I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

Ah, Chumbawumba – what a prophetic and beautiful song you wrote!

I have just come out of my longest ever stay in hospital. What started as a stomach ache when I was seven years old, culminated in bowel surgery and 8 days away from my family at the age of 39. To make it a little worse, I hurried back home too soon after the initial surgery only to be readmitted for a few more nights. I have never felt so sick.

What struck me with this illness was how instantaneous it all was. Two tiny, crucial moments in time changed everything. When the illness struck I was perfectly fine in one moment, and very sick the next. At the end of my stay I was feeling awful and worried for the future. Then suddenly this most wonderful switch flipped in my body. I could feel that I was, for the first time in a week, getting better.

We’re all fine, until we’re just not. Then if we’re lucky, we suddenly start feeling better. Strange how clear those moments were for me.

I am fully aware that my problem pales in significance compared to many others. Spend a week in hospital and you are exposed to scores of emergencies racing in and out, grown men and women screaming out in agony in the night, youngsters reeling off lists of past problems to doctors, bearing scars and taking chronic treatments. So far I have been incredibly lucky with my health. I value it more after my short stay.

To feel normal and at ease with my stomach is a blessing. To not worry about what the next meal will do to me is a blessing. To see my children again is a blessing.

Blessings on blessings.

Happy Friday chimps.


It’s a pretty automatic thing for a dad to look after the health of his child. As a father, something primal and hard to explain happened when I held my baby for the first time. I wanted to protect her, and I can’t imagine the urge stopping anytime soon.

Quite different though is the management of my own health. Parenting often feels like one big sacrifice of the body and mind in order to help your child. No sleep, no exercise, more stress, and cramming in whatever food is lying around in between work. It’s easy to forget about yourself.

However, for the longer term health of your child, you have to look after yourself as much as possible. I once heard a (slightly corporate) metaphor describing fathers as the “CEO of their own health”. This is a bit cheesy and annoying, but it is also true. Nobody else will look after your health for you (unlike your child) – and longer term, if your health suffers so does your child. We have to make the time and manage it.

So we take tests, we go for checkups, we exercise and try to eat properly. Perhaps most impactful and difficult – we sacrifice the joys of long night TV sessions in the name of better sleep!

I have had a vaccine and a big set of health check ups in the last week. I’m feeling like the boss of my own health (for now).

Happy, healthy Tuesday, chimps.


The news these days is pretty depressing and anxiety-inducing. It has been for months now with a constant call to worry. There are lots of stories on how to block the external threats facing us. Wear masks. Wash hands. Avoid people.

Something which is not forced upon us very often is the need to manage our own immune system. In my estimation this must be at least half of the COVID equation. But it isn’t getting half of the airtime.

So what do we get when we search for how to boost immune systems?

  1. Get enough sleep. Sleep and immunity are closely tied.
  2. Eat more whole plant foods.
  3. Eat more healthy fats.
  4. Eat more fermented foods or take a probiotic supplement.
  5. Limit added sugars.
  6. Engage in moderate exercise.
  7. Stay hydrated.
  8. Manage your stress levels.

A lot of this is about what we put into our stomachs. Then there’s exercise, stress, and sleep.

Kids hit my sleep patterns hard, but I am getting brutal about early nights.

I need to lay off the sugar and drink more water.

Exercise and social interaction lowers my stress.

Here’s to starting another streak of writing!

Happy Friday chimps.