The joy of being healthy; the anguish of not

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Who would not want to feel well? Who does not want to be healthy? 

Living a healthy life is a pleasure. Rather, I want to say it is a joy. 

Who in their right mind would enjoy a headache, a cough, a fever, congestion, arthritis, unrelenting pain, sickness, or anything other than that would make him or her feel less than his or her best? 

Some people who have lived generally healthy lives seem to have little or no tolerance for those who suffer, especially those who suffer chronically. At least until something debilitating strikes them as well, and then they become experts on the affliction. 

I have been like that at times in my life. In my youth, the concept of sickness or pain somehow did not register with me. At least not in a prolonged sense, or from an aspect that I could not see it as anything more than a very temporary setback. 

Nowadays when I walk up or down stairs or for longer distances on a flat surface, and I am free from pain or discomfort, it makes me happy. I think about (no kidding, I actually think about it) how much freedom I am experiencing to be able to do that. Sometimes I give a little skip, but I am always joyful about it and give thanks. 

For the past 25 years I have been afflicted on occasion with gout. It struck me at a time that it strikes most men who have it—in my mid to late 30s. 

It actually took quite a while to understand what was happening. The first time it happened I just thought it was a case of tendonitis in my Achilles tendon. After it did not go away for 9 weeks, I went to the doctor. He told me it was likely gout. 

I ignored it generally, and every once in a while, it would flare up in some degree or another. However, I have had ugly, horrible cases that have confined me to bed or to the couch, being nearly incapable of walking. 

The last huge, debilitating case I had was 3 years ago this coming Thanksgiving. My knee swelled up huge. I went to immediate care, which misdiagnosed it, had an MRI completed, was told I had torn my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and then I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon, who correctly told me what it was. 

This was the worst case I ever experienced. It took me nearly 3 months to recover completely. I walked with a cane for weeks. 

Since that time, however, I have changed many things. I have lost 40-45 pounds and kept it off, I have changed some eating habits, and I am fully aware at all times of what goes into my mouth, especially for sugar and protein content. I also drink water all the time, something I have not done most of my life. I flush my system intentionally to keep those toxic buildups at bay. 

It has worked, and I plan on keeping it that way. 

For me, pleasure and joy come when I can walk without pain, which is most of the time nowadays. 

Now I can nearly always walk freer and without pain, excluding the pains that simply come with age. I have had a couple of minor flare-ups in my heels, and I have always been able to trace it to something I overindulged myself.  

At the time of this writing I am experiencing a minor flare up, and it was too much cherry cider that has caused it in my left Achilles. It is near its end, and it has not prevented me from doing whatever I want to do. 

Now, I can empathize much better with people who suffer regularly from some disease or condition. Pain and sickness affect us mentally and emotionally in a much worse way than many people realize. At some point, most people who have a prolonged pain or illness ask, “Am I going to be like this forever?”  

There have been times I felt so hopeless that I cried. 

I feel people’s needs greater the longer I live. Like everyone, I have known people who have battled cancer. My father suffered for 2 months before he passed. Others have endured prolonged illnesses that involved a considerable amount of pain. Still others have suffered through incurable diseases, some of them fatal, others not. Some have had terrible, painful accidents. 

These are sad conditions, but I say that I truly understand, and I feel for them, and it upsets me.  

I remember the severe gout attack a number of years ago that gave me what is I discovered is called arthritic insomnia. I accumulated a grand total of 8 hours of sleep during a 5-day period. Eight hours, that was it. I lay on the couch and stared at the ceiling. I did not want to watch television, I did not want to read (something that never happens normally), and my mind could not clear itself of trying to get rid of the pain, which it could not do. The pills I normally took to relieve me of the pain and swelling had no effect. 

So again I ask, who would not want to live well? 

Being healthy—without pain and without illness—is truly a pleasure. It is a joy. 

I hope today finds you healthy. If not, I hope you will be very soon. 

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