I’ve been looking over a few of my past newsletters and a few themes emerge.
First – … and most importantly, I am quite the most opinionated person I know. I seem to have strong opinions on most subjects, many of which I have scant experience about – for example how to be a successful politician and how to run the NHS. But this has not me from offering advice about how I could do a better job.
Second – I do seem to really, really enjoy a rant. Once I’m off on one its like an unstoppable runway train that is simply on a mission to destroy all before it!!
Third – if I actually had a psychotherapist they would go to town on how angry I am at the system and, as the years pass by, I’ve turned from a mildly irritated young GP, to a fully irritated mid career GP onto the full blown angry old codger who sounds off about all and sundry. On the anger scale I now reside to the right of my erstwhile hero Victor Meldrew.
No doubt Dr Freud would put this down to being bottle fed or some other psychobabble tosh, I put it down to the utter incompetence of our political masters.
I’m sure I read somewhere that angry young men mellow with age – I’ve done the exact opposite!! But that’s an inevitable consequence of having spent 35 years studying and working in the NHS – it drives you to distraction.
Fourth – the April editions always includes an article devoted to Prof Aillo and the December editions some awful one line jokes.
Fifth – Finally every January edition starts with a few NYR, or for those ignorant to TLAs, New Year’s Resolutions.
So I was tempted to start 2017 with a few self improvement NYRs. I thought I might start with the obvious.
- To stop ranting.
- And then move onto be less opinionated.
- And may have a go at being less angry.
So here it is, this is the new me. Even better, more improved version.
Hang on a ‘sec’ maybe I need a fourth to be less arrogant and a fifth to be less immodest. Ok I admit that my human failings are unlikely to mean I achieve number 5 but let’s give it a go.
Here is my rant-free, un-opinionated (is that a real word?), mellow, humble and modest new newsletter.
So its come to that time of the year when you’re looking a make life a little better for yourself. In short you want to make a few New Years Resolutions, so here’s a few tips to help you decide.
Number 1 on the top ten tips is straight forward – if you smoke then you should stop. This is a complete and utter no brainer. Its now almost a tenner for a pack of 20. If there’s one thing this government’s actually got right in its utterly useless existence, oops sorry (I’d almost got completely carried away and lost sight on my first NYR). If there’s one thing that’s really outstanding amongst our wonderful governments many outstanding contributions to society is the fact that the price for a packet of ciggies is 74% tax. Which, when translated to your average cigarette, means that 37pence goes direct to the chancellor.
I have never smoked so I appreciate that I have no real understanding (humility & modesty) of the pleasure to be gained from deeply inhaling all that nicotine and those carcinogens – but I guess it must take about 10 puffs to get through one smoke. Or to put it another way each inhalation will cost you 3.7 pence to the chancellor, 1.3pence to the tobacco giants and (conservatively) 1 minute of your life.
Now I know the naysayers amongst you will always quote your nonagenarian Aunty Nell who smoked like a trooper. She is the exception which proves the rule, for every Aunty Nell who coughs and splutters her way to the big 90, I have seen scores of ninety year olds who don’t smoke. I also know of the occasional nicotine addict who will literally commit murder unless they get a fix – but even they can manage on vaping.
Oh, if your concerned about the mealy mouthed Welsh assembly banning e-cigarettes (oops another rant but let’s face it, mindless bureaucrats and politicians failing to do the bleedin’ obvious deserve to be ranted about) – it really gets on my wick when people who are paid a lot of money fail to take on any responsibility for their actions.
Which reminds me about one of my biggest gripes about society. Have you ever noticed that when there is a crisis and the government has to deal with the public it will;
1. Be handled in an utterly inept fashion and
2. At the end of their advice whether its about toxins in baby food, pending pandemics, a bout of unseasonable weather, global warning, crop failures and whatever other biblical calamity, they will invariably say if you’ve got any worries then please see your GP!!!! (Lord knows why, toxins in baby milk through to pandemics I’m expected to be able to sort it out and underwrite the government’s incompetence!!!
The only things I’m really expert on is supporting worried people and criticising incompetent governments – come to think of it maybe that does make us GPs the ideal people to allay the national public anxiety.)
Ok so I managed to blow almost all my NYRs (ranting, opinionated, angry and arrogant) in the course of 1 paragraph or 5 minutes. That must be something of a record.
The problems is that when you try not to think about something then all you can think about is what you’ve told yourself not to think about. It’s the same with smoking or trying to lose weight – you spend the whole day dreaming putting your feet up and having a relaxing cigarette and a nice cream pie.
But I digress.
Back to the Welsh Assembly who presumably are running scared at the thought of being sued by some grandson of someone who once had a drag on an e-cigarette in the Welsh Assembly and is now infertile because vaping may one day be shown to affect the testes of rats 2 generations later. Well the issue is not whether vaping is safe but whether it is safer than tobacco and of course the answer is yes.
We will know in about 5 years just how safe they are, but remember the headline hides the real story. For example we know that smoking and butter both shorten your life. The devil is in the detail – smoking shortens the average smokers life by 7 years or 10 minutes for each cigarette, butter shortens your life by 20 minutes!!
I’ve made the decision that the enormous pleasure I gain from putting butter on my toast is worth the 20 minutes at the end of my life. For some smokers, incredibly, the 7 years and multiple amputated limbs, heart attacks and strokes are still a price worth paying. My guess is that vaping will be a little bit more toxic than butter but only by an hour or so.
Ok so having blown all my resolutions let’s let rip with the rest of my tips for a healthy new year.
Know your own blood pressure – if it over 140 / 80 mmHg then give us a call, there are lots of cheap BP machines you can get and they’re a great investment.
Exercise lots. The more the better. Do something you really like and it won’t be a chore. The benefits of exercise are simply ridiculous. The only people who don’t like exercise are the boards of pharmaceutical companies who stand to lose most if everyone on the planet took part in a weekly Parkrun. If exercise were a drug we’d have added it to the tap water years ago.
Eat lots of beetroot or better still drink it as your favourite tipple. Regular readers will know why.
Measure your abdominal circumference, if it is more than half your height your overweight.
Visit https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/nhs-health-check/Pages/check-your-heart-age-tool.aspx and check out your heart age. Don’t expect to find that your heart age is much less than your actual age – I still harbour ambitions of winning Parkruns and I usually finish in the top 10 out of 250 (oops modesty NYR blown as well) so I reckon my heart’s in good nick but the tool rates me as having the heart of someone in their mid 50s, which is a bit disheartening when you actually are in your mid 50s.
Practice self compassion – this means treating yourself as you would treat your twin, especially when you would put your twin first and you wouldn’t yourself.
Sleep well. Not easy but sleep is the most underrated activity that we do – when you think just how much practice we have at sleeping its hard to believe how bad most of us manage our sleep. The general rule is to keep regular habits and avoid blue light 2 hours prior to bed. The blue light bit makes me think that perhaps most of us spend too much time in our virtual worlds and not in the real world.
Well I hope your NYRs lasted longer than mine!
Have a happy new year.
You know what I’m really glad I blew those resolutions so quickly because without being opinionated, angry and ranting on about the injustices of working within the NHS I think these newsletters would just be so boring.
Who wants to read about the dangers of cigarette smoking and the many and awful ways you can die, it much nicer listening to the nutter of a GP who just enjoys sounding off about everything.
Or maybe I’m deluding myself and you really do want a blood and guts description about losing limbs and dying from lung cancer?