Sunday, 21 December 2014

For example

Last week I was invited to attend a medical health check on behalf of my local GP surgery, a facility I hold in great respect partly because of  the fact that 2 of the doctors are older than me and seem to have no intention to retire.They are also sufficiently caring without being over intrusive. Since they thought the medical  was a good idea, I went along to the village hall of nearby Hixon to face the inquisition.

I arrived at a deserted hall, with few direction signs and even fewer signs of life, so a rather anxious search of the building began. Having applied my "just in time " approach to the appointment there were only a couple of minutes to spare. A white coated young enthusiast suddenly appeared and ushered me into the end room where I was invited to multi-task. This involved answering his verbal questions for computer input whilst completing  a complicated little form  by hand "for the medical record".

Having used his first 2 minutes productively he announced he was going to take my blood pressure.

I had the usual sinking feeling. He was going to get a high reading - then I was going to be told about the problems caused by high blood pressure; he wasn't going to be interested in my "take" on the reading and I would be referred to my GP.

So having applied the elasticated tourniquet to my left arm, without rolling up my sleeve, he announced the result.

"Always happens like that" I said," especially when I haven't had chance to sit still and relax for 5 minutes. It's just 1 sample. If you tried again in 5 minutes I bet it would be lower." So he tried again, immediately, then again within a minute of the second, despite my comments and maintained that the reading was still high and that I should seek guidance from my GP. I didn't bother to explain that I regularly monitor my blood pressure at the surgery.

Then we moved on to the Body Mass Index - another statistic that doesn't suit my short heavy boned, heavy muscled body. Another terse lesson, this time on the dangers of obesity and a deaf ear to my diet which includes five portions of vegetables or fruit a day, a frequent consumption of oily fish on my multi-grained bread for the lunch time sandwich (as an alternative to my home-made, home grown vegetable soup) and no take-aways.

Exercise questions came next - how much exercise the previous day (a cold, rainy, dark winter's day)? The walk wasn't long enough and wasn't there some other exercise I could take?

Dark winter days are for brain exercise - suduko puzzles; codeword puzzles; kindle reading; keeping the village hall accounts up to date or practising my choral part with the help of the excellent John Fletcher web-site. I think I would rather keep my brain active in winter than risk a physical accident caused by digging frozen ground or falling over whilst jogging. Jogging!! The very thought fills me with horror.  The only alternative to a brisk power walk would be a bike ride and I'm not sure I wish to be associated with what has become a rather aggressive 2 wheeled tribe.

If only the Wellness Foundation had chosen to take their sample in summer. I was working 4 to 6 hours a day in the garden. My diet was extremely healthy and I had plenty of time to get to appointments. Why, I could even have cycled to Hixon.

Just to illustrate the point here is a photo I took this afternoon on the shortest day of the year whilst out for a power walk.
Sheep and a canal. Not just any sheep, these happen to be Jacob sheep and they are not typical of the area. The canal in the background is not just any canal - it's the equivalent of the M6/M5 motorway junction. The Trent and Mersey canal runs across the picture and it is joined by the Staffordshire and Worcester canal under the bridge. So from here - most parts of England and Wales that lie near canals and navigable rivers can be reached. A picture of this scene 250 years ago may well have had the same breed of sheep but there would have been a lot more traffic on the water.

When I took a picture of the same canal in January 2013 - this is how it looked :

Snow, obviously, and a layer of ice upon the surface. So when I took the picture is critical to any conclusions I can draw from this sample of the Trent and Mersey canal.

I try hard to remember this "sampling " point whenever I hear about UKIP (based on one or two results); or football manager performance (often based on the latest results only) or women bishops; Alternative energy, or views of Mars. Samples are exactly what they are.

I am however persuaded that the Greenland Ice cap is melting and that the earth's climate is changing because enough samples have been taken in enough places at enough times to make a convincing argument.

I'm thinking about where olive trees might grow........for example.

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