Does size matter? Ask Tom Cruise


I went to the bone man the other day – just the latest in my busy diary full of consultants looking at me with a critical eye.

I always thought I was perfect until I was suddenly taken ill 8 months ago and since then I have had every bit of me examined, discussed and photographed. I feel a bit like Marilyn Monroe but without the adulation.

On that crazy day when I had the now well-discussed brain haemorrhage and what was probably two rather violent brain seizures, I also fractured my spine and tore most of my body muscles.

Overnight I was transformed from everyone’s pin-up into a physical wreck – well half of that is true.

My body, as a consequence has been tested for almost every disease and I have come out of it pretty well…I haven’t got any form of cancer, no brain tumours, no malfunctioning organs, no sensory loss and, mostly my brain function is unaffected by the trauma.

One thing that none of the doctors would let lie though was the question of why I had such a major back injury during those brain seizures. Was it caused by the force of the seizures which, as the second one was witnessed, were very violent or was it caused by falling or by being repeatedly smashed against something during the first seizure? Or was there some underlying cause – what doctors call a pathological fracture?

Annoyingly I was unconscious at the time so I don’t count as an eye witness.

Eight months after that day, my back is recovering at a great pace. I can now do most movements without pain and, in some ways I am more flexible at the waist than I was before the injury – or so my kung fu instructor tells me. Pain has now, mostly, turned into a dull ache and my only physical restraints, as far as my back is concerned, is still lifting heavy objects or sitting for a long time in an uncomfortable chair.

The latest scan shows that the bones are healing normally and well.

I have lost a stone in weight – mostly by being restricted to 3 glasses of wine a week and by losing muscle tone that was actually quite impressive before the grim reaper tried to snatch me last October. In fact, as I never tire of saying, my neurologist told me the other day that I look “great.” I just love that – can I say it again? I look great! yay!

The back fracture is now also less of an issue for the medics too. All the tests have now been done, as far as I can tell, and they are sure that I have no pathological reason for the back fracture. In other words I haven’t got some invasive cancer or any other bone condition which could have weakened by spine.

With this in mind I had an appointment this week with a back consultant at the hospital and we went through all these theories all over again. He says that I do have a slightly lower bone density than my peers – men of my age – but it is not significant and would not have led to the fracture. I will have another back scan in two years time and until then, and probably beyond, I will have to take daily calcium tablets and lie around in the sun as much as I can.

This last piece of advice matches the neurologist’s opinion too – she tells me that I should rest more.

So I wonder if I could get a luxurious sun lounger chair on prescription or, even better, regular holidays in the Bahamas.

The bone doctor was very thorough – he asked about my childhood, looked through the now Tolstoyesque medical notes on my case and then did one of those finger prodding physical examinations which are always a strange mix of the scientific and the intimate. He said he thought my kidneys and other internal organs felt good. Thanks Doc.

After a lot of thought, he told me that I was fine, that there was really nothing the matter with my back, apart from the slightly lower density, and that he didn’t need to see me again. He had been so caring, I almost felt disappointed not to see him again.

He also said that he was convinced that the fractured spine would have been caused by some impact or contortion during my convulsions and that it could now no longer seen as significant to the analysis of my brain haemorrhage.

He did say though that after the injury, I was a fraction of an inch shorter than I was before – not as bad as Tom Cruise or anything as ghastly as that but still an unwelcome thought for anyone who is not of giant-like proportions.

How will I live with it? I wondered? Will I still have all eyes on me when I walk into a room? Will I still be everyone’s fantasy man? If not, does that mean that size really does count? It must be a wake-up call.

It is a lot to take on board. How many men out there worry about that extra fraction of an inch?

All of them we are told.

Will platform heels suit me? Will I develop a Napoleonic complex? Should I avoid standing next to large objects? Are my dreams of being a basket ball star over?


Forgive me readers if I take some time over this one. Maybe all that advise about lying down is helpful though – we are all the same height when we are horizontal. So maybe I should do a lot more lying on the sand, preferably by the sea in a desert island paradise.

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