Health. It is the physical state of your body, how well it is. When you are older, it tends to deteriorate. For most, keeping in good health does not require much more than going to the doctor's every once in a while and eating the right foods. But then there are the others. The others who treat their bodies poorly or have some organ shut down or something not work through no fault of their own. These are the people with bad health. These are the ones who know to appreciate good health because they have been deprived of it; the rest of us don't often think of it because we don't have to.
I thought about it because today I went to CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia), a visit that I had to wake up early for and everything. I went there to see this doctor that I've been seeing since I was little. Since I had a dislocated hip that went uncaught until I was a toddler and starting walking, I had to get two surgeries on it and I had to go see this specialist over there every year (every two years since I've gotten older). Today has been my last visit and, according to him, my hip should last for sixty or seventy more years. It will never be a normal hip but it's a healthy one.
Of course, this is great news. It's much better than what it could have been. I was ten when I got my last surgery. I still remember certain experiences of being in a wheelchair and what exactly it meant to be handicapped. Fortunately for me, my situation was quite temporary and quite easy to recover from with proper care.
Others aren't so lucky. Every time I go to CHOP, I am forced to face the reality that not all kids will have the life I have. Not all kids will leave the hospital and not all the kids will get better. Some of the kids I see probably won't make it to their eighteenth birthday. The hospital smells like antiseptic but there is also a strong taste of hope mixed with thin smiles and despair. Just sitting there can make me antsy particularly when I'm around one of those sick kids in the waiting room (it's a struggle not to stare at them or to pity them).
Healthy days are good days for them, I suppose. Healthy days are probably just being able to reach the goal they set for themselves.
It's amazing to me how much people take their health for granted. They go to tanning beds every week; they nonchalantly stuff their face; they wear their limbs out by doing all sorts of dangerous things. Many never even considered the possibility of illness unless they become sick or handicapped. These kind of people just assume that good health is some kind of natural, God-given right instead of something they have to work for. Many of them just assume it will never happen of them and thus reject the possibility of organ donation or giving money to St. Jude's at the checkout counter (as if they can't really spare a few bucks) or even leaving that handicapped parking space open for somebody who actually needs it.
Having bad health severely limits your life and the things you can do with it. It makes most hobbies (particularly physical ones) impossible. When you're sick and tired, you never feel like doing anything so having a bad heart or feeling the aftereffects of chemo must be that much worse.
I remember when I was wheelchair-bound and how I realized how many little things I took for granted. Suddenly little things like going to the bathroom and going up the stairs became difficult for me. Going through my historical town was extremely difficult for me and even going through aisles of a store suddenly became difficult for me to navigate. The idea that I can't imagine the kind of life someone must have who is permanently like that or who have other conditions on top of that (like weak muscles or a bad organ).
The truth is that bad things can arbitrarily happen to people. We all could have been born with bad genes or a terrible condition just like we could have been born into any other circumstance; we can all have children or nieces/nephews with this someday. Every healthy person is lucky to be healthy and should keep the unhealthy in mind.
It's important to keep all of the things we have in mind. Good health should definitely be included with all of that.