“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art”
Francois de la Rochefoucauld


I have a Vitality Card.
This little card gets me into movies for half price, gives me special savings at gym as well as flight savings. I am sorry that I’m not allowed to drive because it also gives me fuel savings. It is a wonderful little card and it requires that you stay healthy. Once a year you are meant to go for your Vitality Check Up.

My friend, B and I had gone for our first Vitality Check Up two years ago. This included a cholesterol check up. B’s cholesterol level was 5.3 whereas mine was a mere 5.1. B was warned not to let it get any higher. I practically danced out of the chemist that day. This was one area where I was stronger than B – cholesterol!

B had been told that eating porridge in the morning was a sure way to keep your cholesterol down. Yuck, porridge reminded me of that watery mush we used to eat at boarding school. So B now indulged in Jungle Oats each morning and Yours Truly gave a cheer for her low cholesterol! It was yoghurt for me. If I remembered. Every morning, we would go up to Ground Control. There they not only have the best cafe latte and cappuccino, but they also have my delight of delights – carrot cake! 

My Vitality Card caught my eye languishing in my purse. Oh uh, B and I were at least eighteen months late on our check up.
“Hey, yes, I’d forgotten about that. Let’s go now,” B replied.
I wasn’t all that keen. I certainly hadn’t been eating porridge and I knew my diet had not exactly been up to scratch. I followed B into the chemist. She went first.
“Your cholesterol is 5.1”, she was told. “That’s fine.”
It was my turn.
The woman in the chemist looked at my results and said: “I’m afraid you’ll need to see a doctor, ma’am, your results read: 7.6”
“Seven point…six?” I said in a trembling voice.
I was sent to the PathCare Lab where they could give me a more precise reading.
It was worse: 8.5!

No more Lindt Milk White Chocolate! No more cream on my bananas! No more cream in my Nescafé White Chocolate drink! Noooooooo! I couldn’t survive without my beautiful Parmelat Cream and my Nescafé Chocolate drink. When I woke after my afternoon rest, I rejoiced in making myself that mug of deliciousness. I would lavishly pour in cream along with the chocolate powder and milk with relish. Then in the microwave I would avidly watch the cream rise. It would ascend to the top of the mug and I would switch off the microwave. The drinking was a complete pleasure. I was a total master at such a craft!  Now I had to give up all cream! I felt like putting my head back and letting out a loud wolf’s howl that would have caused the rest of the wolf pack to creep away in shame!

I reflected on my eating habits. For the past year I hadn’t been eating at all healthily. Forget about three meals a day. I would begin my day in Ground Control demolishing their carrot cake. Often I wouldn’t eat much else during the day. Nothing except a slab of totally delicious Lindt White Chocolate which would be devoured with gusto. Sometimes I would find that I had demolished two!!! Was it any wonder that I lacked enthusiasm following B into the chemist?
“Your eating habits are going to have to change Ms.Young!” said B.
She was right, oh glory, she was right!

I went shopping and do you know the first thing I bought? Porridge! Gaynor Young was planning to go back to her childhood and eat porridge. But I discovered this very pleasant box filled with  banana, strawberry, apple and caramel sachets of porridge. You simply pour boiling water over them and then if you want, fruit can be added. I bought raspberries, bananas and strawberries. The first morning I was a little apprehensive about this strawberry porridge I was preparing. But by the time I had added the hot water, stirred and thrown in a chopped up banana and a couple of raspberries, it actually looked remarkably tempting. Tentatively I took a mouthful…and smiled. This porridge banished all memories of boarding school moosh. What a delicious treat!
I also started eating three meals a day. This was not easy for me as my stomach had shrunk. This Gaynor of three meals a day and no cholesterol ploughed on.

In order to lower my cholesterol, the doctor prescribed statins. My sister, Liz, was staying with Mums over Christmas and I saw a lot of her and her family. Liz began to get a cold and sniffed and coughed horribly. They then left and I thought: ‘Uh oh, I think my throat is getting sore!’
My throat came right but I began to cough. Badly! 

My doctor put me on a course of antibiotics and strong cough medicine. I finished the antibiotics but my cough had not finished with me by a long shot. It was so frustrating because I would be fine until I began to talk. Then this hacking creature would attempt to mime what she wished to say. Not an easy thing to do because I had been told that when coughing, you shouldn’t cover your mouth with your hand. This is because you then spread germs by touching things. You have to cough into the crook of your arm. Apparently, this is far more healthy. It might be healthier but with a spastic right hand side, it is not always easy!

B went overseas to visit her Dad in January. I knew that she was treating him to three days in London. I was dying to find out how their trip to the Royal Opera House to see La Traviata had gone. We Skyped each other.
“Gaye, we are having a wonderful time!”
“Great!..(cough cough cough)…tell me..(cough cough cough cough) how was…(cough…cough..)”
“Your cough has got worse. You should be on antibiotics.”
“I need…(cough cough…) a lovely…swig…(cough cough cough…) of my gorgeous…cream!”
B was not impressed with my sense of humour!
“(Cough cough….) How was…La…(cough cough cough…)”
“How was London? Absolutely fabulous!
“(Cough cough…) How was…(cough cough cough cough…)”
“You need to be on antibiotics!”
I wanted to say – I am!
All I could manage was:”I…(cough cough cough cough cough…)”
“I have to run. Dad and I are going out to dinner. See you on Tuesday. And get some antibiotics!”
I was on frikking antibiotics!!!”

What was so incredibly strange was that I didn’t feel sick at all. I just had this hideous cough. And the cough seemed to have started about three weeks ago, when I began the statins. I opened Google and began perusing everything about the side effects of statins.
“If you develop a cough after taking statins, with no evidence of interstitial lung disease, then this will be resolved by ceasing the statin treatment.”
I stopped using the statins and the next day the unendurable coughing vanished!

Having no statins, it was suggested that I took Rychol, a homeopathic medication meant to reduce cholesterol. 

Last Friday, two months after my ‘disastrous’ diagnosis, I returned to the chemist and asked for another cholesterol test. The pharmacist took my blood, consulted her chart and looked up at me grinning: “4.5!”
I then sped off to PathCare and got a more precise reading of: 4.9.
I was ecstatic!

I have learned a very tough, difficult and vitally important lesson:
You must eat correctly!
You are what you eat. I often used to take a carton of cream and have a long, delicious swig. Those days are now over. I will now eat three meals a day, as most human beings do.

And, my delicious bowl of porridge will definitely continue!