Fri | Feb 23, 2018

Tony Deyal | The rooster and the lion

Published:Friday | June 9, 2017 | 11:03 PM

The Chinese New Year started on January 28 this year and I felt really good about it. This is the Year of the Rooster, and I, like Bob Marley, was born in 1945 under that signifier.

However, each year is not just associated with one of the 12 animals of the cycle but also one of the five elements - gold (metal), wood, water, fire, or earth. I was born in the Year of the (Wood) Rooster (some of you will have fun with this), but this year, 2017, is the time of the Fire Rooster. In other words, watch out for a burning sensation or two.

I was elated and had been looking forward to a year that belonged to me and all the other roosters. It is my time now, I thought to myself, almost echoing the tourism minister of the government in Trinidad and Tobago who, in her maiden appearance in the House of Representatives, almost quoted the Western villain best remembered for the line, "My name is Dance Drago, and this is my night to howl!"

I figured that after a few lean years, this was my year to crow and not to eat crow. Strangely, it did not start as if it was my year at all.

The first major event was when I found that my blood pressure had climbed to astronomical proportions and that if NASA got its hands on me, I would have been sent on the Mars mission without any other means of propulsion.

I went to the dentist, who said that for some procedures, he checked the patient's blood pressure first. I laughed and assured him that mine was always within the range for my age, but told him it would not hurt to get a free reading. It turned out that I should not have been walking around making bad jokes or dwelling in fantasy land, I should have been in the ER.

I told him that my first reading was normally high, but my second was much lower. Not this time. I went immediately to my doctor, who confirmed that it was much higher than the readings on my previous visits and I would need to consider taking high blood pressure (HBP) medication. I went home and took out the vastly underused Omron machine and started taking my blood pressure at intervals of an hour. Pressure. Scary. Fluctuations up and down the scale.

Stubbornly, I still thought I could manage, but found the numbers increasing like the population of some of the Asian countries. I suppose because I was 71 going on 72 and was not taking any kind of medication for the last 12 years or so - not even the baby aspirin in the morning - I was aware of the major lifestyle change it would involve. But I bit the bullet, swallowed an HBP pill consisting of 10 milligrams of medicine to manage my blood pressure and 2.5 of a diuretic. I was now on a urinary track. As the old song says, "If you 'happee' and you know it", you rush to the facilities at three in the morning or thereabouts, waking up Indranie.

Then one thing led to another much, much worse. On April Fools' Day, seemingly named after my stubbornness, I had a virus with high fever and major sinus congestion as its symptoms. I collapsed in the washroom and then fainted several times. Indranie thought it was a heart attack and a stroke. I was out cold most of the time, so I wasn't able to completely convince her I was OK. I eventually reached the ER of a private hospital where they discovered I had suffered a hairline fracture of my skull, near my right eye, but strangely there was no pain when I pressed the spot from the outside.

They did a brain scan and found, as expected, nothing. An echocardiogram showed that I did not have a heart problem. In fact, a blocked artery I had been diagnosed with in 2004 had miraculously disappeared. However, I did have signs of some HBP issues. I don't have glaucoma or diabetes. So what caused my problem?

The doctor could not say definitively, but I returned from the hospital eight pounds lighter than when I went in or about two pounds a day at roughly $3,500 a pound. When you hear something cost a 'pound and a crown', it has to be from that hospital.

I figured out, in retrospect, what has been happening to me and I now realise it is because 2017 is the Year of the Rooster, or my year. I went on a website to see what else was in store for me and discovered, to my horror, that "Rooster Years are unlucky for Roosters! According to Chinese astrology, the year of one's birth sign is the most unlucky year in the 12-year cycle. In a year of your sign, horoscopes for all aspects of your life will not be very good ... . Roosters should be more careful in 2017."

Now they tell me!

Another one said, "In the Year of the Rooster, people who happen to born in the zodiac year will be out of luck in most respects of life. Either setbacks in work or crisis in relationship bothers them a lot."

A third reinforced the bad news: "[The year] 2017 turns to be the zodiac year of birth (Ben Ming Nian) for people born in the Year of the Rooster. Ben Ming Nian is never a good year for any zodiac signs, so Roosters may go through a lot of rise and fall in this year. Although their fortune in 2017 is not the worst, they can hardly obtain obvious improvements. Sudden changes may occur in their life, for example, bottleneck stage in career, investment losses, and relationship issues."

I looked at my options and came up with a plan. I was born on August 10, 1945, and this makes me a Leo. So this year, my friends, I am not a Rooster, I am a Leo. Next year, 2018, is the Chinese year of man's best friend, the dog. If his bark is worse than his bite, I might consider being a Rooster again, but if it is a horror-scope like this year, I will sell the rooster to KFC and you will find me in the jungle, the mighty jungle, roaring my lungs out.

• Tony Deyal was last seen looking at the Leo horoscope, which promises, "This is a year on fire, pouring energy into your work, career, and creativity sectors."