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Those Not So Golden Years… and the story of a nice little truck.

Written by Wellness Club on April 14, 2008 – 9:00 pm -

By Nurse Mark

Regular readers know that Dr. Myatt and I are RV’ers, traveling in our coach to speak and lecture. We have the pleasure of meeting folks of all ages, from all walks of life, but I must admit that the majority of folks we meet in RV parks are often “mature” folks – retired, older, sometimes considerably older, and often with multitudes of medical woes to relate. This is no surprise really, for anyone who has lived for seventy or eighty or ninety years or more is bound to have an ache or pain or complaint or two.

What never ceases to amaze us though is the total complacency of many people with their medical situations – quite willing to see their conventional doctor every six months or so for their 12 minute “checkup”, blurt out their litany of complaints, and meekly accept the hastily scribbled prescription for yet another drug to be added to the growing list of daily pills. Then it is off to the drugstore to buy the magic pills, and then home to resume life as usual, firmly convinced that they are “doing everything possible” to ensure their continued good health and longevity.

Once back in the company of their friends (or anyone else who will sit still and listen) they then regale everyone within earshot with their medical hard luck stories, complete with descriptions of surgeries, diagnoses, drugs, treatments, and even lab results. The interesting common thread in these stories is that all these things are being done to them – not by them. There really doesn’t seem to be much interest in taking any responsibility for one’s own health beyond seeking out a doctor who will order tests, or drugs, or treatments, or surgeries, which the victim, er, patient, blithely accepts.

Here is an example: Joe (not his real name of course) was a pleasant enough fellow we found ourselves next to in an RV park recently. Joe was puttering and as I hooked up our rig we began to chat. The conversation turned to his health (as it often does) and Joe recited his litany of medical troubles – taking pills for his blood pressure, pills for his cholesterol, pills for his heart, pills for his water, pills for his heartburn, and pills to put himself to sleep at night. Joe had undergone a bunch of surgeries, for a variety of complaints – none of which seem to have done much good and was considering yet another surgery in the hopes it would repair his failing immune system.

As Joe told me this I could hear the bitterness in his voice at the medical system that he felt had failed him in what should have been his “golden years.” Having “worked hard and paid taxes” he felt that modern medicine only wanted to “push more pills” on him or have him “go under the knife” yet again.

I asked Joe a few questions: did he take any vitamins or supplements? No, his doctor told him those were useless – they would only give him “expensive urine.” Hmmm… I wonder how expensive his urine is with all those prescription drugs?

I asked did he do any exercise? Yep, he said proudly, golfing keeps him in pretty good shape, except he gets kinda out-of-breath walking from the golf cart to the tee sometimes if he has to park too far away. This, from a man with skinny little legs and arms and a carbohydrate induced pot-belly that made him look about 8 months pregnant…

What about diet? I asked (knowing already what the answer would be)… Well, he said, his doctor sent him to a dietitian and the dietitian told him to follow the government food pyramid – and he thought that was  working pretty well except that he got “low blood sugar” a lot and needed to have a mid-morning snack to keep him from feeling jittery and a mid-afternoon nap because he would feel so sleepy after lunch… his wife fed him oatmeal every breakfast, whole wheat bread in his lunchtime sandwich, and potatoes or rice or beans or pasta (whole wheat of course!) for supper. They had given up beef, and everything he ate was low fat because his doctor told him his cholesterol was too high. He avoided protein because he had heard it was “bad for the kidneys” and besides, he needed the bread and potatoes and pasta “to fill up on” – he had memories of hunger during the depression years…

I gave up on the health questions at this point – I’d heard enough and was feeling discouraged for him.

Joe was meticulously polishing an immaculate 4 wheel drive pickup truck that he towed behind his sparklingly beautiful motor coach – both vehicles were perfectly maintained and obviously a great source of pride for Joe so I asked him about the pickup.

He told me how it was a few years old now, but he had taken “real good care” of it since new – he serviced it and changed the oil regularly, even more frequently than the manual called for. He washed and polished it at every stop. He rotated the tires regularly to keep them from wearing unevenly. Nothing but the best fuel and oil were ever allowed – no “cheap stuff” for this little truck, and a fuel additive went into the tank with each fill-up to keep the fuel system clean.

He always drove it carefully, never harshly or abusively, but he said that he always makes a point to take it out on the highway every week or so “to blow out the carbon and keep it running smooth” and carefully drove off-road in 4 wheel drive at least once a month as directed in his manual to keep the drivetrain lubricated and “exercised.”

He told me how he had a buddy who had a similar truck with several hundred thousand miles on it, and he was aiming to better that record by taking even better care of this truck – he knew he could do it.

I wished Joe good luck and we went our separate ways – him to relax with a smoke and a beer after his hard work of polishing and cleaning, and me to exercise the dogs (and me) who had been cooped up for a few hours as we drove.

I thought about Joe, and about how many there were like him. Joe knows how to keep his truck in the peak of health and fitness – and as things stand now, it will easily out live him. If he would only apply those same techniques to himself he could easily live long enough to outlast several trucks.

If only Joe, and folks like him would take the same responsibility for their own health the same way they do for their other possessions, that is, good food, good optimal dose vitamins and supplements, regular exercise, clean air and clean water, and regular detoxing to look after the inevitable toxins of daily life – and Joe could probably throw away the pills and add happy, active decades to his life.

But I’m guessing that won’t happen – it is far easier to make personal health the responsibility of a pill-pushing, scalpel-wielding, insurance-billing doctor.

Too bad – but maybe I’ll be able to buy that nice little truck from Joe’s estate…

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