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Personal social networks (1st post): Dunbar's 5-15-50-150 model

Relationships are immensely important for both our health and our wellbeing ... for how long we live, our resilience to psychological stress, and for our levels of happiness & life satisfaction.  This is crucially relevant for pretty much all of us.  The post "Strong relationships improve survival as much as quitting smoking" clearly links the state of our personal social networks to how long we're likely to live.

New study highlights potential value of dietary change in depression treatment

At the end of last month, a fascinating new research study was published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.  The article is "A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial)" and its abstract reads "Background The possible therapeutic impact of dietary changes on existing mental illness is largely unknown. Using a randomised controlled trial design, we aimed to investigate the efficacy of a dietary improvement program for the treatment of major depressive episodes.  Methods ‘SMILES’ was a 12-week, parallel-group, single blind, randomised controlled trial of an adjunctive dietary intervention in the treatment of moderate to severe depression.

Kidney donation: more on postoperative management

I have written a series of blog posts about my recent experience of donating a kidney ... the last was "Kidney donation: the operation & first few postoperative days".  My hope is that these posts will be useful for other would-be kidney donors & their families ... and some of the posts (for example this one) may also be of help for people facing surgery more generally.  As Kortram & colleagues highlighted in their 2014 paper on "The need for a standardized informed consent procedure in live donor nephrectomy: a systematic review" - "Procedures vary greatly between centers, and transplant professionals vary in the information they disclose.

Kidney donation: the operation & first few postoperative days

I've already written a series of blog posts leading up to my recent kidney surgery - starting with "Kidney donation: why it's well worth considering" to the most recent "Kidney donation: preoperative preparation ... aspects of self-compassion".  Writing this now, I'm happily & successfully over the waterfall of the operation and into the phase of managing the bumping & scraping against a variety of post-operative boulders.

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - aspects of self-compassion

I've woken early.  Lying here I feel an unfamiliar hollow pressure in my gut.  What is this?  Fear?  Anxiety? Tension?  "Tense apprehension" seems to fit.  I'm lying here in the early hours of the morning, a hollow tense apprehension in my belly.  And it isn't surprising.  Pretty normal in fact as I move closer & closer to major surgery.  Consciously.  By my own decision.  On this journey, travelling down the "kidney donation river", I can hear the roar of the approaching rapids.  Surgery soon.  It's a pretty standard, basic, healthy response to tense a bit as I move towards the crux, possibly the most intense section of this "donation river".  And I don't have to tighten the rest of my body around the belly apprehension.  I can let go, loosen in my arms, my face.  It's OK. Nothing to do right now.

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - goals and journey

I'm due to donate a kidney soon, and I have been writing about what's involved - see "Kidney donation: why it's well worth considering", "Kidney donation: what are the risks?" and "Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - values are central".  Primarily these posts are for other donors, but aspects of what I write are also relevant for facing challenges more generally as well.

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - values are central

I'm soon due to have an operation on my left kidney.  I'm donating it anonymously to someone else who needs it pretty desperately.  I have already written about this process - see "Kidney donation: why it's well worth consideringand "Kidney donation: what are the risks?".  Primarily these kidney-focused blog posts are to help other donors and their families & friends.  However, some aspects of the posts are likely to be of interest more generally.  For example, these ones on pre-operative preparation have some relevance to many situations where one is facing a potentially daunting challenge.