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Monday, 28 April 2014

What Ails Thee?

I was born  in 1947, my mother in 1907 and her mother in 1867. There lies one reason why I have difficulty managing my relationship to my body.

In the bad old days, people looked upon ailments, complaints, illnesses and diseases as accidents that happened to you. You couldn’t prevent them and you had to put up with them when they arrived and wait until they went away. Or didn’t. True, there were doctors and if you were in a lot of pain or if things were going from bad to worse, then you might pay to see one. Meanwhile, you might buy something over the counter.

I don’t think my parents or any of my aunts and uncles “took exercise”. Still less did they have an Exercise Target. Such things did not exist. True, most of them did manual jobs.

Nor did they Watch Their Diet. This is one reason why all the men on my mother’s side died in their fifties and sixties – strokes, heart attacks. Fat and salt. And maybe smoking, though I don’t recall any of them being heavy smokers - except for my mother's father who died over 20 years before I was born from what was clearly a tobacco-related cancer (of the throat).

As a child in the 1950s, my mother dosed me, my father and herself on Sundays with Andrews’ Liver Salts, thus setting up an association in my mind between Godliness and regular bowel movements.

But that was about it. She did project some of her own anxieties onto me and did take me to the Doctor to raise concerns she had about me, and that’s a further complication: I’m never quite sure myself what I should be concerned about. 

I try to be sensible. Last year, I took myself to the doctor and presented a symptom.

Diagnosed with A I was prescribed X, which seemed to work until I completed the course and A promptly returned.

So I presented myself again, to another doctor (you never get to see the same one, do you?), who diagnosed B – a thoroughly nasty condition with aggressive tendencies for which I was prescribed Y, a course of treatment designed to match aggression with aggression. It seemed to work for a bit but then stopped working even before the course of treatment was over. They tried a bit more Y on me, but to no avail.

When I presented myself for a third time, my new doctor was decisive. It’s not B,  it’s C – frankly not much to worry about and to be treated with Z. Phew! What a relief – I didn’t like the idea of having B or treating it with Y one little bit. I am very happy to settle for C. 

In due course, we shall see if I am now All Clear from or whether I am going to have to Blog again.

[ Added 22 July 2015: It wasn't C ... I got referred to a Consultant. It's D. It's age related. You can do nothing or have a nasty operation. I am doing nothing ]

I don’t give the medical details because I’m not trying to join a Community of fellow sufferers today. I am just thinking about a price I have paid for trying to behave sensibly when my body goes wrong.

Probably one of my uncles would have done nothing, would have put up with it and would now be in exactly the same position as I am – the ailment is there and it hasn’t gone away or got noticeably worse. I don’t seem to be dying any more rapidly than I was before. It’s an inconvenience and I would like it to go away, that’s all.

But there is a temptation to give up, avoid the doctor (like I avoid the police) until it’s absolutely necessary. From past experience, when it is absolutely necessary it is also often absolutely clear what the problem is and what will cure it. Antibiotics remain great things for acute bacterial infections.

There is also a temptation to give up on Checks and Reviews, which at my age are regular dates in the diary.

Recently, I moved house and so had to move doctor – they make you do that. Efficiently, my new doctor decided it was time for five blood tests. I failed three of them. He did his two finger typing into the computer to confirm that he had discussed my Failures with me and then advised me to come back in a year to be re-tested.  A  year?  One of the Failures was a matter for Life Style advice (Lower your Fat intake) and troubled me not a bit, but the other two were not so simple and one was a bit disturbing. So I suggested I come back for a re-test in six months. He happily agreed and typed that in.

But why is six months any more useful than a year? Presumably, it is to see if I fail so badly next time that questions arise about whether  Something Should Be Done.

But do I want anything done? On past experience of myself, I will try to wriggle out of having Something Done and if that’s the case then maybe I shouldn’t be having these Tests in the first place. Maybe I should just get on with my life until one day (this is the only sensible hope) I drop dead. Suddenly, without warning. A shock for others, but almost hassle free for me.

Just like my Uncles.

1 comment:

  1. Count yourself fortunate. I received my blood test results by text message.