Sunday, December 31, 2006

A mobile-phone version of this site would be useful for dealing with those inconsistent labels mentioned below. It comes grace of the US government and though pounds and onces aren't the imperial kind (I think) you're given lots of weight options, including metric of course, and lots and lots of food info about just about everything. It is search-based rather than list based and seems to do the trick nicely. I tried bananas, maple syrup and tuna canned in oil. (No - it's not some mad dish I'm conjuring up). It provided all the info I needed plus some. Definitely worth a visit.

Over here the new thing is Five Portions of Fruit and Veg a Day. Check it out here. This is the total opposite in style - it keeps things short and sweet and there is a useful list of of "portion" samples. It could do with a portion-calculator and a search function I think.

And failing that there is also the option of popping a few newly-arrived pills and getting them to do the job for you - for smoking and for weight control.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Stepping towards 2007

Christmas Cigarettes
Originally uploaded by Todd Ehlers.

Here's an eve of new year's eve summary as far as smoking is concerned:

8m 3w 12:50 smoke-free, 6,644 cigs not smoked, £770.70 saved, 3w 2d 01:40 life saved

And we have a newcomer to the stats - all part of the de-fattening process:

Weight 72kg ~ 11st 3lbs Waist 40 ins.

Could be worse.

All in all it's a bit too much for me - even R finds it a bit mind-bending watching me eat fruit and clap gleefully at the sight of a carrot.

And of course there's the no (minimal actually) alcohol regime.

So where am I?

I gave up smoking in April.

I was getting really itchy skin so I went to the doctor. He saw my palms and promptly fainted. "Your liver" he gasped.

I went through two extended dry periods prior to a blood test and then an ultrasound scan.

Neither was conclusive. Either its a type of fatty liver thats not too bad or its liver disease at an early stage.

I see a second doctor and he seems relaxed about it - I start enjoying a few drinks again

Then I see a consultant - he thinks a biopsy might be needed and he wants me to lose weight and go minimal with drink.

In the mean time I think I'm having a heart attack which is some other vaguely diagnosed ailment, another doctor gives me a drug and am told not to drink. Subsequently my face explodes with yukky skin disease around the mask of my face. So I see another doctor. For some reason she wants to input basic info onto the practice's database again. She is amused when I tell her I drink 1-2 units a week.

She gives me another prescription. Then I am looking at the small print of the first drug and it warns me to consult a doctor if my face starts to blister so I guess I am going back to see another doctor face...or is it my liver?


My first non-smoking Christmas. Any thing to say about it? I had to spend more quality time with my family - I used to be able to escape to the garden for a long cigarette or two. Did I say escape?

I missed my post Midnight Mass cigarette - much more than my usual Christmas Eve drink-up it must be said.


John Lewis yesterday braving the sales-seeking crowds to get a weighing-scale. Got pounced on by an assistant "Can I help you sir" "Yes I am looking for some weighing scales" He must have thought I was a drug dealer or something as he sent me down to the kitchen department. I emerged ten minutes later and sought out bathroom accessories.

I had little idea how the market has changed - weighing scales tell you all sorts of things nowadays like how much of you is fat and how much is water at any given moment. After failing to find out what batteries were required I bottled out and bought conventional mechanical scales. They also happened to be the cheapest.


Football used to be a different experience altogether and it wasn't only because the Wimbledon FC team was professional. At least four pints of lager would be involved and it was almost statutory to visit one of the many chicken outlets in Thornton Heath - the greasier the better. When things went Non League I suddenly found I could drink just as easily and smoke much more easily. Fried chicken was on offer in Kingston Road but I never really got on with it. The chips and burgers inside Kingmeadow sufficed nicely.

Post-smoking and the experience is practically unrecognisable. Today I had two bovrils on the trot (don't tell me its fattening please!). In the second half I stuffed my face, rather furtively I have to admit, with some over-priced dried berries I had bought from Waterloo Station. The berries were washed down with tea.

(Bovril of course does belong to rituals of football - it was drizzly and windswept and the light was perfect as I sipped on my warming beaker. AFCW beat Walton and Hersham 3-1. I celebrated with a berry.)


Though R has been a great help with giving up smoking she isn't very expert at anything to do with slimming. In fact reading labels is not her strong point unless it's the bright yellow "Reduced" or "Two for the Price of One" type of label and then she's very observant indeed. Negotiating the microscopic grid at the back of foodsfuffs (Fat 0.3g of which 0.05g is mono-flatuent and so on) isn't easy for anyone. I have never ever in my life bothered looking at them till now. I have spent two weeks odd checking them and am already annoyed at the inconsistencies. I original thought the values were all on a per 100g basis but obviously not. Something I looked at today was only X amount of fat per 1/3 of a pot. Not very easy to make your calculations extrapolating from fractions of pot sizes.

Despite our relative inexperience we'll shortly be settling down to a Jacket potato and a lettuce leaf. R might have a beer to wash it down with ....ahhhhh.

A Happy New Year to You All.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Not getting any younger.

OK. This is getting silly now. I went to see my "consultant" on Monday. He wants me to lose weight. And not use sugar. And avoid dairy products. And fatty foods. And bready foods....potatoey foods...foody foods. He very kindly will allow me the 1-2 units of alcohol I mentioned below.

And the daftest saved for last...he wants me to exercise. Twerp.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Crise de coeur

A person came to live in the close's dustbins the other week. Very Christmassy – doubt it was a pregnant virgin but we never got to see the occupant. A note was left for them telling them it wasn't safe to live there and they seem to have moved on. They had stuffed old newspaper paper into the slats of the door to keep out the cold.

Last Monday I decided I was in the middle of a heart attack and called out the ambulance. I felt a bit silly doing it but the ambulance people were very reassuring. To my surprise they actually took me to hospital and worse the doctor wanted me in over night and I had an IV thing plonked into the back of my hands. I didn't get out until 3pm the next day.

My fellow patients were a bit of a pain. I wondered if one of the disembodied voices I heard during the night was the person who had just moved on from our dustbins.

There was another who I was convinced was faking his moans and groans. R smuggled in a slice of pizza. Although he didn't see the source of the smell he was soon on his feet hassling the staff for supper. “I smell food” he said “I haven't eaten for two days” “Why haven't you?” the nurse asked. He didn't answer.

Another bloke turned up at 5am under police escort. Various doctors attempted to ascertain what he had taken – there were concerned mutters about opiates. The next morning the doctor did her rounds and had a jolly chat with him about the pills cocaine and litre and a half of Jack Daniels he had drunk. When she got to me she asked how much I was drinking. I had briefly discussed the indeterminate liver problem. “Around the limit” I said “21 units a week” - she hit the roof and gave me the third degree – “You should be drinking 1-2 units a week at the most” she screeched. Oh well. How much is a unit now?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Try banning this

Originally uploaded by Philip Campbell.
Apparently the German coalition have agreed on strengthening their relatively relaxed smoking laws. Smoking in pubs restaurants bars and "discos" will still be permitted. I'm sure this guy is well pleased with that - especially the disco bit.

My my... how I have changed

Papua New Guinea
Originally uploaded by Eric Lafforgue.
Apart from the general podginess there are a few "giving-up" positives I have noticed.

I am just at the end of another period of being on the verge of a cold. On the verge of one. Not laid low off sick with one. This has happened twice since I have given up smoking. Has my resistance/immunity strengthened?

That said I did get hit by a bad one shortly after giving up. At least life is a bit more comfortable now if you get burdened with a sore throat. There was nothing more depressing than steeling yourself to smoke despite a red raw throat.

Sometimes with a fever you would have to go without - you had no choice because you were unconscious. But as soon as a bit of clear-headedness arrived it would be out on the balcony for a puff.

There was an error or rather an oversight in my earlier post about the Waterloo Cafe makeover. The Waterloo Cafe is now to be known as the Cafe Waterloo - in fact thats what all the engraved glass is about. Very chic that. Cafe Waterloo. Very French.

Guess it's not one of the more common cafe names over there though.

Thanks to Eric Lafforgue for the image "Papua New Guinea"