Monday 7 July 2008

125 over 82

14st 1lb; 7.0 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,308; Coquetdale.

I got up early today, determined to make serene progress towards my 9 o’clock appointment at the doctor’s for my annual Well Man check-up. Though, of course, if I were actually a Well Man, they would not bother to call me in for one. I was so far ahead of schedule that I not only had time to take a detour to pick up the newspapers en route, but to dump a load of glass at the recycling bank. Another bloke rolled up with two large dogs and assorted alcohol empties, though he was clearly not too badly under the influence as he managed to lob the bottles rather than the dogs into the skip. “That’s the planet safe for another week, then!” he remarked cheerily as he toddled off.

They told me at reception that I was seeing Sister, which sent me off into a pleasant reverie about nuns. I made a conscious effort to remain focused on that while I was in the waiting room, and not allow myself to be wound up by the old bag on the other side of the room who was energetically coughing what was left of her guts up in my direction. And it paid off. Sister was delighted with my blood pressure reading of 125 over 82, which was well down on last year’s and compared with 155 over 105 in 2003, when I was still working in London and was also taking two lots of daily medication to try and reduce it. And that, I seem to recall, was a “best of three” reading after the person taking it had spent some minutes saying soothing things to me in an attempt to talk it down. Now I am taking no drugs at all, prescription or otherwise. You see what a quiet life in Northumberland can do for you? It may seem like a living death in many ways, but paradoxically it is calculated to prolong your life.

Sister was also pleased with my weight, down 8kg since last summer. “That’s over a stone!” she exclaimed, and I told her proudly that I had actually lost two stone since Christmas, adding in a scarcely audible whisper that latterly around half a stone of it seemed to have crept back on again. She calculated my BMI as 26, meaning that I only had to lose a teensy weensy bit more to get into the ideal band. Apparently I am a model patient and should be devoting my next newspaper column to demonstrating to the overweight laggards of the North East that It Can Be Done, and that you can even cure yourself of hypertension in the process.

I then did the rounds of the hardware shop, butcher, bank, baker and Co-op before heading home. I was in high good humour until I turned on Radio 4 and realized that their “Book of the Week” was Wife in the Bloody North. I wonder what my blood pressure would have been if my appointment with Sister had been at 10 rather than 9, and I had caught a snatch of that en route? I’d probably be writing this from hospital, in the unlikely event that they allowed electronic equipment or anything as sharp as a pen into my ward, and that my arms weren’t tied to the sides of my cot as an Elfin Safety measure.

I mentioned my reaction to this broadcast in an e-mail to the LTCB when I got home, and she responded by pointing out that this blog had brought me her, and surely that was worth more than any publishing deal or national media exposure. Reader, at the risk of turning into a hopeless old sentimentalist, I have to confess that her words made me cry. It is so true. If I had to choose between her and a shed full of money, I would choose her every time. Depending on the size of the shed and the denomination of the … No, no, no, no, no. I would choose her, really I would. She is a Delight. Which is ironic, really, considering that she is Iranian, not Turkish.

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