Tag Archives: Movember

Z is for…Zonked

Z Please refer to yesterday’s entry for the heavy stuff; today I’m too tired. Writing a themed blog every day for a month is quite a sizeable undertaking, and it has been a test at times. No regrets though. I’ve learnt a lot about all sorts, including about writing, about my body, about looking after myself and about how tolerant people are of repetitive, attention-seeking Facebook posts. I am almost certainly a changed man.

However much you’ve read of this, whether you’ve dipped in and out, taken a daily dose, or even if you’ve only read this line, thanks for reading.

Next year I will not do this again, I promise. But there’s always a chance I’ll attempt something equally challenging and time-consuming. See you there?

Z2It’s goodnight from me, and it’s goodnight from him.

Goodnight.

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Still not too late to donate to my Movember campaign – all donations very much appreciated!

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Y is for…Yer money’s still good here

YYou must allow me to start winding this down now. Un oeuf’s un oeuf.

This has all been about various things, including the following, so far probably in this order:
1) raising awareness of men’s health issues to whoever will read/listen; while Movember is funny because of moustaches, there is a chance that the vital issues don’t get talked about, still
2) encouraging people through engagement and entertainment to give money to the Movember foundation, which then goes on to good things like prostate and testicular cancer research
3) through the contrived situation, to have a positive impact on my own health and of those around me
4) to see if I can write a reasonably-sized blog entry every day for a month without losing the plot or resorting to desperate measures (jury’s out on that)
5) to rock the boat and see what tangents occur from forcing myself to do something every day for a while
6) other minor reasons

However, for one day only (or maybe tomorrow too), reasons one and two will swap. I’d like to definitively ask for more sponsorship. Yes, I get “credit” in a way, but clearly it’s not about that. Don’t be silly. I’d be just as happy if people give direct to, for example, Prostate Cancer UK instead. Same difference.

I’d be equally happy, actually, if any men reading any of this decide to do one thing differently for their health after Movember. It could be getting a prostate exam, learning how to check their testicles, getting a sexual health checkup, setting an exercise/fitness target for the next year, or even just encouraging men they know to do any of the above. You don’t even have to tell me you’re doing any of the above. It’s nothing to do with me. Do it for yourself.

Thanks enormously to all those who have donated so far, and those who have supported in other ways. It has been invaluable.

Only one day to go. Sunday will be a day of rest, that’s for sure!

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Please feel free to donate to my Movember campaign – all donations very much appreciated!

X is for…XY

XQuick background, for those who flunked those lessons: you are made up of cells. All sorts of different kinds of cells that make up different parts of you. Cells are complex little things, but we can say (at GCSE, at least) that they are “controlled” by a nucleus.

Nuclei are complex little things, but one of the things they do contain are chromosomes. Chromosomes are made up of, alongside other things, DNA.

DNA is a complex little thing, but its main purpose is that it is interpreted by other little things inside your cells, and turned into proteins. Proteins do a million different jobs in the body, and define what you look like, (to some extent) who you are, what you are good at, what you are bad at, what you may die of, etc etc.

Chromosomes are what are passed to you from you mother and father during that nice time that had together that night (well, a short while after that, actually). You have 46 of them; 23 from each parent.

Chromosomes mostly look like little Xs, but there’s one funny little runty one which is quite dear to me, and which just over half of humanity possesses.

In our 23rd pair of chromosomes, we men have an X and a little Y instead of another X. This cosy little arrangement gives us cool stuff like:
– moustaches
– a certain hormone balance that gives us more muscular bodies
– greater intelligence (NB: it’s a joke)
– greater spacial awareness (NB: it’s a doubtful thing that people say)
– a penis and some testicles (usually two)

But it also gives us (often due to its inability to fight what its partner chromosome wants to do) bad stuff like:
– bald heads
– colour-blindness
– haemophilia
– other, rarer things like Duchenne muscular dystrophy
– a relative inability to look after our own health

The genetic stuff we can do little about, other than try to find ways to help the affected overcome the negative effects. Sadly, therapies for some of the rarer conditions are not researched as much as other conditions; they affect fewer people, so maybe it makes sense in a way, but people still suffer. That’s a difficult issue, and I will leave it alone.

The last thing in that list obviously we can tackle, but I guess I’ve harped on enough about that already in the last few weeks.

Overall, we need to love our Y. All this post-feminist talk of men one day being redundant – don’t listen to it lads, we’re here to stay. As long as we keep looking after ourselves, right?

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Please feel free to donate to my Movember campaign – all donations very much appreciated!

W is for…Wax

WMy tache was feeling a bit limp today. Something was missing. The corners were dry, incoherent, downward-facing. A big hairy frown.

Then I figured it: time to get waxing. When the extremities on one’s Movember handiwork start to extend across the cheeks, wax becomes essential. Without wax humanity would not have achieved the dizzying heights of sophistication demonstrated by this and this and this. Mine even smells good too, and in doing so provides me with a constant reminder of my Movember mission.

Mmm, sandalwood. AKA the sweet smell of success.

W is also for…Waxing lyrical

Here’s some silly verse to fill up the rest of today’s entry. Please be advised that you have to pronounce “moustache” mus-tash. Emphasis on “tash”. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

If you’re really a man you should grow a moustache and
Don’t be afraid if it’s not quite in fashion
The ladies will love it and so will the guys
They’ll all think you handsome and manly and wise;

When you have your moustache you should really now wax it
Preen and then style it, stretch then relax it
Wait til it’s right and then wear it with pride
Safe in the knowledge you’ve nothing to hide

With your new facial feature you should go spread the news:
Be healthy and manly, you don’t have to choose!
If for some reason you spurn the moustache
The least you can do then is give us your cash

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Please feel free to donate to my Movember campaign – all donations very much appreciated!

V is for…VD

VYou’ve really done it this time. In Movember, the manliest of months, a veritable festival of manhood, your manhood itself has been where it shouldn’t, selfishly taking a risk that the rest of you now suffers for.

Thankfully…just a bad dream.

Movember is all about men taking better care of themselves, but this one is also about men taking care of everyone else as well. If you don’t go to the doctor about a strange lump in a strange place, you might be risking you life. But if you don’t go to a GUM clinic when you know you ought to, you’re risking other lives too.

I’ve just tried to find some statistics on attendance at GUM clinics, to see if there is any particular problem with men getting themselves checked. I couldn’t really find anything, so I can’t comment on that, but I do know that I hear plenty often about an ‘epidemic’ of STIs, so of course it wouldn’t hurt for men to go do their bit like everyone else. I did find plenty of very good resources, such as this fact sheet from Whittall Street Clinic in Birmingham. Interesting now, but essential half my lifetime ago (if you could have got me to read it). I also found that amusing poster there on Wikipedia – thankfully things have moved on a little since then. My sense of humour has not.V2

It’s suddenly occurred to me sexual health could easily be part of Movember in future years. Maybe it’s a little less appealing, less sympathetic and a bit more about nagging men than asking if they’re OK and getting them to grow fun facial hair. Nonetheless, there seems adequate force behind the movement to do it.

Going to the GUM clinic is fun, anyway, isn’t it? You get to wee in a tube. You get to get manhandled by a gruff German (no one else? Oh. Just me then). You get to look at all the other people and wonder what the hell they’ve been up to, and presumably have them return the favour.

Yeah, I miss it! Sort of. It isn’t part of Movember official, but I’ll try in the next few weeks to make it unofficially part of mine.

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Please feel free to donate to my Movember campaign – all donations very much appreciated!

U is for…Urine

UYou can learn a lot from your wee. It contains lots of things your body doesn’t want anymore, all dissolved in water. For example, as our bodies can’t store amino acids, these are got rid of in urine (and in sweat!) as urea.

I often hear people say that urine is sterile. This seems to be sort of true, but sort of not. It is sterile when it leaves the kidneys, but picks up bacteria on the way out of the body. Bacteria in urine are then what makes it smell later on. This is why you need to flush the toilet, even if it’s 3am and you’re afraid of waking everyone up.

What else can we learn?

#1: it hurts to wee! Ouch! Could be a urinary tract infection, enlarged prostate, kidney/bladder stones, and – of course – STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes. What have you been up to, eh?!

#2: there’s blood in it! Not good. Various unpleasant possible causes, including cystitis, kidney infection, kidney stones, enlarged prostate gland or bladder/kidney/prostate cancer. Go see someone.

#3: there’s protein in it! You wouldn’t easily tell this one, though you might notice a sort of ‘frothiness’. Proteinuria (protein in the urine) can be a sign of various things, including diabetes, urinary tract infections, various kidney conditions, or even just stress. Go see someone.

#4: it stinks! You’ve been eating asparagus.

#5: I can’t go! Again there are various reasons for this. You might just be pee-shy. Otherwise it could be a sign of various bladder problems, prostate cancer, or the result of – again – a sexually transmitted infection.

So plenty to see, then. Make sure you keep an eye on what’s going on in that bowl!

U is also for…Upper lip

AKA the victim and perpetrator, all in one.

All through Movember, men all over the world have been deliberately and determinedly trying to cover up their upper lips, to replace the skin there with hair, aesthetically-pleasing or otherwise. Poor thing, to be persecuted so.

No. Yes, it seems innocuous. But don’t forget its penchant for going stiff from time to time. For example, when a man feels pain and then can’t admit it. Or when a man discovers something strange and worrying about his body, but decides not to go and ask a health professional about it.

No. You deserve it, upper lip. I hope you itch too, you bastard.

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Please feel free to donate to my Movember campaign – all donations very much appreciated!

T is for…Testicles

TCrisp, sweet & tangy.

The plums, that is. Reduced to 89p too. Lovely. The plums, that is. Best before 23rd November. The pl…yes, OK I’ll stop.

Testes have already had several mentions throughout this series, and I’m not sure I’ve much more to say other than to recap a few things:

  • Around 2,300 men in the UK were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2010
  • In 2010 there were 75 deaths from testicular cancer in the UK
  • Testicular cancer affects younger men than prostate cancer – often between the ages of 15 and 44
  • You should check your testicles (if you have any) around one a month, though not many men actually manage this. Growing a moustache may seem easier, but checking for other growths is pretty important!
  • Here’s a video showing you how to check your testicles (if you have any). Contains nudity. Obviously.
  • I have been checked out this month, and am going to have an MRI scan soon (nothing to worry about though, I’m told, just a bit of extra checking)

The good news, then, is that cure rates in testicular cancer compare very favourably to other cancers. The people who do less well often either have types of testicular cancer that are harder to treat, or only discover their cancer when it is quite advanced.

Clinical trials are still being run to investigate how to better treat men with testicular cancer. Mainly they look either at how to treat men with poorer prognoses, or how to better care for men once their cancer is cured.

A trial I’ve worked with, called TRISST, falls into that second category. It’s looking at how to monitor men’s health after they have had surgery to remove the cancer. Often x-rays are used, but this exposes people to perhaps unnecessary radiation that may increase the risk of other cancers in the future. MRI scans are less risky, and may be just as good at spotting relapse of cancer as x-rays.

T is also for…Thyroid

A friend of mine, who I ran with today, told me that he has was recently diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. Not good news, but a story that fits well with the Movember mindset. After “a funny turn”, he decided to go see a doctor, and got the diagnosis from a blood test result.

He could easily have decided, after recovering from the strange episode, to do nothing. But the fact that he did something was brave, and the knowledge he gained about his own body is invaluable. All that’s left is to see if he can catch up with me in our next 5K race!

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Please feel free to donate to my Movember campaign – all donations very much appreciated!