No one under the age of 28 knows his name, probably, but there was a time not too long ago when Dennis Miller was hilarious. He was maybe one of the five funniest people on the planet, and he once said that “Nobody finds Jesus on Prom Night.”
So. Damn. True.
I spent the better part of my adult life mocking those who needed a ‘come to Jesus’ moment to make an important change in their life. How pathetic I thought, to yuck it up when times are good only to be grounded harshly by a cataclysmic event. Or those folks who all of a sudden care SO deeply about an issue because it suddenly has impacted them, and then slap a magnet ribbon on the back of their car to do the vehicular version of shouting their new passion from the highest mountain. But, at the end of the day, I’m as lame as the rest because I too needed a scare to force the change that will prolong my life. So I will no longer mock or snicker or sneer. I understand that everyone’s path to everywhere is different. And maybe the mix of fate, timing, and tragedy, narrowly missed or not, is exactly what it takes. It seems to be what it took for me.
Still, I’ve never felt like more of an idiot.
Here’s what happened.
During a routine biometric screening at the end of August, it was discovered that my blood pressure was through the roof. Granted, it was kind of a low ceiling. But still. I was made to sign what amounted to a glorified promise letter, stating that I’d see my family doctor forthwith. I did, two days later, and my stats were even more ridiculous sitting in that chair. I’m talking 180 / 115, or right around there. I can’t remember exactly, and it is not important now. My doc ordered me to march directly into the ER of the hospital next door for a myriad of emergency BP reduction procedures, but I couldn’t do that. The look on her face was priceless. She said “but you could have a stroke or a heart attacks” to which I responded “but I gotta pick up my girls from school (always the doting father)” Drops mic. I also had to wait for the Mrs. to return home from work. A valid excuse, me thinks — it’s not like I had an appointment to throw down a footlong hoagie and a Super Big Gulp. Geez, chillax, Doc.
I eventually found myself in a sterile hospital bed, and for nearly 4 hours had shit stuck to my flabby chest and needles falling out of my handsomely tanned left arm. Good times. My BP rose to near catatonic levels in there but couldn’t quite crack 200 / 120. My high school teachers were right — forever the underachiever.
Through a cocktail of drugs they finally managed to get me out the door after nightfall with normal levels and two prescriptions for meds I didn’t want to take. You see, I don’t want a pill to mask poor choices. I’m not that kind of guy. And in a sorta screaming match with my doctor, who technically was my backup family doctor, I told her so. But I acquiesced to her demand that I start the meds with the stating goal of finishing the meds, understanding that it was too late, the situation too dire, for a simple ‘eat better starting…NOW’ plan of action. But BUT! I am eating better, WAY better, and my goal is to NOT be on the BP meds for long. My real family doctor, who is back from an ill-timed-for-me vacation and who I am back to seeing exclusively, already reduced the dosage of one of the meds, so I am on my way to correcting years of wrongs that I didn’t even know I was committing. Sodium, you’re a bitch. And you are everywhere. Which, I gotta say, is pretty damn obnoxious.
Luckily, I don’t drink soda, I don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke, have always said no drugs, I’m not diabetic, and I don’t belly up to sleeves of OREO cookies. I eat too much of the decent stuff I do eat, yes, but I exercise like a madman anymore. I’m fond of saying now that I don’t need a nutritionist (although I just saw one) I need a food psychologist. Knowledge isn’t my issue, walking away from a piece of chocolate cake is.
But I never dreamed it would come to this, that I’d be sitting in an ER with my wife and kids worried sick at home. Or playing on the iPad. I can’t be 100% sure what in the hell they were doing. But there will be no fucking more of those ER visits. Ever. All because I got a scare and because I’m an idiot and because I needed something dramatic to force my hand.
I’ve dropped about 13 pounds since that first doctor’s appointment at the end of August. I’ve run my fastest two 5K’s ever this week (35:50 and 34:28) and I feel positively amazing. Thanks for asking.
Oh, and I never went to prom anyway. So there.