For one thing, I've been forced to break some of my many bad habits. Among the top ones is the crazy night-owl sleeping schedule I was keeping before my illness. BCE (Before Coma Era), I too often greeted the sunrise only because I hadn't gone to bed yet. In the nursing home, breakfast was at 7 am, so sleeping in was not an option. And when I left the nursing home, I was forced to get up at 6 am along with Keith, since he had to make breakfast and prepare things for me before going to work so that his mom wouldn't have to do too much for me. Fortunately, I'm a lot more self-sufficient now.
I'm still a night owl inside, but I value sleep much more than I used to. I no longer sacrifice sleep for things that really could wait until the morning. Of course, I'm not exactly at my best then, and I frequently wake up cursing the sunshine for looking so cheerful. But being in sync with the rest of the world has its perks, too. My screwed up sleep schedule often made it hard to see museums, which is one of our favorite things to do.
And I never realized how much I would enjoy garden and nature walks. It's kind of hard to do them in the dark--unless you're looking for actual night owls. Even after I no longer need the walks for rehab, I want to continue doing them. When I'm feeling down, my mood always lifts when I'm walking through forest canopies or soaking in the lovely colors and textures of gardens. BCE, I went to the Sepulveda Dam Wildlife Preserve with Keith only once, and that was because he had extolled its charms so often. I've been there countless times during my recovery, however, and I've come to look forward to watching the wildlife there. I took walking for granted until I couldn't do it anymore. BCE, walking was a drudgery, but now it unlocks nature for me.
Last Tuesday, we were heading to our polling place, which was only a few blocks away. Keith was going to drive us, but he asked if I wanted to walk. I said, "Sure. Walking is good for me." When we were on our way, Keith remarked that I never would've agreed to walk there before my illness. I couldn't have ridden the stationary bike more than a fraction of the time I can now, either...assuming I even tried. And I want to keep that up after I no longer need it for rehab, too. Walking through museums and on vacations will be a lot easier thanks to my improved endurance.
What's more, nearly dying made me want to live. I didn't want to die before, of course, but I also didn't do anything to ensure my continuing health. Most people don't. Death may be inevitable, but it doesn't seem real until it almost happens. I was incredibly lucky this time, but next time I might not be. I'll probably live longer now that I've decided to take my health in my own hands.
I'm still not a exercise or health fanatic, but I did receive a wake-up call (even though I accidentally fell back asleep for a half an hour yesterday). I will never be a morning person, but I'll probably have a lot more groggy mornings because of the positive changes in my life.