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?

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Is it a cold, or could it be TB? Rosie Green’s play­ing doc­tors and nurses


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, 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… is my digi CRACK”

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