28 March 2008

In All Seriousness

We learn today that George Foulkes has taken ill, with high blood pressure. His plan is to take it easy during the recess, then return, hopefully fighting fit. I'm sure you can all guess what I think of the man's politics, but high BP is not something you wish on other people. Believe me, having seen what it's done to my father over the years, I can tell you right now that this is not a pleasant thing and I wish him all the best in getting back to some semblance of health.

But that's the thing. It will only a semblance of health: the risk of elevated BP will always be there, ready to hit. It was high blood pressure that saw my dad lie unconscious on the office floor where he used to work, hospitalised, pensioned off and ultimately placed in sheltered employment - though the depression and anxiety that came with the high BP has perhaps had a greater influence on the latter. They have certainly stayed with him for longer, though his blood pressure is now under control. However, that is down to medication more than anything.

Which is why I am going to say this: two weeks is not enough time to recover from this. You don't recover from this. What the Baron needs to do now is retire, let someone else take the limelight and enjoy a quiet (and lengthy) old age in less stressful fields than politics. He can always pop up from time to time, and make his views known on this or that, as Sam Galbraith does, but his mandate at Holyrood and his trips to the Lords will place more pressure on the man, raising his BP once again, and possibly causing more - and more serious - scares.

For his own sake, he has to stand down and let Carol Fox have her day in Parliament. Because if he does not, there is the very real possibility that she will get it anyway, and the Lord will not be in a position to pop up from time to time and make his views known on anything.

So whatever I may think about the man's politics, I wish George Foulkes a peaceful period of recuperation, and a long, relaxed retirement - which will need to be announced soon if it is to come to pass.


Bill said...

An interesting post. However, whilst people may be pre-disposed to high blood pressure (perhaps as a result of genetics, but I am no expert), there are things one can do to reduce one's blood pressure and all the risks that flow from it.

I had borderline critically high blood pressure some years ago, but before putting me on medication (probably for the rest of my life) my physician suggested I might lose some weight and do a few other things to help myself.

What I did was:

- lose weight (in my case 35 kilos, rather more than 1/3 of my pre-weightloss weight);

- switch to low sodium salt;

- cease drinking all caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, soft drinks);

- cease drinking all so-called 'diet' soft drinks, particularly those containing aspartame;

- take more exercise.

I have never smoked, but I believe that smoking is implicated in high blood pressure as is excessive consumption of alcohol. I now rarely drink spirits (except an occasional armagnac or cognac), and mainly drink plain water and wine.

My blood pressure has been relatively stable and quite normal for several years now. I know in some quarters it has a poor reputation, but I successfully lost my 35 kilos by following the 'Atkins' diet - I read the book first, unlike most people who seem to know only what the 'headlines' say about it (which are, to put it politely, incomplete bordering on inaccurate) - I will remain on the liftetime maintenance stage of this diet for the rest of what I hope will be a moderately long life, as it is the first time in my life I have been in reasonable control of my appetite and, therefore, my weight.

I have close relatives who have high blood pressure and who take medication to control it - despite my 'proselytising', they prefer to continue to eat the high-sugar/carbohydrate diets they find comforting and accept high blood pressure (and the medication they have to take to control it) as an inevitable part of their futures. In other words they consume a pretty typcial modern Scottish/British/Western diet. I have chosen to go down a different route ; for example, pre-prepared so-called convenience food (often high in sodium and the worst kinds of hydrogentated fats) never passes my lips.

I was in the same negative-feedback loop myself until about 6 years ago, but fortunately I learned a way to break the cycle too many people in western developed societies have fallen into. High blood pressure is NOT inevitable.

I apologise if I sound a bit evangelical on this subject; I realise it can be tiresome ;)

Mountjoy said...

True - and he will have a lot more high blood pressure to contend with it is only going to get worse for Labour !

Ted Harvey said...

I cannot stand the man's style of politics but I join you in wishing him, in all sincerity, well.

I think that HBP may be a particular disablity for him, given his long practised style of politics - which is hardly conducive to a lifestyle of lower stress and more tranquility.

Could well be a more general lesson here about the health impacts on the practioners of the hyper-aggressive and goldfish bowl politics in the UK.