Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Demographic Shift – 36

I'm kind of reeling to be honest. Have just been to see my GP and was on the receiving end of very bad news. I'm not sure it gets much worse.

I swear that I virtually never used to go to see my doctor. I'm almost never ill as such, but over the last two years I've had to make a string of visits, culminating in this recent one where my GP delivered his knockout blow.

Isn't there supposed to be a course these guys go on? You know the one where you learn how to deliver v. bad news in a gentle and not in any way alarming fashion? As I have to tell you, after visiting my doctor, I was very alarmed, which is not all my natural state. I'm literally known for being totally anti-alarmist -- although, to be fair, I do have a slight unexplainable soft spot for '68 Guns'. And no, I don't know what that's about either.

I digress, Welsh rockers aside, my GP did not even pause or prepare me in anyway. No, this guy he just scratched his beard a little and then he came out with it. And to be honest, the thing with the beard scratching? I'm pretty sure that was because he had food in it and really nothing to do with the bad news that he was pushing my way.

When I arrived at the doctor's surgery this time round I knew I was in trouble, as one of the first things he said to me was that I was going to have to change my lifestyle before it was too late. I really don't have a problem with changing my lifestyle, I really don't. I've been to yoga and known to drink green tea and really it was no big deal.

"This looks familiar, how did you get that?" he asked me.

I thought about this and tried to think of a plausible excuse to brush aside the truth and avoid telling him how I had acquired the exact same injury (knackered calf muscle) as I had twice before. I had done it in the exact same way and it was totally my own fault that I was Mr Limpy.

Somehow beginning the sentence with the words "I kicked someone really hard" and finishing with "and I got this stabbing pain so intense that I sort of fell over", which to be honest is not very Zen and not much of a tactic in kickboxing.


"How hard did you kick?"

Again admitting that you kicked someone so hard that they fell over sounds kind of mean, but I swear the other guy came over like a big Christiano Ronaldo girl (and you know I mean girl in the gender-neutral sense) and literally threw himself to the ground in a very unsporting manner. I was convinced if I hadn't fallen over as well, I could definitely kicked him again, which I know isn't particularly Zen-like.

At this point, my GP started to go through his notes. "March 2000, fractured big toe, X-rayed? How is that?"

"You know, still not very bendy? But to be fair that was self-inflicted."

And then he went on. There fractured rib; fractured wrist, torn shoulder muscle, the time I thought I had broken my nose when it wouldn't stop bleeding and the time I got kicked so hard in the groin that I had some… well very bad feeling down below.

"You should think about finding activities that do not result in fractured bones and torn muscles."

No more torn muscles and fractured bones? What was he saying? That was all part of the fun. Wait a sec? That makes no sense. OK, that bit is not fun, but the rest is, I'm sure it is.

OK, the bit where you have to punch tiles and break bricks with your hands is a drag and to be honest, the part where you have to fight two guys at once is sometimes not a complete joyride, particularly if like me you have a tendency to get stuck in the corner of the martial arts studio and trade punches and kicks with the two guys who've concerned you while the instructor shouts: "Move! Move! Get out of the corner!"

Get out? What's he talking about? I'm fighting for me life here. Movement is not... wait a second. The fighting for your life bit, complete with head moving in unnatural manner as 16oz hammers of redness rain down, is not much fun either. But anyway, still who said it was meant to be fun.

"I'm not sure. What are you suggesting?"

"Have you thought about tai chi?"

As if to emphasise this, he sort of moved his hands slowly across his body. To be honest, I have been to a tai chi class. It was taught by a guy called Graham, he had a green sweater, wore loafers and it was the most unZen like experience of my entire life. And I know about Zen, I read 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'.

To be fair, I had only gone along to tai chi with Susan after we'd been watching an episode of 'Mind Body and Kick Ass Moves' on BBC Three. I think she was attracted by the gentle swaying, which is mainly because Susan's idea of exercise is ordering skinny lattes at Starbucks.

"Oh that looks really good, I think I could be good at tai chi."

"Well, you like to wave, so I think it could be a winner."


"No, seriously waving is very important, and I've seen you hail cabs."

I, on the other hand, thought it looked kind of cool as the Chinese Grand Master in the TV show was able to throw people across the park and he was like 60. Graham, however, did not at all convince me that he would be able to throw people across the room. Somehow I'm sure that throwing people across the room is very important. Oh wait, maybe I was approaching this with the wrong attitude?

And then he hit me with it. Just like that.

"Really you can't go on like this, you are going to have to change your lifestyle, your body can't take this kind of punishment, you know you're approaching middle age, don't you?"

"OMG, middle what? That sounds bad. How are you spelling that?"

What on the hell is that? Is that like some spin-off from Middle Earth full of tiny little troglodyte like-people? Apparently not, it is so much worse than that. Suddenly everything hurt all over again.

"Middle age, Gordon."

"You know when you say it slowly like that it sounds just like cancer, but much much worse, are you sure you have the right person?"

Having meditated on the tai chi issue (see very Zen like), I reluctantly call Susan to see if she fancies giving it another try.

"Are you joking? I couldn't go back."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely, that green jumper guy really put me off. I need to find a better dressed instructor. My yoga teacher has a Gucci yoga mat. Actually, you know, I think it might be a fake, but really that's the level of sartorial excellence I'm looking for. Littlewoods green sweater man is really not for me."

See, I knew there was a problem with tai chi. Susan is so good at getting straight to the heart of the matter.


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