Two days before my seventeenth birthday, I left the house at seven in the morning to retake my SAT exam. Both of my parents were sitting at the kitchen table and this was odd for them on a Saturday. …
Two days before my seventeenth birthday, I left the house at seven in the morning to retake my SAT exam. Both of my parents were sitting at the kitchen table and this was odd for them on a Saturday. My dad would usually be out of the house working on a project by that time, but for some reason he decided to stay inside a little bit longer. I said goodbye to them before leaving and told my dad I would see him later. Little did I know, that would be the last thing I would ever say to him.
After I finished my exam, I walked out of Liberty High School to find my aunt and uncle. I couldn’t imagine why they would be there and that they would be waiting for me. I walked up to them, confused, and they told me that my dad had a heart attack. My dad had five heart attacks over the course of the prior six years, so this was not new news to me. But when I asked what hospital the ambulance brought him to, I didn’t get the answer I was expecting.
My father passed away that morning from his last heart attack. He died at the age of 51. I didn’t get to see him later.
Heart disease runs in my family. My great aunt was one of the first patients to have a pacemaker installed in the United States. My grandmother had a stroke that put her in assisted living for the last few years of her life. My dad had five heart attacks, two strokes and many stents placed in his heart prior to his death. I’m sure as you’re reading this, you can probably think of a disease that runs in your family too.
The thing is, we all are subject to diseases through our genetics. If we don’t take care of ourselves, these diseases will most likely take over our lives. I am grateful to live in the times we do, not because of all of the ways we are encouraged to be unhealthy, but because of all of the insight we have into the way our bodies work and how to best take care of them.
It’s up to us whether we will choose to proactively take care of our health or if we will wait for the worst and have to react. As Joyce Sunada said, “if you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.”
Taking steps toward living a healthier life won’t guarantee you’ll escape all disease, but it’ll certainly increase your chances of living a long, enjoyable life. Unfortunately, my father waited until it was too late for him to proactively prioritize his health. Every minute of every day we get to choose whether or not we will be proactive or wait and be reactive. Which will you choose?
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