Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Those resolutions

I may have said before that I never make New Year's resolutions and I haven't this year. I think that January is possibly the one time in the year when good intentions are most likely to fall by the wayside. After all it is cold, wet and cheerless with nothing on the immediate horizon to look forward to. January is just bleurgh and the only upside is that it means that the gym, which is heaving with newbies hogging all the machines in the early part of the month should return to normal by about mid-February.
However the government, perhaps mindful of events such as dry January, chose this month to issue new alcohol guidelines the first major update since 1995. The report/ advice, which many did decry as evidence of the nanny state, made pretty grim reading saying that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption and reducing the recommended limits for men to 14 units a week, the same as that for women. Now it is important to keep information in proportion, one website I looked at carried articles warning of potatoes increasing the risk of diabetes, hot drinks linked to cancer of the throat and so on, however in this case I am pretty sure the risks have not been exaggerated.
My usual  consumption consists of  a bottle of wine opened on a Friday night and it takes me two or three days to drink.  So far, so good. The problem is that Mr M is very prone, once the bottle is finished, to open another one on a weekday evening- and I don't usually complain, or I do but only feebly. But unbelievable though it may seem, two bottles of wine takes you into the region of 16-21 units, over the recommended levels.  I am not doing "dry January"( though interestingly loads of my colleagues are) but I am just making sure that once the bottle is gone, another one isn't opened until the next weekend. This usually gives me four or five alcohol days per week. It is not a resolution, or at least not a New Year's resolution, it is just how I think it ought to be.
On a plus note, I've  discovered that one glass of wine contains as many calories as a cornetto ice cream which sounds like an absolute result except that regular consumption no doubt increases your risk of a host of nasties by ridiculous percent...


  1. I must confess I take these ‘guidelines’ with a pinch of salt – both my parents were regular drinkers (in fact my mother continues to have at least one or two units a day). A rough calculation of my parents’ drinking would be that for many years my father drank about 40 units a week and my mother about 20. They are both almost 90 and in reasonable health – although my father has mild vascular dementia. My father doesn’t drink at all now, as it makes him confused, so he refrains (and never asks for it either).

    I don’t think taxing is the answer – it is about culture really. We just need to learn to enjoy ourselves without booze. As I get older I dislike drinking more and more (and I used to drink quite regularly – and sometimes heavily – in my 30s). Now I enjoy a glass of good red with a steak or cheeses – but more and more, my drink of choice in a pub is lime and soda – occasionally a pale ale (and I don’t really like pubs anymore). Why do I drink less? I think because 1) I am rather content with my lot and 2) as a child of parents who regularly drank and as a social worker I have just seen the harm alcohol does in the long term.

    That said I don’t think a couple of bottles of wine a week is too much of worry for a couple. However, any more, and I’d see it as something to watch...


  2. We wouldn't eat or drink much if we followed all the guidelines I think. Apparently sugar is the work of the devil, ham and bacon will finish us all off etc, etc. No, a couple of bottles of wine probably won't do too much harm but like you, I think it is concerning that so many of us perhaps drink every day when in the past we would only do so at a weekend or from time to time.
    Is your father still coping at home or is he in some sort of care now?

  3. Back in the 80s, when I was assistant manager of a residential home in Leeds, I remember a resident complaining that the staff never put enough sugar in her tea or enough butter on her bread. I noted that these foods were bad for her and she would never live to a ripe old age... We both then howled with laughter - she was 102 at the time and went on to die, in her sleep, with all her marbles at the grand old age of 107 (out living two of her children - who themselves died in their 80s!). Yet when I worked in cancer care I'd see 17 year olds die.
    I come from a family where the men, on my father's side rarely live into their 70s and many die in their 50s of heart disease (I've lost two cousins in the past two years of heart failure). My father had a massive heart attack in 1995 (aged 68) and only survived because he happened to be on the operating table at the time, awaiting the start of an angioplasty - if he’d had the MI on the street, he would have died before they got him to hospital. He’s had reasonably good health since – although was told he had five years to live in 2000 because he had prostate cancer... 16 years later he’s still with us. Ironically, the dementia is probably related to his heart attack, as he has remained in atrial fibrillation ever since and so takes Warfarin to stop thrombi caused by the heart beating irregularly and inefficiently - but it doesn’t stop all tiny clots and the dementia may be caused by little clots lodging in his brain. He’s still at home and in the main, to outsiders, he appears normal. But I noticed when I was visiting last month, that he can’t always follow a conversation now – and when out for Sunday lunch a few months ago turned to me and asked if I knew his son (he meant ME!). My sister and I are just hoping he dies soon – and have every intention of helping nature on her way, the next time he has a serious infection or medical emergency. I am a big fan of passive euthanasia – much is written and talked about the immorality of euthanasia, but little said about the immorality of forcing someone to live on when all quality of life is gone. So when Nature presents an opportunity of death for my father, we have no guilt about taking her up on the offer!

    Because of the history of heart disease on my father’s side of the family I have just had a series of tests. It turns out I have left ventricle dysfunction - but it's diastolic, not systolic - so nothing to worry about really (many athletes will have this - its caused by the heart muscle not fully relaxing on the rest beat). I scored 107% fitness for a man of my age on the treadmill test – and as I am out of shape, because I broke my leg last year and I am still recovering so long walks (my usual exercise) are not possible at present, I am rather pleased with this assessment. I had an angiogram a few weeks ago, too. This was stopped after the first CT Scan as there was no evidence of calcification of my coronary arteries and so they didn’t proceed with exposing me to more radiation and drugs in the second and third stages of the tests. My chances of a heart attack are very low – so I must take after my mother’s side of the family who all live into their late 80s and 90s.

    And I think that is the real issue – one’s genetic history – and sheer luck!

    A little moderation in all things seems to be the ticket. So we had steak on Sunday – but yesterday we had a vegetarian main meal... and we’ll have fish tonight. And I might just have a few sherries at weekend...


  4. Genetic history and luck do play a huge part. Kev also has history in his family of high blood pressure/ heart disease so is monitored and, like you, it all looks good. I am very thankful for statins!
    All in all, it is best to just be sensible and remember life is for living so don't forgo the odd treat or two:)