Channel TEN and SEN journalist Andy Maher takes the Epworth HealthCheck



So after filling out the paperwork and mentally committing to diving into the Epworth’s HealthCheck, it was off to the consultation.

This was the first half of the seven to eight hours I was going to give myself over to doctors, nurses and specialists; who’s task it was to stress test me. From top to bottom, inside and out.

As I said before, by the time I found myself here I was quite prepared to receive the news - good or bad. And this is something of a bridge to cross. I’m one of those blokes who only ever go to the doctor when I’ve been crook for too long. Yes, I’m a victim of the 'Man Flu' and can milk it around the house when a lurgy might have me - but I’m not your Type A, Woody Allen-esque hypochondriac.

I’d be lying if I didn’t think that there might be something lurking in there somewhere as yet undiagnosed that the Epworth’s good people might detect. Having lived a pretty healthy life you’d like to think that you’ll dodge most bullets, but once you get to 50 and have worked pretty hard in an at-times stressful environment you never know.

In no particular order throughout the consultation, you are subjected to an array of tests.

Your hearing is put through the ringer, your vision is checked, with colour blindness revealing itself to be my biggest failing. No mayo here; I think there were 14 or 15 cards placed in front of me with various dotted patterns on them. Within the patterns were numbers or letters those with effective eyes will recognise. When the nurse started frowning I knew there was something up. I think I was successful with one of the cards. Not a great result. Hopefully this is as bad as it’s going to get.

You then are subjected to a range of physical tests. This was the stuff that I was actually looking forward to. They cross-reference your results against same sex, same age demographics. Having always had a gentle competitive instinct I was fascinated to see how I stacked up for flexibility, grip strength, back strength, leg strength, sit-up and push-up capacity.

Surprisingly I was no worse than average in my poorest category and was buoyed by the results in a few others.

At some stage throughout the extensive program of tests you are asked to stand on what appears to be a treadmill type apparatus. It’s actually a Body Composition Analyser. By standing still for about five minutes of scanning, it assesses your Body Composition, your Fat content, your obesity levels, something called your Segmental Lean and your Body Water levels.

Happily, it spat out a series of numbers that were all satisfactory. I occasionally find myself looking at the print out of the scan and find myself grinning contentedly at a bunch of numbers and graphs I don’t totally understand. Bottom line, the word normal feels pretty good at times like this.

Probably the best element of the consultation is the hour or so you spend with the Doc' discussing the data obtained, your lifestyle, your work-life balance, your stress levels – it’s the sort of chat I suspect men (in particular) rarely give themselves over to. One they should probably have routinely come to think of it.

It was a fascinating exercise. It wasn’t at all onerous and while a time commitment is required, there’s no wasted time waiting to move from one test to the next.

More extreme testing will come in the second half of Epworth’s HealthCheck when the four-hour screen takes place. I’ll let you know all about the Echo Testing, et al when next we meet.

Originally published on 1116 SEN’s website.


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