Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Today I went to the medical centre to pick up my report, after my prodding and poking back in December. Rather than being sat down with the doctor to discuss the cheesiness of my blood, I was ushered into another room where a nurse asked me to take my top off.

For a moment, I assumed I'd walked onto the set of a porno by accident, and then I saw the treadmill. Ah, so it was a porno involving exercise equipment. What I'd omitted to do in the last two and a half months was the treadmill EEG, so two medical staff dabbed me with alcohol and then taped electrodes all over my torso.

I was feeling quite glad that I chose to wear my sneakers to work today, rather than a pair of smooth soled brogues. I probably shouldn't have done that espresso shot at 3pm though...

Because I'm 35, I must have a maximum heart rate of 185 bpm. That is The Law, an immutable fact of the universe, and not just a simple rule of thumb that one should try to overcome. So they set me off on the treadmill, at a stately 1.0 mph, and every three minutes the speed ticked up a bit, and the medical staff gradually had more reason to regret taking jobs involving watching a man walking on a treadmill, while sweating copiously.

I was sweating copiously, I mean, not the staff. They may have been, but given my ability to perspire at a Olympian level if I go anywhere near exercise, I wouldn't have noticed. After about five minutes, the cardiologist, a woman in a pinstripe suit, came in.

Well, I assume she was the cardiologist. Perhaps she was just somebody who lives in Hong Kong who likes watching half naked men running on the spot at gradually increasing speeds. She seemed quite happy, and both her and the two people in scrubs kept telling me that if I felt uncomfortable or tired at any point, I could stop.

Unluckily for all of us, nobody had seen fit to write "bloody minded marathon runner" on my notes, otherwise they'd have realised that you can dress me up like a gimp and strap things to my chest, but until you drape a medal round my neck or give me a dubiously decorated t-shirt, I'll carry on chugging for an eternity.

That's right, the future is a human face sweating on some boots. Forever.

At 15 minutes and 'only' 181 beats per minute, which for 5 miles an hour is nothing short of pathetic, they suddenly lost their appetite for being stuck in a room with the incredible melting man, and switched the treadmill into cool-down mode.
So I never did find out in a laboratory environment how high my heart rate will go, although I did find out that I can get horribly sweaty in less than 15 minutes, and you can give me as many paper hankies as you like to wipe the perspiration off, but it won't matter; I'll drip and drip and drip.

But that was that. I got dressed again and went to see the doctor, who told me I had scoliosis and high cholesterol, and I was going to have to go on drugs. I was hoping that medical science had advanced in the last year, and he was going to tell me I was going to be hit with rubber mallets to cure the slight curvature of my spine, but no: time for statins to make my blood less like that of a Roquefort.

I've an antipathy to drugs, and I'm not going to be in Hong Kong for observation in less than a week, so I sprinted out of there, already focussed on not eating any cheese for the next month and doing some exercise, in the hope that I can work the same trick as last year. I guess we can verify whether this works or not in a month's time...


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