I’ve had the good fortune to work for Bob Livingston and Personal Liberty® for more than seven years, and I couldn’t have found a better job in terms of a great editor who lets me write what I consider to be important and the freedom to take positions that won’t always be popular. This came along for me at age 52 in an environment where old school investment advisors were being put to pasture by the internet. So I have always been thankful for that and for you, every reader and everyone that takes the time to write a comment good, bad or indifferent.
There is another reason this is a particularly gratifying Thanksgiving for my family and me. Earlier this year I told readers about my liver disease in a column titled, Death and dying. I will save the gory details now as I did then.
What is important in my story is that 14 months ago I went to my family doctor feeling pretty rough. For months I had put off going even as I got sicker and more bloated. My wife made me go to our doctor whom we have been seeing for decades. He said that I had to go to the hospital.
After years of not taking care of myself I was paying a heavy price, and the worst of it was the price my wife and children were paying.
Two nurses took me to the weigh scale. I will never forget the number I saw — 325 pounds!
They were taking me to my bed and I passed by a mirror. What I saw didn’t look like me. What I saw didn’t look human.
I still didn’t know what was going on after two days of tests. After the test, the doctor needed my permission to talk to my family.
I looked around the bed, looked back at the doctor and said, “I’ve never seen these people in my life.”
That was a moment of levity before the inevitable prognosis. The doctor went over how much alcohol I drank and how much Tylenol I took. I was drinking more than I should but I told him I had been taking Tylenol by the fistful for years.
He told me I was suffering from stage-3 liver failure. I asked him what that meant.
“Months, maybe years depending on what you do,” said the doctor.
Did you ever notice you never look harder for the fire extinguisher when the house is on fire? I’ll save you the details of my depression over what would be some bad days. What is important is that I had a purpose in my life. My plan was to do everything the doctors told me to do and to educate myself, including reading the internet and especially articles by Bob Livingston, who dealt with his own serious health issues and made his mind up to get better and to explain keys to staying well. I didn’t blink an eye at the fact that I had drank my last drop of alcohol and had stopped taking pain relievers regardless of headaches and my old injuries.
I also had a great walking partner, our female Jack Russell. Besides going on a Spartan diet, I started walking with her every day, no matter how tired or lazy I felt.
It so happened that my wife had already done much of what I was doing, not because she was told to by a doctor, but because she had begun to become winded on a short walk. When she was in her 30s she was a marathon runner. When in her 40s she had to deal with a series of illnesses. As a consequence her weight ballooned to 225 pounds.
I saw her lose 90 pounds in eight months and she began jogging again at the same weight at which she used to race. Her experience gave me the perfect sounding board and, as it turned out, a chef steeped in cooking for a lighter, healthier me.
Another gift came from my children who I had hurt by abusing my body so. Our relationship began to change markedly when they saw the effort and the result.
Just by walking and changing my diet so that I was eating large amounts of fruit and lightly cooked vegetables, I lost weight until last summer when I weighed in at 205 pounds — the same as I weighed as a junior in college.
Finally, I made it my project to heal relationships that mattered to me; my family and old friends. I found that when they saw I was trying and making progress this was not hard to do.
I didn’t want your Thanksgiving to be a tell-all about me. But I wanted to tell my story at Thanksgiving because each of us has had in our lives much to be thankful for. The people that seem truly at peace are the people who are thankful and don’t need a kick in the butt like I did.
I hope you can take away one thing from my column. That in life you will get knocked down. What’s important is that you get back up.
Finally, I want to thank you, the loyal readers of Personal Liberty®. I have a great publisher and the best editor I’ve ever had. That’s a gift we don’t usually get in our 50s.
I’ve discovered all kinds of gifts and things to be happy about. I hope and wish for each of you a great Thanksgiving. I also hope that as you come out of the holidays you have your best year ever in 2017.
Yours in good times and bad,
— John Myers