One of my mother-in-law’s favourite sayings was that “age doesn’t come on it’s own”, and maybe she was right. In my case it comes with a whole lot of paper and tests. Though I know I am very fortunate in not having any major health issues myself, I know many who struggle with some very difficult stuff.
Hitting 60 has brought with it a plethora of health-related post.
On just one day, the post brought me:
- a letter from my GP surgery offering me a ‘free NHS health check‘ for people aged 40-75
- an invitation take part in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (this for people aged 60-65)
- a letter from the Anthony Nolan organisation thanking me for being on their register of people willing to be blood stem cell donors for many years, and telling me that now that I’m 60, I’m no longer eligible to remain on the register*.
A few days later I received the Bowel Cancer Screening kit, and got confused by also receiving a saliva /DNA test kit (this turned out to be related to a brain function research programme I have volunteered to take part in).
An eye test has resulted in a referral to the Ophthalmology Department of our local hospital via my GP for a minor operation to correct my droopy eyelids, which are increasingly reducing my vision.
And now another screening invitation, this time my regular breast cancer check, giving me an appointment in January 2016.
So much concern about my health and well-being. All of which makes me feel infinitely grateful that we do still have an amazing National Health Service, which (contrary to what you might believe from what you hear from the press and some politicians) is neither dysfunctional nor uncaring. However it is most certainly suffering from years of under-funding and a lack of joined-up thinking and planning of our public services (oh, and lets not forget the impact of creeping out-sourcing [aka privatisation], regular re-structuring, and overwork, and the resulting staff demoralisation).
Despite what the health check told me (all good news), I know that I would benefit from losing a little bit of weight (well, let’s not beat about the bush – a stone wouldn’t go amiss), and improving my exercise levels. As it happened, I was already successfully most of the way through the 30 day challenge I set myself (minimum of 30 minutes activity every day), so the scene was set to take this further.
So – time to up the ante. Two weeks ago, inspired and spurred on by being weighed and measured by the practice nurse, I embarked on a more vigorous 30 day challenge – this time to do at least 3 gym-type sessions a week, i.e. at least 30 minutes aerobic activity plus weight lifting and sit ups three times a week. Combined with eating a little bit less. And maintaining the 30 minutes minimum activity every single day.
I already eat what I think is a very healthy diet, with just a little alcohol occasionally, no processed foods, and very little sugar. But when input exceeds output, it’s not surprising that the weight insidiously creeps on.
I may or may not lose weight, but I hope that by the end of the 30 days I will at least be fitter and stronger. As the 30 days ends on 1 January 2016, this feels like a good way to move into the new year.
And in my experience the fact of successfully completing a challenge helps remind me that I do indeed have the resolve to take on another one.
*They also ask if I could try to recruit someone to replace me on their register, which I’d love to do (and even more than one would be fantastic!), so I’ve put the link above in case you’re interested in exploring the idea. In all my years on the register, I was only contacted once as a possible donor, and wasn’t matched in the end. But knowing several people who have had varieties of blood cancer, and a friend of youngest son in particular who at the end of primary school had his life saved by a bone marrow donation from his brother, I know that this is an amazing organisation that is well worth supporting.