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Life Begins At...

Discovering Middle Age

Well, I hit the 4-5 this year and the next turn off is junction 50. The world seems to be getting ready for it as well. I remember 15 years or so ago I was getting spam for penis enlargers and free entry passes to all night raves. Now it’s saga insurance and free eye/hearing tests for the over 40s. Or my favourite, female incontinence knickers, seamless so no one will know.

But as I like to keep reminding you all, people keep telling me I look younger than my age… Want to know my beauty secret regime? Act like a teenager and when you see a wrinkle, eat more till the fat pushes out the crevice, till your face is as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

I’m starting to feel my age now. Standing up is a bit of an effort, I can’t engage in the practice without some sort of groan as I straighten up. Night clubbing has been replaced by Nightol. Alka Seltzers for the night before, thrown out to make way for Wellmans over 50+ multi vitamins and proplus discarded to make way for Sanatogen extra.

I can’t make it through the night without at least one trip to the loo. I was worried at first that the problem was bowel cancer, kidney failure, or liver damage. But as all the answers I get back at the moment is, “It’s just my age. Your hearing is going, but that's to be expected of a man of your age.” Or my recent favourite, “Your eye sight prescription needs to change, but considering your age I thought it would be a lot worse.”

What, Mr. Magoo? And don’t get me started with the hot flushes. The rest of my table at work are sitting all year round in their coats and scarves. I won’t name names, but the person next to me even has a hot water bottle strapped to them. Whereas I have a large electric fan on full blast and a little one plugged into my computer, trained on me whilst three young, oiled men fan me down with large feathers. The latter is a lie, but I have just taken my seven seas oils and it’s quite perked me up.

But the slightest twinge and creak and I am convinced it’s something terminal. I’ve got a twitchy arm and shaky hand. Googled it and page after page of MS pages comes up. Of course all the other symptoms that go with it, and YES I’ve got them. I haven’t of course and am pinning my hopes on a trapped nerve. Don’t ask for sugar in your tea cause by the time I’ve got the spoon out the bag and make it to the cup, there’s nowt left on the spoon and a trail across the bench marks my attempt.

But now the doctors have discovered I have diabetes.

Just before Christmas, I was having headaches and dizzy spells and checking my blood pressure, which was crazily higher than normal. I figured I better get myself checked out.

Receptionist made an appointment but booked me in to get my yearly bloods as it was that time again. A couple days later I get the call to say I needed to come in early to see the nurse. So I go in and the nurse sits me down and informs me

”You have diabetes.” She then produces a forest of information leaflets about diet and feet, eyes and fat.

“Now, Richard, don’t worry, I’m sending you to see a dietician as eating the wrong things could send you into a diabetic coma and there is a good chance you’ll die, failing that a heart attack or stroke.

“You’ll have to see an optician as your blood vessels could erupt and you could go blind, a podiatrist to check out feet as nerve endings can get damaged, you’ll get gangrene and your feet will drop off…It sounds terrible, but it’s the gumph I have to say; you really only have to worry about that if your blood pressure is high.”


"Why? You think it might be high?"

"It’s kinda why I made the appointment in the first place.”

Pumping my arm up, she tries to reassure me it’ll all be fine.

"Christ, Richard, that’s high. Please forget everything I said about death and going blind. But you will be seeing me every two weeks…Though the computer has put you in the bracket of a 50% chance of a heart attack and stroke in the next three years so we will just book you in one week at a time.”

Now to be honest, being a diabetic type 2 has been a piece of cake; that’s a sugar free low cholesterol, fat free cake obviously with a side order of salad. The only thing you are not warned about is diabetic, sugar-free foods are diuretic and more than two sweets will glue you to the loo for a good hour. So I’ve followed all the advice, sugar-free pop, low fat meals, low sugar cereal; basically, if it's tasty and nice, you can’t have it. If I followed everyone’s advice, I would not be able to eat anything; even bottled water is bad for me if I get the wrong one. It does of course mean it costs a fortune to replace items with healthy options. I’m lucky that I can cook so meals aren’t a problem; it’s the goodies, sweets, crisp alternatives. So what did my dietician say?

"Forget all that rubbish; stick to ordinary stuff, just in small amounts.”

And there is the problem, portion control. Nuts in small amounts are good for me. But if I buy a bag, I’m going to scoff all 843 calories in the bag. I buy a tin of Christmas quality street, they’ll be gone before Mary Poppins' spoon full of sugar has had a chance to go down. But the weight is going down and the Star Trek scales stop shouting, “We canny take anymore captain.” The trousers fasten without a large intake of breath and the cat doesn’t have to balance himself when lying on my belly.

All in all, life does begin at 40ish, just at a slower pace than before; you may have to walk into rooms a few times trying to remember why you walked in that room and reading something means moving the object up and down trying to focus on small print, but it does mean you enjoy a cup of tea more.

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