On Being Healthy

(Not me, just what I want for myself; only I also want a helmet.)

I keep thinking about health. What is it, really?

As I sit at home with my pile of tissues from whatever respiratory bug I caught from a family visit, I know I’m not healthy right now. (My nieces and nephews are cute, but, man! Coughing in the face, snot everywhere…)

But, a brief conversation with someone pointed out that health is not even necessarily the absence of disease. Perhaps not this cold, but there are plenty of healthy people who also have chronic diseases. They manage them well, but it is a part of their healthy lifestyle, taking care of themselves.

I’ve also thought about how often we think of “being healthy” as a state we reach. That also seems inadequate. At times in my life, I have felt very healthy, even when things weren’t perfect. Now, not so much. Not just because I have a cold, but how many things I’ve been catching lately. Due to a number of factors, some partially in my control, others that were not. Do I now have to wait a certain amount of time to “be healthy” again if I can get somewhere with these factors, or is “being healthy” less about the state we’re in and more about the choices that we make to get there?

There is no doubt that FEELING healthy is a wonderful thing. I miss that feeling! I love feeling strong and capable.

Perhaps Moshe Feldenkrais is right, health is “the ability to live your dreams”.

The dictionary also points out that “health” is “vigor and vitality”. I like that, but I think another way to say it is “full of life.” I think it’s something we can all aspire to. I have had lots of patients who are full of life even with a lot of limitations. That’s something I’m interested in. Being as healthy as I can in a way that is accessible to everyone.

Anyway, no matter how we define it, we know a little about how it feels. I know I’m not there. Not just because of this particularly miserable cold, but because I am able to get sick so easily and tweak injuries with minimal movement.

It’s time to change.

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