Nothing wakes you up faster or more urgently than a phone call at 4am from a neighbor saying, “I think something’s wrong. My leg won’t work. Please come.” Nothing wakes you up faster than a cry for help and the unknown scenarios racing through your head. I answered that call this week and was surprised at how fast I could get my shoes on and find a flashlight before running across the street. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing…. short term.
Adrenaline long term? Not so much. The ill effects of a body under constant stress are far reaching. I think everyone knows this by now, but it’s hard. Between money worries, raising children, and electronic Nirvana, minds are stuck in overdrive most of the time, snowballing us all into the doctor’s office more often. Then there’s my own pet peeve, the Hollywood-drama of news media. I try to avoid that as much as possible.
Like all medical emergencies do, this has reminded me — once again — how quickly things can change. One day you’re super fine, then… BAM. It seems weird how easy it is to take good health for granted even though we’re constantly reminded. When you’re feeling good, you don’t really think about it. The trouble is that people all around us are living pretty much the same way, so overdrive just seems normal. But stress is silent and insidious, and if you live with it as a matter of routine, it’s likely to catch up to you one way of the other.
Following the lights of that ambulance up the highway, along with the image of my neighbor sitting on the floor beside her bed wondering what had happened, guarantees that I’ll be trying harder to keep this mind and body healthy. I’ve been writing clues for better living for eight years, and by now have pretty much honed my own formula for a better life —the three S’s: stress, sleep, slowdown. Less of the first, more of the second, and mostly the third.