[ NOte from NOel : As usual, TMI alert for this rant & rave. Belated happy birthdays to awesome Arizona nurse Noemi Bolanos (6th July), table tennis whiz Chris Tomas (7th July) and elementary school memorable James Dy (9th July) ! ]
EVERYONE close to me above a certain age suffers from one intractable form of health issue or another; above ANOTHER certain age, at least two. Need I say it (but I’m saying it), I belong to the first set, and likewise to the second, which is merely (or ominously) a subset of the first set, and I have no intention of joining a third.
But like a housetrained hubby who thinks he can come home ( unscheduled ) after midnight without consequences, go unmonitored for longer than a few hours without a hall pass or takuza permit, or like the house dog who scarfs up forbidden treats without a stint in the penalty box later, we all do things we think we can get away with. Our mind may conveniently forget, but our body, especially in delicate middle age, most definitely won’t.
So, now that you’re on the interchange between Middle Middle Age Poblacion and Late Middle Age Motorway (towards Golden City, which actually exists by the way in Sta. Rosa Laguna, Philippines), you’re stumped by the discovery that you’re in reasonably good health, reasonable for your age, your vices and your perversions. Don’t think anymore what you did to deserve it, but maybe we should start thinking of what we can do to maintain such reasonable good health.
Before you tsk tsk tsk and shake your head at my perceived neglect, I actually watch my weight, allowing for a tolerant margin of error of 5 kilograms, try to exercise when the weather allows, and coinciding with visa renewals, submit to a checkup cum tuneup every year.
False modesty aside, I think I’m in reasonably good shape, love handles notwithstanding, for my four-and-a-half decades. The annual tuneup of CBC’s, basophiles, BUNs, and serum reports tells me I have not managed to totally destroy my earthly temple with years and years of brain-cell smashing, lung-busting, liver-squeezing and kidney-crushing misadventures with alcohol, fatigue and funny cigarets. (Wine, women and song doesn’t sound too honest, to be honest.)
So there are no forbidding shadows on the x-rays, awesome. No blockages on the major arteries, fluid pathways, kudos to me, and we’re not gonna start forgetting how to wash our baby bottom, based on a few CT scans and MRIs. Well and good, so the whitecoat (with blue eyes and blond hair, just like in House and Grey’s Anatomy) tells me, much more than I deserve. Before I get struck by lightning or earn the indignation of the less healthy, let me say I’m terrifically grateful I’ve emerged unscathed from the wars of wasted youth and decadent living that have marked my Seventies and Eighties. Okay, Nineties and Noughties as well.
Like a good overgrown boy, I’ve imbibed the mantra of clean living, scrupulously scraped away my 7-8 hours of sleep, bit the bullet and substituted honey for sugar, green tea for regular, decaf for caf, and lite for everything heavy (soft drinks, ice cream, potato chips, for gosh’s sake), bike when I can motor and walk when I can bike, even Shaolin monks would roll their eyes at my regimen (my favorite Shaolin monk is Jet Li, by the way). Somedays I swear, if I drop dead at 46 I would mourn all the cigs, pale pilsen, kapeng barako and Classic Sugar-Rush Throat-Biting Coke that I futilely foreswore for good luck, good health, God Bless You 😦
Thing is, I DON’T know if I’ll die prematurely (knock knock) and so I have to watch it, my so-called Health I mean, until there’s no point and I’m as old as Dolphy, who has survived all those who’ve reported and been reporting his untimely death/s since Martial Law. Until then, I have to report to you the things I can’t get away with at the ripe old age of 46 :
I can’t eat two straight meals or snacks dominated by fatty food, nuts and beans without blasting twice my daily quota of flatulence. 🙂 In the first place, I’m not even supposed to eat anything in the bean / legume family due to a predisposition to gout, rayuma and fluid in the joints, but that hasn’t stopped me whenever I find any baked beans, mung beans (munggo) dishes or jelly beans that I fancy. Then there’s the urban legend that as we age, our body’s ability to fully digest fiber and similar foods falls into decline. The result is I fart anywhere, everywhere and whenever it’s most embarrassing, tabi tabi po and I need to constantly remind myself that you do the nasty and you reap the whirlwind (literally).
Some say that some people are predisposed to flatulence but given the smell, the volume and the repellent effect on esposa hermosa, my fart experience is certainly unique enough, I won’t care to find out how unique it is…
I can’t drink more than a few bottles of beer / glasses of wine without a king-sized headache the next day and disrupted sleep the next two days. I may sing half an octave higher to the chagrin of my videoke rivals, and tell a story a tad more colorful when inebriated, but it doesn’t make up for the throb I feel in the temples and the sour taste and dryness at the back of my mouth which I expect usually lasts half a day from the previous night’s entertainment.
The sleep issue is another matter altogether as I do shift work, night shift one week and early evening shift the next. Whether it’s daytime or late night when I get to gather my zzz’s, merrymaking and too many happy hours the weekend before is sure to affect slumber patterns the next night or two.
I can’t stretch more than the length of my arm to pick up or reach high or low without suffering pain for a few days.
Sounds stupid I know, but you’d be surprised to what lengths of brainlessness my laziness will allow me to reach. The last time I did this, around two years ago, I hyperextended a ligament or did something as painful, and the muscle memory remains. Exacerbating the pain is the length of time it takes me to heal nowadays, as I remember being on Omega Pain Killer for 2+ weeks, and the paracetamol I used more as a crutch than anything else. Relatedly, I discourage myself as much as possible from climbing stairs two steps at a time, hurdling elevated footpaths or platforms as these sometimes lead to muscle strain that no longer heal after a good night’s sleep.
I can’t dwell on more than one source of stress without feeling faint, pulling my thinning hair, or worse, palpitations. We all have different kinds of stresses : stress from work, stress from family, stress from driving, even stress from anticipating stress itself. Well and good if I can deal with these stressors one at a time, my fight-or-flight defense is still stable enough to perform the necessary adjustments, but when more than one stressor is there, well let’s just say I begin to test the limits of body and mind, and how well they stay in one piece. In one sense I already know how to react to these challenges; in another sense I am too aware of my limits and capacities to exceed what I can confront successfully. Does that make sense?
I can’t not use eyeglasses for too long while walking / running / working without funny and unintended consequences. I suspect that I need to have new glasses refracted as my myopia has flourished dramatically the last two years. Economics and fund priorities (the same thing actually) have however forced me to postpone this till my next visit home. The net effect is not using the glasses (temporarily misplacing them or leaving them at home) results in my having to squint more intensely, which unfortunately sometimes gives females, especially those scantily dressed, the impression that I’m admiring their impressive anatomy. Which, subconsciously, I’ve probably been doing anyway.
Thanks for reading!
- Things I Can’t Get Away With, at 46 & A Half (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)