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Rust Never Sleeps

11/12/2008

I originally wrote this essay about 10 years ago. I’ve updated it a little. A friend reminded me about it and thought it would make a good companion piece to yesterday’s post: Deliberate Movement.

It starts early. Maybe you’re forty-five or fifty years old:

  • Your notice your feet are numb –
  • You develop a sore on your foot –
  • It doesn’t heal –
  • They amputate your toe –
  • And then your foot –
  • And then your lower leg –
  • You spent most of your time in a wheelchair because the stump that used to be your leg won’t heal –
  • You can’t wear your prosthesis –
  • You can’t get it up anymore –
  • You can’t empty your bladder –
  • You get frequent urinary tract infections –
  • They stick a tube into your penis from time-to-time –
  • Your fingers buzz –
  • You’ve had surgery after surgery after surgery –
  • You’re mostly blind –
  • Your intestines don’t absorb the food you eat –
  • And, even though you eat, you’re malnourished –
  • You have heart disease –
  • You get tired simply trying to stand–
  • Your kidneys fail –
  • Three days a week for four hours or so, you’re hooked up to a machine that cleans your blood (dialysis) –
  • Your memory fails –
  • You get confused easily –
  • You have a stroke –
  • They cut off your other leg –
  • You don’t recognize your family –
  • You have another stroke –
  • You have a tube in your stomach because you can’t eat or you forget to eat –
  • You forget who you are –
  • You fade away …

Welcome to Type II Diabetes. It happens — A LOT. I see it everyday.

Over and over and over again the sickest people I meet, the people who are wearing out and rotting away at home and in hospitals, are those who have “Adult Onset Diabetes” or “Type II Diabetes.” Ten years ago when I first wrote this little piece, you seldom heard about it. Now it’s everywhere.

I’m willing to bet that more than half the people in your local hospital are there because of complications of diabetes. I’m not kidding.

And I’d give you two-to-one odds that either you or me (or both of us) will one day sit in a hospital bed with complications resulting from diabetes.

It scares me to death. Depresses me sometimes.

And I don’t even think that science has a handle on it. There’s lots of confusion.

It’s my professional opinion (and I’ve been a Registered Nurse for almost two decades) that our bodies simply wear out. The system that processes all those starches and sugars that we eat becomes less and less efficient until, one day, it doesn’t work anymore. The doctor who finally figures it out for you gives you a diagnosis: “You have diabetes.”

Our bodies were not built to break down and break down and break down and break down carbohydrates. Day after day. Week after week. Year after year. We wear out.

Dr. Tamir Katz is not talking specifically about diabetes but, as far as I’m concerned, he has as good a handle on this stuff as anyone.

Give his website a read. Buy his book (the e-book is less than $4). Give yourself a chance.

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If I Had a Billion Dollars

7/05/2008

Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you marshmallows. And that’s kind of like happiness.

Money can’t buy you love, but it can rent it by the hour from a big-tittied whore off Craigslist.

Money can’t buy you happiness, but I wouldn’t mind being known as the melancholy guy who drives a Lamborghini.

Twenty or twenty-five years ago my friends and I were drinking in Joe’s basement. We were probably playing quarters — you know the game, you bounce a quarter into a cup and make someone drink a half-a-glass of beer. In our enlightened (read: drunken) state, we asked the age old question:

What would you do for a million dollars?

Everyone tip-toed up to their lines.

  • Some lines were sexual: Would you bang Mimi Kay (you don’t know Mimi Kay)? Would you have gay sex?
  • Some lines were physical: Would you cut off a finger? A hand?
  • Some lines were action: Would you kill a person? Would you leave your family?

Those types of things.

Joe, however, was quiet. He wasn’t participating in the conversation. He was just sitting there.

Joe was kinda-sorta the leader of our group. The alpha dog. Our Slip Mahoney. He was always dispassionate, stoic. We looked to him for guidance — you know, what drinking game are we going to play? What album are we going to listen too? What movie are we going to rent? Important stuff.

I looked to Joe, “Hey, Joe. You’re not saying anything. What would you do for a million dollars?”

His eyes turned toward mine without moving his body. He reached down, took a drink, and monotoned, “I can’t think of anything I WOULDN’T do for a million dollars.”

Which leads me to what I would do if I had a billion dollars. It’s a one word answer:

Gymnasium

Of course I would do what every other rational person would do. I’d quit my job, buy a new car and house, college and trust funds, bolt-ons for the Wife-Beast, blah, blah, blah … typical crap. But what I would do with the new house is attach a hardwood floor, grade school style gymnasium to it.

The gymnasium would be the hub of the house. There would be a stage at one end, full court regulation crank down basketball nets long-wise and dunk nets the other way. It would have that center divider that accordions out. Hell, there’d be locker rooms.

I’d have mats for gymnastics and wrestling, and a long ceiling-to-floor net to hit baseballs and golf balls into. I’d have hockey nets you could pull out and ropes you could climb to the ceiling. A ping pong table.

And there’d be a huge closet stocked with every gosh-darned, grade-school gym item you could think of. Balls of all sizes from marbles to medicine balls; that stupid parachute; shuffle board stuff; those silly scooters you crab-walk on. Anything you can think of and extras in case something breaks.

Oh, there’d be adult exercise equipment: treadmills, free weights, universal weight machines and such. But who’s going to use them when you can set up an obstacle course or have a shuttle race?

The stage would be the real thing too; with stage lights and curtains and a backstage area. The kids could put on plays or I could get the band back together (I was never in a band but the term “get the band back together” has its romance).

But the stage will really function as the family room. It’ll have the big screen television and couches and chairs and pillows. Probably a big table in the back. Video games.

If I had a billion dollars, my house would have a gymnasium.

Everybody sing:

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Presbyopia

3/04/2008

Presby is Greek. It means “old person.” Sigh.

-opia means “visual defect.”

Around six months ago I went to the eye doctor. He asked me to read the third line.

“How about we get this over with quick, Doc. I’ll read the last line,” I said.

I read the last line and nailed it. Nice.

I ran through the gamut of other eye tests. Everything went swimmingly. No problems.

From that goddamned day on, my vision has gotten worse and worse. I’ve toyed with going back to his office and shaking my fist at his receptionist. But I haven’t.

In particular I’m having a hell of a time reading small text. The smaller the text is the farther I have to hold the thing I’m reading away from me.

I know what this is. You know what it is. “You’re getting old (43 as I write this) and you need glasses. Poor reading vision is normal with aging. Presbyopia. Presby-, old person; -opia, visual defect.”

Kiss my ass.

I didn’t go back to the eye doctor. I self-tested and self-diagnosed.

A normal (aka “young”) eye can focus down to about six inches or so. I can only focus down to about nine inches. My distant vision is still keen (I can probably read the last line of that damned eye doctor’s chart still). I’m presbyopic. My eyes are old.

Sonofabitch.

The other day I picked up a cheap pair of those “magnifiers” or “reading glasses.” What a difference. Reading is easy again.

Growing old sucks. But it’s better than the alternative.

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