Thursday, 9 September 2010

Regarding 'health'

There's been a lot of fuss over the effects, so called, of 'second hand smoke'. Apparently this stuff is more dangerous than Potassium Cyanide, sweating Gelignite, or rabid Gerbils. The merest whiff will kill you within fifty years, or so some authorities would have us all think. Bearing this in mind, some quite draconian bans have been put in place because of the implied threat.

Health Insurance companies, ever quick to improve their margins, refuse to pay up if the client has ever so much as looked admiringly at a Meerschaum pipe. In the world of work it's just as strange. You smoke cigars? Well you can't work here. Or there, or there; because they're 'smoke free'. In fact some North American employers will 'fine' you if you smoke more than four cigars a year in your own home. Wow. Land of the free? Not any more it isn't.

If, as we are all frequently told by various authorities on health or illness, we should all live healthier lifestyles, why the emphasis on sport? For example, running on hard surfaces is a medium to long term health hazard for your lower joints and feet. Athletes are frequently plagued by expensive to treat torn ligaments and other cartilaginous ailments. Is this 'healthy'? Doesn't sound like it, but are athletes threatened with exclusions or fines for their lifestyle choices? No? Do we hear about how much work time is lost through weekend sports injuries? Well not really. Funny that.

As far as tobacco, alcohol or weight are concerned I think certain otherwise intelligent people have slipped over the tolerance event horizon and disappeared into a point singularity of frothing antipathy. Weigh a bit more than some spurious chart tells you? - BAD! You're going to die and we're not going to treat you because it will cost too much. You've actually smelled tobacco smoke? Quick Nurse, the Oxygen! Drink more alcohol than another chart based on figures plucked out of thin air? Up to bed and no supper - NOW! It's the extremism, the hysterical over reaction to a perceived threat that bothers me.

Just as an aside; have you ever seen all those really healthy people who work in hospitals? The űbermensch-like 'health' professionals, those idols of perfection at whose feet the rest of us mere mortals are not fit to worship? The ones who want to dictate the lives of others? No? Having spent a couple of years working within the British NHS, I can say I never met any. Not amongst all the health neurotics, chocoholic nurses, overweight social workers, overtired medics and world weary Paramedics. None at all. We are all fallible and mortal. So who are they to dictate to the rest of us?

Maybe I'm being unfair here, and perhaps it's more 'Health' Management that are driving the charivari over 'healthy' lifestyles. You know, control freaks who are so insecure and fearful in themselves their mental pollution spills out contaminate the real world. Having thought about it, it's hard not to conclude that all the bansturbatory legislation has the smack of ham handed one-size-fits-all 'tick box' management. Rather like that taught in MBA courses.

Another thought occurs. All this 'healthy lifestyle' stuff is all so much guff really. For every study 'proving' that something is bad for you, there is another study which concludes negative correlation. Each study only told the experimenter the answer to the question posited. This doesn't change the reality that followers of 'healthy' lifestyles do not on the whole, appear to live much longer than their less strenuous brethren. I've known serious health freaks keel over from heart attacks and all sort of malignancies, without rhyme or reason. They convince themselves of a health regimen, and no logic or reason, nor crippling disability, can persuade them otherwise.

Now when you look at family histories it's easy to see where much mortality comes from. Let's say your Granddad died at forty five, so genetically speaking there's a 50:50 or less chance you will too. On the other hand you might not. Life is a lottery, and all you can do is live it. All the legislation in the known universe cannot change that simple truism, and you might as well enjoy yourself while you're breathing. Getting born and dying aren't important. It's what you achieve, the lives you touch while you're living that's crucial. Otherwise you're just marking time for the old grim reaper.

There was one particular overweight smoker and drinker whose name is revered in most sensible Western culture. Not perfect, but a man whose imperfections and mistakes did not limit him. He lived to the age of 91. You can make of that what you will.

As for other conditions; we have a family friend who is dying of Asbestosis contracted working around 1940's warship construction. He's 91. Never jogged, smoked cigars up until he was over 80, and only stopped drinking six months ago. To die so young, eh?


Angry Exile said...

The emphasis on sport and healthy eating is the new version of Strength Through Joy. Simple as that.

Bill Sticker said...

Yeah , and look what that philosophy led to.

Angry Exile said...

Not just the war as such but the way hatred so easily became an everyday part of life. There are hints of it in newspaper comments, a kind of Pink Floydian 'if I had my way I'd have all of you shot' vibe that begins to come out of people, and it's fucking chilling. And yes, my misanthropy dial is on 11 again this morning.

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