Having never missed a day from work for fifty-three years – most of it physical – I took a notion a few years ago and retired. I got up one morning and saw the light and said to myself there must be easier ways of earning a crust. I took the ‘bull by the horns’ and got serious about my writing, having enjoyed it as a nice little hobby previously. Sixteen published books later, I am now busier than ever, but I wouldn’t really call it work, and I must say I’m happier and more contented now than ever before. Living in the green and misty isle of Ireland in summer and in the idyllic Maltese Islands in winter keeps me happy and comfortable too, avoiding extremes of summer heat in Malta and the cold and dampness of the Irish winters. I know you are going to say: “It’s a tough old life” and I say: “Yes, you’re right, but sure someone has to do it,” but I really do believe that most people could organise their lives better, and I always agreed with the person who said “Life is what you make it.” The one big factor that plays a vital role in all of this is health – or the lack of it. Poor health can play havoc with your best laid plans and turn your life upside down. You’ve got to be healthy to make the most of life, otherwise you are at nothing.
Like most people, I have relied on my local doctor to keep me healthy and strong, and over the years I have received excellent care and attention whenever I had a problem. Doctors come in all shapes, sizes, personalities and levels of competence. Of all the tradesmen that we encounter during life, none are more vital to our well-being and survival than our GP. We could be unlucky and get one of those ego-driven, pompous know-alls who treat us like fools, never conversing or confiding in us and hiding away our bodily data as if they were State Secrets. Whenever I visited my doctor, for whatever reason, I have always insisted on getting the facts – warts and all. If I don’t get a clear answer to my question I ask further questions and keep on asking until I know exactly how this old body is measuring up and if there is any danger of me snuffing it in the near future. It is really my business and I demand to know.
It all reminds me of the little story I heard of an Irish farmer who in his sixties decided to have a first check-up to see how his body was faring and what the future might hold. On completion of the test and buoyed up by the news that he was in perfect health, he ventured to pick the doctor’s brain. This is how it went:
Doctor. “Do you smoke?”
Doctor. “Do you drink?”
Farmer. “No – not a drop.”
Doctor. “Do you have sex?”
Farmer. “Oh God no!!
Doctor. “Well what do you want to live to be ninety for then?”
I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for the dedication and commitment of General Practitioners everywhere, but I often feel they are overused and over worked, and the first ‘port of call’ for trivial ailments when their valuable time could be used for more urgent and serious illnesses.
I also consult ‘Doctor Google’, a new expert on everything including healthcare. Ask him any question you like and he will have an answer – not only one but several answers. How did we survive without him? I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that to me he is a physician, a lifesaver, a mentor, a loyal adviser and a source of vast knowledge that I use every day and am so grateful for his input to my ‘University of Life.’
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