Downhill all the way
Our columnist’s symptom checking is compulsive. But how else will she get to the bottom of those worryingly itchy eyelids?
Is it a cold, or could it be TB? Rosie Green’s playing doctors and nurses
“I AM CONSTANTLY THIRSTY,”
I say to AM as he’s trying to watch Match Of The Day 2. He does a courtesy nod, but I suspect/know his attention hasn’t been diverted from Ian Wright’s post-match analysis. “I mean really thirsty.”
“What do you think that’s a sign of?” I persevere. “Diabetes? Anaemia?” “Green,” he says, finally taking his eyes off the screen, “could you just be… thirsty?” Hmmph.
Recently, a Mintel survey popped into my inbox saying 34% of us women have experienced five or more ailments in the past year. Only 34%? Only five?! I have about 20 at any point. Some potentially critical, others long-haul companions that wax and wane but never completely disappear, some just minor background irritants. Suspect mole, itchy eyelids, chilblains, abscondee pelvic floor, a slowly emerging humpback…
Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m verging on hypochondriac. Forget scrolling through Instagram, Nhs.uk is my digi crack. So far I have diagnosed AM’S persistent cough as TB, bronchitis, asthma and, of course, all manner of more sinister options. Last month I finally managed to get him to the doctor (after threatening to withhold conjugal duties). He was reticent, as last time I made him go, he ended up having to assume the foetal position while a young female doctor gave him an unexpectedly intimate examination. This time he kept his clothes on and returned with a nasal spray. Sadly its only real effect was a quite violent nosebleed that ruined his best shirt. So now we’re back to my amateur diagnoses. (“Any contact with asbestos?”)
I digress. I am having my NHS fortysomething health check. Yippee. Like my friend who looked forward to her speed awareness course – a whole day without small people following her to the loo – I relish the idea of 30 minutes of self-absorbed chat about my wellbeing.
Because I know accurate scales will be involved (as opposed to mine, on which you can fudge half a stone by leaning at a precarious 70° angle), I make the appointment for first thing in the morning. Then, when the day dawns, I am nil by mouth. And oooh, just filling in the form is joyous. Do I smoke? Nope. Take recreational drugs? Nope. (The only pills popped in our house these days are of the Ovex worming variety.) Alcohol units? Well, on a usual week, and of course last week was atypical because it was the guinea pigs’ birthday, then it would definitely be below 14 units. The great news? I have excellent cholesterol and blood pressure (despite feeling somewhat faint through lack of breakfast). This goes some way to compensate for the growing health issues that come with getting older. Advancing years mean not only have my arches dropped, but I am also a few centimetres shorter. I am also convinced I’m going deaf. Last year’s War And Peace TV series was a write-off with all that bloody ‘naturalistic’ mumbling. I needed subtitles to work out what was going on with all those counts and multiple Annas. (As if to highlight this, someone in the house pressed AD on the TV remote. For the uninitiated, this activates a service for the visually impaired where a slightly sinister voice says things like, “Anna is crossing the road and has a concerned expression on her face.” It helped hugely.) Then last week, at an extended family gathering, someone informed us if you can get up off the floor without using your hands, you are officially ageing well. Cue instant experimentation
(not easy when you’ve imbibed your entire weekly alcohol units). The kids sprang up with revolting ease. The rest of us flailed around like cast sheep. I saw glimpses of distant relations’ undercrackers that no amount of therapy will erase. AM got up. I didn’t. I dived into next week’s wine allowance…
“Okay, I’ll ADMIT it, I’m verging on hypochondriac… Nhs.uk is my digi CRACK”