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Recently, two of my closest friends suffered strokes. One is in perfect health, always watched her weight, exercised religiously, stayed out of trouble. The other has sickle cell and has had many health crises throughout the years.
They’re both under 40. They’re both mothers.
It’s weird when someone your age suffers a serious health problem. You see, we tend to think we’re immortal. We have a long time to do things. Yet, we’re also very weary about having that long time. There is a reason why so many anti-aging serums are flying off the shelves. People want to get older but don’t want to look it. Understandable.
But when you have a health crisis and it’s something that typically doesn’t happen to your age group, well, who cares about how you look when you’re wrinkled and grey? You just want to live.
Immediately you start thinking about yourself and it’s a natural reaction. Am I next? Who’s going to take care of Bear? Are our finances set in case of a long-term hospitalization? Do I need to get a living will?
These things go through my mind. And they’ve been through my mind all of July.
I recently started losing weight again. The ultimate goal is to get pregnant and be at a healthy weight this pregnancy (with Bear, I was close to 300 lbs at my heaviest and subsequently shed 70 of those pounds post-pregnancy. I did gain some of it back). I cut out (for the most part) sugary drinks and I try to walk as much as I can if I don’t have to drive. I’m about to start yoga again very soon and we’re slowly switching to a plant-based diet and consuming red meat as little as possible.
But I’m always thinking about my health. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and dementia runs in my family on both sides. My mother had a stroke several years ago. My father had a heart attack several years ago. My father currently is in the beginning stages of dementia, though he’s in denial. And my mother? I’m seriously concerned for her health.
I recently took a DNA test and discovered I carry the gene for Alzheimer’s, so it’s hereditary. It could mean eventually I’ll get Alzheimer’s or it could mean nothing.
Maybe five years ago, I didn’t care. Five years later with an almost-four year old, I most certainly do now.
When I had Bear and particularly this year, something sparked inside me that said, ‘Do better.’ It meant overall – finances, marriage, health, etc. It’s been a challenging year in some aspects but it’s been a blessed year in others. I’m determined to make it the best year, period.
Hearing about both of my friends made me realize that time is even more precious than before. We really aren’t guaranteed anything and it could be our time, well, any time. I realized that when I lost Ethan back in 2011 but even more so now.
All I can do is get into the best shape as possible and pray for my friends and family. I don’t have any grudges with anyone and I’ve been meditating regularly, on a daily basis. I’ve also been reading the Bible more and just really keeping to myself these days (I’m still quite active with friends and family, checking in on them weekly, if not daily).
Life really is too precious. I just hope I can live as long as I can and be in the best shape as I can.