IT SOUNDS like a faddish health ad or vitamin promo, but due to a lotto-like combination of factors, your loyal kabayan blogger is now in better health than twenty years ago. Tobacco cessation, cleaner air as well as less polluted surroundings, and last but not the least, manual labor and exercise provided by the physical nature of my job are just three of these amazing factors.
I didn’t ask for and certainly wasn’t expecting these planets to align to make my life what it is now, but all things considered, I am as lucky as I could possibly be.
Just to show you the unlikeliness that made these factors in themselves : if not for the very successful “sin tax” levied on New Zealand’s cigarets, I would probably not have quit in 2007 and still be smoking today. Instead I’ve been smoke free the last 7 years and have been reaping the consequent health benefits. The cleaner air pristine waters and stringent anti-pollution laws of my adopted land have made it possible for me to enjoy the purest of environments available in the 1st world of the 21st century.
And before I got the gig involving physical exertion, I had never seen myself as a physically gifted person, with less-than-average grades in physicality and human endurance and outstandingly mediocre in the sports department, although I’m a champion spectator. 🙂 However, the need to work, the fact that trabahador jobs aren’t that alluring, and the stability of those same types of jobs, brought me to my job and not only have I survived, I’ve also gotten a little wirier, and a little stronger.
This is why I’ve faced the yearly physicals conducted by our company with as much confidence as anticipation, because my new-found longevity and resilience is constantly measured and hopefully affirmed. The physicals aren’t comprehensive, they’re not the complete top-to-bottom checkup that measures everything in your body. Pared down to essentials, we’re subjected to a lung function test, a hearing proficiency test, and basic blood pressure.
Lung function. Lungs are like the combustion chamber of the body, where oxygen is brought and energizes our blood for useful movements like transportation, thought and physical activity for our livelihood. It’s quite commonsensical for us to connect our respiratory efficiency with workplace effectiveness, but then again, we usually take things for granted. Knowing this, our employer needs to at least assure itself that our lungs are in good order, for us to perform our everyday tasks and duties.
[ Also, because of the relatively high dust content in some parts of our workplace and the fact that I’m a former smoker, I guess I should be a little more curious than the next guy about how I’ll fare in lung function, right? ]
The first three-quarters of the strong exhalation I provide for the lung function test fills up about 2 liters of air, and the remaining quarter, less than a liter. In absolute terms, this is on the low end, but when you consider that I’m a small-framed Asian in his late 40s it’s actually quite acceptable. Or so the industrial nurse tells me, probably to mollify my ego. As long as my breathing isn’t labored, as long as I feel comfortable doing my everyday chores and I take a breather (pun intended) every now and then I should be alright. The clincher is that my lung function results are almost identical with last year’s, and I could do worse, right?
Hearing tests. The hearing tests are a bit trickier. Normal human hearing ranges from anywhere between 35 to 95 decibels, depending on our hearing tolerance and the protection we wear. Anything above the range is no longer acceptable for our ears, and becomes an occupational hazard. Your hearing wear and tear is tested by determining how much of the sound you need to hear on the high and low ends of the audio range.
Again, my hearing results were almost unchanged from last year’s, and the only concern was I needed a little more help discerning the lowest pitched sounds, probably a sign of normal ageing (yikes!) The nurse assured me that this was expected of people approaching middle age 😥 just that I needed to be more prudent in exposing myself to very loud sounds, and that my workplace earmuffs required changing periodically.
Blood pressure. Finally, the blood pressure. I had just finished morning tea and came from physical activity, so it could’ve been a bit lower, but it was still within the healthy range : 124/72. The nurse congratulated me on keeping fit, watching my diet, and watching for signs that would lead me astray from the health norms for men in middle age. I wondered if this was the standard script she gave her patients, but she was looking at my health records and interviews from the last five years and comparing them with my present numbers. On balance, I had been a good steward of the body God gave me, and she was happy to tell me I was on the right track.
Of course, the usual lifestyle diseases and family history could strike me dead tomorrow (knock knock), but all things being equal, I’m as healthy as I can be right now. Or at least, until the next physical. It’s a pass for now, Noel, mabuhay ka!
Thanks everyone for reading!