Tomorrow, my ever-shrinking paternal side (unfortunately, in numbers, not necessarily size) of the family will gather to bury my Aunt Judy. She passed away Monday, at just 57, from a heart condition. Judy was not someone we could really get to know on this Earth because she was severely mentally challenged, but she also suffered from the same obesity issues many of my relatives suffer from. I mourn her early loss, but in her case, I must admit that in some ways, I consider it a relief, a great freedom from her difficult life down here, her passport to a healed and beautiful one up there with her mom and pop and two of her brothers (including my daddy). It does put some things in perspective though. She was less than 10 years older than me, and I, too, have long-fought the battle of the bulge. I, too, have a genetic disposition on both sides to contend with things like heart disease and diabetes. I, too, could become a victim of my weight, just like so many of my loved ones have. I'm excited for what Heaven holds, but I'm not ready to go check out just yet. Besides, at this point, I'm afraid it might take too many angels to carry me up there!
Judy's early loss, due at least somewhat indirectly to her weight, got me to thinking. Besides blood sugar problems and putting too much pressure on our tickers, what other issues can weight cause for us? Surely there are more risks for the rotund than there are for normal-sized, healthier proportioned people. Thankfully, a carefully worded Google search gleaned me some more motivation for getting down to the 140s in my 40s: BEING FAT DISARMS YOUR ARMY!
Whether it is our front-line defense against invaders, the body's ability to create necessary antibodies, or the memory cells that protect us against future pathogens, Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases Poland from the Mayo Clinic says, “That whole [immune] system is suppressed and broken in obese people. It’s a very, very difficult problem.” What this means is that we are far more susceptible to nasty things like infections, colds, flu, and autoimmune disorders like Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Bogged down by the extra body weight, our immune soldiers can fail to function properly and/or turn on our healthy cells and make us sick in ways we never expected our weight might cause. Even a small cut becomes a difficult issue, because it takes a toll on the body to fix that laceration when our natural healing properties have to travel through all that thickness. Obesity makes us more susceptible to insomnia/sleep apnea, respiratory problems and asthma/COPD, infertility, lymphoma, pancreatitis, gout, liver disease, depression and anxiety, and a whole plethora of unpleasantries. One of my nephews has to spend the night in a children's hospital tonight due to a horrible case of the flu, and he is a tiny little thing that weighs about as much as my cankles did when I first started my Sparking in 2014. The LAST thing I need is yet another reason to be more susceptible to the flu and colds, because I don't want to end up sick like him. (And if you are so inclined, pray for little Jacob, would you?)
I don't write blogs like this to be depressing or negative or make you feel defeated, but I am a firm believer that when we are aware of the potential consequences of our actions (or inaction, in some cases), we can make a more informed, concerted effort to avoid the negative ones. Not that I've always done that. I mean, I wouldn't have been 329 pounds in the first place, nor would I have gained back several dozen in the last couple years if I was great at heeding my own advice. Still, I don't want to die a decade from now from a heart attack. I don't want to go through eight tubes of Neosporin and a box of Band-Aids every time I cut myself while geocaching in the woods. (Yes, I'm a grown woman who looks for slips of paper in random containers in trees and under rocks...for fun.) I don't want to go bankrupt buying Nyquil and Robitussin and garlic cloves to chew on for viruses and bacterial issues, nor do I want to have that serious of a relationship with my Neti pot. What I do want to do is live as long as I can, as healthy as I can, so that I can enjoy the loved ones who've not yet stepped into that sweet by-and-by. I'm sure you want that, too, and Spark is a great place to help you accomplish that!
We will all get sick eventually. Death is, at least if the Lord tarries, inevitable. However, we can make a better attempt not to cause ourselves so many rainstorms while we're here by doing everything we can to keep our army fully equipped. Let's do that, shall we?