For all of my F3 brethren. It is a little long but has been on my mind for a while now so please bear with it. I hope it brings you some good reasoning for what we do together!
PART ONE – THE SEDENTARY LIFE
Today I made my one of my routine visits to the Veterans Victory House in Walterboro, South Carolina. I have been making the trip 1-2 times per week for the last three months. When asked about the reason for my visits I usually state it is due to an incident that occurred in the later half of 2014. Truth be told it is because of a path that was taken starting in mid 1967. A path that was embarked upon shortly after my birth. This was the time when my father retired from the United States Army.
My father like many others joined the military and had a career of service. He worked hard and did whatever his service required of him – including staying “fit to fight”. He was never in a combat role but he still stayed fit – because it was required. My father was never one that was physically active prior to serving save his time as a Western Union telegram messenger! He was not interested in sports of any kind not even as a neighborhood kid playing with others. Therefore the Army kept him physically fit for twenty plus years. Sure he smoked – about a half pack a day, and even indulged in the social beers of western Europe but he stayed pretty fit overall. He did his p.t. and passed all of his physical tests. This came to pretty much an abrupt halt the summer of ’67.
Once my father retired from active duty he began a journey on the sedentary life. As he transitioned into civilian life he was no longer required to participate in the routine fitness workouts and physical fitness tests. He worked his job, came home, ate dinner, watched a little television, and played his music. His only hobby was buying old record albums to add to his collection, and then make recordings to cassette tapes. He would sit in his studio for hours upon hours playing, listening, and recording his music. On occasion he would take the family on bike rides! He and mom had a 10- speed tandem bike and we would go for an hour long ride sometimes with all of us in line behind them on our bikes. Like a bad prequel to a National Lampoon’s Vacation movie! So he would do that once or twice a month in the summer only and that was the extent of getting his heart rate above 65 bpm. And so it would go for the next 40 years of his life.
The biggest stride my father took towards improving to a healthy lifestyle during this time was to quit smoking. Cold stop. Something most people cant seem to do these days. He stopped one day and never picked up another cigarette again. What he did pick up was 50 pounds of fat from overeating. He compensated for the craving with food and combined with the lack of exercise went from a 34 waist to close to a 50. Not a good combination either for a man with a family history of heart disease – his father died of a heart attack when my dad was only 17. So here is the outcome of that lifestyle. 1994 diagnosed chronic high blood pressure. 1996 diagnosed med. dependent high cholesterol. 2002 diagnosed major arterial blockage in heart and triple by-pass performed. 2002 – major carotid artery blockage detected and repaired with endarterectomy and stent placement. 2005 diagnosed as insulin dependent diabetic. This has been the way of life for his last 20 plus years. Then in the last part of summer in 2014 I received a phone call from my mother asking advice about a prescribed drug my father was currently taking. They had seen one of those bad drug commercials about that particular drug and wanted to know if I thought that he should stop taking it due to the mentioned risks. My reply was simply this – keep taking the pill and call your doctor for a consult about your concerns. That fell on deaf ears and my father decided he would stop taking his pills and the end result was not a pleasant one. Within a month my father had experienced several T.I.A.s (transient ischemic attacks) which are also called mini-strokes or strokes in evolution. These gradually build up and worsen until a full blown stroke is inevitable. In my father’s case he did not speak to anyone about the T.I.A.s so we had no warning. When he finally had the full blown stroke my mother was clueless to what was going on and waited until the next day to get help. It was too late.
Once my father was at the hospital and all the tests were completed the verdict was in – a full blown stroke on his previously repaired right side carotid artery. He was completely paralyzed on his left side. Decades of sedentary living had come to fruition. As I sat with my father listening to the doctors diagnoses I knew what was coming next. My father barely let the doctor finish and he asked “is there some sort of pill I can take to correct this?”. I nearly lost it. My father’s new home would be a skilled nursing facility.
Now each time I visit my father at V.V.H. I sit and wonder how differently it could have been. I wonder how his life might have been different today if he had not lived a sedentary life. Would we be out playing a round or two of golf right now? Maybe some tennis? Or maybe we would be at the beach, swimming and drinking a beer. Instead I am visiting him as often as I can and helping to feed him dinner or engaging him in conversation to help trigger some memories. Who can say for sure but what I am certain about is this – my father should not have been waiting until the eleventh hour to reach for a non-existent “miracle pill”. My father should have had the foresight to embrace the pain and the suck. He should have sought out and embraced the D.R.P.
PART TWO – The D.R.P. quick link – http://f3nation.com/?p=157125