Some of you know from previous writings the reason I titled my blog, The Sustained Chef. I wanted it to remind me that sustainability is an incomplete conversation without addressing the important choices and habits of the personal life. Am I just as concerned with the inward fruits that are borne from my lifestyle as I am with the outward fruits that I cook and serve my guests?
The essence of sustainability is asking the question, “Can we keep going this way?” It applies to how we grow our food and how we produce our energy, but it also serves as a question to challenge our lifestyle. Given my current situation, can I keep going the way I am going? I began to see some signs in my health that told me no, and that I needed to take serious note. Indicators like high blood pressure, excessive fatigue and lack of mental clarity made me sit up and take notice.
When I turned 50 last year, I heeded Karen’s pressure to get a full medical checkup. I couldn’t remember that last time I had the turn-your-head-and-cough exam done, so I too figured I was due. Back in 2006, my doctor originally discovered a cyst on the left lobe of my thyroid but it was fairly small and found to be benign, so his advice was to take a “wait and see” approach. He ordered an ultrasound to see how it had changed, which it had. The wait and see approach turned into a more urgent diagnosis.
So two weeks ago, I had surgery to remove the cyst and left lobe of my thyroid. In the recovery room, the surgeon said it was the size of his fist and it was good that it was finally out and I should notice a difference soon. He was right. Not having a knot wrapped around my windpipe is a pretty good feeling.
It was literally choking the life out of me.
I just thought the way I had been feeling was due to getting older, and that I was just going to have to buck up and get used to it. I had no idea that this was the condition causing me other problems, the most critical one was sleep, or lack thereof. The size and position of the cyst obstructed my airway and caused sleep apnea. Anyone with sleep apnea knows how maddening it can be. The body is clamoring for rest, but it is continually being thwarted from finding it. The result is fatigue, discouragement and even depression.
I write my story this morning with deep gratitude that a solution to my condition was found. I was able to discover and address the cause that was producing the negative effects. I now know to take more seriously that which prevents my wellness. I learned to power through pain as a young man playing sports and working in the fields. Then it was a sign of strength. Now, as a middle aged man, it’s a sign of unawareness. Ignoring the symptoms means I am ignoring those that love me and care for me.