#2. Getting Healthy
People who didn't start out at zero on the ol' Healthometer have no idea what an amazing thing it is to increase your relative health level. Oh, they can improve themselves, of course: They go on diets and undertake new exercise regimens to "get in shape." But they had a shape to begin with. They don't understand what it's like to be a pile of human Gak, just oozing through life, getting dog hair stuck all up in your endocrine system.
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"Aw, gross! There's a Band-aid in there!" - Every pile of Gak, eventually.
That's because they started off as a successful human being. I mean that literally: They started off succeeding at the simple act of being a person, and so cannot understand what failing at it means. But when you start off a pile of half-functioning organs and good intentions and it's only through years of slow, painful, careful work that you manage to shove yourself into a mold and come out looking something like a person -- you get a whole different outlook on life.
Oh, don't get me wrong: Illness has not made you any better than healthy people. God, no. You've barely bumped the needle on the Healthometer. But you're on there, now. And going from zero to one is an unfathomably larger distance than going from 1 to 100.
What possible joy is there in backsliding? It's easy to see why getting better can be a happy experience, but what's the upshot of getting worse?
If you've been sick before, and you start getting sick again, then you're treading familiar ground. You know what failing health and disability are; you know what they feel like, and what it takes to get through it. That's a skill set you are guaranteed to use someday, because all of us, every one, will get sick and die eventually. That must be an awful experience for a healthy person -- being stuck in there, flailing in reverse down death mountain for the very first time. They will be wholly unprepared for it when it happens.
"My only regret is that I wasn't sick more often!" - Like every healthy person ever, probably.
But not you.
You've been stuck in neutral this whole time, pushing that damn body up every mile of death mountain anyway. You just now got the bastard jammed into first; slipping out of gear is something you know how to deal with.
If you've never experienced serious illness before, then the first time it does hit you, you're like the confused and panicky lead actress in a slasher flick -- all running around screaming for people to believe you, so overcome with fear you don't even realize half your tits are out, just terror-flopping all over the place. But if you've been really, truly sick before, you're not knife-bait: You're the jaded antihero. You've seen too much of this shit already, and sure, maybe it broke you a little -- but you know what comes next. They're Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws; you're Captain Fucking Quint.
His first name was actually Fucking. Look it up.
Adversity builds character, after all. And nothing is as adverse as living your whole life with your own body as your archnemesis. If trial, suffering and determination are the only means by which one can acquire character, then, my sickly friend, you've got character shooting out your ass.
You uh ... you should probably get that checked out, actually. Could be a symptom.
Get the first episode of Robert's Sci-fi Serial Novel, Rx: A Tale of Electronegativity, right here, or buy Robert's other book, Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead. Follow him on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.
For more from Brockway, check out The Question You're Not Asking: Should You Go To College? and 5 Products That Allow You to Master Your Dreams.