Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You know what? I AM SICK, SICK AND THRICE SICK!!!!


Sick of the situation.


It's time for ACTION!

I am sick and fecking tired of feeling and being and looking fecking SICK and TIRED!

It has finally hit home.

Please tell me it's true...

Oh, it has. Big style.

Well, thank God for that...

Well, let's be honest. It can't go on like this for much longer. The start of this epiphany, this particular wake-up call was on Saturday after I had the free health check at Ibn Battuta. A blood pressure of 170/110 was recorded, and the nurse said, quite casually, that it was high. I put it down to the stresses of shopping (which the WIFE and kids will testify is my least favourite weekend activity, closely followed by sticking pins in my eyes whilst listening to Toploader). Having done some research (Oh no, not the cyberchondria again...) and talked to a couple of people, it seems that such a reading is really quite high. I should really get a couple more readings to be sure, but I think it's obvious what I am doing to myself. So enough is enough.

I've spent the last decade blaming everyone but myself. I've got a knackered hip, following a bout of Perthes Disease as a kid. I used that as an excuse to do no exercise, especially when the Orthopeadic Surgeon at a now-closed Military hospital in North Yorkshire told me that I shouldn't be playing football on a hip like mine back in 1993 or so. Oh, OK. I will continue to eat fast food, confectionary and drink alcohol, but I won't do anything in place of the football. Come on, everyone knows that swimming and cycling and the like are incredibly boring. Team sport (even when you're completely shite) is where it's at. There's camaraderie, banter, unexpected hat-tricks and a chance to injure people you dislike under the guise of hard tackles (sorry about the knee-cap, Yamamoto). These solo sports are utter bobbins. Isn't there a song about the loneliness of the Long Distance Runner? I always thought of these marathon-runner types as a bit strange. You must be mental to want to run a marathon in the first place, and then all that solitude...26 miles of it. I'd go mad. der.

So, I put on a lot of weight over the next few years. By 1999 I was knocking on for 20 stone. That's 280lbs for our American audience, or 127kgs for the metric-minded. Somehow, I managed to get the WIFE pregnant. No, really, the BOY is mine. Anyway, in the year 2000, about 4 months before he was born I had another moment of awakening and decided to go to Weight Watchers, and promptly lost nearly 5 stone on the Points system. Quite an acheivement, and by the time the BOY was in the big, wide world, he clapped eyes on a relatively slim father.

About a month after the BOY came into the world, I had my first episode of Atrial Fibrillation. This was brought on by excessive caffeine consumption in the form of Red Bull and Pro Plus and coffee by the gallon, all taken to keep me awake due to chronic sleep deprevation caused by a cholicky baby. The AF had probably been there all the time, and the combination of caffeine-abuse and extreme, short-term weight-loss probably contributed to the onset of the arrhythmia. The first time only lasted half an hour. Then I had an episode once every six months for a couple of years, usually after a drinking binge. One was brought on by a rather boozy night in a Chinese restaurant just before Christmas. MSG, alcohol and caffeine are all triggers for it. Not too wise, as Confuscious might have said. Then I went for a 9-month stint in Taiwan, and even with all the decauchery that involved, I only had 2 episodes. With most of these episodes I just stayed in bed for the day and they always stopped by the evening or the next day. I would wake up in AF after a blow-out, then lie in bed all day, then wake up the next day in Normal Sinus Rhythm again. Cool. Just like a hangover with knobs on, really.

Hey, is this going anywhere? It's turning into a life story...

Yeah, yeah. I'm going somewhere with this. It's all important, the background to where I am now. Anyway, after Taiwan I managed to go over a year without having an episode. I forgot about it. I became complacent. The weight I had lost was coming back, pound by pound. It ALWAYS does with these kind of diets. I had a couple of goes at Slimming World, but didn't have the will-power this time. Then the GIRL came along in mid-2004. About a month or two later we drove to the Channel Tunnel, making our way to a holiday on the Continent. It was Friday 13th. The traffic was absolutely atrocious, making our journey 3 hours longer than it should have been and leaving us tired and stressed when we got to the hotel just before the tunnel. I had a bar of chocolate before retiring. Snickers or something. Not a Marathon. Big mistake. The beast (as AF sufferers ALL call it) knocked on the door, and despite my protestations, I couldn't keep it out, and I went into an episode. Bugger. Fear gripped me. I was in a strange place and it happened at a strange time, for me. So we rang 999 and I got taken to a hospital in Ashford where they poked and prodded and stuck me full of needles before deciding to give me a drug to help the heart get back to normal. It worked like a dream.

It turns out I was also suffering from a virus, so the combination of the stress of the journey and the virus had caused the AF to rear its ugly head again. The hospital let me go the next day, giving me a prescription for an anti-arrhythmic drug that I've been on pretty much ever since. Attempts to come off it have failed. It does control it in the main, but I have ectopic (missed) heart beats on a regular basis. Some days are worse than others, depending on how I feel. And at the moment, I'm feeling pretty crappy, if truth be told.

I know why this is: I'm back up to 20 stone again. I've been creeping up and up to that dreaded milestone again, and the last 3 months of over-eating here in Dubai have just made matters worse. I've brought this on myself. And now my blood-pressure is high as well.

Oh, woe is me!

See this? It's the smallest violin in the world...

Aye. Very good. So over the last few days I've been looking into things again, and through Hans Larsen's fantastic website about AF, I've formulated a plan. On the message boards and forums and conference sessions there have been a lot of discussions about The Paleo Diet, or Caveman diet. There are a few books about it knocking around. I've had an inkling for some time that this was the way to go. I even bought the Loren Cordain book back in the UK but never got round to starting it. It's like it's been staring me in the face: I'm making myself ill by eating CRAP. Not brain science, or even rocket surgery, I know, but all my many ailments - the feeling crappy, the obesity, the insomnia, the fibromyalgia, maybe even the AF itself - are down to what I've been putting in my mouth.

The theory behind the Paleo diet is that we aren't designed to eat what we now eat, and our bodies are reacting to this by treating these "foodstuffs" as foreign invaders, and essentially producing an extreme allergic reaction, but at the same time, we crave what makes us ill, because we get a rush from eating high glycemic index foods that give us quick fixes of energy. Agriculture, a relatively recent innovation for mankind, has been a curse (in more ways than one, and I don't mean grumpy farmers), because for the first million or two years as human beings we ate as hunter-gatherers. We ate what we could hunt and gather, not what we farmed and mass-produced. All these grains and starchy vegetables that we have to process are poison to our systems. Millions of people are waking up to it, and realising that the modern carb-rich, processed diet is slowly eating away at us and making us ill. Diabetes, heart disease, obesity - these are modern conditions caused by the way we eat. I know some will say it's another version of Atkins, but there are essential differences - namely eating lean meat and avoiding dairy as well as being able to eat fruit for the carbs we do need.

Bloody hell, I've convinced myself. I'll be getting called a shill if I'm not careful. Anyway, I'm going to give it a go. A real go. I've tried so many things, and have chased my tail hither and thither looking for the Holy Grail. It seems to make more sense the more I look into it. I don't want to carry on the way I am and end up dying early and missing out on what could be a great life with a great family.

It's time to get a life. My life.


Off with the horns, on with the show. This is about Dubai. And bloating. And beer, which I'll have to knock on the head now....

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