The Fragility of Health

I came down with food poisoning last night. Twice during the night, I got out of bed, went into the bathroom, and threw up.

I bent over the toilet, hands on knees, and did the violent act for 45 seconds.

After the second time, I looked up from the toilet and faced the mirror in my bathroom. My eyes were bloodshot. Face grey. I was shivering all over. In that moment, I felt frail and vulnerable in a way I hadn’t felt for many years.

Today, I’ve been reflecting on how a single piece of bad food, in a matter of hours, could make me go from youthful, energetic, and ready to do anything, anywhere to bedridden, weak, depressed. My physical health is so good most of the time that I take it for granted.

Jimmy V’s classic ESPY speech from 1993, delivered two months before his cancer killed him, talks about cherishing every moment of good health. Obviously, a simple bout of food poisoning is not comparable to life-ending cancer, but his message, which I re-watched tonight, resonated anew. Hopefully it will stick for longer this time.

5 Responses to The Fragility of Health

  1. Andrés Ruiz says:

    you know…something really similar happened to me the other day…i still don’t know what I ate..but it was bad….got me thinking the same thing….saludos desde Chile!

  2. Cait says:

    The real question, à la your recent Cowen reading is where that single piece of bad food came from!

    Mild humor aside, I’m delurking and first-time-commenting to say I hope you feel better soon. Food poisoning is no joke!

  3. Jude says:

    I like to think that I’ve never had food poisoning in part because I’m a vegetarian (or maybe it’s because I seldom eat out). Today when I told my son that the dog was happy because he was eating the spoiled food in the compost pile, he said, “Why don’t dogs get sick from that?” I couldn’t remember the scientific details, but he brought it up because he doesn’t think it’s fair that they can eat spoiled stuff and never get sick whereas humans get sick a lot. Today, however, in my part of the world, we’re enjoying rain and summer-like temps compared to those insane almost 100 degree Fahrenheit days that we’ll have again next week. If you don’t have heat, you don’t appreciate rain; if you don’t get food poisoning, you don’t appreciate food. Ah, well, the logic failed me.

  4. Chris Yeh says:

    A health crisis is an uncomfortable reminder of our own powerlessness and mortality.

    My wife noted that the only time she’s ever seen me worried is when there’s a health issue in the family.

    I told her that’s because 1) No amount of money or connections can make a health problem go away, and 2) There’s no way to reverse the effects of death.

    Everything else in my life, I’m convinced I can fix. But I know that I can’t fix health issues.

  5. Krishna says:

    …Now, that’s a gentle reminder to get your priorities right… :-)

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