That Tug

Have you ever had an experience which causes you to reflect on life? I had one this week.  I was delivering fliers about our Parkinson’s group to a local medical office. Someone had suggested that I also drop some off at ‘His Hands’, a local free medical clinic. I had never been there, so I looked up the website on my phone and hit GPS directions.

The clinic was only a block or so away from where I was. I pulled in front of the small building and walked in. The office had a slight odd odor of dirty clothes. There was one patient sitting in the small waiting room.  I looked at the older man in his well worn clothes and immediately thought he might be homeless. I smiled at him and he smiled back with an almost toothless grin. Something tugged at my heart.

The receptionist was talking on the phone, but she smiled to acknowledge me. As I stood waiting, I heard her side of the conversation. I heard her verify with the person on the other end that they had health insurance but had a very high deductible. Yes, the clinic could help. I looked around at the small, simple, but clean office. Something tugged at my heart again.

A pleasant woman came through a door behind the front desk and asked if I needed help. I explained who I was and about the free programs for people with PD in the area as I handed her the fliers. She thanked me, said she would put some out in the waiting room and give some to the doctors to hand out. I thanked her and walked out to my car.

As I got back in the car, I looked again at the small building. It was a simple white building, nothing like the previous medical facility that I just came from with its large glass windows, spacious offices, and beautiful art on the walls.  I felt that same tug at my heart. This time tears came to my eyes. As I drove away, it hit me. “If not for the grace of God”.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs are or aren’t, we are one tragedy or bad decision away from needing services such as those provided by His Hands. I could be the homeless person in the waiting room if I had become addicted to drugs or alcohol, or had a mental illness that controlled my decisions. I could be there after being diagnosed with a disease or a became the victim of an accident that left me with medical bills that bankrupted me. I could be there if my child had been born with a condition that required expensive medical treatments.

We don’t like to think about the “what ifs”, but perhaps sometimes we should. It might give us a little more compassion towards those who are struggling. Maybe we wouldn’t see the man or woman on the street corner as a “bum”, but as someone who fell on hard times due to a drug or alcohol problem, or a mental illness. Maybe we wouldn’t stereotype the single mom who relies on Medicaid and Food Stamps to care for her family. Maybe we could empathize with the immigrant family who are just trying to find a better life for their children than what they fled. Maybe we could imagine what it would be like to be a veteran coming home to a different world that he or she is having trouble adjusting to.

Maybe, just maybe, we could all feel that tug in our hearts. That tug is called compassion. We all need to feel it.

The Costs Of Health

Many of you have made your health a priority if you are reading this blog.  However, there are many more who are still contemplating making positive changes to your lifestyle, perhaps you just don’t know where to start.

One of the comments that I hear frequently is that it is too expensive to join a gym or work with a personal trainer.  I completely understand in this economy that we want to be cautious of how we spend our money. However, I want to make a few cost comparisons and break down these costs for you.

On average in my location, many gyms charge around $40-$50 per month for a membership.  Personal training can cost from $30 to $70 per session. That may sound expensive.

However, most of us do not think twice at buying a carryout pizza once a week.  The average cost per month for a carry out pizza is $48 if you order one pizza per week.

Perhaps a sit-down restaurant is more your style. Expect to spend a minimum of $40 per week for
two people to eat out.  Average cost per month, $160.

To get a little more serious, let’s look at the cost of medications for high cholesterol. One medication sells for $75 for a 30 day supply.  It is easy to spend at minimum $100 per month on prescriptions for many conditions which are preventable through exercise and a healthy diet.

Now, I am not saying these medications are bad or one should not take them if needed.
However, they are costly.  $40 per month for a gym membership or $30 to improve your health with a personal trainer does not sound like much when looking at these cost comparisons.

Better yet, exercise doesn’t have to cost anything. Simple exercises such as walking, biking, or doing
bodyweight exercises in your home are free and can benefit both your body and your brain.

You will pay for your health one way or another. You will either pay high insurance and medical costs, or pay for a healthier lifestyle. Make wise decisions and invest in your health.