Like turning to a new chapter, Christmas Day greeted me with the realization that I can no longer be so cavalier about treatment received from hospitals. In 1995, a heart attack left me with little or no awareness that anything unusual had happened. 19 years later, it nearly visited me again.
Evolving over the past 4 years, my purpose for extreme walking has settled into the comfy niche of promoting awareness of the LYMPHATIC SYSTEM.
In 1991, upon learning of the "terminal" nature of Breast Cancer placed on Cri's shoulders, I asked myself why...then what could I do for her. Attacking numerous internet and printed volumes I came across the words..."...and kills cancer cells.". I was reading a text about the Lymphatic System within our own bodies...a complete system within us which at the same time controls movement of WATER and comprises the major part of our bodily IMMUNE SYSTEM.
Never before hearing about such a thing within my own body, I quickly learned that the Lymphatic System is a system similar to our blood circulatory system...series of pipes - large and small - reaching into every measure of our body. Whereas the blood CIRCULATORY system carries nutrients to the innumerable cells throughout our body - pushed along by a pump, our Heart, the Lymphatic System is a ONE WAY system: collecting interstitial fluids (excess water) from the far reaches of our body cavity, transporting it through the Lymph Pipes back towards the center (Heart).
More activities of the Lymphatic System can be discussed. FIRST and paramount must be clearly understood that: the Lymphatic System Has NO Pump. The fluids cannot therefore move within the Lymph Pipes. To be able to move the fluids, the sides of the Lymph Pipes must be squeezed by muscle groups lining the Lymph Pipes throughout our body...much like squeezing toothpaste through a tube.
We all recall receiving the admonition to ..."get up and walk...". I do not recall anyone ever telling me why !
OK, so we can now recover and move the Lymph Fluids about our body. Much of this fluid will be processed by major organs...much of that excreted as "pee".
But something else is going on in our Lymphatic System: within our Lymphatic System reside countless LYMPH NODES. Within our Lymph Nodes are produced White Blood Cells (also produced within our Bone Morrow). White Blood Cells are the essence of our IMMUNE SYSTEM.
Together with Interstitial liquids, our Lymphatic System sucks up any intruders which may have found their way into our bodies, including toxins, viruses, bacteria, etc. not to forget CANCER CELLS adrift throughout our bodies. These - and many more - elements are transported together with the Lymphatic Fluids through our body by means of the Lymphatic System.
As Lymphatic Fluids are passed through our Lymphatic Pipes, they also migrate through our LYMPH NODES, wherein lie in wait, our White Blood "Immune" Cells.
A challenge is given out by our Immune Cells to passing intruders: FRIEND OR FOE !
Friends are allowed to pass through the Lymph Nodes. FOE's are instantly attacked and KILLED.
OK: So much more is going on with our Lymphatic System...but the above is the essence of my interest.
Please be clear: I am not trained in medicine of any type. I share here that which I have discovered (or been satisfied of) for myself. This is what I have done with this knowledge:
Christiane was given a short time to live. Together Cri and I began to message each other. My desire was to put into action the benefits of the Lymphatic System. Cri was already versed and trained in REFLEXOLOGY. Together, we evolved a system whereby we messaged each other's body for at least five hours each day, every day. This continued FOR FIVE YEARS !
By that time, Cri was without outward signs of cancer. Cri, alone, sailed our ocean-going yacht into the cold lonely San Juan Islands.
I then...and now...attribute Christians survival to our dedicated efforts to activate her Lymphatic System...to give her body the chance to do what it was designed to do...KEEP HER HEALTHY.
One morning at the breakfast table, Cri told me that she would like me to leave...she wanted to continue her fight against cancer alone. Devastated, I rationalized that it was she who had cancer...not I.. Only she could decide how to fight it. I left my home, my wife, my yacht, and all my personal possessions. I fought off a heart attack a few weeks later, continuing the next 15 years to take care of my Lymphatic System.
On January 12, 2001, Cri passed away.
In 2009, I decided I could promote awareness of the benefits of walking...especially by older people - I will be 80 years old in a few months. Paramount to my good health has been stimulation of the Lymphatic System. Leading among activities to stimulate my Lymphatic System has been WALKING.
Fascinating is discovery that my recent bout in the hospital was directly caused by my four-month layoff from my current walk across America. In North Dakota, I curtailed my walk for some weeks due to damage to my left leg tendon. This interruption led to stopping all together the final 1,000 miles to The Peace Arch.
According to the Surgeon who treated my inability to breathe, my lungs filled with interstitial water; my Heart, being too weak to pump the excess water out of my lungs, my breathing stopped. His explanation was that if I had not been walking so actively for so many years, the breathing problem would have surfaced much sooner.
Subsequent medication apparently drained off the excess water through the kidney.
This whole sequence is a fuzzy explanation - at least to me -, but I will work it out.
One more good thing to come from my experience from this week's hospitalization: it is clear to me that the hospital has taken it upon themselves to "take my hand".
Mary Wright, RN, Case Manager with the Northwest Regional Council, assigned to me by the hospital, spent many hours in my apartment last night - CHRISTMAS EVE - going over numerous hospital-generated documents and discussing how I was going to become primary participant in my own health program as SAM and ME proceed.
...OH, and good news: I have re-gained my AARP SUPPLEMENTAL Insurance - at $120.00 / month. Together with MEDICARE, which is deducted from my Social Security $$ by Uncle Sam, I need not bother with the provisions of OBAMACARE.