Opinion | Biff America: Boasting loud and proud
I’m not in the habit of blowing my own trumpet — it is both self-aggrandizing and illegal in Arkansas — but I will say, my liver is one of my best organs. But don’t take my word for it. Let me quote a recent conversation I had with my personal physician who said, “Your liver is one of your best organs.”
That was welcome news — for a while I was worried about my liver.
It all began when I went to one of those health fairs that takes your blood and gives you cookies. I did all the correct prep: For 12 hours, I refrained from eating, drinking or caffeine. I even showered in case they wanted to check me for a hernia.
They checked more organs than I knew I had (as I keep most of mine on the inside). They even checked my duodenum, which I think is an organ they just made up to mess with me because, when I walked in, I asked, “Who wants to check me for a hernia?”
With using only a quick questionnaire and blood sample, they even provided a prostate evaluation, and I never even loosened my belt. Seems that shower was a waste of water.
About a week later, they sent the results to me and my doctor.
The results were very reassuring, except for my liver. When my doctor and I went over the results, he didn’t seem concerned. Considering everything else came back healthy — cholesterol, blood pressure, heart, lungs, insurance and bank statements — he said there various things can alter liver readings, such as taking an excessive amount of herbs, supplements and New Age voodoo pills (I take about 10 a day). He suggested taking a month off all that and retesting.
“If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself,” Mickey Mantle said. I’m sure life in the big leagues during the ’50s and ’60s was fraught with temptations, but I would speculate it was no more hedonistic than the ski resort world in the late ’70s and ’80s.
It would not be an exaggeration to say some of us burned the candle at both ends and ate the wax.
But as we aged, many of us came to the realization that if we wanted to keep skiing, biking and hiking into our older years, we would have to eat better, drink less and not purchase the bulk of our medications from a guy named Lefty.
Of course, even doing all that, there is no getting around bad luck and genetics. Two of my fittest and otherwise healthiest friends have left us. That said, if we all want to lengthen our odds of longevity, we need to do what we should instead of what we want.
My dad, who lived to be 90, used to go through the local obituaries and then cross names out of his address book while muttering, “I showed them.” Despite eating apple pie for breakfast and sipping Four Roses whisky most every night to the end, he still could take two out of three games from me at cribbage. But I have not let my old man’s bad behavior lull me into a false sense of lifestyle complacency.
Lucky for me, were I to forget the prevailing health recommendations, I have a marital reminder. Since my wedding day, I’ve been eating less of the food that I like and am drinking way less than I want. If my mate is watching, I even put spinach in my morning smoothies.
But all of that only goes so far. There are the variables of luck and genetics. And lowering your stress level is as important to a long life as regular checkups, a healthy lifestyle and not mentioning climate change at a Trump rally. Stress can be a challenge when you have a mate barking at you for not putting kale on your cheeseburger.
After forgoing the aforementioned handful of supplements I take each morning for a month, I went in and had another blood test. A few days later, I got a call from my doc telling me my liver is one of my best organs. My mate was out of town for a couple of days, so I called her with the good news. After I hung up the phone, I enjoyed a kale-less burger and some whisky to celebrate.
Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stop lights. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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