It had been so long…
I’d forgotten what it meant to FEEL REALLY GOOD and didn’t have the faintest idea of what FEELING BETTER & BETTER EVERYDAY could entail.
It was 2014 and I was nearing the much feared mid-life crisis milestone age of 40 and I was feeling all of it. Actually I was feeling the result of not paying attention to my health for 30+ years. After all, I was invincible, wasn’t I?
I’d pulled epic marathon cram sessions in high school, college, and even university. I’d been known to play 2-3 hockey games and a soccer game to boot (pun intended) or a tennis match all in the same day fueled by nothing but McDonald’s “food”, milk chocolate bars filled with sugar, and high maintenance espresso or coffee frappucino beverages. Sometimes I’d scarf down this “food” right before the start or mid-game even. Ok, maybe you’re saying to yourself that his body probably gears up for these events and runs on adrenaline til they are over but I bet the rest of the time he’s giving it ample rest and sustenance from which to build up large reservoirs of reserve energy. Well, not exactly. You see, vegetables, for one, were foreign objects to me with difficult to pronounce names and even more difficult to stomach tastes. Sure I consumed the occasional dried out piece of celery when my deep fried hot wings got too spicy for me to continue patiently waiting for the cute but interminably slow waitress to refill my water (or beer) and yes once in a blue moon I did enjoy drenching a small bowl of plain iceberg lettuce in either Italian or Caesar dressing and call it a salad but that was the extent of my association with veggies. Basically my diet consisted of meats, meats, french fries, fast food meat substitutes, and more meats.
Oh yeah. I almost forgot to mention my love-affair with sugar. Like to the tune of 10+ teaspoons everyday in a grande sized coffee that already contained as much cream (half and half) as coffee in it. Want another example? How about pouring chocolate milk into an already sugar-satiated cereal like Captain Crunch or Marshmallow Alpha Bits!? Maybe my saving grace was those BOXES of Life Cereal I used to inhale after dinner or right before bed with copious amounts of 2% pasteurized milk. After all, that had to be healthy – I didn’t even have to add sugar to it!
Fast food wasn’t a treat for me and my younger brother Corey, it was a staple – as in McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy’s three to five times a week was not an anomaly. Throughout it all though, I knew everything would be A-OK as long as I continued religiously taking my Flintstones Vitamins. So with that degree of immense care I was taking of myself and of course the burning of the candle at both ends when I pulled all-nighters and didn’t go to sleep til dawn for studying or shift work at least a couple times a week, it perhaps shouldn’t have come as a complete shock that one day my body might start to protest or break down.
As an acutely active and athletic adolescent (try saying that 5 times fast), I’d broken and strained and twisted muscles and bones and often endured deep bruises and cuts all over my body through years of competitve Soccer, Track and Field, Hockey, Tennis, and Skiing. Until I turned the big 3 0 though, things always healed quickly and nothing really serious broke down.
After 30, everything changed. Bones and muscles became brittle. Everything felt fatigued and achy and soreness and intense cramping became the norm rather than the exception after any reasonable exertion. Maybe I wasn’t invincible after all?
After a jarring whiplash-causing car accident and severe food poisoning incident, I inherited the gifts of chronic back pain, digestive discomfort (aka IBS or Crohn’s Disease) and everyday I was starting to FEEL WORSE, NOT BETTER. It was time to visit the Doctors. After all, it was their job to heal me (and others like me with various afflictions), wasn’t it?
I’d recently started seeing a new Doctor, a family friend who happened to live a second life as GP (General Practitioner). For my first couple of visits, I felt really special. My Doctor ran a successful little practice and had lots of repeat customers booking frequent appointments to see him and be availed of his health wisdom. His secretary seemed to like me and could almost pronounce my last name even. Clearly I was in good hands now. I was as good as healed! I waved good bye to my soon to be leaving pesky health ailments and prepared to live a long and healthy pain-free life. After all here was a smart man with real credentials hanging on the wall in his office that promised me an expedient healing or else he wouldn’t have so many loyal repeat customers all singing his praises, surely? It made logical sense and having aced logic classes in school I was sold that my days of pain and suffering and overall miserableness were now severely numbered.
Boy, was I in for a REALITY CHECK! In no particular order: My back pain worsened and became debilitating and agonizing causing me to miss work and sports commitments, my digestive health declined, and I seemed to be developing asthma, severe sinus problems, allergies, and frequent headaches. And that wasn’t the worst part. The worst was a continuously increasing feeling of malaise and fatigue, a FEELING LIKE THE LIFE WAS BEING DRAINED FROM ME DAILY.
I was quickly becoming depressed and apathetic but other than my health, I was generally happy and content and couldn’t figure out why I was FEELING SO DAMN DOWN ALL THE TIME. I’d begun following the advice of my newly TRUSTED HEALTH ADVISOR, my family friend, my Doctor. Surely he had my best interests at heart. He’d prescribed this medicine for my back pain, this pill for the seemingly never-ending intolerable inflammation, this cream for the muscle aches, this tablet and nasal spray for the sinus infection(s), this drug for the digestive issues. Clearly I was in the fast-lane to recovery now, right? Not exactly. Strangely enough THE MORE REGULARLY I TOOK MY PILLS, APPLIED MY CREAMS, AND CONSUMED MY (carefully prescribed) DRUGS AND MEDICINE, THE MORE FREQUENTLY SOMETHING ELSE BROKE DOWN OR BECAME ILL, AND THE WORSE I FELT. On the bright side, this chain of events kept me coming back to see my Doctor frequently enough that his secretary could now spell my entire name, including my two given middle names. My Doctor, after spending five to ten minutes jotting down notes and thoughtfully asking questions about my latest and greatest symptoms, never failed to suggest and prescribe the newest medicine or hottest wonder drug that was tailor-made to cure my symptoms.
Let’s go back in time for a minute. In elementary school, I was often grouped with other so called “gifted” mathematics students and shuffled off to play with tangrams (Chinese puzzles consisting of a square cut into five triangles, a square, and a rhomboid, to be reassembled into different figures). These pattern recognition games were meant to enhance our creative thinking skills and whether it was because of that or thanks to decades of crossword and logic puzzles my father started me on at a young age, I began to notice a pattern with my health. First, something would go wrong or out of balance, I’d turn to my TRUSTED MEDICAL AUTHORITY, my Doctor, he’d give me something that promised to help alleviate the symptoms of my health problem(s), and the cycle would begin again, each time getting more intense as larger and more significant parts of my body began breaking down or succumbing to illness. Finally a light went on in my head and I decided THERE HAD TO BE A BETTER WAY – and damn-it if I wasn’t hell-bent determined to find it.
Back to my Doctor. Lately my Doctor’s booming enterprise was growing so fast that he relocated to a larger newer office that could process more patients and his secretary (being the extremely diligent employee she was) never failed to maximize the value of his time. Patients were now shuttled in and out of his inner office examination room in 15 minutes, else they’d be “politely” shooed out the door mid-sentence. It was like his income was tied to the number of customers he could process and/or prescribe drugs or medicine to (and sadly that turned out to actually be the case). With that kind of incentive to pick up the pace it’s no wonder his business was running as smooth as a Wendy’s drive-thru window. I should have been feeling thrilled and privileged to be a part of such a successful burgeoning practice. Instead I felt more and more like a commodity. It seemed as if even my basic bodily complaints and questions were being unheard or ignored or even worse, rushed through in the mad dash to move the next “fare” – I mean patient – through the assembly line. Something DIDN’T FEEL RIGHT ANYMORE, and it was more distasteful than all of the various health issues I was enduring.
I began suspecting that my Doctor (and even his sweet and efficient secretary) didn’t give two hoots WHETHER I GOT OR FELT BETTER OR NOT and worse, seemed perfectly satisfied to hear that a symptom was alleviated without any evidence of abatement of the overarching illness or disease itself. I started to FEEL ANGRY and began questioning my Doctor about some of the startling discoveries I was learning about as I began to look to Alternative Sources for my Health Information. My Doctor didn’t seem to like being doubted or even questioned.
I made a decision then and there to take a Leap of Faith and do it myself: “I WOULD LEARN EVERYTHING I COULD TO TAKE BACK CONTROL OF MY HEALTH, BEFORE MY DOCTORS KILLED ME WITH THEIR KINDNESS….”
This 35to65.com BLOG site and my future Blog-posts will attempt to chronicle that journey, as I strive to learn as much as I possibly can about SUPPORTING AND MAINTAINING VIBRANT HEALTH AS WE AGE. I will blog about my personal successes and my failures (and the lessons learned), my struggles and my breakthroughs. I will interview experts and other bio-hackers (individuals striving to gain more control, push the envelope past what is considered possible, and ultimately achieve optimal functioning of themselves at the physical, biological, psychological, and metaphysical levels by experimenting with and hacking their body, genetic code, mind, and spirit). I will invite contributions from others who specialize in or have learned the hard way about what works and doesn’t work in Health and Wellness. I won’t discriminate between those with fancy sounding credentials and the garage or kitchen scientists – the only thing that matters here is REAL, VERIFIABLE, and REPEATABLE/REPLICABLE RESULTS. If I learn that someone has something that works for their Health (and ideally many others over an extended period of time), you can be sure I will blog about it. But there’s more…. I’m not embarking on this daunting treacherous journey alone. There is another brave thirty-something soul that will walk the Path of Health with me and YES there is always room for more.
JOIN me and my long-time friend GAV, as we LEARN, ERR, INTEGRATE, CALIBRATE, RECALIBRATE, AND ULTIMATELY:
“TAKE BACK CONTROL OF OUR HEALTH!”
From the most basic Common Cold to the tips of technological cutting edge discoveries like the protective Telomeres at the ends of your DNA, we will Research, Experiment, Evaluate, Integrate, and Structure THE PROVEN OPTIMAL STRATEGIES, TECHNIQUES, TECHNOLOGIES, AND PRODUCTS THAT COMBINE TO BRING LASTING VIBRANT HEALTH, WELLNESS, AND YOUTH AS WE AGE.
“May we gain the time needed to succeed” (Frank R. Wallace)