So in keeping with the complete randomness of this blog (roly slides to cancer updates), I’m going to switch gears completely. Well, a little bit anyway.
A few years ago, Angela and I were in Wal-Mart and ran into somebody we knew in high school. As we were talking, she remarked “Wow, you guys are a bunch of health nuts.” I thought it was a weird statement at the time, but as I thought about it, I realized we were (and are) “health nuts”. I think about the amount of time I’ve spent in the gym over the years, the Crossfit, the P90X, kettlebells, running, I could go on, but you get the picture. Lately I have been thinking about all of this, mainly because I can’t really do what I love, which is run (and do insane workouts), and how it got started.
When we left Italy in 2000 and I checked into my first Seabee battalion in Spain, I was overweight. I’d always been somewhat of a chubby kid (at least I thought so), but after high school and for the first few years I was in the Navy, I had been fairly lean. I thought I was in decent shape, but I showed up for my first weigh – in at 200+ pounds. Way out of standards. Good thing for me it was a “courtesy” weigh – in and it didn’t go in my record as a failure. I was able to get back in standards before it did count, but after coming home I quickly fell back into bad habits and found myself in the same spot. I resolved then that I would use the next deployment (to Guam in 2001) to get myself in shape. I recruited a workout buddy and we lived in the gym. It worked and I was hooked. I was 26 at the time, and I have to say the “health nut” lifestyle changes I made then probably saved my life last year. If I had not been in pretty good shape when I got septic and went into heart failure….well, let’s just say it wouldn’t have been pretty.
Over the past 12 years or so, I’ve been into everything. I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you do something. That and have the right attitude. In my job now as a primary care nurse, I see patients all the time who think they are sick, and guess what? They are. If you believe you are sick, you will be. And I think by the reverse, if you believe you are healthy, you will be. I never considered dying or letting cancer win. I don’t know how much that really did for me, but I do think if I hadn’t been so positive you would be reading a memorial right now. So mindset is vitally important in my book.
I’ve made a lot of changes over the past 2 years, some out of necessity, some out of choice. I can’t go run 6 miles every morning or do the Crossfit WOD, and that sucks. I dream about running…maybe one day. Anyway, I have switched my workout routine to TRX. For those of you that don’t know, it’s also called suspension training. You have these strap things that you use and you can vary the resistance based on how you angle your body. It’s great for rehab/recovery work or for someone who is just starting exercising. My goal is to get my legs strong enough again that I can walk/bike/golf the way I used to. So far, so good.
The other big change I’ve made is using meditation every (other) day. I read a study while I was in the hospital that said patients with brain cancer who meditate have like a 60% chance of not only beating the disease but also living longer, healthier lives. Being a patient with brain cancer (at the time), I was very interested in those results. As a nurse, I’m very familiar with what we call adjunct therapies. Things like meditation, acupuncture, massage, etc. I’m also familiar with the fact that most people think it’s garbage. A lot of the people I see just want a pill to cover up whatever symptom they are having rather than deal with the underlying issue. Adjunct therapies won’t help in that regard. They are more long term fixes than band-aids. Another reason I have become a big fan of meditation is for pain management. I have peripheral neuropathy as a result of all of the chemo I had. Basically my legs are numb from the knee down. Strangely, I can still feel pain though. Lots of pain. And cold. My feet will feel so cold it is as though they are frozen in a block off ice. When I touch them though, they are as warm as the rest of my body. Mind and nerves playing tricks on me. I do take a combo of drugs that help, but drugs can’t do everything. Enter meditation. If your mind is the problem, well fix it right? I’ve noticed a huge difference. And I’m no Buddhist monk mind you, but I it works. Even with my novice effort.
Anyway, I suppose that’s enough rambling. My main point is take care of yourself, whether that means being a “health nut” or just a regular person. Your health is really the only thing keeping you alive, so be nice to it.