Down down, smoking is down

Excellent. Smoking rates are continuing to drop, from 21.2% in 1998 down to 15.3% now.

So, how about the next step, government? Now that smoking is almost entirely banned indoors, what about extending smoking bans to include all undercover areas — I’m thinking particularly of under shop awnings.

(If I ran the world, I’d be looking at smoking bans in highly trafficked outdoor areas, such as CBD and suburban shopping centre footpaths. And the following step might be banning it everywhere except in private homes and designated smoking rooms/areas. It’s one thing to have a bad habit; it’s another to have a bad habit that blows poisonous fumes into others’ faces.)

My red, swollen eye

Red eye

I’m sure (more than usual) people were staring at me on the train today.

And you should see the amount of gunk that was in it this morning.

The doctor’s given me some eyedrops for it.

I’m not a drinker

I’ve never been a drinker.

Oh sure, there were the social pressures in my uni days. But it’s a habit I just never picked up.

My parents weren’t drinkers. My partner isn’t a drinker. It’s just not my thing.

I’m not a teetotaller though. Occasionally (perhaps a few times a year) I’ll indulge in a beer or a glass of wine, but (particularly since the discovery that alcohol can sometimes help trigger cluster headaches), most of the time I’ll decline and stick to water.

So I find it a little puzzling that some people drink to excess. I can understand the enjoyable, social drink if that’s the kind of thing you like, but binge drinking, to the point of being sick? Why would you?

I suppose everybody’s different.

The health check

Apparently there have been some alarming results from the workplace health checks underway at the moment.

Victorian workers have been given a scare by a State Government-run health program which has found a high percentage donโ€™t exercise enough with a number of people asked to see a doctor within 24 hours.

We’ve had ours on Friday (everybody opted-in, I think), and we seem to be a pretty healthy workplace.

At least, nobody’s been carted off in an ambulance.

My own results were all okay, with one exception.

Some of the points are self-assessment; others like cholesterol were checked by the nurse on the spot. I’ve summarised the take-home brochure, and my results below.

Diet

2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables (per day) should be your target

I’m on 3 serves of fruit, and 2 of vegetables, so need to increase my vegetable intake. It was noted that a variety is good. I probably eat more spinach leaves than most, as I know the kids will chow them down.

In all honesty, I’m not sure how achievable 5 serves of vegies per day is for me, but I can try.

Drinking

I barely drink (perhaps a one standard drink per month if I’m lucky), and the nurse decided this was closer to no alcohol of the three options on the questionnaire.

I’ve never drunk a lot; it’s reduced even more since the cluster headaches arrived on the scene, as alcohol can help induce them (though just at the moment they’re not around).

Phsyical activity

Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all days

I might not play sport, but I do a fair bit of walking. It’s generally three 30 minute walks a week with the kids, and one or two 60+ minute walks with Marita and her dog on the weekends. Add to that the shorter walks to/from the train each weekday (12 minutes x 2 x 5, though no doubt that doesn’t have the same benefits of the longer walks), that’s 270-330 minutes of walking per week, or at least 38 minutes a day.

So I think that’s fine.

Smoking

There is no safe level of smoking

No problemo. Never smoked, sure as hell not about to start.

Body shape

Normal — Men: 94 cm or less. Women: 80 cm or less

I’m 86 cm, have been since I was a skinny yoof. Do have a little bit of a pot belly, but nothing major.

Blood pressure

Normal — Less than 120/80

The brochure explains that the first value is systolic — the pressure in the arteries as your heart squeezes blood out during each beat. The other is diastolic — the pressure as your heart relaxes before the next beat.

Mine’s a little high: 113/83. On this basis there’s a recommendation to review it when I next see my doctor, but the nurse emphasised that there’s no real problem.

This seems higher than usual for me. Normally when I give blood it’s lower — it was 117/76 the last time I noted it in my blog. In fact this time round the nurse thought it might be unusual and did an average out of four readings.

Cholesterol

Normal — Total cholesterol 5.5 or less, HDL cholesterol 1.0 or more

Mine is 4.8 total, and 1.8 HDL, so that’s good.

Diabetes risk

Diabetes risk score — low risk: 5 or less. Medium risk 6-14. High risk 15 or more
Random blood glucose levels — normal: less than 6.5. High 6.5 or more

My diabetes risk score is 2 points for my age, 3 points for my sex (that would be male), and 3 points because someone in my family has it — my Dad has type 2. So 8 points makes me a medium risk for diabetes, and worth reviewing with my doctor at some stage.

My blood glucose level was 5.4, in the normal range.

Overall then

I’ll enquire about blood pressure and diabetes risk, the former isn’t a big problem at present, and the latter I can’t really do much about other than keep up the exercise and improve the diet.

I suppose there’s no big surprises for me in all this, but in terms of preventative health measures, I can see how this kind of far-reaching basic health check might help others to think about their lifestyle choices and modify them if possible.

And of course it’s only a fairly superficial check. I’ve still got headaches, Bowen Belly (much less so recently) and other minor ailments which hit me from time to time.

Anybody else do the check? Any surprises?

Bowen Belly

I haven’t been well for the last couple of days.

It kicked-off on Monday night, when a slight stomach pain, which I tried to quell with my usual remedy, a glass of lemonade. Because burping helps. Really.

It didn’t help — instead it set off a flurry of up-chucking, joined later in the night from the other end. This kept going in regular instalments until about 3am, by which point I felt like I’d purged 20% of my own body weight. Not nice. I tossed and turned for the rest of the night.

Given I’d donated blood earlier on Monday, I rang up their hotline to alert them that all was not well. The night duty bloke, also called Daniel, sympathised and made a note on my file. I think he said they could still use the haemoglobin, but not the plasma. Or maybe it was the other way round.

Cup Day, which in the past few years has been spent away on holiday (not this year; it wasn’t a “pupil-free” day this year) was pretty miserable. The kids kept themselves busy, as I tried to catch-up on sleep and fluids, though my stomach was indicating that food might not be a sensible option just yet. By Wednesday morning everything seemed okay except the headache.

At least, as far as I could tell. It’d be nice if you got some definite feedback on this type of thing, but I suppose we’re not digital, so it just ain’t gonna happen. So we’ll have to put up with a headache and a pain in the belly, rather than “Error 407.5 — dodgy curry.”

Not that I know what caused it. We joke about this type of thing in my family as “Bowen Belly”, but its depressing regularity makes me wonder if there’s some undiagnosed intolerance that’s lurking there, rather than it being a bug of some kind.

Years ago I was tested for lactose intolerance. I honestly don’t recall what the result was, and I didn’t blog about it (it may have been pre-blog; shock horror). But I do recall trialling going off most dairy food for a while. I stopped when I realised I’m really not that keen on soy milk. Lactose intolerance is actually pretty common amongst those of Chinese origin (of which I am half).

Whether it’s that or something else, worth talking to the doctor about, I think.

(I just tried a cup of tea with soy milk. If this is what I have to do, it’ll take some getting used to.)