A Better Way: Living Healthy through Reading
United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa County.
This post is brought to you by the generous support of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library System. With 20 branches across our community, the Library's mission is to engage all of our communities, inspire lifelong learning and provide universal access to a broad range of information, ideas and entertainment.
Keeping a consistent schedule as a single dad can be really tough. Since my wife died, my morning routine has actually stayed pretty consistent. Every day I get up before Harrison and check my blood sugar levels. I drink a tall glass of water, take my insulin and perform a short set of exercises. I take my supplements. I eat the same breakfast—scrambled eggs and toast, and a health shake. I then make my to-do list for the day. Lastly, I finally raise my son from his slumber to catch the bus.
When you have diabetes, routine is key. I wish we’d discovered the routine sooner, together.
Before Angela died, she gave me four sets of instructions for both Harrison and I to live by.
#1: “Keep Harrison healthy. Show him another way.”
Another way. Shield him from our past mistakes of diet soda in the morning, fast food for lunch, sugary snacks and overeating. “Show him another way,” I’d mumble to myself.
Angela died of heart disease at the age of forty. Far too young to leave us just yet. Like me, she had diabetes ever since she was a child. We always talked about getting healthy, but, our busy lives placed barrier after barrier in our way to actually start exercising and eating right.
#2: “Take him to the doctor.”
I used to think that doctor’s visits were only for vaccinations or when Harrison was sick. But his pediatrician encourages regular wellness checkups, even when nothing seems wrong. Especially with our family history of diabetes. It requires some extra shifts at work to cover the medical expenses from ongoing checkups. But, Harrison is my world, and I want him to live a happy and healthy life.
#3: “Read with him. Every night.”
At each well-care visit, Harrison’s pediatrician gives us a children’s book, at no-cost, as part of a program called Reach Out and Read. He said that, in addition to remaining physically healthy, it’s just as important that Harrison is ready for kindergarten by talking and reading to him daily. Reading aloud will help Harrison have better language skills and be more comfortable with reading.
I remember the wellness check after Angela died. Harrison’s pediatrician gave us a children’s book about healthy eating. I had voiced my concerns and shared my wife’s wishes with her, because I honestly didn’t know what my first-steps should be. The doctor said that the book would encourage and instill healthy eating habits in his life—in both of our lives.
Harrison has asked me to read that book over and over, so it’s now in our nightly shuffle of Dr. Seuss and Llama Llama books.
Take care of you. This is the point that keeps me motivated.
#4: “Take care of your own health. Harrison will need you for a long time. You’ll need each other.”
Taking care of myself is why I follow a routine. Harrison’s routine is different than mine. I believe kids should be kids. Playing and socializing. I keep him healthy, I take him to the doctor and I read with him each night.
I’d be lying if I said we didn’t think about, or shed a tear about Angela being gone every day. I so wish she were on this journey with us. But, we honor her by following her instructions for another way of living. A better way.
CHANGE MAKER ACTION: Because of your support, United Way of Greater Toledo and our strong community partners, like Toledo Lucas County Public Library, we are able to help residents understand how reading can transform your life.
*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by Reach Out and Read, a program run through The University of Toledo Foundation. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.
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