This post was written by Gretchen Hammer, a former member of our team.
The second week of September was a blur for me. It was not the usual “more work than seems possible to accomplish,” desperation or the “I have so many things going on between personal and professional obligations that my head is spinning,” chaos; rather, I had a cold. Yup, an everyday, run of the mill, late summer cold. Whatever virus I picked up left me with no taste buds, an inability to sleep, an achy body, and so much sinus pressure it felt like my cheekbones might explode. It takes a lot to keep me from exercising, but I could not exercise. However, as a full time professional and a busy mom, I maintained (nearly) all of my commitments and kept on chugging along, fueled by Theraflu.
It was not until I finally started feeling better and got back into my work routine during the third week of September that I realized how totally dysfunctional I had been the week before. Tasks I was struggling to complete while sick were now easy. Issues that seemed too complex to think through now became clearer and more understandable. It was remarkable.
By many measures, Coloradans are generally healthy. In the 2013 Colorado Health Access Survey, 87 percent of Coloradans said they were in good, very good, or excellent health. However, 13 percent said they were in fair or poor health, and that means 678,000 Coloradans are feeling consistently unwell. In addition to that, there are hundreds of thousands, or more likely millions, of Coloradans who suffer through episodes of poor health throughout the year. Whether it’s a nasty bug that lasts a few days or a chronic illness, we all spend a portion of our lives in poor health, and being in poor health makes life more challenging. In fact, Coloradans managing chronic illnesses have shared very powerful stories of the impact of the health conditions on their lives through Colorado HealthStory.
Just because we will all have to deal with illness at some point, doesn’t mean we have to accept the current state of health in Colorado, though. There are lots of efforts underway aimed at improving the overall health of our residents and reducing the burden of chronic disease. There are the Winnable Battles, LiveWell Colorado, and other really great community-based health promotion and disease prevention programs, such as be well.
Furthermore, it’s important that we put compassionate, supportive, high quality systems in place to ensure that all Coloradans are able to maximize their lives and contribute their best at work and home. It’s important that we practice good self-care to ensure that our bodies and minds have the opportunity to rest, heal, and recover. And, it’s important that we don’t let sickness or disease stand in the way of our individual and collective greatness.