Health tips I learned from my mother | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

My mother took up running as a sport at age 40. Several years later, my father died, and she became a widow at 47.


Running, long before it was the vogue, became her lifeline, and her way out of sadness.


Whether or not she admits it, my mother, now in the seventh decade of her life, is by God’s grace still as healthy as a horse. She continues to work regularly on TV, drives around the city, and walks the hills of our village or around her beloved Greenhills on an average of three to four times a week.


Mom is not on any kind of maintenance medication, eats only vegetables, chicken and fish but will on a rare occasion succumb to pork chop or Cebu lechon. She swears by coconut oil and vitamin E and indulges herself daily.


However, her sleeping hours can rival that of a call center agent on the night shift, which she justifies— “Artista ako, talagang late kami matulog.” Okay, we won’t argue with that.




Mom has many doctor friends, but dreads going to the doctor and will not go for any checkup. “Ah, patay kung patay,” she likes to say. “I will go like your father—quickly, and without fanfare. Pag gising ko, nasa ibang Kansas na ako at sasalubungin na lang ako ng daddy mo.”


This she always says with great conviction, like she has made a pact with Jesus about how her exit is to be orchestrated.


Health is a favorite topic between us, more so nowadays. Studies have shown that there are four areas in her mother’s history that every woman can, and should look into, if she wants to take better care of herself.


First, it’s important to find out if your mom has had any history of heart disease or hypertension or diabetes. If your mother has had a heart attack before age 60, that automatically raises your risk by 20-50 percent.


Although mom has had no cardiac episodes, my dad died of a massive coronary at 49, so unfortunately, that ups my risk factor, too.


My Lola on my mom’s side lived up to 91 without ever having been on any maintenance medication, and mom has always taken pride in her good genes.


Medical history


Second, look into your mother’s history for breast, ovarian or colon cancer. Although these have a strong hereditary component, it’s not the sole basis for determining whether or not you are at risk.


However, if you have this in your mother’s history, you may have yourself screened earlier than other women just for peace of mind.


Third, find out what your mother’s pregnancies or menopause were like and you will more or less get a sneak peek of what’s in store for you.


My mother had two C-sections, and so when it was time for me to deliver my firstborn and she was taking so long to come out, mom insisted with my OB, who, thank God, was a dear family friend, that I undergo a pelvimetry exam because, “Pustahan tayo kagaya ko iyan, hindi talaga lalabas ang apo ko unless bubuksan ninyo.”


True enough, due to some pelvic anomaly which I inherited, I never had a normal delivery.


When the doctor confirmed what mom had suspected, I will never forget how she smiled and turned to me saying, “See! Be thankful, if you had labored for hours to no avail, ang saklap! Mas masarap na magpa-Caesarean. Sa normal, naku, buhok mo lang ang walang sakit!”


As for menopause, my mom is always proud of the fact that she did not have hot flashes and the other discomforts. “Wala eh, sumama nung namatay daddy mo.”


The shock of losing my father must have made her reproductive system shut down.


Mental health


Lastly, there must have been some wisdom in what my Lola used to always tell my mom, that when she would entertain suitors or finally choose someone to marry, she needed to know their mental health history.


Bipolar and depression have a very strong hereditary component, and knowing that you have it in your family history will make you seek help before it causes you to sink deeper, or cause problems within your family. The operative word here being acceptance of the condition, and the willingness to seek help when necessary.


When I ask my mom what it is that has seen her through, her answer is simple: faith in the Lord who always provides; forgiveness because “maikli lang ang buhay, huwag mong dalhin sa hukay”; and, of course, lots of laughter and unconditional love.


To this day, whenever she sees me in a serious mood, she likes to remind me, “Huwag tayo masyadong serious baby, nakakabawas ng ganda iyan. All things pass, just be happy.”


Happy Mother’s Day, mommy! Thank you for all the love and laughter you bring into our lives.


E-mail the author at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @cathybabao



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