Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Small Steps To Betterness

I heard a sad tale today about a guy I've know for about 40 years.  He moved away about 25 years ago for his work, so I have not seen him regularly although we share enough friends in common that I've kept up with his life.  He married a great gal about 40 years ago and they've been married all this time, living here and there, working, no kids.

A few years ago - probably 10 by now - this guy suffered a health set back which started with back pain.  He's a tall guy, almost 7 feet tall, and large all over.  With his back pain, he began using a walker.  He worked every day, but fell one day, broke his shoulder, lost his job, and things went from bad to worse.

Now, he walks only from the hospital bed in his house to the door where his wheel chair is as he can't fit the wheel chair through his bedroom door.  He sits all day, plays video games (often with another friend a couple states away), eats, bathes in his special tub, and then hobbles back to his bed.  Such a life I would wish on no one.

The friend who told me about the tall guy is heading to visit him in a few days.  We discussed our friend's miserable life - and miserable it is!  He has only his wife and his sister, no money, and a world that is encompassed in three rooms (one of which is a bathroom).  I think one guy is gonna take on the other guy, demanding that he do something with his life besides play video games!  We both think that our troubled friend could improve his life with just a little effort.

He doesn't seem to be depressed.  His wife is a great gal who loves him with her whole heart.  His sister is nearby, but he is almost unable to leave his home.  He owns a converted van to accommodate his wheelchair, but traveling is an ordeal to say the least.

Why did this happen?  How did this otherwise healthy, happy, friendly guy allow himself to fall into a deep well of unhealthy behaviors that resulted in his almost complete withdrawal from his own life?  How can he continue on this downward path when it would take only a few minutes a day to improve both is health and his outlook?

So, what can be done?  We discussed an intervention.  I can't be there physically, but all his friends can bombard him with phone calls and emails on the same subject.  Dude, we want you healthy.  We want you happy.  We want you alive!

Since he is still able to walk a bit, it makes sense to me that he would build on that to improve his outlook.  Walking only a few extra minutes each day - plus the 10 steps from his bed to his wheel chair - would quickly add up to benefit him.  The day might soon arrive when he could more easily walk to his van and fulfill his promise to drive to St. Louis to visit all his old buddies.

We can't make him do it.  We can only inform and encourage.  We can hope......




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2 comments:

Barbara said...

I have read what you have said about your friend as you do not have his body or problems in reality you have no idea what he is capable of. From your description he had to use a frame when he was younger to walk with obviously he has dreadful back problems probably a result of his great height it is very common in exceptionally tall people It is not for you to say his life is dreadful you are not living with it. He was obviously a hard working man who was unable to continue working becasue of his health. His family do live in poverty because of a system that believes as you appear to do wants to live like that he is making the most of wha he has got they do not have the money to go out or to buy healthy foods check the prices in the stores helathy food is more expensive and often out of reach for those who are sick and disabled. Do you think he enjoys sitting in a wheelchair of course he does not only are the most uncomfortable things to sit in for any length of time he is forced to do this becasue he cannot walk. He is forced to walk from his bedroom and I am sure it is agony for him his friends would sooner send this poor man emails telling him to get up and walk instead of getting together and making his bedroom door wider. I am a qualified nurse who had to medically retire I developed a chronic illness which made it impossible to work again I can understand the position he finds himself in. You are blaming him for being like this are you his doctor no you do not have any idea as to what is going on with this man's spine or any other medical problems. Shame on you why do you not take this man out or treat his family to a holday instead of telling him to get up and walk. Yourarrgance shows in your writing I had a friend who constantly criticised me when my illness developed because of the severe fatigue that developed when she developed the same illness later she tried to hide it from me becasue of what she used to say to me. I note that if you do not like what someone has written you will not allow their comments to go through mine are neither unking or rude I am sure though I will be excluded from your little realm.

jd said...

barbara,
you'll have to point me to comments that were received but not published on this blog. that's just not the case. if you have the idea that i and others do not care for this man, you are wrong. he is an old friend. we have been friends since were were in our late teens. i do not blame him for his numerous physical ailments but i do know that over the years he has done very little to improve his health. he has not done his part. he suffers and i feel for him. chronic illness is one thing over which we have little or no control. but, we do have control over how we respond to life's harsher slings and arrows. this particular man has been encouraged by doctors, family, and friends to help himself. he has refused at every turn. he cannot go on holiday. he cannot leave his home except in his special van and few places can accommodate his size and his chair. there is no fault being assigned here. i am not his judge. i just wish with all my heart that i or someone could help him help himself. that's a simple and plain as it gets. we all have challenges in this life. it is NOT true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. sometimes it just makes you bitter or resentful or damaged. i don't think his illness is his fault. but i do think that some of his choices could have benefited him more.