What A Nurse Told Me To Drink For My Health
I’m going to tell you the world’s worst kept secret: I like to drink. That shouldn’t be a surprise since my blog is called Conflict and Scotch and not Conflict and Coffee or Conflict and A-Nice- Glass-of-Warm-Milk-Just-Before-Bedtime. It’s called Conflict and Scotch. The Conflict was born from a marriage and a divorce and all that goes with that. The scotch found me in a totally unexpected way.
In the mid-eighties the company I worked for decided they wanted to keep their employees in tip-top condition. With that in mind they built a fitness center right in our building. There were treadmills and StairMasters and free-weights all designed to keep us from dropping dead at our desks. The only caveat was that in order to join the fitness center you had to be fit; each employee needed to pass a physical.
I’m not talking about taking a Navy Seals’ fitness test but just your basic ‘breath in, breath out, turn-your-head-and-cough, let’s take your blood pressure’ sort of test.
Apparently for me even that was a challenge.
A few of my friends and I went down to the company nurses’ office; one by one we went in, took the test, and then walked out. That was until I went in for my test. A few minutes into my test the nurse walked over and slowly closed the office door; my friends in the waiting room thought I had died.
I was in my mid-to-late twenties and, to put it delicately, I was fat. I was fat and I drank way too much beer and ate way too much pizza (is that even possible?). The nurse told me my blood pressure was 160 over 109. To give you an idea of what that meant: 120 over 80 is normal; 160 over 109 is one point away from having leeches attached to my veins to reduce the pressure.
She told me if I didn’t do something soon I would probably have a stroke. I assured her I would exercise and drop a few (dozen) pounds. She then added, most emphatically, that I needed to stop drinking. Again I assured her of my intent to get in shape and to get my blood pressure under control.
Like every other overweight, out-of-shape person I knew what I had to do and for once I actually did it. I started running (well, walk-lumber-jog at first) and I stopped drinking. I was amazed at how quickly the pounds dropped off. It was all beer-and-pizza weight and within a surprising short time I found myself back in the nurses’ office. My blood pressure was perfect.
I was just about to leave when she again emphatically stated that she did not want me drinking alcohol. As I thought about spending my summer weekends down the shore cold sober she then added this:
“However, if you are going to drink you should drink scotch.”
Who ever said our health care system needed to be fixed didn’t know what they were talking about; it seemed to be working just fine.
Apparently the body can process scotch easier and with less damage than any other alcohol. I had tried scotch once at a wedding reception when I was younger and to me it had a cold flat taste, like cardboard tipped in vinegar. Then and there I vowed I would never drink scotch again.
I also vowed to remain married till death-do-us-part so apparently my vows are not worth the air they are written on.
With my future health in mind I asked my friend Barbara to come with me and we went to a local bar. With some slight trepidation I ordered a scotch-and-water. The bartender placed that first glass in front of me not knowing the role he was about to play in my life. I stared down that first glass like I stared down that broccoli casserole my mother made when I was a boy as I paraphrased her voice in my head: “You will not leave this bar until you finish all your scotch, young man”.
Like a child being force-fed castor oil I screwed up my courage (and my face) and finished the first dose. I ordered a second, then a third. By the fourth outing scotch and I were old friends and I could not remember why we ever parted ways in the first place.
Since then, like any old friends, we’ve had our disagreements but always ended them over a glass of...well...scotch.
Recently history started to repeat itself and people keep telling me I should drink red wine because ‘it’s good for me’.
Conflict and Red Wine — nah, I think I’ll stick with scotch.