Black men are absolute rock stars! I see them going to work to provide for their families, taking special care of their mamas, checking up on “pops”, involved in their communities working with the youth and keeping a protective eye out for the single mom down the block, or cutting grass for elderly neighbors. They are heroes to say the least. However….they can be the absolute worst when it comes to their own health. Black men are 70% more likely to suffer from heart disease than white men. According to the image above, their 5 main stressors are finances, racism, career, relationships, and health. They give so much of themselves yet are the least likely to visit the doctor or tend to their own health care needs. It’s like pulling teeth to get the men in my life to go to the doctor or follow orders when they do. They will eat a box of fried chicken smothered in syrup with a large fry, and wash it all down with a large pepsi then argue that it was cool because they haven’t eaten like that since yesterday. 🤦🏾 Black folk sometimes use food as an escape, I know. As the most scrutinized group in our population I guess it makes sense. This scrutiny is the source of great stress. And as we know, stress kills, slowly. In addition to fearing for their lives all while paying bills and being hated, who has time to meal prep, count calories, and eat wholesome???
This morning I awoke to my husband standing over me, tapping my shoulder. I glared at him through squinted eyes that had intended to remain shut at least until the 6 month old decided otherwise. I’d already been up with said 6 month old hours earlier, meeting his hygiene and feeding demands, so this disturbance was quite unwelcome. My husband resembled one of our children, these people who lack the discernment to understand that my sleep is equally if not more important than their minor ailments and hypochondriac assertions. If it weren’t for the more than usual look of bewilderment on his face, I would’ve faked a deep sleep. He says, “I’m seeing double in my left eye.” Normally my first response would be to laugh, or roll my eyes but I’m trying to do better. I ask him what’s going on. He can’t really articulate it, but in a nutshell he feels “off” and of course his eye. I tell him to go rinse and apply a warm rag over it. I have to tell him to do this twice. He does and still feels weird. After pacing a while, getting a drink of water, then debating on whether to go to work, he finally leaves but calls me a few minutes later. I suggest that he goes to walgreens or rite aid and get his pressure checked since he refuses to go to urgent care. He does and we find out that it IS elevated, to Stage 1 early hypertension range. He ends up working from home, with me serving him dandelion tea, salad, and cup after cup of water, murmuring quiet “I told you so’s” with each desk side visit. Those murmurs were eventually replaced by pecks on the cheek and quiet looks of concern.
It occurred to me while I was chopping fruit for his salad that my husband wasn’t guaranteed. “In sickness and in health”…”til death do us part”….we commit to those words in the spirit of happiness and under the guise that the way we are in that moment is how it will always be. Until today, my husband’s mortality never seriously crossed my mind. Even a few years ago when a good mommy friend of mine suddenly lost her husband, I felt grateful that mine was still alive, but never imagined that he wouldn’t be. He’s been there for over 16 years.
I’ve taken for granted his presence and forgotten how unpredictable life and death can be. Actually we know death is notorious for it’s lack of predicatability but life leading up to that point, we never know. While some meet their end quickly, others’ demise is preceded by unexpected, extended illness and suffering. We never know not only when someone will leave us, but we don’t know the how either. One day someone is healthy, the same day exactly one year later, they are living with a terminal diagnosis. I have a friend who we nearly lost due to a random and rare brain infection. We literally were hanging out and a week later, she was in the hospital. Life (and death) truly does come at you fast.
At bedtime, I watched him snore loudly, a bit less annoyed by the disturbance than usual. Earlier in the evening, I allowed him to take my place for a massage I was scheduled for, something he’d never even experienced. It did him good. But the road moving forward, with hypertension, diabetes, and cancer looming on both sides of his gene pool, is sure to require some changes. I haven’t done the greatest job taking care of him. While I was running miles, hitting the gym, getting my Namaste on, and eating a plant based protein and vitamin rich diet, my husband has gained weight, remained sedentary, and developed the most god-awful eating habits. I have a membership to receive monthly massages and facials while he has NO self care regimen. Even though I gave up my appointment with Alicia for him to experience her magic healing hands, I still feel guilty. So much more I could do. Now I have taken charge of my man’s health. As if it were my own…because it kinda is. AND because we need him healthy and whole. Too much living to do. 💗