Health and Efficiency

I’ve had a back ache.

It’s been a heck of a year so far. I’m reflecting at the moment on a health scare of relatively small proportion but the fact that it happened kickstarts the brain into overdrive.

If you’re not in my SMS circle or following me on Twitter, let me start with the ailment:
In February I went for a run up Ingleborough in fairly tough conditions but nothing out the of ordinary, and pee’d blood. Just a bit, in fact, not enough to even register with me at the time that it was blood, but just a really blackcurrent-dark colour. I put it time to dehydration and being a bit under the weather and tired when I ran hard up a mountain in the cold.

I took a silly gamble in brushing it under the carpet, man-style. That was a bit daft, in retrospect. Last Monday I had a wake up call and the same happened. Really red. I was busy but the gamble hadn’t paid off and it was a no-brainer to get myself checked out. The GP tested and said – yes – very positive for blood, get thee to a consultant very quickly. I’m 42… it’s not like I’m retirement age or something. I just expects body to work. Is that too much to ask?

The NHS experience (all to familiar for me in recent years!) is just fantastic. One of those things that makes me proud to be British. Consultants, nurses, specialists all have been super-efficient, fast, friendly, fantastic, and in the space of just over a week I have been to basic positive test through three (on time!) appointments and a diagnosis. I have a couple of kidney stones. Nothing major, and that is of massive relief, but a little too large to ‘pass’ in the unthinkable common way. So an operation beckons. The chapter is not closed, but I’m a relieved man. I’m expecting a pretty small operation to zap the 9mm bullets stuck in my ureter just above my bladder and that, as far as I can tell, should be the end of it. I’m already very happy, even though I haven’t even had an operation yet. You know how it goes with scares. The big C was preying on my mind, having lost my Dad when I was nine to what started with back ache. He died of lymphoma within 6 months. Unwarranted and knee jerk worrying, I’m sure, but this is the domain of those mind games.

Here’s what I’ve learned, anyway:

  1. There’s no smoke without fire:
    Cliché but if you think something’s wrong with you, and yopu’re normally stoic, there probably is. Get to the doctor, nincompoop.
  2. Kidneys are linked to bloody everything
    I’ve done a lot of reading since diagnosed with these tiny little non-pissable bullets. Flipping heck those kidneys can give people some problems. Reading up on it there is (what I hope!) a strong correlation between kidney stones and lower back pain, hydration, blood pressure regulation, electrolyte moderation, energy levels, etc. As a cyclist it’s totally natural that I moan about bad form, have excuses etc. We all do. But, blimey – this could be a silver bullet type thing. I just might have been getting a bit crap at cycling, running, etc. for a real bona fide reason, heaven forbid.
  3. Hydrate.
    If you think you’ve had enough to drink, you probably haven’t . Fluid is good, water is very good. Lots of fluid and water is very very very good. That way, these little stoney chaps don’t get big enough to take hold on your inside tubey bits. In the last few days I’ve had a pint of water when I get up, and two more pints of water ‘down in one’ during the morning, and a further two pints during the rest of the day. I’m not in the habit of sipping so I stand there at the sink and sink a pint. Easy medication, and free.

So.. heading towards the next few days and this operation thingie, I’m already feeling like I’m over it. Maybe even that I might just stop feeling knackered every time I run or ride a bike, and just maybe I might get over this back problem and be able to put enough watts down through my pelvis again to start feeling like I’m not a past it old guy. Fingers crossed.

Even if nothing else, I’ll get to lose a stone very quickly.