Egged While Walking

eggfaceLast Monday I was assaulted, in a way that both literally and figuratively left me with egg on my face.

After successfully shedding over four stones last year, I have decided to carry over into 2014 in the same vein. So, Monday night I decided to try a new route.

My usual winter evening route has reached its expansion limits, at best I can make 6 miles on a night without straying too far into urbanity but to do more than 6 miles would mean looping over territory already covered and that would become a little too repetitive for me.

The new route takes me down into my local village and then the opposite way to my usual route. A good 7 miles minimum at first estimate.

My plan is a simple one, start 2014 at 5 – 7 miles of mixed walking and sprinting every other night and build up a mile a month until I can comfortably cover 12 miles without too much of a struggle.

Fitness wasn’t the only drive to change routes, I’ve recently started playing the augmented reality game Ingress and the only vulnerable enemy portals near me are on the new route.

So Monday night I started Endomondo and set out, down into Lindley, farming enemy portals in Ingress.

It was a nice start, despite having been relatively idle over the festive break, my fitness levels hadn’t dropped and I made a good pace through the village and up towards the M62.

3.5 miles in I cross the M62 and head on to my planned turning point, a church on route – co-incidentally the last of the enemy portals in Ingress.

The road up from the bridge over the M62 is poorly lit, poorly paved and poorly travelled. The occasional car speeds past on its way towards Rochdale but it’s my preferred walking environment – lonely and isolated.

I’d estimated that a turn around there would result in my returning home at the 7 mile mark – a circuit that could be expanded upon by moving the turning point forward by half a mile in future,

I hacked the Ingress portal and made the turn to start home, checking my progress in Endomondo to make sure I wasn’t short changing myself on distance.

I was suddenly struck in the face, throat and chest by what I took to be a hard snowball – an ice ball even.

Cold, hard and wet, I was knocked back by the blow.

Uttering an expletive, the realisation dawned that we have not had any snow yet this winter; I looked around to check as I wiped, what I thought was snow, away.

My hand came away with a mix of albumen, yolk, blood and shell.

I had been egged.

I think the embarrassment negated the rage and shock somewhat, although the anger seeped back in as my hand came away a second time doused in blood.

I could tell there was a wound, of sorts, bleeding profusely from my chin – and my throat and chest felt bruised.

The egg had hit at a fair speed. My memory, catching up with me, associated the impact with the passing by of a speeding car.

I had been egged from a passing car.

A third wipe and I determined that I was still bleeding.

One hand pressed against my chin and throat to stop the bleeding, whilst the other struggled with my, now egg-bound, phone.

The camera wouldn’t activate and so I decided to make my way back towards home (2 miles away) or hospital – (4 miles away – if needed).

The blood kept streaming, so I stopped at a local takeaway that had just closed for the night. The gentlemen inside let me in but didn’t have a mirror or first aid kit.

They let me stay there until the bleeding stopped and gave me paper towels to stop the flow.

As helpful as they were, the chaps in the takeaway couldn’t really help me identify the severity of the source of the bleeding, so I decided to set out again whilst phoning my other half for help.

When I finally got the phone free of blood and yolk, I managed to take the photograph above and realised that actually I wasn’t badly cut at all.

A swollen chin, minor cuts on the chin and in the mouth; and a chest full of egg.

In the aftermath I called 111 to go through a medical check-list and then 101 to inform the local police – although there is nothing they can do with no description of the assailant or the assailant’s vehicle.

Four days on and I have already made sure that I get out again, albeit on a third route. I did find myself flinching as cars passed but that didn’t last long.

It does seem that I am not alone, this kind of assault appears to be surprisingly common.

I’ve heard of walkers, runners, cyclists and equestrians being pelted with eggs, stones, bottles and cans; even being shot with pellet guns in more extreme cases.

I just count myself lucky that I was not hit in the eye and that I haven’t come across this activity before – hopefully it is quite rare.

2013 in Brief

I’ve not written as much throughout this year as I have previously but that stands as testimony to the amount of time that has been dedicated elsewhere.

For one, I lost 4.5 stone in the run up to Christmas 2013.  If I can do half as much again next year, I’ll be a happy man.

Dropping 20% in weight has done my health a world of good.  My daily insulin dosage has dropped, my blood pressure dropped 5%, meaning I am no longer on the cusp of hypertension and I feel better than I have for over a decade.

Other than that, 2013 has been a hard year – if 2014 is going to be as difficult it can jog on.

Anyway, here’s the annual WordPress review for this blog…

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Lost in (Google) Translation

Earlier today we had a debate in the office over the correct pronunciation of Kronenbourg 1664 in French.

A colleague was adamant that the sibilant eruption of esses and queues pouring forth from his mouth was the correct phrase but it didn’t ring true.

Sadly, the speed and energy of the discussion through my knowledge of the Gallic tongue out of the nearest window and so I quickly fell back on trusty Google translate.

That was my first mistake.

Actually, it was my second; the first was getting involved in the debate in the first place.

Google Translate appears to translate numbers that are entered as test as numbers if the written number appears to be related to a date.

For example:

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The phrase “nineteen eighty four” becomes the number “1984″ and not “dix-neuf quatre vingt quatre”, as would be expected.

Entering the numbers on different lines pulls the correct translation through.

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This may seem intuitive for written translations but is absolutely counter-productive when looking for assistance with spoken language.

For the record, my colleague’s declaration of “Soixante Soixante Quatre” is incorrect; the correct phrase is “Seize Soixante-Quatre”.

Armed with this knowledge, I can break my longer numbers up in future but this may be useful for those of you who may be looking at using Google Translate to help with spoken word translations.

Fat Club User Guide – Carbs & Cals

carbsandcalsI recently wrote about my experience working with the Kirklees Weight Management Programme to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

One of the tools suggested to me by the team behind the programme was a book that is generally recommended to Diabetics who monitor their carbohydrate intake and self dose insulin based on it.

Carbs & Cals: Count your Carbs & Calories with over 1,700 Food & Drink Photos!

I bought the book from Amazon for just under a tenner and then a few days later I bought the App from Google’s Play Store.

Both the book and the app are a really handy resource to check the calorific content of everyday foods.

The book is crammed full of pictures showing you nutritional information on a variety of foods in a variety of portion sizes.

The App takes this a step further by allowing you to scan barcodes to get nutritional information from a large online database of foods.

The App can be used as a Food Diary and even a Blood Glucose diary for insulin junkies like me.

Finally, both the book and the App are supported by online resources that can be found at the Carbs & Cals website.

 

Fat Club – Winning Through Losing

Before And After Back in May I broke the first rule of Fat Club by writing about it.

Ever the rebel I thought I would write about it again.

Yesterday evening I had my final one-to-one with the dietician who developed the programme behind the Kirklees Weight Management service.

My initial goal was to lose 5% of my weight as it was when I started the programme – just under a stone in total.

The programme isn’t a diet by the way, it’s a catalyst! It incites change in the individual to help them lead a healthier life by making healthier choices.

I still manage to enjoy myself, I just enjoy myself moderately rather than excessively.

Bearing in mind I’d already lost half a stone between signing up in January and starting the programme in May, I was confident I could meet that target and I did – 5 weeks in,

Weight Loss ChartI’m now a gnats whisker away from my personal target of 3 stones off by the end of July and whilst the Victoza/Liraglutide is partially responsible the majority of the credit goes to the Weight Management service itself.

I kid you not, the service here in Kirklees is a world leader in its field.

They don’t boast about it online but ask the team behind the service and they speak with pride about their success and retention rates compared to the global and national average.

I mention the team because it is just a small team of people that have made this happen, which is amazing when you consider how wide and dark an organisation like the NHS can be.

There is a chance that the NHS may drop the programme in favour of a one-size-fits-all bland service provided by a multinational media company with little or no understanding (or passion) for dietetics or nutrition… which would be a crying shame.

The advice I’ve taken away from the programme is simple.

  • Eat regularly – Breakfast, Lunch & Tea with a light snack in-between if hungry.
  • Eat healthy portions – You’d be amazed at how large the portions we’re used to are these days – far too much for the sedentary lives we lead.
  • Eat a balanced diet with satiety in mind – Wholemeal Bread and a couple of Eggs for breakfast will keep you fuller and satiated for longer – don’t cut out carbs or proteins or anything, instead know the right portions and proportions in which to eat things.
  • Keep active – it only takes small changes to keep the body working and active.
  • Banish unhelpful thoughts – don’t punish yourself for failing by indulging in further failure – don’t reward yourself with food or drink, instead look to work out negative emotions through activity or reward yourself with non-consumable treats.
  • Know your calorie I/O – The human body burns at least 1400 calories a day, just by living – it is a lot easier to not take on excess calories than it is to burn it off.  By setting a calorie target/limit under the supposed GDA you are guaranteed to lose weight – but don’t set it lower than 1500 without medical supervision.

All of that and more.

I keep a loose and fast food diary now and have a mental meal plan that I follow day to day.

I’m walking 4 or 5 miles a day (or at least every other day) to burn off the daily office stress and every day gets better and better.

I genuinely believe that anyone struggling to manage their weight should speak to their GP and talk about getting on the Kirklees Weight Management Programme.  It costs nothing more than 48 hours of your life (broken down over 12 2 hour sessions) and the desire to change.

The show’s not over though.  I have another 12 weeks to lose another stone – which will take me to 16 stone by mid-October – although, personally, I’m aiming for 2 stone off in that time.

 

Church of Pfizer – Breaking the First Rule of Fat Club

Victoza-LiraglutideFor the last decade I have carried the clinical label of “Morbidly Obese“.

A decade ago I weighed in at over 20 stones; I had been piling on the pounds since the age of 25. A combination of living a lush lifestyle, holding down a sedentary office job and thriving on cortisol-inducing stress all culminated in the climactic crescendo of endocrine crash.

By October 2003 I had dropped 3 stone and suffered what were described later as “Osmotic Symptoms” – between you and me these were simply body-wide agonising muscle cramps caused by essential salts being flushed from my body as it tried to handle a fasting blood glucose level of 32 mmol/L (6 mmol/L is the norm).

I was rushed into hospital and diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (meaning that I rely on regular injections of insulin to survive).

For the last decade I have managed my condition as all diabetics must do – day to day and sometimes seeming to pull through by will alone.

It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of Sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

Since then my weight has fluctuated between 17 and 20 stone, erring more towards the latter over the last year or so. Th weight dropping off as I exercise and then piling on when I stop.

Of course, medicine has played a large part in the management of my condition. As a Type 1 diabetic I have prayed at the alter of The Church of Pfizer for almost a full decade now. Insulin to make up for insulin I am not producing, Metformin (Glucophage) to help my body use the insulin and Pravastatin to deal with my high cholesterol.

Over the past couple of years I have endured an ongoing battle with my health care team over my condition. My health care team believe I am not a Type 1 diabetic at all but Type 2 (meaning I am producing some insulin but my body cannot use it). The only evidence given for this seeming to be my inability to maintain a healthy weight.

Victoza PenThe battle peaked towards the end of 2012 when my diabetic “specialist” decided to put her money where her mouth is and put me onto a trial course of GLP-1 (Glucagon-like-peptide).

Pitched as some kind of Panacea, GLP-1 is a weight loss medication with the surprising side effect of increasing insulin production in Type-2 diabetics. Type-1 diabetics may benefit from the weight loss side of the medication but would see no other benefits.

At the same time that I started the process of titrating up to a full dose of Victoza-Liraglutide (the trade name of this new sub-cutaneous Sacrament) I also signed up to the local Weight Loss Program – Kirklees Weight Management (lovingly referred to as Fat Club by my fellow losers).

I started the full course of Victoza 3 weeks ago and Fat Club 2 weeks ago and frustratingly enough the Victoza seems to be working – I must be Type-2, the priests were right all along.

I have reduced my insulin intake by more than 50% and appear to be losing over 2kg a week. The Victoza isn’t pleasant but I’m accustomed to the nausea and other gastric symptoms that arise from the daily injections.

So far the fat club appear to be offering sound advice but I have to admit that I am eating smaller portions mainly because the Victoza helps me feel satiated and slows my digestion down so that I am not hungry.

I haven’t felt this good since I tried the hypno-band the other year. Fat Club have given me a target of 6.2kg to lose over the 12 week period; 2 weeks in and I’ve lost 4.6kg.  I’m out walking more and seem to be energised towards losing more weight.

Victoza-para-Emagrecer-Funciona-3I’m sure this will level out at some point – at this rate I’d be looking at being back to 16/17 stone by the end of the 12 weeks, something my GP has advised against.  Not that the process stops there.  This isn’t some kind of Slimming World fad diet – it’s a total change to my way of life – again.

That being said, I do feel like I’m cheating somehow, there should be rules about the use of performance enhancing drugs at Fat Club.

Travelodge Feedback – Does Anybody Actually Read It?

20130409_TravelodgeI stay at budget hotels quite a lot.

Not so frequently that I could class them as a second home.

Through the winter I may stay at one at least once a month, maybe more.

Over the festive period I’ve been known to book whole weeks at a time, whilst visiting family and friends.

My budget hotel of choice is Travelodge.

Many of these Travelodges are poky and run down but some are quite new, modern and comfortable.

The great thing about this chain of Hotels is that they often run promotions where rooms that are booked months in advance.

For example, this Christmas just gone I stayed in Hellingly, East Sussex for a mere £12 a night.  The room was comfortable and it proved a good base for visiting family in the area. (I wrote my Windows RT post in the Hellingly Travelodge).

I tend to stay for one or two nights as a rule – Friday and Saturday.  The frequency and duration of visits is largely dictated by the reason for staying.  Quite often we’ll stay at a Travelodge whilst attending a LARP event; rather than camping in the winter weather.

Sometimes (but not always) I receive an email from Travelodge after the visit, asking me to rate my experience.  Before this year – over the last few years – I’ve completed one or two.

This year I’ve been asked after each stay and unfortunately I’ve felt the need to actually voice complaint.

In February I stayed at the Wolverhampton Travelodge whilst visiting friends for the weekend.  My experience was atrocious.

Here’s what I had to say to them then.

This has got to be the single worst Travelodge I have ever had the displeasure to sleep in.  Neither my partner or I were able to sleep either night through a combination of the constant noise of traffic and drunken denizens of Wolverhampton and worry for the car.  The staff were also disinterested – not exactly unhelpful but certainly not helpful.

Don’t get me wrong, the staff were pleasant and polite enough, just unhelpful.

Let me share some of our experience with you.

After spotting the Travelodge on Wolverhampton ring road, we spent the next 30 minutes trying to find access to the Travelodge by car – the online information was next to useless and Sat Nav only takes you to the front door (which is not accessible by car).

On arrival we were harassed by a disgruntled patron who was unable to find himself a parking space in the meagre Travelodge carpark.  Finding ourself in the same position, the only positive thing i have to say about the small carpark is that we didn’t have to pay the extortionate parking fees it would have charged.

We back-tracked and found a space to park opposite Wolverhampton baths.  I was somewhat vexed by the sparkling array of safety glass fragments strewn across the pavement from previous attempts by the locals to break into cars parked there.

What choice did we have though? The other parking on Wolverhampton was closed.  If we had known the parking was this poor we would have paid extra for a Premier Inn.

Once we had cleared the valuable looking objects from view, we reached the Travelodge itself.  Eventually we convinced the bored voice over the tannoy that we had a room booked and were let in.

We mentioned the lack of parking to the lady on reception.  She asked where we had parked.

Our response illicited a look of horror and the response:

“You haven’t got any valuables on view have you?”.

No advice on where we should park, just a look of horror at the prospect of our future car-violation.

The room was an oven when we entered.  Other than the heat though, it was what we would expect from an older Travelodge.  I went to close the window to shut out the traffic noise but it was already closed.  We turned down the heat but the damage was done for night one, a combination of heat, noise and worry about the car kept my partner and I awake until it came time for us to leave for our Saturday with friends.

Saturday night we had to park in the same place, a space down from the collection of broken glass.  The room wasn’t as hot but the noise was the same - another night without sleep.

When we checked out I would have liked to say something to someone but there was nobody on reception – so I dropped my key cards into the allocated slot and went home.  The car was fine by the way but that didn’t stop us worrying.
I have to say that this was atypical of my experience of Travelodge, which is why I felt the need to be so verbose in my response.
I have never received a response, which is strange as I am sure that my first ever feedback was responded to… maybe I suffered from a little
TL:DR
That being said, my recent visit to a Travelodge in Burton was marred by a constant cloying massive miasma of marijuana.
So this time I’ve kept my feedback brief; I won’t hold my breath for a response.