Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Doing all we can

For years we have used a phrase as our touchstone: "Do all you can, where you are, with what you've got."

It's similar to John Wesley's admonition to:

“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can, In all the places you can,
At all the times you can, To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”


And only slightly skewed from Theodore Roosevelt's "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."


That applies in every situation, from housework to job (although I'm quite aware that many employers expect their employees to do way more than they ever should be expected to do for way less money than they should be paid).


For us at this moment, we're applying it to our own health and well being, as well as to our usual daily attitude and tasks. Both of us have some new medical wrinkles that we're trying to wrap our respective arms around, and neither of us is especially thrilled about having them.

However, as Antsy McClain would sing, "It's all good if nobody gets hurt, Another day alive, Amen, I'm on the right side of the dirt."  


So many of us who are fortunate enough to make it through much of our lives without big medical problems take good, or at least decent, health for granted. The things I did to my body when I was in my 20s and 30s -- whew! Booze, cigarettes, chips, dips, too much  and too rich food. A little exercise, never enough. Doing what I needed to do to manage job, household, child care, husband, volunteering, and all that goes with it, even if I didn't get a lot of sleep. I was young, I was healthy, I could do it ALL.

Wellllll.....not really. Not without eventual consequences.

I don't know if the issues I have now are the result of some of the stuff I did as a younger woman or the happenstance of heredity; probably some of both. Fortunately I dropped some really bad behaviors in my 30s and early 40s, and that has helped to get me this far. I do medical checkups and testing regularly; always have. We've changed how and what we eat so that the heart-attack-on-a-plate-type foods are either gone or eaten sparingly only occasionally. 


Most importantly, we pay attention to what our bodies are saying: where and how something hurts, what feels right and good and what doesn't, and noticing when something is 'off.' And we check it out, scary as it may be to do so.


We have health insurance. THAT can make the difference between catching a problem and being able to treat it, and finding the problem only when it is too far gone to ignore and you end up in an emergency room, often in dire straits.


***Begin Related but not exactly on topic Rant****

That anyone in our country should have to settle for the latter because they cannot afford the blood tests, the EKGs, or the often inexpensive medication to treat such conditions as high blood pressure or diabetes is criminal neglect, abuse even. 


(I won't even comment about the folks who have insurance or can afford healthcare but choose not to seek regular medical treatment because they are afraid of the results. That's just stupidity, from where I sit.)

Those who do not support universal healthcare are mostly those who already HAVE health insurance and who can afford it: our Congressional representatives, for instance, have really good insurance. They and the highly paid lobbyists representing big pharma and big HMOs are the ones who are controlling the state of healthcare in our country. They apparently aren't troubled at all that so many people can't afford the checkups and diagnostic tests, even if they would be able to find $4 for a prescription to help their bp or diabetes or heart health. And they plant the 'big government controlling YOUR LIFE' scare seeds in the minds of those who don't usually think for themselves to 'prove' that universal healthcare is a terrible thing. 

***End of Related but not quite on topic Rant*** (for now)

So with Tony on the cusp of retirement, we've discovered a couple of new issues that will definitely take priority for us in the next months. Like so many, we've envisioned retirement as a time of relaxation, fun, travel, enjoying friends and family,  tending to our home and garden. And we still plan to do that, but health has suddenly taken top billing on our To Do list. 


Vulnerability takes some adjustment, mentally as well as physically. We've been active participants in life for a long time, doing pretty much what we felt like doing. To admit that some of the parts aren't working like they used to, and that indeed need regular monitoring and medication to continue functioning,  requires more than a little reflection. As Tony said, there is a sort of grieving process: giving up the ghost of what you thought would be to accept the reality of what is. It's another part of this aging process, I guess. Things and plans that used to seem important take a back seat when you start to understand what is REALLY important: your health and that of your loved ones.

We know we are fortunate: we read the obituaries and it seems that nearly every day there are deaths of people who are our age -- 'natural causes,' some of the obits say. (My gut reaction is that anyone MY age is too young to die of 'natural causes' but in reality, they do.) And we're not infirm by a long shot. Our legs and arms and minds work just fine. And we are grateful.


If we do all we can, where we are, with what we've got, paying deliberate attention to and taking good care of our problems, we should be fine enough to do pretty much anything we want to do.

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