One More Reason

If you don’t know my Dad – or didn’t know him before May of this year – this won’t mean all that much to you.

But if you did, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

“Big Harvey” had a big voice.  A huge, clear, distinct voice.  No matter what else you knew (or liked, or didn’t like) about Dad, you knew that voice.  Dad has lived with pretty severe physical limitations for most of his life, but that voice, man, I’m telling you, it was BIG.

You might notice I refer to his voice in the past tense and him in the present.  That’s because a stroke took Dad’s voice away a few months ago.

As strokes go, it wasn’t as devastating as it could have been.  He’s weaker than he used to be, and he moves slower, shakier.  But that big voice, that bell-clear, earth-shaking call, it’s gone.  It’s better – much better – than it was in the days after the stroke, but it’s never coming all the way back.  As Sprightly Daughter 1 has noted, “When Granddaddy gets tired his voice is mushy.”  And even when he’s not tired, his voice isn’t what it was.  It never will be again.

Now, he smoked off and on (mostly on), and heavily, for about 50 years, until Sprightly Daughter 2’s mild asthma made him fix that habit.  But more importantly – especially to this blog – for the past 40 years or so he’s carried a belly that rivaled his voice.

I can’t blame the stroke entirely on the extra weight he’s carried all my life (as long as I can remember, at least), but I also can’t be convinced it didn’t contribute in a big way.  Anybody who tells you being overweight doesn’t dramatically increase your chance of having a stroke is fooling themselves, but they’re not fooling me and I hope they won’t fool you.

A quick Google search brought me these three studies.  But seriously, you don’t have to read any journal articles to know this is true:  If you’re fat (and I mean FAT, not that you’d like to shed 15 or 20 pounds), you’re more likely to have a stroke than the slim guy in front of you in the checkout line.  Simple as that.

The good news is that you can fix it.  Yeah, you can joke about it (One of my best friends and I used to have a pact that we’d sneak a rib plate from Sonny’s into the cardiac ICU for each other.  I think we were joking.) and make half-hearted attempts at losing it, but this is serious stuff.  I’ve watched it happen too close to home.

I’m never going to hear my Dad’s real voice again.  A combination of bad physiology and years of bad habits took it away.  Strokes take something very real from their victims, and sometimes they take everything.  In that respect, Dad was lucky.

My voice isn’t what his was, not by a long-shot.  But I like my voice just the same, and I don’t want something that might be in my control to take it away from my daughters.

My readers know I’m more at home with sarcasm and what-passes-for-wit than I am with melodrama.  But I want this to scare you.  I want you to skip dessert, at least occasionally. I want you to take the stairs.  I want you to be, you know, fit. Your friends and your family deserve it.  You deserve it.

When it’s your time – or my time – time will be up, that’s all.  But there’s no need to make the clock run faster.

Sports fans – especially those here in the Sunshine State – know who Lee Roy Selmon was.  Mr. Selmon took a lot of shots to the head that probably hastened the stroke that took his life, but big men like him tend to have big appetites.  I’m guessing too much of the wrong kind of food sped up our loss of one of the rare professional athletes who was a better man than football player (and he was one hell of a football player).

I can find plenty more examples.  Just take my word for it.  You don’t want to have a stroke.  If you’re at risk for a stroke, find out what you can do to decrease that risk.  Please.


3 responses to this post.

  1. […] are also not my most important posts.  That would be this one and this […]


  2. […] too.  But fat people – fat men particularly – are at a far greater risk.  Having up-close experience with one, I’m pretty sure I’d like to avoid having one […]


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