We have lost some icons of the artistic world in the last few weeks, not the least of whom was one of Mike’s classmates at St. Thomas High School. Most of our departed were no more than two years older than I am. Their passing really puts life into perspective and makes me determined to take care of myself and Mike as best I can. The reality is that sometimes even with the a healthy lifestyle and incredible medical care death simply happens. What that tells me is just how necessary it is to squeeze as much life out of every single day as possible.
Mike and I have met ourselves coming and going to doctors’s offices since the beginning of the new year. As my cousin, Terri, notes, at least we have the doctors and the insurance to take care of all of our woes. Mike has to lose weight which is no big surprise to either of us. I’ve filled my refrigerator with tons of vegetables. I’m thrilled that we now have a Sprouts near our house and I also plan to make regular visits to the Airline Farmer’s Market and Central Market in search of fresh produce. It will be good for both of us. I’ve developed a bit of a rubber tire around my waist which I despise so neither of us have eaten a slice of bread, a morsel of potato, or any kind of rice, cracker, or wheat product in two weeks. I already feel better. It’s amazing how much more energy I have.
My medical problems center on my bones and joints. I have relatives from all sides of my ancestry who have suffered with osteoporosis. One of my aunts has been wheelchair bound for many years, another is rather frail and walks with a cane. She has experienced numerous serious breaks and has a number of replacements for various bones. I’ve been read the riot act by my physician. He has ordered me to exercise every day. I have been doing a great deal of walking, biking, and using an elliptical machine. I sometimes carry weights while I do these things. At first I was winded and didn’t believe that I would be able to meet his challenges but I find myself growing stronger and stronger.
My knees are arthritic and still giving me way too much pain. Next week I will meet with my orthopedist who has told me that the next stage in rehabilitating my knees is to insert a lubricant that should provide me with a great deal of relief. The best aspect of doing that is that it will allow me to do the exercises that will build both my muscles and my bones without the pain that is so insistent right now. Little by little I intend to overcome both my difficulties and Mike’s. My goal is for both of us to be much more healthy by this time next year.
I was talking with a dear friend who is a caretaker for her mom. She lamented that she has become out of shape and stressed beyond description. I can totally identify with her dilemma. So many of us are so busy doing for others in one way or another that we neglect our own personal needs. We convince ourselves that we just don’t have the time to commit for staying healthy. We stop exercising because we have other things that we must do. We eat on the run and pay little attention to what we are putting in our mouths. We ignore those gnawing symptoms that just don’t seem right. In other words, we somehow don’t see ourselves as being as important as all of the other people who depend on us.
I have recently been thinking of the old airplane saw that if we need oxygen we should always get it for ourselves before trying to help everyone else, otherwise we may pass out and be of no use. In our society a large number of us are on the brink of passing out but we just can’t stop long enough to secure our own health first. We’ve all been in a position like that. As a matter of fact, it is exactly the reason that I am now in the worst shape of my lifetime.
None of my ailments are life threatening but left untreated they will lead me to a lifestyle that I don’t want. I have heard of people whose bones shatter if they do little more than sneeze. I may one day end up with a cane or in a wheelchair but I do not choose to accelerate that likelihood. I am getting my inspiration from my numerous friends who taking control of their health.
Water has become my new best friend. It is a miracle drink that we don’t always think to order. I’ve learned how to cook fresh beets, kale, quinoa, and Brussel sprouts. I keep a journal of both my exercise and my food. It’s amazing how much more dedicated I am when I know that I will have to record either my victories or my failures at the end of the day. I’m just competitive enough that I don’t want to admit that I didn’t have the grit to stick with my daily plan.
I learned to make exercising fun and it’s not that difficult with a smart phone. It goes everywhere with me and entertains me with podcasts, phone calls to friends, and music. I’ve walked four miles with Madonna and beaten my urge to escape the elliptical with a serial about Bo Bergdahl. I’ve even found great low fat, low carbohydrate recipes while in the midst of what might otherwise have been boring sessions of lubricating my knees on a stationary bicycle.
If Mike and I manage to lose weight and put ourselves back into a healthier state I intend to do everything possible to stay there. None of us ever knows how much time we will be allotted here on earth but I don’t want to be complicit in shortening my life. If it happens it will be because it was time, not because I was slipshod in doing what was right.
I love goals. Retirement can sometimes become a bit boring. Right now I’m jazzed by the idea of achieving stronger bones and bringing Mike’s blood sugar into a normal range. Right now I am one determined woman. Every hour of my day is now filled with writing, working on my book, exercising, drinking water, and researching better ways of being healthy. I no longer have any reason to be bored.
I have one last irritant to overcome. I am supposed to begin taking a specialty drug for my osteoporosis. It is designed to rebuild bone and requires daily injections for two years. Right now I am trapped in the insurance run around. It has been almost an entire month since my doctor and I began the process. The insurance company has supposedly agreed to provide me with the drug and will even keep my copay quite low given that the actual cost of the injections is twenty seven hundred dollars a month. Somehow I just have to get all of the moving parts in place so that delivery will begin. I quite excited about starting because a cousin who has much of my same DNA has had great success with using this particular therapy.
All of my projects will require patience. None of my goals will be met easily. I know that I will have to work hard and even face a few setbacks here and there. I’m going to take my plan one small step at a time. I urge the rest of you to start your own healthy living right now. Don’t wait. The longer that you take the more difficult it will be. Let’s do this together. Go ahead and love yourself enough to find the time.