Thursday, 23 June 2011

An Open Letter to Prof Ilana Crome

Dear Ilana,

“There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and smokeable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation.  They pay this price for health.  And health is all they get out of it.  How strange it is.  It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.”  (Mark Twain)

I thank you for your recent  proclamation of 22.06.11 and appreciate its relevance as I approach my dotage, but yet would ask you to consider the above quote.

It’s a fact that I, despite not yet being 65 am addicted to smoking, drinking and eating – but not necessarily in that order.  Nevertheless in whatever order they are placed – I indulge.

I was a child of the fifties and ate copious amounts of butter, lard, beef dripping – indeed one of my favourite foodstuffs was that of bread and dripping with copious amounts of salt.  Food was routinely fried in these obnoxious (yet natural) substances as was the norm in those ignorant days.  (Can anyone remember eating sugar sandwiches?  I never did as the thought of it made my stomach churn – but folk did then!)

I was allowed to take all kinds of risks e.g. eating fat laden, sugary and salty foods, climbing and swinging from trees, playing in dirt, and the general rough and tumble of being a kid.  I even played conkers without wearing safety glasses and helmet!  Yet despite this entire risk taking I have survived.  (Some might say I am physically and psychologically damaged by same and perhaps they may be correct – but I would say “Step forward accuser – show yourself!)

I have smoked since aged seventeen and probably began drinking in my then teenage sort of way around the same time yet have no health ishoos related to same (or indeed my fat/sugar/salt consumption as a child).  Please be assured that I accept that both addictions can and indeed do have serious ramifications on health if one overindulges.

I must admit to listening to medical advice re intake of foodstuffs and wrongly or rightly have adjusted my eating habits for many more years than I care to remember.  Years into my/our re-education, my worst half was discovered to have high cholesterol  - despite our healthy eating regime - of the naughty kind and I then threw out the chip pan and on average buy eggs four times per annum, this despite being aware that all will have no effect on lowering cholesterol as only medication can.

Despite all these admitted sins people of my and indeed older generations are living longer.  Can you explain this?   Attempting to rationalise this myself, I have considered that better healthcare – as in the good old NHS – and medications are allowing us to live longer and perhaps this might be a truth, or perhaps just a convenient  truth that is an untruth?

I shall now focus on your recent health policing of the over sixty-fives and your proclamation that behind closed doors, these selfish people - who have had the temerity to reach pensionable age and thus become a burden on the state and indeed society itself, are drinking their silly little heads off!  How dare they madam!

One of your bullet points reads thus:

  • A third of older people with alcohol use problems develop them later in life – often as a result of life changes such as retirement or bereavement of feelings of boredom, loneliness and depression.

How dare they feel bored, lonely and depressed!  How dare they take solace in a little tipple alone, at home?  Perhaps one of the reasons they now drink at home is that due to the smoking ban their little favourite pub where they socially engaged with friends is now closed, or if they smoke they now have to stand outside, whatever the prevailing weather, to indulge in this substance abuse, that is, if they can stand up after swilling large amounts of alcohol.

C’mon Ilana, this health policing is getting a bit too much.  I do accept that some older people may become alcohol dependant in later life for exactly the reasons raised in the bullet point – but do you have any suggestions on how to deal with their un-met needs,etc and resulting depression that lead to this abuse?   And do all over sixty-fives, by definition, fall into this category?  It appears by your proclamation that they do.

Do you and do your colleagues confine themselves to recommended (arbitrary) weekly alcohol intake?  Will you and they follow your recommendations when over 65?  Doubt it.

Yours sincerely,

Anna Gramme
(The unwashed one)


blackdog said...

The proclamation is drivel. It has no evidence base to support the hypothesis or its recommendations, it's purely an opinion. And frankly this cohort of clinicians (Psychiatrists)are the 'estate agents' of medicine, always trying to sell their wares with false advertising. Ignore it and carry on drinking, but of course for purely medicinal reasons (it is an anti-coagulent).
As for your guilt about your previous excesses and high cholesterol. Well you don't need to be and it doesn't matter. Eating saturated fats is very good for you, it keeps you slim and wards off many diseases. You can't have a high cholesterol as it isn't measured, that's your lipoprotein, HDL and LDL. They are 'surrogate' markers and eating anything with cholesterol in it such as eggs will not effect it at all. It's a self regulating hormone and is not affected by intake. So if you don't take in enough, your own treacherous liver will just make it for you, because without it you will die.
Eggs are a rich source of protein and some fats (the yolks) and of course choline and even the mainstream nutritionists have now given it a clean bill of health.
Eat the meat, fish and eggs and of course cheese, because it is a rich source of protein and fats which, if you shun carbs will keep you both healthy and ward off obesity and diabetes and likely heart disease. There is not a single study, ever, that links heart disease with saturated fat intake and its very likely that it is protective.
Tell the health police to take a flying leap, none of them are scientists just pundits with an agenda.

Frances Garrood said...

Brilliant post, Anna! And after we haven't drunk, smoked and eaten ourselves into old age, we can look forward to sitting in our wet knickers, starving, three yards away from the nearest jug of water in some old people's home. Can't wait.

And yes - wonderful bread and dripping and bread and sugar. I remember them well. Bring them back!

Sam said...

I know they mean well but they go a bit OTT sometimes so, like you, I don't like it when they make you feel guilty about what you do with 'your' life because, as you say, one ends up in turmoil because of the guilt of one's inability to conform and may end up substituting the defeciencies they are accustomed to coping with for a can of worms full of depressions and the like. Best way is to 'cope' - and it's up to you to choose what you feel easier for 'you' to cope with!

Steve Isaak said...

Distinctive, provocative.

Linda said...

I remember butter and sugar sandwiches on white bread, and I was skinny as could be. I think a drink or two in the evening is a good thing to tell you the truth. Personally I think of any field, the psychiatrists are the ones in it for the money and for ego, more so than others. Whatever.

jabblog said...

I find it amusing that the motto of the Royal College of Psychiatrists is 'Let Wisdom Guide' - obviously they ignore that!It would seem that the RCP has insufficient real work to keep its members busy.
Bread and dripping - yum! Haven't had that for decades. I think it's true that 'a little of what you fancy does you good'

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HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks for your comments folks.

blackdog ~ Understand about HDL and LDL but this is not explained to the general public, therefore have used terminology that can be related to. That sounds very patronising general public - but is not meant to be. Sorry!

I have no guilt regarding foods ingested in my childhood but accept that I have developed a habit of 'eating healthy' and this would be hard to break. Also realise that eggs have been given a clean bill of health.

Frances ~ I will continue to smoke, eat, drink and merry and damn the consequences! I haven't come to any physical harm indulging and if I do, I do - at least my life will have been pleasurable. Pops died of a cancer strongly associated with drinking and smoking and apart from Christmas when he had a little tipple - he did neither. So there you go - what fate has in store for us fate has in store for us.

I can't get bread and dripping out of my head - I think I just might ...

Sam ~ Agree my friend and as said will continue to indulge in all my sins and be damned happy with it!

Steve ~ Thanks.

Linda - Have a sugar sandwich gal (!) - I am seriously toying with bread and dripping ...

Personally I think many psychiatrists need to see a psychiatrist ...

jabblog ~ Do psychiatrists know what real work is? Sorry psychiatrists - bunching you all together. There is a rare damn good psychiatrist out there in the big wide world.

Go on - share my sin and really think about having bread and dripping lathered with salt...

Anonymous ~ You have my word that I will boycot American woman in that I will never ever date or marry one!

Anna :o]

Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

Love it. Oh, and by the way, I too was raised on dripping sandwiches and still occasionally/very rarely have the sneaky dripping melting on toast with salt when nobody is looking!! You only live once!!!!

NorthernTeacher said...


Never liked sugar sandwiches but rhubarb dipped in sugar - yum! Preferred smoky bacon crisp butties, and we had chips every night for tea + bread and butter. Those were the days.

Yep, I, too, get cheesed off being told what to eat and drink. Like you, Anna, I did all sorts of 'risky' things when I was a kid such as walk to school (and I had to cross a road). I kept the 2p busfare - yes, I went on the bus on my own! What penalty for all this? Six extra years before I get my old age pension. I need a drink.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Addy ~ I am so jealous of your sneaky toast and dripping! Problem is - I hardly ever buy a joint as I only really like porky-pig and really (for me) it has to be beef dripping. I must buy a beef joint!

Northern Teacher ~ Where have you been gal? You cannot know how much my face lit up when I saw your name - indeed I was full of happiness!

Must admit to never trying rhubarb dipped in sugar - sounds kinda yummy! Loved home made chips too. One birthday as a treat - I had a whole Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney pie with chips! Mega yum! Still love and buy Fray Bentos!

Mmmm, have been mulling over this healthy eating larky-malarky since writing the post and am not certain, but almost certain that it coincided with weight gain, but did it?

Are you serious that you crossed the road by yourself? I sincerely hope you were over fifteen! The risks NT, the risks! In todays world you would have probably been 'snatched' in the night by social services!

I allowed my kids freedom and allowed them to take risks and they are better for it. Solid adults. Hubs used to be the worrier...

I can't retire until 66, having to remortgage due to a red light shortfall. But I am happy with that - couldn't imagine not working. However will I complete the last year as according to the RCoP I will probably be drinking like a fish then. We shall see.

I order you NT to not become a stranger to blogland again or you will have to stay behind and write a million lines! This is not an empty threat!

Anna :o]

Linda said...

Anna -- I love your post. I remember sugar sandwiches I didn't like them plain, but added some cinnamon -- yummmm. My friend and I often remark with wonder on how we managed to grow to adulthood without some weird disease. We did all those things you aren't suppose to do anymore -- ride bikes without helmets, drink from the water hose, eat gravy soaked bread, have second helpings of dessert, have eggs everyday. Hey -- I wonder why we are both still alive at the age of 62+. -- Linda

Julie said...

Did anyone else eat toasted cheese and jam? Brilliant, esp the hot jam. And I remember sugar sandwiches (though I never had one).

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks Linda and Julie

Linda ~ It is strange how we have survived without physical harm after all the risk taking we did as children - but living and enjoying life then was not considered a risk - merely living and enjoying life!

Julie ~ Ooo that sounds yummy - might indulge soon!

Anna :o]

Old Raven said...

Oh Anna I did so enjoy this! I will NEVER give up bacon! Gave up cigarettes at 30 ... beastly difficult and I put on 25 lbs. which I still have and then some. Seem to drink less and less alcohol as I age ... sorry just can't help it, I drink but not in the manner that I did when a younger person. I am attempting to kick most sugar as it makes me quite miserable.

Here is what I have discovered as a gerontologist and as a human being. Every single person is different with different needs and abilities to tolerate the things that they put into their bodies. Some have smoked for 90 years with no obvious detrimental effects. That would not have been me. We are all different. Great article/response!

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks Old Raven

I gave up cigarettes when pregnant and restarted after the little nippers were born. I enjoy my habit and despite my now leper status, will continue.

Drinking and my tolerance of have reduced over the years - but still do and enjoy that too.

Like your good self my addicion to bacon - must be smoked bacon - remains serious. Despite intensive counselling and aversion therapy - I cannot kick this habit! :o]

As you rightly say we are all different and that is to be celebrated and we must live our lives as we see fit. If we knew or worried about what might be round the corner - life would hold no enjoyment.

Anna :o]

Anonymous said...

Good bye, sentimental alternative other :)