Category Archives: Health

Out of the Cold

Out of the Cold

As the thermometer plummeted to new record lows and the chill of winter’s wind cut even deeper through the channel beneath Highway 89, Buzz feared his home and the bottle of antifreeze he keep tucked under his jacket wouldn’t be enough.

Miranda pleaded with Buzz to follow, but he was leery of the people in those shelters; they didn’t hold his best interest at heart and wanted him to conform to their idea of living.

Still, he knew it would kill Miranda if she returned to find him frozen so he followed her as requested.

He couldn’t pinpoint the origin of his fear and the desire to run back to the bridge but as he stood there something about the front entrance calmed him and he knew everything was going to be alright – at least for tonight.

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Where the Sidewalk Begins

Where the Sidewalk Begins

Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question follows on the heels of his unfortunate fall from a ladder. I think the accident probably had a huge influence on this week’s question…

Have you ever fractured a bone (or bones) that was serious enough to require inpatient hospitalization and a post-operative stay in a rehab facility? What bone(s) did you break? How long did it take in rehab (inpatient or at home) before you were back to “normal”? And did you actually achieve the same level of functionality you had prior to the fracture(s)?

While I cannot claim to have required hospitalization or a stay in a rehab facility I wanted to participate so this is as close as I’ve come.

The worst bone break I ever suffered was a fracture of the scaphoid bone. Certainly nothing like Fandango’s ladder/hip mishap. There was no hospital stay outside of the lost hours spent waiting in Emergency but there was lots of physiotherapy after to get back to a full range of motion.

It all started on the first day of school. No, I wasn’t going to school. Those days were long behind on this fateful September 3rd. I was out for my morning ride. I’d just purchased a new road/gravel bike a couple of weeks earlier. Before this bike, I’d been a mountain bike guy. I’d taken many a spill on rocky tree-lined trails with nothing more than bruises and scratches to show. These bones were tough as nails!

But as a guy in my early 50’s it was time for something less dangerous…

Now, back to the first day of school. It was 7:30am and I was out for my 15km morning ride along my usual route. On this morning I was cruising along at about 25km/h, and gaining fast on a group of 15 to 20 high school students walking in the dedicated bike path like a herd of cattle who’ve broken through a barbed wire barrier to obliviously congregate on the road.

As I approached the group they remained oblivious and did not move out of the way. Instead of slowing or stopping, I veered to my right across the grass boulevard towards the empty sideWALK that was ten feet to the right. Notice how I highlighted WALK because that is where they should have been! Anyway, my front wheel caught a rut along the edge of the cement and dug in sending me and the bike ass over tea kettle. My head (thank God for helmets) hit first with my 6’1″ frame crashing down close behind.

The kids, no longer oblivious, looked over as I skidded across the concrete and popped up seeming unscathed. Yeah, I was bleeding from various scraps and scratches but when some of them asked me if I was okay, I insisted I was alright. After all, my head and frame were still attached to each other! In fairness, the adrenaline of the moment had me believing I was none the worse for wear. Although, I am certain my bruised ego would have told them I was fine even if there had been a bone sticking out somewhere.

An inspection of the bike revealed some damage to the handlebar tape and a couple of superficial scratches elsewhere but no major damage. Hell, that was a minimum right of passage for the mountain bike. If it wasn’t banged up you weren’t doing it right.

Inspection complete, I jumped back on the bike with every intention of finishing the nine or so klicks remaining on my ride but the moment I tried to grab the handlebar with my left hand that notion quickly dissipated, replaced with searing pain shooting up my arm. I couldn’t have gripped the bar if my life had depended on it. Instead, it was a slow shameful ride home with my left arm tucked against my midsection while my weakened legs powered a bike that was being guided by a lone and shaky right arm.

I don’t know if any bones were broken. The ER doctor showed me the x-rays but they did not show a break. Apparently, fractures to the scaphoid bone don’t reveal themselves on x-rays until 48 hours after injury. Based on his experience the doc believed the bone was broken and because the small bones of the carpals, and in particular the scaphoid, don’t receive a lot of blood flow should be treated as such. A lack of blood flow restricts healing and if not immobilized and allowed to heal the bone could die. That was enough for me to accept my fate and follow his instructions.

For six weeks I wore a removable cast without knowing if it was broken. X-rays were never taken again later, I just ran with the emergency room diagnosis. When the cast came off I began three months of physiotherapy to get close to a full range of motion. It would be another nine months before I can say the hand and wrist were back to normal.

Even now if the moon and stars and sun align just right, hidden behind a bank of dark grey clouds that are dumping a cold damp rain down on Mother Earth I can still feel it click and groan. Sometimes, I think that if I’d just plowed through them they’d have moved or at the very least it would have been a softer landing!

Oh, and did I mention all the years of reckless mountain biking where I never once broke a bone?

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I’m a Fat Guy

Well here goes…

I am a fat guy. There I said it. Worse yet I store it right up front. I like to think my washboard abs are toasty warm under all that extra insulation. I’m sure it has settled in some other undesirable locations like my chins, legs, and ass, but it doesn’t show there. Seriously if it is important that a guy can fill out the back of his Levi’s then I’m not the guy for you. I have no ass to speak of for a fat guy, it’s flat as a f@ckin’ board.

I am happy in my skin. I carry no emotional or self-conscious baggage around about my weight. What I do know is that carrying all of that visceral fat is unhealthy, especially for a 50-something guy with a stainless steel stent inserted into one of the arteries feeding my aging heart. I know, it could be worse. I could have required them in several arteries or worse been cut open stem to stern for bypass surgery so I am not complaining.

Back to the unhealthy bit. You see, all that visceral fat packed around my organs is worse than if it was hanging out on my arms, thighs, or cankles. I have a friend we call Baconhead because he wears his on the back of his neck like the layer of fat you’d find on a pork belly. Healthwise that’s still better than rolls of whale blubber around the gut. Fat is toxic and having it encasing your vital organs can lead to a plethora of health issues.

I don’t look like a fat guy other than the ‘beerless’ beer belly I’m sporting. I say that because I don’t drink enough beer or any other type of alcohol. For me, heavy drinking can be classified as 6 to 8 drinks per year. And other than the bulge upfront I am a fairly strong and agile dude. The problem is, now that I’ve crossed that half-century mark I can feel the extra weight in my hips, knees and ankles. It has also wreaked havoc on my sleep cycles. I have the Darth Vader mask and tire inflation unit to prove it.

Now is the time to try and set things straight. Actually, the time was some 10, 20, or 30 years ago but unless you know of a time machine that’s not an option. Hell, in my state I might block the wormhole if I tried to pass through it anyway. So now in 2023, shedding 70 pounds would be ideal but the reality I’d be happy with some modest gains. Ummm, that sends the wrong message… rephrasing… modest losses). Every pound I can part with will ease the stress on my joints and improve my health exponentially.

So how does one go about doing that? Eat better — more veggies, less meat, better portion control, and cut out the snacking between meals or at least modify the types of snacks I choose to cram into my pie hole. Ooooops, I did it again… salad hole. I need to stop eating out so much too. My wife and I have this terrible habit of grabbing fast food every time we go shopping or on road trips to visit family or friends who are going to feed us anyway. The countless times rationalized ordering something small only to drive away with a full Big Mac meal. I swear that stuff is laced with crack cocaine. Seriously though that stuff is deadly to the mid-rift but so hard to avoid when she’s less concerned about her weight. Crazy since she is diabetic but at the same time not fat in the same way I am. Will power, self-control, buzz word, buzz word, buzz word.

Intermittent fasting seems popular these days and I could stand to skip a meal or two but who knows if that voodoo really works. I do believe fasting occasionally does help reset the hunger gage in our brains but skipping meals every day is counterintuitive to everything I’ve ever been taught.

What about dieting? Keto, Atkins, South Beach, Paleo or any of the myriad of others out there. Everything they espouse seems completely unresearched hooey. All this talk of prehistoric diets that lean heavily on meat as our main food source does not seem realistic. Yes, we may not have been big farmers but I still believe wild grains and berries played a large role in our diets. I suspect present us put too much emphasis on the hunter part of the hunter/gatherer equation. It seems more realistic that our ancestors were gatherers/hunters. Primitive weaponry and only our legs for transportation would make hunting dependent on the timing of migratory herds and would expend a lot of energy in the hunting process while creating maximum risk for injury and death. Meat was likely a smaller portion of early human food consumption than current diet culture would have you believe. It makes sense that grains and berries played a substantial role in our diets. I suspect there is a linkage between similar hominid species, such as Neanderthals, who relied heavily or exclusively on meat diets and their eventual extinction.

Another option is to look at health plans that consider altering one’s entire lifestyle. We can look at the cultures where people tend to live the longest. These places are known as the blue zone and none are as well documented as the islands of Okinawa, Japan. It is the place on Earth with the greatest concentration of confirmed centenarians. Many of whom still lead full active lives. The region’s centuries old practice of recording births and deaths make it the ideal place to study the long-term effects of nutrition and lifestyle on health. What’s the point of living to 100 if you can’t remember anyone around you or you’re a vegetable locked away in some nursing home. That is not living, it’s surviving as the living dead.

Several books have been written about Okinawa and how their diet and lifestyles differ from our own. I must admit these types of plans have great intrigue. They tend to incorporate balanced and wholesome approaches to health with positive long-term outcomes. You may not take the grand prize on season xx of “The Biggest Loser” but it seems likely that you will be the big winner over the long haul. The only thing I have to question is do I really want to eat miso for breakfast every day?

What about exercise. Surely this is the magic bullet. The problem is many of these plans look to push you harder and harder. High intensity interval training (HIIT) or high volume weight lifting sound great but they lead to a greater risk of injury and burnout. If you can’t work out you end up stopping. The workout you can do consistently benefits you more than the one you can’t. So what if there was a plan you could work into ten minutes each day. Moderate exercise that allows for daily consistency but still provides maximum benefit. Many of these plans exist such as “The Simple Six”, or “The Body Weight” workout. The nice thing about these options is you can do them at home with a minimum of equipment, a small set of dumbbells, two or three sizes of kettlebells and your own body weight.

The last time I lost weight I attribute most of the success to monitoring caloric intake and walking. Never underestimate how healthy walking is for you. If only I really did look like that! On that diet, I got my weight down to 204 lbs (93 kg) and then we went to Disney World on a family vacation. Disney, well actually my own willpower and self-control put 14 lbs back on these bones in 10 days. The portions of ridiculously rich and delicious food were too much to resist. I ate everything in sight. Even walking through seven theme parks for several hours each day over seven days couldn’t compensate for the calorie and sugar-induced overdose. It didn’t help that the vacation broke my routine and the disappointment of gaining so much back so quickly meant I never started again when we got home.

This time I think I have settled on a moderate course of action that will reduce (not eliminate) the amount of meat I eat while increasing vegetable intake and including some moderate exercise options. A program that will include five or six daily exercises and incorporate cycling, rowing and lots of walking. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple method of determining optimal body weight. If you are fat like me you’ve probably heard your doctor mention it at some point, My BMI calculation suggests I should weigh between 180 lbs (82 kg) and 190 lbs (86 kg). As I write this post I weigh in at a whopping 270 lbs (122 kg). Yikes!!! Hence the reason it’s time to act.

Unlike last time when it was all diet and walking I am looking to add weights as part of this plan. Any weight will be manageable and in keeping with the sustainably of the program. I won’t be deadlifting hundreds of pounds of weight or running cardio until all that’s left of me is a puddle of sweat. Again think sustainable. I am also not looking to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars on home gym equipment. Any equipment needed will be fairly inexpensive, maybe a couple of kettlebells, a set of dumbbells and the least expensive of all, simply my own body weight.

I feel it is important to add some weight-based training this time around because as we get older we lose bone and muscle mass. Weight training is one of the best ways to ensure good bone health. They say a broken hip is pneumonia’s best friend and a death sentence to us old folk. The thought of drowning in my own mucus is terrifying so anything that keeps the bones strong and healthy is an absolute must.

Finally, I am posting this and will endeavour to provide occasional updates (do not worry I do not have any plans to turn my blog into a health nut site) because everything I’ve read says that writing it down and telling people makes you more likely to stick with it and succeed. Something about the fear of failure, blah, blah, embarrassment, blah, blah… I am not a psychologist but I’m certain it can’t hurt. Although it may have hurt you if you chose to read to this bitter end. It is a few minutes you can never get back!!!

Anyway wish me luck, send words of encouragement, or simply breeze past and forget you ever saw it. Either way, I hope the future me is healthier than the current me.

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Darkness Falls

Darkness Falls

darkness falls
inside my head
shades the world
in thoughts of dread
light obscures
then fades away
with no escape
my nerve ends fray

the things I put
into my vein
suppressing demons
masking pain
could only yield
a brief respite
return the beast
the endless night

at the edge
of ever more
to find release
to quell the roar
please don’t mourn
my final deed
from the darkness
for which I’m freed

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Step Into My Parlour…

Quietly he laughs and shaking his head,
Creeps closer now, closer to the foot of the bed…

Step Into My Parlour…

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday Jim at A Unique Title for Me is asking that we highlight a song with emotions as the central theme. The song I have chosen is filled with anxiety and fear. The tension builds as the lyrics progress and is augmented by the creeping arrangement of the song’s instrumentation.

Robert Smith and The Cure were one of the most influential bands of the 1980s. From early Goth culture, along with other bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, to superstar status as the decade wore on. Smith was known for his lush lyrics, cutting-edge experimentation and trend-setting styling.

In 1989, The Cure released their eighth studio album, “Disintegration“. The album would become the band’s biggest commercial success charting at number three in the UK and 12 in the US. The album would include the hits Pictures of You, Lovesong, Fascination Street and the anxiety-filled track I will be highlighting today, Lullaby.

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Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Limbs dark and cold thaw in the spring air, lifeblood stored in my subterranean network pushes towards the sky; so sweet and abundant that I can spare a drop or two for you.

In the new warmth, tiny buds form and push outward, filling the canopy and blotting out the sun from the path below.

Branches teaming with life, caterpillars feed on the leaves that breathe in carbon and exhale oxygen; beetles and weevils prefer the dark spaces hidden beneath my bark; robins, woodpeckers and jays nest and rest and feast and hide within my cover; and squirrels burrow in the hollow recesses of my long dead core.

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Lessons for Daughters

This poem was written with a friend from my teenage years in mind. I remember when we were heading out for the evening her father remind her of this lesson. If she found herself in a compromising situation, she held the upper hand and could outrun a guy with his pants wrapped around his ankles.

Lessons for Daughters

Be wary of the suitor,
Whose fancy you do tickle.
It’s your virtue he’ll purloin,
Then bolt off like a scoundrel.
He’ll talk sweet ‘n try to woo you,
And beg you for a sample.
If you find yourself in peril,
All caught up in a pickle.
Remember, you’ll outrun him,
Once his pants are ’round the ankle.

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Morning Ritual

“Where’s my textbooks? I have a test today.” Jamie screeched over his sister’s singing while grabbing her left earpiece.

“Wherever you left them, dumbo!” she shot back at a volume meant to compensate for the music in her head; playing so loud that we were all subjected to listen despite her headphones.

“Hey watch your mouth, Jeannie – – Babe, have you seen my bloody keys, I am going to be late!”

God damn it, every day is like groundhog day she thought as she responded on autopilot, “Check your coat, hun.”

When they were all finally gone she lit the spliff she’d rolled the night before and in the new quiet, pull in the same deep smoke filled breath she drew in every morning.

Holding her breath in as a euphoric wave of calm floods into her limbs; finally the world was in harmony with her.

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A Question of Times

Fandango’s Provocative Question asks us to weigh in on the U. S. Senate decision to do away with the semi-annual time change with the following questions:

Assuming you agree that we should have the same time year-round rather than moving up an hour each spring and back an hour each fall, do you favor going to permanent Daylight Saving Time or permanent Standard Time? Why do you feel that way?

Find my response below…

I must admit I have a love-hate relationship with the semi-annual time change. Love the extra hour of sleep in the fall and hate losing it in the spring. Personally, I prefer the time change but if I had to choose I’d give up the extra evening light and remain on Standard Time year-round.

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COVID-19 and the “Social Distancing” Paradox.

Social distancing has become synonymous with the arrival of SAR-CoV-2 and the global COVID-19 pandemic. As more and more people become sick and COVID-19 takes more lives one of the tactics being used to fight transmission is the idea of social distancing. Essentially avoiding social gatherings, staying in your homes and remaining six feet away from other people. Continue reading