Wordpretzels, as you may or may not know, last month I went for an eye test, where a girl of about 12 stared into my eyes with various types of equipment designed to blind most middle aged people, all the time making sympathetic but encouraging noises about how fantastic it was that I’d made it to my age without dying.
The result of these extensive and rather expensive tests apparently showed that my eyes had a few broken blood vessels, which may indicate symptoms of high blood pressure.
“Just promise me you’ll go and see your doctor and have it checked, rather than me having to write a formal letter,” she requested, which, to my ears sounded like, ”Look, you’re quite old and obviously are falling apart, so I don’t want to waste ink on an old man who may die soon.”
Maybe I’m just paranoid.
So, I dutifully made an appointment to see the doctor during my week off, feeling fairly confident that my blood pressure was fine. I have just upped my running mileage, and since I had a week at home, this gave me the opportunity to get a couple of good long runs in as preparation for the Forest of Dean Half Marathon in March.
So, when I explained this situation to the doctor, he made all the appropriate positive noises, checked my blood pressure, chest and heart rate.
“Very impressive,” he smiled. I smiled back.
I left the surgery alive. My blood pressure was fine. My heart rate under 55 bpm. I was physically fit. Finally, after all these years, I could puff out my chest and work on getting my abs to look like Beckham’s. I would be a magnificent specimen of male beauty as I strode around the beaches of Europe in the summer. As you can see, one positive over 50s check-up to make sure you’re not dying can be blown out of all proportion in my head, but there is an explanation for this. I’m male, vain, shallow and deluded. In fact, I’m just male.
Anyway, as I returned home, I planned the week in my head. A couple of 10 mile runs followed by some core training. Meals based around salads, fresh meat and nuts. Lots of water to drink. It felt good to be alive.
By Friday, everything was going to plan, but unfortunately, Lady Barton St Mary and Master Johnny had been taken ill. Heroically, I threw my fit, healthy self into caring for them both, making drinks and running errands. Lady BSM is never ill, but she said she hadn’t felt so bad for years. I smiled sympathetically, flashing my shiny, bright, healthy eyes.
Then Saturday arrived and something didn’t feel right. Somebody had stamped on my chest overnight. I had been coughing for most of the night and my throat was sore. As the day progressed, I worsened. I phoned my Sunday running mate to say I couldn’t make it. By Sunday, after constant boasts about my fitness and how I would beat this, I lost.
In fact, I didn’t only lose. I was thrashed. I spent 3 days completely horizontal. If not for the coughing, which meant I had to stay vertical. Sleeping like a horse is not the most comfortable position in the world.
By Thursday, I managed to stagger downstairs and eat something. Lady Barton St Mary looked me up and down.
“Good grief,” she said, “you’ve lost a lot of weight.”
Too true. I’d lost 6lbs in 3 days, which is an amazing diet programme, but not one I’d recommend. I managed to eat half a bowl of soup, before suddenly being aware that I needed the toilet. In fact, it was worse than that. My body had decided that I didn’t need any advance notice. My entire digestive system had decided to make its own unilateral decisions on when I should defecate. Let’s just say, it was a close call as I raced my body to the lavatory.
So, there you have it. Within a very short time scale, I had transformed from a confident, fit, healthy middle aged person into a hunched, elderly, aching, slow moving sick person with the toilet habits of a dormouse.
By Sunday, I was on the mend, but had learnt a very valuable lesson. Don’t be cocky about your health. It can change in an instant.
Don’t worry, I’m up and running again. Although now I have a pretty good idea what’s going to get me in the end…