Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Don't Let Others Decide Your Future For You

The Encyclopedia Brittanica defines a pharmaceutical as a "substance used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease and for restoring, correcting, or modifying organic functions."

Without question, it is completely acceptable in our society for sick people to take fist-fulls of physician-prescribed pharmaceuticals in an attempt to offset the damage they've done to themselves as the result of decades of smoking, obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, and other poor lifestyle choices.

However, it is NOT acceptable in our society for healthy individuals to take physician-prescribed pharmaceuticals to further enhance their good health, well being, quality of life, and intelligent lifestyle choices.

In other words, prescribing pharmaceuticals to people who have worked long and hard to destroy their health is GOOD. But prescribing pharmaceuticals to people who have worked long and hard to remain healthy is BAD.

How upside-down crazy is that?

Recently I saw yet another story, this one in the Los Angeles Times, about Dr. Jeffrey Life, who is known as the "70 year old guy with the 20 year old body." Predictably there was a flurry of negative criticism against this man who is on a physician- supervised program of hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, as are millions of other people in the US and around the world.

For those who are unaware, as we humans get older, our bodies lose their ability to produce essential hormones. Note that the key word here is "essential". HRT is the process of replenishing the natural essential hormones our bodies used to make in copious quantities but no longer do. Women can experience terrible physical and emotional symptoms as they approach menopause, and HRT can go a long way in improving their situation. For men, the positive results of HRT can be just as miraculous, by reinvigorating libido, increasing lean muscle mass, instilling a general feeling of well-being, and increasing energy, strength and stamina.

Now, who would ever guess that so many people, even some doctors, seem to think HRT is a bad idea? Is it everyone's ultimate goal to become fat, weak, immobile, depressed and to no longer have a reason to live as they age?

Those women who are considering HRT but are concerned about the reported increased risk in heart disease or breast cancer need to understand that they are already at FAR greater risk for these diseases if they are obese, if they smoke, or if they have an alcohol or substance abuse problem. Millions of people smoke and say "to hell with the risk." Millions of people are obese and say "to hell with the risk." For women suffering severe symptoms of menopause, they need to consider the true risks of their decision, or indecision, concerning HRT, especially compared to the far greater risks posed by obesity, alcohol or drug abuse, or smoking.

Millions of men are taking a medically prescribed pharmaceutical for hair loss called Propecia. How serious a health issue is a receding hairline compared to the swift downhill slide of debilitating aging, and the inherent loss of strength, vitality, muscle mass, libido and overall sense of well being?

"I want my hair back, but not my youthful physique, strength, libido, optimism, ability to burn fat, and happier demeanor"?

I have yet to see, hear, or read one single diatribe against Propecia, or ridicule or disdain for the millions of men who take this pharmaceutical for no valid reason other than vanity, but mention HRT or steroids and keyboards glow red hot. You don't have to be a shrink to figure that out.

And what about Viagra? Society applauds a medically prescribed pharmaceutical that makes my penis hard but condemns a medically prescribed pharmaceutical that increases my desire to actually put that same erection to use? That's insanity.

What this and all hypocrisy is about, is the fear of being left behind, of looking bad in comparison. People who have never exercised, eaten sensibly or refrained from inhaling toxic substances are so damaged and incapacitated by their 40s, —a decade when the chickens truly come home to roost— that some are deeply threatened by those who have lived their lives judiciously.

It's humiliating enough for them to have to share the same air with people their own age whose vibrant health and comparative youthfulness shines a naked spotlight on their decades of self destructive lifestyle choices. But to have to compete with them for the same sex partners —and life's other rewards that favor the healthy, strong and attractive— seems to them an abomination.

For the "health nuts" to want to take advantage of pharmaceuticals to become even better, stronger and more agile widens the chasm between the two groups to an intolerable level.

My grandmother always said "the person who is criticizing you is telling the world much more about themselves than they are about you." People who are in physical distress and decline by their own hand who attempt to belittle contemporaries who are clearly light years superior to them physically —and by default, emotionally as well— look downright stupid, but lack the intelligence and the ability to self-assess to realize the insecurities they are revealing about themselves.

Be aware that troubled aging men and women who have abused their health can feel very threatened by contemporaries who by comparison, glaringly reveal the results of their own bad decisions. There is no greater regret than the lost opportunities of an old man or old lady, especially when those opportunities were willingly tossed away. You have to decide what's best for you as regards your future. And that means walking away from those who do not want you to thrive, or worse, are actively trying to prevent you from thriving.

If you are interested in HRT, the place to start is a consult with a specialist whose area of expertise is focused, and his knowledge up to the minute. Not everyone can tolerate HRT, and for your information I myself cannot. But if my docs can find some way to get me back on HRT safely, I will jump at the chance.