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Musings about my ill health

    This year I learned that my very rare disease, relapsing polychronditis, now has company. The r.p. was diagnosed in November 2003; no known cause or cure. It is an autoimmune disease wherein the body destroys its own cartilage. Don't worry: it's not contagious and does not interfere with my work. But the lupus that has joined it may result in serious trouble or early death. I am told 90% of lupus victims are female; but when it hits males it is often far worse. Lupus symptoms vary, but cause most trouble when in the kidneys. I am a male and it has attacked my kidneys.
    I've composure in learning that these things, statistically, will kill me in middle age. I've led a contented life so far. I fear not death. Nor will I leave a grieving widow or orphans. People used to my professional services can readily find other help. Friends will retain fond memories, and will fill my void with new friends.
    If --against the odds-- the illness abates, and I live longer than a decade or so, then I shall enjoy more time to live deliberately, set my affairs in order, and whatnot. There is no pressure. The money in my individual retirement account is not apt to be used for a retirement, because I am not likely to last until 65, being 45 now. But I will keep investing in that account just in case.
    It is ironic to reflect on the fact that until a few years ago I was eminently healthy. I had trim weight, low stress, good diet, much exercise, and low exposure to toxins. On the other hand, some people live to their 90s with minimal exercise, smoking, eat too much fat, salt, and are overweight. DNA plays a big role in how healthy we are, as does one's attitude.
    It is good to get a jolt to make one stop and think about what really matters. Sometimes we forget. A guy can have his whole mood fouled for a day if his car paint gets scratched. But let him endure a day without the benefit of running water in his house, and he'll learn about relative importance. A good way to keep stress low in our lives, is to not fret overmuch about things that really don't matter --in any fair perspective. A fair perspective looks at the long run; the big picture.
    Earlier this year I had moments of rue, thinking of my bad luck with both health and certain women to whom I was attracted. So I sulked a bit. But gradually, like a ripening fruit, I added color and plumpness to my outlook. I focused on the good things, considered the big picture, and now am utterly content. Sighs of simple pleasure rule; the sighs of sorrow are memories; dreams of rapture and warmth serve as beacons of hope. Surveying my life, and weighing its good, bad and neutral parts, it seems that if I was to wish for more good and less bad, that I'd be like a fat kid wailing for more candy. I've been blessed with much good; the bad I've known is not too heavy a price to pay. My health may stabilize and enable me to live to retirement age. If not, no regrets.
    I am fortunate to live in Seattle, having easy access to high quality health care. Regence Blue Shield covers a big per cent of my medical bills. I value the doctors at PacMed and Bastyr Clinic. Also I am lucky that this year at least my income is up to the task, and health still permits work.
    Later this year I hope to work on some of Gary Lockhart's 13 unpublished health books. To keep up with my progress in publishing them, read my future newsletters or check my website.
    Only God knows what will happen. I may wind up very ill soon, or not. I gratefully acknowledge those of you who have expressed concern and asked what you can do to help. My answer remains: right now I am okay; so just act normal. If chemotherapy makes me bald, one of you can give me a hat until my hair grows back. If you are one of the people who owes me money from the past, you can pay up to avoid feeling guilty. If you took offense at something I said or did, and we need to make peace, let's do so soon.
    Finally, thanks to all of you who have helped me --one way or another-- this year. I happily note a few: Sandy Bradley was an indispensable aide in February at my NW Flower & Garden Show booth. I can't count on either health or income letting me to reserve a booth there next year, so this might have been my one time --but it was swell.
    Also thanks to friends who hosted me when I vacationed in California: Warren Roberts (Davis), and David Arbegast (Berkeley). When I was in Salem, Oregon, Dave & Pat Eckerdt were perfect hosts. Cistus nurserymen Sean Hogan and Parker Sanderson hosted me one day in Portland; 3 weeks later Parker died, at my age, from cancer.

(originally published in my June 5th 2006 newsletter, Ever since then, I have gradually yet steadily recovered most of my former health, prompting one doctor to exclaim: "miraculous!")

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Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

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