Tag Archives: w.o.d.

Anger Management? No thanks, I’d rather just break stuff.

12 May

I am predisposed to fits of rage. I’m not talking about the average, run of the mill temper tantrum, but instead an all out Bruce Banner-esque forray of rampant and unadulterated destruction. The Hulk and I have a few things in common. Anyone remember the Blue Chevy Blazer that I used to tool around in? The one with the huge dent in the driver side door? The story I told involved a deer running into the side of the truck, truth is… the only animal hide that came in contact with it was from the leather of my steel toe boots!

I kicked in the side of my truck, like a fool, and I can’t even recall why. I’m sure that pain was involved. That is typically the catalyst behind the unleashing of my inner green, rage-monster. Currently I have been 13 days without incident. The most recent ended with me smashing a salt treated 2×6 with a shovel until it broke into…. the 2×6, not the shovel ( good shovel!) I was digging grass out of my raised bed garden beds when I clumsily yet quite forcefully brought the business end of the before mentioned round-point shovel down directly on the top of one of my toes.

Bam. Flame on.

Of course, my four-year old son watched the entire event unfold from the front seat of my truck a mere ten feet away.

“…Dad, you go crazy?”

Yeah Bud.

” And… and…. you smash dat ting?”

Yup.

This was his line of questioning for the next hour. He was completely fascinated with this previously unseen side of me. His Dad is crazy and smashes things. That’s so COOL!

(The direction this blog post now takes is precisely why I will never win any sort of “Parent of the Year” award (but my kids still think I’m awesome). This event got me thinking. Not about staying calm, setting a better example or any of that rubbish, but about the mechanism in the human psyche that is responsible for me hulking out. Certainly this is a consequence of the fight or flight response or some form of primitive survival instinct lurking beneath thousands of years of domestication. The brain says, ” Hey, I’m being attacked by a shovel. Quick, should I run away or fight back?” I can’t imagine my son’s disappointment if I had dropped the shovel and high-tailed it….

The body perceives a harmful event, attack or threat that sends the adrenal system into hyperdrive. Sort of like autopilot, your unconscious mind takes over and instinct guides you because quite frankly, you may not be able to reason quickly enough to save your own life. This same mechanism is how a 130lbs woman can lift a vehicle to save a loved one pinned beneath… or how a man can smash a salt treated 2×6 in half with a shovel. In both cases, the conscious mind wasn’t available to tell the individual “No, you can’t do this. It isn’t possible.” Acute stress response was activated and the body went to work.

What else might we be capable of if we didn’t have a mind to tell us we can’t? Physically? Emotionally? Professionally?

The Ruby Throated Hummingbird, as tiny and delicate as it is, migrates thousands of miles to Southern Mexico every single year, because no one ever told them that they couldn’t.

We have been domesticated. Essentially we are…. Zoo Humans…. Civilization has tricked us into thinking we are weak and inferior. Barefeet need shoes, we’ll die without climate control and cell phones, children must be followed with a 5 gallon pump sprayer of Purell hand sanitizer lest they catch a cold! We’ve got a pill for everything. Heck we’ll invent something if that’s what it takes to get you to buy a pill! As if we are completely incapable of surviving without the aid of pharmaceuticals.

Armed solely with his wit and courage, mankind conquered the wild… only to succumb to the treachery of Restless Leg Syndrome!

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The Infinite Monkey Theorem

28 Mar

An infinite amount of monkeys, locked in a room with an infinite amount of typewriters. Eventually, one monkey will accidentally bang out the complete works of Shakespeare ( the rest will produce documents as relevant as the USDA “My Plate” nutrition guidelines). I can relate to that one monkey…

Earlier this week, I received a completely random email, from a completely random person, that stumbled across my blog and rather enjoyed it. My first instinct was to question this individual’s sanity but upon further review of this email they seemed to be genuinely inspired by what I had to say. It is quite remarkable to me that anything that I write could have an impact on another human being, as I often struggle with just writing things that can actually be read and understood by people that speak some form of the english language. I can only chalk this up to the Infinite Monkey Theorem. To prove my point, I will now type the remainder of this post with my forehead. Enjoy.

 I had an EKG done and the results were…less than encouraging. My resting heart heart was 46 beats per minute, way outside the normal 60-80 that is expected. I had a definitive “third sound”, a noise other than the “BA-DUM” heart beat sound. I was told this could be a heart murmur. Even the electrical impulses coursing through my heart were abnormal. The EKG revealed a Right Bundle Branch Block meaning that electrical signals where not traveling along the path along the right side of my heart. This by itself is not an issue but could be an indicator of disease. I would have to wait for an echo cardigram (a sonogram of the heart) before any diagnosis could be made.

I returned home to stew over my fate. I felt fine. BETTER than fine! I felt like I was in the best shape of my life! Vigorous and capable of remarkable physical feats. Certainly the doctor was mistaken.

Several weeks later I showed up for my echo cardiogram. The results were….less than encouraging.

The echo cardiogram revealed that my heart was slightly enlarged and the walls were thicker than “normal”. This looked eerily similar to the disease my Father was diagnosed with, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. The cardiologist was also concerned about the velocity at which my heart pumped blood. Almost as though it was beating “to hard”. She asked if I was a runner. I despise running. I answered honestly, sort of.” I lift weights a couple days a week and run a 10k once a week”. A lie. I run a 10k maybe once a month. I didn’t want to hear, “you need more cardio”, so…. I lied. She seemed satisfied with my answer. I was scheduled for a “stress echo”. They wanted to see how my heart would do under load. A couple weeks later I arrived at the hospital wearing Vibrams and gym shorts.

The test would be done on a treadmill. I hate treadmills.

It goes a little something like this: Several nurses come in and shave all the dignity off of your chest (it took me 28 years to grow that hair) then hook up all kinds of fancy gadgetry and start you walking on the treadmill with a slight incline. Your heart rate and other vitals are monitored as they slowly increase both the speed and the incline of the treadmill. The idea is to achieve your maximum heart rate (220 – your age, mine is 192), at which time they will quickly pull you off the treadmill and perform an echo cardiogram (heart sonogram). Periodically the ask your perceived exertion level to make sure your not gonna croak mid-test (my words, not theirs…).

I ask how long the test will take. The nurse informed me that most people make about 7-8 minutes. The test times out after 15 minutes and she had only seen one person make it the entire 15 minutes. He was a 45 year old marathon runner. I hate running. I decided at that moment that on this day, she would see a 28 year old, bacon eating, cross trainer make it as well. Why? Because I’m stubborn as hell and I like a challenge (blame it on my Ackerman DNA). Only, as the test wore on, I realized it was not very challenging at all!

After 12 minutes, the treadmill was full tilt. Completely maxed out on speed and incline. I was trying to start a conversation with the nurse partly to fight off the hampster wheelesque boredom induced by the treadmill and partly to prove to her that I was unfazed by this “test”. As I ran my heart rate was steady at 142 beats per minute. After the complete 15 minutes I was pulled from the treadmill and the echo cardiogram was performed. 152 beats per minute was all the treadmill could muster, a far cry from the 192 they were looking for. Beast mode confirmed. I would have to wait two weeks for the doctor to analyze the results of this test.

The official diagnosis? “Athletic Heart Syndrome”. Not a disease at all but a physiological changing of the “normal” heart to cope with the increased demand of repeated athletic activity. A big, muscular heart capable of moving a large volume of blood when asked. During rest the heart rate drops dramatically due to increased efficiency. The “third sound” was no heart murmur but caused by a higher volume of blood flowing through the heart chamber. The Right Bundle Branch Block was merely a harmless rewiring of the heart found in nearly half of people with Athletic Heart Syndrome.The results were surprising to my cardiologist. Normally this diagnosis is found only in “highly trained individuals and distance runners”. Not 28 year old, bacon loving, cross trainers that might run 10k every 60 days… The relief I felt was unimaginable. Everything that seemed to indicate disease, dysfunction, or abnormality, was actually a physical change for the better. My heart was better than “normal”. If it sounds like I have a chip on my shoulder, it’s because I do. I was made to believe that something was wrong with me when in fact, there was no problem at all. Why did this happen?

When I reflect on this ordeal I can’t help but wonder what guidelines are used to determine a “normal” or “healthy” human heart. It seems that “normal” means small. Weak. Inefficient. Untrained. It seems the “normal” human heart is the “sedentary” human heart. A heart built from too much ass time, a life lived in climate control, a life where you put the master bedroom on the ground floor so you dont have to climb the stairs twice a day. I would argue that the heart beating in the chest of our ancient ancestors was not “normal” at all. Much like that of this 28 year old, bacon inspired, cross trainer.