Sunday, 2 August 2015

Catching up with myself: health checks

Yet again time flies and blogging gets left behind.  So here's a quiet Sunday morning and my favourite time in the week.  My family are slumbering upstairs, I'm sitting at the dining room table having emptied the dishwasher from its overnight run, laid out everything we need for breakfast, brewed some (decaf) coffee and sitting down with my Mac.  Here goes.

Health checks

Left eye, July 2015
Right eye, July 2015
As you know I always like to make sure my body is in tip top condition.  I ensure I have an annual check at the Doctor's surgery covering blood pressure, cholesterol, liver function, kidney function, PSA levels and so on.  That's always okay.  At the dentist I quite often get caught with a little decay or something needing attention on an x-ray.  And then I go to the optician as well.

It is always interesting at the opticians as I can tell my eyes are deteriorating in terms of becoming longer sighted.  I still hate the time when I was told, in my mid forties "well you're middle-aged now, most people become long sited and need glasses.  You're no different".  So I have glasses for reading and using a computer - for that reason my employer kindly allows me to claim £15 for an annual test and £40 towards the cost of glasses.

This check up revealed I needed slightly stronger lenses owing to continuing to become more long sighted.  "This is all fairly routine" explains the optician every year.  She went onto explain that if I follow the normal pattern my long-sited vision will level out soon and not change too much of the rest of my life.  That sounds good as I do need my glasses more and more for anything under one metre and also to expect things to be in focus.

There are always two things which provide interest to the conversation.  Firstly she says "what lovely blood vessels you have at the back of your eyes Doug".  No sign of diabetes or anything like that.  You had better keep up your veggie diet and keep running.

Secondly she's always interested in the dark patch in my left eye.  Actually it is more textured in real life than the photo shows.  This is a Central Serous Retinopathy and this is a tiny leak causing the retina to bulge and this leads to distorted vision.  It has been there for many years and comes and goes a little.  It also features a little in my right eye, although considerably less.  Apparently there are further signs of this happening away from the centre of my vision but I'm less aware of this.  The long term effect of this is to deprive the retina with certain nutrients and my vision has become dull and the world appears as if viewed from a bit of grey, uneven glass.

On a positive note, my brain adapts and this is an example of our wonderfully designed bodies.  I tend to see more from my right eye, so I hope this eye doesn't deteriorate any further.

You might wonder what causes this.  Well, Central Serous Retinopathy is still a bit of a mystery to the medical profession.  It does appear to affect men more than women and the age group is generally 30 - 50 years.  Men who suffer from a Central Serous Retinopathy are often high achievers, high flyers.  Additionally they expect a lot of themselves and put themselves under a lot of pressure.  In other words these are Type A personality traits.  Now I am NOT a high flyer but I do expect a lot of myself.  I am, perhaps, my hardest critic and often known to give myself a hard time over some things.

As a release from this, I find so much solace in my faith (I'm a Christian) and of course running has a brilliant effect on me.  Although I became a runner about eight years ago and at a time of considerable stress, I do find this helps me deal with the challenges of life, especially my work.  Having faith and becoming a runner doesn't solve everything but they are brilliant ways of accepting situations and thinking them through.  I digress.

Back to health checks.  These are so important and I'm pleased those public health folk take it seriously and the Government fund it.  It always amazes me how some people spend far more time and money on maintaining their cars than their own bodies.  Cars are expensive things, sure.  Cars are also very transitory objects and unimportant in the great scheme of things - having a nice car won't allow you to live a minute longer or be a better person.  Taking the time and trouble to have regular health checks at the doctor, dentist and optician is a great way of spotting any problems as they emerge and as we should all know, early diagnosis is very important.  Also important are steps which can prevent illnesses in the first place.

So there you are.  Make sure you get a check-up once a year, especially if you are anywhere near the dreaded "middle age".

Type A personality tag
Staying active in old age

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