QUALITY OF LIFE YEARS: PART 1

The people we are today are shaped by the years of experience and accumulation of wear and tear we have put our bodies through. Sometimes experiences and injuries can alter peoples mental outlook or physical capabilities for the remainder of their days. More often than not, people accept the depreciation of their abilities as a part of life. It is definitely easier to maintain health and well being than it is to get it back once it is lost.


In 2003 I had one of those moments. The first of many. I was told by an emergency room doctor, you're fine, go home. Great news! I attempted to sit up to leave, all the blood rushed out of my face, and I laid back down as I felt on the verge of fainting. Both my parents had some form of structured training in the health field, and requested a different doctor’s opinion. A few questions later I was told I would likely need surgery. This was terrifying to me. Too many thoughts of complications rushing through my head. Are there any other options? No. One test confirmed that I would most certainly need surgery. I would not survive until morning. Earlier that day I was riding mountain bikes with some friends. I misjudged the trail and was suddenly stopped by a tree. I tried to avoid the hospital, but they were persistent that I should go. Thanks friends!


A surgical team was called in, and they successfully removed my entire spleen. The poor thing was in too many pieces to patch back together. The point of this whole story falls on the response, or at least the response my heavily medicated brain remembers from one nurse. The question was something along the lines of, “what are the negatives of living without a spleen?” Her response - concrete quoted in my mind – “you'll likely die young of a blood disease.” That sentence rocked my life. It would snowball into every aspect of healthy living, and eventually shape my career. I have spent much of my spare time in the last 16 years trying to be cautious of what I eat, how much sleep I get, how well I deal with stress, and keeping my body and brain healthy, because I don't want to die young of a blood disease. My body is at a disadvantage. I get sick easily. In fact, every time I get run down, or sleep less than 6 hours for 2 consecutive days, I get sick. The world of human body maintenance is a complex mess of dramatically different recommendations and products, many with contradicting advice.


A parallel thought, when is your vehicle due for an oil change? Are your tires getting worn out? Better replace them before the winter. Speaking of winter, does your battery still hold a good charge? You'll need that! Windshield cracked? They say a cracked front windshield decreases the structural integrity of your vehicle in a collision or roll over. The list goes on, and maintenance of other things in our lives are common conversation: “I have to re-shingle the roof this summer,” “my hot water tank is getting old,” “need to mow the lawn and re-paint the fence this weekend.”


Our bodies depreciate more from lack of use, than lack of youth. As humans, we literally rot from the inside out. Health used to be widely defined as the absence of illness or injury. Preventative measures seem to be a newly hip thing to talk about. Better late than never. I am proposing everyone needs to think of human body maintenance today. I'll crush handfuls of chocolate chips with the best of them (I am from Dutch descent… it must be genetic), but let's be wise of the wear and tear we put on our bodies.


Eat a variety of fresh vegetables, natural fats, and proteins. Increase or maintain bone density, joint range of motion, and muscular strength through active living / structured exercise. Take steps to decrease stress, build happy relationships, and participate in leisure activities you love. Allow your body adequate time to recover / sleep regularly, and limit the toxins we expose our bodies to (alcohol, processed foods, refined sugars, and environmental hazards).


A healthy lifestyle means many different things to many different people. Everyone has their vices. Sometimes 'life can seem so cold, do what you have to do to cope.' However, a year from now, you'll be happy you made some changes, no matter how big or small, towards a healthier lifestyle. The human body has great capabilities to adapt over time; this includes returning to a healthier state from somewhere that may feel too far gone. What will be your reason to change? How bad of news does your family doctor have to provide to spark the motivation? At the same time though, congratulations on making it this far, you're dealing well!


My motivation is to keep my quality of life, as late into this life as possible! You have exactly one life in which to do everything you'll ever do, act accordingly. Without health, all other life pursuits are unattainable.


Thanks for your time,

~Craig

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