It’s a pretty common expression I’ve heard from friends and family, Usually when it seems like nothing is going right in my life, someone might hear my woes and respond, “Well, at least you have your health.” And, for the most part it has been true.
I got pretty lucky when it comes to genetics. I wasn’t born with rugged movie star looks, but I haven’t had really any major illnesses in my life. I’ve never been allergic to anything and nothing along the lines of asthma to hold me back. It’s something I’ve really taken for granted.
A few years ago I was working as a security guard and one of my fellow employees, John, always brought a photo with him to work. It showed a picture of him and his son, but he looked about 70 lbs heavier. When I asked him about it, he told me that it was there to help him avoid snacking from the vending machine during work. Before he lost the weight he had a lot of pain issues mainly in his knees and his back.
“It was terrible especially after long shifts. I didn’t want to walk or move when I got home.” He said, “And one day I was walking through my front door and knew that my son would be waiting for me as he always was, ready for me to lift him into my arms and give him a hug—and I was dreading it. The pain in my back and knees made it so I didn’t want to pick up my own son. It was really a wake up call for me.”
He went on to tell me that nothing could beat the day, after he had lost a lot of the weight, that he got home and wasn’t hurting. “It wasn’t a lot of pain, but it was constant and it was effecting my moods and every aspect of my life. I couldn’t believe the difference.”
It was an awesome story and I remember the smile he had while telling it, but I couldn’t really relate to him.
Then this last month I had a lot of issues with my wisdom teeth. Six years ago I had been told by my dentist that they were growing in impacted and I should get them removed immediately. Well, that just made too much sense for me, so I did nothing. This last month I finally got them removed, it ended up having to be done in two separate appointments spread out over 2 weeks. I was pretty much out of commission after each removal. What it meant was that for the entire month I was in pain. I had pain meds, and ibuprofen to help but it was constant. It was not a fun month. My work suffered, I couldn’t concentrate, and I was incredibly short tempered. I didn’t feel like I was me anymore, and that just added to the stress.
I thought about John’s story a lot during the month. When I woke up one morning and reached for my Advil and realized that I didn’t need it. It was a huge thing for me, and for the day, nothing could take the smile off my face. I could think straight and I didn’t feel like I was ready to snap at the nearest person who even slightly annoyed me. I may not have struggled for several years with it but it did give me a little perspective.
It also got me thinking of the health industry. The stuff you see in the media, the ads and the shows that are selling weight loss, largely aren’t selling health and wellness. They are selling the image, the idea of being slim and fit. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a lot our customers and I know that for most, the goal isn’t as intense or as complicated as achieving a body like Jillian Michaels or Vin Diesel…it’s about the little things. It’s about picking up their kids into a hug without wishing they weren’t. It’s about their doctor telling them that they can stop taking the blood pressure meds every single day. It’s about that moment when someone says; “Well, at least you have your health.”
You can smile knowingly and say “Yep, you’re right about that.”