I've mentioned many times before how close my parents and I are. My mom is a huge supporter of my writing and has also taken on the task of beta reader/critique partner/all-around assistant. She treats my writing like she's my manager/publicist/agent all rolled into one. She keeps a hard eye on my reviews, gives me feedback on other books she reads, and generally does all the things I despise about this career that chose me.
My dad…well he doesn't read my books but he is probably my biggest cheerleader. He tells everyone about his daughter, the author. He brags about me and my books, even though he truly has no clue whether or not I’m any good. He eagerly awaits each and every new release, and has insisted that my mom by bookends, so they can proudly display every one of my books.
Recently my dad had his first real health scare. He's a spry 85 and one would assume he's like many others his age; hopped up on a cocktail of meds just to keep his body running. Most people his age have been hospitalized many times. This was only his second time, the first being when he was a child and had his tonsils removed.
Finding out that my dad had a 90% coronary artery blockage and could have quite literally dropped dead at any second, rocked even the strongest of us (my unflinching hubby most of all). The routine exam that set this merry go round in motion caught all of us off guard, and left me forever grateful that my dad has a truly gifted general practitioner.
After a one night stay in the hospital and 3 stents later, my energetic dad is back to his daily walks and once a week volunteer job at our local veteran’s museum. To say we are thankful…grateful…blessed…would be a gross understatement. He's been given a brand new lease on life and he’s never felt better.
I went to the doctor with him recently and during the course of my many questions, I suddenly realized something: His health scare was my health scare too. Coronary artery disease can be hereditary, and while I do exercise often and try to eat right I rarely skimp on salt or dessert. A week later when I went to my own yearly well-check and discovered my blood pressure was high….well let's just say I'm doing a whole lot of soul searching. Sure I'm still “young”…if 51 can still be labeled as that. I've got many years ahead of me (hopefully)….as long as I'm willing to make a few changes. A lot of changes.
In typical ME fashion, I've taken this bull by the horns in an almost manic way. My poor hubby just silently sits there when I'm chomping down on carrots, refusing dessert, and eating NO red meat. He knows as well as I do, that my obsessive behavior will probably wane as time goes on. But if this is what I have to do to avoid heart disease, so be it. I’ve got a lot of living yet to do and I refuse to be another statistic that so often accompanies middle age.
For the record, I freaking HATE that term. Middle age to me sounds older than just calling me a senior citizen. If this is indeed MY middle-age, then the logical conclusion I reach is that I’m going to live to be 100. Right?
Let me backtrack for a sec and tell you all that I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. Since I was a child, I’ve quite literally ridden a roller coaster of up and down weight. When I first met my hubby (we were both 20), I was cute and curvy; looked good in a pair of jeans (but not nearly as good as he did). As the years have gone by, and children have entered the picture, things have obviously changed. But while I’ve been fixated on size, it wasn’t until I entered my 40’s that health became a higher priority. I’m no longer the junk food queen I was in my 20’s. I eat veggies every day. I try to work out. The hubby and I spend time together hiking or walking. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy dessert. Or wine. Those who know me know I enjoy both….frequently. However, everything – as they say – in moderation. Which would be fine, if I didn’t have such an incredibly sedentary job (or jobs, if you include this writing one). I work from home and spend the majority of my day sitting. Over the course of the past 5 years at my job I’ve worried often about the effect all this sitting will have on my health. It’s sure as hell doing NO good for my ass.
Oops…sorry…didn’t mean to go there.
Where am I going with this, do you ask? I have no idea. I’m just a bit freaked about by this sudden realization that I’m human. Imagine that.
Here’s my plan for the upcoming weeks and months: no red meat, cut back on salt, reduce sugar and white flour as much as possible, exercise at least 30 minutes, 6 days a week. Believe it or not, it is easier than you think. I wasn’t much of a meat eater anyway, so giving up what little red meat I do eat isn’t difficult. Cutting out the white flour is brutal…I’m Italian and pasta and bread are my life.
My road to good health will, I suspect, be fraught with many ups and downs. I haven’t yet figured out how to curb this sweet tooth of mine, but I’ve thankfully redirected it toward fruit instead of other sweets. I’ve ordered a blood pressure monitor to keep tabs on myself, and am trying to reduce stress in any way I can. I will admit that I find that subject much harder to deal with than cutting back on sweets. But I want to be here to see my grandchildren. I want to retire with my hubby and travel the world. I want to see my daughter get married. And I’m not about to let my lifestyle take any of that from me. It may require finding another job. It will probably require that I eat this way for the rest of my life. And that’s okay.
Let us all raise our wine glasses (red, not white. It’s more heart friendly, or so I hear) to good health. Yours, my dad’s, and mine too!
Let us toast to many years ahead for us all, and for the those lives to be spent actively.
Let us drink to the wonders of medicine, and good doctors who find bad things, even when they weren’t looking.
Let us be grateful for each and every day. Even the ones with no red meat, no salt, and no dessert.