I’m totally knackered

The more sleep I seem to have, the more tired I feel. I don’t tend to feel alive until lunchtime, and have to shove chocolate down my throat to keep me going. Have I got a serious medical condition that needs examining?
RG, via e-mail

“It sounds like the solution is to make some lifestyle changes,” says a remarkably well-rested Dr Neil Stanley, Horlicks’ sleep expert. “If you’re constantly tired, your sleep routine isn’t working. Plus sleep disruption can also affect the hormones gherlin and leptin, which affect your appetite. In fact, the more tired you get, the more you crave sugary foods, hence your ‘need’ for sugar.” So what’s the solution to this chocolate-themed insomnia hell? “Try going to bed at a regular time – before midnight – and getting up at exactly the same time for two weeks to see if this resets your body clock.” If this doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to see the GP. You could be dying. Sweet.

Humungous bum grapes

I’ve got an arse pile so huge it feels like a pink eyeball.
Phil Dabbut, via e-mail

“It’s likely the swelling’s been caused by thrombosis, where a clot inside a blood vessel down there restricts blood flowing through it properly,” says Dr Catti Moss of the Royal College of General Practitioners. “And it’s a condition that’s often so painful sufferers visit their GPs immediately.” In time, however, your body naturally deals with piles as long as you also treat it with soothing over-the-counter ointments such as Anusol. If the pain becomes unbearable, though, you’ve got two ominous-sounding options. “A surgeon might have to release the pressure using sclerotherapy, which involves an injection of an oily solution known as a sclerosant, causing the pile to then shrink and fall off,” says Catti, “after which point, using ice packs and sitting on a ring cushion in the following weeks to avoid pressure on the effected area is essential.” Just to be sure, visit your GP, whip out your arse and let the good doc have a root around – it’s always best to be sure.

I need some new teeth

When I was younger I lost two teeth, but one of them was impacted into my gum so had to be scraped out by my dentist. As a result I apparently no longer have enough bone on that side of my gum for them to put permanent replacement teeth in, unless the bone comes from my hip. Worse still, I was told the whole process would cost £2,000…
David Pill, via e-mail

“Unfortunately it’s going to cost more than that – I’m thinking somewhere around the £7,000 mark,” says Dr Stanley Kay of the Harley Street Dental Clinic. “This is because they’ll have to make a permanent replacement. First up, the dentist needs to wedge a titanium screw into your gum, put an ‘abutment’ in there, and then put a new crown on top of that.” The only good news is that the operating dentist will more than likely find enough bone from your mouth, rather than having to take it from your hip, to ensure a better match. And… suddenly you’re skint.

Mouth full of claret

One of my back molars bleeds from time to time. It doesn’t hurt at all, but I’m still concerned. Is it an abscess?
M Stinhurst, via e-mail

“Probably not,” says celebrity dentist Phil Stemmer. “It may just be gingivitis, otherwise known as gum disease, brought on by a failure to brush the back molars effectively.” This, in turn, causes the bleeding. “That said,” says Stemmer, “it may have been caused by an inflammation around an erupting wisdom tooth. Either way, if you want the problem rectified, you need to get it checked by your dentist.”

My nutbag’s on fire

I suffer terribly from chafing between my legs near my testes. It looks like some sort of nappy rash – all purple, raised skin – and hurts like buggery. I shower twice a day, and whack talcum powder on my groin but it still happens.
Rob Harris, via e-mail

Enter Dr Dawn of TV’s Embarrassing Illnesses fame. “When your inner thighs get hot and sweaty, it creates a perfect breeding ground for fungus that causes a sore yeast infection called thrush.” So why won’t the talc shift it? “The perfume in the talc alters the acid level of your skin – giving a fertile landscape for the fungus to multiply. Also avoid using perfumed products and ask your pharmacist for a baby’s bottom cream called Nelson’s Smootha for the rash. And if that fails, ask your GP for a stronger prescription.”

'A stray elbow nearly killed me’

How an innocent game of rugby spelled disaster for Dean Chisling.

“It was January 3rd 2003, I was back home from university over Christmas and was looking for an easy rugby game,” says Dean Chisling, 23. But while playing for his local team, he took a knock that literally took his breath away.

“I went in a bit high for a tackle. The opposing player stopped dead, ducked with the ball in his left hand and raised his right elbow high. I ran into the elbow, and it hit me straight in the throat.

“I started shouting for help immediately, but my voice sounded grisly. I began spitting up blood. Before long I was vomiting cartilage – I knew I’d done something serious.”

Moments later he was on a stretcher, being rushed to A&E. “The doctors were terrified about my breathing as I’m also asthmatic,” says Chisling. “One minute I’m on the pitch, the next I’m having full-body CT scans and X-rays. I was asked to sign a consent form to let them carry out various medical procedures to save my life. The last thing I remember was being put to sleep.” He awoke three days later in the Intensive Care Unit, unable to speak.

“The doctors told me that the guy’s elbow in my throat had shattered my larynx and dislocated the vocal chords. They’d put the voicebox back together and managed to prise my vocal cords apart as there was concern that they could have healed together and blocked my breathing for good.” He’d also been given a tracheotomy to help him breathe. For the next six weeks Dean was fed via a tube that went in through his nose, down his throat and into his stomach. He couldn’t utter a word.

Two weeks later Chisling was finally allowed home. There followed a few months of home rehabilitation and voice therapy – which he’s still having, four years on. Still, Chisling refuses to let that life-threatening skirmish affect his confidence. “Nine months later I was back playing rugby,” he beams.