Bless me for I have sinned, I confessed to my internist last week as I handed her the results of my blood tests, which said it all: higher cholesterol and sugar counts. My only consolation: normal ECG and blood pressure.
The irony is that it was my husband’s symptoms—pins and needles in extremities, difficulty in drawing a full breath in certain positions, unusual crankiness—that prompted us to have our tests. Having had an episode while visiting in the US about four years ago in which an ECG showed some irregularity, I became anxious and started calling the world.
Two doctors responded quickly—our dear friend Chona Reloza and Vergel’s daughter Ayis, both pediatricians as happened and both suggesting blood tests, and not just for Vergel but, as it might well be, for both of us.
I myself, however, wasn’t feeling anything that might resemble medical symptoms, although I did feel a bit guilty for having let myself go during Christmas. Vergel had some guilt feelings himself, having skipped medication in favor of a brew of apple-cider vinegar, garlic, ginger and lemon juice, to which honey is added after it has cooled.
I tried it myself, but got turned off by garlicky breath I emitted strongly with every burp. Vergel has been taking the concoction before breakfast, without fail.
I think I was beginning to feel cocky that, at my age, I was beyond the reach of the diseases my parents eventually succumbed to. My diabetic mom and my frail-hearted dad had had their symptoms since they were younger than my own age now, and lived to 85 and 91, respectively. Thus, I ignored my dietician and took pastries, fresh fruit, juices, nuts and all sorts of rich food with abandon.
We were at the lab nearest our home first hour, and the first bad news was for me. Vergel at 5’8” and I at 5’2” weighed exactly the same. The test results were out within the day, and I faxed mine to my internist, who told me to go to her office the very next day. Vergel’s own results, by the way, were perfect, but all the same he saw his cardiologist, I suppose to show off.
As contrite and repentant as I was, my doctor was all business with me. She had taken care of my diabetic mom and only had to remind me. In fact the only thing I like to remember is mom’s merciful, indeed ideal, departure—in her sleep.
My doctor warned that if I kept on consuming so recklessly, I’d sooner have to be on medication for the rest of my days and that’s not the worst of it. In fact, I also stopped going to the gym the entire Christmas season, and didn’t do any walking either around our condominium home unit as I used to in lieu of gym. What was I thinking!
Vergel, on the other hand, got praises from his cardiologist for his sporting life and food regimen as well as envy for his genes. After the doctor listened to his heart and his breathing, suddenly easy, he was declared in perfect health.
I myself was hooked up for an ECG, and got my day’s consolation: “Your heart is fine, but you should watch that sugar and cholesterol.”
Since then, all of Vergel’s symptoms seem to have disappeared, as if they never came. In fact, he just got home from the tennis courts today flushed with victory, again.
I had been distracted by other legitimate, though definitely non-life-threatening concerns, like hair loss and drooping eyelids. Not that I now intend to brush aside those issues—themselves not altogether unimportant, we senior women know—but I’m resolved, as never before, to make my dramatic comeback to health.
It’s all up to me, as my doctor tells me. Well, I’m not taking any chances: back to diet, exercise and medicines, and—never mind the un-fetching emissions—Vergel’s somehow validated concoction.
I know what I’m up against. Unlike Vergel, who eats only when he’s hungry, I can eat hungry or not and also, I guess, practically anytime. Eating for me is not necessarily associated with hunger. I eat because it’s mealtime, and sometimes I eat now so I won’t get hungry later. You might say I eat for the same reason the mountain climbers climb—the mountain is there.
Not to eat what’s there would be to take it for granted, to forget the time when food wasn’t always available. It’s some kind of psychological fear of starvation, which I’m told could happen to children who went through the war.
But made conscious of the mortally worrisome facts of sugar and cholesterol, I’m definitely back to a life of moderation. Indeed, my resolve is made even firmer by the prospect of leaving a widower of my still active, perfectly fit younger husband.