The Vitamin D Solution

Moving tentatively through the dark and unfamiliar hallway, I don’t quite stumble into the walls. Reaching the entrance to the kitchen without incident, I hit all the light switches. The low-energy lightbulbs in the over-height ceiling take a few minutes to come up to their full specified luminescence, so it’s all hands on deck.

With one hand I grope for the electric kettle: In this American rental, it’s a small miracle that speaks of a Canadian landlord. With the other I turn on the tap with just one thought: Tea. Everything else can wait: Caffeine takes priority.

My morning mental fog is still swirling, but the room’s morning murk is lifting, and I notice the plastic bottle on the ledge above the sink. Without thinking, I rap it sharply on the counter to de-glom the pills, flip the cap open, and pop my prescribed daily dosage of the sunshine vitamin.

Vitamin D pills can languish for years in my cupboard, passing their best-before date through inattention. But when they’re out in full sight I take them pretty reliably.  Even in the morning.

As I move through my breakfast preparations, I think about how easy it is to do the right thing when it’s right in front of me. Putting my vitamins on the ledge above the sink, laying out my exercise clothes the night before, highlighting my chores or projects on the calendar: These are all simple but effective self-management tactics.

It’s easy to organize my house to support the things I want to do better. Can we organize our communities to support the things we want to do better? What would it look like for societal goals to be out in full sight — things like better foster care, clean water for remote communities, and decent jobs for everyone who wants to work — with immediate and practical actions right at hand?


This entry was posted in New Perspectives, Politics and Policy, Thinking Broadly and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Vitamin D Solution

  1. It would look like Bhutan.
    Bhutan doesn’t have a Gross National Product, but a Gross National Happiness scale.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – It might look like that. Some critics of the concept worry about its lack of objective, quantifiable measurement, making it possible for governments to measure it however suits them. And there’s been some work on that issue, so it;s interesting. In business, the concept of Balanced Scorecard was developed to address this issue of needing something broader than a financial metric. But I figure we already know that many people are miserable (however measured) – I’m just not sure how we move past that point.

      • The Bhutan GNH is heresay (auto correct tried to make it heresy!) as a friend has been twice and says being there is bliss. In the moment. Works for her.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara – That’s because it’s hearsay, I think. Poor old Auto-Correct can’t get any respect. But your friend’s first-hand report in interesting. Canada is great, but I’m not sure I’d say living here is bliss.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    This may seem like a digression, but trust me, it’s not. Joan had a malignant sore on her leg removed. The hole it left was about 5 cm wide and 1 cm deep — in other words, big and ugly. For the last month, she’s been going to a “wound clinic” to help this wound heal — where, strangely enough, the treatment seems to be to keep it open, to keep it from forming a thick scab/scar. I wonder if the same thing needs to be done to “organize our communities to support the things we want to do better”? In other words, perhaps, quit trying to hide the homeless on our streets. Quit denying the reality of the illegal drug trade. Quit tolerating sexist jokes and racist slurs. Quit denying our wounds — bring them into the open, keep them open, give them a chance to heal…
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Ah – a different metaphor/model then – one of healing, not management? Interesting.

  3. Tom Watson says:

    About those Vitamin D pills passing their best-before date: According to a good friend who was, prior to retirement, the CFO of a major pharmaceutical supplier, those “best before” dates are, in the majority of cases, a marketing tool and could well be called “sell before.”

    I talked with a pharmacist about this. He said that over time every chemical diminishes in its strength but, in the vast majority of cases with pills and vitamins, the reduction is minimal.

    Of course, neither you nor I would knowingly buy vitamins, or any other drug store product, on which the best before date has expired. So I asked him what happens to those products. They go to third world countries. I gather they’re okay for people who live there even though not, at least we’ve been trained to think, okay for us.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – That is interesting. Having been caught by a family member with seriously outdated cold medication in my cupboard, I now routinely scour my small collection for old stuff and take it to the pharmacy for proper disposal. The first time, I asked whether the dates meant anything, and the pharmacy assistant just threw it all into the disposal bin. Of course, they have a business interest in me buying new stuff . . .

  4. Alison says:

    Love reading the responses – like a good conversation, they carry the ball along, raising other issues as it goes. I found your piece a little inspiring, as I’m trying hard this week to turn a new leaf, and get back to regular exercise, and taking those darn pills (which I ignore even when they ARE right in front of my coffee cup). I’ve always looked up to you – so I’ll try again, and see if I can develop some better habits. Thanks for the impetus.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – You’re welcome! The trick for me is to get things like pill-taking into the subconscious (Of course, then I can’t remember whether I’ve taken today’s dose or not. Sigh.) but there’s no way to get exercise there! Maybe we can inspire each other . . .

  5. Tom Watson says:

    Family members can be so helpful! Every time one daughter comes to our place she takes it upon herself to check our fridge to see if there’s anything she coonsiders “expired.” I’ve had to rescue more than one thing before it hit the dumper. Given my age, I’m thinkin’ of acquiring some sort of protection against being declared expired too…because, trust me, some parts of me are beyond their best-before date!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – I’ve sometimes wondered whether that old guard call to identify yourself as either friend or foe should be amended to be: Friend, foe, or that curious middle-ground – family?

  6. Barry Jewell says:

    I did not know we had the same daughter.

  7. Tom Watson says:

    I guess everybody has a double somewhere, Barry!

Comments are closed.