Tuesday, November 28, 2006

All for the greater good

I just got back from a physical. The whole works – EKG, X-ray, pee in a cup – everything. I went in a bit smug. I knew it: I’m basically healthy. I don’t smoke, I’m not overweight, my lab work looks good, and I have a good family history.

But our family doctor gave me a well-deserved tongue-lashing about some of my life habits. “I am here to be your conscience,” he says.

First there was the left hook: “Have you ever had a mammogram?” (No)

Then the right: “Breast self-exam?” (When I think of it)

The upper cut: “Do you have a will?” (A hand-written one)

The jab: “Are you still drinking coffee?” (I’ve had problems with reflux after the last couple of pregnancies. A long time on a very expensive medicine has not helped things.)

Then the knock out: “Do you exercise?” (Uh…)

This one was followed by a small sermon: “Don’t tell me you don’t have time to exercise,” he said. Then the kicker: “Someone who has more health risks than you do but exercises is much less likely to die of a heart attack than you are.”


I always knew I had good genes – my grandparents all lived well into their eighties and nineties with few, if any chronic health issues.

So here I am (once I picked myself up off the mat), enjoying health benefits for which I put in no effort. But could refusing to do these few things - especially the exercise – things that actually require effort on my part, completely sabotage all the advantages my ancestors have passed on to me? Scary.

Is my doctor trying to kill me? Taking away my blogging leisure time and – gasp - my coffee? Of course not. He’s trying to help me live longer and healthier. He knows that by saying ‘no’ to a few things now, I can enjoy a healthier life – a greater good – in the future.

Knowing my mind was simmering about yesterday’s post, in addition to making me dream of the fragrance of Breakfast Blend, this whole thing reminds me a bit of raising kids.

My kids are remarkably like me. They love the part which requires little effort on their part: clothing, shelter, health care, good food, and, well – stuff. They love it when we take them to movies, let them have friends over, buy them toys and gadgets and let them play on the computer for hours on end. Basically, they like it when we are pushovers.

But what about the hard part? What about the stuff that makes kids have to work a little?

  • A parent saying “no”?
  • Having to tell a friend he can’t go because the family has something planned?
  • A parent insisting she tell the truth even when it would be easier to look the other way?
  • Having to wait and save to get an item because it is a want and not a need?
  • Enduring limits on TV time, computer time, movies and time away from home?

My doctor could easily prescribe me another pill, pat me on the back, and tell me I’m doing great. On the surface, and for the moment, I seem to be doing pretty well. But I respect him for not glossing over my personal responsibility (however painful!) for my own health.

Telling my kids ‘no” is my least favorite part of parenting. I hate the conflict, and I do not enjoy disappointing them. I like to focus on the advantages - the good stuff - we are giving them and doing for them. But like my doctor, I am here to be my kids’ conscience until their conscience is fully able to tell them the right thing to do. That means I have to find the balance between love and limits. It may not make them happy now, but I can’t help but think my kids will respect me – some day (when they are enjoying the greater good?), anyway.

Well, I’m off to schedule my mammogram. And walk around the block. I might go by and just smell the local Starbucks...after I take something for this awful absence-of-caffeine headache...


Anonymous said...

Oh Katherine, my heart goes out to you! I understand not wanting to put limitations on my child(ren) but know that its for their greater good. Hang in there! I'm 7 months pregnant and still drinking caffeine on occasion. I don't know what I'd do without it!

Code Yellow Mom said...

I'm trying to get Coca-cola out of my daily intake, so I feel a little of your headache. :) Good for you, taking the bull by the horns and setting some limits and goals - it is hard for adults and children alike to sacrifice the now for a better "then."

Susanne said...

Is decaf not allowed? I know it's not quite the same but at least you can pretend and get the aroma and flavor.

And I so understand about the love/limits balance thing. Sometimes it's so hard.

Anonymous said...

OUCH! This one was convicting. I expect my girls to do the hard stuff, but not me? Thanks for your always thought-provoking and sometimes conscience-pricking insight!

Anonymous said...

This is true about training our children-it can be hard sometimes,but the rewards are great! I try to focus on that---the same thing with what your doctor says...I need to get a physical,too!...and a mammogram....ewwww....

Unknown said...

I agree about saying no, but I also agree that it's one of those hard, good things.

And what's up with the exercise? Are you sermonizing me now??? That's a good for you thing that I have a hard time with as well. Our grandparents didn't have to exercise, because they didn't lead the lives of leisure we lead. I do try to work some activity into my day until I can make fitness videos a regular part of my day again.

Anonymous said...

You can do this!!! I am so proud of you for even trying!!

I gave up caffeine completely cold-turkey on July 18th and surprisingly, I do not miss it. I miss the ritual of Starbucks, or whatever, and the taste of yummy lattes going down...but I do not miss the caffeine.
The headaches are killer for several days and then in a few weeks you'll be fine... and in a few months you won't even miss it!

Anonymous said...

As usual, this is something we ALL need to be reminded of.
I don't have the caffeine/coffee problem, but exercise...yes. Oh yes.
We want to be around a long time, don't we?
And thanks for the connection with raising kids. Gives me new fire for saying no! (I don't think my kids would thank you, though!)

Anonymous said...

Ouch, is right! I hear the exercise thing; I only exercise when I'm trying to get off baby weight. Then when it's gone, so am I...from the gym.

Good luck on your mammogram. And your headache...


By the way, congrats on your nominations over at CWO!

Anonymous said...

Oh, do I hear you, Katherine... on both the child raising front... and on the exercise front.... I am into nearly my third week working out daily on an indoor rower---necessary and good. Just hard. And I think that is the point. So we have to lean. Always.

All is grace... and graced by Katherine,
Ann @ HolyExperience