Eat steak everyday!

Juan Magdaraog

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A man stricken with Pompe Disease reminds us why we should seize the day

JUAN REMINDS US TO do something that makes us happy every single day. Photo by Taffy Ledesma

MANILA, Philippines – Well, don’t take the title literally.

I’m using “Eat steak everyday” as an analogy to a common but important lesson that I was reminded of recently:

I had been wanting to take my parents out to a nice dinner for quite a while. My dad’s birthday was coming up. My parents had always been there to provide for me. They put me through school, saw that my medical needs were met and made sure that I experienced even the occasional luxuries in life.

I had saved up some extra money and wanted to do something special for them to say thanks. 

To make the long story short, we had one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. It was a great dinner with dad, mom and my brother. My sister-in-law couldn’t make it because she was on bed rest. Her presence would have made that evening better.

This brings me to the important lesson I was reminded of:

I was fast asleep, dreaming wonderful dreams, when I suddenly awoke, gasping for air. I realized the reason immediately. 

Before I go to the reason, please allow me to give a brief background:

People like me who suffer from neuro-muscular diseases such as Pompe Disease are faced with countless problems. One of them is the weakening of the respiratory muscles. This necessitates the use of a breathing machine, either a BiPAP or a ventilator.

I started using one about 15 years ago. At first, I just needed to use it during sleep, until it became necessary to use one 24/7.

It was around 5:15 in the morning when it happened.

I usually sleep alone in my room. I have a buzzer I use to call an aide whenever I need help. I also have my phone beside me at all times. 

The hose connecting the machine to my facemask had gotten dislodged. As I struggled to breathe, I desperately squeezed the buzzer. For some reason, it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t hear the audible chime that the receiver usually made.

My heart raced. I tried to concentrate on my breathing while I worked the buzzer. I could barely breathe without my machine (in an upright position); it’s 7 times more difficult lying down and with a facemask on.

I tried to keep calm. My mind raced through my options.

I shouted out the name of my aide. At the same time, I gave up on my buzzer and fumbled to dial my phone. I was in an awkward position and couldn’t swipe the touch screen to unlock. I realized it was upside down.

Before I could turn my phone around, my aide came into the room. I gestured to him that the hose was loose. He promptly re-connected it. The time I woke up to the time my aide came and re-connected my hose to the machine took about 2 to 3 minutes.

Those were the longest 2 to 3 minutes of my life.

After the hose was connected and the crisis was averted, I realized that my dad was standing at the doorway of my room. Both my dad and mom heard my screams and one of them woke my aide from sleep. Whew! Dad asked if I was okay. I nodded “yes” and tried to go back to sleep.

The last thought I had before sleep took over was, “If I died tonight, at least my last meal was one of the best steaks I’ve had.”

I know it sounds funny but it reminded me of something that I’ve known most of my life but sometimes forget:

We should live each day as though it is our last. We should take every opportunity to do the things we want to do and make us happy.

This is not to say that we should throw all caution to the wind and live recklessly. It just means that we should do something each day that makes us happy. 

We should try to do something each day that will make us say, “This day was not wasted.” If today happens to be our last day, at least we have done something worthwhile.

We’ll never know when our time is up until it actually happens.

A person can be completely healthy but his life can be cut short by a freak accident. There are simply no guarantees that we’ll be here for a long time.

Life is just like that sometimes. We don’t have control over how long we stay in this world, but we do have control over what we do today and how we can make our lives meaningful.

So when I say “eat steak everyday,” I mean we should do something that will make us happy each day. Whether it’s literally eating the best steak you’ve tasted, spending time with your loved ones, making someone else happy, taking a nice walk outside… just do something that makes you happy. It can be something big or something small; it doesn’t really matter.

Find your “steak” today and eat it.

I try to do at least one thing that makes me happy each day.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as talking to a good friend. Other times, it’s doing a good deed for a random friend or stranger.

Then there are days that it’s something as big as taking my family out to a really nice meal. All of these equally make my day count and matter.

A day is too precious to waste.

We often find ourselves doing things that don’t really matter much or dwelling on bad things that are happening. That’s not a good way to spend our day. Life is too short to waste on things like that.

Big or small, do something each day to make you happy! Find your steak and eat it! –

Juan is a 30-something front-end web developer and blogger. He’s also a patient advocate for the Philippine society for Orphan Disorders, a non-profit whose goal is to help people, especially children with rare disease. You can reach him on twitter @juanmagdaraog.

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