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1) I had The Talk with my 11 year old son last night. I think I did well and I got some great questions from him. We talked about lots of stuff: DNA, puberty, the menstrual cycle, conception, contraception, XY chromasomes, how twins come about and teenage pregnancy. It was wide ranging and after a few brief factoids, I let him direct the conversation, to ask any question he wished. The only confusion that happened was when he couldn’t understand how eating a condom each month would help prevent conception. I had to go over that one with him one more time.

2) I have been suffering from a large mouth ulcer that has been lodged in the back of my throat over the past week. It is near the opening to my inner ear, so I have had an earache as well as a bad sore throat. I went to the doctor and I was prescribed antibiotics, which in hindsight was a fairly poor diagnosis. What I had was viral, not bacterial. It’s as useful as throwing a life-belt onto a road to help in a car accident.

3) I went for a medical test yesterday. The results indicate that I need to make some big lifestyle changes regarding diet and exercise. This is no surprise to me, but given my current daily and weekly routines, not to mention my love-affair with high cholesterol food and lack of exercise opportunities during the week, I am not sure where I start. It’s a huge challenge for me. Huge. No, really.

4) On the plus side, I had a meeting with my dermatologist and the result is terrific. Over four years, no recurrence and nothing suspicious looking on my skin. It means I’m now out of the danger zone. Long may it last.

As the year’s embers grow cold

Let us remember the good times;

Allowing those darker sands

To fall through our hands;

Soil for the flowers of an approaching spring.

I wish you health and joy in 2010.

Matthias Rath is the kind of person you want to punch in the face.

goldacre-rathOver the past two decades, Rath has made it his business to play down the importance of anti-viral medication used in the treatment of HIV and AIDS and to promote the sale of his own vitamin pills instead. 

He has been very successful pushing this view. The government of South Africa listened to him and his ilk, and as a result, hundreds of thousands of people died because they did not get access to the right drugs. Hundreds of thousands of entirely preventable deaths. It’s sickening. 

Not only that, but this guy went after everyone who might think of criticising him: AIDS researchers, grassroots healthcare organisations in South Africa and, most recently, Ben Goldacre, the journalist behind the “Bad Science” column in the Guardian newspaper in the UK. 

Goldacre’s eponymous book “Bad Science” could not be published in full until the legal proceedings against him were out of the way. Now that the case has been settled with Rath withdrawing all charges, Goldacre has published the missing chapter, in full, for free, on the Internet. Have a read. It will make you sick to your stomach at what these people were up to.

For many years I have not made any New Year resolutions. I’ve always felt that this time of the year was the worst time for changing my ways – something to do with the pitiable lack of sunlight in this part of the globe.

I made no explicit resolutions this year either. However, despite myself, I have changed a few things over the past weeks that might conceiveably improve my quality of life.

  • I have cut down considerably on fries, jambons, breakfast rolls and other heart-cloggers for breakfast in preference for granola bars and apples.
  • I have also cut down on snacking. I’m eating 3 meals a day and nothing in-between.
  • I have given up smoking. Not that I was ever much of a smoker, but I have given it up completely now and I feel no craving for the stuff whatsoever.
  • I have cut down greatly on caffeine. Strong coffees and teas were not going down well with me, so I’ve gone decaf.

I already feel a lot better. My stomach has settled down a lot and my body seems to be dealing better with stress. I also hope to do more exercise, particularly during the weekends.

Life is good.

Well, I don’t have a pain quite yet. Give me a few hours though.

I had a routine operation today to have a mole removed. It wasn’t a big thing – just a routine procedure under local anasthetic with a small area of skin removed for further examination.

Suspicious Mole

I realise I’m a total wimp though, when I read Phred’s recent blog entry.

You can all squirm now.

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