If You Don’t Have Your Health…


This year has been a crazy, unstoppable year that has brought me to places professionally I didn’t think I’d get. I’ve taken what I started last year and put more control in my own hands about my content, and this is an amazing thing for which I’m extremely grateful.

Sure I’ve let some goals take a backseat to the crazy busy schedule I’ve tried to maintain, which included writing a 100K word novel in the space of a month, but I felt that the writing was a priority because that was how I would make my income and ultimately use as building blocks once I moved to the L.A. area at the end of the year.

Plus there were plenty of excuses why I could let things like my health goals slide off the radar. My body revolted from the schedule, which kept me battling my long term health problems like my back. The more tired I was from how full I filled my day the easier it was to buy fast food so I didn’t have to spend a whole lot of prep time making the healthier (and let’s face it, cheaper) stuff.

When we weren’t eating out we were getting unhealthy cheap food that was as simple as sticking in the oven or microwave for a fast, easy meal.

There was time to get it all right.

Sure I watched enviously while my younger son Jeremiah worked hard to meet his health goals. He’s lost 60 pounds since January by making the commitment to be under 200 pounds by his 19th birthday. I wish I had that determination when I was 18 and had the cooperation of a younger body to meet those goals… but I decided fat was okay.

That’s the dirty little secret we whiny fat people don’t want you to know. Sure we bitch and moan about how much we’d LIKE to be thinner, or how much we HATE the way we are, but the fact is Dr. Phil was right. We get something out of being fat (even if it’s just the right to bitch and have people feel sorry for us – which, btw, they don’t) or else we’d do the work to change it.

Like Jeremiah did.

Well my body has officially decided to take matters into its own hands.

When you’re morbidly obese you are told at every turn how you are at higher risk for certain health problems. This includes the idea you could drop dead of a heart attack because your body simply ceases being able to function because of the enormous stresses it’s under.

So in the early 2000s when I started having chest pain and pressure, I started to panic that I was at risk for a heart attack – that I had waited too long and done too much damage. I was at the ER once a month for about a four month stretch, and every time I went in and they did an EKG I felt like a hopeless hypochondriac that I always was released with a clean bill of health. My heart was strong, my blood pressure was normal and even my blood sugar was great.

I think they thought I was a hypochondriac too, especially the way the doctor’s would look at you like you’d just wasted their precious time when they could have been helping a legitimately sick person.

By month five of this craziness the triage nurse finally asked me if anyone checked my gallbladder and I said no. She asked me where the pain was and I showed her and she just smiled and nodded – as if she smugly knew that doctors were so concerned with one thing they didn’t even bother to look at anything else. It took a nurse to figure out the mystery.

And she was exactly right. Once the doctors pinpointed the gallbladder everything fell into place. They said I had two options: I could have surgery to have the gallbladder removed or I could drastically change my diet.

Back in the early 2000s I was still a true-blue Texan who would eat deep-fried anything. A basket of fried *insert meat of your choice* and fries? More please. And super-size.

With gravy.

BUT… I was also someone who had recently undergone an appendectomy where I was warned that because of my size there was an increased risk with the surgery, specifically the anesthesia. Because of my weight they had to give me more to perform the surgery, and with that variable it meant I could actually be more at risk from the anesthesia than the surgery itself.

But the situation was an emergency so I had to go through with it.

I remember VIVIDLY the nurse trying to wake me when it was over and I was struggling to come out from under the anesthesia, and how scared I felt – like I was slipping under water.

It reminded me of my near-drowning experience when I was a teenager and I pretty much decided then and there I would avoid surgery if at all possible.

The doctor who took out my appendix said he thought about taking the gallbladder too because he worried I’d have trouble with it eventually. So I was annoyed then that he hadn’t, and I might have to face another scary surgery to deal with the problem eventually.

Instead I ditched the fried foods. It’s amazing how much you’re willing to part with those things you love when you fear mortality.

And of course the diet change fixed the problem.

Fast forward to about four days ago when I started to have the same sort of chest pain/back pain/indigestion. Immediately I started to police again what I ate and immediately I saw a difference.

So even though *I* might have believed I could put my diet/health on the back burner, my body had other ideas. It’s tired of waiting around and has slipped into self-preservation mode, and it’s not afraid to make me hurt (or fear death) to get its point across.

It’s about time I start listening to it. It’s going to be very hard to accomplish this growing list of epic goals if I’m dead.

The good news is in the past week or so I’ve lost five pounds already. So I’ve decided to take a page from my wonderful son’s book and just take it small changes at a time and get there whenever I get there.

It’s not about being thin anymore. It’s about being healthy. And being alive.

Because if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.

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