Is it my age? You will all recall my constant blogging on the subject of vaccination and health generally. I am of an age where one starts to look at things slightly differently, so with 30 years to live to 100, the word ‘slightly’ is perhaps the most important in the sentence. My friend and fellow presenter on Radio Faversham, David de Boick, was diagnosed a couple of years ago with prostate cancer; he has been operated on and thankfully all appears to be well but had it not been for going to funerals of people less lucky who had died of prostate cancer, he would never have been prompted to go for his test. So, to everyone over 55, I say go and get tested!!
But now there has been a development, yes another of the many constant developments in the world of health and wellbeing. 47,000 men every year are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Currently the test has been a blood test which checks protein levels called PSA ,but there has been an advancement. The new test picks up on cancer cells that are circulating in the blood and with a fair wind will be generally available in three years. The new test will be more accurate than the old ones too.
Does this mean we are looking forward to consigning another killer disease if not to the dustbin at least to the anteroom? So, maybe we will soon be asking the question ‘how old can we all survive to with no one dying in an orderly way at a reasonable age’?
I have always loved challenges, finding a challenge and meeting it. The challenge posed by that question is one we should all relish.
Now, as many of you know, I have a trait that has annoyed people all of my life! As a kid I didn't follow the normal sleep, rest and eat patterns! I barely slept and every three months I would crash, hibernating for three days. I was constantly taken to the doctors but there was nothing wrong with me, so the pattern continued and still does. I can get by if I don't have a nap every day, but if I don't get at least four days kip in the afternoon each week I do start to feel jaded, which is not my natural state. You can imagine the ribbing and teasing over the years as I did this even when I had a real job and as an employee. I would still somehow find ways to have my kip in the afternoon at work. I wasn't eating into the weekend to catch up because that was time for football and cricket. So, it is with wonderful excitement that I read that people who grab 40 winks once or twice a week are 48% less likely to have heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular problems.
It seems obvious to me that if you just idle the engine for a little bit, just give it time to catch up and don't push it full throttle, it will last longer. Those of you who know me know I push myself beyond full throttle, but as my old nan would say, “I catch my breath regularly, literally”. But I don't seem to fit the stereotype taking 40 or 50 winks. They haven’t done it all their lives. They are older men who smoked, are overweight, and traditionally feel sleepy during the day. Well none of that is me, but we are finally learning across the health board that prevention is better than cure. So, I was born to prevent myself having a heart attack, but the stick I have taken would have made most people give up having a nap. But I do have to be a bit careful saying that as every male on my paternal side back as far as anyone can remember (which is a long time!), died of a heart attack!
But seriously, let's be sensible. Just taking 20 minutes off at some point in the day and chilling out can only do good. It is now recommended that we have two ten minute private sessions every day of no phones, no thinking, nothing. I've always spent fifteen to twenty minutes lying in my bath morning and night, totally relaxed and almost floating in a semi hypnotic state. Guess what? I've been ribbed for that as well as my 40 winks! But here I am at 70, still playing cricket, still laughing, still living my life at a pace that scares most people my age, and still enjoying life and a pint of beer!
Kip on folks!
I have always been grateful for having to learn my ‘times tables’ in fifties by singing and chanting them. I’ve despaired time and again with people I’ve employed who didn’t know the basics of numbers, so was delighted to hear that they were to be re- introduced using a computer - which is fine. But the National Association of Head Teachers has condemned the plan as “an enormous waste of time and effort”.
Well, we’ve all known this for a long time anyway, but 12 million people in the UK are now prescribed routine drugs that can become addictive. Antidepressant prescriptions have risen by 10% in the last year, a year when the voices of sanity have been trying to control the endless flow of what are often called “happy drugs” by users. I have written often in recent months about the need to speak on so many different subjects and we are finally speaking about the problems caused by legitimate, routine, needed drugs.
I have recently had to take some serious heavyweight painkillers. I was told by the doctor that there is a risk of dependency because they are cocaine based. I think I’m a sensible person. I think I would not become dependent, but on the other hand if I need to fight the pain I'm going to take the drugs. These are being used as a replacement for a previous drug which achieved the same result, but it has the potential side effect of kidney damage, which in turn had replaced another which achieves the result but raises blood pressure. I’m reminded of the old song, ”T’was on a Monday morning the gas man came to call”!
We move forward with incredible speed achieving great success in all things medical but there is always going to be, initially at least, a downside. I know that people complain when they do not get given antibiotics for something that antibiotics will not cure. We have to change that mindset. It was in 1958 that MacMillan never actually said “you've never had it so good”. The current mindset is that everything can be sorted out by someone else. There is no-one more positive than me, but the ‘everything can be sorted out with medical prescriptions’ theory, just isn't true. It is bad to keep prescribing things that we know have a short-term benefit and a potential long-term downside, unless there really is no alternative. I feel for the doctors, they have a huge problem and a huge workload, but they have got to say no more often. There was a recreational drug campaign some years back that said, “just say no”, and I know from my own doctors that a start is being made because the television screen in the waiting room, that tells you when it's your turn, actually has a screen saying don't ask for antibiotics. If you need them the doctor will give them to you, but if you take them too often they won’t work when you really need them.
It is a massive subject and I’m not one to call for investigations, but we need to get to grips with this one before we create an expensive and negative dependency.
No milk today, they don’t take cash anymore! A corruption of a great sixties hit by Herman’s Hermits. Milk & More are saying that payments have to be made online, by direct debit, or card payment over the phone. And worse, if you don’t actually run an online account you are going to be charged 4p a pint more! They deliver to over 500,000 homes and I’ve recently seen evidence on door steps of an increase in milk delivered to homes in glass bottles. I’m not daft enough to just whinge about this, I do understand the reason and when we introduced contactless (an odd name for something you have to make contact with but park that one!) in the pub we saw cash sales fall by 30% in the first year. But we now see the rectangular portable card machines everywhere, I pay for my hair cut on one as the chairs are hired from the shop operator, and although many older people still prefer to budget with cash, those with bank accounts have debit cards. One false argument will be the cost to the supplier of processing the “plastic” payment. Banks, rightly, charge for handling cash including paying it in. The cost of providing cash is vast but we paid less bank charges on plastic credits than cash credits!
So, instead of the milkman taking his pencil from behind his ear, changing the book and taking payment, he’s now doing it on an iPad! For the few that don’t have bank accounts, he can carry on taking cash.
A woman in Andhra Pradesh, India, aged 73, has just given birth to twin girls. The twins were delivered by caesarean section, but the next day her husband, 82, had a stroke. He is now in hospital.
Well you may say, if it happens, it happens. But it didn’t happen, it was the result of IVF treatment. IVF treatment is a booming industry which appears to be largely unregulated in India, but come on, this is madness!