A check-up in time

Mallala plant operator Robert Angus had no idea he was a dead man walking around with chronic heart disease until he made a snap decision to visit the doctor on his day off.

It was the Monday before the Australia Day holiday in January and he had been a tad too puffed walking over the weekend – a brisk walk along the Port Broughton jetty on Saturday and on the Sunday during a stroll down Semaphore Road.

“I was quite short of breath and alarmed enough to think I had better check this out, said Robert, who is  57.

His GP organised for him to have an EEG at Bensons in Gawler, which was unremarkable and Robert resumed his daily life for a few days until the GP telephoned telling him to return for a stress test with a cardiologist.

“He said he needed to search more for the reason for shortness of breath.  I only lasted at the most two minutes when he pulled me off and packed me off for an angiogram,’’ recalls Robert.

He was booked in for his test at the Wakefield Hospital and was told if they found anything they would insert a stent in which case he would remain in hospital overnight.  “But I was awake and they didn’t do anything, so when they said I would be admitted I asked “Why, you didn’t do anything?’’ 

“They said the cardiologist would visit me the next morning.’’

 “The surgeon came and said I needed heart surgery and I said I had better be well enough to attend the Clipsal 500.

“Next thing the cardiologist arrives and reckons I’m not taking this thing seriously enough and that I needed a triple bypass. Your heart is in a very bad way and you could have a fatal heart attack any minute’’.

“I reckon if I was going to have one it was right then I was so shocked.

“Three of the arteries  to my heart were totally blocked and the other two were blocked 80 per cent and 70 per cent respectively,’’ he said

“I shudder thinking that I hiked for two days in the Dolomite Mountains and my arms ached terribly and then across the shoulders, but everyone said if it’s your heart,  it’s only your left arm that aches. Wrong!

 “I am only here because I had a day off work before Australia Day and went to the doc to be checked out. I reckon I saved my own life.

“Two of my uncles dropped dead before they were 50 and my grandfathers both died of strokes when I was very young, so I’m lucky to be here.’’

He has told us his story over breakfast at the Cook-O-Burra café in Burra and his post-op lifestyle has dramatically changed also. He cut all the fat off his bacon, saying “I don’t  do fat of any kind anymore or salts.’’

Meanwhile, his mate Bryan Harrison said he was “shit-scared’’ when he heard Robert’s story and went to the doctor for a checkup. “I’m fine, but I’ll keep having regular checks,’’ he said.

Fitness for longevity

The icy wind bites right through one’s bones on this freezing June dawn and the sea is ink black as Zina Meredith begins heaving herself up off the cold, damp sand. counting her push-ups.

A burly bloke, with all the charm of a drill sergeant, is barking orders and somehow one is not surprised to hear her answer a “Hooya Sarge’’.

Surely she should be cursing him for the punishing regime and the sheer physical pain he is putting her through, but Zina reckons she is addicted to Boot Camp and has attended three times a week for the past two years.

“It is the only fitness program I could stick to,’’ says Zina, 59, who is North Haven Primary School’s librarian.

It is 6 am and this morning there are three rows of  “recruits’’ – the Rangers, the Seals and the Deltas – lined up on the sand at Henley Beach – about half a kilometre south of the jetty. And right now they all call out in chorus “Hooya Sarge”.

For one and a quarter hours Sarge is boss and Zina is put through these gruelling paces each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning for a cost of $200 a month.

And yes, she admits the trainer’s  behaviour is “along Army lines’’, although he is not regular Army sargeant. Read more »

Julia casts shadow over justice

What a great pivotal moment in Australian politics. Former South Australian, Julia Gillard is Australia’s first female Prime Minister, made even more momentous when she visited the first Female Australian Governor General, Quentin Bryce to be sworn in.
Surely, as a nation we can boast we now have gender equality in politics.
And with a minimum of fuss, too! There is now a lady in the House to clean up what has become a right royal mess caused mainly by men. Sweet revenge.
Or is it? At what price to the very foundation of our society – precious democracy – has this been achieved?
Former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd whatever his failings or perceived weaknesses was democratically elected by the people and he has been politically executed behind closed doors by a few powermongers within his own Labor Party. It was an unprecedented – and what some people say, an unconscionable act of betrayal. It was most certainly undemocratic.
Surely, the Prime Minister whom Australians voted into power with such excitement in 2007, deserved to be judged by the people for his performance on election day. Don’t the people deserve to be the judges of his performance?
Isn’t that what the democratic process and the whole voting system we treasure all about? Read more »

Relationships are Cornerstone for Healthy Men

Close relationships can form the cornerstone for a man’s whole life but friendships with other men are also an important source of support and understanding, says the Adelaide Northern Division of General Practice.

In a handout prepared for Mens Health Week, the ANDGP recommends men need at least three other close friends and mates who they can talk to and feel comfortable sharing their lives.

Healthy relationships are not limited to those men have with their wives, partners and family, but also the ability to talk man to man to a close friend is one of the important planks of health and longevity.

“Often the harder something is to talk about the better you will feel when you finally express it,’’ says ANDGP board chairman, Dr Simon Hall.

The value of friendship is self-esteem is often usurped by the importance of the primary relationship, but the Australian Men’s Shed Association believes community-based Men’s Shed groups provide a valuable place for men to build on mateship and fulfil some important emotional needs.

The broader the ripple effect that men have built for themselves beyond the nucleus of family, the better equipped they will be to overcome conflicts and stresses – the other side of every healthy relationship, says ANDGP.

“Being able to handle and deal with these differences is part of establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship and part of being a man,’’ Dr Hall, a northern suburbs GP, says maintaining good relationships builds a stronger mental attitude and resilience.


Contact Mensline Australia on 1300 78 99 78.

Boomer Blokes – A Threatened Species

If you are a bloke of a certain age, say 60-something or older, you could well be a walking time-bomb with disease (breeding for years) about to present itself.

To reflect my point, right now I have three men-friends fighting serious life-threatening disease including stomach cancer, melanoma and prostate problems.

And in the last two weeks, two other menfolk in our broader circle of friends have died of cancers.

The trouble with blokes is they don’t visit doctors for regular annual health checks either in their adult working lives or as they age until disease kicks in, a fact brought to light by the Adelaide Northern Division of General Practice (ANDGP) during Men’s Health Week.

Yet if ever the adage “A stitch in time saves nine’’ it is with nipping disease in the bud.

To illustrate the point the AGPN rounded up all the coaches of all 16 AFL clubs for regular health checks to highlight Men’s Health Week.

“Us guys often overlook the important things like a simple check up that could save us from serious health issues in the future,’’ says Danny

Frawley, CEO of the AFL Coaches Association. “Our coaches want to lead by example and help get the message out.’’

The most effective thing any male can do is to be proactive – simply get to know a GP and have a checkup once a year, adds ANDGP CEO Barbara Magin.

“Men are less likely to visit the doctor, they don’t come in incidentally with the kids in the same way women do, but a good relationship with a GP can be a lifesaver, literally,’’ she says.

The message is timely because prostate cancer is now the most  diagnosed cancer in Australia each year.

Other insidious diseases which impact on men’s health include depression, type 2 diabetes and lung and bowel cancers.

Heart disease is another major killer of men – and death is preventable if men have their cardiovascular health risks tested annually.

A GP will be able to check for all age appropriate health risks, enquire about family history (genetic timebombs) answer any questions about health and outline what steps to  take to stay healthy for the future.

An annual checkup is the first step for men to protect themselves from disease and death. Others include:

Stop smoking – it’s the only health option – smoking causes 40 per cent of deaths in men who are aged under 65. See GP then call Quitline on 131 848.

Adopt 30 minutes of physical exercise daily.

Research shows that regular physical activity can reduce cardiovascular disease, helps fight depression, can help prevent Type 2 diabetes and improves sexual function.

Eat health foods and maintain balanced diet. See a dietitician if overweight. Eat plenty of vegies, fruit and cereals) and avoid fatty and sugary foods.

Maintain a healthy mind and a healthy body.

Take on board that excessive alcohol consumption and drug use impairs your brain function. Two alcoholic drinks a day is safe.  Recognise depression if you feel overwhelmed and persistently sad. It affects one in six people at any one time. Medication helps. Join Men’s Shed for male bonding. See www.menshed.org.

More men’s health info on www.nadinewilliams.com.au.


I’m in love with Paris says Helen Orr

My husband and I seem to end up in Paris for a week or so each year.  We don’t waver from our decision to see a new country each year (Turkey last year, Egypt this year) but convince ourselves that it is convenient to stop off in Paris on the way there or back.  The beauty of the city never ceases to amaze and the store window decorations such as this lovely clothing shop at 229 rue ST. HONORÉ are an inspiration for my design work.   

 The Marais is our favourite area.  Even though some of the older more bizarre shops have now become trendy boutiques, it is still a wonderful area to wander, and to eat.  Rue de Rosiers and adjacent streets are still wonderful, and where else can  you can  get your morning croissant straight out of the oven with an espresso for E1.95?    A few streets away at 50, rue des Archives, is Les Perles de Tout a Loisirs – a must for those interesting in jewellery and beading.  It is the most gorgeous old shop featuring ancient wooden display cabinets and every type of bead imaginable, from semi-precious stones to Perspex and plastics.   Unlike many of the enticing specialist bead, bag, scarf and accessory shops along rue des Temple which only sell wholesale, Les Perles welcomes visitors.  Read more »