/REPORT/ And it’s here. In order to self-test how Dry February will affect my body, I went to the hospital in Vrchlabí on the first of February. Here, not only blood tests were waiting for me, but mainly insight into what alcohol actually causes in my body. When I first saw the results, I felt hot. Now to hold out for a month and hope that the refusal of beer will have the desired result.
I went scientific on Dry February.
| Photo: Courtesy of Jana Ellen Virtová
I will confess without pressure, my daily bread is the liquid one. That’s why I decided to go through the cleansing peel again, for the sixth time Dry February. This time, however, I am going about it purely scientifically and even before I drink the last January pint, I am arranging testing at Penta Hospitals in Vrchlab (it is part of the investment group Penta, which also includes the publishing house Vltava Labe Media).
After reassurance that it’s not a problem, I nod. I just have a panic attack, especially of syringes. However, as it turns out later, I should have been more worried about the results of the examination.
Not drinking is an art. This is the motto of Dry February – a challenge that, since 2013, has been urging the Czechs to abstain for the entire (shortest) month of the year:
Dry February begins. Up to a million people suddenly give up alcohol
I sit on the chair and the nurse inserts a needle into my vein. “It just stings a little, otherwise you won’t feel anything,” he tells me, and he also checks with laboratory assistant Kateřina Přeučilová whether she should take one or two test tubes.
After the answer that they will do not only a blood count, but also biochemistry, so there will be two test tubes, I get into a state clinical death. “And it’s done,” the nurse brings me back to consciousness.
Like a frog
And really, it just stung a little and in five seconds it was all over, that is, from my side. “Now it will go into the centrifuge. One tube will also go to the biochemical scanner, where we will look at your kidneys, liver, cholesterol and other values,” Přeučilová shows me the list on paper. That looks like a pretty decent shopping list.
When pointing out that in American crime scenes, a drop of blood can tell a person’s blood type, shoe number and the last book he read in just a few seconds, I am assured that the devices at the Vrchlab hospital are fast and smart, but not so much.
I went scientific on Dry February.Source: courtesy of Jana Ellen Virtová
I’ll know the results in 45 minutes, and I’m starting to worry again. I know why. “We’ll take a look at it,” says Dr. Ivana Šťástková after three quarters of an hour, when she sees my results on the monitor.
It’s not a pretty sight for some values. As my eye wanders to my cholesterol levels and then to my figure, a scene from my favorite TV series comes to mind Red dwarf, where Rimmer chides Lister for his fatness and compares him to a frog in the lab: “You never held a frog by the head in natural history?” You know how her belly bulges over her skinny legs. That’s the picture I see when you jump out of the bunk in the morning.’
I’m a little down
The voice of Dr. Šťástková interrupts me from the serial projection inside my head. “That you got married well before Dry February?” he asks.
After my assent and adding that, for the sake of objectivity, I took six on the last day of January beer, he just says, “Well, you can see, the liver is pretty out of range now.” And he points to the line where, under the abbreviation GMT (gamma-glutamyltransferase), the tolerance for values between 0.14-0.84 is given. I have 2.23.
The opinions of experts from different fields on the Dry February campaign differ just like the opinions of ordinary people:
Dry February from the point of view of experts: Helping people sleep, pubs robbing them of money
However, after being assured that the liver does not look bad so far and that this value will definitely decrease, because the liver is an organ that quickly regenerates the toxic load, I feel a little irritated. But again, not for long. I am at risk of the “disease of kings”, i.e. gout. “Your uric acid, which causes it, is at the upper limit of normal. And this is related not only to genetics, but also to lifestyle and alcohol. The same is true of increased fat metabolism, cholesterol and other fats,” adds the doctor.
In addition, he adds that it can be seen that I have not only a sedentary job and a fondness for beer, but also other vices – belly, fried food, here and there a vlasák and other unhealthy snacks. “You should limit that too. You are no longer twenty (I am twice that plus three – author’s note), and you are at an age when your body is taking back the excesses it tolerated until now. Now is the high time to start taking care of him,” the doctor tells me and I nod.
And I’m curious how my body will look at me in a month, when I head to Vrchlabí again for the resume of my monthly efforts.