THE Man-in-Charge says we’ve got to that age when we have so many ailments that we’d need a two-hour appointment with the GP in order to have time to outline them all.
“So what can I do for you?” said our family doctor last week when I went to complain about a small patch of dermatitis on my scalp.
I told him of what The Man had said, warned him that such a question could open the floodgates in someone of my advanced years, and pointed to my head.
Privately I wondered if I could work a few other problems into the conversation because I’d had to wait 10 days for the appointment.
Of course, many little aches and pains, blemishes and minor illnesses clear up on their own or become just another symptom to be lived with and ignored. I have, over the years, ignored everything from self-diagnosed sciatica to early onset Alzheimer’s.
And, it has to be said, that some conditions have definitely been self-inflicted, as is the case with this week’s health problem, a bad leg.
My bad leg is the direct result of slipping on a tennis ball while attempting a volley at the net during women’s tennis coaching on Monday.
“Exercise is bad for you,” said one of my colleagues, watching me hobble from my desk to the kitchen for a cup of low-calorie hot chocolate.
“So is allotmenting,” I replied, because my other, lesser, ailment of the week is a stiff shoulder from digging a potato trench and filling it with a bag of horse muck from our collection of manure-filled animal feed sacks that makes the allotment look like it has been sand-bagged.
The Man is also a victim of his own desires to keep fit. He plays squash wearing a belt to protect his back; knee bandages and an elbow support.
I gave up squash a decade ago when labyrinthitis struck, leaving me unable to twist and turn as the game demands. However, relinquishing squash for tennis has probably saved my knees and hips.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents website, the Government no longer collects statistics on exercise-related injuries but I think it’s fair to say that they probably account for a fair number of visits to A and E.
In fact, it’s not even necessary to embark upon exercise to get an exercise-related injury. I once broke a toe on an exercise bike that I had never used. The Man bought it for me as a surprise birthday present. It was such a surprise that I recall bursting into tears.
“But I hate cycling,” I said through gritted teeth.
The bike was duly assembled and placed in our entrance hall next to the telephone table where it was difficult, but not impossible, to ignore.
Several months later, while running to answer the phone I tripped on the bike’s stand. It was the first bone I’d ever broken and extraordinarily painful for such a tiny body part.
Most aches and pains that signal impending decrepitude, however, seem to have no obvious cause or origin and simply pop up, like a surprise birthday present, to annoy us.
But, you know what, it all keeps our highly-paid GPs in gainful employment. As my own doctor remarked last week, 80% of an individual’s health service usage (over a lifetime) occurs in old age. I can well believe it.