Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
30 Mar

Compression of Morbidity: Vitality to the End

hourglass“Live long and prosper.” -Spock

“Live long and drop dead.” -Grok

Got your attention? (Thought so.) Sisson’s gone morbid, you say. Not exactly. Death is on the docket for today but more so the time leading up to death – (for some) a period of morbidity during which we experience major illness and impairment. We live, of course, with the prospect of our own mortality and how it will befall us, but we’re also emotional witnesses to that of our loved ones. I’ve lost many family and friends at this point in my life. Although I believe most had a good life, not many had what any of us would consider a “good death.”

I’d venture to say that most of us have known someone, perhaps even someone very close, who lived their last years with serious disease and debilitation. Perhaps they were in and out of the hospital, caught in continual throes of pain, rendered increasingly immobile and confined by physical weakness, stressed by the financial burden of their ongoing care, juggling medications and treatments whose side effects were almost as unbearable as the conditions they were meant to treat. Those final years may have offered the invaluable chance to be emotionally and cognitively present, to appreciate and reciprocate the love of family and friends, to bring individual and interpersonal business to a peaceful, meaningful closure. Maybe not. Either way, we can’t help but wish our loved ones could have lived out those years with less suffering, less hardship.

On the other hand, we’ve known people who, up until the day they died, lived active, independent lives wholly on their own terms. Old age obliged perhaps a slower rhythm but little constraint. There was a spirited, graceful older lady I knew growing up. Up until her last day, she lived (not far from us) in the house she’d raised her children in – staircases and all. She entertained her dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren there. She mowed her own yard. She biked around town every day. She kept one of the most beautiful gardens I’d ever seen and tended dozens of ferns (some thirty years old or more) in her sunny Victorian home. One spring morning while she was dusting a curio, she died of a massive, sudden heart attack. There’d never been evidence of heart disease or any other medical condition. She’d been fit as a fiddle, as they say, until the day when she literally dropped dead in front of that cabinet, duster still in hand. She was 89.

To be sure, it’s a shock when people die that way, but after the reality sinks in, there’s also a sense of gratitude, relief, even fortune that they had the life they wanted – up to the very last moment. Whatever the extent of our own grief, we take comfort in their quick passing. Given the choice, I sincerely hope to follow my old neighbor’s example.

We’d all like to live to a ripe old age. What a trip it must be to turn 100. However, I’d gladly give up those extra years, even decades, if it meant they were to be spent bedridden and miserable. Truth be told, I live the way I live not because I’m shooting for longevity. If I’m lucky enough to enjoy a long life, so be it. Rather, I live my life according to certain principles in order to push illness and markers of aging further and further down the road. Coined by James F. Fries, M.D., there’s a phrase for this: compression of morbidity. It’s the shortening of the period between the “first appearance of aging manifestations and chronic disease symptoms” and the end of life (PDF). In my book, that’s what it’s all about.

While statistics show that we’re generally living longer – some 78 years and 2 months according to the latest figures, the flip side is that other research shows we’re living fewer years disease free and more years with chronic and often debilitating disease. We congratulate ourselves in the developed world on our mortality-related statistics (e.g. life expectancy), but our morbidity picture is increasingly abysmal. As Eileen Crimmins, AARP Chair in Gerontology at the University of Southern California and co-author of the study examining morbidity and life span, observes, “There is substantial evidence that we have done little to date to eliminate or delay disease while we have prevented death from diseases. …At the same time, there have been substantial increases in the incidences of certain chronic diseases, specifically, diabetes.” In a short ten year span, we’ve lost on average a full year of healthy life (slightly more for women) – life without one or more of the major diseases that constitute the most common causes of death in the U.S.: cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. (I wonder what the picture would look like if you added other common chronic and debilitating conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.)

As this study showed, we also spend less of our life fully mobile. Just ten years ago, the average 20-year-old man would experience 3.8 years of his life with impaired functional mobility – “the ability to walk up ten steps, walk a quarter of a mile, stand or sit for 2 hours, and stand, bend or kneel without using special equipment.” Today that number is 5.8 years. Women fare even worse. Ten years ago, that number was 7.3 years and has since risen to 9.8 years. That’s almost ten years of one’s life without basic mobility. Yes, there’s much more to life than the ability to walk up stairs, but I can’t call this an ideal. We’re not talking about a freak accident here that couldn’t have been helped. This trend represents broad and gradual systemic decline – the kind of impairment that is almost always preventable by effective and consistent lifestyle intervention.

Call me callous (or not), but I think we’re shockingly blasé about the constraints people are routinely living with at the end of their lives. We’re physical beings, of course. I understand that bodies don’t last forever. Nonetheless, the fact that we’re losing so much ground in only a decade’s time should constitute a five-alarm fire.

For those who suffer in their final days or years, I’m grateful for the interventions of modern palliative medicine. Yet, it’s an uneasy contract. Do we accept the limitations, pain, and suffering of chronic disease more as a society when we have a “fix” to treat it? No one I know who’s dealt with a long decline has many good things to say about the treatments that spared them the worst of their suffering. They’re grateful, but they still traverse a long, hard road. These measures are better than the immediate alternative to be sure, but the commonality of their circumstances still begs a bigger question, I think.

For my part, I’m not going gently down that path of decrepitude. There’s no sense of surrender here. I’m not master of the universe, but I do have quite a bit to say about my own fate. I live every day of my Primal life as an affirmation of wholehearted, all-out living. Thriving, as it were. I’ll make my peace with my life and loved ones each day rather than wait until some compromised 13th hour. I’ll embrace every particle of discipline and self-respect to live a life that I know will support my well-being and independence today and in my later years. Let me live with the primal spirit of my ancestor kin and meet death (when it comes) with a vigor and vitality that confound the statistics and conventional resignation of our time. That, in my mind, would be the best resolution for a Primal life – and a good death.

Thoughts? Responses? Let me know what you think, and thanks for reading today, everyone.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. My dad, 86 is in hospice. He has been dying for 11 years. He almost died on Iwo Jima with massive head injury but was patched up with a steel plate, cured for blindness and had a good life up until 2000 when he cancer cost him his tongue and larynx. Being fed through a tube into stomach he was less active and finally became immobile. In and out of hospital and conv. care homes past 2 years. 24 hr oxygen for years. Now in bed in family room. He says that the reason he is hanging on is so my mom gets income from his VA benifit and job retirement. Needs 24 hour watching. Us kids help out mom when we can. He should have died years ago but now is a challenge to keep quality of life up (what little there is) until he decides to die. To die in good health is a luxury few get. Modern medicine, keeping one alive while making one wish they were dead.

    subwo wrote on March 30th, 2011
  2. Excellent piece! Mark, thank you for boldly writing what many of us think AND giving so many the forum to respond with their frustrations and concerns about loved ones.

    It seems in our society we view aging in negative terms and accept decrepitude as tne norm.

    As an aging woman who’s youth and bloom is behind her all I can say is–Like hell I am going to sit down and give up! I have worked hard to keep active and vibrant so that I can climb mountains when I want!

    We have to make a commitment to our health and well-being to the end!

    When the end comes I hope it is sudden and doing something exciting!

    Harmony wrote on March 30th, 2011
  3. I am currently in the USAF and it is amazing how many of my fellow “Airmen” are on physical profiles limiting them to do this or that. I am 36, have been CrossFitting for less than a year, and as paleo as possible for the last 3 months and I feel wonderful. It amuses me to be more mobile than the younger generations, while listening to the whining of those in my age range (my back, my knees, I can’t, etc…). I also wear Vibram’s, which are quite a shock to all, but I enjoy wearing them. According to the reg’s I need to wear socks with my “shoes” guess nobody thought of Vibram’s when the wrote the reg’s.
    For me being healthy and riding into the sunset is much better than the slow crawl I see many going for. I want to be able to run and play with my grandkids instead of sitting in a wheelchair taking who knows what for whatever is ailing me and watching them play. Granted that is still a number of years away for me, but I have found that my new way of life will help me get there.
    It is just amazing how the CW for 99% of Americans is that we need to be in pain and have a shelf full of drugs to help us live. I am slowly trying to turn my family around, they have at least 1 paleo meal a day and I get my kids outside as much as possible. But it is hard when everything they read says that you must eat grains to be healthy. But such is our fate…

    Chris wrote on March 30th, 2011
  4. Yep. If I start to decay it’s straight to the extreme sports/war.

    Alex Good wrote on March 30th, 2011
  5. What an important but too seldom discussed or understood subject. Your “I will not go quietly into the night” attitude is one that I embrace and try to live each day. After witnessing the long, slow, painful death of my mother, and now my grandmother (who just passed earlier this week), I have been re-evaluating what it means to “get old” and how one “thrives” not just “survives” after retirement.

    I look to my grandfather as the model. He lived to be 97 years old and lived independently until his last year. Although he was bedridden his last year, 96 years of independence is quite a run. In fact, I can still remember how even in his mid-90’s he would spring out of his chair when he heard “dinner is ready”. Still with a great appetite, he could move better than some people I know half that age.

    While he did not live a “Primal” lifestyle, he was always active. An athlete then coach in his younger years and an avid bowler well into his eighties, he was always on the move. Both him and my grandmother were of Italian descent and ate what what some call a “Mediterranean Diet” – lots of fresh vegetables, all kinds of meat and fish, cheeses, wines, and, yes, there were grain-based carbs, too. Another thing – he NEVER stressed over food or much of anything else.

    So, to sum it up, I guess the lesson from my grandfather on how to delay morbidity was “move more, stress less”. That’s a philosophy I can live with!

    The Primal Commuter wrote on March 30th, 2011
  6. What a great post! I have thought alot about this since starting the Primal diet.

    I have family members in both extremes, from extremely active, happy, healthy and fit to in-active, unhappy, and loaded with medication.

    I have always been interested in being healthy, especially since I found out that I had Crohns…. I have found that the better my diet and exercise routines are, the better I feel.

    I am not a strict Primal, but I definitely make 90% Primal choices and make every effort to stay active. I am in my late 30’s and thought I was doomed to be in pain when I woke up! But I haven’t had joint pain or much abdominal pain and almost no muscle pain.

    Sometimes I find it hard to stay motivated…. the diet can be alot of work, and expensive, and exercising every day is time consuming…. but then I think of how I want to try surfing this summer, and maybe rock climbing, and other stuff like that, and how I need to be strong and healthy and that helps me stay motivated…

    And of course MDA and it’s members are an indespensible support and motivator too!

    Mary wrote on March 30th, 2011
  7. I love this! With all the fad diets/programs on the market, I’m only concerned with one thing: how can I live a long, healthy, active life? Not ‘what will help me lose the most weight’.
    This post brings to mind something my daughter said when she was about 5 years old. Her great, great grandma had just died at the age of 93. Breanna said, “Little Mama lived her whole life and didn’t even die ’till the very end.” Profound, I know.

    Shelly wrote on March 30th, 2011
  8. At 68, I’m active and vigorous — ran an 8-mile race last year, did leg presses (15X290, 10X310, 5X330) and thrusters with 50#, DL 3X10x110, BP 95# 3×2, and got a PR of 5X this morning, plus 70#KB swing 2X10, another PR). Cutting the carbs has made a difference, and action + diet = reduced morbidity. With luck, this old lady will avoid the deterioration I see in my male colleagues, some much younger than I.

    Sam wrote on March 30th, 2011
  9. My beloved grandfather dropped dead in his son’s arms at the age of 99 after walking to his favorite bookstore. He never used a cane or had to wear Depends. He was pretty deaf, but he said that 99% of what people were saying was unimportant and uninteresting anyway. That’s the way to go!

    ottercat wrote on March 30th, 2011
  10. Come back with your shield… or on it.

    Old Spartan Saying wrote on March 30th, 2011
  11. Great post Mark :)

    Kitty wrote on March 30th, 2011
  12. Mark, what a great and important post, and talking about age and longevity, it would be really nice to see you write a post about telomeres and the fascinating research on it. I know you touches on the subject in an earlier Monday Musings post, but that one was mostly about meditation.

    If anyone wonder what telomeres is, check out this interesting interview with Robb Wolf at http://robbwolf.com/2011/03/18/from-telomeres-to-australian-radio/

    Primalisten wrote on March 30th, 2011
  13. I hear ya! At 53 every move I make and step I take is geared toward health and flexibility. I took a ‘gentle’ yoga class at the gym one Saturday last month. Almost every person in there chose to use a chair for the entire hour rather than stand. Many of them were my age or younger…they just look so sick and tired of being sick and tired, you know? I just don’t understand why people seem to just ‘give up’?

    jen duncan wrote on March 30th, 2011
    • I used to think the same thing but after having spent years under a lot of emotional and psychological (and some physical) strain I also felt like giving up. I was basically ‘healthy’ but I was falling apart. I ended up with severe adrenal dysfuntion and was unable to walk up a flight of stairs without losing my breath. Some people can get this way simply due to stress, even if they are eating healthy (rice used to be the only thing I ate that was not primal). Luckily for me I just got depressed and stubborn to become the person I used to be. I became 100% primal (no 80-20% stuff) and am working very hard on reducing stress levels, and people from my life who were bringing me down. I am on the mend but it is a long and slow process. Some stress factors just cannot be so simply removed. I think that I did not give up simply because I am SO stubborn :D

      Kitty wrote on March 30th, 2011
  14. This is quite an interesting topic Mark…

    I feel as if you’ve taken the red pill, but you are only illuminating us primal folk to the surface of the issue — hiding the milieu beneath the top soil.

    Agreed, wholeheartedly, that one should live life to it’s fullest.

    Secondly, be like the river. Take hits as they come and flow with them. Bend with constraints and you will live a happier life. (Or break them, rules are meant to be broken!).

    Ultimately, one has to question the underlying reasons to why there is such a decline in health.

    Grok would yell “Stop eating grains!” ect.

    The government yells “Eat the foot pyramid!”

    Except they are lying. I think they are lying.

    Obviously, at firsthand it is a food issue, and secondly a life-style issue. (Sitting on your ass all day is terrible, but if you eat primal you’ll most likely pass up on diabetes).

    Why then, with such staggering awareness, are things getting worse?

    That’s where the government and their true intentions come in.

    They admittedly put additives in our water to sedate us. They have done “secret” testing on cities previously (look up the bacteria bomb on san francisco).

    It might sound like a conspiracy theory, but I’m just begging the question…

    If we, the people, understand there’s an issue, then why does the government continue to falter?

    Masked agendas fuel this industrial curse.

    —-

    On a lighter note, here’s a funny blog-post that mentions a 60 year old man lifting 300 lbs.

    this is definitely not safe for work.

    http://chaosandpain.blogspot.com/2011/03/of-stones-and-strength-or-how-i-learned.html

    College Caveman (Musician) wrote on March 30th, 2011
  15. Grok on. Couldn’t agree more.

    Brett wrote on March 30th, 2011
  16. I’m with you. There are too many people who just “give up” as they age. In the article from the Crossfit Journal by Mark Rippetoe called “Be alive, Be very alive” he says “Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in being 85 if I have to hire somebody to help me get up off the toilet.” I’m all about the quality of life I’m going to lead until the very end.

    Carl Dyer wrote on March 30th, 2011
  17. Better to die a young man covered in blood than an old man covered in piss.
    ….Klingon Proverb

    (Nerd alert).

    Kurt wrote on March 30th, 2011
  18. I have to comment on this one just to say with everyone else: YES!

    I want to go out like my grandmother – at home after a normal day, falling asleep in my chair with a cup of hot chocolate and just never waking up. She was 93.

    Vanessa wrote on March 30th, 2011
  19. I’ve actually had conversations with my parents about this issue. My Mother has Myeloma (I think that’s what it’s called) Cancer of the red blood cells. She wanted us Kids to know what she did and did not want done. For us it is all about living not merely surviving. Our society is so afraid of death they prolong the heartbeat and call it life.

    bbuddha wrote on March 30th, 2011
  20. I take care of myself not because I want to live forever, but because I want to enjoy the years I’ve got.

    Miss Annie wrote on March 30th, 2011
  21. Word.

    Allbeef Patty wrote on March 30th, 2011
  22. I play racquetball with a 90 year-old man who’s been married 70 years! He has a wonderful upbeat attitude that makes him a pleasure to be around. He can’t move like he used to but he’s up for the game!

    Avigdor Loeb wrote on March 30th, 2011
  23. I’m sorry, but isn’t anyone seeing how arrogant and insensitive this post is? As an occupational therapist, I work people with disabilities from birth to death. (Two positions- one with children birth-three and one at a skilled nursing facility.) I have been following the diet, am interested in living a balanced healthy life. However, to insist that it’s better to be dead than disabled is ableist, ageist, and naive. Persons with disabilities can and do live meaningful, productive lives. Get over yourself Mark.

    Carly wrote on March 30th, 2011
    • I agree of course that people with disabilities can have great lives. Plenty of people enjoy themselves regardless of age and physical limitations. I have several physically disabled relatives myself.

      But I would still say that decisions about one’s personal standards for what constitutes a sufficiently high quality of life are just that, personal.

      It’s an individual thing. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone here speaking for anyone but themselves on that front, although I have seen (quite reasonable) sympathy for relatives and friends in bad shape.

      People will also revise their attitudes based on their experiences once they get to the point of disability. For example, initially Christopher Reeve thought perhaps it would be better if they “let him go”, but changed his mind.

      I do think it’s important that we all focus on making the most of our situation rather than giving up too easily when we do start showing signs of age, though.

      Jenny wrote on March 31st, 2011
      • I agree with the gist of Mark’s post — but that’s just for myself. I’ve always been averse to traditional medicine and do well with alternatives, but not everyone goes for that.

        Both my parents are in their 80s and experiencing disabilities, they’re being treated in a rehab center. I would never want to go through what they’re going through. Yet — I think this is what they want. My mother strongly desired hip replacement surgery and was willing to go through the physical therapy afterward to have a better quality of life. No one talked her into it, something deep in her wanted the chance for improvement. My father has also had numerous health issues but only recently began a cognitive decline: up until a few months ago he was sharp, interested in the world, enjoying his grandchildren. Yes he suffered a lot, but he had a will to live and go on.

        I don’t know what the answer is, all I can think recently is that if someone has a will to live it’s important to respect that and help them as much as possible (I think this is distinct from the issue of prolonging people’s suffering through life support when they’re barely hanging on).

        There are mysteries here, who knows why someone still wants to be alive even if they’re not “optimal.” It’s not what I envision for myself, but clearly the will to live and enjoy life is deep-rooted and stronger than judgments of whether it’s worth it. I especially think that people need to be treated with dignity no matter how poorly they seem to be doing, we need to respect the life force within them that keeps them going.

        Izzie wrote on March 31st, 2011
  24. What a great post!! I live my life like a do (primally) despite the eye rollings of my husband and others, because I believe it will help me live a BETTER life. Not necessarily longer. But healthier. And surely active until the very end. Or, at least that is my goal.

    We have been living with my in-laws while we close on our house (having moved across several states), and my in-laws are the ‘typical’ older folks (and seriously, they’re not that old – 65 and 63) who take a ton of meds and hobble around and sit and complain about diabetes and bad genes and what we (the kids) have to look forward to when we get old. It is appalling and so SO depressing!! I NEVER want to live like that. And their lifestyle – full of carbs, starch, sugar, no activity, and 8 hours of nightly TV watching after dinner (just to name a few things) are what I think has led to this demise.

    At least I have to hope that there IS hope. And the Primal Blueprint has given me hope so now living primally is the only way I can feel like I’m living the best life I can. And I’m so much happier and healthier for it!!

    Dawn wrote on March 30th, 2011
  25. Wow. Awesome post. I’ve been hoping someone would cover this in greater detail.

    I remember reading awhile back (not sure where) that hunter-gatherers that are lucky enough to escape child mortality, accidents, and infectious diseases to make it to old age generally have a very compressed morbidity at the end of their lives, generally just a few days on average.

    Darrin wrote on March 30th, 2011
  26. This reminded me of a quote from On the Road by Jack Kerouac

    “I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'”

    Matthew Myers wrote on March 30th, 2011
  27. At the ripe young age of 63.5 years I discovered MDA via a local radio interview with Mark in Charleston, WV. My Doc was ready to put me on insulin due to my progressive Type II diabetes. I have regained my health and my life over these past 6 months. Lost 50+ lbs. Eliminated 2 oral diabetic Rx’s plus my cholesterol meds and 1/2 of my blood pressure meds (still working on the other half.) More energy, lots of compliments from those that know me and greatly motivated to dig in a little deeper. Couldn’t do even one pushup when I started and only a few squats. Recently took a 13 mile hike by myself in the woods during a snowfall and it was exhilirating. Let’s roll, time is wasting. Thanks for your work Mark and all of you who offer such great posts.

    Gerry Endres wrote on March 30th, 2011
  28. there’s no gurantee for any of this stuff. Your DNA may have already determined your future. Live the best life you can and don’t let the experts tell you what you should be doing. I like the Scott Tinley philosophy.(fUCK IT THIS IS WHAT I LIKE TO DO) Cheers

    dave sinclair wrote on March 30th, 2011
  29. Ha ha I like it too! With the women in my family they seem to have the longevity gene..I enjoyed many years with great grandmothers on my mother’s side, they were in their 90’s when they passed on. I lost one grandmother in the last few years in her 80’s a long and painful path due to MS. One of my grandmothers still cuts her own lawn, has a boyfriend, and travels. I am going to be 38. These women are an inspiration, they worked hard, raised families, stayed active and some even enjoyed themselves!
    My English Bulldog Koko just died a few weeks ago, during her afternoon nap. She was fine and happy in the morning, we ran out to do a few errands, when we came back, she was snuggled in her bed by the front door with her chewy bone under her chin, dead. Peacefully, in her sleep. RIP Kokomo Kissabull Aguiar, that’s how I want to go….

    juliemama wrote on March 30th, 2011
  30. i think modern medicine does not prolong life.
    it just lengthens (the process of dying)

    regards,

    PHK wrote on March 30th, 2011
  31. I’m another reader who could not agree more with you.

    I work as a medical transcriptionist. I don’t agree with a lot of what conventional medicine does, but it’s how I make my living.

    I have transcribed lots and lots and lots of reports for people who spend the last years, even decades, of their lives in some form of nursing home, very debilitated, and often going back-and-forth between the nursing home and the emergency room.

    Frequently these people cannot walk, can’t talk, and can’t recognize their loved ones anymore. The light’s on (just barely), but you’d be hard put to say that anyone’s really home.

    Oh, yeah, and one of the hospitals for which I transcribe is a teaching hospital, and they’re still teaching them the garbage about the cholesterol theory of heart disease.

    No doubt some of the patients are even more demented because of statin drugs, but we won’t even get into that right now.

    Anyway, I really enjoy your blog. I am also impressed by the respectful way in which you interect with your readers.

    Pam wrote on March 30th, 2011
  32. once again so timely–i was happy to ride my mtn bike up a very steep grade tonight as I usually don’t get up that thing without stopping until about 6 weeks deeper into the spring riding season and I was talking with another rider up there about how many more springs would I be able to do this? he said he’d seen a guy who looked to be about 60 heading up this hill. i’m 49 this spring. i wanna ride that steep section as long as I can and climb lotsa crags and then settle into yoga, gardening and biking around town and then go out like that old lady, oh yeah!

    DThalman wrote on March 30th, 2011
  33. My father turns 72 this year. He has spent all of his life doing 50 laps of an olympic sized swimming pool each day, going for long walks, riding a push bike, and runs a marathon once a week. He has only just started to complain that his legs are starting to feel stiff and sore after one of his runs.

    Kitty wrote on March 30th, 2011
  34. On this morbid, but inherently positive, post I’d like to add my favourite poem by Dylvan Thomas: Do Not Go Gentlie Into That Good Night

    http://www.bigeye.com/donotgo.htm

    Craig wrote on March 30th, 2011
  35. Good ol Mark, tough as nails!

    Tomas wrote on March 31st, 2011
  36. This year I will be luckily enough to help celebrate the 100th birthday of an amazing lady who still lives alone in her own home, cares for herself and still has all her wits about her. She is Amazing.
    On the other hand, my uncle developed Alzeheimers in his 50’s and has spent nearly 20 years in a secure unit for late stage Alzheimers patients. He is gone, simply a body housing the mind of a newborn baby. He only lives because he has a swallow reflex and they continue to feed him. The doctors say he could live for many more years (If living is what you call it).
    My point….. Is that I guess you just never know what you are going to get in life.
    Im really looking forward to that Party!

    Suzy wrote on March 31st, 2011
  37. Great post, thanks.
    Since starting to live primally last summer, I keep noticing how much time people around me spend talking about their illnesses and those of folks they know. It’s so depressing! More and more, I stay out of the conversation and just think about something else, something life affirming – like the nice, juicy steak I’ll cook for dinner with a tomato salad sideplate, or walking the dog in the New Forest. Also, when anyone asks me, I tell them, “I’m growing younger!” and that is my belief. Living primally is fun and makes me feel good! Grok on!

    Corinne wrote on March 31st, 2011
  38. Three years ago, at age 47, I could barely move, locked in a body wracked with rheumatoid arthritis. Then the celiac diagnosis. Tried the standard near western pseudo gluten free route and stopped getting worse.. not better, but no worse after a nearly daily decline that had me preparing for the inevitable. Switched to paleo and within forty eight hours went from a morning gel time of two or more hours to being able to literally hit the ground running. I still have a long row to hoe as to healing and recovery but now I have another few days to move in a positive direction.
    I read a quote the other day. “I do not eat really healthy to make myself live longer….I eat healthy to have quality of life while I am here on the planet.”
    I found this to be so profound. There are consequences to our choices. I used to always see that as such a heavy handed negative. Now I see the consequences as one of the most positive as to the impact it can have on our quality of life. Now, if I can only get my loved ones to pay more attention.

    Charles Spencer wrote on March 31st, 2011
  39. My grandparents have been going through this for several years now. It’s taken a harsh toll on my mother to have to care for them and watch them suffer for nearly a decade. And they’re no happier for it. They can’t have anything they want, and every day is another set of humiliations. I don’t want to touch any nerves here, but on top of all that, I can’t even imagine how much of other people’s money has been wasted in prolonging my grandparents’ suffering.

    I spoke with my mother yesterday about it. We both said that we would never follow them down this road, but maybe that’s easier to say when you’re healthy and not staring death in the face.

    Kevin wrote on March 31st, 2011
  40. Absolutely agree. I’ve seen both sides up close in my family. The cost of my mother’s thirty year slow dying with Type2 diabetes, both emotionally and financially is a very unpleasant picture. When my grok-like dad dies, now 90, it will have been having enjoyed a physically active, healthy life, and next to nothing in insurance and related health costs. While it may seem callous to reduce this to $$, the fact is we are each paying for health costs related to obesity and poor diet generally. But the bottom line is my mother did not enjoy those years of decline, and that is really a terrible testament to any life.

    Digby wrote on March 31st, 2011

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