Carrie Rubin recently wrote a post – It’s Easy to Take Our Health for Granted until It’s Taken from Us – describing her mother’s unfortunate ongoing health issues. Unlike me, Carrie’s mom has retained a sense of humor through all this adversity. In comparison, I would bitch, moan and complain about every insignificant problem – ingrown toenail, flea bite, that zit that always arises at the end of my nose – in the vain hope that it would ward off more serious problems.
As Carrie points out “Many ailments like [her] mother’s aren’t due to our poor behaviors, and many of our poor behaviors aren’t due to a lack of willpower. Our health is such a priceless commodity […] and yet we humans purposely do things we know aren’t good for us.”
So why do we systematically take our health for granted?
Faulty logic – Many of us don’t like going to the doctor. We argue (I argue) that the results are the same: Either the doctor tells us that we are fine in which case we did not need to go or the doctor tells us that we have a problem in which case we wish we had not gone.
Avoidance part 1 – We avoid the obvious, men in particular. The fact that we can no longer stand up straight or bend our knees or that we donate blood whenever going to the bathroom is of no significance. If a man loses his arm, he will still not want to go to the emergency room saying “It’s okay; it will grow back.”
Avoidance parts 2 – Studies have shown that daily exercise increases longevity by three years. Of course, most of that extra longevity was spent exercising. Take out the extra time exercising and you only increase your longevity by three days. In the words of www.despair.com , “Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.”
Pleasure seeking part 1 – I was touring Yosemite National Park a number of years ago and watched what I thought were bugs crawling up the side of El Capitan, the granite monolith extending about 3000 feet from base to summit. With strong binoculars, I realized that there were several teams of climbers scaling a shear face of rock. It was far easier for me to watch than to participate. Thrill seeking activities come with the risk of injury, sometimes fatal injury. On the other hand, if you are going to die of something, make it something you like. ***
Pleasure seeking part 2 – Why do we consume in excess items that are injurious to us like cigarettes, alcohol or drugs? Because, we argue, they make us feel good. If one of these is good, then two, three or forty-nine of these must be better. Besides, they create jobs for the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration as well as stimulate the economy. If we collectively stopped consuming these items that are bad for us, we would send the financial system in a tailspin.
So, put up your feet, sit back on your fat butt, take a swig of rotgut, a drag on your cigarette, and watch endless reruns on the TV knowing that you are doing your part for the health of the economy. Sacrificing your own health was never easier.
***Registered trademark, watermark, patent and copyright of Curmudgeon-at-Large. If you use this phrase without my permission and without sending me big bucks, a million fleas will infect your armpits. I point out that it is not easy to train a million fleas to attack and infect armpits.
Pretty good analysis, Curmie, and good advice from Carrie. I’ve always been pretty attentive to healthcare, for myself and my family. Always paid attention to dental too, something that seems widely neglected. (Now there’s a doctor confrontation to dread!)
I don’t buy into excuses and it’s never too late to start good habits and break bad ones. When I retired (the second time), I realized I no longer had an excuse not to brush after breakfast and lunch, so I started doing it. I still have 27 out of 28 teeth at age 79. I quit smoking cold turkey in 1972 and the lungs are still working. I have a bad back and so strengthen my abs and legs without fail for 5 minutes every morning. Still walking. BMI is 22. Heart still pumping. Don’t give up the ship. Listen to Carrie and protect what you’ve got. Limit portions, use small plates, eat slowly.
Sorry if this comes across as preachy or patronizing. I would love to give the same speech to my grandkids, but I know they would take it that way. I ain’t perfect. I love a glass of wine. Or two.
JW, can I get you to exercise and eat well on my behalf?
No. However, I am willing to nag and shame you into it. Be at my house at 0900 Monday morning. And, suck in that gut!
Absolutely brilliant logic worthy of appearing in a medical journal.
Perhaps the Journal of Warped Psychology?
I would bitch about my health a lot more if it changed anything. Instead, it just adds a sore throat to the list.
Have you considered recording your complaints so that you can play them back and save your vocal cords?
I did, but it’s on an 8-track tape …
I believe in living well. I walk/hike because I live in a spectacularly beautiful area of the world. I drink because that same spectacular area also produces great wine. I eat well because I like to eat. Something is going to kill me, and you’re right, I want to go doing something I like. 🙂
Living well is the best revenge.
“Donate blood” whenever you go to the bathroom–ha, I certainly hope not.
I suppose it’s curmudgeons like you who keep hospital staff employed. So I guess we could say you’re helping the economy. It’s all about the spin…
Thanks for the mention! Fun read. 🙂
You gave me the inspiration for the post (so it’s your fault). When a hospital staff sees me arriving, they do their very best to patch me up and get me out of there posthaste to minimize my interaction with other patients.
Good approach. 🙂
I laughed hardest at your writing about a man saying his arm would grow back. I love the way you put words together.
Thank you. I wish I could put my body parts together as effectively.