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Me and my health: Writer Liam Farrell on his lifestyle


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Nature lover: Liam Farrell enjoys walking in the woods

Nature lover: Liam Farrell enjoys walking in the woods

With dog Coco

With dog Coco

Liam Farrell

Liam Farrell

Nature lover: Liam Farrell enjoys walking in the woods

The 62-year-old writer, blogger and health commentator from Rostrevor was a family doctor in Crossmaglen for many years and now curates the #Irishmed tweetchat on Twitter. He is married to Brid and has three grown-up children, Jack and Katie, both in London, and Grace, in Dublin.

Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?

Exercise really is the wonder-drug; everything feels better after a walk in the woods. I'm not talking running marathons here - a brisk stroll, taking time to stop and smell the flowers, three times each week, is quite sufficient for good health. We are lucky in Rostrevor, with the Mournes in our backyard, and I realise it's not as easy for everyone.

What is the worst illness you've had?

I'm a morphine addict - clean for over 12 years now - and I'm always grateful for the support of my family and friends and for the many good people who helped me when I needed it.

I've been fortunate to avoid any serious physical illness (so far). I've chronic bursitis in one shoulder, and recurrent low back pain, but in the great scheme of things, that's not too bad, and it makes any heavy manual labour avoidable.

How healthy is your diet?

Healthy-ish; no fads, just a balanced diet with five portions of fresh fruit or veg each day, and fish whenever I can get it. I'm also becoming more and more vegetarian, both on health and environmental grounds.

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With dog Coco

With dog Coco

With dog Coco

Any bad habits?

I have a really sweet tooth; I take five spoons of sugar in a mug of tea/coffee. I only wish it was an Olympic sport - I'd be a gold-medal candidate. I obviously have a high (or inefficient) metabolism, as despite my sugar intake, I'm of average weight.

Do you drink and smoke/ if so how much?

I only drink alcohol socially. Pre-Covid, I'd have met up with my comrades every Friday night to talk treason, and have about five whiskies. Since Covid-19, I've been completely sober; I don't enjoy drinking on my own, as there is no-one to slag off, so what's the point?

Do you take any supplements?

No. Also known as Consumer Receptive Alternative Preparations (CR*P), with a balanced diet supplements are usually completely unnecessary, a rip-off and a waste of money. Unless your doctor recommends a specific supplement, don't bother.

Anyone confined indoors by the lockdown might need a vitamin D supplement, but again, take advice from your doctor about this.

How do you take time out?

There is nothing quite like the joy of being immersed in a good book; at the moment I'm reading The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. It takes concentration, but every sentence is a carefully crafted jewel, and is like being transported to another world.

Music is in my blood (like cholesterol). I play piano and guitar, and used to pitch into one of Rostrevor's many regular folk sessions. But that's another one of the petty cruelties of Covid-19; it will be a long time before we make music together again.

How well do you sleep?

As Milton said, "What hath the night to do with sleep?" I am a nocturnal creature, just call me Dr Acula. I do find Alexa's rainforest sounds quite soothing and restful.

Liam Farrell

Do you worry about getting old?

Not particularly; "Old men must die, else the earth grow mouldy." I've signed my Advance Care Directive, which is a wise move for all of us. Specifically, if I'm sick and frail, I don't want CPR. But I feel exactly the same as I did 40 years ago, though old age must be creeping up on me, and I suspect it's up to no good. I am more concerned about the degraded world our generation is leaving to our young people, who will have to face the global challenges of climate change and anthropogenic extinctions. And just when we need a global approach to these crises, we have a secretive China, a ruthless Russia, and a buffoon in the White House.

What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?

I don't have any specific product. Good health is not complicated; don't smoke, don't drink too much, take regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, take the advice of your doctor on vaccinations and health screenings, and, of course, have wealthy parents.

I try to find the small things in life that give a little high; a good meal, a fulfilling hobby, working in the garden and enjoying nature, time with friends and family and children, reading a good book.

Sprinkle your life with them, and they will leave you healthier and happier.

Liam Farrell's best-selling book Are You the F***ing Doctor? is available on Amazon as paperback, audiobook and Kindle edition

Belfast Telegraph