Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Picture of Health

"The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man."
-Author Unknown

When Spouse and I visited my relative in Tennessee earlier this month he discussed illness and health with us. We had already noted a number of curious things about his lifestyle that made us feel both humbled and determined in our own life.
He plucks vegetables and fruit from his garden when he feels the need to.
He shrugs off all stresses and tensions as well as he can and considers them a part of everyday life.
He rises at 3 AM every single day and takes a walk that encompasses a round trip of several miles before he returns and eats breakfast.
He fishes when he can, for food partly, for pleasure mostly, and he throws back the fish that he does not need for dinner.
We began then, one afternoon, to talk about what effect such attitude and routine had on his state of health. He revealed to us that, a few years ago, he suddenly had a very strange feeling in his head that he could not explain. It lingered, he said, and he became increasingly worried so he telephoned a neighbour friend of his for help and advice.
He described what he was feeling and the frightening unfamiliarity of it. His hand was clasped to his head as he clutched the telephone, talked to his friend and attempted to deal with the enormous potentiality of an imminent trip to the hospital.
After a moment's thought, his good friend had to tell him placidly that he was experiencing a headache.
"A headache?" he'd replied, astounded. "This is a headache? I've never had one. I didn't know what it was."
He is seventy seven years old and has had one single headache in all his life for which he took no medication.
He is unique, we say; this must be a rare occurrence.
It ought not to be.
The first instinct is, sadly, to wonder at the lack of headaches in an ordinary man, rather than the fact of too many people having too many headaches.
It is lamentable that we have rationalised and accepted certain things to be normal instead of ever asking 'why' and stopping to really consider why our pharmacies are saturated with myriad bottles of medicine that contain one thousand mysterious capsules lying in wait.


tangobaby said...

What an amazing man! I hope you will share more stories about him in the future. He is a role model to be treasured.

Thank you for adding me to your blogroll...I have happily added you to my Daydreamers and Nightdreamers section.


Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

I certainly will write more about him. He made us think a lot and I'm still, even now, processing it in my head. The two of us learned so much in a few days and we can learn so much more from him.
Thank you for adding me to your page! Cheers.

Jaime said...

I love this story. (I love all your stories)
So much can be learned by observing others...I wish I had the willpower to get out of my warm comfie bed at 3am! That sounds so wonderful...going for a long walk when the world is quiet, and returning for breakfast.

Imagine, never having a headache!

julochka said...

that is totally amazing--first headache at 70-something.

and you're totally right, there are WAY too many pills of all kinds way too widely available and people take them far too thoughtlessly and automatically.

tho' i admit i do find the occasional ibuprofen to be a blessing.

very much worth thinking about, as always!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Jaime, thank you for your very very kind words about my stories. I consider I do well if I get out of bed at 5 AM. My relative does have a very peaceful time when he walks. It's all lit up, so even though he lives in a built-up area, he feels safe to walk and it's always quiet at that hour.

Julie, I couldn't imagine having a headache and not being able to identify it so it seemed amazing to me too. I'm not sure if most of us even know what we're taking, and yes, it's the automatic manner in which they're consumed that's a real problem, I think. I've had many a headache myself and sometimes I was saved by medicine and could only function after taking something. Mostly, though, I am lucky to be able to sleep off any headache.
I just close my eyes and somehow that's the time when I sleep best- when I have a headache. Strange. Thanks for your thoughts on this, it's a topic I'm trying to understand.

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