LooseCrew-JeffO: Family History and Dieing Healthy


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Family History and Dieing Healthy

My mom's parents immigrated from Czechoslovakia. My mom was born in Chickasha, Okla. and is 100% Czech.
Her parents were farmers and worked hard from 0-dark hundred until dinner. They burned lots of calories but ate lots of greasy foods, eggs, and bread. I guess that didn't matter much when they were still working the farm. After they handed the work over to the seven children, they pretty much only putz'd around the house.
They lived happily as they grew fatter and fatter, developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary "Disease" and died in their 70's.

My father's father was half Irish and half German. During WWII he wasn't sure who's side he was on, but worked loyally at Tinker Air Force base during the war. He smoked cigars. He developed cancer, which started in his larynx, crawled into his lungs, and eventually throughout his whole body. They didn't have such things as chemo or other therapies, so it just ate him away the old-fashioned way. He drank to deal with the pain. He died in his late 50's.
His mom was of mixed European stock. She was a volunteer nurse and one of the charter health-food nuts. She obsessed over nutrition. Although she ignored exercise, she got plenty of low-key exercise tending her large garden. She tried to grow as much of her own food as possible. She bought very little food.
She loved animals, but rabbits would eat her vegetables and squirrels were mean to her favorite animals: birds. So she would call in the assassin - Me. Have gun, will travel.
My father's mom lived until she was nearly 100 years old.

Now the morbid part...
When you look at the period of time from when the quality of life stopped being beneficial to anyone, and the agony out-weighed the good, my mother's parents both took months to die.
My father's father took nearly a year to die.
My father's mother took 10 YEARS to die! And the last couple of times she was revived, she was bitter - even LIVID. She was the kindest old woman (except to gays, rabbits, and squirrels) but she was near the point of cussing-out the doctors and nurses involved with reviving her.

Why am I saying all this? Because if I could choose, I'd rather live healthy clear up to the time I die. If I have a heart-attack during an ultra - "HURRAY!"
Not that I hope I die, mind you, but I don't want to cripple myself with lazy over-eating over a span of decades, and then take another decade to die. Nor do I want to live healthy - and then take 10 years to die.
We all have to die. I've seen people die. Some have been violent, shocking, horrible - but quick. Some people I've heard they just died in their sleep.
When I had Guillane-Barre, I was somewhat relieved that I was dieing that way. It was virtually painless. Scary as hell - yes - but I'd lived quite an exciting life-or-two and was ready as anyone could expect to be. It was quick but not too quick - you know? Say your good-byes and all.
I had accute pnuemonia many years ago. Within one hour, I was laid-out on the floor unable to get up and call 9-1-1. The last I remembered was looking up towards the phone I couldn't reach thinking, "Oh well, if I wake up I lived, and if I don't I died." That, too, was a fairly quick and painless way to go, but didn't quite take-me-out. (But the rabbits and squirrels were ready to party on my grave.)

As my grandmother shows, living a healthy life doesn't guarantee a mild, convenient death.

I feel somewhat like a cat who's used up several lives already. It would be convenient to grow old with my memories, but if I don't, at least I "lived".

Just had a massage from my high preistess, Lucy, the karma doctor.
The weather is unseasonably warm and another Winter storm hits tonight, but this day was the first hintings of Spring. After a massage, the Spring-like weather really made me feel fantastic.


At 10:35 AM, Blogger Meghan said...

I ditto your post, like 100%. I've got a bad family health history. My dad had a heart attack at age 27, then a stroke in his early 40s, then a fatal heart attack in his early 60s. I may very well go the same way he did at a young age, but I will be doing it happily and healthily.

On a lighter note, have a perfect vacation! Enjoy the warm desert!

At 4:13 PM, Blogger olga said...

The race I co-direct now is in memory of Scott McQueeney. He died of heart attack as he crossed the finish line of McDonald Forest 50k in OR 4 years ago (this coming April 26). He was a drug user and an alcoholic for many years, and then suddenly turned ultra (isn't it familiar?). He encouraged many people, was a friend to dozens, and just very fun (I never met him, I moved to OR 4 months after, but his best friends Gail and Mike tell me I remind them of him. I take it as a compliment). Anyway. he died doing what he loved. Nothing warned him he might have a heart attack, yet as he came across the finish, he collepsed. Doctors were too late. He is missed terribly, but everybody here says - I want to die like him one day. Hopefully, not soon. But like that, sudden, in nature, doing what you love and amongst best friends.

Glad you had fun in Moab! Need more details:)


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