I had a bit of a health scare on Friday. Went in for a dentist visit, and as part of the pre-cleaning ritual, they check my blood pressure with that little wrist-cuff. Several readings in a row were high. Alarmingly high. Usually my blood pressure is a little elevated, but this time, the staff was extremely concerned. (Note: Having three people say “you need to see the doctor right away” over and over does NOT help with high blood pressure.)
As it turns out, the spike was (probably) due to the killer combo of decongestant medication and Diet Coke, about an hour before the reading. But I went to the doctor’s office on Monday anyway, and the nurse told me to lay off the decongestants (okay…), significantly reduce my caffeine intake (ha!), lower my stress level (double ha!), get more sleep (triple ha!), and start taking BP meds (uh-oh). I’m seeing her again in two months.
Look, I’m a big guy. Really big. I mean, I’m mobile, and surprisingly agile for my weight class. But I’m a big dude who, by the grace of God, has not developed diabetes or a diagnosis of “high blood pressure” so far. It’s not like I’m pushing my luck, either–I know I need to get healthy. I want to get healthy. But getting healthy is hard and slow-going.
The one thing I have dreaded happening is being put on medication for a weight-related issue. I know that by all accounts the medication route is a slippery slope. I don’t want that for my life. I don’t want that for my future wife to have to deal with. She deserves a healthy husband who doesn’t rely on medication to live. So, it feels like things just got a little more real.
However, life doesn’t comply willingly. I’ve gotten sub-standard sleep since Monday morning. I’ve had several hours of panic-attack level stress at work. And the healthy food options in the apartment aren’t easily prepared, so I’ve already slipped back into old, lazy, drive-thru habits. Just like that, I’m back to what I used to do.
I find that I move from crisis to crisis, ignoring problems until they demand my attention. This is a dangerous and foolish approach, because once something is a crisis, more damage has been done than can be repaired. But I too easily become reactive instead of proactive, responding to the big fires that rage and ignoring the small fires than can easily be put out. I push my body too hard, giving it too little good fuel, too much bad fuel, too little rest, too much stress. Like a teenager with a hotrod, gunning the engine, not changing the oil regularly, buying cheap, low-octane fuel until the poor car shuts down on the side of the road.
Here’s part of the problem: I don’t take my own limitations seriously. I think I can go full-steam, full-speed, without giving myself restorative rest. I burn sugar and caffeine in my engine, in ungodly amounts, to maintain the illusion of strength–but the reality is that I’m destroying myself, by bites and gulps.
By my continued stubbornness, I deny that I am dust, and by my selfish consumption I hasten my return to dust.
On this Wednesday of contrition, this is the long-ignored sin I need to repent of, most.