What Have I Been Putting in My Body?

Not much in the way of updates today; had an MRI of my liver tonight, but won’t know the results until tomorrow. I requested Luke Combs in my headset, but the guy used YouTube and after a few songs, it took a weird turn into a repeating loop of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie for the last 15-20 minutes. Message received, universe.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got here. And not “how I got here” in the literal sense, which I tried to outline in my last post, but “how I got here” in terms of my overall health. What caused the cells in my rectum to create this giant cancerous polyp when the rest of me was relatively healthy?

Partially just an unlucky genetic lottery ticket, sure, but the fact is, I’ve come to accept that I really wasn’t that healthy. Now, the last thing I want to do is pretend to be an expert about the causes of colorectal cancer. Diet, stress, genetics, environment — it seems like people generally agree that it’s some combination of these, but it doesn’t seem like anybody really knows. And the alarming increase in cases among younger people doesn’t seem to have a solid explanation yet either.

But when I do some self-reflection and try to take stock of my health with brutal honesty, it’s not great:

  • At 5’10”, 200 pounds, I’m 20 pounds heavier than I should be. When I retired from professional baseball in 2009, I was 205 pounds, but I was in very good shape then. A lot of that was muscle that has long since disappeared. Sure, I’m not obese, I don’t use drugs, I drink alcohol only in moderation, and I can jog five miles without much of a problem, but I’m not in “good shape” by any stretch of the imagination.
  • In my life — particularly throughout my twenties — I’ve eaten a lot of fast food. I’ve been married to a professional chef since 2017, so my diet has improved immeasurably, but I’ve abused the fact that I have a fast metabolism and can generally carry a little extra weight pretty well. I also just have a horrible weakness for (unhealthy relationship with?) fast food, fried food, sweets, etc.
  • I have no respect for portion size.
  • I eat way too fast. Like, wayyy too fast.
  • I allow work to stress me out far too much, and then I allow that stress to fuel all of the above behaviors. I get near food and I lose my cool.

To be clear, I’m not claiming that my relative disregard for diet and exercise (still not terrible on the scale of, say, all Americans) is the cause of my cancer. But it’s pretty hard to think it didn’t contribute somehow, right? Maybe what concerns me most isn’t the behaviors themselves, but the attitude that drove them: I’m young(ish), I look fine(ish), I can eat whatever and do whatever. I’ll get serious about my health once I’ve accomplished a bit more professionally and financially, once I’m in an age range where the statistics get a little more real (so much for that one!).

Today, a good friend sent me these:

I’m excited to check them out. And I’m excited to think about this stuff more, and to use this massive wakeup call to finally prioritize being a healthy human, like I should have been doing the last decade.

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