I was talking with a person I know reasonably well and know is truly interested and vested in me and my success.  We were discussing my summer plans and near the end of the conversation they passed on several pieces of advice and guidance.  Then they said, “Stay healthy.”

I know it was said out of concern and a desire for me to do well.  This knowledge has not kept that phrase from haunting me though.  “Stay healthy.”  This is a person who is quite familiar with my medical history and swine flu was not the referent.  No this person was, out of concern and honestly with my best interests in mind, cautioning me not to endanger my health.  The sweeping chasm between this sentiment and the reality of my life staggers me. 

I know that I live in a deeply unique place.  I know people generally cannot begin to fathom what it means to have had brain surgery three times.  I know most people have no concept of living with chronic health conditions.  I know that our culture supports and enables these issues.  But I am still staggered. 

I do take care of my health.  I am continuously making decisions about how to best do that and live my life.  It is everyday when I decide to take my medications and take steps to ensure a decent nights sleep and avoid or limit things that I know can act as triggers to pain or headaches.  But I don’t have all of the power.  Some days my head just hurts.  Some days my body just hurts.  No one would like for this to not be true more than I.  And no one knows better than I that this may never change or could be very different in two or three years.

But even more, no one knows better than I do that I can make all of the best possible decisions.  Staying healthy is my plan, and it is a plan for which I work and fight.  There are good days and there are bad days.  There are tests which will reflect my behavior or decisions and there are tests whose results I cannot begin to impact.  I can be in the best health of my life.  And I can still walk into my doctor’s office and be told that I need to have surgery again. 

Staying healthy is just not always my choice.