Saturday, October 17, 2009

something I can relate to

This article, which reviews a new book by Barbara Ehrenreich titled Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America, contains a passage that is very meaningful to me:

All the Oprah-ready gurus you would expect to populate this polemic show up to share some advice—here’s Joel Osteen warning us never to “verbalize a negative emotion,” there’s Tony Robbins exhorting us to “Get motivated!” In turning the United States into a 24-hour pep rally, charges Ehrenreich, these professional cheerleaders have all but drowned out downers like “realism” and “rationality.” Their followers are trained to dismiss bad news rather than assimilate or reflect upon its importance.

I believe there is a such thing as a "good attitude," but as I contended earlier, it's not an attitude divorced from reality.



Mom's big sis is on her way over from Texas. Dad will be picking her up later this afternoon, and I'll stay home with Mom. Right now, I need to fix lunch for both parents.


Friday, October 16, 2009

on the menu

For Sean's birthday this evening:

1. Amped-up Caprese

The basics are there: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil leaves. But there'll also be baby spinach, tuna, and hard-boiled eggs.

2. Crazy Bolognese

I made this for my brother David's birthday, and Sean declared himself envious, because on that day, he was strictly following his Atkins regime. Today, Sean plans to take a day off from Atkins, risking pasta shock in so doing.

The "crazy" part of the Bolognese lies both in the variety of meats (spicy Italian sausage, ground pork, ground beef, pepperoni, and bacon), and the fact that the meat doesn't dominate the sauce as thoroughly as it would in a classic Bolognese: mushrooms and certain vegetables all have a chance to shine in this unabashedly Americanized version of the sauce.

3. Ghirardelli chocolate brownies

Sean made a special request of this, so I found two boxes of the brownie mixture when I went to Wegmans with David. It looks to be rich. Rich is good.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

a quiet, rainy 15th

Mom's been pretty quiet all day. She tried a few minutes of knitting yesterday, before Sam got here, but didn't do any knitting today. She also didn't go for a walk either yesterday or today, which is not a good thing. We'll take her out tomorrow, no matter the weather, bundling her up if necessary. I'm happy to report that summer appears finally to have left us.

David's here at the homestead right now; he's been here since about 8PM. He had taken off work (bartending in Georgetown) on the assumption that we would be celebrating Sean's birthday this evening; as that didn't happen, he's over here and keeping Mom company while she watches her Korean TV. Tomorrow, David has to work in the evening, so he won't be able to join us for Sean's birthday dinner.

My aunt says she'll be arriving on Saturday, and will stay with Mom until Tuesday. Mom will be glad to see her.

Before I end this post, I'll note some amusement at the number of people who clicked the "click at your own risk" link in my previous post (I can track movements to and from my blog via SiteMeter). Nothing tempts like temptation, I guess. Heh.


gate, gate, paragate

I dropped Sam off at the Greyhound bus terminal in DC this morning after a haphazard breakfast of eggs, cheese, bacon, and English muffins. Traffic going toward DC wasn't that great, despite it no longer being rush hour. The rain and the gloom may have contributed to some accidents along the way, and a few drivers were goofier than usual.

It was great to have Sam over, however briefly. He spent a lot of time talking with Dad and me, reminiscing about years past, and talking about movies, literature, politics, martial arts (he's a Taijutsu practitioner), family, mountain biking, bartending, and whatever else came to mind. For my part, I introduced Sam to a politically incorrect online cartoon site called Retarded Animal Babies (click at your own risk), which pretty much reflects my sense of humor and the level of my intellect, both of which I try desperately to mask on this blog.

Sam will crash in New York for a couple days, then head off to Chile. He'll spend some time in Santiago, then will embark on a hike of several days along the so-called "W" trail of Torres del Paine National Park. Sounds like a hoot. It's spring down below the equator, and Sam says that this time of year is good because the tourist mobs haven't arrived yet.

The drive home from the bus station was a bit hairy; along with all the accidents, there's plenty of construction going on, and some stretches of road both in DC and in Old Town Alexandria lack even the basics, like obvious lane markings.

I'm probably going to nap for a bit, then start prepping Sean's dinner for tomorrow. Today is Sean's thirtieth birthday. A thirty old man, indeed.


Sam the man

I'll write more, but suffice it to say that Sam arrived in Virginia safely and I got him to our house safely. He sat next to Mom the entire evening and enjoyed a Korean-style meal with us. Talk ranged all over. When I have time tomorrow, I'll write more. Sam has to leave for NYC early in the morning, so I don't want to spend too much time here, typing away.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

off soon

Mom's up, she's had lunch, and Dad's going to be working on the house (he already did the rain gutters this morning, clearing out leaves and installing gutter shields) while I prep to pick up my buddy Sam from National Airport. Sam's passing through the NoVA/DC area on his way to a brief stay in New York City, after which he's heading off to an adventure in Santiago de Chile. Quite the world traveler, he. We appreciate the fact that he's taking a detour to see us before he heads off; I know Mom will be happy to see him, since it's been so long.

Sam will be crashing at our place tonight, so we're doing our best to sanitize the premises: we can't have my friend (since age 3!) heading off to Chile with incipient bronchitis. That won't do at all.


the Blood Pressure Attack Plan

"Blood pressure attack" might qualify as infelicitous phrasing, but for those who are interested in seeing the goals I've charted out for myself, please follow this link.

You'll notice a few things right away:

1. No mention of calisthenics. While these are important, and will be part of my program, I'm not including them as goals. Some types of calisthenics might make their way into the categories listed-- e.g., doing X number of jumping jacks to earn a certain number of aerobic points-- but in the main, this won't happen.

2. Some goals will take less than a year to accomplish. Meditation is a case in point. Having plunged into seated meditation-- my first-ever session was for two hours, broken into three 40-minute segments-- I know that reaching the point where I can meditate for 60 minutes straight won't be a big deal. I haven't decided whether I want to make 60 minutes a daily goal, but I've heard of folks who do this. No matter what eventually happens, chamseon (Korean for zazen, i.e., seated Zen meditation) needs to become part of my daily practice, even if it's for just 10 minutes a day.

3. The "flexibility" category shows only two items. This is not because I plan to stretch only in the two ways mentioned, but because those two forms of stretching will be representative of the overall state in which I wish to be after one year. Flexibility is about range of motion; I hope to improve my overall range.

4. For someone who said that strength exercises will come later, you sure have listed a lot of strength exercises. Guilty as charged, but this is mainly to get those exercises out of my head and "on paper," if you will. The exercises I've chosen will help with arm strength, leg strength, upper body strength, and core stabilization (a concept popularized by Pilates). Most of the exercises engage multiple muscle groups; this isn't about achieving definition, but about strengthening the body more holistically. Pushups are a classic example of this: several muscle groups move in concert so that you perform what is basically a punching motion.

Anyway, the plan is to start most of the strength exercises later on-- not right away. I might do some pushups early on, but not many; I'll be going easy for a long while before ramping up the intensity. When you've fallen far, it's a long climb back to the top, and there are no shortcuts.

5. I don't get what you're talking about when you say "10-point week" in the "cardio" category. This is a reference to Ken Cooper's classic, Aerobics (1968), in which Cooper introduces the point system as a way for people to measure the cardiovascular payoff associated with any given aerobic activity. A person should be averaging a 30- to 35-point week, in Cooper's opinion. In The New Aerobics (which isn't so new anymore; the book was published in 1988), Cooper broke his point charts down further, taking age and sex into consideration in his calculations.

The basic wisdom of Cooper's books obtains today, though people tend to talk about cardio differently. Nowadays, what you'll generally hear is something like: "To calculate your maximum heart rate during training, subtract your age from 220. Establish training regimens that get your heart beating at 60% and 80% of that maximum, maintaining that rate for at least 30 minutes, at least 3-4 times per week." Following this plan leads, roughly, to about 30 points per week of cardio.

Heart rate is a good indicator of effort. Cooper's charts were laid out more in terms of time and distance, but the same basic idea-- that intensity counts in a workout-- is present in Cooper's formulation. For this reason, his charts show you earning more points if you cover the same distance in significantly less time.

For myself, I plan to bike and walk. Running is a possibility, but only after I shed a good bit of weight. As you see on my attack plan, the eventual goal is to reach 40 points per week after a year of training. When compared to the rigorous training that the folks on "The Biggest Loser" undergo, my schedule moves at a snail's pace. But setting realistic goals is important, and I know I'd give up pretty quickly were I to try a super-intense regimen right away. No "boot camp workouts" for me.

6. What's up with the "diet" category? I tried to keep the notation simple. As a friend of mine once noted, you need about 12 calories per pound per day to maintain your weight. In my case, weighing in at a beefy 300 pounds, that means I need at least 3600 calories per day to maintain my weight. I've been 300 for several months, so I'm guessing that my food intake averages out to about 3600 calories. That's a lot of snacking, and probably a lot of empty calories.

My attack plan shows a minimum of 2800 calories per day, which isn't much of a reduction-- at least at first. The goal, though, is to get consumption down to 1500 calories per day. It's possible that I'll revise this upward if/when I achieve my goal weight of 200 pounds. A 200-pound person really needs about 2400 calories per day to maintain that weight. But over the course of a year, while I'm on this program, I'll have to discipline myself. It's rare that I know true hunger, so this program offers me a golden opportunity to feel what normal folks feel.

The chart notes some general changes: avoidance of sodas (both regular and diet), decrease in carb intake, and an increase in the consumption of leafy greens. I'm not really looking forward to these changes; as a guy with a sweet tooth who also loves his pasta, bread, and cheese, I view any sort of diet as a nightmare. But numbers are numbers, and there's no getting around the need to cut a lot of junk out of my life.

I do, however, plan to fall off the wagon a few times per month. Sticking religiously to a strait path is, at least for me, the road to failure. Like those Canadian programs for alcoholics-- the ones that don't cut drinkers completely off from booze, the way so many US programs do-- I think that my approach will have a higher probability of success.

7. How do you measure balance? I have no idea, which is why I set my "minimum"-- if the word even applies here-- as "biking," and set my "maximum" as "rollerblading and skiing." I like biking, even though I don't do it much, but I actively fear rollerblading and skiing, because I'm always worried about falling.

There are balance exercises that I remember from taekwondo class, often involving slow kicking motions, but occasionally involving "chicken fighting," a game in which we kids stood on one leg, holding our other foot in our hands and hopping around, using the upraised knee to bash an opponent until he either keeled over or released his grip on his own foot. (Maybe I can persuade my brothers to chicken fight with me, but I doubt it.)

And I'm sure there are other balance exercises available online-- possibly some yoga asanas, or dance moves, or who knows what. Eventually, though, I'll need to apply those skills to a fluid situation, not just to movement over flat ground; both rollerblading and skiing offer precisely that sort of challenge. Learning those activities will also give me a chance to conquer some long-standing fears.

So now you've seen the general goals. The first nine prongs of the 10-prong attack plan are all in the service of Prong 10: reduction of blood pressure. I'm currently working on specifics, but this is, in some ways, easier than creating the big picture: now that I've established time frames, it's just a matter of cutting time up into intervals, and using simple arithmetic to map out the daily, weekly, and monthly goals. If I should be doing 60 pushups a year from now, for example, then I should be doing 30 pushups half a year from now. Easy math.

Sure, sure-- delays will likely occur due to sickness, backsliding, or something out of my control, but on the whole, I hope to follow whatever chart I make as faithfully as I can. I might alter the chart if I come to realize that a given goal is unrealistically harsh (or lax), but my hope is to stick to the basic program, to show some commitment and be-- for once-- as good as my word.

"When you fall down, get up," my dad likes to say. Good advice for living. I'm giving myself about a year to get back up after a very long fall.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mom decided she didn't want to go out for a ride today, so we stayed in. Mom flipped through her Korean newspaper, possibly reading, possibly going through the motions of reading. Her yarn and knitting needles sit next to her, unused, despite my attempts at coaxing her to knit.

I just made Mom dinner and gave her her third Decadron tablet of the day. Dad's still out; he says he'll be back after 8:30PM, so it's just Mom and me for the next little while.



Dad's out on errands, getting the small car inspected and doing some crucial shopping. Sean's here with me and Mom, and we're planning a short car ride up the George Washington Parkway since it's such a beautiful day.

Mom had a very good lunch (our thanks, again, to the Hardings for all the wonderful food). Unfortunately, she also just coughed, and the cough sounded phlegmy. Maybe it's nothing-- as Dad (and, apparently, the rest of my family) insists is the case with his own rough-sounding cough. At the very least, we need to be on the lookout. If Mom ends up with bronchitis, or even with something more minor, she'll likely need to visit the hospital.

More on this as it develops. If you don't read anything further about Mom's cough, then no news is good news.


rattle, rattle

Woke up to a rumbling, rattling chest yet again. The symptom doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

We have so much food that I won't have to worry about making the next few meals, so that's good: it eases my day.

Mom's awake, but not up yet, so this is a relatively quiet hour. The rest of the day will go something like this: Dad will take care of Mom's waking needs; I'll fix the parents lunch; Dad will leave to get one of the cars inspected, and will also go shopping for a mess of groceries; I'll fix dinner for the folks and will otherwise watch over Mom throughout the day while Dad's gone.

Note to single ladies: You should call me up. My voice is so much deeper than it normally is that I can almost do a Barry White impression.


Monday, October 12, 2009

back... and back

David and I just got back from a trip to Wegmans, where we did a bit of shopping for Sean's birthday meal (it's not a surprise, so I don't mind blogging this). Alas, David had already decided to take off work on Thursday night; I guess I should have told him that Sean was busy on his birthday, and would be celebrating the following day.

When we got home, we saw that Mom was back on her throne in the living room, watching Korean TV, and Dad was hanging around the kitchen/living room area. According to Dad, there must have been around twenty people at tonight's dinner at the Harding residence; I'm glad Mom had another chance to socialize, even if she did it wordlessly.

Speaking of "wordlessly," the neurologist apparently saw Mom's status as having changed for the worse. According to Dad, Dr. Benson concluded today that Mom was "unable to remember who her three children were." When I pressed Dad for specifics, he said that Mom hadn't responded to Dr. Benson's questions about the names of her three sons. So either Dr. Benson interpreted Mom's silence as an inability to recall her family, or Dad's impression of Dr. Benson's assessment is somewhat off (i.e., maybe Dr. Benson simply noted that Mom was less verbal, not that she was "unable to recall" anything). The upshot, though, was that the doc wanted to see Mom again in two months, as I predicted would happen. Still, I found the doc's conclusion (or Dad's interpretation of it) disturbing.

After the appointment, I dropped Dad off at home, then took Mom to the park. We needed to get a walk in: she hadn't exercised in three days. The walk itself went well; Mom chugged along strongly, covering 680 yards.

When we got back to our driveway, I turned the car off and faced Mom.

"Who am I?" I asked.

Mom stared at me for a while, and it wasn't a blank stare. I could tell she resented the constant quizzing, both by the neurologist and by her own family. Good. Resentment means somebody's home. After some time, Mom responded, "Kevin!"

So I asked her: "Who is that crazy guy who likes to shout 'Ooooohhh, CHAAAA!' whenever he comes over?" This was a reference to David, who doesn't speak a lick of Korean, but who takes great and cruel delight in imitating Korean sounds, often amusing the family with his faux-netics.

"Sammy," Mom replied, naming my oldest friend. I had mentioned to her, barely two minutes earlier, that Sam was going to be visiting us on the 14th. Her perseverative brain had latched on to that information, which would have popped out no matter what I had asked. Mom immediately realized her error and waved her hand in a canceling/negating motion, then said, "David." The correct answer. David is indeed the "Oh, CHA!" culprit.

That was two out of three. "And who's the guy who plays the cello?"

Mom smiled, looked away, looked back at me, then said very clearly, "OK, let's go." I took that to mean, "OK, you know I know the answer, but you also know that I won't say it-- either because I can't or because I'm tired of all the questions. One way or another, we both know that I know who you're talking about."

I allowed this to slide, and we got out of the car.

Although Mom's walk in the park had gone flawlessly, her last few yards from the van to the house were treacherous: she ended up falling three times. First, Mom lost her balance when she stepped badly on a flagstone. I was able to soften her fall, but she still ended up on the ground, laughing at her own predicament. I lifted her back to her feet, and she insisted on attempting the deck stairs. Here again, she "fell" twice more, each descent being less a fall, per se, and more a sort of uncontrolled sitting-down. Each time, I helped Mom back up, and we worked our way up the five steps together. Once we got inside, Dad checked her legs and bottom for injury, and determined that Mom was fine.

Mom's insistence on avoiding the wheelchair ramp in favor of the more difficult stairs is admirable, but she's so weak that even mounting a single step requires a lot of help from us. Today was the first time for her to collapse three times in rapid succession; this may have been partly attributable to the fact that, earlier in the day, she got up too late to have a decent meal before her doctor's appointment. We've been overloading her with protein, but today, because of our schedule and Mom's tardiness, the usual meal just wasn't possible. Maybe I should have considered that before taking her out to the park.

Anyway, we're back, and I have to thank David for purchasing the Wegmans groceries this evening. There's still more to buy; Dad will be out all day tomorrow seeing to the rest of our culinary needs: Korean components for Mom, and the rest of the material we need for Sean's thirtieth birthday bash. Ah, yes: our thanks, as well, to the Hardings for giving us so much food! The kindness is appreciated.

One last note: when we got Mom inside the house, she wandered over to the kitchen, probably to try and wash some dishes. While she stood behind the counter, I asked her again, "Who's that guy who plays the cello?"

"Sean!" she barked.

Three for three. Take that, Dr. Benson. And you know something? Even if Mom gets to a point where she no longer knows her kids' names, we won't be able to say that she's truly forgotten us. The day she gives us a blank or frightened look and recoils from our touch-- on that day, we'll admit defeat. But that day hasn't come yet. Here's hoping it never comes.


they're in there

I'm once again playing the role of chauffeur for my folks, so I'm sitting in the van, at the top of the Prosperity Medical Center parking deck, while Dr. Benson looks Mom over and asks her and Dad some questions. We arrived around 2:40PM, giving Dad plenty of time to sign in.

I can't imagine that today's session will be all that revelatory since the exam is mainly about the clinical (read: external or easily observable) aspects of Mom's condition. For me, October 30 is the day to worry about, since we'll be talking over the results of the previous day's MRI.

Today, I suspect the doc will do the standard neuro checks, asking Mom her name, who the current president is, etc. The checks will likely include some exercises, such as "squeeze my fingers and pull my hands toward you" and "touch your finger to your nose" and "follow my pen with just your eyes." In the end, the doc's probably going to say, "She's holding up pretty well. Come see me again in two months." And that'll be that.

Later this evening, the parents will be heading over to the Harding residence for dinner. I won't be joining them, and for the same reason I'm not in Dr. Benson's office right now: I'm sick. Instead, I plan to go shopping for the components of Sean's birthday dinner at one of the local Wegmans. Wearing my face mask in public is an interesting experience, as I learned yesterday when a little girl stared at me while I waited at CVS to be called into the minute clinic. I felt as if I were back in Korea, where the adults stare unabashedly at foreigners.


off we go

Mom's appointment with Dr. Benson is at 3PM today, so we'll be leaving around 2PM. I'm still phlegmy. I also spent my night making up a chart that shows overall goals in ten different areas:

1. Meditation
2. Strength
3. Balance
4. Flexibility
5. Cardio
6. Diet
7. Sleep Schedule
8. Weight
9. Resting Heart Rate
10. Blood Pressure

Each of these areas now needs to be fleshed out in greater detail. I've established starting points and goals for each, but haven't set an overall time frame, and need to figure out the intervals at which to progress. It feels a bit like when I was writing up my semester curriculum for my English students at Sookmyung Women's University, but this time, it's a curriculum for living my life.


Sunday, October 11, 2009


Mom and Dad got back from Lusby, MD around 8:45PM. According to Dad, Mom was pretty quiet the entire time, but the Korean ladies kept her in the action, even teaching her some knitting techniques. Mom has apparently been tasked with knitting something or other; I asked her what it might be, and she didn't know. When I ventured that it might be a scarf, she nodded, but only vaguely. We'll see whether Mom continues with the knitting; the ladies gave her yarn and knitting needles to work with. I hope Mom does continue; knitting is a great way to engage her senses and her hands, along with various parts of her brain.

Right now, Mom's still quiet. She and I have been watching the Food Network since about 9PM; her Korean channel, MBC America, didn't have anything substantive scheduled this evening, so we first enjoyed an episode of "The Next Iron Chef," and are now watching Iron Chef Bobby Flay face a challenger in "Battle Berry."

Soon, it'll be time for Mom to go to bed. She had a big day today; socializing is always tiring for her. I hope she rests well: tomorrow, she visits her neurologist, Dr. Benson. Yes, we have an appointment despite it being a national holiday.


la bronchite

Well, the nurse practitioner says I have bronchitis, and prescribed three meds for me to take over the course of the next two weeks. Two are tablets; one is a syrup. The cost of consultation was $62; the meds were an additional $42. Ouch. I'm left to wonder, though, why I was prescribed an antibiotic (amoxicillin) when most cases of bronchitis are viral.

I was also told that I have very, very high blood pressure--- a fact I've known since last year, when my diastolic was around 90 (it's higher now). I supposedly need meds to get the pressure down, but I'm going to go old-school, no meds, and you'll be privy to how that works (blogging is narcissistic, after all; this blog never stopped being about yours truly). I know this won't make the clinic lady happy, but I'm both financially strapped and unwilling to view pills as my salvation: I know that simple effort and will can take me to the same goal.* I promise, O Clinic Lady, that I'll go in for a checkup once I'm both healthier and properly employed. Maybe that won't happen until I'm back in Korea, but I'll be sure to have myself checked.

The thing about being fat-- and periodically attempting to get in shape-- is that you stay current with the medical wisdom. I probably know more than the average bloke about how to approach cardio, how to plan out a strength and flexibility training regimen, what sort of diet I should be on, etc. But as is also true with a lot of fat folks, knowledge isn't the problem: motivation is. Call it oomph, gumption, ganas, or whatever, but if you lack the will, then all the knowledge in the world is useless. If I were vain enough to worry about my looks, I'd have lost weight long before now, and would have kept it off. Obviously, vanity won't motivate me. But as I've come to realize, I have a reason to be healthy: Mom and Dad need me. "Etre fort pour être utile," as Georges Hébert, the grandfather of Parkour, said: be strong to be of use. Maybe today's quick clinic visit was just the kick in the ass I needed to see that more clearly.

So I'll plan out a multipronged approach to my blood pressure problem, and implement it starting this coming week, if my bronchitis is showing signs of improvement. To be honest, this will be a bad week to start because I'm supposed to cook something decadent for Sean's birthday celebration (he turns 30 on the 15th, but we'll be celebrating as a family on the 16th). But I can't let that affect me. If I'm feeling better, then I need to start the long project of getting myself healthy, even if that means initially starting small.

Thinking out loud now... here are some issues to address, all with the goal of lowering blood pressure:

1. Stress. I need to get back to some good ol' Zen meditation. This has helped a lot in the past, but I've never been regular about it. In some ways, that's worse than not meditating at all. Mom's cancer is one obvious stressor, but there are others, most of which have not been mentioned on this blog, some of which have.

2. Sedentary lifestyle and concomitant bodily weakness. Some sedentariness is unavoidable if I plan to maintain a blog and write emails, and/or if I find a work-at-home job that involves using a computer. Still: even when working at the computer, there's plenty of time to fit in some quick cardio and strength exercises. With so many hours in the day to play with, I really have no excuse for not squeezing in some meaningful exercise time.

3. Bad diet. I have plenty of bad eating habits that need to go out the window, so I need to trim portions (radically), avoid snacking (especially at night), and be sure to eat the right types of food during the day. I should also make a "no food after 9PM" rule. That's what's killing me.

4. Bad sleep habits. This is going to be especially tough, because I like being a night owl. Thing is, even though I complain about waking up early, I do actually function better in the early-morning hours. In Korea, at the beginning of a 7:40AM English class, I was usually far more peppy than my students. The trade-off to becoming a morning person, though, is the rapid decline in energy in the evening. I don't look forward to losing that stamina, to losing my ability to say, "What, 3AM? Ha ha-- the night is young!"

5. Poor balance and limited flexibility. Both of these are important in life, not just for the benefits they confer on the body, but also for what they do for the mind. And if mind and body are not-two, then the whole person benefits: balance and flexibility are more than just exercise goals: they're moral virtues we internalize and apply to daily living. I need to recover whatever scraps of gracefulness I possessed long ago (back when I did theater in college, I was complimented on my smoothness and grace... ah, faded glory!), and rework them into something that will benefit me today. Perhaps it's time to dig up all that dormant taekwondo knowledge.

While I'm sick, I can begin this new campaign with a change in diet. Soon after, I can begin to add light cardio to the mix, along with balance and flexibility training. Later on, I can add strength training, but only later: pushups and weightlifting temporarily drive up a person's blood pressure-- not good when your blood pressure is already dangerously high. So: leave weights and such for later, then go easy when I start them. The weight training will eventually lead to greater muscle mass and better tone, which can affect metabolism, causing the body to burn food more efficiently, leaving less of it to go to the waist.

See? I know this stuff. But knowing means nothing without doing.

Expect a plan of attack to appear on this blog sometime before Monday Tuesday. [I wrote "Monday" by mistake, forgetting that it was Sunday. Still, I might have a plan fleshed out as early as Monday night.]

*I'm aware that some folks need blood pressure meds despite being otherwise perfectly healthy. It's possible that I fall into that category, but it wasn't long ago that my own blood pressure was normal. For the moment, I'm assuming I can return to that. I may be wrong. I may discover, at my checkup, that despite my efforts, my blood pressure remains high and will require meds to control. If that's the case, then fine: I'll concede and get the meds.



Dad and Mom are off joyriding to Lusby, Maryland, and around 2PM, I'll be shoving off to hit the local clinic.

The house is quiet. The day is beautiful. If you're in northern Virginia, I hope you're enjoying the fantastic weather.


CVS, my savior(?)

I'll be visiting a CVS "minute clinic" tomorrow to see what can be done about my cough and rattling bronchi. There's such a clinic just up the street, close to where my brother David lives. It's open until 5:30PM on Sundays; I'll hit it while Mom and Dad are over in Lusby, Maryland. Yes, they're going on a trip. I had hoped to have a Saturday outing with my buddy Mike, but we had to cancel given my sickness. The man's got a family to think about.

For my foreign readers: CVS is essentially an all-purpose "drug store," i.e., a mini-store with a pharmacy. You can buy snacks and various cheap household and personal items there, as well as pick up over-the-counter meds and prescriptions. Some CVS stores include a miniature clinic-- the aforementioned "minute clinic"-- where a patient can fill out a touch-screen medical history and be seen by a licensed practical nurse (LPN*) who has the authority to prescribe meds if need be, at least for minor complaints.

I didn't even know that CVS minute clinics existed until David mentioned the clinic close to his domicile. I also learned, thanks to Mike, that people refer to small urgent care clinics as "doc in a box," a term I'd never heard before. It conjures up a demeaning mental image that doesn't bode well for the future of American health care. I don't know whether the CVS minute clinic qualifies as a "doc in a box" if it's staffed by an LPN, but there we are.** Come to think of it, I also wonder whether "minute," in this context, means "tiny" (my newt!) or "done in 60 seconds" (minnit). We'll soon know.

*If you come from one of those silly countries that spell "color" with a superfluous "u," then you might know this type of nurse as an RPN, EN, or SEN. See here.

**According to the patient comments I linked to, the minute clinic might also be staffed by a doctor. "Doc in a box," indeed. The term somehow reminds me of the science fiction world of Larry Niven, in which space travelers have "autodocs" for extended journeys. You climb inside the autodoc box, which comes alive with robotic instrumentation, taking your vitals, fixing your ills, etc. People end up living centuries because of these things.