For My Own Health

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Forget COVID mutations; I’ve got other things to worry about. Over the past three years, I’ve had two knee replacements, degeneration of the lumbosacral intervertebral disc, sciatica, some strange extended bronchial infection that requires a CT-Scan and a visit to a pulmonologist, and the words from more than one doctor that I better do something about my weight. Or else.

Now, before I go on with my self-pity rant, let me be clear. I don’t believe for a moment that COVID and its mutations are anything but serious. Unlike the antis’ and the deniers, I believe that we are still in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported 5,183,003 cumulative deaths worldwide. 611,528 new cases worldwide have been reported in a twenty-four-hour period. Since all this started in 2020, there have been a total of 259,502,031 cases worldwide. The breakdown in the United States does not bring me comfort. Just yesterday, there had been a reported 100,455 new cases. The U.S. statistics are mindboggling: 47,802,459 cumulative cases since this all began with an accompanying 771,529 cumulative deaths. And there will be plenty more as the deniers and politicians who grovel before them will guarantee.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

So talking about my medical issues seems so petty. Except they are both real and annoying the hell out of me. This damn cough, for example. Now, I’ve had this before. You think it’s just a plain cough until you find yourself wheezing and having difficulty breathing (No, I don’t have COVID or long COVID). In the past, it would either turn into bronchitis or graduate to pneumonia or just plain go away on its own. Albuterol Sulfate HFA Inhalation Aerosol and I have become the best of buds. This time around, it’s been joined by a new friend Wixela (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol inhalation powder, USP). If you think the name is too long or hard to pronounce, you should read the instructions and the side effects. I’ve recently taken a CT-SCAN. The results will be ready on Friday. I’m supposed to head to a pulmonologist, but the earliest appointment available is in February. Seems my healthcare provider has only one lung doctor in all of region four which includes Long Beach. So, I asked myself how many people we talking about in region four. I’m sure I’m not the only one. WTH!! I’ve put in for another referral, but I’m not optimistic that anything is going to happen anytime soon. I’ve been here before, and the holidays seem to see their share of slowdowns and shutdowns. Add the Pandemic on top of that, and you know I’m in trouble.

The lower back is acting up again. Out of nowhere, I suddenly found myself enduring excruciating pain when I would try to stand up straight after extended sitting. It takes a while to straighten up, and walking has me stooping over and moving ever so slightly to make sure my lower spine doesn’t get a hernia. Now, this is not new, as I said, but I really didn’t need this right now. I just recently received an epidural which is supposed to relieve the back and sciatic pain. Those shots are supposed to last three to six months. It hasn’t been more than a month. What the hell happened?

I’m going to be seventy-three years old next week. I’m starting to really feel that old (whatever old feelings you get at seventy-three). My doctors and my partner-wife wag their fingers at me with warnings about all this stuff happening to me is either caused by or made worse by my weight. Under any measure, I am obese. There I said it. It gives me no pleasure admitting it. This damn obesity is going to kill me unless I do something about it for the hundredth time.

Image by photosforyou from Pixabay

I love to eat. That’s my addiction. I wish I could say that it was always healthy food, but I would be lying. My struggles with food and weight go back decades. I was a chubby kid when I was thirteen years old. When I was in my fifties, I put on some serious weight that I took the desperate measure of a weight loss program and exercise and personal sacrifice to lose one hundred and ten pounds. And when I did, I jumped into running 5ks, 10ks, half and full marathons. A blown-out knee put an end to all that. Everything after that was a blur until I decided to give up drinking and drugs. Then, I thought I could get back to some healthy weight and return to exercise and moderate eating. Well, that was fine for a while. Then, the pandemic and all the subsequent issues came along, and all hell broke loose. And here I am.

I couldn’t move well because of the knee replacements, lower back issues, and sciatica, so there was no exercise. The Pandemic was the perfect excuse to use for stuffing my face and stomach in between zoom encounters and not moving for any reason. The result was not only an increase of 30 or more pounds (Not sound like much? Well, I was already 40-50 pounds overweight when this whole B.S. started). I am the perfect example of how being heavy impacts your health. From being pre-diabetic to increasing pressure on my knees and lower back, I have found that weight can make you feel miserable. I don’t need any more reminders than what my body is already telling me.

Image by kalhh from Pixabay

So now what? I’ve been down this road before. I’ve restarted walking and the gym routine, and I’m back on WeightWatchers. Fine, I tell myself, but none of this means anything unless I take the same passion and commitment I applied to be sober and apply it here. Do I even have a choice at this age? How many friends with similar challenges have I seen drop dead or end up in the hospital? Honestly, this time fear has slipped into the picture. I have too many things that I want to do before I pass on. Writing these words scares me because I know this is real. What I do next is up to me, and for my own health, I better get it right.

Author: Antonio Pedro Ruiz

Antonio Ruiz is an ex-junkie-alcoholic, former seminarian, one-time radio host-producer, past community organizer, continuing to be a media advocate, retired television reporter, ex-commission executive director, once a street vendor of jewelry and gloves, waitron (waiter to you), a former bartender who drank too much on the job, an ex-motorcycle courier who learned to ride a bike just for the job, ex-airport shuttle driver, former Entertainment news director-producer, the best time of my life, one-time live TV events red carpet producer-executive producer, ex-small business consultant, ex-youth media and journalism mentor, and now a college student who also has been married three times (thirds the charm), and just couldn't help living with two other women because well, that's part of my story.

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