Veggies, Heart Attacks and Parties

March 12, 2012

As of this writing, I’m laying flat on my back, laptop on my stomach, with a faint but distinctive tingly feeling in my right foot.

This is not normal.

I’m not an old guy with rheumatoid arthritis or anything.  I can’t make weather predictions by my bum knee or anything like that.  I wish I could.  Can you imagine never having to check the weather channel?  Awesome.

But for the last year, I’ve been seeing my brother in law who’s a chiropractor.  I’ve started having some weird problems with my back.  The pain caused by jumbled neck vertebrae first brought me to his office.

Which brings us to the weird, tingly feeling in my foot.  It seems that in my lower back, I pulled some muscles…and some bones…and some nerves, all of which is pretty uncomfortable.  And now there’s a nerve that’s getting squeezed, which is causing my foot to tingle in a super annoying way.

I don’t say this for the “woe is me” effect.  I’ve actually learned some really important life lessons while staring at the ceiling.

Hiding Vegetables in the Glass of Milk

Kids try a lot of tactics to get out of eating their vegetables.  They hide them in their napkin, stir them around on the plate, drop them in their glass of milk.  Whatever it takes to trick Mom and Dad.  The only result they care about is the vegetables are gone, one way or another.  They don’t care about the nutritional benefits of veggies.

The thing is, most of us grow up and keep doing the grown-up version of playing with our food.  We know we’re supposed to do things that are good for us.  The doctor tells us we have to take care of ourselves with exercise, and eating right.  The pastor tells us we have to pray and come to church.  On and on it goes…

…But we don’t do it.

We push our veggies around on the plate and when we go to the doctor’s office, we hope we can lie and say we were good boys and girls and the doctor will believe us and give us a sucker.

The problem is, when we’re faking it, we’re only hurting ourselves.  I have to be serious about stretching every day, and if I’m not, I’m only hurting myself.  It doesn’t hurt my doctor one bit.

Heart Attacks and Placebos

Adults do some pretty dumb things.

When you start feeling yourself coming down with a cold, what’s the first thing you do?  You grab some cold medicine and some vitamin C.  You reason that you’re going to really pump your immune system up to fight that cold.


By the time you’re sick, those vitamins are too late.  Your immune system is already weakened.  You’re pretty much taking a placebo.  You should’ve been taking vitamins every day.  Hey, it’s okay.  I do the same thing.  And I get sick, and I shake my fist at the heavens and call down curses on my head for not taking my Flintstones chewable everyday.

Adults do the same thing with everything in life.  We wait until a problem becomes a crisis before we take action.  We wait until we have a heart attack to get serious about our health.  We wait until we’re separated from our spouses before going to counseling.  We wait until our lives are in the toilet to go to church or pray.  And many of those last ditch efforts are no more effective than a placebo.

Your Are Cordially Invited to My Pity Party

I told you, I didn’t write this as an invitation to a pity party.  You know how many people will usually show up to your pity party?  One, and that’s you.  That’s because no one likes showing up to pity parties.  No one wants to be around people who whine all the time about how much their life sucks.

Why?  Because everyone else believes that they have it tougher than you.  Everyone wants to believe that their problems are bigger, their pain is worse, their cross to bear is heavier than yours.  Sometimes, they are right.  Many times, they are wrong.  Doesn’t matter.  No one likes a complainer.

Well, while I’m headed out to get x-rayed, tell me what life lessons you’ve learned while laying on the couch or in the hospital…or just tell me your favorite thing to do when you’re not feeling well!

24 responses to Veggies, Heart Attacks and Parties

  1. Getting sick and burned out, taught me to slow down, and approach things differently. I’m still learning – but at the stage now where I’m actually thankful for the lesson!

    Being laid up can be a great opportunity for uninterrupted reading, writing, & thinking – and if that’s not working, trashy, escapist TV shows!!!

    Hope your back gets better quick!

  2. As a back pain sufferer for almost 10 years, I can commiserate. It’s rarely been bad enough to keep me totally down but it has definitely affected my ability to do every day normal things. Then a couple years ago, I had a pinched nerve in my neck. No fun there! I have been seeing a wonderful chiropractor who has brought me out of a good bit of this pain, and we continue to work on it.

    I know what you mean about taking action before things get bad. However, you can’t plan for everything, and eating well and exercising doesn’t always keep one from breaking down. I used to be healthy, energetic, slender and full of life. I ate well, moved a lot and only abused my body with cigarettes – which I quit several years ago. As I got closer to 40, the more serious I got about it. I followed all the recommendations for diet and exercise, but it all failed me.

    My metabolism went haywire about 8 years ago. I piled on 60 pounds and at one point, could barely get through the day without taking a nap. Sure, I might could have avoided this if I had kept stress out of my life – but that is part and parcel of being a mom. I followed the standard recommendations for diet and exercise, which I know now are totally wrong and are killing us all, or making us very sick. I know NOW … but there is no way I could have ever guessed, at the peak of health, that this would happen, and very little I could have done to avoid it.

    So now, I swallow all kinds of pills and potions to help my body heal. I study and research the latest information on thyroid disorders, adrenal fatigue, iron malabsorption, and REAL research on food and nutrition (did you know that fat is NOT bad for us, and whole wheat is terrible? Yeah … I didn’t either) to the point where it has consumed my life. And I pray … I actually do that first … hoping that the answers I need will come soon, and until then, that I can understand why I must go through all of this, and that I can be at peace with it. Jeremiah 29:11-14

    Blaming ourselves by saying shoulda, coulda woulda is good in theory, but if we don’t know … well, what can we do? And when the “authoritative” information is all wrong …

    I do my best to share with my daughter and 3 step-daughters that NOW, while they are young, in their 20s and healthy, they need to pay attention and learn from what has happened to me, but like I did when I was their age, they think that this can never happen to them.

  3. I had open-heart surgery kinda unexpectedly for a jacked up aortic valve at 40. I hadn’t even considered that one day I would die and then I was possibly facing that day. I had my surgery in Paraguay, that didn’t add to my comfort. Being confined in ICU with nothing but the all-Spanish channel happening all around me was disconcerting. I found I was pushing my vegetables around on the plate. I sucked it up and ate them. I had to trust God like I said I was before, I was out of choices. With my new found mortality came a new found appreciation.

    Here’s a time waster for ya

  4. I hope everything turns up okay on the x-ray!

    My favorite thing to do when I’m really sick is lock myself in my room, literally. I tell my husband I don’t need anything. Just keep the three little ones away!

  5. I don’t get sick all too often, but when I do I normally ignore it. Don’t like being sick so I act like I’m not.

    I do agree with the whole health thing. I should stop drinking soda (did you read that Coke and Pepsi have carinogens them?). I do enjoy my sweet tea and coffee. When I get home from school I drink at least half a gallon throughout the night. Used what I’ve been taught in math to figure out the good tea should cancel out the bad sugar…except that math is all theoretical. Looking at it, it seems to me that many people are that way. Like weed. It can help if you’re in pain but it can also (more likely than not) screw you up.

    We also like what we do and as long as it hasn’t hurt us yet, we’ll be fine.

  6. Ha! I found that doing everything the doctors recommend will guarantee nothing. I ate well: not too much, low trans & saturated fat, low cholesterol, more than the recommended veggies per day, and I exercised an hour or more a day. I ended up ganging weight for no reason apparently and high cholesterol at age 31. I am well within the healthy Bmi for my height, but apparently you can be thin, fit & eat well and still sick. Now I hardly exercise, eat less vegetables and more carbs, and I lost the extra weight, lowered my cholesterol & feel better. Of course, finding out I had an endocrine disorder & getting put on meds probably had more to do with that.

    What I learned? You can do all the “right” things and still be sick. Kind of like sin, eh? We can try to follow all the rules, but in the end, we all need Christ’s atonement.

  7. Each time I look in the mirror, or feel the aches and pains of a particular day, I am reminded of my future.

    That this body and this world are not progressing, but rather are coming to an end.

    But, in a deeper sense, it has already happened. We are already dead. Everything has been nailed to that cross with Jesus. Put to death with Him. (Romans 6).

    We start with death…and then move to life. Authentic life in Him. (also Romans 6)

    This is th theology of the cross. Most people hate it. (at times I do, too). But it is the truth, and the reality of our human condition.


    I hope you feel better and are up and around soon, Matt!

  8. In my line of work, a phrase I hear frequently is “If I only knew I could get HIV I would’ve worn a condom/not dated that guy/not cheated on my wife.” (I also hear a lot of “But I thought this was a ‘gay’ disease”, which still amazes me, what with it not being 1986 and all.)

    It’s all too easy to get judgemental in those situations, but then I remember that I’m also a doctor who’s about 50 pounds overweight and just got over having multiple cavities treated that were purely caused by my own neglect.

    So, in the end, even the folks who know what they’re supposed to be doing don’t do it.

    And, as others have said, you still get the stuff that happens no matter what you do. (No matter how much vitamin C you took, you’d probably still get a cold. Anyone who tells you different probably has some supplements they’re trying to sell.)

  9. Things to do when you are stuck in bed:
    Spend some relaxed together-time with God.
    Catch up on the news.
    Write a few blog articles that you can pull out on days you’re too busy/tired/distracted to write.
    Read a good book (spent yesterday reading The Help–totally worth the time).
    Write a love letter to your spouse.
    Think. Plan. I like to make lists.
    Read the funnies.
    Delete surplus photos (all those fuzzy, too-dark, too-light ones) and other excess junk from your computer.
    Go over your calendar. We plan “date days” months in advance.

  10. A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with Lupus. In the midst of the onset I was trying to take care of my newborn baby girl, and my 1 & 2 year old little boys. It was awful, and I kept telling myself, “God won’t give me more than I can handle.” Then one day I decided to look that verse up, and of course it was nowhere to be found in Scripture. It was a huge exercise in humility for me, as I realized that not only will we face more than we can handle, we will face it every day. It was kind of a relief to step back and say, “This is so much more than I can handle!” Then came the peace in knowing that we aren’t equipped to take on the world alone, we just can’t do it. But, nothing is outside of the reach of His arms.

  11. Well, let’s just say I have worked hard at breaking my body. I played hockey, raced motocross, skied hard, smoked cigarettes for 20 years and drank like a fish too. I took drugs, and found lots of other things to do to my spirit, my emotions and my bones.

    In the end I really needed Jesus. I didn’t have enough energy to do anything.

    As far as the body goes, I eat well, exercise, and tried all those dopey exercises. What worked was regular cardio fitness. For the Spirit I read the word, hang out at church and all of that seems to have the emotions going in the right direction.

    For my back I stopped trying to fix the problem and alleviate the symptoms. I just started working out, and a year later, everything feels better.

    Good luck. Matt!

  12. Between breaking six bones in 2009 and getting severe pneumonia complicated by a massive pulmonary embolism in 2010 and spending a year on bloodthinners as a result, and having pretty constant, weather-predicting crankiness in my right ankle (the site of four of my six broken bones in 2009), I’ve spent a lot of time staring at walls.

    What I learned? If you don’t take care of yourself when you’re down, you’re just going to get worse. Be an advocate for your own health.

    What did I do with my spare time, especially after the auto accident that caused all those fun broken bones? I slept a lot. Did PT. Went to the chiropractor (wreck messed up my back, too). Spent a ridiculous amount of money on a pretty medical alert bracelet that was my constant jewelry for more than a year. (I refused to wear an ugly one.) I read. New books. Old favorites.

    I wrote down anecdotes about things that my kids did or said that I found particularly meaningful in light of the accident.

    I learned to detest recliners when one is suffering back pain.

    And, life is best taken with a hefty dose of humor. A HEFTY dose. After all, blessed are they who laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.

  13. I will be praying that your back will get better soon.

    I love to read in my spare time. Fiction, non-fiction, biography, inspiration, you name it. I am currently reading “The Birth Order Book.” My husband recommends “The Hunger Games” series.” I am waiting for him to finish so I can read the series. I also want to read “Lilies of the Field,” which is on my daughter’s reading list.

    My patterns tend to look like sine waves: I will have periods of taking care of myself and trying to lose weight which I can no longer call baby fat because my baby is now seven years old and at least half of it was gained after giving birth. A few months ago, I was on a downward path, not exercising, feeding my sweet tooth, which I think currently is the size of a narwhal’s tooth (or tusk), not taking vitamins. I was tired and cranky all the time and getting sick of it and sick of myself. Then I started taking vitamins again. I started to feel better. My SIL encouraged me to carve out 20 minutes of time to work out for six days out of the week and eat healthy foods, limiting myself to a wee, tiny bit of sugar (comparatively speaking) and other things. I feel even better! And then I remember how good I do feel when I do these things. Like every other human on this planet, I have a short (squirrel!) attention span and there will probably be a time when I forget all these great feelings and go back to my diabetic-in-training lifestyle. I hope not, though.

  14. In 2010, I went to sleep and awoke with (what we later learned was) a kidney stone. I was admitted to the hospital the following day and had surgery to remove my appendix. In 2011, I went to the urologist (which is at the hospital). In 2012, I had surgery to crush two kidney stones. Go to the hospital three years in a row, you start taking care of things (across the board). I drink a lllloooottt of water, juice most mornings, and a glass of milk occasionally.

    I read. I catch up on texts. I lie in bed and nap.

    Bless you all.

  15. When not feeling well, I just like to lie on the couch or in bed, and just lie.there. I read and/or catch up on my DVR shows. I talk to God and make an effort on reminding myself of all His Goodness, even when in pain. Tough to do, but necessary.

    Speaking of vegetable intakes, my husband and I recently invested on a Blendtec blender. We’ve been making fruit and vegetable shakes for breakfast and/or lunch. For us, it the only consistent way to get our vegetable intake. We’ve been pretty happy with it.

    Hope all turns OK with your x-rays.

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