My latest report from the minefield of medical science and fitness regimes contains a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Earlier this week I presented myself to the nurse at my GP surgery to undergo a ‘general health test’ – something that I was first offered a couple of years ago. As I understand it, anyone (or is it just people of a certain age?) can go in once a year for a rudimentary check-up. This is separate from my habit of the last decade or so of going for a private medical ‘MOT’ about every three years, following a recommendation from my father who had done this since time immemorial.
Apparently, according to the folklore to which I subscribe, a quack can basically tell all he (or she) needs to know about your general health from taking some blood, testing your blood pressure and possibly putting you on a treadmill (like a hamster in its wheel) for a couple of minutes.
On the day, this week’s test seemed to go pretty well. The nurse pronounced my blood pressure reading of 122/77 as ‘near perfect’ for a man of my age [I think she said the range for these readings was 120 to 140, over 70 to 90], given that blood pressure tends to rise as you get older because (over time) valves and other perishables tend to work less efficiently.
Of my other stats, I was half a stone lighter than at my last visit in the autumn of 2013, and my waistline 2 cm smaller. I had completely given up smoking the little cheroots that I confessed to last time any my alcohol intake – never huge – was currently negligible: since New Year’s Day my total consumption, this nothing to do with any ‘dry January’ vow, had been one gin & tonic and one bottle of lager beer.
The blood removed from me was to be sent off to be tested for cholesterol, sugar/diabetes, prostate issues and something else that I didn’t catch but which sounded pretty impressive. The nurse said that they’d get back to me within a few days if there was any problem with any of these – and so far I have had heard nothing since.
My near-daily trips to the gymnasium have already become part of my weekly routine. Yesterday I went there at about 4.30pm – had one instance of ‘machine hogging by an iPhone user’ (this time a young lady) – and returned home two hours later after doing my usual session, completed by a sauna and 20 lengths of the pool.
I weigh myself once a week on Monday mornings. Since beginning my regime of physical activity and a fairly dull but ‘nutritionally better than before’ diet on 5th January I have gained a distinct sense of inner physical well-being and lost six pounds, albeit none of that in the past four days.
My dodgy arthritic hip is about the same as ever. I swing between the conviction that my increased exercise (particularly swimming) must be doing me good and the frustrations of having to take it easy whenever the hip protests and/or just doesn’t feel like doing any … or perhaps that should be ‘any more’.