Postponement

“You may delay, but time will not.” Benjamin Franklin

He looked at the chart notes the nurse had written, documenting my vital statistics –  weight and blood pressure. With his usual smile to which I had become accustomed nowhere to be found, he stated haunting words I will remember the rest of my life: “Rob, you are headed for diabetes, stroke and early death.” The words landed on me like a giant wave crashing on the beach!  Stunned, I could hardly catch my breath while trying to comprehend the prediction I had just heard.  In my imagination, this moment was not really happening. It was just an illusion.

Ten years earlier, I had begun a regimen of blood pressure medication precipitated, in part, by weight gain. Now, a decade later, (having inexplicably neglected an effort to lose weight), I was 50 pounds heavier. Totally embarrassed, downtrodden and completely upset with myself, in an almost inaudible, feeble voice, I asked, “What can I do to change this, Mike?” (Because our family physician has also been a friend for over 35 years, Carol and I are on a first-name basis with him).

“First,” he emphatically announces, “I will take some blood samples immediately and check for diabetes and other issues.” He then gave me the name of a medical weight loss clinic. “I will call and get you an appointment right away.” The concern in his voice, coupled with the urgency in his quick action, scared me. When he then thrust into my hands a prescription for a second blood pressure medication, it was one of the lowest points of my life. Now on not one but two blood pressure drug therapies, I finally fully embraced the truth that my current unhealthy situation was caused by my postponement of doing what I had been advised to do 10 years earlier, and what I really had wanted to do.  My extremely self-critical state spurred me into the unequivocal important self-preservation mode, and I got busy!

Carol was in total disbelief when I told her I was taking off a whole month from work and community service obligations to concentrate on correcting this problem. In every conversation with others, I kept thinking that my current situation was created solely because I had played the ‘tomorrow game.’  Sadly, this defines many people we know.  It reminds me of the movie, Gone with the Wind, when Miss Charlotte said, “Oh, fiddle-dee-de, I will worry about that tomorrow.”

Tomorrow does come. It happened to me, but I got busy. I went to the weight management clinic, met with the doctor, and started counting calories. I analyzed my food and recorded everything. Without fail, every single day I exercised.  I read the complete literature provided by this clinic, and then started reading other articles about weight loss and health.  And, the result was that within 30 days, I was able to eliminate the second blood pressure medication!  A year later, my medicine was reduced to the minimum dose. Then, in a moment I will forever remember – for the first time in 15 years – Doctor Mike discontinued all blood pressure medicine! At this juncture, I take absolutely no medicine.  I have been told that it is rare for any patient to be totally taken off these types of medications.  Although I find that information interesting, it was not a required motivation in my decision to ardently place health issues as a major priority.

This potentially devastating experience all began one day when I started delaying something I really needed to do. And then that one day multiplied into innumerable days until a true friend, who also serves as my family doctor, told me what I had refused to hear for so long. A friend is someone who will tell you the truth.

What have you been postponing to another day? I hope it is not health-related. To quote my mother, “health is wealth.”  But health is not the only major area that could be considered ‘wealth.’ What about relationships? I am reminded of a scene in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, when the main character toasts his brother with these words, “the richest man in town,” because he had many friends.

Do you have a relationship that needs repair but you keep postponing to another day? Is there something spiritual, physical or mental you need to address? When will you fix what needs to be fixed?

At the moment the nurse was drawing a blood sample for the ordered tests, I was not certain if it was already too late for me. I did not know.  Neither do you know about what time you have available to fix what needs to be fixed, do you?

Two weeks after the tests were done, my physician shared good news – I had another chance! I took that new opportunity and literally ran with it. I am still running today with the gift I was given that almost fateful day in the doctor’s office.  I made a commitment to focus also on other significant areas of postponement.  I recognize that there is much work for me to do. At least, now, I have greater awareness of the importance. It is now part of my daily formula for success in life.  Do what is important every single day. Do not wait.

This could have turned out differently for me. I fully understand that. And, I know at my age there is no guarantee for uncomplicated health. There is always the possibility that I may be fighting high blood pressure, diabetes or even a terminal illness in the future. But, I no longer have postponed what I need to do in this area. It is part of my daily formula and commitment.

It is likely that you have delayed something in your life. It’s part of the human journey.  Something for which you have control and ability to change. Something you really want to do. Something you need to do.  You already know in your heart what this one thing is that you need to address.  Don’t you?

You do not want to wait until someone tells you the bad news that it is possibly too late to make the changes that you can make today. A first step is to recognize what you need to do and most want to do.  You can take that first step today.

Because I can, today I will . . .