We tend to write about that which swirls around us. When you see someone write about business every day, that’s because business is what swirls around and consumes them. Business doesn’t consume me. Life does. When I started this blog a few years ago I intended for it to be a place for me to practice writing and refine my storytelling. A place to put whatever was swirling around me at any particular moment. And lately, health, life and longevity has been a swirling around me.
When the year began, I was 47. No big deal, I thought. I’m in good shape. I’m nearing my intellectual peak. There were no warning signs of anything. No pending issues whatsoever. And things were indeed going along smoothly – until March when I was felled by an intestinal infection. Because I don’t normally get sick, I tried to power through the pain and bleeding. But the infection had other ideas. I was ordered to the ER by my doctor, and was immediately admitted into the hospital. It was a humbling experience. The next week, the infection was gone. Mostly. My doctor said that they were unable to determine what caused the attack on my intestines, but she confirmed that it was bacterial because it reacted to antibiotics. Blah, blah, blah – whatever. I was sick. And being sick was a major wakeup call.
While in the hospital, I decided to quit smoking. After 30 years. I also endeavored to start taking better care of myself. My diet changed the same time I quit smoking. Granted, my wife has always kept us eating pretty healthily anyway, but there were certain things I could do better. I haven’t had a cigarette since the day I quit and things were going along great. The desire to smoke pretty much left me. Then, as we were planning our summer vacation to the tropics, I noticed a little sore on my chest that wasn’t healing. I went to the dermatologist and was immediately diagnosed with skin cancer. The cancer was removed the following week. It’s been two weeks since the cancer was burned off and it’s nearly 100% healed and virtually unnoticeable. Of course I’ve since invested in a few more rash guard shirts for the summer, along with a couple gallons of SPF 500.
I’m on a roll. Life wants to start thrusting Change upon me? Fine. I’m ready. I quit drinking 21 years ago. The idea of change does not intimidate me. In fact, the way I figure it, the best way to deal with this current wave of Change is to take the fight directly to it. In a little over three months I’ve rejected an infection in my system that, according to my doctor, was a few millimeters away from splaying me open on an operating table, I quit smoking, and I kicked cancer’s ass. What’s next? Let’s do this.
I gained a few pounds (not many) after quitting smoking. Unacceptable. Negative Change was being forced upon me. And, well, fuck you negative Change. So last week I decided to go on a diet for the first time in my life. I consulted with a couple of friends who lost weight via low carb/high protein diets and started my diet on Monday. I’ve already lost 2 pounds. Granted, I’m 5’11” and 185 pounds, so I’m not looking to drop a ton of weight. But what I’ve realized already is that I was eating way too much refined and processed food before the diet. Not a ton of it, mind you, but too much. Garbage in, garbage out as they say. Well, no more garbage in for me.
Another thing I’ve noticed about dieting is that dieting makes you say ‘fuck’ a lot more. For example, while at Chick-fil-a the other day, I may have said, “Give me a fucking grilled chicken sandwich. That’s right, I said grilled. No, no fries. Nothing to drink, either. Oh, and do you have wheat buns? Fine, put it on a fucking wheat bun.” People at Chick-fil-a don’t like when you say ‘fuck.’ Anyway, a few minutes later, as I statused my misery of eating a dry chicken sandwich on Facebook, I was informed that buns are off limits altogether. Even wheat ones. But of course they are. So I flung the fucking bun out the window and sat in the parking lot of Chick-fil-a eating a piece of dry chicken with my fingers. I may have said ‘fuck’ about a hundred more times that day. The important thing was, however, that I was taking the fight to Change.
As the result of maxing out my out-of-pocket insurance expenses for the year because of my hospital stay in March, I decided to have some other lingering issues looked at. So yesterday I had an appointment with an ENT surgeon about the possibility of doing a third deviated septum surgery. While there, he ran a battery of tests, including a follow up to my hearing test from two years ago that showed massive hearing loss in one ear. Yesterday’s results were even worse. Unexpected, even. He seemed concerned about the possibility of a tumor, even though I was tested for it two years ago. They’re scheduling an MRI just to be 100% sure it’s not a tumor. Tumor? Fucking tumor? Really? Fuck you, tumor – bring it on. I got no problem sitting in a loud tube for twenty minutes to kick your ass too.
After the ENT visit, I went directly to my dentist where I had work scheduled for a crown. Exhausting your out-of-pocket insurance expenses don’t apply to dental, however. In fact, I’d say dental insurance may be the biggest racket going in America. Anyway, you don’t fuck with your teeth, so I needed this crown. Except, they hit a couple of snags and the ninety minute scheduled appointment ran an hour long. Two and a half hours of pain, and smelling my own enamel being burned off. By the way, enamel burning smells a lot like when they burn your skin cancer off. In case you were wondering. “We’re also going to need to replace a filling when you come in for the permanent crown in a couple of weeks, Mr. Mitchem. But we figured you were already prepared for chaos, so it should be no problem for you. Now please pay many hundreds of dollars at the front desk on your way out. And have a blessed day.”
I’m 47. I didn’t expect to be alive this long. But I am. And I’m married to the love of my life. I have two awesome kids. A few loyal dogs. Great friends. Amazing colleagues. I’m going to the tropics in a few weeks. And I’m eating edamame like fucking potato chips.
I’ve got a blessed life.