Earlier this year my husband and I were very excited to become grandparents for the first time. An alert of our new status, however, has apparently made its way to our immune system and is causing all kinds of havoc with our health. It’s like an alarm went off saying “Oh hey! They’re old now; let’s see if we can have some fun with them.”
Through the course of our illnesses I’ve uncovered what I consider to be a major breakthrough in the medical mystery of why men die at an earlier age.
My husband has been having some pre-ventricular contractions commonly known as PVC’s. Basically, PVC’s are extra heartbeats that have something to do with the way your blood is pumped through your body. Apparently it feels as though your heart is skipping a beat or flip-flopping. (Or so I’m told.) In most people they are not life-threatening although they are very annoying for the patient and, as I’ve learned from personal experience, their spouse.
After my husband’s first visit to the doctor it was clear that many pertinent topics had not been discussed and so when it was time for a follow-up appointment I decided to go with him. I tried sitting meekly over in the corner of the exam room while my husband answered the doctor’s questions. When asked how often his PVC’s occurred my husband responded with “about three times a day.” “How long do they last?” was the next question which was answered with “about a minute.” A MINUTE? So my husband basically just told the doctor that we were in the clinic, and had previously been in the ER, for something that only lasted for a TOTAL of three minutes a day? I had to speak up. Remember, I’ve been uncharacteristically sitting meekly in the corner and I ever so quietly said, “I think the one you had last night lasted at least 15 minutes.” Hmmm . . .
I may have actually scared the doctor when I then responded to the answer my husband gave to the next question, “Have you been under any stress?” When I heard the words “not really” come out of my husband’s mouth I let go of meek and welcomed back my forthright self with “OH puh . . lease! You’ve been under all kinds of stress!”
The whole doctor’s office experience made it clear that at least one of the reasons men die younger is because they lie. Now, I’m not calling my husband a liar, I’m just saying he might be in a bit of denial.
A couple of weeks ago something else came to light. I had been sick and was put on a medication that was supposed to make me better. Instead, I ended up with an allergic reaction to the drugs and though some aspects of my illness were improving overall, I felt horrible. But, since I wasn’t contagious I decided to go to church on Sunday morning. We hadn’t even arrived yet and already I knew that I’d made the wrong decision. Before the service started I went into the women’s restroom and when my friend asked how I was feeling, I immediately burst into tears. And, as women will do, the girls in the bathroom rallied around me. A couple of them prayed for me and another girl, whom I didn’t even know, told me that she’d overheard our discussion (because it’s hard to keep things private in such a small area) and that she’d be praying for me.
On our way home that morning I was sharing with my husband how sweet it was that my friends took such good care of me when I fell apart. He said, “That’s the difference between men and women. A woman’s friends ask her how she is and she falls apart and tells them exactly what’s going on. When a man is asked how he is he’ll just say ‘Oh, I’m fine thanks.’”
I just looked at him and said, “And, that’s why men die young.”
Nancy loves to laugh and considers laughter a critical part of human survival. If you were to ask, most days she would say her glass is half full but when it starts reaching the half-empty level, she reaches for a funny book or movie knowing that indeed “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Nancy has three married sons and five grandchildren. To read more from Nancy find her at www.nancyholte.com.