Im going off topic today because there are things that happen in life that you can explain but simply must accept. What happened to me today is one of those things….
I was returning home from my daily workout today and as I approached my apartment, I noticed a very large, white dove, roosting on the railing near my apartment. It is not unusual to have doves and pigeons in South Beach but this one was completely white from head to tail. Most unusual what this it didnt move as I approached it.
As I got closer, I expected it to fly away, just like every other bird, but it simply sat there and looked at me. I put out my hand it and it STILL DIDNT MOVE. I got close enough to touch and actually pet this bird a few time. Even then it only moved slightly. Then, just before one of my neighbors opened her door it flew away, straight up, over the roof and disappeared.
Having been raised Catholic and somewhat supertitious. I became concerned about this event since a bird near your house is sometimes considered a harbinger of an impending death. I worried about my father who had nearly died 5 years ago from a heart attack and of my wife who was away at work. What happened next took me by surprise.
Not more than a half hour at this event I received an impassioned phone call from my wife that here father has very suddenly passed. I didnt know my father in law well, but had met him a few months before his passing. I immediately had the feeling that this dove was a sign of his visit and passing into the next life.
Apparently this is not a unique experience from some research on the web, but that dosent make it any less extraordinay. Truly, it reinforces my belief that there is something after this life and I feel privledged that I was able to experience a part of the world that lies beyond.
As I reached the dreaded “middle age” I began to notice some changes to my body an health that began to worry me. It also didn’t help that my family had a history of heart disease including “sudden death”. I did make some changes thanks to my wife, but it really took a good scare to get me on the right path….
A few years ago, I saw me AME and he took my blood pressure, which had been steadily rising due to age, but my first scan was an eye opener. I barely had a blood pressure under the limit to keep my medical and therefore my job. I also started having headaches, fatigue and just not feeling well. My doctor told me simply it was time to either take drugs or make a change in my life. I chose the latter.
There is nothing like having your career in jeopardy to get your motivated. I immediately joined my local gym and began a cardio regimen. It wasn’t easy and the work/life balance of flying often makes exercise secondary but I stuck with it. Yes, I started out with a trainer, but I didn’t need him. When you see the surgery scar on your fathers chest from his heart attack it makes you think every day.
After 4 months and lots of cardio, I had lost 2o lbs. Did I need to lose it…YES! My blood pressure slowly started to go down, but I also had to change the way I eat. I stopped eating the famous “machine cuisine” the many pilots eat. I CUT OUT SODA…period. I cant tell you how much of a difference this made and slowly but surely things got better.
Now after 2 years and 4 months, Im in the best shape of my life and with the support of my wife (who has always eaten healthy) and further healthy eating Im 44 years old with a six pack for the first time in my life, my blood pressure is normal and I feel and look great. Im also still flying and much less fatigued.
So how does this apply to the pilot. Well for that First Class Medical is only good for 6 moths when you are over age 40 and you MUST have a physical exam. There are a HOST of things that can cause you to lose that medical including diabetes, hypertension and other conditions that can come from obesity or unhealthy eating, never mind the stress of flying so taking care of yourself is VITAL. I don’t just go to my AME. I also have blood tests and regular physical to avoid that scar that my father “earned”
Pilots have tremendously stressful jobs, often on the road for weeks a time with irregular sleep times, even in the best of jobs. We can take our health for granted, but in the end its really all we have. No one said staying in shape was easy. It takes work like anything else and if you are looking for a quick fix, you’ve come to the wrong place. Also, as you get older your priorities in your career might change. It is really worth it to be on the road for months at a time if its going to at the price of your health? We all like money, we all like our careers, but I would rather be flying healthy and productive that having money and remembering the “old days”.
Everyone can find their way to be healthy, we just have to remember that our health puts our job on the line every 6 months.
I realize its been a while since Ive posted on this blog. Big changes have happened in the last year and I plan to share them in my new post “still working after all this year” look for it in the near future.