Nowadays it’s considered desirable, fashionable even, to live past the age of 40 without dying of an obesity related illness. Celebrities like Gary Lucy, Abs from 5 and Cristiano Ronaldo have made men more conscious than ever about their physical appearance and fitness and there is now more pressure than ever for men to be able to withstand ever more virulent strains of deadly bacteria without succumbing to death like some sort of pathetic girl.
The author is (apparently) not getting any younger. Although I am often complimented on my youthful good looks so perhaps I have at least succeeded in temporarily arresting the ageing process. Either way there is definitely a picture of me in an attic somewhere which looks absolutely fucking horrendous.*
*That’s what we in the trade call a ‘literary reference’. Look it up luddites.
Anyway, due it being 2016 and all and the author being a man who could reasonably be described as ‘metrosexual’ (by my own father-in-law) I have decided to keep an eye on my health, fitness and general wellbeing and I thought I would share my experiences with my vast readership just in case any of you are considering going on living, for at least a few more years…
Going to the Doctors
Doctors, generally speaking, are perverts. I don’t think there’s any great deal of confusion as to why men are reluctant to visit them. It doesn’t really matter what is wrong with you, they’ll find some way of getting all creepy about it and then interfering with you. I myself have been interfered with by many doctors, for a variety of reasons and I’ve never really thought to question it at the time, like;
‘Why are you doing this to me?’
‘What is the purpose of this rectal exam you’re giving me?’
‘I’m sorry I don’t quite understand the question. This is a doctors’ surgery, sir and we will proceed with you as we see fit. If you are seeking medical advice then might I suggest the internet? Now kindly stop wasting my time and let’s get on with this.’
It’s all they ever do. Then they just tell you that they don’t know what’s wrong with you (why would they?) but just advise you to take a cocktail of drugs and see if it helps.
Recently though I felt I had an issue which couldn’t be ignored any more. It was causing me a fair bit of pain and discomfort and I needed to get it seen to so I begrudgingly booked an appointment, three and half months hence, to see my GP.
I had a sore wrist.
Not a glamorous, or even an interesting malady but it had been giving me shit for some time so I decided to get it checked out and the conversation went roughly like this;
‘I see Mr White so it’s a bad wrist is that correct?’
‘That’s right doctor.’
‘Indeed. On your dominant hand?’
‘Been troubling you for a while has it?’
‘Comes and goes.’
‘May I ask your profession?’
‘Sales. Telecommunications, smashed my targets last 3 quarters.’
(at this point I probably did a gun firing gesture with my strong hand)
‘Is that your company Audi parked downstairs in reception?’
‘Well yes. I didn’t see a parking man so I just drove straight in.’
‘What’s in that bag you’re carrying?’
‘An artisanal grapefruit and a bottle of small batch gin for my afternoon Martini. Where is all this leading may I ask? Just what exactly are you driving at? This is a serious medical issue.’
‘It’s Wanker’s Cramp.’
‘How dare you. I can assure you sir that I have never in my life resorted to onanism, I’m not some sort of depraved chimpanzee.’
‘Don’t worry Mr White this is a doctors’ surgery we see this sort of thing all the time, very common in men such as you.’
‘Now you look here buster. I came here for some tests. Now I want you to pick up your little bag of tools and drain me of every one of my bodily fluids before I….wait, wait that came out wrong. Just give me a fucking blood test. I demand it.’
‘Very well, just bend over. I mean roll up your sleeve.’
And lo and behold, after a fair bit of faffing around I was diagnosed with Haemochromatosis. Now I know what you’re thinking – that would be amazing in Scrabble and you’d be absolutely correct. Not great in life though, as we all know the longer the word, the worse the disease. That’s why children learn that song in school, to help them remember this simple rule. It was certainly one of the first things I learned as a child;
‘Good in Scrabble equals bad in life,
If your disease has more than 9 letters then you’re probably going to die.’
There are a couple of notable exceptions to this but it’s like ‘I before E except after C’ or that really annoying rhyme about the days of the months where they had to crowbar in a really awkward line about February having 28 days all square, except in every leap yair. So the full song actually goes;
‘Good in Scrabble equals bad in life,
If your disease has more than 9 letters then you’re probably going to die.
Cancer in Scrabble? Well that’s still alright,
Even in life you can still survive,
But AIDS is absolutely shite.’
Everyone knows that one right?
The Haemochromatosis was completely unrelated to my bad wrist and is in fact an excess of iron in the blood. The doctor had warned me that this was a possibility but I was like, ‘Nah that won’t be it. I’ll check the internet.’ Unfortunately when you Google ‘too much iron in blood’ there is literally only one option which comes up.
The treatment is simple; get a pint of blood drained out of you once a week in order to dilute the iron until your levels return to normal. You make new blood quickly so the iron levels go down. It takes longer to get your haemoglobin levels back up though so you will be walking around like an anaemic zombie for quite a while. Once your iron is back to normal then you just simply keep getting a pint of blood drained out of you but on a less frequent basis, for the rest of your life. Pretty simple really.
There are many symptoms of the disease but they don’t generally present until you’re about 50 years old, by which time the excess iron in your blood has started to deposit itself in various organs, causing irreparable damage. It’s ok if it’s caught early though so it was a good save. BY ME! I demanded the blood tests and diagnosed myself. When I asked my doctor for some advice about the condition, including the possible symptoms the conversation went like this;
‘What are the symptoms?’
‘There are many symptoms but off the top of my head…erectile dysfunction.’
‘How dare you sir! I have never in my life had any trouble, well maybe once or twice, but I will not tolerate…stand up. Stand Up! I will bum you right where you stand, right now as God is my witness so help me.’
‘Please Mr White calm down, there’s every chance you’ll never experience any symptoms as long as it’s kept under control.’
‘Oh right. And I suppose this is where you tell me you can perform a simple test to see if I am capable of achieving an erection and that you’re happy to do it for free am I right?’
‘Well I mean I could.’
‘Good day sir.’
And so there you go. One fucking visit to the doctors got me diagnosed with Wanker’s Cramp and Erectile Dysfunction all in the space of a week. Never, ever, ever again. I’ll just die.
The really annoying thing is that when you look up Haemochromatosis, E.D is like the second fucking thing on the list which is why I generally avoid mentioning it except on this blog which no one reads.
There is a Haemochromatosis Society so I will definitely be running for President of that just as long as I don’t get made in to the face of Erectile Dysfunction. I can do without that thanks very much.
Getting in to Shape
Now. The author has a physique which could probably be described as ‘Skinny Chubby’ basically skinny in the arms and legs with a slight paunch around the middle and a massive penis. I’ve always felt that I could just about live with it.
Trouble is that once you go past 30 you do start to notice yourself getting progressively chubbier. You can almost see the pounds begin to pile on as you sit on your nice comfy John Lewis sofa eating Kettle Chips out of a bowl with Moroccan hummus and throwing glass after glass of delicious Pinot Noir down your neck.You realise that something has to be done in order to balance things out. Quite literally.
Men’s Health Magazines all seem to convey the message that health, fitness and an improved physique are easily within our grasp. All of the covers are plastered with seductive promises of a quick fix, something we men all love because no one can really be fucked with doing exercise. They all say; ‘Get the arms you want in just 15 minutes’ or ‘Seven Day Abs; The Secret’. Trouble is that the secret is you have to work out, really hard, for seven hours, seven days a week for at least seven years and then continuously after that, forever.
Like so many poor misguided fools I joined a gym just after Christmas. On my first visit they made me fill in a form and took my bank details. On my second visit they showed me round. Third visit a young, healthy whipper-snapper full of youthful vitality got me in a room and asked me what my goals were. I told him my goals were to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without having a coronary and to not die before I reach the age of 33. He asked me how my self esteem was to which I replied that my wife said I had love handles so how the fuck did he think it was?
He then laughed nervously, told me he was ‘freaking out’ about turning 20 and then asked if I would like to get undressed and let him take pictures of me, to which I politely declined.
Then on my fourth visit I actually used some of the equipment in the gym, I think that was in March.
Having watched all 4 of the proper Rocky films and the car crash of number 5 and 6 and even the latest spin off I was given to understand that my path to fitness would happen quickly. I’d pictured it as a well cut montage sequence set to 80’s music interspersed with some light stretching but it turns out that isn’t necessarily true. I’d got up early to go to the gym for crying out loud! I swam ten lengths of the pool and then had a sauna so why wasn’t I ripped and good at boxing yet? It just didn’t make any sense.
At a party, whilst drunk (FYI – wasn’t my fault, someone spiked me with 19 beers) I started talking to my friend Ian about this dilemma because I know that he does Thai Boxing and I told him that it looked easy and I should be able to do it and that I’d fight him. Besides the fact I am highly capable of losing a fight against a small child or even an inanimate object, I couldn’t even hit anyone properly anyway on account of my misdiagnosed Wanker’s Cramp. My wrist is still fucked with no explanation.
Ian suggested that I go to see his personal trainer Mike and this is where the real pain and suffering began. The first time I went I made it through about 10 minutes before collapsing in a cold sweat and having to go outside to be sick. Second time I put my back out attempting to swing a sledgehammer at a tractor tyre. Third time, nearly sick but just about made it to the end.
Mike, to his eternal credit is in fact teaching me to box and you know if you’ve ever had a dream where you’re trying to fight someone but your punches have no effect whatsoever? That is basically me at boxing but I swear I’m getting better and one day soon I am going to march in to my GP’s office and knock him the fuck out.
At the end of each session Mike very kindly stretches my muscles out for me which basically involves me, on my back with another man pinning both of my legs behind my head after which I can’t walk properly for about a week.
Just like a visit to the fucking doctor’s then!!!