Friday, January 18, 2008

Health and Happiness

I have always maintained that if you have the 2 H’s in your life, you’re doing fine. Health and Happiness. The old belief that money can buy happiness and maybe even both, at least money can buy better healthcare these days, but not a new health, is still a debatable issue. Even though Princeton University researchers found the “link between income and happiness is mainly an illusion,” what is not an illusion to me is the definite link between good health and feeling good or happy, which ever way you look at it.

This week, totally unplanned and highly annoying, my health took a little knock and my happiness level went down with it. Being sick sucks! I woke up Monday morning feeling good, ready for the week, tuned in for work, lots to do. But by 10 am I was bent over by pain in my stomach and back. As if an invisible poltergeist attacked me in the first 2 hours at work, ripping at my stomach and pounding me where I perceived my kidneys are. I had a very mild form of this kind of pain a month ago when I was in Mexico. I took an anti-acid tablet and forgot about. But Monday’s pain was different or was it? It certainly was far more intense. Was there maybe a link between this week’s and last month’s pain? By 2:30 pm Monday I was at the doctor’s office, not because I’m curious about a possible link, but because no anti-acid or pain pill I took at 11 am was any good. My “happiness level” decreased dramatically and it’s all because my health level went south.

At the doctor’s office they immediately sent

me to the Lab area, stuck a needle in my arm and I sat there watching the essence of my life, the red gold, being pulsed into three glass tubes, never to return to my body again. Parts forever lost. They also sent me to the hospital for an ultrasound the next day, just to check if the kidneys, liver, pancreas and gallbladder are all still cozy with each other. But by Wednesday they told me I was invaded by Mr. Helicobacter pylori, or H.pylori (pictured on the right). Another H, but a bad H.

This little microscopic bugger with his longer version of a Homer Simpson hairstyle is the one that causes peptic ulcers in humans. Nasty buggers! So he and maybe many millions of his closes friends and family members must have been inside me in Mexico already, went dormant or just quietly multiplied and waited. Sharpening their spears. When the conditions were right again on Monday they launched their attack. My natural born germ killers were caught totally off guard.

The best defense now is to start a chemical war against the Pylori clans. They must be annihilated otherwise they will just keep coming back and attack again, like an irritating little Maltese poodle yapping at your ankles. So no peace treaties will be signed and no prisoners will be taken. Full blown chemical warfare. Eight pills a day for the next two weeks, the PrevPac the nurse called it, plus the painkillers, if needed, for the back. And that’s interesting. The stomach pains are mainly gone now, but the lower back pain is forever lingering around like the constant drone of lawnmowers on a sunny Saturday afternoon in spring.

I could have been infected anywhere, it is a common enough infection, but it reminded me again that one’s health and life can be so easily impacted. Our bodies can only live in that small range of conditions before it protests or being attacked. Our body is so frail, but it’s all we really have. All we can really call our own. The only thing we were given when we came into the world and the only thing we’ll carry around until death. A body and a brain. Health and Happiness. The two H’s. The rest is just stuff.

And although my life is only a tiny blip on the timeline of the big picture, it is still precious to me. Better health, especially for my inherited sensitive stomach, will also occur if I watch my diet better. I will have to decrease my intake of the “world foods” I so like to cook and eat. The rich Italian, the spicy Spanish and Mexican, the unfamiliar Turkish or Moroccan, the hot and aromatic Indian, and the flavorful French. The experimental spirit need not be stored away or abandoned, just a reduction in consumption occurrences and quantity is required. Too good is not always so good it seems.

1) Waking up strong in the morning by Alison Nolan
2) Happiness (Red) by Katie Coffin

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