Winter has finally arrived and I rely on my usual range of tablets and powders to ward off seasonal viruses. Caroline and the kids constantly ridicule me for being taken for a fool by the snake oil salesmen, but I figure those concoctions are responsible for my robust good health. I have tested positive for Covid twice and usually have two or three colds a year. But I haven’t taken a sick day since 1987.
My basic daily intake is one multivitamin tablet, 1000 IU of vitamin E, 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 and 4000 IU of vitamin D3, all washed down with 1000 mg of vitamin C. Since I developed tennis elbow, I don’t play tennis, so God knows how – I added a turmeric tablet to strengthen my joints and because I like the spicy taste, I now include a shot of ginger, which supposedly strengthens your immune system. I usually finish with psyllium husk powder.
“Have you ever calculated how much all this waste costs? Caroline asked this week. “If you stopped taking your meds in quotes, we could probably afford a house in the country.”
I don’t think that’s entirely true, but this daily regimen certainly doesn’t come cheap. Vitamin E, for example, costs £18.99 for 100 capsules. And unbeknownst to Caroline, I sometimes double-take everything. I find myself unable to remember if I swallowed my pills or not, so I take them all back just to be sure. I know when I’ve taken a double dose because my urine turns bright orange. Soon I’ll be reduced to a plastic pill box with separate compartments for each day of the week.
Needless to say, when it comes to the rest of the family’s favorite potions and lotions, my natural skepticism returns. For example, I tell my three teenage sons that the expensive shampoo and conditioner they use is a total waste of money, and when I see my 19-year-old daughter with a Kiehl’s face mask, I assure her that she was “scammed” and then spend ten minutes trying to find evidence on Google that face masks don’t work. But they just laugh disdainfully. I might have more credibility if I didn’t spend £24 a week on ginger shots.
Why does my BS detector seem to be developing a fault with regards to my own health? Is it because I’m so anxious to catch something that I’m willing to suspend my disbelief at the bragging of vitamin salesmen?
Every time I tell Caroline I think I’m going to have something, which is every other day, she reminds me that I haven’t been really sick in 35 years. I’m both a terrible hypochondriac and someone who seems to have superhuman health, which is a strange combination. Or maybe it’s not so strange. Hypochondriacs are, by definition, healthy, so only those who are never sick can hope to become world-class neurotics.
I think the real reason I never get sick is because I was a free kid. Simply put, my parents took very little interest in me when I was growing up, leaving me almost entirely to my own devices, which meant running around the streets of London like crazy from the age of about five. There was never much food in the house – my mum and dad ate little – and I was rarely given a sandwich or lunch money before I walked to school, so I happily picked out half-eaten pastries from the garbage. garbage cans and chicken bones ripped from the sidewalk. The baths were almost entirely unknown.
It turns out that this neglect, which nowadays would mean calling social services, was the greatest gift my parents could have given me. By the time I reached the age of 16, I had been exposed to a biological laboratory filled with viruses and bacteria, which equipped me with an armored immune system. Granted, I couldn’t spell or add and I failed all my O levels. I also had a permanent case of nits. But I was destined to live the next 43 years of my life almost entirely disease-free. To date, the only time I’ve spent a night in the hospital was when I was knocked off my bike by a fleeing driver.
Just writing this fills me with superstitious dread. Superhuman health?!? What pride! By the time this is published, I will probably have been rushed to hospital with a massive heart attack. But to ward off this demon, I will continue to take vitamins, ginger shots and psyllium husks. Think of the hundreds of pounds I shell out every year for this snake oil as my alms for oblivion.
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