Friday, December 18, 2015
I am expert in disease. This word hails from the French for "trouble, discomfort, inconvenience, lack of ease". That's a hell of a thing to be well schooled in, and even though I am well-schooled (to the tune of 1/4 million bucks in student loans which I will possibly pay off before trouble and discomfort claim me), I still struggle with just how well a living being is supposed to be.
Should we never have pain? Should we always be at our athletic peak, able to leap down stairs without a thought and climb hills without gasping? What does it mean if you are born with disease? Why is good health "normal", when in my experience, every day threatens us with trouble and inconvenience? Some people, whom the modern slang might describe as "haters", even consider disease and trouble as a sign that God is angry with a person, or more often a group of people who do not share the hater's views. Most of us, when we get sick, can find some blame somewhere, and I suppose most often in ourselves. Because we are supposed to be healthy.
I have a kid who likes to get 100% on tests and assignments. And though we are not biologically related, I can tell you that apple did not drop far from the adoptive tree. I find myself telling her to let there be imperfection, to rest more, to cut herself some slack. Deja vu and bullshit, because I have heard those words myself and do I listen? Yes, I do! And I meditate five times a day! And I lived happily ever after.
Being bald, with an autoimmune system that eats my skin alive and stroke-worthy hypertension is the trifecta of beauty and perfection. Just the other day, Sports Illustrated called up to see if I would be the centerfold for the next swim suit edition. I, of course, had to tell them no because I am too busy doing my MKSAP 17. Also, napping and taking warm baths. "My doctor made me take some time off, and posing for your magazine is way too strenuous for my delicate self. Good luck finding someone as cute as I am!"
I am not so delicate as to stop running though. Yes, I recently found myself on a casino floor and yes, I sprained an ankle on my Thanksgiving day run. But me and Klay? Nothing can keep us down. Not even hypertensive encephalopathy, the Milwaukee Bucks and other such inconveniences.
Why should people be unwell? And if being unwell is part of being human, why do we fight it so very hard? Many of my colleagues bristle at the battle analogy for dealing with disease. I tend to see more grey area here, because I understand, as an athlete, how approaching something hard as a challenge that you must face is valuable. We find out who we are and tap into our own strength when we compete. The thing is, disease is not a foe with any scruples. As a matter of fact, disease is a concept that we have created to describe the physical and mental imperfections of being human. Therefore, fighting disease is a little like fighting ISIS. It hurts, it stinks and it makes no sense. Finding the perfect battle plan is folly.
Which is not to say we should give up on being well. Here are ten pointers on how to guarantee wellness in the New Year:
1) Psych! Never believe this shit!
Seriously though, I do have a few thoughts on wellness.
1) Listen to your doctor/NP/PA. No, I am not saying this to promote my already inflated sense of ego, but rather to say, these folks care about you. I actually listened to my doctor and I am starting to feel better already. It was not easy, because it is widely known that doctors are second only in being the worst patients to nurses. Nurses: love ya!
3) Beethoven. Or whatever music floats your boat.
4) Allow yourself to grieve. For whatever life throws at you that gives you grief.
6) It is normal to have some disease. Don't ignore it. Seek help. And don't judge others OR YOURSELF for their/your suffering or infirmity. That's just mean.
7-10) For me, personally, I have to run. Even when I've been benched from the rest of life for impending cerebrovascular disaster.
Lucky for me, I get to run here (watch this video). And while watching this, remember, even the young and fit have imperfections. They just hide it better. Imperfection is beautiful. Reduce dis-ease by accepting the transient nature of suffering. Go full on wabi-sabi!