I hesitate to write another health-related retirement blog so hot on the heels of the last one but the fates have conspired against me – and you, in the form of the Mrs Summerhouse’s clan’s annual family picnic (nothing like the one on the right). Yes, it’s that time of year, time for the legendary gathering and there’s plenty to gather- six adult children and many, many off-springs. They’re Catholic you know. To the only child – me, it’s quite a sight. Understandably, as they don’t see each other all that often (thank God), they’re keen to mix, mingle and generally interact, leaving non-family members with something of an outsider status. But’s that fine, I’m man enough to understand and, don’t tell anybody, but I quite enjoy not having to circulate and chit chat. The best that happens, as it did on Saturday, is that I find another with ‘outsider’ status, sit in exactly the same chair all afternoon, have food and drink brought to me periodically by Mrs SH who feels a bit guilty that she’s leaving me on my own and wile away a couple of painless hours. My companion this time doesn’t really have genuine outsider status being one of Mrs SH’s brothers but he filled the spot nicely and in a way he’s to blame for the health focus of this blog.
The thing is, unfortunately he recently had a stroke while he was on holiday in Italy and so his mobility is somewhat impaired which was why he had to spend so much time in the chair next to me and why the conversation had such a health-related focus. In fact it was worse than that because we started talking about death. Can you believe it the perfect picnic conversation? Mrs Summerhouse’s brother used to be a priest so I suppose the fact that he believes in a life-after-death and finds it a great comfort, is entirely predictable. Goes with the territory. Mrs SH’s other younger brother joined us at one stage and he also has had some health problems – sounds great doesn’t it (all the younger healthier members of the clan were down the other end of the garden, you can’t blame them for keeping their distance). He’s not sure about life-after-death, whereas I am.
When we weren’t talking about death per se we were comparing notes on our bonus ailments and related medication, as you do. He’s been to see his doctor about his prostate, a favourite of the retired person, and of course his doctor asked him how often in a day he went for a pee. My brother-in-law reckoned about 16. When he got home and told his wife how often she said she did not believe him, it was never that many. His wife usually accompanies him to these picnics but couldn’t make the 6 hour car trip on account of her bad back. Hey ho. I digress. So the next day he counted, the figure was 24 times. It’s nice to be proved right every now and again. I thought I went a lot but I had to hand first prize to him in this category. In the medication category, I shaded it. It gave me another opportunity (you can never have too many) to complain about my current annoyance about insulin increasing my weight in the vicious circle I described in my last blog. He took the opportunity of complaining about the side effects of his statins. We agreed that medication was a very bad thing and if it weren’t for the fact that it was arguably keeping us alive, we would give it up.
As did my sister-in-law’s ex-partner. He wasn’t at the picnic on account of him being her ex-partner (the picnic is always held at her house on account of it being roughly half way between the northern branch and the southern branch). He’s diabetic also and last Christmas had a bit of a mid-life crisis or revelation, take your pick. Along with a few other life-changing decisions he made, he decided he didn’t need to take medication for his diabetes and the cure was in his own hands. So he stopped taking all medication. Now Mrs SH’s younger brother, who you will remember had joined us, goes cycling with the ex-partner so knows what’s going on. Anyway to cut that long story short, He’s back on the tablets. More than that I do not know and nor do I know what the moral of the story is. It just is.
The other health-related aspect of the picnic was another of my sister-in-laws who is an acupuncturist, sticking needles in my hand. Incidentally, the remaining sister-in-law was a nurse before she retired, just to continue the health theme, but she rarely speaks to me – which suits me fine. Back to the acupuncturist, the needles were her treatment for the pre-trigger finger I wrote about last time. I have always been a coward when it comes to needles although since I’ve become diabetic I’ve had to get used to it. So I managed to keep the big girl’s blouse performance to a minimum but I didn’t like it and here’s the thing, the reason I agreed to the treatment was because of the upcoming summer school of jazz piano of which you will undoubtedly hear more in a later blog. But I was nervous that the treatment might make my finger worse rather than better. And has it? Well here’s the thing, it’s made it different. On one hand, pardon the pun, it doesn’t hurt as much now, but on the other, it seems stiffer. I haven’t had time to try it out on the actual piano since we got back from the picnic so I don’t know what the effect will be. I’ll keep you informed but not right now because I need to get this blog finished. She offered to do the arthritic one as well but needles sticking out of one hand was enough I thought.
The day after this blog is published I am meeting up with an old friend who I have not seen for maybe 25 years, roughly. He’s an American chap who we first met when we did our exchange in 1978/79. I shall be meeting him a couple of weeks after he won a gold medal in the Maccabiah Games in Israel. I was foolish enough to mention to him in my email that I wasn’t fit like him. He said in his email reply that he was very much looking forward to meeting up and we could ‘talk about the unfit thing if you would like’. He has obviously misinterpreted my throw-away remark probably thinking I wanted to do something about it whereas we all know I simply brought it up because I enjoy complaining about stuff. That’s one of my hobbies now I’m retired. It gives me great pleasure to complain about my health and all related matters. But you already knew that.