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You’ve Been Warned! It’s Time to Get Healthy!

Don't wait until the situation gets fatal; when your body fires warning shots, are you listening and doing what it takes to get healthy?

Since Veteran's Day is tomorrow, it seems a good time to share a war story. Don't worry, it relates to you and your health. Many years ago, I was a young naval officer on my first tour of duty in Vietnam. We were off the coast of DaNang, and I assumed the watch as Officer of the Deck, which meant I had the ship totally at my command. The Captain gave me the order to not let any other vessels within 1000 yards. Things were going well until about two hours into my watch, when through my binoculars I saw a Vietnamese boat, called a junk, drifting toward us with about a half-dozen men dressed like Ninjas that just seemed to be smoking and fishing. At first, I thought little of it. As I watched, they continued getting closer and closer. When they got within about 1500 yards, I had a petty officer flash a signal light at them with the international code to “get away.”

Through my binoculars, I saw the men look at our signal and just ignore it. They kept right on fishing, all the while getting closer. Nothing we did seemed to get their attention, and we didn’t know if they were friend or foe. When the junk got inside the 1000-yard limit, I called the Captain in his cabin. He and the Executive Officer immediately came up on the bridge. The Executive Officer got on the bullhorn and shouted the order to leave, in Vietnamese, as we also continued to flash the spotlight at them. Again, they paid no attention.

When they finally got within 100–150 feet, the Captain spun around and motioned to the gunner’s mate that was manning a twin 50 caliber machine gun just above and behind me. Immediately there was a deafening sound and blinding, choking smoke as approximately a hundred rounds went right over my head. Water was convulsing where the boat had been. When the smoke cleared, I expected to see six dead men on a sinking boat. Instead, the boat was untouched, and the men were fine. They elbowed each other, started up the motor and pulled away, eventually disappearing over the horizon. It had been a warning shot of a hundred rounds to get their attention. But it could have turned out so differently, so much more tragic if the captain hadn’t decided to give them one last warning. I remembered thinking how insane it was that hand signals, flashing lights, and bullhorn messages couldn’t get their attention; it took a potentially lethal event. Crazy you say?

Many people today are very similar when it comes to their health. Life generally and even our own bodies will try to get our attention for our own good. Does it take the scare of a heart attack or a stroke or the doctor’s diagnoses that you have type 2 diabetes to take your health seriously?

Are you willing to rely on the hope that those health troubles are just warning shots? What if this is the time that it is the real thing? I just found out that a good friend of mine had a massive stroke, is paralyzed on his left side and cannot speak. For years he has been overweight, had high blood pressure and developed type 2 diabetes. All these warning shots went unheeded. You and I will make our own determinations regarding what it will take to get our attention so that we take care of ourselves by eating healthily and exercising sensibly. Will common sense or the pleading of a loved one be enough? Will research from health experts or test results from your physician do the trick? Or will it take a crisis like a heart attack, a stroke, or diabetes to get your attention? And once they have your attention, will it take even more before you will actually do something about it. Procrastination is human nature, but I’d like to make a recommendation that you do the healthy thing out of common sense and not wait for a crisis when it could be tragically too late.

Consider this your warning shot. It’s time to get healthy.

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