Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How is Diego Sanchez healthy?

Look, no one is perfect, and no one makes the best decisions always. 

In past years, people who web-searched my name bumped into “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?”  Later they were greeted by Dora the Explorer’s, “Go, Diego, go!”  I guess I’m getting closer to health because today, if you web-search my name, you encounter a photo and profile of a handsome, young Latino champion mixed martial artist. 

No, I’m not he.  I’m the adopted, naturalized, older, not-as-cute, Latino transsexual guy who leverages a different kind of fight.  I fight for our community and for our lives.

To me, being or staying healthy entails several things.  My “healthy” checklist includes being safe, honest, respectful, engaged, grateful, humble, hopeful, inspired, conscious in my decision-making and as medically well as possible as often as possible.  Physical fitness is on my list, as is a two-week vacation in Hawaii or Arizona – both are part of my past, and they are on my radar for my future.

I’m reminded of my Uncle Gene who for decades said, “Every day’s a gift,” as he revealed part of a clever grin that let you know there’s more to the sentence than crossed his lips.  After he retired, he’d say, “Every day’s a holiday.”  When I consider the danger and constant risk so many people in my communities face daily -- reminded just a couple of weeks ago on Nov. 20, the International Transgender Day of Remembrance when we tallied our annual loss at more than 160 people, mostly of color, predominantly poor --  I recognize each day that I exist as a gift and a holiday.  It’s my charge to make each day a celebration. 
I’m fortunate that when my parents went to an orphanage, they asked for the infant closest to death, and that infant was I.  
They did the same when they chose my brother four years later.  I’m lucky to be emotionally balanced and mentally fit.  I suppose my next step could be to get on my bike more often or run and lift a little more each day.  I take my life in stride.  As an adopted person, I have to presume that I’m predisposed to get everything on that physicians’ checklist.  I do get annual checkups, hormone panels when needed and yes, because I’m over 50 colonoscopies.  Here’s why:  Is there a family history of heart attacks?  Maybe.  Any relatives ever had a stroke? Possibly.  How about diabetes?  Could be.  I am diligent about being vigilant.  It’s all about moderation and balance, so I have my checklist in tow.  I ponder it.  Look, no one is perfect, and no one makes the best decisions always.  We can give our best effort and not judge ourselves if we fall short sometimes.  It’s harm reduction, as we learn in the HIV/AIDS prevention and education public health arena.

Learn, smile, dust off and move on.  It’s how we grow, and it feels to me like a key reason that we age.

The most important take-away point is that I could never be healthy alone.  I need to be accountable and active in my faith, to my community, friends, family and myself.  I am humbly thankful that I am blessed to be able to live with integrity. I salute Jim Pickett for the variety of handsome men he finds to highlight on this blog.  Still, the real joy is that he features the full essence of good and great men – skin deep and beyond, never stopping with who you see, rather fearlessly profiling who you might get to know.  It’s the same healthy action that Michael Shankle at The MALE Center ensures to create such welcoming space where gay, bisexual and trans men can flourish, heal and grow.

Gentlemen and others: a nuestra salud.

-- Diego Sanchez
Boston and Washington, DC

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