I believe that it is safe to assume that most individuals have heard the nursery rhyme “Rain, rain go away come again another day…” Well that is how I feel about pain… and I am speaking of the literal physical pain. The kind of pain that makes you feel like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz. Yes, I am speaking about the character that wishes that he had a heart…lol. Apart, from needing a heart, I vividly remember the tin man being so squeaky and rusty, and in dire need of some oil. Thankfully, the kind-hearted Dorothy came to his aide after she found his oil can. Well, last week I did not have a Dorothy to come to my aide, which was highly unfortunate because my bones ached like they NEVER ached before. Seesh…it really felt like my joints needed to be greased ASAP. As, comical as I am making it out to be…I was sincerely alarmed. I felt like I was trapped in the body of a typical 90-year-old woman.
Over the last year my body had gone through some immense physical changes. The most extreme being 10 months of pregnancy…the struggle was real! The saying holds true that as one ages, your body does not bounce back the same way. However, despite everything, I am thankful to God that I made it through in ‘one piece’. Now back to the subject at hand…my achy breaky body. O yes, so my body felt like it was falling into a million gazillion pieces. The saddest time of this weeklong ordeal, was that I could not even exercise, or walk without being in pain. As I tried to rehearse my Zumba Kids dance routine (yes, you heard me correctly…I teach Zumba for children and I love it!), my ankles wailed for help. It became so painful that I had to call it quits that evening. I went to bed whispering a prayer to God, that He would give me the strength to make it through class the following day. Great news I survived the near hour of class! Hurray!
Nonetheless, this ordeal provoked deep thought on my part. I began asking myself, what did I do, or what was I doing that could possibly trigger this full body pain. It wasn’t exercising because again it was bone pain. Perhaps it was my diet…was I lacking something? Hmmm…could it be the lack of sleep? I just quietly sat down and thought about all the situations that could be linked to my severe pain. Well, I knew one thing for sure—I had to be proactive. As a result, I made sure I was taking my vitamins, eating plenty of greens, vegetables and fruits, and tried my best to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Being a mom of a nearly 4 month-old nursing infant makes it difficult for me to get a full “eight hour” rest, and there is not much I can do about that at the moment. In short, this entire situation had me thinking about my overall health and the present stress levels in my life.
I choose to be healthy and happy. This is evident in my recent change to a plant-based diet. I have worked in cancer care for 10 years and have come across some very wealthy patients. I remember coming across one particular man, my very first year out of college working at the cancer clinic. As many who know me can attest, I love to talk and get to know people. It is truly one of my greatest strengths. Well, this older man opened up to me, and was very candid in letting me know that he would give up all his wealth (trust me he had a lot of it too!), if he could get his health back. Moments like that one, always pops back in my mind when I take a few seconds to sit back and re-evaluate my life. It helps to solidify my decision to be happy and healthy.
This leads me to another point…
Millennials a.k.a. Generation Y (people born between 1977-1994) [WJSchroer, 2017]… are dropping like flies! In other words, individuals in their 40’s to late 20’s are dying, or becoming quite ill at alarming rates from various diseases. What in the world is going on? Yes, we know food, environmental issues, and increasing stress in various forms, are contributing to this sad, but realistic problem. I have friends who have become disabled or passed away from strokes and heart attacks. Get this…they were only in their 30’s and 40’s. We all really need to take the time to re-evaluate our lifestyle choices and make the necessary changes to ensure longevity. It is a truism that sometimes death or illness is inevitable, but what about the times when it can be avoided or delayed. I strongly believe that we need to educate ourselves on our medical family histories, and try to do whatever we can to delay or negate disease.
Yesterday, morning my younger brother calls me as I was doing a quick grocery run. As our conversation progressed we eventually began speaking about his heart condition. He was recently diagnosed Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVC), after years of being treated for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) (which first occurred in his early 20’s). According to the Mayo Clinic, “Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in one of your heart’s two lower pumping chambers (ventricles).” (Mayo Clinic, 2017). If you are a healthy individual, with no other pre-existing heart conditions then no treatment is usually necessary (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
However, for my brother he had a history of AFib (to this present day his doctor does not know what triggered the condition), which means that his heart would quiver instead of beat, and/or just beat irregularly (American Heart Association, 2017). This could lead to blood clots, heart failure, and other heart-related complications (American Heart Association, 2017). Basically, my brother’s heart was a literally a ticking time bomb. Thankfully, his problem was caught early and the correct treatment was rendered on his behalf.
Again, the moral of this story regarding my brother is that disease and death are no respecter of age, race, or sex. He just turned 30 this last June. Mercy! I know! We all must take the active steps in assuring that we take care of our bodies. Additionally, we must learn our family medical histories as well, because that can also be a lifesaver. For example, heart disease does not run in our mother’s side of the family. However, we have no clue as to the medical problems that runs in our father’s side. It remains a mystery. Nonetheless, yesterday on the phone with my brother we were able to conclude that some form of heart disease probably runs on the paternal side of our family, because I too have a heart ailment. I was officially diagnosed with a 1st degree heart block at around the age of 13. As with PVC’s, a 1st degree heart block, with no other underlying health condition requires no treatment (Cleveland Clinic, 2017). So, I am able to live a healthy and full life. However, I must stay on top of my health, and go back for my regular check-ups. In addition, I am very careful about my caffeine consumption, which can lead to an irregular or elevated heart rate. In regards to my brother, as a body builder he does consume a good amount of caffeine, which could also have played a role in his AFib (American Heart Association, 2017). Learn your family medical history if you can…the results can be life-saving.
Take the time and invest in yourself. I am speaking about in a way that surpasses money or other materialistic items. I am referring to eating right, sleeping enough, and reducing stress at all possible costs. Remember everyone…stress KILLS! Make that change to live a full, healthy, and pain free life today… the pay off is Grrreat (in the voice of Tony the Tiger, the frosted flakes mascot…LOL)!!!