The Weekly Balance = #52

Welcome to the latest post of The Weekly Balance. Let’s have a look back at the past seven days in my life and what I’ve learnt from it.

What I’m thinking about

Patience. This week I think many of us are feeling a bit fed up (understatement maybe) with how 2021 has begun. Vaccinations are definitely a light at the end of the tunnel – the tricky part is navigating our way to that light, through the inevitable ups and downs that that road will take. I’ve definitely struggled with seeing positive side of things in the last few days – work is very very busy for us in public health, and I’ve got some projects outside of work that need to get done which are adding to the stress of things a little bit. Obviously those are first world problems, I know, and I’m so grateful for the job I have. So this past week I’ve really tried to focus on the little things, those small pleasures that bring a bit of joy, peace and structure to my day. They are anchoring me to the here and now, to the present moment and present day. For me, that’s activities like phone calls or voice-notes with family and friends, movement, reading, trying new recipes, writing, enjoying a podcast or a playlist on Spotify – little things that can add up to big wins in terms of my own mental health. So if like me the third week of January has felt a bit like a never-ending game of ‘stuck in the mud’, take some time to reflect on those little things that bring a smile to you.

What I’m reading

This past week I finally finished The Doctor Who Fooled The World by Brian Deer. The book is a culmination of the years of investigative work by award-winning journalist Deer into the Andrew Wakefield controversy and fraud regarding the MMR vaccine. Many of you I’m sure will have read about this and are familiar with who Andrew Wakefield is, and it’s not for me to re-explain the entire story. Wakefield, a former British medical doctor – struck off the medical register for his fraudulent studies in relation to the MMR vaccine – sparked a global vaccine crisis in the late 1990s with his (now retracted) paper in the Lancet which reported on 12 children, purporting to link the MMR vaccine to autism. It’s hard to comprehend the scale of the damage done to the prevention of vaccine-preventable diseases as a result of Wakefield’s efforts, which were motivated by unethical undeclared conflicts of interest, including working with a lawyer who represented litigants in lawsuits against vaccine producers, and registering his own patent for a measles vaccine.

I’ve wanted to read this story in greater detail for a long time, to understand the controversy and fraud, and this book more than delivers on both detail and a compellingly told story. Deer’s dogged pursuit of the truth is the recurring theme of the book – literally years of work spent turning over every last stone and hiding place of Wakefield’s fraudulent work, while enduring abuse, threats and more from anti-vaccination campaigners and fans of Wakefield’s. Unfortunately, Wakefield, though thankfully no longer permitted to practice medicine having been struck off by the General Medical Council over a decade ago now, continues to defend his work, and that’s why this book, this record of his years of scientific scandal, is so important. It’s an excellent read and well worth the time.

As always, let me know what you’re reading in the comments below! I’m currently reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

What I’m listening to

This week there were a few podcast episodes I really enjoyed actually. I’ve listed the top three below for you guys:

Out To Lunch with Jay Rayner: Hosted by food critic Jay Rayner, this podcast involves him taking a guest out to lunch and just having the chats really! This was my first time listening to this podcast and I loved it – the episodes with Dolly Alderton and George Ezra were particularly enjoyable.

The Food Medic Podcast: Hosted by medical doctor based in London Hazel Wallace, this has been one of my go-to podcasts for quite a while now. The latest episode, with clinical psychologist Dr. Emma Hepburn, is all about our mental health while living through a pandemic. It’s a comforting and interesting listen, well worth tuning into.

Table Manners: Another Table Manners episode this week – this time Jessie and her mum have interviewed actress Eva Longoria, which is a short but fun episode all about Eva’s love of cooking and favourite recipes. It’s a nice light and engaging listen, a little bit of foodie escapism!

What I’m watching…

Like many of you I’m sure, I absolutely ADORED Bridgerton on Netflix, and have been searching for something to replace it now that I’ve finished it! No luck so far, but I did watch the first episode of a new show called Lupin on Netflix, which is quite different but definitely an engaging show so far, for those in need of a new recommendation! It’s a French series but dubbed in English – a modern day take on the story of the famous gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, an exciting thriller series so far and worth checking out.

And that’s a wrap for this week gang! If you want to get in touch, you can find me @theirishbalance on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I hope you have a lovely week ahead folks – remember, stay informed with the advice from your local health authority regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, keep your distance and be kind!

Ciara x

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