How do medics diagnose diseases? They might get some help from the RAF

Running tests to diagnose diseases should be easy right? Let’s say you take a blood test – if the result is above a certain threshold, you’ve got the disease. Easy. Well, unfortunately it’s often more difficult than that, read on to find out why.

Blood tests, like any thing else in a population, have a range of normal values. Imagine they’re a bit like height. If you plot height of people on a graph, it would look like a “Bell-shaped curve” with a lot of people with heights around the average, and fewer people very tall or very short. This is called a “normal distribution”.

It’s the same with blood tests. Blood tests have a “normal range”, with most people having values around the average, and fewer at the extremes of higher and lower values. Let’s say we’re looking at a disease like hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid). You could work out a cutoff value (the dotted line in the picture below), which anyone with hyperthyroidism has a blood test above, and anyone without hyperthyroidis…

I Want My Country Back

I want my country back.
I want it to be great again; it feels so different now. I hear conversations on the tube I never used to hear, and it makes me uncomfortable.
I want my country back
I worry that we’ll forget what “British” really means. This isn’t what that generation fought for, not so long ago. What would they think if they saw what we’ve become?
I want my country back
They’re not like us at all. They don’t fit in. They don’t even try.
They’re just out for themselves. They don’t play by the rules. They don’t care about our values.
I want my country back.
I want to take control. I want things how they were in the good old days.
Cold nights, warm beer, drizzle underdogs and queues. Sarcasm, lack of respect for authority.
Inclusivity. Diversity. A country that welcomes your contribution to society whoever you are, wherever you’re from, whatever your faith.
I want my country back.
This is what happens when you tolerate intolerance.
When you let them drive a wedge into those little cracks we never quite filled.
When you …

A Modern Parable

The Boy Who Cried Wolf (2018 edition)

Here’s a heart-warming childrens’ tale for the little‘uns (Any similarities with the NHS crisis are purely coincidental)

The Boy Who Cried Wolf (2018 edition)

Once upon a time, in a village on a hillside, there lived a little shepherd boy. He loved looking after sheep, and although he was young, he took his responsibility seriously. He was good at it, and rarely asked for help. But one day he came running down to the village crying “Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!”

This was because he’d seen a massive fckn wolf. I mean, you wouldn’t make that kind of thing up would you? No messing about, it’s best to tell people about it right? It was one of the first lessons he’d learned in junior shepherding school. If you see a wolf, tell someone about it.

So he rushed down the hill as fast as his little legs could carry him. But when he got down the hill, the Shepherd Council didn’t believe him. “What wolf?” they asked “There’s no wolves here”. They didn’t help him, and he had to go back up the hillside by hims…

Look Up

The morning call to prayer drowns out the chatter, the children, the cockerels; at least for a minute. How many pleas will go unanswered today? Five times the Adhan will ring out across the camp, and they will come. Unwaveringly. Resolutely. Religiously.
Who are we to judge? Stuck here in the dust between two lands. Unwanted; surrounded by enmity and apathy. Where else can you look but up, when all your terrestrial options are spent? When any solution is mired in the petty politics of race, religion and region whilst we cling to our own part of this insignificant rock, speeding through space at 600 kilometres per second.
On the sprawling hilltop opposite, the sun glints off corrugated metal; a shining beacon of inequality in a world that could do better. In a world that hasn’t learned from the past; where our “never again” became “never somewhere close”. And where even that seems less achievable than ever. 
So, I too look up. And pick out the kites, flying high above the tents; sticks and plastic b…

Winging It

For as long as he could remember, Paul had wanted to travel; to see new sights, to push boundaries, to explore. Don’t get me wrong, he loved his family, he liked his home, but he couldn’t help but feel there was so much more to see out there, far away across the ocean. Life can get a bit repetitive for an Adélie penguin. Waddling down to the water, having a quick snack of krill, waddling back up onto the ice floe. Day in, day out. The same routine. No surprises, no drama, no excitement.
Sometimes, at night, while his friends and family were huddled together for warmth, he’d make his way up to the higher ground, and stare at the moon and Southern lights. Occasionally, he’d see shooting stars arcing silently across the sky, and he would look down at his short, stubby wings, and flap them about a bit. “If only I could fly” he thought “the things I could see, the places I could go”.
Every now and then, the colony would get a visit from humans. Dressed head to toe in survival gear, they’d sp…