The doctor frowned a bit when I said that I saw it as a relief that I’d spent the last 25 years ‘caning it.’ I took note of her precision symmetrical bob, her perfect nails, her bright eyes and the framed pictures of the two beautiful young clones perched on the windowsill and wondered that perhaps she didn’t know what ‘caning it’ was.
“Do you know what I mean?” I asked.
“I think I do,” she offered.
“Like, the fact that I’ve been so debauched up until now means I’ve just got to be less debauched from now on.”
“That’s right,” she smiled. “You are going to need to make a few lifestyle changes. And I suppose the first of those would be...” she paused and looked at the computer screen, “I suggest you...”
“Stop caning it?”
“Stop caning it yes. Or at least cut down a bit.”
So, the bad news is, less partying until the early hours; less booze; less pies; less burning the candle at both ends then scraping up the wax to form another candle and setting light to that as well.
The good news is, the fact that I have been doing all that stuff, consistently, over a prolonged period of time means that less is just...less. Not none at all. And at least I have stuff to give up. Some people end up in this condition through no fault of their own. Just bad luck. Or bad genes.
This condition, thanks for asking, is a condition of dangerously high blood pressure, high cholesterol and low functioning thyroid. I had gone to the doctor’s to request a couple of regular standard blood tests for a project I’m working on and came out with a request for half a dozen blood tests, two urine samples and an ECG.
Now, I have to admit I’d have to be a complete idiot not to have known I wasn’t going to skip out of the doctor’s surgery having been told “Everything is fine. Just keep eating the way you eat and drinking the amount you drink and you’ll live to a ripe old age. In fact, you could sleep a bit more actually. And snack in front of daytime TV more often - it’ll do you good...” And If I’m honest I was kind of hoping for some sort of ‘diagnosis’ - some sort of a something wrong. Not just as a kick up the arse to encourage me to make changes, but I was desperate to be given a reason for this sudden massive weight gain. Please, tell me there’s something wrong. Then it won’t be all my fault. It won’t just be because of all the pies.
Of course, I couldn’t hide my delight when the doctor mentioned ‘under active thyroid’.That was the condition I was hoping for. Bullseye. Now I could look concerned, turn my eyes to the ceiling and say, “Hmmm, yes, I thought there must be a reason for this rapid weight gain. Right, so what shall I do doc?” Now I could say to people, “Yes, I have gained a few pounds. Under active thyroid. Not my fault. Terrible condition. Awful.” Of course, it would sound more like “Yesfh. Hmmf nnd few pounds. Unnd acc roid hmf. S’terrible. Hmfawf.” Because I’d have a mouth full of pie.
“It’s all reversible,” my doctor smiled. Sensing I had become a bit upset. Even if it’s what you hoped for it’s still a bit of a worry to find out there is actually something wrong.
“I’ll give you some pamphlets. Cut back all you can in the next few months, then we’ll do all the tests again and see where we’re at. And as you say, the good news is, you can make those changes.”
She made it sound so easy. I thought of my brother and whether he might have similar issues, what with us both sharing the same genes and all. Last time I told him I might have high cholesterol he suggested I try eating granola. But it’s not a gene related issue. And granola is full of sugar isn’t it? I thought about him anyway and that made me tearful. That and the fact that I’d have to stop caning it for a while.
“So, let’s just get you weighed before you go shall we?”
“Er, no. Let’s not.”
There are few places, no, strike that, there are no places that weighing oneself as an overweight person is an enjoyable experience. At the gym (in between hefty workouts); in the bathroom (after squeezing out every last drop of liquid and every last ounce of solids); at a weigh-in (after lying about what you’ve had to eat all week). But the worst, the absolute worst has to be in a doctors surgery. Especially when the doctor is slim and blonde and glowing and healthy looking and really nice and likely to ask me to ‘just pop myself on the scales’. No. Please don’t.
“Just pop yourself on to the scales.”
I go for the knee jerk natural action of kicking off my shoes.
“Don’t worry about your shoes, I’ll make an allowance for those,” she smiles.
I close my eyes and step on the scales. I don’t want to see the dial. I open my eyes. I can’t see the dial. My tummy is in the way.
“What does it say doc?” I don’t actually call her ‘doc’. That’s for comedic purposes. Or it would be, if it were funny.
“Well, what did you weigh last time you weighed yourself?” she asks brightly.
I tell her. I don’t even lie. Then I ask...”has it gone up? Do I weigh more than that now?”
“Well,” she sits back down and starts typing the data in to her computer. “Not unless your shoes weigh two stone.”
They must do. That must be it. Heavy shoes. I hate these shoes. I’m going to throw them straight in to the bin. After I’ve been up Sainsbury’s and bought myself a bag of granola.
don’t tell me when to be happy
This year, on the first day of spring, as well as singing “spring started last tuesday (when I met u)”, the fabulous and classic, hitherto unreleased and unknown track from my fabulous and classic, hitherto unreleased and unknown debut album, ‘fruition’, I also developed an earworm of XXXX glorious song, “Happy”. Due in large to the fact that it was playing in the background on the morning news when I was informed by two brightly dressed, smug, over made up presenters that today was ‘National Happiness Day’. “So spread the smiles everyone and stay happy all day!!” Try suggesting that to someone who lives under Waterloo Bridge.
Can we manifest happiness? Can we just decide to be happy. One day. All day? I have to admit that I felt pretty good scrubbing in the shower and belting out...”clap along if you feel that happiness is the truth...” and it was a good day. Was that because I was near the sea? Was it because I spent it with friends and loved ones? Was it because it fell during the one week of the year that I don’t suffer mood swings due to a hormone imbalance? Or was it because the smiley lady on the news told me it should?
Of course, I’m a great fan of happiness and very keen to promote a national day of happiness, but shouldn’t we strive to be happy every day? Shouldn’t that be the general aim. In the same way that every day should be a ‘good knickers day’. To be happy and to do all we can to elevate others to the same state? But also, when we are sad, to allow ourselves to be sad. When our loved ones are sad, allow them to cry and just be there to hold their hand. It’s kind of organic. Unavoidable. Unplannable.
A bit like, the following Sunday being told that we all need to love our mums. Treat her to lunch. Buy her some flowers. Visit her. Give her a hug. Shouldn’t we just do this? Anyway? As a matter of course? A friend of mine, ages ago, refused to send her father a father’s day card on these very grounds. As I sealed the envelope and stuck the stamp on a card to my own dad she staunchly refused to be instructed by society to show affection for her father on this one arbitrary day of the year. I sort of agreed with her. But I also knew that if I didn’t send a card my dad would think I’d forgotten him. Damn. They’ve got me! “I’ll send a card to my dad on another day of the year,” said my friend, defiantly. “A day when I choose to send him a card to show him that I love him.” She never actually did though. Turns out she didn’t actually like him very much. Didn’t even go to his funeral.
And then the clocks went forward! Another instruction from the management. How crazy is it that we suddenly all just....you know....change the time?? It’s just decided - most of us forget until we are suddenly reminded by a radio announcement or a poster or by being an hour late or early for an appointment. I was reminded by an announcement made as I wandered round the Edible Garden Show in Alexandra Palace. I was completely unaware until that moment. Unaware that we would all just randomly lose an hour. Is that it? We lose an hour when they go forward? Gain an hour when they go back? I always think that’s really dumb - surely it would be better to gain an hour in the spring when at least there’s a chance of some nice weather to enjoy it? Spring forward, fall back, as my mum always says. Oh shit, my mum! If we lose an hour tonight then that means I have to leave an hour earlier on Mothering Sunday tomorrow for my three hour drive down to sussex to tell her that I love her.