Wednesday, 29 March 2017

O unhappy day

At lunchtime yesterday I walked to our GP surgery to acquire a blood pressure monitoring device to wear for the next twenty four hours, so that a better idea can be obtained of the apparent fluctuations in my blood pressure through the day. As long as the doctors express concern, I have to go along with this, though it's hard to see how this can be changed. I've lived well enough with this without my life being impaired for a long time. I accept that ageing means slowing down, and limitations on what's possible to consider doing in life. Yet there's still an enormous amount I can do, as long as I sleep well and eat enough and no more than my body needs, and I'm grateful for that.

Ceri, the Practice Nurse initialised the device, fitted the sensory cuff to my upper left arm. There's a digital monitor connected to a pump that drives the sphyngmomanometer, and it's got flash storage to harvest readings at given periods of time during the monitoring exercise. It's about the size and shape of a 200 gram tub of butter, and is packed into holster with an adjustable shoulder strap. Once kitted out the challenge is getting one's clothes back on tidily without disconnecting the the tube joining the components. I decided not to examine it and see what information it could display, and just wear it for twenty four hours. 

Before taking a reading, the device inflates slightly as a one minute warning to get ready, meaning sit down or stand still while the device is working. No sooner had I walked out the surgery than it let me know its intention. The best I could do was stand still. I stopped until it finished, then walked on. But within a minute, a repeat performance. Within another couple of minutes, another repetition. To me it suggested a read failure. Once I was settled at home, writing, it started again, and fell into a rhythm of twenty minutes between readings. 

I felt there was every reason why I should have a normally active day, and not just sit around waiting for the device to take a reading, so I decided to re-start Tai Chi classes. It would be a good test of the stability of my dodgy knee. There were more presumed read errors walking there and back, although I stopped each time I got the signal. During the class it went off twice at the prescribed time, and I just stood still, always easy to do in class, and it seemed to work as prescribed.

I think the device was programmed for a longer timing sequence when I went to bed, as I only recall it taking readings as I was falling asleep, and at first light. There may have been more, but after a marvellous class, starting to learn a new sequence of Tai Chi movements, I was very relaxed and slept well. It didn't seem to be active during breakfast, perhaps it was still programmed for night sequence. I noticed its clock was still set at GMT rather than Summer Time. When I started driving across town to St German's for the week's 'class mass', it started working again, with the same pattern of presumed read errors, and this continued during Mass as well.

After the service I went to check on the office PC, still downloading and installing a year's worth of updates at a stupidly slow pace. If this continues, I'll just take the thing home and update it where I can make sure it doesn't keep choking on the process. I took my jacket off while I worked and in the hour that followed noticed that the device resumed working normally. That was how I discovered that the cuff doesn't like any kind of coverage. The sleeves aren't tight by any means, but basically the device won't work underneath anything except the lightest clothing, which implies that it's usage is going to be restricted to quiet stable environments, unlike real world conditions. At home or in a hospital ward, it's going to be fine, but taking readings from a normally active no sedentary daily life, is another matter altogether. Ah well, now I know. I wrote a note to my GP about this and sent it with the device when I returned it to the surgery.

I walked to Chapter Arts Centre before supper to collect this week's organic veg order, and collected thirteen pieces of street litter on my way there and back, most of them flattened discarded cans from the gutter, including four Carling lager cans strung out along the street where they'd most probably been drunk in between purchase and home. And so many energy drink cans too. As if imbibing their content impairs the awareness of the consumer of the proximity of litter bins, or of any conscience about fouling the environment. A dozen pieces yesterday and Monday as well, while out walking. It's hard not to feel angry about such greedy self-centred carelessness.

Today the formal notification of the UK's intention to quit the EU was delivered. I've listened to the minimum amount of news as the endless reportage on the matter is like having sandpaper rubbed endlessly on the skin. I am angry, frustrated, powerless at the electorate being conned by lies and phobic propaganda from the mass media and the politicians. Around three million expats refused a referendum vote and a matter of high concern for them as UK citizens abroad, and a referendum vote on a simplistic majority rather than a two thirds majority, as is common in other European countries. 

Even the Church in Wales has a two thirds rule for electing a Bishop. The process failed to deliver in Llandaff diocese, and the Bench of Bishops has made a mess of using its executive powers leading to the whole process now being subject to legal scrutiny. Falling just short of the two thirds majority could have been read by the Bishops, if they couldn't agree on an appointment, as a sign of the need to re-convene an Electoral College and let them try again. Or even not appoint until the Electoral College can agree. It may come to a re-run of the Electoral College anyway in the end. If it does, it won't be without rancour and bitterness en route. 

Narrow simple majority voting is like a statistical game of chance, and the margin in either direction can fluctuate, for all sorts of reasons unconnected with the purpose of the vote. When there's a clear consensus speedily reached, it's reason for rejoicing. But life isn't always so simple, so reaching a consensual position in any kind of decision making may take more time and be inconvenient, but it does causes people to think further, to be more aware of a breadth of issues and consequences which may be obscured by fears or ambitions at the the start. 

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