“God, I want my future back.”

Those were the words I whispered to God, while I was going through the greatest health scare of my life. In the midst of the tests and various medical consultations, it occurred to me that my life had stopped. My symptoms limited my movements and where I could go. So, I couldn’t plan and I couldn’t project forward. Things like traveling or dating went out of the window. I was stuck on finding a solution to my health problems.

My tests are still ongoing. I’m still seeing doctors, but we think we now know what’s wrong. And so, I am hopeful.

Here are a few things that I learned during this time:

1. Health insurance is not an option. Saving is not an option. I am not joking. In two days of health tests, my bank account went from green to red. I have a health plan that will provide a refund after the fact, but I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t had savings. Please get a comprehensive health plan that covers as much as possible. If you can afford it and if you travel often, get a global plan so you can access health care internationally. You never know when you will need a foreign doctor’s second opinion. Sickness can bankrupt you. Get insured and set aside an emergency fund.

2. Please do a complete physical every year. In the midst of my blood tests, MRI, CT scan etc, I not only got a full picture of my health, I also discovered a few other health risks I am now empowered to manage. I would never have discovered them without a full physical. I’ve told my friends that this year, their birthday gifts will be health insurance if they don’t get one themselves. And, I will harass them till they do full physicals. Preventive medicine is better than curative options.

3. If you can afford it, please don’t compromise what you spend on health. I know private health care is expensive, but sadly our public health system can be frustrating. Many health tests are now digitised. You can get same-day results. If you can use a private hospital, please do so. You shouldn’t have to wait for weeks in a public hospital before you find out what’s happening to you.

4. Family and friends should take the preeminence over everything else. A health scare has a way of slapping priorities into you. If you die, work will go on without you. Money is only as important as the impact it can have on others. Touch base with your loved ones constantly and please be there for them. My friends and family were with me for my hospital tests. They drove me around. They were constantly checking up on me. Put friends and family first. Drop everything for them.

5. Be happy. Sometimes negative emotions can trigger ill health. Manage your stress. Do what eases it. Going forward, I may not be on social media as much as I used to. It adds to my stress, unfortunately.

6. Stop eating things that reduce your lifespan. Lose weight. Exercise. Use an ergonomic chair that supports your back and head. These are things you should pay attention to while you’re young, so you don’t deal with cumulative issues later on in life. One thing my MRI showed was years of occupational carelessness. My bad posture degraded my health. I can’t get those years back.

7. You need God. During this health scare, I only coped because God was speaking. I needed God to give me a path through it and he has given me one. I learnt with great humility that I am in control of nothing in this world. I need to depend on God fully and stop holding back or leaning on my own wisdom.

This sickness has been a wake-up call. I will no longer be the same. I have made promises to God I cannot break. It brings to mind a statement Denzel Washington made in Equalizer 2, “There is pain that hurts and there is pain that alters. Choose one.” I choose the latter.

My sickness was a wake-up call. I will no longer be the same. Click To Tweet