Don’t Wait For The Middle Finger

white haired man in jacket with watch
Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

Young ones (well, anyone younger than me, aka 50 and younger), please don’t be like me.

I treated my body like it was immortal: nothing I did or didn’t do would have a lasting effect. Despite the little things (which just kept building up) I felt when I turned 30 years old, I kept right on rolling, downing that Crunch Berry cereal while doing virtually no physical activity. The scale didn’t matter, how my body felt didn’t matter, all I cared about was what goody I was going to put in my mouth next to drown out my emotions. I told myself I didn’t care what anyone else thought and I didn’t. The problem was, I just didn’t care, period.

I only looked in the mirror with “tunnel vision”, seeing only my face to put on tons of makeup (to cover up my blotchy skin and apply contour to my double chin) and fix my highly damaged hair but never looking at my body. I cannot remember ever looking at my body just out of the shower.

The year I turned 42 years old, after YEARS of warning signs, was the year my body stuck up its middle finger at me and said, “I’m done”. Thankfully, I have never had high blood pressure or high cholesterol but I became allergic to just about everything, I got sick if anyone looked at me funny, and I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Through diet and exercise over the past 8 years, I have reduced my A1C from 9.0 to 5.7 (my first ever fasting blood sugar was 400). I am very proud to officially no longer have type 2 diabetes and did it on my own.

Unfortunately, there is only so much proper (for me) diet and exercise can do after 42 years of neglect and abuse. Here is a partial list of the issues I am dealing with:

  • Allergy shots for the next 5 years
  • Gallbladder removal 7 months ago
  • Severe intestinal issues that were not resolved by removing the gallbladder. I am still undergoing testing to figure out what is causing this (upper endoscopy, MRI, so much blood work the technician knows me by name). Next will probably be scheduled for a colonoscopy (if none of the current tests reveal anything).
  • Just had a TIA (mini-stroke) in my eye last week. There was no permanent damage but this means more tests (went to the lab two days in a row this week and have 2 MRI scans next week), more doctors (in addition to my allergist, dermatologist, ophthalmologist, primary care, and gastroenterologist, I have an appointment with a neurologist and am waiting for a referral to a cardiologist) AND I had to stop exercising because that TIA could possibly lead to a full-blown stroke (can you say stress?).

To be brutally honest, I have no idea how much of what is still wrong with me could have been avoided if I had cared about myself earlier in life but now, I will never know. All I can do is hang on, say a few prayers, and do whatever I can to get through this so I can (once again) start over on my fitness journey. As soon as I am given some sort of clearance, I am hitting the weights and my neglected exercise bike (there will also be some digging in the yard going on, too, since I was not able to finish planting before this all happened).

So, you young whipper snappers, please. Take a good, hard look at your lifestyle. Take into account that you will not be in your 20’s forever. Our bodies age, whether we want them to or not. How old do you want to feel when you are 30, 40, or 50? Do you want to be able to do whatever you enjoy or would you prefer to get out of breath walking to the mail box? Do what is best (not easiest) for your health now so you do not end up like me.

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