The Patients Perspectives

The lean and slippered pantaloon

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 24 December 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1709
  1. Peter A Gardiner
  1. Woodbridge, Suffolk IP13 0HS, retired ophthalmologist.

    Shakespeare's portrait of geriatric existence—sans eyes, sans teeth, sans megabytes, sans many other essential needs for publication in a modern Elizabethan age—would, I suppose, challenge him as it challenges me in this account—sans statistics, sans references, and sans acronyms.

    In the context of medical, media, and environmental warnings, which distress us all, I offer some encouragement about survival.

    Without question, I owe my life to the medical and nursing help that I have always been given. It now seems that my lifestyle so much disgusts the medical establishment and increases managers' costs that I am on a hit list. But, despite conventional, fashionable, scientific, and statistical norms, I survive. Why?

    Genetic history

    Father and grandfather died at 77—both from cardiac failure after prolonged treatment with digitalis. One a heavy smoker, the other a non-smoker. Mother, a heavy smoker, died by her own hand at 62. One aunt died of lung cancer at 63 (a non-smoker) and her sister at 90 after a stroke (a non-smoker). One sister died at 75 from cancer (a heavy smoker). One sister alive at 72 (a non-smoker), and one brother died at 21 from lobar pneumonia (a casual smoker). Maternal grandfather (a pipe smoker) died of tuberculosis at 59 and grandmother died from hypertension and heart failure at 79 (a non-smoker). I see no evidence of …

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