Rosemary has a difficult day at the doctor’s
If you are what you eat, I’m probably 60% cream bun
There is a moment in the life of every woman who reaches a certain age when she will find herself sitting in a comfy chair at the doctor’s and telling great big whopping fibs as if her very life depended on it.
‘How much do you drink in an average week?’
‘Oh, hardly anything at all. I’m virtually teetotal.’ Actually, that’s really not so much of a fib as it might once have been.
‘What about exercise? How much physical activity do you do a week?’
‘Absolutely loads. I’m always at it. Gardening, housework, shifting heavy sacks at the charity shop, and we’ve even started going to the gym.’ This, as regular readers might remember, is also not too much of a lie, even though Mr Dear sometimes has to go on his own because I’m too busy lifting heavy mugs of tea and plates of Victoria sponge.
‘If left to your own devices and in the privacy of your own home, do you stuff yourself with cream buns, HobNobs, profiteroles, and those rather toothsome custard tarts they do at Tesco, not to mention the coffee and walnut cake they do at that nice coffee shop on the high street?’
‘Well, there you have me. Guilty as charged. If you are what you eat, I’m probably 60% cream bun.’ (I should say that the question was more delicately phrased than this, and touched on whether I might be a vegetarian and how many portions of fruit I got through. But the cream-bun stuff was clearly what she wanted to know. The answer, by the way, was rather more evasive).
‘Now, what do you weigh?’
‘The honest answer? Really hardly anything at all. Certainly not as much as you might think.’
‘No, no. I was just thinking out loud. What I meant to say was, take your shoes off and let’s see how much you weigh.’
A month or so ago, an invitation arrived from my doctor’s surgery offering me a free health check. To be frank, the ‘health check’ part of the deal didn’t really grab my attention. When you reach a certain age, it’s never going to be good news, is it? No doctor or nurse is ever going to take your blood pressure and announce: ‘Mrs Dear, you have the physique and constitution of a 21-year-old athlete. Pretty much the only thing we recommend is that you eat more biscuits to keep up your weight.’
However, I’ve never been able to resist the word ‘free’. So here I am, putting the case for the defence as Jenny, the lovely nurse, outlines the case for the prosecution.
Jenny, I must admit, runs an impressive operation. One of the things she can do is to prick my finger, suck up the blood into a tiny straw, then test the cholesterol content on a machine no bigger than a man’s hand.
My cholesterol, I am pleased to report, is in pretty good shape. Thank you, Tesco Finest porridge oats.
As to my weight, well, all I am prepared to say is that surgical scales have clearly embraced the concept of fake news.
‘You are a little overweight,’ says Jenny, breaking it to me gently. ‘And your blood pressure seems a little high. That could be something to do with your weight, or sometimes people’s blood pressure gets higher because they’re nervous about coming to the surgery.’
‘Does your blood pressure get higher when a stranger has just poked you in the finger with a needle, and sucked up some of your blood?’
‘That might have had an effect,’
At home and with more time to think about this, I did what anybody else would have done under the circumstances: I panicked and googled ‘high pressure’ and ‘how to reduce high blood pressure’.
The advice wasn’t entirely helpful. 1) Give up smoking, it suggested. I have never smoked.
2) Cut down on alcohol, it said.
3) Cut down on caffeine, it said. But I’m a martyr to decaff these days, and my only caffeine intake comes in iced coffee (to which, admittedly, I’m now addicted). Still, I shall be cutting down to just one a week.
When Mr Dear arrived home from polishing the honours board at the cricket pavilion, or whatever he was doing, he found me sunk in gloom.
‘What’s up, love?’ he asked.
‘It’s my blood pressure,’ I explained. ‘When I had my health check, they discovered it was a bit high.’
‘Oh, is that all,’ he said, for husbands are sympathetic like that. ‘When you reach our age, it’s bound to get a bit higher than normal because our veins and arteries are all furred up like an old kettle.’
‘But my blood pressure is higher than ‘higher than normal’. I’ve got a month to get it down.’
Mr Dear thought for a moment, and put on his most caring expression: the one that looks as if he’s accidentally sat down on a plate of chicken curry and is hoping nobody will notice. ‘My blood pressure was a bit high a few months ago,’ he said, ‘and do you know what helped the most?’ ‘Was it walking the dog?’
‘Did you cut down on alcohol?’
‘What was it then?’
‘I stopped watching the news,’ he said. This isn’t, I can’t help thinking, a method that is recommended by leading doctors.