When she got dressed this morning there was no way she could have known she'd be dead by 7 AM. That's just not how we are. We get up, we get dressed, we eat breakfast and we leave home with the completely unfounded certainty that we'll be back later. It's a confidence we have right down in our juicy centers, the notion that, sure the world out there is full of dangers and bad things happen all the time, but death happens to other people, not me. I guess we need that belief, else we'll never get out of bed. Still, we can believe that as hard as we like, one day we will all be wrong.
I was the world's worst cancer patient. In fact I don't like talking about my experience with cancer because I'm like a cautionary tale that didn't play out the way it should have. I never admitted this out loud, not even to my doctors but it was 7 years. I found the growth in my neck and did not go to the doctor for 7 years. In that time I tried anything and everything except seeking medical help. Mostly prayer, also some herbal remedies and detoxes. Of course none of that did anything and by the time I got treatment the tumor had grown to the point of pressing against my arteries. I was near death and it was entirely my own fault. You know the crazy thing? It all worked out fine! Two surgeries and a long weekend in radioactive isolation and I've been in remission for 10 years. I don't know that I deserved that outcome. Last year in the waiting room I met a lady who couldn't have been more than 30. She also had thyroid cancer but hers was incredibly agressive. She only realized something was wrong 2 months prior and it had already started spreading to her other organs. The prognosis was bad and I never saw her again. I don't know what happened to her in the end but I don't think things worked out OK for her. I don't know why it worked out OK for me despite doing everything wrong either.
It's Friday afternoon now and everyone's heading home for the weekend. I wonder if they've notified her people yet or if somewhere out there her family is still waiting for her to come home...
I've been a blood donor for a very long time now and my blood pressure has always been very healthy but this year every time I've donated my blood pressure was higher than it should have been. The blood bank moved to the big mall so I always blamed it on whatever food vendor I visited before giving blood but the last time I went, I didn't have any salty snacks beforehand and my blood pressure was 149/96. I'm not a doctor but I know that's high, that's much too high. That's stroke and heart attack levels.
My dad died of his second heart attack, just like his dad before him, so I've been living with this shadow for a very long time. But now it's real, and I'm not ready. I have not been living a heart healthy lifestyle. Not at all. I always knew deep down it could happen and on some level I was OK with it. I mean don't get me wrong, it's not that I want to die, it's just that I can't afford not to. I can't afford to grow old, I can't afford to retire, I can't afford serious illness or disability. So I ate my oversized portions of KFC and chugged my beer and hoped that when it hit, it would hit hard enough to take me quickly. Except now it's become very real and I don't think I want that anymore. Not now. Not yet.
Sure, I don't have much to live for. I've made a long list of terrible life choices and there's no undoing the worst of them. But I still don't want to die. Not today. For one thing I really want to see how Game of Thrones ends. I'm not as enthused about the new Star Wars trilogy as I was a year ago but dammit I would still like to see how that whole thing plays out too. Plus Cyberpunk 2077 is launching sometime in the next 2 years and I would very much like to play the shit out of that game! Also there are two very sweet doggies who won't understand if I stopped coming home. So... I don't have much to live for, but I still have reasons to stick around.
And so I have started being pro-active about my health. It's the kind of thing I always imagined I would do if circumstances got better and I had more reasons to get healthy. Turns out, I didn't need that many reasons in the end. So I've cut out all my favourite salty snacks - chips, biltong, bacon biltong, droewors - and I've drastically reduced my alcohol and caffeine intake. I've cut down a lot on my meat eating, red meat especially. I'm eating a lot more fruit and vegetables too. It would probably be healthier to give up meat but I'm not there yet, I'm only 60% meatless at the moment. I have not joined a gym but I do try to walk rather than drive whenever possible. So far I've lost 6 kilograms which is good I guess. Not really following a hardcore diet & exercise program, I'm just trying to make better choices for once in my life.
I don't know if any of this will help. My blood pressure may still be high or maybe my left arm just feels funny because I slept on it wrong. My next date for blood donation is the end of the month, I will see if all this has done me any good. If not I may have to go to the doctor about this, because I've learned my lesson about not doing that. I hope things get better for me, I would really like not being dead yet. But the fact is, despite our brightest hopes, death doesn't just happen to other people.