The Calendar : 2016 : Update

Hey everyone, just a quick update on The Auction for my calendar. These are the first six months of images to be found on this highly desirable unbridled joyous “astonishingly excellent”* … uh, too much?

 

The Calendar 2016 Jan-Jun
Calendar Images : January-June

 

*  “Astonishingly excellent…” Yes, dear reader, not my words but the words of Donald Trump’s personal physician, Harold Bornstein. Admittedly, he was actually describing Donald Trump’s alleged physical health rather than, well, either his presidential campaign or my calendar, but I’m confident he would be equally eulogising. Meanwhile, Trump’s barber was said to have declined to comment.

Imagine being Donald Trump’s personal physician. I’ll, uh, just leave you with that thought for a moment …  …  … Okay! Okay, you can stop. It makes the prospect of, uh, unwrapping the calendar after it lands in your mailbox more appealing now, though, eh?!

The above images will furnish the eyes with pleasure between the months of January-June. You can read the full introduction to this auction idea by reading the accompanying blog/video here.

Current Highest Bid: 47 Euros

[Approx. conversion: US $52 and UKP 34]

[Bid by Valeria in Italy … Note: If you’d rather not have your name publicly announced with any bid please let me know.]

 

What’s In A Name? : Chronic Research Disease

What’s in a name? as the Very Reverend Roland Fartfinger was once said to infamously remark. Well, if it’s Myalgic Encephalomyelitis [ME] or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome [CFS] or Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome [CFIDS], or at its absolute media derisory worst, Yuppie Flu, apparently quite a lot, as last week witnessed it undergoing yet another suggested name-changing metamorphosis: Systemic-Exertion-Intolerance Disease [SEID].
Washington Post
The Washington Post

Twenty-five years ago my life was turned upside-down. In short, I flew to Canada, found myself unexpectedly hospitalised by what was said to be a particularly nasty virus and later flown home. I had no idea what had begun. Five weeks after returning home, and still mysteriously struggling with what was now labeled post viral fatigue, I wrote in my journal: “If someone had told me I would still feel like this after five weeks, I wouldn’t have believed it…” Twenty five years later and I’ve never fully recovered.

Around twenty-three years ago I was finally diagnosed by Dr Stuart Glover [a physician who had been working with HIV/AIDS patients who became curious by this growing subgroup of people, presenting with similar symptoms, but exhibiting no definitive biomarkers in blood tests, etc.] as having ME/CFS. And that conjoined name is an important distinction; essentially refusing to allow the neurological component to be fatefully ignored.

The proposed latest name-change has been recommended following the release of a 235-page report produced by the American influential government advisory body the Institute Of Medicine [IOM]. And it gave rise to these headlines in the media…

Time
Time

The Daily Mail [UK]
The Daily Mail [UK]
All the headlines I’ve seen are effectively taking a similar tone. Apparently, the disease that’s torn through my life for 25 years is real; essentially confirming the only thing that’s genuinely evolved in the 25 years of my own journey … a quietly repetitive stasis. The World Health Organisation listed the disease as a neurological condition in 1969. Meanwhile, our own government [UK] has continued to drag its arse, to the extent where it wasn’t fully acknowledged until the turn of the new millennium – in terms of easier access to disability benefits, where appropriate – and was still arguing its relative merits as a genuine neurological condition as recently as 2010. But here we are in 2015 still producing headlines regarding its reality; while the absolute reality of the condition is that it largely lumbers on in thinly researched and poorly funded darkness.

The Washington Post article contains the paragraph: ‘Christine Williams, who has the illness herself and is vice-chair of the board of directors for the advocacy group Solve ME/CFS Initiative, welcomed the IOM report. “I have been sick for six-and-a-half-years, and this is definitely the most encouraging thing that I have seen.” I find it quite depressing to read that. And I wonder how she might feel if she were to exchange 6½ for 25?

In terms of relative timescale, she reminds me a little of me …

When I was first diagnosed, to say ME/CFS was a vast grey area would be to undermine an easy adjective to describe a group-selfie of all the elephants that ever walked the earth! So, I began to educate myself as best I could, and became active in my own way by in turn educating the local hospital [FACTS Information Service] and then into the foothills of the brave new world [instigating and supporting UK-based online CFS newsgroups/forums] and raising awareness. It was an important learning period, but after probably about 6½ years … I stepped away; with it all becoming a little repetitive and exhausting, as well as feeling increasingly like it had begun to define me. I chose to look forward and gain a new focus: rediscovering my passion for photography and teaching [part-time] at high school.

Reading all this now … it’s as astonishing as it is depressing; to feel that in the interim decade and more, very little has really changed. And the significant new development is another suggested name change! Okay, in terms of lazy stigma, it’s welcome; particularly for those severely affected. One mother commented in another article on her own daughter – who sadly committed suicide after 25 years and was predominantly severely affected during the entire time “… calling the disease that ravaged my daughter’s life Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a little like calling stomach cancer Chronic Upset Tummy.” And, while still lacking those definitive biomarkers, a focused diagnostic criteria is equally welcome – albeit I could’ve predominantly written what’s seemingly now accepted word-for-word … some 20+ years ago! And maybe, instead of wasting all the intervening time worrying about perceived realness, some truly in-depth worthy research were conducted instead.

Personally, I don’t dwell on all this too often these days; it simply began to consume too much of the energy reserves I did possess. So, I now choose to focus on what I can achieve – and can still achieve – rather than the spectre. But, even now, when I do bump up against news like this, I do find it quietly astonishing when I contemplate the numbers … 25 years. Approaching half my life! And, as near as damn it, I’ve spent nearly all that time educating myself as best I can; and managing the condition myself. No real treatment; outside the wonderful, and vitally important, work done by The Optimum Health Clinic; almost in complete isolation from the ‘health service’. I’ve largely educated my own doctor over the years.

When I look at these apparently ‘enlightened’ headlines today, some 25 years down the line, it rings a bit hollow. Albeit I’m more than happy to know that such announcements should at least help new sufferers avoid the indignity of stigma and plain, vague ignorance. And, hopefully, we will soon see further medical progress.

Finally…

ME/CFS has never exactly been helped by remaining poorly understood/researched, and additionally by the majority of sufferers making at least degrees of recovery [usually over a number of years but rarely returning to previous levels of health]; and often ascribing recovery to a prevailing ‘treatment’.  So, it’s especially encouraging to see the report from Stanford University [October 2014] produce some genuinely potentially exciting research results, where radiologists discovered that the brains of patients with ME/CFS have diminished white matter and white matter abnormalities in the right hemisphere. I’ve long been convinced, like Dr Stuart Glover, that one day the answer would likely be found to be all in the mind – although not that necessarily espoused by the occasionally ugly, gong banging psychiatric doctors, like Professor Sir Simon “[I] could have been more diplomatic” Wessely … but in the brain.

Some additional links:

the ME Association [UK]

Action for M.E. [UK]

ME Research UK

Solve ME/CFS Initiative [formerly CFIDS Association of America]

Foundation for Fibromialgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome [Spain]

ME/CFS Society of NSW [Australia]

The National ME/FM Action Network [Canada]

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Man Ponders Potential Of Own Vagina

It’s the kind of headline that would grab anyone’s interest. Well, it especially peaked my interest for a great many scientific and sociological reasons. And also as I’ve had a great deal of accidental, erm, exposure in this niche area of the blogosphere.

 

Doctor's Implant Lab-Grown Vagina
Doctor’s Implant Lab-Grown Vagina

If I’m honest, my immediate thought was… I want one! Just imagine… I’d be able to have full sex with myself. Whenever I wanted. And in the afterglow, I could whisper breathlessly to myself ‘How was it for me?’. Not to mention what a great comeback it would now be for the person that shouted at me the other day when I criticised their shoddy parking ability with a cultured “Ahhh, go f*ck yourself!” Oh, yeah? Well… I might just go do that… uh, and enjoy it… so the joke’s on you buddy!

 

You may notice the Related Stories link at the bottom of the screenshot here:

HandsAnd I couldn’t help but imagine a future where men simply disappeared from sight in our allegedly advanced society.

Because, let’s face it, any man in this technologically enlightened future that found himself with the possibility of having his very own lab-grown vagina, breast implants and four hands… well, frankly, they’d never get out of the house in the morning.

And I know what you’re saying, this is all quite amusing, but where’s your hard evidence that man doesn’t simply sit in front of a computer all day utilising broadband to its full natural potential. And it’s simply wrong to characterise this brave new world in such a way. Sadly, the evidence is right here, on this very website…

 

Those of you who know me well – and are perhaps now looking at me with mildly disconcerted sideways glances – will know my passion for photography; and also my occasionally distracted written musings, with a soupçon of humour. [He is joking, isn’t he? Please tell me he’s joking! Or, more importantly, please tell me this isn’t purely autobiographical writing today?!] The reality is, my truly treasured followers and friends, that my website is almost never found for any of those things.

I once wrote a blog called The Man With Two Penises. Most of you who read it, doubtlessly chuckled at my discomfort. But I now feel I must apologise for all those people who stumble across my website with what I feel must be entirely different agendas. Here is a list of statistics of All Time search terms for discovering my site:

 

Stats

Stop laughing at the back!

And this isn’t an exhaustive list, this is just the top end of search returns. It’s almost reassuring to see my name actually nestling in at No.3 – albeit well down in the percentiles from the preceding man with two penises / man with two penis! And equally nice to see nige ollis photography sitting underneath skinless penis.

The list on these subtle variations is almost endless. And I’m now beginning to wonder just how many disappointed faces, quite possibly typing with one hand [who admittedly might now be cheered by the latest health news that more hands might become available in the future!], actually curse the accidental discovery of my photography.

As I say, the above list isn’t exhaustive, and the further down the returns you go the search terms that  send you stumbling into my room become increasingly entertaining. My personal favourites, in descending order of returns are:

  • man with two pennis : Not sure if they’re dyslexic perverts or coin collectors?
  • man with two fully working penises : Well, if you’ve got a second one, I guess it should earn its keep, right?
  • mouldy penis : I’m slightly bemused by that one, both in search reason and returning my site!
  • dog barbed penis : Your guess is as good as mine!
  • my friend’s hot mom catch me in bathroom masterbating : Uh, I think both searcher and myself might want a word with Google about that one!

And finally, the people who used these two search terms must’ve been incredibly disappointed: one man have two penises huge and dual penis and nurse.

Of course, hopefully, those of you reading and chuckling almost as much as when you read of my unfortunate operation will also now realise that this blog is purely a commercial sell out to get more hits. I mean, there must be enough keyword returns in here to send my server into virtual meltdown! Oh, and to anyone who might actually be interested in my photography, it’s over there —–> [pointlessly points]. Yeah, like they read down this far, eh?

 

First Solo Exhibition and The Anatomy Of A Stroke [One Year Plus]

At The Zoo : Watching The Animals
At The Zoo : Watching The Animals

 

First up: I’ve been organizing my first solo photography exhibition. And I hadn’t quite realised, when supplying everything but the walls, everything can be quite a lot of work! I just about made it – hanging the ten images last night. Time to breathe. Hopefully you’ll all now be booking flights from the four corners of the world for this must see event. Ahem.

Anyhoo… If any of you good [local] folk should head this way, feel free to give me the heads up, and I’ll do my utmost to meet you there. Coffees* are on you! Uh, call it your entrance fee and having the sheer pleasure of my company. Think of me as your photographic pim… uh, escort.

* Oh, yeah, that’s the bonus. Rubicon is a lounge café and chocolatiers. So you can easily be distracted from both my company and images with even more delicious distractible culinary treats.

 

The Anatomy Of A Stroke [One Year Plus]

 

Remarkably… we were both clean shaven for the occasion!
Remarkably… we were both clean shaven for the occasion!

 

When I began the project documenting my father’s battle with his stroke, clearly I had no idea where fate and circumstance might lead us. In my opening public comments I essentially concluded my introduction of the documentary with “…and for what I ultimately truly hope will be an uplifting journey to recovery.” Even when I wrote those words, I wasn’t fully aware, having survived the initial dramatic stroke, how the odds were stacked against him.

Happily, for those who followed the unfolding story, you’ll know that my father was lucky to fall into the third of people having such an event who subsequently go on to make a good recovery.

Once again, thanks for all your support through this difficult period in my/our family’s life. I had mixed feelings about making this public, but I was genuinely overwhelmed by those who took the time to write and offer their support and prayers, etc.

And special thanks to John, Alison, Claudio, Tracie, Louise, Kyre, Chris, Sharon, Hameed, Alex, Robert, Dawn, Jen and Giuliana for taking the time to ask some really quite probing questions, and allowing this to have an ideal completion.

The full Q&A interview can now be read on The Anatomy Of A Stroke website.

 

The Anatomy Of A Stroke