Good health hurts

I think by now we’ve all gotten the message from our physicians that if we don’t take care of our health, we’re going to die a god-awful, fiery, sudden and catastrophic death.

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And I’m sure there is a multitude of medics out there who–after reading the latest report of appalling statistics pinpointing the condition of global wellbeing–are, if not jumping up and down shouting, “I told you so!” then are at least just making the I told you so face.

If we are not hearing these cautionary predictions directly from the doctors we routinely visit, then it’s from our mothers, or our web sites, or the butcher as he hands you the leg of lamb that was awarded a health care plan far better than your own. Apparently, we are all ticking time-bombs teetering on the edge and as long as you follow the experts’ sage advice, you may be able to buy yourself a few extra hours.

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Well, I’m not sure those few extra hours are worth it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about maintaining good health. And not just good health, but great health. I want arms and legs and all internal organs running at optimum speed for the most advantageous results. But there comes a time when you have to step back and analyze whether or not what you’re doing is something that will make historians and school children, generations down the road, slap themselves upside the head at the sheer lunacy of your current day practice.

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about, reading about and running about, putting into practice countless ways to gain energy, improve my digestion and increase my immunity. Occasionally, there is time to wash a spoon, but for the most part, I’m covering all angles of the welfare wish list.

From farm to fridge to face, my aim is to find minimally processed, but maximally realized nutrients—all capable of helping me become the super-hearty, able-bodied, rosy-cheeked wonder woman that appears on the inside pages of my favorite reading material. She is everywhere: Food &Wine, the Yoga journal, and most importantly, The Farmer’s Almanac.

I’m determined to be her. And every day is a physical journey where I confidently feel I am marching toward my goal.

Except for last night, where my progress on this pilgrimage came to an abrupt halt.

Each morning starts off much the same way. I wake and plod my way toward the bathroom counter where a handful of relief and prevention awaits me. Down the hatch slide tiny tablets that will push away pain, fight free radicals and stimulate my defenses against invisible attack. I am now armed, and too full for breakfast.

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Instead, I take a two ounce swig of an energy shot made entirely of concentrated, bitter yerba mate—flavored with lemon so one’s facial muscles can practice that “extra puckery pout.” I’m sure it counts as exercise in someone’s book.

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Lunchtime brings an array of greens so hearty they usually require a small hatchet for carving purposes. On the side sits a pulpy cesspool of fermented foods which bacteria has made chewable for human teeth. To wash this all down, I choose some combination of herbs and roots, all ground, dried and steeped in boiled water. Occasionally, I throw in an eye of newt for good measure.

The afternoon slump rolls round and I combat that with forty drops of magic tinctures—extracts meant to boost endurance and rally the flailing troops. The potion is poured into a small amount of water, which then froths and clouds before meeting and shriveling my tongue. Good god, even rat poison is capable of being palatable. But it does the job and I am revived. I have just enough time to water a plant before it’s time to make dinner.

Tonight we’re gluten free and gorging on grains. Well … I am. The kids mostly make patterns on their plates like they’re creating Tibetan sand art, and will—as usual—meet up later in the kitchen, after I’ve tidied up, to prepare their real dinner. Likely it will come from the freezer. I’m guessing something beginning with ice and ending with cream.

Shortly thereafter, I swallow my own late night snack: blimp-sized balls chock full of bioflavonoids, rose hips and rutin–a fistful of antioxidant fortification meant to protect me from things that go bump in the night and make your skin sag three inches by morning. I lastly choke down two horse-sized pellets containing the equivalent amount of fish oil that the entire cast of Finding Nemo could produce. I slip into bed.


It’s here I recall my afternoon eye doctor appointment. Basically, I was given about ten seconds to bask in the sharp-focused glow of the news that I have the eyesight of a prize-winning hawk. Then I discovered I barely squeaked by the test for early detection of macular degeneration and now needed to do something about it. I was given two carotenoid supplements to add to the daily lineup.

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So it’s Bottom’s up! again. As I drift off to sleep, something niggles at the back of my mind. Something the doctor mentioned as a side effect to my new best friends lutein and zeaxanthin.

Four hours later, his words sear themselves back into my brain.


I phone the next morning to ask what can be done about them, for sleeping is impossible while a chain saw is severing away at your calf. He suggested a gin and tonic in the evening with dinner.

“Tonic water has quinine in it, which has been known to help treat leg cramps, and what the quinine doesn’t address, the gin will knock on the head.”

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Apparently, my ophthalmologist needs a new pair of reading glasses because it’s obvious he didn’t read the FDA’s announcement that quinine is a quiller. I mean killer.

I call my health food store friends to check for options. I need sleep.

“No worries,” they say. “First we’ll try you on 5 mg of melatonin, or a dietary supplement of valerian root—oh and poppy syrup goes down nice and easy.”

I sigh and put the phone down.

At this moment that god-awful, fiery, sudden and catastrophic death is starting to look really attractive.

So is a cheeseburger.


Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery (here) and what we all talked about down in the pub (here). And to see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone–click here.

31 thoughts on “Good health hurts

  1. I hope for a sudden catastrophic death. It’s the slow, incapacitated one I down evening primrose, krill oil, chia seed, linseed, activated almonds, sustainable fish, gluten free everything, to try and avoid! Great post! X

  2. I’ve stayed up far too late — it’s past midnight (12:38 to be precise) … but this last “laugh” is truly medicinal:) Now I’m ready to take some Super Sleep from Costco (yes, that was a shameless plug). It’s a melatonin thingy that helps me sleep…but who KNOWS how my motherboard is reconfiguring as a result of it… g’nite.

    • I say, if it works, then why not spread the good news? Lately, I’ve been repeatedly waking to the sound of a giant bear sucking plaster from the walls in my bedroom–only to realize–it’s me snoring. No amount of sleep aid is able to drown out the ugly sounds. Perhaps a pillow over my face?
      Thanks for staying up with me! Hope you slept well(ish). 😉

  3. Smells,

    As a graduate of the CIA, I… well, umm, ugg. Crap, how does one do this and not feel, sad… at 42. Changes in life are, difficult, yet surprisingly refreshing as I hope to make it to 43 and much further.

    I feel your pain. To have come from a healthy farm life of whole cream, (that, of course being off the top of the unpasturized bulk tank after white washing the barn), tripple creme butter, and fat; be it duck, goose, or double apple wood smoked bacon fat we saved after breakfast, things now have changed.

    Your diet sounds so close to mine; vitamins, a fish oil pill, a smoothie with flax seed, protein powder and other veggies and fruit that makes even bile look more appitizing. I miss the Pate chaud de Lievre Saint-Estephe, the Faisan Regence, or the Gigot a la Boulangere on the ocansional basis. Now, it seems we consume more Cheerios, chicken and wild rice soup or Fiber One bars.

    Eat natural, consume as little pharmaceutical man made items as possible and get to know your local farmers and how they grow. That, and continue to grow organically yourself… with the help of your sheep.

    Again, yet another great article. Rob, I thought the piano cartoon was hillarious yet was expecting a bushel of leeks to be in place of the piano. 🙂

    Best regards,

    Stoshu 🙂

    • Yep, it seems more and more I live my meals vicariously through Food & Wine or Bon Appetite. Ah well, sometimes the pictures will have to suffice. And of course, I can just call you to listen to what you’re cooking for all the big time stuffed shirts coming to town, right? Dreamy stuff. xx

  4. Great read…it did make me wonder: how will future generations look back at this? I mean, we’re quick to mock medical practices from a time when sedating someone was done by a good knock on the head (or at least something we would consider primitive nowadays). This blog should be kept on record and republished a hundred years from now. Really, it’s a time capsule!

    • A good solid knock on the head is probably what most shrinks would recommend I look into as my next practice in striving toward better health. I have a feeling it just may jar all the loose bits and pieces back into a working assemblage of intelligence. What’s written above will likely be (in 100 years) classified as a giant misfiring of synapses and folks will take pity. Or they’ll just chuckle and shake their heads, as I’m assuming most folks will do today.
      Thanks for taking the time to share. I truly appreciate it!

  5. There’s something very weird about the fact that the eye-related supplements caused a painful side effect, whereas simply eating a healthy serving of kale or spinach gives you roughly twice the recommended daily supplement amounts of these nutrients and does not cause the negative side effects (amounts cited according to the AOA: You’re probably already getting plenty of lutein and zeaxanthin. I say stop giving the health food store half your paycheck, and simply eat a well-rounded diet with plenty of veggies:)

    Can you tell I’m a skeptic when it comes to supplements? I think they present more dangers than benefits, because they are so highly unregulated as to sourcing, production, and quality.

    • Yes, I mentioned this to my eye doc as well – in fact I complained to him that very afternoon that I had just had a massive raw kale salad for lunch. He told me some folks, no matter how crunchy granola their diet, are unlucky with absorption. And yes, we talked all about expensive pee. We had a good giggle, but in the end I decided that I could handle the 6 months of new supplements to see if they had a positive effect on the test. If I come out no better at the other end, then it’s time to reevaluate. I appreciate the info regardless, Linnet. And I agree with the dangers of unregulated nutritional supplements. The last link at the bottom of my post talks about just that, and how we may be in for some necessary changes throughout the industry.
      Thanks for the comment!

  6. Wow, just reading about your routine makes me tired, Shelley! It does sound as though you’re doing everything right in order to take care of your health, but hey, even the Buddha said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” I used to take a lot of different supplements, and I still take several each day, since I’m vegan about 95% of the time. I’ve found that some have helped me feel better, while others made no difference at all (except in making my wallet lighter). From your post, it sounds like you’ve done your research about your supplements and vitamins, but I would advise everyone to visit a site such as whenever they decide to add a supplement to their current regiment in order to check for drug interactions, as some of them do NOT play well together (and I’ve noticed that some supplement manufacturers will advise taking more than the tolerable upper intake level). As always, I love your humor, and the accompanying artwork as well!

    • Thanks, Miranda. And I totally agree. Taking caution with supplements is wise advise. I certainly hope folks will see through the posts humor and understand my words are not a prescription for sane behavior. Cheers!

  7. Whoa! that’s one head scratching post. In our part of the world we still go for different kinds of ‘food’ to derive the important nutrients. Supplements are not yet the ‘big thing’. 😛 And as for me, I believe in eating everything but in moderation. Great post Shelley! Cheers to Rob too! 🙂

    • Yes, if there is one thing to be gleaned from this essay, it’s that the only remedy I find sane and safe enough to fill your belly full of is laughter. All other tonics necessitate temperance. Except for chocolate. Which fixes absolutely everything. Even if it wasn’t broken to begin with. 😉

      • I’m with Woody Allen from the film “Sleeper” on this. In the future people are going to look back and say “Cigarettes, booze, rich food??? Bad for you??? Are you kidding me??? Best things for you! 🙂

  8. I think I’d skip ahead to the gin & tonic and bypass anything that makes my mouth pucker. I’m in the camp of “eat chesseburgers and only live to be 80” vs. 100. Because really, who says you’re going to die from bad health, anyway? That’s just one way to go, and I prefer to enjoy life and living in the meantime. I’d hate to pass up a slice of pie and then get hit by a truck.

    • It appears the voters’ tallies are heavily in favor of bacon, burger, pecan pie. The scales are tipping and my grip is loosening. Ginkgo Biloba will shortly be a fading memory–especially since my memory may be fading because I’ll no longer be taking it. 😉

  9. I can’t be sure but the cartoons looked different this time…funny as ever (I just loved the Quing and Keen of Outer Myopia), but drawn differently…or is it just me?
    And Shelley, I think I will skip it the next comment onwards (coz its so permanent), loved your writing !!

    • Different brand of coffee maybe? New pen maybe? Different weather? I’m a sensitive soul (mad, but sensitive) and all of these can make a difference. Glad you like the Moyal Ryopials 🙂

  10. Shelley — Always fun when you reach the point where your absurd behavior hits you in the face & you can laugh about it. Shows great strength of character when you can take that a step further and share your story with others. Touche’

    Then, when you get to add Rob’s doodles to the mix, hey it’s definitely time for a celebration! Woo-hoo!

  11. Lovable cartoons as usual. Enjoyed the post very much. WOW! the list of health boosters goes on and life does seem very complicated sometimes. Cheeseburger is just fine at such moments. Great post as usual Shelley, you make me smile every time I read your posts. Take care and God bless.

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