Health Appreciation

I’ve had just enough health problems to live a perfectly normal life with the benefit of the perspective the health issues I have had to keep me aware of how precious good health is, so I have nothing to complain about, and I’m not complaining. But I’d like to update this:

When my shunt broke last time it was unfortunately over a weekend, which meant I spent Sunday in the hospital waiting for Monday. Monday morning I woke up with double vision. The pressure in my brain that caused the double vision was relieved later that day, but the double vision was still there when I came out of surgery. It remained through my recovery in the hospital. I was trying to read, of all things, War and Peace, with an eye patch over one eye. While recovering at my mom’s I had to watch TV through a specific window in my field of vision, the only place where I didn’t see two of things.

A scary moment was when my mother took me over to my house and I walked to the bank. The not-that-busy street I usually jaywalk across seemed a blur of cars, and I had to walk up to the crosswalk and cross legally. Another scary moment came when I asked my ophthalmologist if there were any exercises I could do to improve my sight. He said, “No. The problem is neurological.”

That really hit me. Nothing was wrong with my eyes. There was a problem with my brain. The pressure that had caused the problem was gone and had been gone. We were just waiting to see if the damage caused was temporary or permanent. The brain is an amazing organ, says Captain Obvious, but it’s sensitive and it needed a long time to magically recover from that day of intense pressure. And magically recover it mostly did.

For a while, I felt so grateful to be alive I didn’t worry much about it. I figured I can drive, because staring out the windshield at a single spot wasn’t a problem, the only problem came when I had to turn my head or move my eyes and change my focus. I felt like I could manage at work, and I could read and write with an eye patch on. So I was going to be able to exist. People live with far more debilitating issues. My quality of life might take a slight hit but that would be it. I basically felt like writing this because the lingering double vision I have is so marginal, now, I never even think about it. The only time it crops up is when I get too close to written words.

When my shunt broke five years ago, I remember uttering something cliche to a friend. I said, “Without your health, you’ve got nothing.” And she said, “That’s what they say, I guess I’ve always had my health.”

Those moments when you’re healthy and recognize what a gift it is are rare and fleeting, but they’re moments to appreciate. As Regina Spektor says, “Someday you’ll wake up and feel a great pain and you’ll miss every toy you’ve ever owned.” Until that day comes, carry on and enjoy. Life:


One thought on “Health Appreciation

  1. Pingback: My Urgent Need to Pee | Greg Metcalf

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