As I approach my 57th year, there are a few things I want to check as far as my health is concerned because I am constantly reminded of it everyday. First, I witness how the body deteriorates as it ages and illnesses and diseases do not discriminate. Broken bones, Stroke, heart failures, infections, cancers, hernias, back pains, leg numbness, circulation problems are but a few of the conditions that debilitate a person. It just so happens these start appearing at my age or close to my age.
Second, I do feel the impact of my diabetes type 2. Depending on what I eat or do, I see its effect on my daily lifestyle. If I eat lots of carbs I get sleepy and lazy. If I don’t move or exercise, I feel sluggish. It is like a devilish cycle which I need to break each day. This can affect my mood, my productivity, my joy in life, my outdoorsy lifestyle.
Third, maintaining ideal body weight can become a struggle as I age perhaps due to a slower metabolism. Some textbooks blame the depletion of testosterone. My labile weight shows me how easy it is for one to gain and how hard to lose what has been gained. Weight, especially over a certain threshold, can damage one’s performance in daily routines. This is just one effect among many others.
Fourth, I am glad I have managed to push off alcohol, cigarettes, drugs through all these years because I am a witness to their devastating effects. I’ve treated victims of alcohol and cigarette withdrawals, people who overdosed. I treated a person who got so drunk and stayed in one position for days without stirring leading to rhabdo. Or a fellow who got so inebriated he fell asleep on railroad tracks awakened by spontaneous limb amputation. None of these are a joke my friends.
Fifth, it doesn’t mean that because I have avoided high risk behaviors and kept my weight under control and remained active I become totally protected from illnesses and diseases. There are situations beyond one’s control. One is accident. Another is a fall. Worst is stupidity of carelessness.
I’ve witnessed all of them.
I have my own stupidity - I have done running too long too fast too soon which was a sure ticket to injury.
And the others’ mistakes: I have treated people who dehydrated under the sun and fainted. Followed by UTI.
People who vacationed from the cold north to hot south and played golf the whole day and BAM! Stroke.
People who stood up on a step to change bulbs, on ladders to put shutters or Christmas deco or take something off the cupboard and then slipping and falling and sustaining a broken bone. Or brain hemorrhage. Or spinal injuries.
Slip and fall in the bathroom and kitchen due to water on the floor, slip and fall in the living room and bedroom due to rugs, slip and fall in shopping malls and parking lots, slip and falls everywhere because of medical conditions like abnormal heart beats, low sugar, anemia, etcetera, and very very very poor balance. And judgement.
How about this? A lady tried to avoid parading ducks in a park by walking backwards and fell back right on the spot breaking a hip.
Fall from a bike or a machine or a boat or anything moving while exercising. And to think exercise is a healthy activity. Right? Not really. It can be fatal if overdone, or performed with poor warm ups, poor techniques, ignoring warning signs such as dizziness or chest pains or sudden shortness of breath while trying to keep up with Mr Olympics in the gym. Or pretending to be Mr Bolt in sprinting. Yup - we all had been there.
Of course there is self-neglect: failing to medicate to control hypertension, afib, sugar, thyroid, anything that requires self management.
And not the least - stress. I cannot emphasize this enough. Stress is as bad as other medical conditions. Stress can increase heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar due to adrenaline release.
At my age, I always remind myself that good health is a lifetime enjoyment but it requires work. You can’t be careless in life, live sedentary , be stressed constantly and expect a good life. Earlier in my career, I have chosen to cut down work so I can focus on active lifestyle, pursue things that give me fulfillment and happiness and limiting situations and people that give me undue stress. I may be poor but contented. And that is what matters the most.
That is my annual self checklist.