04 November 2008


I have just had my MOT today. For those non-UK readers, MOT stands for Ministry of Transport and is a test that a car has to undergo once a year to make it roadworthy. But I am not talking about my car's MOT but one for me. Let me explain...

In the murky distant past I used to be a civil servant and when I reached the ripe old age of 35, I was invited to be a guinea pig in an experiment that the University College London was undertaking jointly with the Civil Service. They were doing research into amongst other things what causes strokes, heart attacks and diabetes, whether it can be predicted, whether there are genetic links, whether it is stress-related etc etc. They wanted to follow a group of 35-year-olds through their life and monitor them closely right into old age. I volunteered to become one of that group. It doesn't matter whether some of the people are no longer working in the Civil Service or are retired. The research follows them wherever they are. The study is now 20 years old and in that time I have had five top-to-toe medicals.

Today was the fifth one. I had to travel to the hinterland of Tottenham Court Road, the home of University College, and undergo a three and a half-hour medical. Apart from a 40-page questionnaire which I had to complete at home beforehand, I had to arrive today without eating or drinking anything since midnight last night. I can never start the day without breakfast, so by the time I got into Central London, I could have eaten a horse. The medical comprised:
  • my blood pressure being taken (was told it was incredibly good at 116 over 66)
  • seven blood samples (including tests for diabetes, cholesterol and any genetic factors) after which I was given 2 glasses of Lucozade to increase my glucose level
  • a 30-minute written IQ test (mathematical and English tests, memory lists etc)
  • electrocardiogram, heart rate and arterial elasticity tests
  • weight/height/body measurements
  • lung capacity test
  • dementia test
  • more blood tests (exactly two hours after the first set to see whether the Lucozade had been absorbed)
  • balance/coordination/grip tests
  • walking speed test
  • an interview to see how much stress there has been in my life (I was able to tell them about barrow-loads !!)
In the middle of all this (after the second set of blood tests) I was given lunch - a choice of sandwiches, beverages, cake and fresh fruit. Oh, and I had my travel costs reimbursed too.

Everyone gets something out of it. I get to have a total MOT, completely free of charge. I pay nothing at all and get a free lunch thrown in. A medical of this magnitude would cost a bomb if I had to go privately, so I am very appreciative that I was chosen to be included in the programme. I get the results in 10 weeks' time but already know from comments said today that I am now roadworthy again! They get something out of it because they are getting the answers for their research which will affect the way heart disease, strokes and diabetes are diagnosed and treated. I feel chuffed that I have done my bit for medical advancement.

When I emerged into the fresh air again, I marched off for an afternoon Christmas window-shopping in Oxford Street, content with the knowledge that, despite all the recent stress, my body is coping wonderfully well. At the very least I can be thankful for that.


laurie said...

that's excellent that you take part in that study. (the cake sounds good, too.)

i'm taking part in the Sister Study, which doesn't do nearly as many tests, but they track my health for 10 years. it's for women who have a sister who has had breast cancer.

here's to science!

Anonymous said...

What an interesting day!

Amazing you are so well, Rosiero, and your BP is so low what with all the stress you have to deal with in your life.

Best wishes,

Almost American said...

How reassuring!

And how nice - a free lunch, and a free trip into London! Did it almost feel like a vacation?

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

How interesting to be able to take part in that sort of study. Hope it makes you feel a bit special Rosiero. And pleased for you that you had a good day out in London into the bargain.

Have just read your older post about your dear Dad and Kay and her cakes. A wonderful story, so interesting. Can just imagine him watching over Kay and spurring her on.

A x

Anonymous said...

It's good to read that you are OK and I hope that will give you some more strength, too.

Cee said...

Hurrah for research. Hurrah for the Civil Service. Hurrah for Christmas shopping in London. And congrats on flippin' low BP.

Ellen said...

That's great that you had a complete medical overhaul and glad that the murmurs from the professionals are of good health. Did you get to meet any of the other people who are doing this trial with you? That would be interesting.

Hope things are ok at the moment. x

Gill - That British Woman said...

I would have thought your blood pressure would be sky high with all the drama going on in your life.

Well done though........

Gill in Canada

Stinking Billy said...

rosiero, you were superwoman to me before I read all that. But you sure had your smart head on the day you signed up fot that programme. x

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

and you will benefit from the extra monitoring, so a bonus huh?! which you need, with all the stress you have...great job..

interesting too, the kinds thing l would sign up for in a heart beat..ha!

ladythinker said...

Enviable BP for your stressful home life. Lucky you to have such a thorough health check. Hope the results are fine too. Be sure to let us all know when athey come through.
Wouldn't have minded being one of the civil servants offered the chance to take part in the programme but maybe it didn't extend to those who only worked in Civil Service a short time and/or then moved to the sticks.