It was a bit like one of those epic battles between dinosaurs that the films of Ray Harryhausen used to specialise in : two mighty creatures locked together in a life-or-death struggle. In fact, it was me and the Practice Nurse at the GP's this morning as I went for my follow-up check after the "funny turn" I had a few weeks ago. Despite avoiding all disasters on the way to the surgery, my blood pressure was still alarmingly high. Dipping my head to expose my horny carapace, I went into battle. "I have one of those blood-pressure machines at home and when I take my own reading it is perfectly normal". I know how much healthcare people hate such attacks : what I was really saying was that either you are no good at taking blood pressure readings or your equipment is old-hat compared to the dinky little machine I bought from ASDA for £12.50.
"I think we will go with my reading rather than yours", she countered, rather lamely I thought. "Well I looked it up on the internet and it suggests I have the heart of a man half my age", I went on. This was a beautiful lunge on my part - self diagnosis via the internet is loathed in the profession and statements which imply that the patient will live forever goes against all the things such people learn at doctor and nurse school.
I was feeling quite pleased with myself. She was no match for me. Contest over. I began to roll down my sleeve with a self-satisfied smile on my face. "Unfortunately, what we're looking at is lifestyle change", she said. Bastard! I was on the floor, rolling around in agony. These two simple words - "lifestyle change - were a knock-out blow. In a short sentence she had condemned the whole 59 years of my life. I had got it wrong. I had to change. It's goodbye to the bags of chips, the occasional cigar, the pints of beer, the football in front of the telly, the late nights and the hours spent in front of the computer. It's hello to salad, exercise, yoga, and organic carrots. Otherwise I will finish up dead - as dead as a dinosaur in fact.
I limped off to lick my wounds. I have to go back on Thursday to have a 24 hour blood pressure monitor fitted. I have to go back on Friday to have my blood taken. I have to go back and have a flu jab. I have to go to slimming classes. But us dinosaurs don't give up easily : remember, we ruled the world for a good few million years. I am working on my counter attack. I am just nipping down to the chip shop first, but then I will start preparing for the coming battle. My lifestyle may be pretty rotten according to the new ideology, but it is my lifestyle. And I'm rather fond of it.