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Nature’s Hounds

Nature’s Hounds
Nature’s Hounds

Ready to recycle more and drive less?

A green lifestyle generally prompts a healthy one and taking care of yourself becomes more important the older you get. Although illness can strike at any time, there are certain ailments and conditions that patiently wait most of your life before springing. In other words, you reach that age when nature lets out the hounds. Here are some facts.

It Becomes Harder to Remain Slim

Not that everyone waits for the onset of “middle-age spread”. Watching some video footage shot in my UK town centre in the 1970s, I wondered: “where are all the fat people?” It was like a zoo without hippos or elephants. The absence of enormous chins and massive waists made the high street seem weirdly barren. People looked too skinny to properly fill up the surrounding space. One reason why people are fatter nowadays was demonstrated when three vast women ahead of me in a café ordered a mountain of sugar. This was in the form of mugs of coffee not only sweetened with thick syrup, but topped with stodgy dollops of dairy cream, piles of mini marshmallows, and a heavy sprinkling of chocolate. I was horrified. It was only eight o’clock dear God! I wondered whether I should call an ambulance. Blame it on the food industry, or people’s lack of willpower, but obesity in the West is a modern plague. A health survey in 2019 estimated that 28 percent of people in England were obese. Picture that 28 percent as a slice of Black Forest gateau and you’ll understand more.

Sleeping Becomes More Difficult

The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. Most experts agree on this. The reverse must also be true, that lots of sleep is healthy and promotes longevity. There must be a limit though, otherwise, people could become immortal by simply sleeping non-stop for 24 hours a day, existing in a world of eternal dreams. That certainly wouldn’t suit me. My dreams are like they’re written and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. I’m forever fending off bird attacks and knife-wielding psychos in my sleep. Furthermore, I’m one of those people who partially act out their dreams, throwing punches and launching karate kicks like a wobbly drunk. I was concerned to read that night terrors put you at a higher risk of contracting dementia. I can only hope I don’t get the type of dementia where you take off all your clothes in public and sit down to eat other people’s leftovers.

The Eyesight Deteriorates

I can’t describe how dismayed I was when a bartender referred to me as “the gentleman in the glasses” since I’d always viewed glasses as a deformity akin to goofy teeth or a hunched back. Truth be told, my eyesight began to go when I was forty when I suddenly had to contend with taking out my mobile phone with one hand and my new reading glasses with the other to look at a text message. Those glasses have since evolved into high-strength varifocals that stop me from walking off cliff edges. In the UK, we get free eye tests when we reach sixty, along with free prescription medicine. That’s great. But how about free alcohol too? They say that a glass of red wine a day is good for you. Unfortunately, like with sleep, there is a limit. And that glass is it. The list of diseases caused by excessive alcohol is a long one. It includes the appropriately named “Wet Brain”, or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which is related to chronic vitamin B1 deficiency and is a common complication of long-term heavy drinking. It’s not certain whether an acute case of this disease can be called “Very Wet Brain” or even “Soaking Wet Brain”.

You Become Less Mobile

When I developed a bad leg and started using a walking stick, I ironically felt freer when out in public. People stepped aside to let me by. They pulled their kids out of my path. When I boarded a packed train, the guard escorted me to an empty seat as though I were a guest of honour. This special treatment is all well and good, but it’s not unlike being identified by my glasses (“make way for the gentleman with the stick”). And this stick, let’s face it, is where the infirmity begins, a process of increasing frailty that ends with my being lifted on and off the toilet and having my food cut up for me. It can’t be all bad and I fantasize about installing a stairlift. My grandmother had one. The kids used to wave her goodbye as she began her ascent to the bathroom, reaching a dizzying 0.15 mph with a prevailing draught. Upon her return much later, they would excitedly point her out as though spotting a sail coming over the horizon. That’s a problem with stairlifts. You could die of old age on them.

Certain Glands Play Up

This one is for the men only. The prostate is a walnut-sized pelvic gland that produces seminal fluid, the stuff sperm swims in. Unfortunately, it can enlarge over a lifetime until it causes urination difficulties. This problem is commonly treated with Alpha-blockers, a medication that relaxes the muscles around the prostate and the urethra, allowing urine to flow freely. Sadly, it’s not suitable for men with a sex life, since Alpha-blockers can relax the bladder neck to such an extent that a “retrograde” or “dry” ejaculation results. This means that the man ejaculates into his own bladder, a vanishing trick which, as you can imagine, might cause consternation among everyone involved. Drugs companies once investigated using Alpha-blockers as a male contraceptive, except that the results were not consistent enough and men, presumably, didn’t want their bladders turned into aquariums. Also, one possible side effect of Alpha-blockers is diarrhoea, which is fine if there’s no danger of the man crapping into his own stomach.

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