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2020 - Blog

Deadly side effect of burnout.

BURNOUT is a term many will be familiar with, but are unlikely to have linked with an irregular heartbeat. However, scientists say the syndrome, which leaves sufferers feeling excessively tired, devoid of energy, demoralised, and irritable, could be associated with a potentially deadly condition. Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of heart arrhythmia - heart rhythm disturbance.
It is estimated around 17 million people in Europe and 10 million people in the US will have this condition by next year, increasing their risk for heart attack, stroke, and death.
Dr Parveen Garg of the University of Southern California, said: “The results of our study further establish the harm that can be caused in people who suffer from exhaustion that goes unchecked."
© Plymouth Herald 15th January 2020


"Thou shalt not kill; but needst not strive officiously to keep alive:"
Arthur Hugh Clough 1819-1861
‘The latest Decalogue’ (1862)

“The old man’s friend”
William Osler ‘The Principles and Practice of Medicine’ (1892)

Now is the time to talk about death
Dr John Dean, consultant cardiologist at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. The views expressed are his own

"Every day for the last few weeks the news headlines have been dominated by the number of those who have died due to the current corona- virus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Death may seem an unwelcome guest, but if you fail to prepare yourself for her visit, you may end up being treated in a wholly inappropriate way as you approach the end of your life. It might not feel like it, but now is the time to talk about death, the one certainty in our lives.

Only a tiny proportion of the patients I see who are admitted to hospital with a potentially life threatening illness have ever had any meaningful discussion with their family about how they would wish to be treated at the end of their life. Doctors are obliged to talk to patients, who they feel are close to death, about whether they would wish to be revived if disaster strikes and their heart stops beating.

Many are surprised that we even ask the question, expecting that we will automatically do everything we can to keep them alive. Perhaps not appreciating how brutal and invasive attempts at resuscitation can be, that the prospects of a successful outcome are very low, and how, undignified it can be to end your life on an intensive care unit. Even survival may result in a prolonged spell of debilitation, sometimes with no prospect of a full recovery.

If you have never given these matters any thought, having this discussion for the first time when you are lying gravely ill in a hospital bed is hardly ideal. Covid 19 has already brought many thousands to a premature death and many more will surely follow in the months ahead.

In the South West, we have so far been spared the huge number of fatalities in places such as London and our local hospitals seem well set to deal with the expected surge in cases. Although the virus harvests most of its victims from the elderly and those who already have significant medical problems, it can also cut short the lives of young people in their prime. To compound the misery, most hospitals have forbidden visitors apart from one individual at the bedside at the very end of life. Even so, many die alone and some may even be buried in isolation.

So why not take this opportunity to discuss death and the process of dying with your family?

It will probably feel very awkward, it is a topic that we seldom discuss and many would regard it as taboo.

But isn’t it strange that we are so reticent to talk about the only life event that is a certainty for all of us?

You might ask them where they would prefer to die, in hospital or at home? You could explore what treatment they would wish to receive for a life threatening illness and what they would find unacceptable?

What level of suffering of disability would they be prepared to tolerate?

If you were paralysed, needed a machine to help you  breath, required a tube in your stomach to feed you and were only able to communicate by twitching a cheek muscle, would you want to carry on living? I would not, but Professor Stephen Hawking, who died last year, tolerated this state of affairs for decades. Everyone is different.

And finally, if you haven’t said I love you to those you value most in this world, do it now'. Don’t save it to your last breath - there may be no one to say it to".

© Plymouth Herald - Thought of the day - 17th April 2020




© Plymouth Herald - Penny Cross - 13th June 2020

Plymouth Zoo
E Gammie, In Your Area - Memory Lane Odt 2020 


From 1962 to 1978 there was a zoo in Central Park, near the Plymouth Argyle football ground. This was the resident hippo in 1976. Around this time, the zoo hit the news when the penguins made a breakout. (Sorry, no photos of them on the loose!)

Avoiding Love 

Human pain is that condition which occurs when the human being is hurt. It differs from physical harm for it is the spirit which if affected.

The greatest hurts are the loss of loved ones or the loss of their love, but pain may be felt whenever there is abuse of person, or of a thing which has value.

It is an excruciating feeling, often felt in the region of the heart though not exclusively. It may be felt throughout the entire body. From it a person may wince or cringe as if dealt a physical blow, and in the mind it may be represented as such.

The human being will go to great lengths to prevent pain. He may develop characteristics which impair him. He may seek to please, to integrate. To conform lest he experience the pain of disapproval, and thus he deprives himself of that which is natural and spontaneous within.

He may strive for perfection and moral goodness lest he feel the pain of love loss, and experience great guilt and loss of self esteem if his efforts fail.

He may see persons as images, asking of them total acceptance and total attendance lest he experience the pain of love loss, or of a lost loved one.

These efforts to control pain may be viewed as a wall surrounding an individual within which he may live, function and love.

It is often said that love and hate are very close but it is love and hurt that are the intimate relation and hate may be the consequence.

But love, if it is complete, allows for hurt. A love which refuses this, which deceives, which falsely protects, such a love may destroy itself; a love which understands this, which asks no special guarantee against the condition of hurt, which knows only a respect for its being and the being of another, that which is love; such a love may live, may grow, and thrive, until the moment it becomes tender memory.

From "The American Journal of Nursing”.
Printed in the "Nursing Mirror", November 24 1972.