You don’t realize how much so until you reach those lows that come only a few times in life that you always pray never come. For me, before a few months ago, I had one true low in life, in my early twenties. Now, I’ve had two.
I always considered myself a pretty healthy, robust you might say. Not super-strong, though I’ve had my periods in life where I was, but I’ve tried to take care of myself. Going to the gym slipped over the years, but if I needed to move things, lift things, etc, it has never been an issue, the reserves of strength were there. Once I reached a certain age and size, people tended to leave me alone, assuming that I was stronger (husky boy, I guess, though I hated the word).
I was telling my dad yesterday about pushing my wife through the streets in her wheelchair, lifting her over curbs, carrying backpacks, etc, and not having a problem, travelling miles. I mean, for someone who didn’t run marathons, who didn’t workout on a regular basis, that’s pretty good, right?
Imagine how humbling it was for me, several months later, going through some extreme medical problems, which ended up landing me in the emergency room, nearly dying (yeah, yeah, we’ll gloss over that part), and when I got home…. The larger man I was, weighing nearly 240 lbs, had withered away… I had been losing weight due the medical conditions I was going through (now taken care of, so don’t worry)… When I got out of the hospital, simple tasks such as getting a glass of water were exhausting. I felt like my arms weighed a ton. I felt like a bobble-head. It was ridiculous. Over weeks, I had to build up my strength, and even train myself to breathe! I was so proud of myself when I was able to fill my lungs without my ribs killing me…
My wife and I joked at times while this was going on, because I kept having to go for test after test, scans, bloodwork, etc, and we were taking pictures as I was withering away. What would it have looked like if we had done those “selfie” style to compare to those people who post their fitness pictures on Facebook as they get in shape and lose weight? I was doing the same, but not at all how I would have wanted as pounds shed. 230… 220… 210… 200…
During that time, though, it wasn’t just my body that was rebuilding, it was my mind. I had been spending the good part of a year trying to re-structure my life. I had been working to re-prioritize things in life, but on my own terms. I have to tell you, my friends, that life, like the grim reaper, waits for no one…. Family, friends, and major life changes aren’t always going to be there in the end… Also, things like the need for sleep, the need to get health concerns addressed, and other check boxes that you’ll get around to “at some point” will keep gnawing at you until they’ve taken your leg off and you fall over.
So, my kick to the head was this – hey, dummy, everyone, everything has been giving you subtle an not-so-subtle warnings for a while to pause, re-prioritize, and re-structure, so now we’re taking the choice out of your hands. No matter how much you may vampire-proof your house with garlic and crosses, eventually you have to walk outside for groceries, and that’s when you’re hosed. You can only push yourself so hard for so long beyond the point of human endurance. For my part, I was determined that this “meat sack” of a body would give in to my mind, darn it, whether it wanted to or not. Sleep (read my other posts on my relationship with sleep) was a waste of time, I would work 20 hours per day because things needed to get done, I have people to take care of, bills to pay, and my own medical needs were much less important than those of my family’s.
I’m happy to report, while I’m not at 100%, I’m well on the road to recovery, and have a game-plan set (FINALLY) for returning to my day job. I’m feeling a lot better, and, based on the fact that I’m writing about things, you can see that my mind is working out some things in a positive way… shakabuku!