After we both lamented about the occasional aches and pains we experience, Ruth* recalled being asked once if she regretted not taking better care of herself when she was younger. She then said she didn’t know how to answer that question given, “It is what it is.”
During the past three or four years I have wondered what my health status could have been had I taken various doctor’s advice more seriously when I was in my 30’s and 40’s. I recall listening to doctors warn of the dangers of being overweight: overworked joints, diabetes, and heart disease. Because there were no lab results to support their claims, I merely smiled and nodded.
Now, my family history on both maternal and paternal sides should have been enough to cause me concern… But it didn’t. Given I don’t smoke, don’t drink to excess, substitute most dairy with plant-based alternatives, and do a pretty good job of expressing my emotions timely and appropriately… I would do a closed-mouth smile when the only diagnosis the doctors could assign was obesity.
Then came the consult with my physician’s assistant in 2021…
The day before my tele-med appointment with the PA, I began the decent from my second-story apartment and on the third step down something went crunch and my right knee felt like jelly and then began to throb. After a slow walk to the car and a slower time getting into the car, I made it to my daughter’s place to then decide that a trip to the ER was in order.
Hours later, with a script for 600 milligrams of Ibuprofen and a referral to an orthopedic specialist, I hobbled back up to my second story apartment and remained there for the following three days. Because pain had been a constant companion over the previous few months, I had become more intentional with the vitamins and supplements I was taking. Turmeric, Omega-3, prescription D2, Calcium… were deployed as my defense against inflammation and old age. But the right knee didn’t get the press release.
During the Tele-med appointment to discuss the results of a recent echocardiogram, after being told that there were no serious concerns, I heard words like “gurgitation” and “sclerosis” and was being prescribed a blood-pressure cuff, and was reminded about the lab results indicating prediabetes and oh yeah, the anemia was back. While I have lived longer than both my parents, the question remains… What would my health status be today had I heeded yesterday’s warnings?
It is what it is… until it isn’t!
I am not a fan of the word “Should.” When given the opportunity, I admonish others to “Stop shoulding all over yourself!” This time it was my turn to follow my own advice. Yes, I should have moved more and ate less… But I didn’t. Do I regret it? Like Ruth, I have to wonder, what good is it to live with regrets when living is the goal? Hmmm, and is living a good enough substitute for thriving? Rather than wonder “What if?”, it serves me better to ask, “What now?”
Now is the time to take myself seriously and make needed changes to diet and lifestyle. Now is the time to shelve the arrogance and take the advice of the trained medical professionals and rely in inner wisdom. Now is the time to invest in who I am and what I still have to offer. Rather than lament over what could have been, now is the best time to celebrate as I continue to be strong and healthy and alive!
*Ruth is not her real name.