“I’m done torturing myself for the day.”
My wife and I often say that on those days we force ourselves through our different exercise regimens. She likes to do hers privately in front of a television screen showing people doing various strenuous moves that she copies. I prefer to do my exercises privately as well but some of it requires running, and that I have to do out on the road in front of my house, or along the waterfront near Bug Light in South Portland when we’re staying down there. Cars go by in Lovell and dog-walkers go by in South Portland, but the rest of my regimen is performed alone in my room.
I hate it all. I only do it because I feel better afterward than I would feel if I didn’t. The running part is relatively new. That I started about six or seven years ago after my brother had his legs amputated due to a condition we both have: Buerger’s Disease. I should use past tense in his case because he died of it a couple of years ago. It’s a rare, hyper-allergic reaction to using tobacco products. He’s dead because he couldn’t stop smoking. I’m alive and still have all my parts because I could. Addiction can be a terrible thing and takes many forms. I cannot run very far because I have diminished blood flow to my lower legs and they cramp up with vigorous use. So, I jog a short distance, let the blood come back, then sprint as far as I can. All this helps increase blood flow to my feet. With exertion, my legs develop what’s called “collateral flow” - the actual formation of new, small arteries, but never enough to get back to what I was born with.
Since I have to force myself to do it each day, I’ve tried hard to focus on the bright side of exercise - or should I say the slightly less-dark side. While running, for example, I’m aware that each season has its own smells. This time of year there’s a kind of sweetness in the air as leaves and other formerly-green vegetation decay, adding another layer of duff covering the forest floor. When the last autumn leaves blow across my path and I can see further into the woods, it brings back many memories. A silvery autumn light shines on bare, light-gray trunks and branches of beech trees, oaks, and other hardwoods. Gray stone walls become more visible and I remember pleasant days spent hunting with my brothers.
We’re all going to die sometime, but I’d like to live as fully as possible until the end - and exercise helps. That’s what I think about when I force aching muscles through their paces. Entering the stage of life when people are most likely to need it, health insurance is our biggest expense. The Maine Public Employees Retirement Fund only covers about $300 a month in premiums and I have to pay an additional $1300 to cover both of us. There isn’t much left of my pension after that, so I keep working at the part-time jobs I always had while teaching. My wife still works as well, seeing clients two days per week as therapist.
President Obama promised us his Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” would bring down health care costs for everyone and reduce premiums by an average of $2500. But none of that has happened. Instead it has had the exact opposite effect. Costs are rising fast and so are premiums. The president has been hiding even greater increases until after the midterm elections were over, threatening insurance companies not to release information beforehand. The bad news of more huge increases is expected any day now.
It’s not encouraging that Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel was the primary author of Obamacare. He just published an article in last month’s Atlantic entitled: “Why I hope to die at 75,” and subtitled: “An argument that society and families—and you—will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly.”
He’s telling us we’d all be better off dead. This is the guy, brother to Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who was accused of creating the infamous “death panels” alluded to by Sarah Palin. The left ridiculed her and vehemently denied their existence, but Emanuel’s article last month would seem to lend credence to Palin’s claim. Health care will have to be rationed by government and younger, healthier patients will take priority over older, less-healthy ones.
I’ll be eligible for Medicare in about eighteen months and my wife a year after that, but more and more doctors are refusing to take on medicare patients. All these things motivate me to continue my self-torture each day.