier, nearly fatal and not to be repeated, DIY colonics.

Now, because I still have to interact with other ostensibly "normal" people, this detox thing is getting complicated. Official Housemate is mostly staying out of the house and the people at work think I’ve gone crazy. The thing at work seems to primarily been brought about by my strange eating habits and the anti-bacterial wipes I use to disinfect my telephone, computer keyboard, desk etc. This is sensible as I’m only there two days a week and the rest of the week my office is used by other people.

“So is this a Michael Jackson thing?” one colleague asked me.

“No, it’s a ‘flu thing. It’s the ‘flu season and I’m not catching it.”

They’ve been taking the piss ever since. Bastards.

So, my plan is simple. Later today, I’m going to buy some bottles of “Lipton Ice Tea”, drink the tea and refill them with Kombucha. I shall take the bottles in with some nice homemade "Sennakot" cake for the team meeting on Tuesday.

Revenge shall be mine.

I'm purging.

Oh, how I laugh!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Rubber Swamps and Leeches!

My Kombucha brew is ready.

I can tell because it now resembles a rubbery swamp fermenting in a tub.

Of course, it is only now that I realise that I need something to bottle it in and so searched the house in a vague hope of finding a suitable number of vessels. I've settled on using the wine bottles which collect beside the recycle bin. There is a plentiful supply as Official Housemate is still insistent on living the hedonistic and somewhat toxic lifestyle of a committed drinker/smoker.

I'll see if I can con her into drinking kombucha. Heh!

Should any reader of these adventures fancy owning a piece of the fungal swamp in order to start their own culture, please do get in touch and I'll mail a piece out to you. I send it only as an object of curiosity - on receiving the piece, I advise beating it with a stick to ensure that it is properly dead. If you do decide to grow it and plop it into a big tub of tea in your airing cupboard, you may find that it takes over your house, poisons your family and then runs off with the cat.

So, please bear in mind that 1. I am not insured and 2. I really don't care about your cat.

Talking of cats, I hadn't realised how toxic pets can actually be. It's their parasites, you see. According to some alternative health folks, all human diseases are actually causes by PARASITES, yes that's right - wee little beasties that lurk menacingly deep within your body.

Some alt. health loons such as Hulda Clarke and co. have made themselves very wealthy promoting the parasite theory by selling strange books on the subject ("The Cure For All Diseases") and devices such as "zappers" that apparently kill the parasites and therefore cures all human illnesses and maladies as a result - including cancer and AIDS.

I've seen some horrific parasite infections/infestations during my many trips over in India. The squeamish amongst you may wish to go and hide behind the sofa before we proceed...

One scene involved a fellow backpacker who discovered to her horror that a ball of white worms the size of a large fist dropped out of her anus whilst she squatted on the toilet. Apparently she'd been feeling quite unwell for a number of weeks prior to this most unpleasant expulsion. As the token resident nurse, I was called to come and try to identify the nature of the worm-ball whilst her companion tried to coax her gibbering friend out of the shower. We got her off to the medical clinic quite sharpish for a thoroughly medical examination and an industrial strength dose of the special local anti-helmintic.

I then went and spent an hour in the shower myself, and no, it wasn't with the gibbering friend.

Another parasitic horror scene was the taxi driver in Varanasi who delightedly showed me the little worm that was living in the aqueous humour of his left eye, right before asking for 50 rupees for my viewing pleasure. There are some times in India when I just find myself asking, just what the hell am I doing here?

So, whilst quacks like Hulda Clarke are busy building themselves a very special place in hell, I can understand the concern of a contributor to the alternative health newsgroup this morning.

He was rather concerned to find this in his toilet:

Poor chap writes that he's worried it came from his intestines - so he posts it onto the internet! Me? If that damned thing slipped out of my bottom, I'd have been into the nearest Casualty department clutching it in a jam jar quicker than you could shout, "Toxicara!"

Anyone know what it is? Looks a bit like a bottom leech to me. If you have any better suggestions, please send them on over and I'll be sure to let the owner know!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Drinking Urine....?

This morning is the first time in about 2 weeks that I haven’t needed to scrape my tongue (“Tounges” to the illiterate). Whilst running my usual route last night (just under a mile) I realised that I was practically sprinting it. So it’s time to up the ante and double the length of the route. I’ll need to go carefully as so not to accidentally intrude into Hash House Harrier territory.

They’ve taken down the photo’s from the HHH home page, but briefly, they depicted scenes of drunken male bonding ritual preferably best kept strictly within the bounds of the male locker rooms in some far away place somewhere. I aim to retain my "manlove" virginity.

Meanwhile, Adam writes again mentioning urine therapy. Needless to say, I shan’t be doing this – I’m far too middle class. There is also a strong inbuilt genetic mechanism in me that that just screams, “Nooooo!” and so for the same reason, I won’t be eating poo either. I’ll leave that past time to rodents, rabbits and neurotic dogs that belong to neurotic owners (give them more protein for God’s sake!)

Years ago before the days of NHS Direct, I worked as a staff nurse in Casualty. One of the pleasures working there was taking the help line phone calls from members of the public who’d phone the department for advice. About a quarter of the calls would would be from the genetically impaired, or people with no “common sense gland” and or overdosed on stupid pills, that would render staff incapable of keeping a straight face. Of the more serious calls, the vast majority involved an “ingestion of substance” – someone who’d taken the wrong medication by mistake, a child who’d taken one of mum’s contraceptive pills, someone who’d swallowed petrol whilst siphoning it to fill the mower and so on.

As the staff-calls to the Toxicology Centre would often repeat a call made on a previous occasion, a logged advice book was kept by the phone. Nearly every possible “ingestion of substance” variation was accounted for and so advice could be quickly dispensed from a quick perusal of the book.

On the front cover of this legendary book in great big letters was a simple line of advice that reflected the frequency of the event.

The line of advice was simple enough (the squeamish may wish to look away):

“Recently laid dog excrement that is not furry with white hairs is not considered toxic to the young children who eat it.”

It took me weeks to not feel sick every time I looked at that damned book.

So it may not surprise you though to learn that I do have some experience with auto-urine therapy. I did taste my own urine as a child before I had developed any revulsion regarding the matter. I didn’t drink it, just dipped my finger into my stream and dabbed it onto my tongue. I did the same when I got my first spot. As a teenager, I was never afflicted with acne par se, but rather I’d break out in random purulent welters that would grow to the size of a small hippo. Just as one sceptic volcanous boil would go, another would begin to appear elsewhere. They lodged around my nose mostly, or if there was an important teenage social gathering pending, on my nose, forehead or middle of my lip. I wanted to test the theory of “sugar causes spots” and so burst one and tasted the exudate. It didn’t taste sweet. Actually, it didn’t really taste of anything much.

The acne began when i was about 18 and continued up until last week. I am now almost spot free.

It was about 10 years ago that I met Curious George. Curious George was an interesting blend of musical genius, emotional immaturity, anger and insight. At age 52 and a devotee of alternative medicine, he looked easily 15 years younger. Curious George had a plan to live forever. One day, at age 40, he sat down at a piano and with no previous musical experience or training whatsoever, suddenly found that music just flowed from his fingers. One time I was watching him play and it was as though a spirit took over his body and would play the music through him. George would sometimes go into such a profoundly altered state that afterwards he would be amnesic for what he’d played and would have to lay down for the rest of the day in order to recover.

During one visit to my tiny bedsit flat, Curious George who hated doctors, asked me what I’d recommend to help his fingers. In recent weeks his fingers were becoming increasingly arthritic and he was finding that it was painful to play the piano. At this stage in his life, he owned an electric piano linked to a computer program, so that the music he’d spontaneously create, or channel from the demons, would be both recorded on audio and digitally onto music sheet. I still have no doubt that Curious George is one of the modern day, undiscovered, musical geniuses. Music student of future generations to come will discuss and study Curious George’s work.

To help safeguard the studies of this future generation, I pulled out a recent copy of Nexus Magazine which had a feature on “Auto-Urine Therapy” and its effectiveness in treating autoimmune disorders such arthritis.

Curious George didn’t hesitate – I handed him a glass, he popped next door and came back supping half a pint of the Golden Drop. Within a week, his arthritic fingers were completely normal again and George has been drinking a glassful a day ever since. The girls do tend to avoid him though.

So I’ll stick with my Tesco Value herbal brews.

I’m non-toxic.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Burning Down The House...

There is conventional medical wisdom that says, "never stick anything bigger than your elbow into your ear ."

I first heard this working as a nurse in Casualty where each morning we would look forward to seeing our inevitable daily ear-bud victim. The problem with ear-buds is that they are simply not intended to be stuck into the ears - the buds sometimes come off, you see.

I once saw an unfortunate man with a moth stuck right in his ear and a 4-year-old child with 5 snails up his nose. My all time favourite was the 5 year old boy with a beetle in his ear who gleefully told me that he'd come to hospital because in his words, "I've got earwigs!"

All that being said, however, Adam writes mentioning Hopi ear candles so I inevitably had to go out and buy a couple. I only bought the two because two vanilla scented beeswax covered paper hopi ear tubes, bought from the shop with crystals and unicorns and fairies in the window that smells of Sai Baba incense cost me...NINE BLOODY QUID!!!

But apparently sticking the candle into your ear and lighting it draws out the nasty "toxins" from your lugs so it is surely well worth it. And just to prove the point, the evidence of all these "toxins" is of course to be found in the collected goo that is left in the base of the tube after the candling session is safely over.

So, lying on my bed on my side, I inserted the candle into my left ear and using the mirror for guidance, lit the damned thing. The effect was a mixture of curiosity, a strange crackling noise from the little sparkly bits in the candle burning and the awe inspiring fear of a devastating house fire.

I could foresee the possible headlines: "Ex-nurse survives self administered colonic incident only to die in ear-candling tragedy."

Purification by fire has an interesting and somewhat chequered history - from the mystical Masonic qabalistic interpretation of INRI ("The King Shall be Renewed by Fire"), the rebirth of the Phoenix, through to the burning to death of convicted witches. I once dated a Professor of Law who also had a keen interest in the history of crime and punishment. She told me that the burning of witches was not designed to be barbaric to the devil's consorts, oh no, far from it - to burn them alive was to actually be doing them a favour, as it would literally burn the devil out of them to free their mortal souls for salvation by the Lord.

Cheery thought, that.

However, burning down the house would be a very bad idea as The Official Housemate is still reeling in shock since she found the Kombucha brew fermenting away in the airing cupboard safely secured amongst her expensive embroidered linen.

I had to explain what it was:

"You drink it." I explained.
"It looks and smells like shit." She retorted.
"Try some." I gestured.
"I'm moving out." She countered.
"When?" I asked.
"As soon as I bloody can." She quipped.
"Buh.." I attempted. But it was too late.


Anyway, after this unnerving experience I checked to see what had collected in the tube. I looked carefully - not ash, nor toxins and not even grotty ear wax. The tube was completely clear. Maybe my energies are all properly aligned and my ears are just spiritually clean. Either that or all the ash from the candle is now lodging in my previously squeaky clean ear canal and will come back and haunt me with an impossible itch closely followed by serious dose of otitis externa.

I'm keeping the second tube (currently valued at £4.50) for that time that Ear Candling appropriately relocates to a different and better suited orifice. I might sell it on Ebay.

I Hear.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Healing Crisis? No, it's Fungus.

My rubbery lump of kombucha culture arrived today (thanks to the nice folk at: It is currently growing in my airing cupboard. It takes a week or so to become ready, so I'll wait in anticipation.

Since starting the regime, I've not eaten any processed food at all (not even a biscuit), am drinking two pints of water a day, no tobacco and most impressively no alcohol. I've only had two occasions where I've had a craving, the first triggered off an interesting emotional reaction (see previous posts) the second passed without incident.

The greasy skin I have endured all my adult life is no more. In fact, I've developed a couple of dry patches near my chin which is quite a transformation. My life-long acne is clearing well. I no longer look pale, but rather I am now a nice shade of pink.

I go out running on Mondays and Fridays, swimming on Tuesdays, mega-Yoga on Wednesdays. Next on the list is Tai Chi and Sufi meditation.

My concentration levels are the best they have ever been, I've finally finished my book that I've been trying to ignore for too long now and I've applied to join Mensa.

A few things worry me about the kombucha though - apart from the fact that I am now growing fungus tea in my airing cupboard. The people at work think I've finally gone nuts, so I've promised to take a bottle in for them all to try. They all seem a pretty healthy bunch (well, except one of them) but i am sure they'll all benefit from a nice brew.

On the Kombucha website I find the following worrying statements:

When you begin drinking Kombucha You will probably find that perspiration and bowel movements become smellier. This is only short-term and normal, don't worry. It is because toxins are being flushed out of your body. Drink more plain water each day, this will help.

I'm not entirely sure how I take this. When start I drink fungus tea I am likely to start to smell bad. This won't be toxins coming out of my body, i am sure of it.

I'll smell because I'll be drinking fungus tea!

The other comment that i find a bit worrying is:

When you first start to drink Kombucha, your health can appear to go 'backwards' instead of getting better. The sickness you suffer from may become more acute. This is probably only a 'healing crisis' and it is common for the body to react like this.

So, let me get this straight. I drink fungus tea and not only will I start to smell (I'll avoid Tescos that week, as i don't want to mess up my chances with my favorite cashier), but I'll also get ill.

Now, I am supposed to reassure myself that I am not being poisoned because i am drinking fungus tea, oh no, I'll be ill because I am healing! It's a healing crisis!

Good God! I couldn't make this rubbish up if I tried!

However, your intrepid voyeur on the mysteries of good health will drink the evil concoction and report back in due course.

I live. I brew.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Camel "Tounges"

I hate camels. I've not met all that many of them, but the all the camels I have met are revolting, bad tempered and nasty creatures. One time in the very small desert town of Pushka (north west India) I needed to get past a herd of them that were parked at the town gates. I know camels well enough not to dawdle - my acquaintance didn't. At the very instant he was mocking my fear, the snidey bastard got a face-full of camel mucous flung at him from a malicious head-flick by the alpha-camel.

It was a marvellous moment in my life.

The other thing about camels that I find as off-putting as their tendency to hurl rancid sputum into the face of infidels, is their weird moulting thing where their fur comes off in rotting clumps. And since starting my detox regime, I am often reminded of camels every morning when I examine my tongue.

I'm astonished at the large amount of gunk that appears every night on my tongue. I am now scraping passionately every morning and am now able to do so without the problems of retching (that passed on the third session). The sticky goo is now coming away in clumps.

If I still worked at the hospital, I'd be tempted to ask the pathology labs to run a test on it - I suspect either candida (I don't have any other sign of candida infection, and there is no soreness), or I have camel disease.

I'm tongue is moulting!

A quick google-groups search reveals that many others report a similar event upon giving up alcohol and also that many people have great difficulty spelling t o n g u e, tending to prefer the more acceptable alternative of "tounge" of course.

Earlier, I was aware that my Kombucha culture was to arrive imminently, so I headed into town to buy supplies. I needed vinegar and a bag of white sugar for the culture and so I headed to Iceland as it is nearby. Iceland is cheap if you like to buy things like appalling pizzas, meatless pork pies and "chicken" nuggets and so I tend to avoid the place.

However, on entering I collected a tray of 15 king-size eggs for a pound before locating my sugar and vinegar and made my way to the tills. When it comes to grocery stores, I have a pet theory that the staff wages and the overall quality of the food is directly proportional to how healthy the checkout staff appear to be. And I must say that whilst the Tescos' staff all look quite healthy (and one in particular is quite, quite lovely), in every Iceland store I have ever dared enter, the staff always look quite emaciated.

Also, their skin tone and husky tones suggest that they all smoke 60-per-day and really need a good healthy meal - preferably with some wholesome green things.

On scanning my 15 eggs, bag of sugar and bottle of vinegar, my haggard and emaciated retail representative looked at me quizzically.

"Sugar omelette," I said as by way of an explanation.

She gave me a sad look of recognition and asked for £2.16.
I guess for some people, like camels, life can be very tough indeed.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Liver Damage.

I remember the last terminal patient I nursed before I quit hospital work. I was doing an agency shift on the general medicine unit and she was a green 28-year-old lady who wasn't expected to survive out the day. The reason she was green was because her liver had failed sometime previously and her jaundice was now very profound.

"But I didn't ever drink more than friends did." She protested to one of the other nurses. I guess it seemed unfair. She wasn't an alcoholic, hadn't ever deliberately hurt another person, injected drugs or been unemployed. She was simply a "good time girl" and now she was green and really didn't look very nice at all. She died later in the day, surrounded by her horrified friends and distraught family. That was a very difficult day at work indeed.

When the media revealed that following his liver transplant George Best's alcoholism was continuing unabated, the number of organ donations dropped enormously. I guess potential donors took the view that they didn't want "people like him" getting their organs. As I said to one guy at work who dramatically tore up his donor card in protest, "So, because George Best breaks a second liver, no one else is allowed to have one either?"

Public and media attitudes can be very strange indeed and just filled with contradictions. Several years ago, the Marie Stopes clinic announced that a new technique for abortions meant that overnight stays in in the clinic could be unnecessary. The technique was less traumatic and less intrusive and the woman undergoing the procedure could be in and out in an hour.

So, how did the media carry the story? Well: "Maries Stopes Clinic Announce The Lunch Time Abortion." Yes, that is right folks, now you can have an abortion in your lunch hour.

This is disgraceful. To portray abortion as a frivolous event to be happily reserved for lunchtime is reframing at its very worst. It is almost as if the media were stating, "Yes, we agree with women's right to choose, but surely it should carry some level of trauma in order to allay our sense of moral discomfort?"

This is why I'll be watching the media with interest regarding two of the main health-news stories today.

1. Charles Clarke admits that he has had a problem with alcohol.

2. Liver Cirrhosis deaths in the UK dramatically increase. Binge drinking to blame.

Tonight - no pub, no booze, no cigarettes. Instead I am joining the astronomy club. I'm looking to the stars.

I live.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Andy's Yoga Adventure...

I will confess to just a little bit of apprehension about going to the yoga class. Well, actually it was more apprehension about going to the leisure centre for a leisure centre class. You see, leisure centres tend to be filled with sporty people and I’ve never really been particularly sporty. It started at school when they started to turn “play” into sports, and sports meant teams, and teams meant competition and competition meant getting shouted at repeatedly by both the teachers and the bastard kids who had the audacity to actually enjoy competitive sports.


Couldn’t they have just left me and the other geeks to read comic books in the library?

Naturally in P.E., during the selection of teams, I was invariably picked last. I was also always put in goal or defence (or "in reserve") and was invariably the last one struggling to complete the laps around the field. Owing to the “hand-me-downs” from my older brother I never once owned a single piece of fashionable sports clothing and was the last kid wearing flared trousers at school - a full 2 years after all the other boys were smartly kitted out in their white socks and stay-press Chinos. So after an exhausting and de-moralising hour of abuse by teachers, sport-cocky kids and the weather it would be back to the changing rooms for a nice bit of unsupervised bullying and intimidation. If the teacher was in a fruity mood we’d also be forced into the showers for the jolly jape of naked public humiliation to make sure a thoroughly decent sense of inadequacy was rammed home to all the boys who were regretfully still waiting for the additional pain of puberty to arrive.

But it is ok. I am not bitter.

I arrived at the leisure centre suitably early to fill in the membership form I’d collected the previous day prior to my blurry swimming adventure. On the approach through the car park I saw thin sporty people everywhere, many performing strange limbering moves as they move and all wearing those strange tracksuit trousers. You know the ones, they are almost skin tight and are pulled taught lengthways by the strap that goes under the foot. The people all seemed to ooze that nasty sporty confidence and I began to ooze a sense of being somewhat out-of-place in my Tesco Savers Tracksuit, mum-knitted woolly hat and heavy overcoat.

In the foyer were about a million runners (not joggers but runners) also performing those weird limbering moves, and again, they all seemed to be wearing that same type of tracksuit bottom. I navigated through them quickly, secretly worried that they might be Hash House Harriers and one might realise that I’m the guy that has recently started “jogging” on their patch. I'm scared of the HHH only slightly less than I am scared of the early morning Pensioner Mafia.

I filled in my form and paid my money. This means that I am now officially a member of the leisure centre and so get a reduction on the fees. It might also mean that I need to buy some stupid jogging bottoms with foot straps, but I’ll wait and see what happens.

Waiting patiently outside the yoga room I met the lovely Jane, beauty therapist (hello!) who offered reassurance by telling me how popular yoga is at the centre. She also told me that Tony, the yoga instructor, is very good and I’ll be in for a good evening. Seeing yoga type people arriving and going straight into the room, I said the pleasantries, took a deep breathe and went in.

I did a yoga class twice before in Southampton. The teacher was great – the group was horrible. I’m sure that group were the same Pensioner Mafia that go to the early morning swimming sessions – possessive, highly territorial and act as though rudeness to anyone without zimmer frame or tartan trolley is the secret Elixir of a long and revengeful life.

I remember the time after a 60-hour week working in neurosurgery. It was at the peak of the understaffing crisis in the NHS and basically unless the fantastic staff on that department put the hours in then people would die. I was in Waitrose with a trolley full of groceries. As I was unloading, I became aware of an elderly gentleman behind me who was tutting, gruffing and generally making noises of serious dissatisfaction. I ignored him and carried on unloading my shopping (the eventual bill came to £65). It was only after I had finished unloading and generously put the “next customer” plastic thing onto the conveyer belt behind my groceries that this “gentleman” whacked me in the back, turned to the resentful woman behind him and said, “I don’t know why we have to put up with ignorant people like him.” I asked, “Excuse me?” And it was only then, because I had finished unloading, that he chose to point out that I was erroneously in the “5 items or less” checkout.


So, walking into a room full of chat, smiles and occasional laughter I immediately knew I was in a good group. Good age mix, 80/20 female/male ratio. I’ve been into various groups before and some form a “click” and tend to ignore the new guy – this lot seemed lovely. Yoga attracts the nice people.

It was fairly obvious when Tony arrived. He kind of floated magnificently in with oceans of calmness flowing freely from every pore. With quick introductions over he moved quickly into a relaxation and breathing exercise. At least, I think there was a breathing exercise. Owing to Tony’s calm voice and rhythmic tones, the last conscious thought I had was, “Wow, this guy would make a great hypnotist…I mean a really great…” And that was the last thought I knew before I heard the instructions to start moving our bodies, taking deeper breathes and coming back. I came back feeling quite floaty.

I must confess I found yoga a lot harder work that I had imagined. Holding the postures and stretches requires a lot of strength, co-ordination, concentration and balance. I wobbled clumsily watching many of the others perform the moves with such apparent ease and grace that I realise that I have my work cut out for me.

Quite a few times I broke out in a serious sweat and by the end of the session I felt that I had had a combination of a thorough workout and a lengthy chiropractic manipulation. This is good and I’ll be back next week.

I am a yoga student.

I bend.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I Pee Constantly...

Health Status - A quick recap on my detox regime so far:

x2 capsules of Milk Thistle
1000mg EPA Fish Oil
x1 tablet of “Aloe Vera Colon Cleanse”
1000mg Hypericum
800mg Piracetam
4.5mg Hydergine FAS
Vitamin `B` complex
250mg of Brahmi
400mg Gingko Biloba
x2 Sage capsules.
1 tsp Chyawanaprash
1000mg Lecithin

Two pints of water in the morning (I pee so often my pants feel damp).

Reduction of caffeine, introduction of green tea into my fluid intake.

Very high level of leafy green things in my diet, fruit, lentils and all sort of other healthy goodies. Nil crisps, cola, sugar or anything processed or considered “bad”.

Nil alcohol, nil tobacco.

Twice weekly liver salts

I’m awaiting the arrival of my Kombucha culture. I am exposing myself to bright light for 20 minutes a day via a 400-watt halogen light bulb (I expect the drug police to call round any day now), jogging about half a mile a day, I’m now a swimmer and start yoga later today. My serotonin levels overfloweth.

I use a Proteus for a one-hour session before sleep and use an Alpha Stim for 20-60 minutes a day.

I do a full round of EFT every morning tapping on whatever issue springs to mind at the time and am using NLP swishes on every negative thought I have.

I have had just one near death experience with a self administered colonic so far, but will be practicing the technique once a week.

Working at the college gets me fringe benefits in their health and beauty training department – so next week I’m booking myself in for a reflexology session. Official Housemate advises me to be careful – apparently the shifting of all the nasty toxins from the feet (they form into crystals apparently and are pulled downwards by gravity) can leave one feeling quite ill as the body excretes this evil. I remember from working in Casualty that the body's attempts to pee out crystals (i.e. kidney stones) is one of the most painful experiences anyone can have. All this from a foot rub? I will report back my findings in due course. I am fearless.

If the reflexology goes well, I will book in later for an Indian head massage, back/body massage and may even have a manicure while I’m at it.

I'm off to the farmer's market later to stock up on more greenstuff.

I glow.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Swimming Pool Walks of Shame...

I'm in defiance of today's lead "health news" story:

Scientists dismiss detox schemes
The detox business - which includes diets, tablets and drinks said to flush out toxins - is said to be worth tens of millions of pounds. But the scientists from the Sense About Science organisation say water, fresh air and sleep is all that is needed. The term detox is meaningless as the body is perfectly capable of clearing out harmful substances, they add.

However, in compliance with the water part I went swimming after work today. In the past I’ve experimented with the best time to go swimming. I’d prefer to go to the early morning sessions (6am ish) but the pool is usually taken over by the Pensioner Swimming Mafia and I seemed to spend all my time getting out of the way of hostile old people with appalling swimming pool etiquette.

So, I tried the afternoon sessions but after the embarrassment of accidentally getting into the pool during the “women only” hour, I decided it was best avoided. (I just paid my money, got the locker key and went in. I guess the spotty youth in a tracksuit on the desk wasn’t really paying attention that day. I must confess that I was initially quite impressed how, as I took the “walk of shame” to the pool, my almost-manly physique was attracting so much obvious female attention. Thus you can understand the subsequent embarrassment at being asked by the pretty 20-something lifeguard to leave again (but of course she waited until I’d been fully submersed and so had to take the reverse walk of shame exactly 2 minutes after the first one, dripping wet and to the sound of middle aged women either tutting or saying in a motherly fashion, “aww...shame.”)

So after that experience, I tried weekends – no good – the pool was way too packed with kids having fun, men who stare and one bloke in particular who kept winking at me in that “knowing” fashion.

So then it was onto the late night pool sessions. I thought I was onto a certain winner as surely all former categories would be in bed. How naïve can a guy be? I went along only to learn as I took the walk of shame that the pool was packed with two thousand teenagers “on the pull” checking out everyone that either entered or left the pool. At the not-too-excessive age of 34, and clearly the oldest in the pool, I began to feel a bit like the proverbial dirty old man and as much as I tried to look like a bloke who’d just gone there innocently in order to go swimming, which of course only served to make me look even more dodgy. Less than 10 minutes after arriving I decided to leave the seething teenage mass of hormones and acne and took the reverse walk of shame whilst trying to covertly adjust my clinging trunks so that I may hide the chilling effect of the cool water. Thumb sized mars bars spring to mind.

So surely today’s swimming attempts could only get better. 515pm is without doubt the optimal time. The Pensioner Mafia are just arousing from their afternoon snooze in order to prepare a resentful supper of tea and toast, most working people are still stuck in traffic trying to wend their way home from work, small children are being fed their ready meals in the caring bosom of their families and teenagers will be busy hanging outside shops in baseball caps intimidating the pensioners still sprightly enough not to need an afternoon snooze.

Before paying, I peer through the windows, briefly so as not appear perverted. Success! Less than ten people. I spoke to the two nice ladies on the reception desk (Hello!), collected my white membership form, briefly outlined my detox mission and headed for the changing rooms.

Now, I find something strangely reassuring and yet slightly worrying about unisex changing rooms. Reassuring in that the homoerotic element is removed (is homoerotic the right word – not sure about that) and slightly worrying knowing full well that shortly I’d be wearing nothing but a pair of trunks (glorified pants really) whilst trying to navigate my way to the pool without my glasses. From previous experience, I know well not to squint and stare too much – this can prove problematic, depending on where the stare accidentally lands.

Anyway, I made it to the pool – quick blurry head count: Ten adults, 2 children and one other staring man who spent most of the time in the corner appearing to be adjusting his trunks. Pool etiquette seemed well observed.

Success! My trunks didn’t come off, no collisions with the elderly, no blue plaster incidents and no pool attendant blowing their whistle at me.

I am a swimmer.

Tomorrow, i start yoga...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Fungus Tea!

Adam writes and suggests Kombucha. For those as in the dark as i was, kombucha is a fungus that floats on water. You leave it in the airing cupboard for a while, then drink the water.

Sounds revolting.

So I've ordered a culture. ( Quite how i'm going to explain this to Official Housemate i'm not quite sure - mouldy things growing in the airing cupboard...hmmmm....

I'll report back my findings in due course.

Detoxing the Ebay Way!

I've just typed "Detox" into Ebay. Apparently, there are these foot patches from Japan - you slap them onto the soles of your feet when you go to bed at night and await their impressive mix of herbs and spices to draw the toxins out from your feet and cleanse all the reflexology points.

Hilarious! As evidence of all the toxins they draw put, when you take off the patches, the pale dry layer of dried herbs/spices have turned to a brown mush! Incredible.

What the heck is a toxin anyway? Anyone know? What exactly is it that i am flushing out of my body?


I'm climbing the walls. I am undergoing some serious introspection that i didn't really expect. Last night i had too much energy and nothing to do with it - the cravings started, first for chocolate (there is a ton of it left over from Christmas) , then for cake (ditto), finally settling on a cigarette (Official Housemate left a packet on the side before heading out for the night - the rotter!)

Reminding myself of my 12 month commitment, i refused to give in and, decision made, the cravings quickly passed. But then something sinister emerged - a curious combination of boredom and loneliness. I ate a handful of health food pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds and re-intro-spected. Yep - it was still there: boredom and loneliness.


I had a bath (current bathroom reading material: "Some Luck" by John Bird, the guy who started "The Big Issue") and watched some telly before settling down around 11pm with a one hour Proteus session (Audio program: "Healing Chants" by Jonathan Goldman) and adjunctive Alpha Stim session. I didn't fall asleep before the session ended but did quickly drift into a beautiful meditational state. Later, i disconnected and fell asleep.

Then horror!

I awake around 6am into dreamy alpha-type state, except this was anything but pleasant. In my dreamy state, i am remembering being 13 years old wondering around the playground at my big scarey comprehensive school. I am wondering around looking for someone to talk to, but to my horror, i realise i`ve let my friendships slip and everyone i see seems to busy to notice me. It was my first ever experience of feeling "lonely". After much searching and failure, i find a bench and sit on my own and open my packed lunch and hope to find something to eat to soothe myself.

But I'd already eaten it all.

I realise that this is far more than a simple period of detox.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

"Bounce and bounce and bounce and bounce, fun, fun fun, fun, fun...

...oh the most wonderful thing about tiggers is that i`m the only one..."

I am beginning to feel the energy levels that i used to have as a child. It is proving a little problematic at the moment - now that i am no longer sedating myself with booze and food that i don't need, i need things to do. The problem is that much of what i "did" revolved around places of in-toxic-ation - pubs, parties, social gatherings that involve beer, wine and cigarettes. I need to build a non-toxic social life. What on earth do people do?

So, in order to find out more about the universe, i`m joining the local Astronomy Society (handy, as it meets just 4 minutes walk from my house) and having studied Qabalah for 14 years (fortunately, i`ve never been so dim as to wear a bit of red string around my wrist) i`m switching now to Sufism and so am joining the local Sufi group - soon i`ll be whirling like a Dervish.

Any other suggestions appreciated.

Dave writes and advises i add in vitamin E to my daily cocktail - apparently it is not absorbed very well unless taken with a little fat, so it best to check that the capsules are mixed with cornoil before purchase. I shall buy some at the health food store later today (if it's open).

Mike writes to advise me that "tea" is made from leaves and is packed full of anti-oxidants and so isn't all that bad and it may be erroneous for detox-ers to shun "tea". I take this advise and so will not avoid tea, i will merely reduce the quantity having caffeinated tea only in the mornings. Avoiding coffee isn't an issue since i've never liked coffee, and following the DIY enema incident, will probably avoiding squirting it into the "basement". Mike also reminds of the news story that exposure to sunlight increases the skin's production of vitamin `D` which is the cure for all cancers....or something like that. I will spend ten minutes in the sun whenever it comes out.

Later today, i'm going to rig up a 400 watt halogen light and spend 20 minutes per day under it. I've always noticed that whenever i am in sunnier countries i feel so much happier and relaxed. I might combine this 20 minute brightness exposure with the Alpha Stim session. (

Current music: "Ode to Joy" by Beethoven, "The Hope Blister" by This Mortal Coil, "Floodland" by Sisters of Mercy, "Sleen and Ideal" by Dead Can Dance.

I bounce.