October 21st, 2016

The $99 Cure

By G.E. Shuman
Three weeks ago I went to my doctor for my semi-annual checkup, fix up, tune up visit. As I arrived at his office for the visit, it seemed like I had just left that place from the last one. Have you ever had that feeling? Time flies…especially lately. Over the years I have developed a good, casual relationship with this knowledgeable medical man I was about to see, and feel fairly comfortable discussing my health issues with him. Unfortunately, over the years, I have also developed lots for the two of us to talk about during the visits. Heart problems, digestive issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma, all of their related symptoms and medications, and, of course, weight gain, have sort of crept up on this once-trim, once healthy, once young person. So have gray hair, wrinkles, and a general ‘old man’ curmudgeon-ism that I have actually grown a bit fond of. (Don’t mess with old people.)

Near the end of the visit my doctor said something that didn’t actually shock me, but did wake me up a bit. He told me, in pretty straightforward terms, that I had a month to convince him that I could get the blood pressure and sugar numbers down, on my own. He didn’t actually say, ‘or else’, and I don’t know what the ‘or else’ could have been, if he actually had an ‘or else’, as I was already pretty much on the maximum medication I can take for that particular complaint… not that I’m complaining. (Lately, taking all of my pills in the morning leaves little room for breakfast, but that’s another story.)

Now, here’s where the $99 cure comes in. I actually left the doctor’s office that day thinking about his admonition, instead of immediately forgetting most of what we had discussed, as I sometimes do. It’s my health, and my tired, fat old body, and all of that, but there was a tone of concern in his voice that shook me up, just a bit. So, I got into my car, went from that appointment over to the mall across from his office, and picked out a bicycle. Don’t laugh at me… I really did. And, it wasn’t just ANY bicycle. It was a really sharp looking, shiny new green one, with a comfortable seat, tires that looked like they could hold up my several hundred pounds, and only seven speeds, (so that I didn’t have to learn too much.) Being a shiny new green one, it was perfect, AND, it was only $99. I couldn’t believe it.

I immediately went home and talked to Lorna about the bike, (a lot,) and casually threw in a few words about the doctor’s appointment. ‘Oh, woe is me… how can I possibly survive…?’ and stuff like that. That evening, (after she went to work,) I drove back to the mall, with my old bike rack already attached to the back of my car. I headed for the sporting goods department of the store, hoping, and nearly praying that no one had bought ‘my’ bike before I could get back up there. They hadn’t, so I did, and felt like a kid on Christmas morning as I wheeled the bike to my car. It was actually strange that I was so excited about such a simple thing, at my age, no less. Go figure.

The very next day I began a routine that has become an adventure I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to each morning. I will admit to being a bit grateful for an extra half hour of sleep on a few recent rainy days, but I generally am anxious to wake my tired old body up, and climb aboard that new bike. Since that first day, each day that I can, I ride a predetermined route that covers over five miles of Barre, including our towns nicely wooded recreation path. To date, after only these three weeks, I have lost eleven pounds, (Notice that I didn’t say ten pounds. I said eleven. One bag of rice thrown off a barge-full might not be noticed, but it still counts,) and I have reduced my blood pressure, considerably. My sugar numbers are still somewhat high, but when you’re as sweet as I am such things can take time to change.

Now, here’s my admonition to you. If you are at all like me, which means that you are middle aged, (Okay, so middle age was a few years ago.), and feeling a lot fat and a little feeble, and if your favorite doctor has said something that suggests the words ‘or else’ to you, I would suggest that you go somewhere and get yourself a comfortable, sensible, sturdy bicycle. (If it’s a shiny new bright green one, all the better.) Then get out to the bike paths every morning that you can. I can guarantee that you will feel better physically, and better about yourself in general. Wave to me if we pass each other. I’ll be the one on the shiny new bike, with the slightly red face and the gray helmet, but without the eleven pounds.

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