I’ve attended or been involved with four funerals in the past month. The one today was expected. A 70-year-old man battling cancer for several years. The previous was a 95-year-old man who died in his sleep. Prior to that was a 49-50-year-old woman with serious health problems for a number of years. And, the last of the four was a 29-year-old who we still don’t know what happened.
The truth is that most of the time we don’t know when to plan our funerals. Unless you have a long history of a serious, life-threatening disease, you are at the whims of random chance – from our perspective. Fifty percent of the people who die from heart attacks don’t know they had a heart disease/problem. The first symptom was death.
There are many things we can to do predict our future. The first is to see a doctor on a regular basis. The normal annual tests done by my doctor does not meet my minimum requirements to know my current health. There is a highly sensitive c-reactive protein test that tells me if there is inflammation in my body. It doesn’t tell me where, but it gives me a good basis of knowing if something is imminent.
Almost every disease starts at the cellular level with chronic low-level inflammation. The highly sensitive c-reactive protein test is a good indicator of this inflammation. Another test I order for my annual physical is the homocysteine-level test. It tells me about my heart health. Like the c-reactive protein, it is not one that the doctor normally has scheduled for his or her patients.
Homocysteine builds up as the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. High levels of homocysteine and you likely have a heart attack waiting to occur. It’s no longer the ‘gold standard’ for heart health, but it is quick, easy and cheap.
I also add a few other tests to my annual assessment. I may have to pay for them, but I haven’t yet. The last one worth mentioning is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. It tells you the level of vitamin D3 in your blood. Above certain values and you can be relatively assured of good health. Below certain levels (and most of the United States population is in the lower levels) and you are at risk of many diseases.
I am fortunate to rarely have any problems with any aspect of my annual physicals. I work hard at it with my diet and exercise, stress reduction and constant learning what makes things tick in our bodies. This past month, I had my first eye exam in ten-plus years. In the Navy, I had an eye exam every year for 30+ years. I hadn’t had one in a while and scheduled one to get a new baseline of how things are with my eyes.
Passed with flying colors. Could read the 20:15 line and had no problems. The optometrist said I didn’t need glasses. My eye health is still on the better side of great.
There are many aspects of our health. Death is inevitable. On the television show, Voyager, the Borg have a saying, “Resistance is futile!”. Death is futile regardless of what we do. But, we can die in our sleep as we approach 100 years of age, or we can die of unknown causes before we reach 30 years of age.
We have control over many aspects of our health. Lifestyle choices are where we begin.