Dear Health Negligent,
I understand how you got this way. Media feeds you full of false information just to make a quick buck, and labels don’t make a damn bit of sense. Health claims tout benefits from foods like pretzels. What the hell is that all about? These foods you feed yourself and your family come with a heavy dose of addiction making the issue all that more complicated.
You buy cola in 2 liter bottles, because it’s cheaper that way. Sure, you know it’s not good for you, but you just don’t have the energy to stop. That bubbly goodness is packed full of motivation.
A few too many drinks every night helps you forget all the disappointment in the day that proceeded. You don’t have the job you had hoped for. You’ll never make enough money. Parenting is hard. Emotional support from fellow humans is clearly lacking. Those drinks make it all easier.
There’s never enough time in the day to exercise or prepare healthy meals. Waking up early, getting home late. The grind, the grind, the grind.
You, my dearest Health Negligent, are throwing it all away, because you don’t even know what you have.
Our bodies are equipped with detoxification mechanisms that begin to work less efficiently after the age of 30. Whatever hellish habits your body supported when you were 25 aren’t habits that can last a lifetime without repercussions. Increased weight gain, wrinkles, aches, pains, poor digestion, fatigue… all signs that your body can’t keep up with your habits any longer. Your habits are winning.
I can’t quite imagine myself in your shoes. I’ve always been interested in health and now that I’m a mother, health has become the focus of my household. My daughter has cystic fibrosis. She may not live a long and healthy life. My son has food allergies and asthma. I thought I was going to lose him last weekend when he went into severe anaphylaxis. I’ve stayed at the UNC Children’s Hospital with my daughter during an admission. The rooms are filled with children who are sick or dying.
And here you, Health Negligent, sit with your 2 liter bottle of cola, cigarette in hand, pissing away the hours between the time you get off of work to the time you fall asleep. I can’t quite imagine myself in your shoes, because I’d know exactly what to do with that genetically capable and healthy body of mine. I’d take care of it. I’d nourish it. I’d love it for being healthy.
I can only feel anger towards your choices momentarily, because I know that you simply don’t understand the value in your body, in your health. You’ve never known otherwise. How can I expect you to understand? Would I be so fervent about the health of my family if I didn’t have to fight for it every single day? Probably not. But now that I know, how can I not share that with you? To hide the pain, suffering, and heartache would feel like a disservice, like it’s all in vain.
Disease doesn’t just mean feeling unwell. Disease means feeling hopeless, broken, frustrated, confused, ignorant, overwhelmed, sorrowful, angry, regretful. Disease is more than just illness; it’s a complete shift in attitude. I’m fortunate enough to live with diseases that aren’t in a constant state of distress, which means these feelings aren’t always present. I get a reprieve to let the hope, love, faith, gratitude, courage, and joy overflow into my life before disease slips in again. But it’s always there, looming in the background.
You, dearest Health Negligent, are on the wrong path. Do not join my family in our difficulties. Do not learn what it’s like to deal with sickness. You, Health Negligent, have a capable mind and body – take care of them both! Years of bad habits surmount to something overtime. You never know when, but I assure you that it will happen – you’re not above it. Before you know it, there’s a drug for this or a drug for that. Drugs don’t come without side effects. Prevention is the best medicine.
Some day you’ll look at yourself in the mirror feeling your aches and pains, seeing your excess weight, knowing that the stress you carry is almost tangible, and you’ll feel overwhelmed by the changes that have to be made to rewind on all your choices over time. But what else do you have to do? Why not change NOW? Give me one good reason why you can’t make positive changes to care for your health – the asset that is most important in life. Do you choose to do nothing because you can’t do it all at once? Of course you can’t! No one can! But should you do nothing because you can only accomplish very little? Something is always better than nothing.
Have you not followed through with good intentions because you think change is hard? I’m here to tell you that disease is harder, much harder. You’ll be forced to change in ways that you never knew were possible, but it won’t be by choice. It’ll be by necessity.
So to you, beloved Health Negligent, honor the body you’ve been given. Care for the commodity of health. Respect that nothing in life will matter more to you than your health if you should lose it. The choices you make today will forever change your tomorrow.
With love, gratitude, and sorrow,