Carry on DoctorSo, on a brief diversion from fatherhood I feel compelled to talk about something a little more sombre this week; namely my own mortality. Okay, not the happiest of subjects but bear with me. I’ve arrived at fatherhood (okay, I’m going to mention it a little bit) relatively late. By relative, I mean that my own father was twenty-three when I was born, whilst I by contrast, am leaving the house patting down my pockets for keys, wallet, phone, dummy at the grand old age of forty one.

Not only are my sons, painfully blue eyes and unblemished skin a constant reminder that my body ain’t what it used to be- though in truth I can’t ever remember my skin being unblemished- but it’s fair to say if I was a car, the dashboard would be lighting up with ‘check engine’ warning lights pretty much most of the time.
I’m sure some will remember my blog’s about getting older, and I don’t want to hark on about previous health scares but whereas in your twenty’s, death and serious illness is something that happens to others, passing forty is a reminder that those others, now include you.

I am getting a little nervous about how conversations with other people of my age group have started recently. All too frequently they begin with, ‘oh you know John Smith, you know he’s just been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer; didn’t even smoke.’ or ‘do you know who’s dead?’ Now I am not making light of any serious illness but the frequency of its occurrence in those I know recently has had me checking for lumps and other biological hitch-hikers a lot more often than I used to.

The problem is that I am a panicker. And for panicker, read hypochondriac. A state of mind that twenty years ago would have been easy to quash. But in this day and age Dr Google positively encourages you to overreact. Recently I found an aforementioned lump on my person, not in a particularly sensitive area, but close enough to realise it was unlikely to have received planning permission there. Unfortunately I discovered it on Friday evening, which meant I had no access to a Doctor and so in the time honoured tradition of all hypochondriacs set about ‘Googling’ my symptoms in order to alleviate my fears over the weekend.

After half an hour, I was convinced I was going to die. When you enter a set of symptoms into goggle, no matter how vague or unremarkable, more often than not you are directed to health forums. These are websites- meeting places if you will- where other hypochondriacs attempt to outdo each other with how horrific the outcome of their particular symptoms are: –

John@325- Hi, everyone woke up this morning with a slight headache. I was drinking heavily last night-don’t remember how much- but I woke up, upside down behind the TV and my eyebrows shaved off. Should I see a Doctor?

Pete@overreact2- Hi John@325, it sounds like it could be something. Maybe nothing to worry about, but keep an eye on it.

Tedithinkimadoctor@999- Hey John@325, I agree with Pete@overreact2 but I think you should see a Doctor immediately. I had a friend with identical symptoms and he had memory loss as well. Your amnesia could be the result of a brain tumour.

Lucyimgoingtodie@111- John@325 get to the hospital immediately! This exact thing happened to me and at turns out I only had six hours to live. Ignore your Doctor as well! He insisted I just had a hangover but what does he know with his years of medical training, experience and lack of overreaction.

Rogereverythingsadrama@911- John@325, I’m afraid it’s too late for you! You should have gone straight to a doctor instead of talking to fuckwits like us! The loss of eyebrows is almost certainly because of a rare blood disease that affects only one person in ten million- if of course, you visited a rare tribe in the Congo in the last five years, and partook of a mating ritual not observed for thousands of years- there’s no other explanation I’m afraid. Act quickly and you might get a few more hours to live. I didn’t and now I’m dead.

In short allowing hypochondriacs to congregate on a website that encourages you to panic is like holding a meeting for those people with an acute fear of flying on an Airbus. Of course its much better just to have an open mind, not to panic and get yourself checked should anything untoward appear. Sound advice- if you can follow it.

My scare has prompted me to change my diet, eat more fruit and veg and drink more water. No bad thing, however a quick Google, has confirmed that scientists believe too much fruit can result in too much sugar. Too much sugar equals diabetes. Drinking two litres of water a day, the amount popularly believed to be the minimum volume required for the average male has recently been shown to have no significant benefits and lets face it, means a trip to the cinema involves at least two trips to the bathroom before the damn trailers have finished.

One of the symptoms for colon cancer I noted on a poster at my Doctors, warns patients to look out for ‘loose stools’. I don’t have a clue what ‘loose stools’ are but trust me on this, don’t ever Google it and definitely don’t press images. Another indicator apparently is blood in your stools, which isn’t always obvious. Blood, by the time its worked its way through your digestive system, tends to mix it in with the indigestible material you don’t want- a bit like the strawberry sauce in an chocolate ice cream sundae (I know, I’ve ruined summer time desserts for you) The result is a narrow range of colours that can indicate anything from too much Guinness the night before to stomach cancer. How you differentiate one from the other is anyone’s guess but marching into the toilet grasping a Dulux colour chart tends to raise the eyebrows of those you love.

And on that rather graphic note, I wish you all good health- until next time.

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