Last week I had a 82-year-old patient who came for elective percutaneous valve replacement to the hospital, but otherwise healthy. I asked him, how he made to age 82 without any long list of medications. He replied:
"Son! I didn't have a healthy lifestyle up to age 50. I smoke, drank and even experimented with drugs during the hippie era. I was obese, deconditioned and never thought of disease. Just before my 50th birthday, I became very short of breath just climbing a little hill during hunting. I felt very ashamed as older folks in our party were not showing any distress. On my birthday, I made a resolution. I never mentioned this to anyone. I quit alcohol, tobacco & junk food cold turkey, start walking every day 3 miles and promised to myself I will never take elevators or escalators but only stairs, no matter how many floors I have to climb. It was not easy when I visited Eiffel tower and New York".
"And that all paid off?" I asked
"Indeed! But what actually I think made the real difference was my deployment to Morocco at work. Just to experiment, I did 30 days of fasting with my Muslim colleagues. No no, I didn't become a Muslim. I am still a hardcore atheist but I lost 10 lbs in 30 days. I liked it so much that I am fasting since last 25 years. I made sure, I don't gain weight after fasting is over. That was the key. Are you a Muslim?"
"Yes I am", I replied
"I am at lost. Explain to me how come after having such an immense and deep impacted ritual, Muslims are so stagnant and on the decline"!
"I don't know Sir! I wish I knew the answer". I failed miserably to hide my embarrassment.