Friday, November 2, 2007

"A Healthy Outlook"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

There is good news and bad news on the medical front. The good news (for me) is that I probably will live to be 100. The bad news (for my family and friends) is that I probably will live to be 100.

I came to this healthy conclusion recently while attending an event at work called a "wellness fair," where I was diagnosed as being (at least from the neck down) well.

I was not surprised because my father, the original and by far the best Jerry Zezima, recently turned 90 and is still going strong. His only concessions to age are that he doesn’t drive anymore and he has stopped climbing ladders. That’s because he fell off of one earlier this year. He escaped with barely a scratch, much to the relief of my mother, Rosina, aka Foxy Roxy, who is almost 83 and is still going strong herself. In fact, they’re both sharper than I am, which admittedly isn’t saying much but is nonetheless impressive.

So I have genetics on my side. This has given me a great excuse – as if I needed one – to be lazy.

Three years ago, when I turned 50, I went for a checkup with Dr. Leonard Vinnick, a physician with a practice in Stamford. "You’re in great shape," he said. "What do you do for exercise?"

"I get up once a night to go to the bathroom," I answered.

Vinnick remembered this when I went back recently for my annual physical, which I again passed with the proverbial flying colors. "Still on the same exercise program?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. "I’m as active as a sedentary person could be."

My philosophy: Why start exercising now? It would only be a shock to my system and I’d drop dead. I figure I’m saving my own life by not doing anything. Besides, I drink red wine, which is essentially over-the-counter heart medicine. If my liver holds out, I’ll be fine.

Speaking of hearts, which are worth more than diamonds, except to my wife, Sue, who doesn’t play cards, I recently read about a study in which British scientists found that a bad marriage can damage your heart. Speaking of Sue, I am in a great marriage, which so far has lasted almost 30 years and, at this rate, will continue for at least another 40. This may not, unfortunately, be good for Sue’s heart.

Anyway, I had all of this going for me when I went to the wellness fair. First, I got a massage from Alan End, a massage therapist from Plainview, N.Y. "I’m not a dead end," said End, who added that he has heard all the jokes about his last name but that, "in the end, they don’t bother me."

"I guess they don’t rub you the wrong way," I said.

"I’ve heard all the massage jokes, too," End said as he helped me into a special chair in which I sat backward with my head in a circular opening so I was facing the floor. Then he went to work, deftly using his fingers, palms and elbows to invigorate the seldom-utilized muscles in my shoulders, ribs and back.

"You’re nice and loose," End said. "You have no stress."

"That’s because everything rolls off my back," I told him.

"I haven’t heard that one before," he noted, adding that I was in fantastic shape. "Keep doing what you’re doing," End said.

"I don’t do anything," I replied.

"Keep doing it," he suggested.

Next I got a posture and spinal exam from Dr. Michael Berlin, a holistic chiropractor and wellness coach who also is based in Plainview. After filling out a stress survey in which I indicated that I have no stress, I sat down with Berlin, who asked me to turn my head as far as I could both ways. I felt like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist." He detected a little crick ("I’m a pain my own neck," I told him) but otherwise said I was in fine form.

So did Esther Morrissey, a health care enrollment specialist who examined me with a fat-loss monitor and said that my body mass was perfect. "That’s because most of the fat is in my head," I said.

All in all, the wellness fair went well.

Afterward, I said to Sue, "It looks like you’re stuck with me for another 40 years." She started having heart palpitations. I don’t know if it was love or stress. Maybe I should give her some of my red wine.

Copyright 2007 by Jerry Zezima

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