Jul 29, 2011


You may remember I recently engaged in a no-holds-barred fight with gravity and grace, and came off second best to a flight of stairs at Parliament House.

What you didn't know was that physical decline was only one element of my physical decline.

Just a few days before the fall, I'd undergone some blood tests as part of a general check-up ordered by my GP. And just a day after the fall, I woke up with horrendous stomach pain, and rushed back to see if it was related, or something else entirely.

So it happened that for a week or so I was seeing three different doctors - my regular GP for general ennui (Diagnosis: Sartre); another one for the fall (Diagnosis: Clumsy) and a third for the stomach pain (Diagnosis: Who the F*** Knows).

And in the middle of that, the results of my blood test came back, and it was one of the other two docs who dropped the news that my Vitamin B12 levels were low, and that could be a problem, if it turned out my body lacked something called an "intrinsic factor" and couldn't process the B12 properly.

I wasn't too fussed at that point; thinking in all likeliness it would just mean correcting my diet. At the time I was rather wracked with the stomach pain and getting physiotherapy on my banged-up neck so a teensy-weensy vitamin issue didn't seem that confronting: until I decided to hit up Google with the search term "Vitamin B12 deficiency" and got this Wikipedia entry:

Now one of the doctors had thrown out the term "pernicious anemia", BUT SHE DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT IT BEING FATAL.

I didn't flip out. Well, not really. I still knew in all likelihood it was a short-term diet-related hiccup, not a potentially life-threatening disorder. Still, I blurted this information out to The Wah, who looked thoughtfully at me for a few moments, before saying:

"Can I have your stuff?"


"Well, that's what you get for looking up medical conditions on the internet."


The stomach pain receded, and the physiotherapy worked wonders on my neck and shoulder, but I still had ten days or so of vague "What if I might DIE?" and "Geez, people are going to HAVE to be nice to me now" thoughts, until one of the GPs sent me off to get a specific test for the "intrinsic factor". So confident was she that it was simply a lack of red meat in my diet, that she said I just needed to call up to get the results.

The test came back negative. Or positive. Whatever the good one is. I HAVE intrinsic factor, I CAN process Vitamin B12. I don't have pernicious anemia. I just haven't been eating enough red meat.

The GP recommended Vitamin B12 supplements.

After a week standing under the sword of Damocles, seven days dodging the Grim Reaper's sweeping scythe - supplements.

Anyway. The key message is that I'm in generally good shape, I just need to sleep more, eat better, exercise and stress less. All easier said than done when it comes to my approach to living, so I'll just start with the B12 tablets and see how I go.

I wouldn't call the whole saga a health "scare". It's been more like a ride on the health ghost train, with a slight goosebumpy feeling when a creepy guy in a mask gropes you in the gloomy dark.


  1. I'm very glad it worked out well for you.

    Sometimes it's good to get a bit of a fright and helps you gain perspective. There are others, and I guess I have to include myself, who have conditions that mean we may not wake up in the morning. That REALLY changes the way you look at life and what your priorities should be!

    CARPE DIEM always!

    Cheers and best wishes,

  2. I maintain that I'm not a hypochondriac but that everyone else is a hyperchondriac.

  3. Most problems can be solved by eating more red meat. It's SCIENTS.

  4. Time to put those chop-cooking skills to use. You know, for your health.

  5. Surely Vegemite would help? Possibly not with stopping the falling down stairs bit, but maybe the diet bit?

  6. Sam Neill - we were meant to eat him. http://www.themainmeal.com.au/REDMEATAmazingFoodWakeUp.

  7. I cannot believe that that sentences was on Wikipedia!! there should be some editors that read the articles and all that before make them accessible to readers because people can believe in everything that they read on Wikipedia!