How to take care of yourself

I recently came to a conclusion: Donald Trump gave me cancer.

When I had my checkup in the summer of 2016, my prostate was slightly enlarged but nothing to worry about, my doctor said. People felt the same way about Trump’s nomination: distressing and unusual, yes, but nothing could ever possibly come of it.

Two years later, Trump was systematically dismantling the United States and the general world order while triggering stress and unhealthy fixation in the populace. And I had cancer. The connection was so obvious. In fact, I would like to see whether there has been a spike in cancer these past two years, and also whether the birthrate has declined, because that guy is an anti-aphrodisiac.

Of course, there’s nothing to be gained in wondering why you got sick, especially if you’ve maintained a relatively healthy lifestyle, because it inevitably leads to “why me and not him” (e.g. Trump). Blame doesn’t change anything.

Instead, the focus should be on getting better and, once achieved, not getting sick again. (America, continue to follow the thread of this metaphor to its sensible conclusion.)

Prior to my surgery, my employer arranged for me to seek a second opinion from a private clinic in Montreal. The doctor – let’s call him Dr. Feelgood – concurred with my diagnosis and treatment. As for why, he chalked it up to bad luck, which is the least medical reason but probably the most human.

We then talked about post-surgery living so that I would stay on this side of good luck.

No red meat, including pork and lamb. Okay, I can do that. Ice cream only as a treat. Tougher, but all right.

Eat a tomato every day, or even better, processed tomatoes like tomato juice or sauce, which are high in lycopene. I like tomatoes and tomatoey things. Further inquiries revealed that the recommended amount of daily lycopene is 50 mg; that’s the equivalent of a litre and a half of tomato juice a day. I don’t like tomatoey things that much.

Also, 9 servings of fruits and vegetables. This seemed easily doable until I started doing it. I start out strong in the morning but by mid-afternoon am starting to rationalize corn chips.

Get a proper sleep. (It was too complicated to explain about the cats on the bed and the snoring dog.)

Walk an hour a day. Certainly.

Meditate two hours a day. Okay, I can try… Hold up; two hours?

This feels like a recommendation from a private doctor whose patient profile includes those who can turn matters over to the nanny or lower-echelon managers.

Nonetheless, I figured I’d give it a shot and so downloaded a meditation app with 10 free guided sessions. I started out with 3 minutes, then 5, then 10 and have already broken the habit and still have 3 free sessions left along with daily notifications that I haven’t meditated, which is stressing me out.

Finally, Dr. Feelgood recommended I be social at least once a week. This means interacting face to face with another human who is not my wife, because she has no choice. Social interaction, it seems, improves both quality of life and life expectancy.

For all I know, most of Dr. Feelgood’s recommendations are as logical as those deer whistles people put on cars: I have never hit a deer, therefore they must work. But I have already been able to quantify the benefits of being social.

Over the past weeks, as I’ve been recovering at home, my best moments have been the social ones. In addition to the many messages, texts, emails, cards, even real letters from strangers, I’ve had long phone conversations with friends, like Linda from university whom I haven’t spoke to in over 25 years. Scott came by and we chatted about matters both heavy and light. A former student, Mya, home from university, dropped by for a visit and brought peanut butter balls, which I’m sure would not pass muster with Dr. Feelgood.

These visits and calls have filled my heart and healed my sometimes sagging morale, so I plan in the year ahead to take the time for myself and others.

The trick will be to maintain the habit. Can I stay social, or will it succumb like my meditation habit, my daily fruit/veggie intake and pretty much every New Year’s resolution?

I’ll have to wait and see. For now, though, as this challenging year draws to a close, I’ll just say how grateful I am for the people in my lives, including all of you who read this. Otherwise, I’d just be talking to myself, like Donald Trump in his lonely, lonely White House. And he can only blame himself.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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33 Responses to How to take care of yourself

  1. Lynn Love says:

    I read that, that being social helps you live longer – not very promising for the future of mankind as we become more insular, more reliant on internet shopping and working from home. I wish you a healthy and happy 2019 Ross.

  2. ksbeth says:

    one of my favorite posts of yours ever. p.s. when i recently went in for my colonoscopy, the nurse was reciting all of the disclaimers i had to agree to before going under anesthesia. my favorite one, and the one that made me laugh out loud was when she read, ‘medicine is not an exact science.’ so reassuring, perfect, and yes, i agree. i can’t wait to see you on the social pages of the paper next year.

  3. I think there are a growing number of TRI (Trump-related illnesses) throughout North America and the world. My reaction to his election was to start grinding my teeth—every time I saw or heard him, every time I thought about him, and every time I saw a red cap. My back molars—which were in perfect condition two short years ago—are now worn down and two are actually cracked. My dentist wants $3300 to put crowns on them—with no guarantee that I won’t just grind down the crowns. I’m holding out: no crowns on my teeth until the crown Trump has placed on his own worthless head is removed. If the head goes with it, well, so be it. Wishing you no more TRI and a return to good health in 2019, Ross. Good luck with all those tomatoes….

  4. I think exchanging comments certainly constitutes a form of socializing, and you can count time hanging with the cats toward the meditation quota. It also seems seasonable to get your tomato ration via a highly-seasoned Virgin Mary – loads of Worcestershire, Tabasco, pepper, etc. & then you can use the celery stalks to duel over “social” vs “sociable.” I’m often reading Victorian-era books, describing antisocial or ill-mannered people as “unclubbable,” and sometimes that term distracts me, I start meditating on how crappy the Mets batting was this year, or if Kelly will snap when he leaves the White House, pick up that bust of Churchill in the Oval Office, come up from behind, “I’ll show you a country club…” Well, I’ve become a confirmed habitué of this column, although I do worry if you go vegan & meditative, or this becomes part of the society pages, there’ll be a dress code, and I can’t afford a Cuisinart, tux, and yoga pants, and probably couldn’t buy all three at the same store, and would have to go roaming around a mall. I thought “lycopene” meant werewolf?? Does all that tomatoey stuff produce more body hair?

  5. I must confess that since DT became President I have relied on legal weed from time to time, not habitually but when it gets really bad, to relieve my anxiety. I don’t know if Dr. Feelgood would approve, but it does take the edge off, and those edges he hones in us most certainly have negative health consequences. You might try a pair of headphones and some really good tunage in place of meditation, which is an elusive art but people who do manage to perfect it swear by it. And by the way, aren’t corn chips made from corn? Some nutritionists, at least the ones I prefer, categorize corn as a veggie, so might not corn chips and salsa, a tomatoey substance rich in licopene, be considered a Dr. Feelgood approved snack food?

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Music and reading are very therapeutic for me, though the Doc says it’s not the same thing. What does he know. I don’t know about weed. I didn’t much take to it in my youth so god knows what it would do now. I know alcohol is verboten but I don’t drink anymore anyway, so easy-peasy. Have a relaxing 2019, Ilona!

  6. 16eparis says:

    If you from Canada, you of all people have zilch to complain about, especially regarding health care – which by the way Trump has zilch to do with this at least in respect to usa. For no american president wants the ‘little guy’ to be ‘cared for’ as for how my second cousin is well cared for, actually *spoiled* cared for home in Denmark… I don’t get yr essay – you live in Canada, and have health care, and got cancer – I am sorry for this – but instead of the ‘why me’ – attitude, try the attitude my mom uses today: “why NOT me”? My mom is a quadriplegic from viral encephalitis, since 1981, and thankfully, still alive at 82…she cant walk, can’t talk, can’t move, can’t do shit – since may fact, that was the last time I was hugged by 1981 …she’s also breast cancer survivor over 20 yrs( had breast removed) and uterine cancer survivor 16yrs(had hysterectomy) or so…… dude, my mom is putting you to shame. and here – she’s stuck in usa – the land of ‘no help at all’ the land of: “we dont give shit about you, unless you got $$$” – unless your’e a zillionaire! Maybe you need to take some notes from her… good luck…

  7. pinklightsabre says:

    Makes me feel guilty I wasn’t one of the people who followed up about your recovery. But I didn’t receive any notifications…

  8. Seems a reasonable conclusion to me. Trump makes me sick too, although I don’t take it to the extremes you have. Additionally, young folks are having much less sex than they used to. “Experts” blame it on diminished social skills but I think we can lay that at Trump’s feet as well.

  9. List of X says:

    Have you tried asking the doctor if being socially active and meditation can be replaced with active social media-tion?
    Also, although I didn’t realize that Trump caused cancers in other countries too – and I’m sure he is actually causing more cancer thanks to his environmental deregulation – it only seems logical that a problem down here could cause a problem for your down there.

  10. Nadine says:

    The first line made me lol and slap my knee. But the rest of the post is both moving and heartwarming. Thanks for this view into your experience. Sounds like you’ve “got” this and we can all take some tips from you on good living. Thanks for the words and good luck with the cats and dog. 😉

  11. berinaberrry says:

    I love your posts. You make me laugh, all the time I read them.

  12. Joane says:

    OMG, you are hilarious! Hopefully my meditation journey lasts longer than yours lol

  13. desolobiz says:

    Why is everyone against trump is he not doing well enough to the world at large

  14. To practice meditation daily will be a good idea, for that advice you to attend one 10 days course of Vipasana for any centre in any country. I am damn sure, you will able to practice two hours meditation- one hour in morning and one hour in evening.

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