Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Heart is Pumping

So when I was in for my yearly leg exam a few weeks ago, the nurse took my blood pressure and immediately said, "Whoa, are you nervous?"

Turns out, my blood pressure is a little high. I've known this for a bit. For the past year or two, I'm around 140/80. Depending on what doctor I talk to, this is either the higher end of normal or pre-hypertension.

I'm going to try to change this early. There's heart disease in my family and I'd like to not go from a bad ticker.

I've already dropped about 20 lbs since Christmas and regularly exercise 5 times a week. So, I'm headed in the right direction. However, blood pressure has remained the same.

I don't consume large amounts of sodium on a regular basis, but I do love Mexican food, I do eat out sometimes, and basically anywhere you buy food out is most likely going to contain a billion parts of sodium. So, if I'm going to eat out, I'm going to research the menu beforehand, find something with lower sodium.

I also don't drink often or a lot. 2 drinks a day (24 oz of beer, 10 oz of wine, or 4 oz of liquor) can actually decrease blood pressure. I typically only drink Fridays and Saturdays and usually only a few drinks.

And I definitely don't smoke.

So I feel like I'm doing everything right, but I still feel like I'm not making any progress.

Now, there are two things that probably contribute the most to my high blood pressure, caffeine and stress.

It's a vicious cycle.  The stress wears me out and the caffeine perks me back up.

So caffeine intake, that I can control. Starting today, I'm drinking about half the amount of coffee as I normally do. This weekend I'm switching to tea. I'm going to try to boost my energy naturally. Maybe have a protein shake in the morning. If its not too warm out, I'm going to take a walk in the morning.

Stress is something I can sort of help but not really. Stress is a thick fog that hangs around my life. I'm not sure if other people deal with the same level and control it better or if I really do have a more stressful life. Money, my job, the house, the current economy, and hell, even my friends sometimes all feel as though they are pushing on my chest and make it hard to breath.

Since I can't control the stress coming at me, I'm going to try to control how I deal with it. Instead of immediately reacting in anger and getting pissed about things, I'm going to attempt to take a deep breath and figure out why its stressing me out. See if there's a way to make it less stressful.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cut Me Open Again

Went to the doctor for my year checkup on my leg.

He was impressed with how well the nerve has healed and how powerful my foot is, but then I told him I still can't run.

He started popping my knee out of place and back in and testing everything and he says he can feel that its still loose. He then pulled up my old MRI and we started looking at it. Looks like my PCL hasn't healed as much as the doctor want it to.

During the original surgery, he couldn't reattach the PCL for a few reasons.Be biggest of those, he literally couldn't reattach it with the hardware I got on my bone. Also, if he tried to fix all the ligaments at the same time, I wouldn't have been able to bend my knee as far as quickly. It would've tightened up too much. He said it would be possible I would never have a full range of motion again.

So, for now, I'm going to keep working out and see if I can build the muscle and make it a little better, but the doctor said if I ever want to be able to run again and be somewhat of a functioning person, something will have to be done.

Right now, he's trying to get me a PCL brace donated. He said a lot of people can just wear this brace when they want to run or do high impact aerobics and are fine, but I'm not even 30 yet. I won't want to have to wear a brace the rest of my life.

So, I go back in February and that's when we're seriously going to have to start talking about me going under the knife again. I'd get all the hardware removed from my leg and the PCL reattached. He said the PCL is a bit harder to do physical therapy on, but what I've already been through, I'm sure its not going to be as bad.

As a side effect to whatever he did on Thursday, I've been getting these weird hot flashes in my knee. They happen every few hours and you can feel the heat through my skin. Not sure what that means.

Monday, August 6, 2012

White Noise

I've been thinking about meditation a lot lately. How to really meditate, disconnect ourselves from the world for a few moments while our brain regroups.

There's a "cool down" on one of the Yoga videos I've been doing lately and as much as it pains me to admit it, the end of this video is the closest I've gotten to turning everything off in a long time. Bob Harper leads the video and he cools his voice down after the intense workout. You just sort of roll your head back and forth and stretch. There's a distinct pattern to it where without even meaning you, your head shuts itself off.

It's amazing to me how much white noise we invite into our lives. Whether that white noise comes from booze and drugs or technology or over booking our lives, there's just too much noise to just enjoy things.

I've been trying to think of the last time I was really able to disconnect. And sadly, I think it was 2003.

I was starting to panic about where to go to college. I had already been late applying to schools so that I would be accepted and ready to go the moment I graduated high school. So my crisis hit fever pitch when all of my friends left and I was still in St. Charles, going to community college.

As a background to my mind set at this time, I felt like everything was forcing me to accept life instead of live it. I had started losing my desire to do something special and had accepted that I would get a 9-5 office job, come home to my house in the suburbs, probably take the dog for a walk, have dinner with the wife and two kids, and then watch TV until I went to bed. To me the suburbs were, and still are to some extent, a death sentence for dreams.

Back to 2003, I was thinking about going to Truman or SEMO because friends of mine went there. I visited both places, liked the campus enough, and since I was already thinking about pursuing a degree in English, there wasn't a top college to go for these studies that I could afford. It didn't really matter where I went, as long as they had a decent English department with Creative Writing as an emphasis.

There was one night when I was driving my car along the Upper Bottom Road. It was probably 10 pm. My car didn't have a CD player or a working tape deck, so I was relegated to the radio, which has been in a sad state of affairs for at least 20 years now. I had turned off the radio, was driving along this road that didn't have many street lights, there were no other cars around, and I started noticing the frogs. I'd heard stories about how many frogs would get ran over on this road, but I'd never heard them before.

I slowed down a little because I just wanted to be in this moment. I looked among the moonlight and found a small parking lot for the Katy trail for me to pull off on. I just sat there for a moment and took a deep breath and I realized why I had been hesitant to send off my application to SEMO and Truman. To me, those schools represented the suburbs. They were calculated, safe bets. I would be going to school with large amounts of people from St. Charles or O'Fallon or Lee Summit. It would be like I never left on an adventure.

I was overcome with this assurance that I hadn't had in years. I knew that I had to go to Mizzou, that was going to be the strange planet, the uphill battle that I needed, so that I could be healthy in my mind and heart again. I would go to this place where there was an international community. Where liberal and conservative ideals collided into each other. Where even if a friend of mine went to the school, the chance of me running into that person were so small, I was assured to meet new people.

And that was the last time I remember turning my brain off and reflecting. Ever since then, even when I'm walking through the quiet streets blanketed in snow after dark, I can't seem to turn off my MP3 player, and just take in everything around me.