Stand by your man!

In this month’s column, Dr Featherstone talks men’s health and wellness or rather the lack of it!

Might I just say at the outset that I accept a few things as a male doctor. I welcome equal rights and opportunities and the fact that in my GP World lady doctors now outnumber male and offer that something special to patients that I cannot! 

 A Practice can’t run without expert female help and companionship. This of course means I get to see a lot of old men but that is how it is.

Hopefully that will placate any woman enraged by what I now have to say, so no handbags at dawn!

 So what do I want to say? Well I don’t see many well men. We see plenty of girls and ladies for regular check ups and screening.

The paradox here is your man is the weaker sex. It starts early in life with the premature male infant having a lesser chance of survival than the female. It carries on through life. The Irish mammy looks after the little one splendidly, gets him immunised, weighed and regularly checked over. She would fight to the death if he is threatened.

This all starts to go wrong when that pesky Y chromosome kicks in at puberty and he changes! Forever.

Combine that Y chromosome with the heady mix of testosterone, alcohol, drugs, girls and fast cars and things go wrong. Radically wrong. We know he is now less able to cope with depression, self-control and his now well-established machismo stops him talking about problems.

Go to any nursing home – who do you see there? Mainly women, who on average, will live an extra 10 years longer than their man. This of course is nature’s way, as most men are hopeless left to their own devices.

Can we change all this ladies? Yes you can. Forget this machismo male nonsense, accept you are the strong one and get him along for a regular check up.

Does your fella look after his car better than himself? I can’t guarantee he will live to be 100 but a lot can go wrong between sending him off to his new job/college at 18 and appearing in my surgery or A&E 40 years later!

I met a lovely 85-year-old man on the ward last week. We were doing a ward round; he was busy knitting himself a scarf for the coming winter; we were all startled and slightly amused. I thought about this a while, would the world be a better place if men, instead of going for 10 pints with their mates, just went for coffee and a good gossip instead?

I would put money on my knitting friend making it to 100.

  Maybe I should send Donald Trump et al some good knitting patterns! Better have a check up myself!

Dr Jeff Featherstone

Dr Jeff Featherstone is a West Cork GP and A&E doctor at Mercy University Hospital and Cork University Hospital.

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