Is it me or is it everywhere? Have I just started noticing health-related articles on my phone, my laptop, Mrs Summerhouse’s iPad, in the papers, on the Classic FM news (you can tell what their demographic is), TV, everywhere in fact, or so it seems. Unless there is some global epidemic of concern about our health, which there might be I suppose, then it’s me. There’s no doubt these last few months I have become more ‘interested’ (nice word under the circumstances) in my health. I have even added a new category to this blog to accommodate this ‘interest’. I seem to be falling apart at a rate of knots, as they say in the navy. Having probably been to my doctor’s maybe a dozen times in 30 years (all figures highly approximate) I’ve been that often to one medical facility or another in the last year. Admittedly a couple of these have been diabetic reviews, then there’s the essential tremors that aren’t essential at all but probably aren’t Parkinson’s even though my grandfather had it.
Now the forgetfulness, is that early on-set dementia or whatever it’s called? There’s been a lot in the media recently bout dementia and it’s happy twin, Alzheimer’s, is there a difference, buggered if I know, is one better or worse than the other? The research is not proven it says in some articles, so given the ones that are ‘proven’ turn out to be wrong a couple of years later, this is not much of a recommendation. It says, changing our diet might help. I had to laugh at this, it was as if somebody had carried out a research project on all the food I hate and then said, we’ll have a laugh, we’ll tell him that all these foods are good for him – for example an article on the BBC website said my daily diet should be 3 portions of grain stuff (whatever that is), 2 portions of vegetables, daily intake of olive oil and a portion of nuts (do dry roasted peanuts with a pint have similar health benefits?) Well it this is true then I am, to coin a phrase, completely buggered.
Hang on, I was going through my medical visits before I forgot what I was writing about. A couple of weeks ago I ended up in what we call a private hospital. I’m not sure how I ended up here because I certainly don’t have medical insurance and, was it my imagination, or did they go to great pains to confirm that I was a National Health patient, otherwise known as a scum bag? No, that’s not fair, they were fine, but it was certainly a different hospital experience from the last time I went to my local hospital to have my diabetes-related eye test. The first thing I noticed was that there were Rolls Royces (well one) in the car park. Second, instead of the drug addicts and smokers outside the entrance, there were sculptures and fountains. Inside there were two people in the waiting area as opposed to two hundred and I had to wait 10 minutes to see a Mr (not a Dr. i.e. he was a consultant) rather than the two hours I waited last time. Something else that was different was that he shook my hand although I have to say that this was a mixed blessing (and as a hand surgeon, he told me, he might have known this) as I was there to see him about the pain in my fingers and having my hand squeezed, even by a Mr, was quite painful. I had an X-ray (result sent to his computer, none of this carrying your photo around with you) on one finger but not the other which was a bit of a puzzle, maybe they couldn’t afford both hands as it was, we had established, on the National Health.
In my left hand finger I apparently have arthritis and in my right hand something he described as a precursor to ‘trigger finger’. The left hand is buggered, not his exact words but that was the gist of it and won’t bend ever again which is a shame since it makes playing my 20 guitars a bit of a challenge even one at a time. The right hand would respond to an injection which he could do there and then or make an appointment with my doctor to do it. The Mr surgeon on three occasions said this would be fine as my doctor was quote, ‘a sensible sort of chap’. Thank God for that, I might have got one of the irresponsible sort, prone to injecting everybody and anybody at the drop of a hat whether they needed it or not. I’m always happy to put off any kind of injection, with memories of the pain when I had the last injection for ‘trigger finger’ (in the finger that now has arthritis) in New Zealand. Even though it was about five years ago I can still remember the doctor, who was incidentally from Nottingham, digging around in the back of my hand with a larger than necessary needle (in my opinion) trying to find the nerve. It had to be in the nerve, he said, or it wouldn’t work. Yeah right.
Anyway I’d left Mrs SH and the pups outside among the Rollers so I didn’t want them suffering by having to wait too long. So let me return to my last medical visit, only yesterday as I write this, my diabetes review. Let me say right up front, it did not go well. I’ve been on insulin for maybe six months and to cut that long story short, far from bringing my blood sugar levels down they’ve gone up and, more annoying, so has my weight. I feel as if I’m in a vicious circle. The fatter I get the worse my diabetes. I may have told you I’ve put on 5 kilos in this time with no change (i.e. worsening) of diet. I said to my diabetic nurse I want to talk to somebody about coming off insulin because I’m pissed off with it. She said that I should pay to see a specialist, probably back to the same private hospital above? And maybe I should because the diabetes seems to underpin so many things – shaking hands, little black clouds in my eyes, dementia (one of the recommendations for avoiding or reducing it was to ‘manage your diabetes’), even the trigger fingers according to my Mr Man.
So there we are, a quick, and hardly inspiring, up-date about my retirement health. I know for an absolute fact that there are people far worse off than me and I know I should count my blessings but, well, retirement it’s a bit of a challenge, don’t you think? But then you might say well, long may it continue to be so.
PS. The Daily Express front page (read on my phone not having bought the paper) for the third time in a week or so features dementia, (so you can work out their demographic), this time it’s linked to snoring, so stop snoring unless you want to end up senile. Simple.