“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather NOT.” Mark Twain

Have you ever heard that old saying “when you know better, you do better”? Is that true? Not always. People, who are overweight still eat the wrong things. People, who have asthma still smoke. People, who know drugs are bad still use them. But, why? Do we lack self-love? Why is it we know what we SHOULD do to better ourselves and our health but we but don’t do it? I know I have been guilty of knowing what’s good for me but doing the opposite. But, why?

One night while eating dinner with my family at Apple Pan’s restaurant a guy came in to purchase some food for the homeless guy outside and since I was sitting next to the cash register, he and I struck up a conversation.  As he and I conversed, I began coughing profusely. The man said, “you are very sick”. I explained to him that I had a cold and it was taking forever to go away. He said I think it’s more than a cold. I rolled my eyes and thought what the hell did he know. He wasn’t a doctor cause he looked too scraggly. He got his food and left but I replayed our conversation in my head for a few weeks. Was I really sicker than I thought?

A month later, I still had the cough so I went back to the doctor and they gave me more meds. A few days after the Dr. visit, I noticed my legs and ankles were swollen. What was going on? This had never happened before. I elevated my feet and the next day, the swelling was gone. But, later that day, the swelling returned. After work, I came home and elevated my feet again, before I knew it, I had fallen asleep. A few hours later, I was awakened by a sharp pain on my right side and I immediately rushed to the emergency room. The conversation with the stranger was now at the forefront of my thoughts.  Was I sicker than I thought?

While in the ER, the doctor stated that my heart rate and blood pressure was dangerously high and I was being admitted. I was told the pain in my side, was kidney stones but that was not their concern. They were concerned with my heart.  A cardiologist came in to tell me that I had Congenital Heart Failure. What? He explained that my feet were swelling because my lungs were filled with fluid and it was making it difficult for my heart to pump. My Ejection Fraction level was outside of the normal range. I was hospitalized for 6 days and the stranger’s words “You are really sick” kept resonating in my mind.

After I was released, I stuck to the doctor’s instructions. Yet, as time passed, I got lazy and reverted back to my old ways.  I knew better, why wasn’t I doing better.? Then I realized, I was in denial. I didn’t want to conform to this new way of living-medicines, daily weigh-ins, daily blood pressure checks, eating healthy, monitoring my daily fluid intake, etc.. I knew I wanted to LIVE but didn’t want to follow my new health routine. A few weeks later, I got a call from the nurse at the heart clinic who was inquiring about my progress, for the first time, I broke down and shared with her that I didn’t want to accept the results, but I knew I had too. She was so patient and said my diagnosis wasn’t a death sentence unless I didn’t conform.

From that day on, I have embraced my new “normal” not eagerly but nonetheless, I am doing what I need to do to LIVE. If I keep doing what I’m medically supposed to do, I can live a long and prosperous life. I have a lot to live for- my family, great friends- and am grateful for the opportunity for a do-over, something not afforded to everyone.

I’ve often thought about the stranger, who stopped by to feed the homeless and inadvertently fed me too. I now believe he was an angel and am grateful for the encounter we had that day in the burger joint. It reminded me of how much GOD needed me to continue HIS work and that HE has a plan for my life but I needed to be healthy in order to fulfill HIS plan. Since I now know better, I am going to continue to do better. Listen to your body and the angels around you…..stay healthy, your family, the world and GOD NEED you!!!!

SHIP TALK: Do you have any life modifications that you need to make, to live a better happier life? Have you made them? Why not?

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