Yesterday I registered for my first Healthy Heart rehabilitation session.
The Healthy Heart program is a rehabilitation program for people who suffer from, or have risk of heart disease. In the program you find a “new normal” for your life within these new medical guidelines you have been faced with. You are connected with psychologists, dieticians and physical trainers to hone all aspects of your life to be safe and beneficial to your mental and physical well being.
When I arrived at registration I was given a questionnaire designed to evaluate my mental and physical state. As I sit down I realize all the other people in the room filling out this questionnaire are significantly older than I am. For a moment I had the “why me” thought. Most of the people in attendance could easily be my dad and could also be taking better care of themselves in the first place. Until a morbidly obese man stumbled into the room and fell into a chair to my left.
The hospital is a place of judgment. As much as you would like to think it is a place where you can get healed and get help there is always an element of judgement. Everyone is at their worst in a hospital. This man was at his worst, but he seemed to have been dealt a pretty awful hand to begin with. I am reminded of quote my mother always told me,
“If you compare yourself with others you will become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself.” – The Desiderata
This man was so fat and ugly that I felt uncomfortable just being near him. He was the most unfortunate person I have seen in a very long time. I hoped that somewhere within this mass of social unacceptable physical appearance he has a nice smile or shocking charisma for me to latch onto. Unfortunately his misfortunes continued with an imperfect smile with rotting teeth and a noticeable speech impediment. He seemed to have some sort of emphysema making his skin look red and irritated. He smelled, he wheezed his breath in and out even while seated, and he suffered from more medical illnesses than I can name. Every moment he had seemed to be physically painful and emotionally stressful.
The coordinator asks us all to go through and say our names and what we would like to get out of the program. Most of the people seemed rather uninterested in the process but a man beside me a long distance swimmer and was hoping to building his strength back enough to return to sport he loved after a triple bypass surgery. I explained my frustration in my lack of ability from my pre-heart attack life and a lofty goal of being able to run 10K again. Then the obese man to my left explains why he is there. He wants to be able to walk comfortably again…
A man with a life as unfortunate and socially unacceptable as him is still willing to try and better himself. He is statistically undesirable in more ways than I have ever seen, obesity, heart disease, diabetic, speech impediment, skin disease and who knows what else lays below the skin. How can I struggle with depression and heavy mood swings when I look the way I do and live the incredibly fortunate lifestyle that I do? I know that my struggles are real but suddenly felt like a fraud being there, this man, with all the challenges he faces, still tries.
Meeting this man made me realize how fortunate I am, I am always aware of the great gift I have by being alive today but sometimes it require a stark contrast for you to realize the beauty that you have in your life. If he can find the strength to get up and try for the two days a week we go to the Healthy Heart classes I think I can find it in myself to be the best that I can be.