Friday, May 21, 2010

User's Guide 'highly-commended'

A few people - one of whom I wasn't even related to in any way - have asked me how my book The User's Guide to the Male Body got on in the Medical Journalist's Awards. Well, I didn't win but, hey, as my mum always says, it's not the winning, it's the taking part. (This is also of course the motto of the England football team.) Anyway, the book was highly-commended and there are pix and more details on the malehealth website. Thanks to those who have bought the book - I hope you both like it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The dangers of self diagnosis

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the blogosphere.

This column has returned from the dead, bug-eyed and gurning, more often than Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, each time with a new improved excuse for its unremarked absence. Well, I’ve got a good one this time. You’ll like this. I’ve been laid low by a tooth infection.

Now the phrase ‘go and see a health professional’ probably appears in malehealth more often than the Vic has been torched in Eastenders. It’s ever-present. Not sure about something, don’t try to guess, ask a doc. Let me tell you, it’s bloody good advice.

A few years ago I had a problem with bleeding gums and sensitive teeth. A visit to the dentist and a special toothpaste sorted it out easily enough. So this time when I had similar symptoms and sipping tea was like someone drilling through my molars with a blunt Black and Decker, I assumed the same problem. The special tooth-paste seemed to help a little and I made no connection between this and the procession of colds and coughs I'd been enduring so stoically throughout the winter.

Then suddenly I had the sort of toothache that had me wailing like a five year old on the karaoke machine, cutting deals with God, the devil and several tumblers of whisky. I had no choice but to go to the dentist. He poked around, unleashed a river of pus and removed – or to use the technical term, whacked with a small hammer until it fell off – an old crown that fell into my lap looking like the barnacle burnished underside of a long-sunk dredger.

The result: a temporary crown, an extracted milk tooth, pain-killers and an antibiotics. The latter were about two inches wide and presumably designed for use on horses. After a week or so in which I've been higher than a helium-filled Pete Doherty, they seem to have both cleared up the infection and improved my dressage. Next step: more root canal surgery. Hmmm.

A routine visit to the dentist would have saved me a lot of pain. Health columnist, heed thyself.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Can Gordon Brown deliver a remedy that will make all men feel better?

What has the general election got to do with men's health? Or more to the point, what the hell do I think I'm doing blogging about it?

Actually I think an electoral system where most votes don't count is very unhealthy - and I don't just mean for our politics. What the system means is that most of us simply aren't being listened to. In my experience, this feeling, the sense of powerlessness, the sense of everything being beyond your control is central to a lot of male mental health problems. Of course, I'm not saying proportional representation will solve domestic violence, drunkenness or other manifestations of male distress but it will increase everyone's sense of genuine involvement in society and that has got be a good thing for us all. In short, a sense of impotent isolation kills and 'first past the post' politics contributes to this.

Can anyone deliver the change we need? prime minister Gordon Brown just about has the votes to create a grand coalition to introduce electoral reform but while this change might make most men feel better, it's probably going to make the man who needs to do it feel very ill indeed. I think there's much to admire about Gordon Brown so who knows - perhaps after a decent night's sleep? I'm not betting on it. Betting, now that's enough cause of male mental anguish!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

'Of course I'm enjoying it, darling - I'm about to update my status'

According to a new survey, 11% of American under 25s check their emails and texts during sex.

The survey was conducted by a consumer electronics website for the purposes of self-publicity so the whole thing needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt. But nonetheless the figures suggest a worrying level of addiction. Some 56% of social media users feel a ‘need’ to check FaceBook at least once a day (48% check during the night or when they very first wake up) and there are an impressive 12% who check in every couple of hours.

Is this the latest madness from the country that brought you President Bush or just proof that people will say anything in an opinion poll? Given that in umpteen surveys at least 3% of the US population claim to have been abducted by space aliens, it’s probably a bit of both but all the same.

Perhaps it depends what sort of sex you’re engaged in – many of the lads in the age group concerned will have a hand free most of the time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why get active? It's a question of health.

I've spent most of the last week or so preparing the malehealth online quiz A Question of Health. It's all part of Men's Health Week 2010 - the theme of which is physical activity and the aim of which is to get a million more men moving.

Winners of this online quiz will be invited to the Week's national launch event to compete in a live Question of Health against a celebrity team including snooker legend Jimmy White, former World Darts Champion Andy Fordham, and rugby league celebrity Steve Prescott. Quizmaster is fisherman and broadcaster Keith Arthur. There will be sporting prizes for the winning team. And prizes for those who do well in the quiz but can't come to the event.

A Question of Health will be held at West Ham FC (Upton Park, London) on Monday 14 June, 4.00 to 6.00pm and will be followed by a drinks reception and a free tour of West Ham's ground.

There are two further quizzes just for fun - well worth doing to warm-up for the real thing!