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Don’t take your body, health for granted

The summer of 1992 was the summer in which I was 21 years old. I delivered pizza about 30 hours a week. Gas was under $1.50 a gallon. Between gas money and tips, I could pull in around $40 to $50 a night, not counting my hourly pay. That summer, I blew every dollar.

I grew up hating beer. I still am not a big fan of the taste. I did enjoy a well-made cocktail though, like a screwdriver and I still do very rarely.

In my hometown my two favorite watering holes were within walking distance of my house. Every Friday and Saturday I had a routine: deliver the pizza, scrub the yeast smell off me, hit my favorite place, and binge drink. I did this very well, just like so many of my younger fellow students at BGSU.

One Saturday night in 1999, I went into a drinking frenzy. I could always “handle my liquor.” I never drove drunk, never blacked out, and never missed work the next day.

That next Sunday morning I felt as if I had been beaten with a pool cue. I had to call in sick to work. It was a key moment in my life. It was a moment when I knew that I was not all that young anymore.

This column is not a plea to you not to drink. I know you do, you will, and many of you will enjoy just as I did. No, this column is about youth and its fleeting nature. Two words about your youth from Uncle Paul: Enjoy It.

A week ago, I once again got that “beaten with a pool cue” feeling. This time it was not self-induced. This time it was surgery.

I had a kidney stone that was three inches long. That is ten times larger than the average stone. On top of that, it had grown antlers and had dug in, which is fairly rare. Because of the stag horn nature of the stone, it had to be removed surgically. It could not just be broken up and passed.

My doctor got 85 percent of it out. This is a success, but I need to be operated on again soon to get the other part, lest my kidney could die.

One more kidney surgery to come is not all that big of a deal. Two new knees to come is a bigger deal.

A back surgery after that and suddenly my health seems to me at least a big deal. I will be fine and I will persevere, just as so many of have done and will do. As I stated above though, this column is about youth and its ephemeral qualities.

I weigh slightly more than I weighed at 21. In that summer of ’92, I could work all day and night, drink all night, get up to play 18 holes, and repeat the process. Today, that could only be fantasized about.

I am the same weight, but I am 20 years older. While I would not trade the 20 years, I sure would like my old body back.

Sure, I have gained perspective, smarts, wisdom, compassion, and a million other qualities that have made me a better person. The trade-off has been the inevitable physical toll we all pay in this life.

So let me tell you my young cohorts: do not fear aging physically, but never take for granted the vital vessel that is your body.

Respond to Paul at

[email protected]

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