It’s not death that I fear, it’s everything that happens before it that scares the hell out of me.
For a large portion of my life, I think it is safe to say that I have been a fairly healthy individual. Certainly, I have made some mistakes that have caused me to do damage my body in different ways (torn rotator cuff from throwing a football too hard without warming up enough, torn labrum in the right shoulder from throwing a football too hard without warming up enough, torn labrum in right hip after running my last half marathon) but outside of the silly sports injuries, I think I have done a decent job of taking care of myself throughout the first 40 years of my life.
Having said that, I certainly have messed with the internals of my body through years of dealing with an insane sweet tooth, drinking too much alcohol, and fast food consumption. I’ve done my best to eliminate most of those issues over the last few years and I’m to a point now where I probably feel as good, subjectively speaking, as I have at any time in recent memory.
In the back of my mind there has always been a reason why I didn’t take care of myself as well as I should have.
On my father’s side of the family, my great-grandfather passed away at 103 and my great-grandmother passed away when she was 108 (they were married for 78 years when he passed away.) My grandfather is 90 and he has 7 siblings that are still alive, with one of them turning 100 this year. It is safe to say that longevity on my paternal side is definitely in the genetic base.
So, while I can’t say that every time I had a beer or ate a double cheeseburger I thought “This won’t hurt me, I’m going to live to 100 no matter what,” it’s safe to say that I probably didn’t take care of myself as well as I should have because somewhere in my subconscious, I thought those things couldn’t possibly do me in.
About 7 years ago, I went into visit with a gastroenterologist due to issues with passing blood when I went to the bathroom. Over the course of the various procedures and tests that they ran on me, they informed me that it was possible that I had colon cancer, but that they would have to do a biopsy to be able to determine whether or not that was the case.
That particular call from the doctors office, happened on a Friday afternoon and it made for one of the longest weekends of my life. I was a 33 year old man, with a 2 year old child, and was just informed that I might have a life changing medical condition. What made things more complicated was the fact that after the weekend was over, and the doctors called me back, the test results were inconclusive. So while there was relief for a time, as they couldn’t be positive of what was going on, there was only so much as there was no clear diagnosis for my medical issues.
To this day, they still have no idea what has been causing my issues and when things return (as they have in the past and have again over the past few weeks) it is always something that gives me pause and makes me wonder if this might be the time that they actually find out what is wrong, and I start to prepare myself for the worst.
Obviously I know that even if I were to be diagnosed with something, it wouldn’t be an automatic death sentence, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that every time I have these issues that I have become a bit more worried about my future.
But as I’ve mentioned in the past, I have never really been one of those people that would go through a huge mid-life crisis moment mainly because of the fact that I’m a severe procrastinator with ADD. Even when I do think I should try something else, I’ll delay making any changes, then get distracted by a bird flying by my window, and forget most of what I was going to do.
So, even when work is a struggle and it’s a challenge to want to get in the car to go there, I keep doing it because I’m constantly scared of what changes would mean for me.
To this point, I’ve been an incredibly lucky person for a large part of my life. I have an incredible wife, that I (amazingly) met in an AOL chat room back in 1994. I have 2 wonderful girls that, even when they are difficult, make my life better than I ever could have imagined. I am gainfully employed and make a very comfortable living. Yet, there is a part of me that thinks that I haven’t done enough and that the ideas that I have or the things that I think I should try to do, need to be acted upon.
So, where do I go from here? Well, I’m sure that when I hear back from my doctor that I’ll be getting another colonoscopy (I hear that after you get 4, the 5th one is free) and I’m sure that everything will be fine, but maybe getting another glimpse at mortality will get me closer to working towards becoming the person that I always dreamt I could be.