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At 08:15 this morning I watched a man die. I’ve always thought that in a situation when someone is dying I’d do something to help, something to stop it happening but I sat and did nothing. In reality I could have done nothing, even if I had wanted to. The man I saw dying died last year and I watched a recording of it on the BBC iPlayer. This was during a program developed by the author Sir Terry Pratchett as part of his crusade to have the laws on assisted dying changed in the UK. Seamlessly as I’ve watched the program I’ve picked up the terminology, let us call it what it is: assisted suicide. On the face of it Sir Pratchett is campaigning for individual choice, something which I think is very important. However when you enable people to make that choice then inevitably people will make it, sometimes for the wrong reasons. Does this make you complicit in their death in the way an arms manufacturer (sorry “defence contractor”) might be considered in the efficient despatch of the people fired upon by their weapons? What of the family members, who help them, are they murderers for allowing the decision to be made?

Who are we to so easily throw away this life we have when in other places innocents are struggling to keep hold of theirs. Ok the situation is different; they are fit and healthy, fighting for their rights. You are terminally ill with only a narrowing corridor of life to look forward to. I’m paraphrasing there another man who died during the making of the program, a 41 year old man who was suffering from MS.
It’s easy for me to say all this, I haven’t got Alzheimer’s, and I’m not suffering from MS. My life has been remarkably trouble free to date. What I can say is that I NEVER want to see a situation in the UK where someone who is merely weary of life but could choose to end it all very easily. As 21% of Dignitas clientele are, that would be an unforgiveable waste.

I can also say that I hope and pray that if faced with such uncertainty, such adversity that I might be strong and keep my faith and keep my life to the end. That I might resist the dark corridor towards the ultimate act of selfishness: suicide.

I have an immense amount of respect for my Uncle David, he suffered from Motor Neurone disease and I know that for so practical a man it was very difficult for him to slowly lose his physical abilities, in a strange way worse because his wit and intelligence were not dulled in any way leaving him painfully aware of his growing limitations. But with the support of his loving wife and family he soldiered on and eventually his breath gave out as he slept in the family home he had lived in for years, in his bed, next to his wife.
I will always remember him. I will remember him at the tiller of the Spinola, ever its captain. I will remember his love for classic car racing and also for model planes which led to a very exciting garage full of aeroplane parts and miniature diesel engines. Thanks to his life not being even further foreshortened I’m also able to remember the fun had even through all the adversity; particularly when to participate in a family occasion he joined the festivities by drinking a glass of sherry through a specially converted medical pump which an inventive friend had fitted with a foot pedal so he could operate it himself even though he had long lost the ability to properly raise a glass. I’m very glad to remember these things even though I wouldn’t know it was missing from my life had his end been different.

Separately from this, and you may find this more relevant Sir Pratchett, my grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s and while it was difficult to see her go through that, her lucid moments were some of the few adult memories I have of her, memories I shall treasure always.

So spare a thought not for the suffering you will save them from when watching your slower demise, but for the magic moments that you will prevent from happening if you choose to quicken your end.

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Current Location: United Kingdom, Bristol
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: Jack Johnson

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The Five Love Languages

My primary love languages are probably
Physical Touch and Quality Time.

Complete set of results

Physical Touch: 10
Quality Time: 10
Acts of Service: 6
Words of Affirmation: 4
Receiving Gifts: 0


Information

Unhappiness in relationships, according to Dr. Gary Chapman, is often due to the fact that we speak different love languages. Sometimes we don't understand our partner's requirements, or even our own. We all have a "love tank" that needs to be filled in order for us to express love to others, but there are different means by which our tank can be filled, and there are different ways that we can express love to others.

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Right here’s the plan:

I’m going to try and champion a new thing in Bristol. We’ve all been told that we can’t give money to homeless people because they might not spend it on what we intend. So what can we do? Buy them coffee and a sandwich? What happens if I don’t have time to buy them coffee and a sandwich, you know take them there – have them choose; buy it and then goon your way. Lets be honest, it’s a pretty prohibitive cycle. What if they don’t want one that second?

What if you could give them a little voucher that they could go into any of the big chains (Starbucks / Costa / Caffe Nero) and use to get a coffee and a sandwich!

“Square One”

A little square voucher, small enough to put in your wallet and hand to said homeless person with ease. No need for money right then and there.

There are a few logistical problems to sort out first:

  • It has to be approved by the chains
  • It has to be more expensive to buy than a coffee and sandwich would be so it isn’t misused.
  • I want to get the “Big Issue” on side so they can do a piece on it and also local media coverage.

Possibly aiming a bit high but if you don’t aim high you will never achieve anything. I feel this is worth risking for.

Currently designing the voucher….

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I was brought up a Catholic, went to Catholic schools, had to go to mass every Sunday whether I wanted to or not. I remember looking around the churches and seeing the people there. Wondering how many others were there because they had to be or out of some sense of duty to someone who would have made them go in the past “I must go because my mother wants me to” “I must go because I always have”

The disinterested faces staring up at the alter; singing dirge like along to the organ, powerful and meaningful words being sung but seemingly no feeling behind them. Very few people seemed outwardly to really want to be there, perhaps this is just because of our British reserve, or perhaps because of the austerity of the worship in the Catholic Church but there was little sign of recognisable love for Jesus there.

So little by little I refused more and more strenuously to go to church. Culminating in a fight surrounding whether I should be confirmed or not. I said no, my family said yes. I didn’t get confirmed, and I turned away from the church having gained confidence that I knew what I felt and that I wasn’t going to have someone else’s doctrine imprinted on me.

For a few years I was a vehement atheist, learning all I could about Christianity to be able to pick holes in the faith.

Then while at university I met someone of faith who made me stop and think about it once more rather than walking the lines of the trenches already cut into my psyche. To cut a fairly lengthy process short, I realised that there was a massive piece of me missing, a sudden feeling of emptiness, of need. I knew exactly what that need was as soon as I realised it was there.

So yes, I had a bit of a Damascus moment, but it’s taken me a long time to settle into my faith. It took me a while to realise it, but it really is a journey, I guess I initially thought that once I realised I believed, that would be the hard part, the deal was effectively done at that point. In reality faith and acting like someone of faith is a daily list of choices / questions e.g.

  • Have I taken time aside for my relationship with God today?
  • Should I tell them that they’ve given me too much change?
  • Is what I just did really what I should have done?
  • What would Jesus do?
  • How can I make a difference?

And so many more besides!

At least now I know I’m heading in the right direction, that if I stray from the path no matter where I end up there is a clear map back again and I’ll be welcomed on my return!

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Today i have applied to have my brain donated to science. Specifically altzheimers research as a control brain (as i currently do not have the condition). Obviously this isn't happening right now... i have to pickle it a bit more first!

I think it's important though, i wasn't aware you could do it before it was announced that david blunkett is doing it. But now i know it means that they can find a use for a bit more of me once i'm dead - after all most other bits are earmarked for donation already!

This ends the news of the day....

p.s. seeing Jess tomorrow! :) big smiles
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Weekly weigh in: 14 stone 6 1/2 pounds

Current Location: United Kingdom, England

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Now weighing in at 11 stone 8 & a 1/4 lbs

EDIT: This should read 14 stone 8 & a 1/4 lbs - the only way i would lose weight that fast is by chopping off a leg!
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I am 14st 11 & 3/4 lbs (208lbs), it is time i wasn't.

Apparently my ideal weight is somewhere between 147 - 185lbs. That's 10st 7lbs - 13st 3lbs. Based on a BMI of between 19 and 25.

Now, i recon if i went down to 10 7 i'd be a stick. So i'm going to set a realistic middle and then reasses when i get there. That makes my target weight 166lbs or 11st 11lbs.
So i have to lose 42lbs. Fuck me, where am i hiding 42 extra lbs of weight. If 3500 Kcals of calorie deficit equals 1lb of weight loss. i need to expend 1'470'00 Kcals. For anyone who's counting that equates to approximately 147 hours of running which at the moment makes it 882 miles i need to run.

OK that actually looks a lot more manageable than the calorie figure.

Trouble is, what i'm part way through is a lifestyle change, not a diet. It's slow progress. On the plus side, the mere idea of a Dominos now makes me feel sick. Which for a man who a few years ago used to eat several a week.....is pretty good.

Over the last few years it's alcohol more than anything that has been my downfall (closely followed by a sedentary lifestyle). So many nights spent at the bottom of a bottle, i genuinely hate to think what my insides look like. But something has changed, I still like the odd drink, but that really is all i want now. I spent 7 hours in various pubs with my friends yesterday and i had a sum total of 2 pints. I didn't feel like i was missing out and i had a really great time. I did try a beer which tasted like marmite! Loved that.

Next phase is portion size, i've got a bit of a blind spot there, so often i eat way more than i need because i genuinely don't know how much i should be cooking for myself.
So a bit of internet research later i find this: http://www.tesco.com/health/food/healthy_eating/principles/portions.page
A genuinely scary read. Though there is some disparity within, how can one cup of pasta have the same visual equivalent as half a cup of ice cream. That's impossible. Something which has half the volume cannot appear visually the same as the whole. Anyway, measuring a cup of pasta doesn't make sense as it doesn't take into account the type of pasta. You can get way more macaroni in a cup than you can fusilli. So really i need a weight measure (dry weight) looks like that is 4 oz or 100 grams.

So there it is, 42lbs...here we go!
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'Go to this people and say, "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving." For this peoples heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and i would heal them.'

What a statement. What a statement that is.

Spoken so simply but meaning so much. For this statement speaks of the love of God. All you have to do is come back to him and he will forgive you. You will feel his love once more. I say you'll feel it once more, Because God never stopped loving you. But because your heart was closed to him you could not feel it.
I'm sure many people hearing this now, as i do, what that feels like. The seeking for something that fills you, even though you don't really know that there is something missing. Just the knowledge that something isn't right. How glorious it is to have a Father that loves your so much that even if you stray you will be welcomed back with open arms. Like the prodigal son, on your return the fatted calf will be slaughtered for you. God will open his arms to you and welcome you in. Such is the love of a Father to his children.

The problem is though, the person has to turn back to God, and isn't there just so much that can get in the way of that in today's society.

While i was without God, I gained a lot of possessions, a vain attempt to make myself happy. As the miser gathers his coins, so i gathered DVDs and CDs, i ate drank and was merry. But was i really? No i tell you, i was not! Inside me was a hole, a God shaped hole i didn't know existed until it had been there an awfully long time.

But here i stand, a man made new in God, In Jesus.

I've talked a few minutes now, and that there was the first mention of Jesus. I've talked about God's love for us but what better demonstration of that is there than Jesus himself! God made flesh, part of himself given to earth so that he might forgive us.  What an audacious plan, to send a part of yourself to a world you created for the sole purpose of rescuing that creation. In the knowledge that you, while made man, would feel pain / fear / jealousy / anger, what a charge for Jesus to have. To, in full knowledge of what would happen as a result, follow your Fathers teaching. To know that every teaching, every healing - brought you closer to your death on the cross. To bear that thought and carry on regardless. That..is...love.
So Jesus did what was asked of him. He healed the sick, He prayed for people, He spoke out against the temple. He did it all so that his blood could one day cleanse us as it was spilt over the cross at Golgotha. He died so that we don't have to. God, through Jesus gave everyone a way to him. "I am the way the truth and the light; noone comes to the Father except by me."
But what an easy deal that is!
You don't have to be rich and able to give many burnt offerings. You don't have to be male. You don't have to spend every waking hour doing good works as an exchange for getting into heaven. There is no further price on eternal life. You don't have to earn your entry like you do a wage.

That price has been paid. Jesus paid if for us, because he too loved us; all of us. From the rich man to the poor man; from virginal priestess to prostitute.

We are rescued, all we have to do is realise it.

So, some might say, "right then, i don't have to do anything till the last moment when i'll profess my love for Jesus and the Lord and i'll be saved."

Well, no, because it's not about just giving your life to Him, it's about having a relationship with Him.

But when you start to know Jesus, what you find is an all encompassing love. What's the last thing you want to do to people who you love and who love you? Hurt them. Jesus has shown us a way to live and by living that life we honour his sacrifice and we make him and God happy. How nice it is to make our loved ones happy...
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Injustice, or in this case injustice righted, the government have finally agreed to allow Ghurkhas to settle in the UK. After a long and high profile campaign, supported by some notable names e.g. Joanna Lumley the government has altered its policy on Ghurkha settlement. These brave Nepalese people have fought alongside our troops in hundreds of battles; they were allowed to fight, to bleed, and to die for this country; but they weren’t allowed to live here. To move to this country with their family they had to meet criteria that were twice as stringent as the criteria needed to be met by any European foreign national. This will mean an extra influx of around 100’000 people this year which we will have to budget for. But I strongly believe we should be taking these people for preference over some of the European influx because of the service they have done for our country.

Disenfranchised, a single word which can describe an entire people. The British people at the moment are disenfranchised. Not represented by their leaders, nor trusting them. There has been a whisper for a long time of “corruption” with regards to politicians; I grew up with the knowledge that you can’t trust politicians. The great philosopher Plato once said:

“Those who seek power are not worthy of that power.”

That whisper has now become a shout as this view has never been more truly represented than by the recent MP’s expenses scandal, our leaders presenting fraudulent expenses claims. Saved by their status in society they will be asked to leave their posts, but no charges will be brought because the police will say that they cannot prove that the claim was fraudulent rather than made in error. That is a prediction mind, as the police are still “investigating”.

But where does that leave us, the British people, we can’t trust the one’s who lead us now, and experience tells us that we cannot trust the people who come afterwards and speak words of honey into our ears to make us trust once more our establishment. How can we ever trust this form of leadership again? How can we choose a leader when we know those who seek the power are either already corrupt, or that the power will corrupt them shortly? Can we thrust someone we consider capable into power, one who does not actually want that power? How will we know that they will not be corrupted by the power we thrust upon them?

Perhaps the answer lies in state controlled assets, so that nothing the MP’s do while in power can benefit them afterwards as the house the car etc all become the property of the next person in that office. Stringent oversight of actions, transparency! My; what a world that would be, where the actions of government were truly transparent.Our government are often referred to jokingly as the “Nanny State” because they do so much in the name of protecting us, passing laughable rather than laudable laws. Where does the line in the sand exist between a nanny state and a police state? Will we wake one day to find ourselves caged by the laws existing to protect the rights of others?

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