I’ve had some exciting things come my way recently. Men’s Journal published my essay, “Life Without Sex,” yesterday The Oregonian featured an Op Ed I wrote, and now I’m so incredibly proud to announce that the National Academy of Fictitious Accomplishments (NAFA) has named me The Healthiest Sick Person in America. I must say, after a rough year, receiving this honor was a wonderful way to cap off 2016.
Ah, okay, all joking aside, sometimes it really does feel like I’m the healthiest sick person in America, maybe even the world. By that I mean I still live a healthy lifestyle despite being in poor health, and all things considered, my physical appearance actually looks fairly healthy. As my doctor recently noted, “There’s always a downside to looking healthy when you feel miserable.”
In the last six years I have gone from being one of the healthiest humans on the planet to being one of the sickest. But even if I am the healthiest sick person, that’s hardly something to celebrate. The truth is, nobody wants ownership of anything with the word sick in it. Well, except maybe a sick new car or sick pair of sunglasses. Anyway. The last thing I want to be is the healthiest sick person, or any type of sick person for that matter, but I suppose it’s better than being the sickest sick person.
Sometimes I feel like I have either had the worst possible luck in the last few years, or I live in some alternative reality, an existence stuck in a weird world where healthy people get sick and unhealthy people flourish. It’s a scary thing when everything you know as true, everything ingrained in your mind by science textbooks and fitness literature — eat healthy and exercise then you’ll live better and longer — is suddenly disproved and you feel like the focus of some cruel experiment.
At times I have to remind myself exactly how healthy I used to be. I have, after all, been at the pinnacle of physical performance. I have lifted three times my body weight. I have hiked mountains and pedaled miles. I have sprinted yards and jogged roads. I have flipped tractor tires and pulled weighted sleds. I have eaten bland food and actually enjoyed it. I have whittled down my body fat percentage to single digits. Yes, I have done all this, but I have done so much more. I have been in peak physical condition and felt like a slow death. I have lifted hundreds of pounds with a faltering body. I have taken steps that were almost sure to be my last. I have sat in doctor’s offices full of fellow sufferers hunched over chairs. I have walked around those doctor’s offices — those cathedrals of health — to see boxes of donuts and large bottles of soda on every counter. I have sat in exam rooms while a borderline-obese doctor looked over my seemingly healthy body with skepticism. I have laid in a hospital bed while an undeniably obese nurse hyperventilated over my motionless, yet seemingly healthy body. And finally, I have laid in my own bed sipping some sinister “health tonic,” nearly catatonic and so incredibly sick, while people who could talk on-damand, people not bedridden, vertical people, ate French fries and bacon cheeseburgers in the other room.
This cruel regression of mine, this awful phenomena, is by far my least favorite paradox. Yet everyday I stick to what I know, what I have come to do as habitually as eating — live healthy. I still down a glass of fresh vegetable juice every morning, I still swallow a bevy of supplements throughout the day, and I still drink kombucha and at least half a gallon of water everyday. But every now and then I wonder: what’s the point? Why do I try to live healthy when I remain sick? Why do I try to do anything? Why do I brush my teeth twice a day? Why do I bathe? Why do I shave my face and cut my hair? Why, on earth, do I get dressed each day? After pausing, I always conclude one simple explanation: because I enjoy it.
*Happy Holidays to all the lovely people out there. Thanks for supporting me by following this blog and sharing your comments. It means so much to me.