By JIM “PAPPY” MOORE
A lifelong friend recently had a health issue that understandably worried her greatly. She was relieved to learn the problem was a clump of capillaries in her skull. It was not a completely worry-free diagnosis, but it was better than it might have been.
Many know that I quit drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes close to twenty years ago, but most do not realize I did so because of a throbbing in my head which began to commence upon lighting up a cigarette. I had quit smoking several times in my thirty-five years of that nasty habit, only to return at some later date. Let me tell you, Mister, when your brain starts throbbing it is easy to say “I’m done” and mean it.
I quit drinking alcohol at the same time because I had always smoked a cigarette when I drank. It went together like … well, smoking and drinking. Two bad habits of decades gone, just like that. No pills. No chewing gum. No hypnosis. No support groups. Just “I’m done,” and I was.
It was two years before I lost the urge, and by three years out I was as repulsed by the smell of cigarettes as anyone who has never smoked. My lungs thank me every time I don’t cough, which is most of the time.
I have two very dear friends who have had strokes. They’re my age. One of them smoked a pack a day for many years. I can remember times we would light them up and have a cigarette break together at work. Three years ago she had a stroke, and smoking likely played a role. It played with her head in a bad way. Gone was her self-assurance, which had been a hallmark of her personality for her entire life. Gone was her laser like memory of times, places, people, events.
We talk regularly. She remains a decent and thoughtful person with good morals and good attitudes. We only talk about her post-stroke life when she wishes to do so.
Getting old is the opposite process from growing up. When you are young and growing, there are new things you can do every year – things you could not do before. You run faster, jump higher, think quicker. Ageing is the reverse process. Every year there are things you could do before that you cannot do any more. Many are physical. Some are mental. Both are like a big old kick in the rear.
I played sports of some kind most of my life. When I turned fifty I was still playing basketball several times a week with guys half my age. I would play until drenched in sweat. Walking downstairs the next day got more and more difficult. I finally went to the doctor, who took x-rays and showed them to me. He pointed out the arthritis in my bones: my neck, my back. He showed me the compressed discs in my back, evidence of my degenerative disc disease.
The cumulative impact of decades of playing football, baseball, basketball, tennis, and of doing various gymnastic activities created some of my problems. Working at a meat market for a number of my teen years also had a big impact. My body paid a price for my long-term abuse of my back and neck. The thing I miss the most is running. Not trotting. Not running half speed. I mean running like the wind. My joints could not take that.
But above all that, having my brain function at a decent level is by far more important. Going for a day of not being able to remember Harrison Ford’s name (but most of his movies) nearly drove me crazy. Yes, I could have looked it up, but I was determined to recall that guy’s name the old fashion way.
My cranial capillaries quit throbbing when I quit smoking and drinking almost twenty years ago. I am a better man for it. Think about your body as the new year begins. Stop hurting it and it will last longer.
Copyright 2022, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.