November 24, 2020

How the hell did I get this old?

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:02 pm by Aleksan

There were times when Penny thought I would not last through my late twenties, I never expected to get to more than mid 50s – I had been given a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and as a young doctor, I often saw people with MS near the ends of their lives in middle age.

I wrote two books on MS attended several International Conferences, and continued my career part time in Psychiatry. Then years later I referred myself to a Professor of Neurology at Oxford – we had met before at Conferences, he was Canadian.

No you have not got MS you are quite right – you have what might be called Devic’s Disease Relapsing Remitting type – sometimes in the past wrongly called Optico-Spinal MS. Another old colleague from Conference days, Professor of Neurology at Cambridge was excited by these findings – and postulated in his book on Neurology that I had a “Transitional” disease linking an early form of Devic’s with a disease that in historical times developed into MS

So I have had this condition now since I was a medical student aged 20, and the constant attacks on my optic nerves, and spinal cord have been quite a challenge, leading to increasing disability. I shall be 76 in less than two weeks time, weakened by frequent urinary infections, a poor posture and severe back aches, and so much more. Because, since the Summer I have lost so much weight and have a very poor appetite, I am being fast tracked for Cancer investigations.

Yes I am worn out in many parts of my body, but my mind is alert and I enjoy my life, in a quieter sort of way. Being a patient for longer than I have been a doctor has given me many insights, helped me to mature, and I hope helped me to be a better person and doctor than perhaps I would have been.

Well supported by Penny, we married as medical students before my neurological disease began, I coast along, not attached to longevity – but wondering how the hell I got this old!

November 22, 2020

Christmas visits….

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:49 am by Aleksan

Us two old codgers will not be encouraging any visitors inside the house at Christmas, whatever the rules coming up. We will be happy to see family in the garden, or through the windows depending on the weather. But it is not a good idea for elderly folk to mix with young folk for a few days at Christmas, and then have to bury the old ones in the New Year…a pity but it makes a lot of sense if you think about it…

November 21, 2020


Posted in Uncategorized at 5:41 pm by Aleksan

Loneliness is increasing, what can be done? After living with Penny for more than half a century I don’t know how I would cope if she were to die first, and I hope she would not have to be lonely if I am the first to depart this life.

There are so many lonely people out there, and this is wrong – has technology contributed to this, and maybe people are driven away from their homes and families by economic factors. This is something not dealt with in our Society, and I am glad we are all being made more aware.

There used to be all sorts of Clubs and groups in our village – Cricket club, Snooker Club, Old people’s groups and many more. We still have a Garden Club, a local U3a, and other things to focus on, and I hope and believe that our small community does better than most at looking after one another, whether through the religious groups, or through shared interests.

But living alone is another matter – I fear this most, and yet I would not want to be sent off to a Care home, and hope to always live here in my own home of 50 years with all its happy memories. But in the end all of our fates remain unknown, and are often not of our choosing.

Hierarchy and bullying

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:26 am by Aleksan

Bullying was the norm in the 50s and 60s – the strong held sway over the less powerful, the less privileged. Us boys were often humiliated at school, less so at home. We were sworn at, hit and made to know who was boss.

But in the 70s there was a change – we took off our ties, we called even our superiors by their first names. My boss in Psychiatry, a Consultant, once said to me “If you don’t call me Ronnie, how can I be Ronnie?” In short the “Hierarchical pyramid” was for a time, a wonderful enlightened time, flattened. Our team included not just the doctors, but the nurses, the tea lady and the cleaners, all meeting together, working together and feeling a team. No white coats, just bright pullovers. Kindness, and authority existed together in the context of mutual respect.

Then things went awry. In the 90s people (not me) started to wear ties again, and formal titles were restored. Only my equals or superiors called me “Sandy” and although I resisted, others returned to addressing me as Dr Burnfield. Women wore shoulder pads and started power dressing, and men stayed in their offices.

Bullying has returned, but no longer as the norm. Priti Patel has been brought to order. But should she resign, or has she learned her lesson? I don’t know, but I can’t see us returning to those enlightened days of the 70s, not yet anyway, but perhaps one day….

November 16, 2020

Dilemma – need to eat more but no appetite…

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:10 am by Aleksan

My goals at the moment are to exercise more, eat more and hopefully put on the stone of weight that I have lost, and to get as fit as I can. The first I can do, but I still lack an appetite, eat little and consequently my body is weak, and I am getting a lot of back ache probably due to a weakened body core.

More riding, for short periods at first, will help my core, as will specially designed stretches and exercise. But I have got stuck on the eating side – I need plenty of fibre, protein and fluids in my diet. Complan drinks may give me protein but I am full up for several hours afterwards.

Tasty food helps, but I rarely feel able to eat what is on my plate. It’s a dilemma – I need lots of good food but my appetite just isn’t there, and after eating only a little I feel full up. Frustrating, not just for me but for those that cook and provide my food too! Has anyone else been here, and any positive solutions?

November 12, 2020


Posted in Uncategorized at 4:20 pm by Aleksan

This transient drama, played out on a stage where you are. Each one of us at the centre for a moment, scared, happy, sad and ultimately betrayed – like a Politician at the end of his or her career.

Whining baby, strong provider and eventually dependant and frail – then no more. Life is indeed weird – or in the old Anglo Saxon sense “Wyrd”- a multidimensional web connecting space, time, beings – and the otherworld, where an action somewhere creates an effect somewhere else.

Meaningless until we give it meaning, unjust till we create justice, loveless until we can love ourselves and one another.

November 10, 2020

Covid Anxieties…

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:00 am by Aleksan

What a difference a year makes! It’s lovely to look at my pre Covid photo memories, happier times. Now we have increasing robberies and break-ins, dogs stolen and a general anxiety mounting as we hunker in our home bunkers. And today I hear my younger brother David has the Covid – I wish him well, and a speedy recovery- it all lies in the lap of the Gods – so no changes their then…

November 8, 2020

Our Sammy…

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:07 pm by Aleksan

I love this photo! Taken three years ago – Sam and I used to spend a lot of time by the river – happy memories indeed, and ones I will never forget 💚

King’s College, Taunton – Remembrance….

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:16 pm by Aleksan

November 5, 2020

He who would valiant be….

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:54 am by Aleksan

“Hobgoblin, nor foul fiend, can daunt his Spirit”

There are several Hobgoblins whispering in my ear as I gradually recover from my stroke and previous infections. “

“This won’t last” – “You will never ride again” – “You might as well give up now and die, it can’t be long anyway” – “Your life is over, is just downhill now”

I have not been playing music for a while, nor watched any of those funny videos you get on Facebook, they sometimes make me laugh. Still no appetite and sleeping a lot. I have become depressed and must work on this now. The political environment, the cold and Lockdown don’t help.

So have decided to reverse this trend and regain control over my own destiny. No more listening to those dismal Hobgoblins that daunt my Sprit! With the help of my Dragons “I must valiant be”….

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