As I wrote in my last retirement blog, I don’t read much of what’s in the newspapers these days and I explained why. On the other hand, looking at what I do read can be a salutary experience. For example, not only did I read the article in last week’s paper headlined A dog is for lifesaving, not just for long walks and companionship, but I’ve actually chosen to make it the partial focus of this blog. Considering the dogs form such a large part of our retirement lives (how different our lives would be had I not presented Mrs Summerhouse with not one but two dogs those four and a bit years ago) both for good and less good. They make us take exercise each day and that’s good, but they stop any grand scale travel, which is mostly bad. Considering this I don’t think anybody could say that they’ve been over-featured in these blogs in the last four years. Then the above article came along.
The conclusions drawn in the article were based on a research study of 3.4 million (yes that’s a big sample size, in Sweden which makes it about the whole of the population, doesn’t it?) of people between 40 and 80, over a period of 12 years (I hope they had other stuff going off), just over 13% of whom owned a dog. That’s approximately over 300,000 by my creaky maths). The study reckoned that having a dog reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 36%. Does this help us? Well, ‘livelier dogs effectively demand that their owners do not slip into an overly sedentary lifestyle.’ Check that one. We have two lively dogs, so does that mean our risk is reduced by 72%? No? Shame. Another slight problem in applying the research findings to us is that the 36% applies to people who live alone and that in ‘larger’ households, the reduction was a mere 15%. So to achieve the higher figure unfortunately Mrs Summerhouse will have to go. Shame again but you’ve got to sacrifice a little to get a lot.
All of which by way of introduction to my health. To be honest it’s been, as my mother would say, grim. Mostly problems of the foot. They (the pains) move from foot to foot and around in the same foot. Anywhere from upper ankle to little toes. All very painful at times, the times being the middle of the night usually. Anyway as I may have told you I’m pissed off with my doctor and the surgery as a whole. If you don’t sit for two hours in the walk-in surgery then you wait four or five weeks for an appointment. Bloody National Health is going to the dogs. Sorry we did dogs already. So while I was hobbling down the High Street in Pateley Bridge, coming out of the house we’re trying to sell which is relevant to this tale as you’ll see in a moment, I bumped almost literally into one of my neighbours. What’s up with you? he enquired. I told him about my foot problems and he said you should go to the surgery here, it’s a whole lot better than your surgery in Leeds.
But I’m already registered with a GP surely you can’t register with two, but, given I’m a full council tax payer in Pateley, I am, apparently, entitled to register as a temporary patient and hence the relevance of selling the house here when, if sold, I would not be paying council tax etc. etc. But strangely I didn’t mention this when I registered. After all we haven’t sold it yet. So there I was only a few days after making the appointment walking into my new doctor’s office. Nice, youngish (by my standards) man with a decent bedside manner, unlike my GP in Leeds. Anyway after a few questions and a chat he diagnosed me as having gout. Can you bloody well believe it? I’m of the generation that was brought up to believe gout only affected old gits who drank a bottle of port a day.
Not so, there are, according to my new guy, four reasons people get gout – bad luck (that means you shouldn’t, but you do but nobody knows why). Hmm, not a good start for a control freak like me but it got better. Second reason, too much protein in your diet – meat, fish, prawns which may be fish. Don’t believe this applies to me but I guess everybody says that, as they do for reason three – too much alcohol, the old ‘14 units a week’ which, even he admitted, was not much to go at. OK, I may be kidding myself but I would say my alcohol intake is not excessive but maybe a bit more than 14 units. Finally, the reason I like best – dehydration. Mrs SH and my son (he’s left now so he won’t be nagging me any time soon) and daughter have said, on a number of occasions, that I do not drink enough water. So this I’m prepared to action, as they say. Or at least, that’s what I’m saying now, a day later. So gout, apparently you can get it anywhere in your body including your ears. I like this guy he gives out interesting information. And he also gave out tablets. As he put it, good that it’s gout because I can give you medication for it. Interesting way of positively reframing a painful condition, so yes, I like him.
So apart from the fact that he did not do a blood test to back up the gout diagnosis, as they did when I visited the doctor’s in Ireland (I mentioned to the new guy having high Uric acid levels in this test, a sign of gout) by the way, I’m still impressed with their set-up, a very satisfactory visit, begging the question should I re-register here as my main GP? As he tentatively suggested, nice to feel wanted, but I think the idea is, understandably, you register where you spend most of your time, so not sure about this tactic but certainly on the strength of the evidence of this one visit a much more productive experience and having gout is a small price to pay. Do I mean it’s worth having gout to have the better class of visit? Maybe next time in the middle of the night and I’m woken by terrible pains I might feel differently. We’ll see and I’ll let you know.
In the meantime my retirement ailments continue to expand. This has been just one story from my portfolio of problems. Hey ho, retirement, a grand life if you don’t weaken (as my grandma used to say).