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Tag Archives: health

You Don’t Get What You Don’t Pay For

Applying the concept of the tradeoff triangle – Good/Fast/Cheap; pick two, I recently had the opportunity to choose zero.  Or maybe I got them all, just in a crappy way.  I’m talking about visiting an urgent care clinic.

As you may have seen in past posts, I’m not a fan of health.  Luckily, I don’t get sick.  Until I do, that is.  And when I do, I usually stick it out until I’m better, or in some future instance, I die.  Well, this was a case where I wasn’t getting better, but I wasn’t dying quickly enough to get over the annoyance of being sick.  And since I don’t really have a primary care doctor, I went to a clinic.

Since I don’t really have a doctor, I’m not sure what is routine and what isn’t.  But I’m pretty sure if they cared, they wouldn’t weigh me with my pockets full of stuff.  And they would probably check my temperature to see if I had a fever.  Maybe check my heart rate while they are checking my blood pressure.  Maybe they would show a little bit of interest in me.  But, maybe not.  It’s just a walk-in clinic.

Maybe they would actually protect their customers’ personal information.  Posted throughout the clinic were signs that stated there were scammers calling their patients and asking questions similar to a satisfaction survey.  The problem is that through some phone trickery, the call would cost you $3/min.  My question is, how are these scammers getting your patient’s contact info?

To sum up the entire visit, I recited the primary symptoms I had: trouble swallowing, swollen tongue and tonsils as well as secondary symptoms I suspected were relevant.  All this was entered in some cloud-based web application. (I initially thought he was searching WebMD for the answer.)  Then the doctor came in, looked in my mouth (not even using a tongue depressor) and said, “yup” and entered an antibiotic prescription in the web app that was sent to my Walgreens.  That was it – he said the medicine should work in 7 days, but if not, there were 3 more days on the prescription.  He walked out and I walked out of the building.  But not before forcing him to make physical contact with me by shaking his hand.

I left with a prescription that should fix what ails me, but I didn’t leave with any encouragement that I was going to get better.  That is depressing as hell.  But, I guess I did expect a bare-bones experience.  In my tradeoff, Good was not chosen, Fast was fast in the wrong part of the experience, and Cheap was pretty much the entire experience.  This does little to promote any desire for longevity in me.

I’m With The Band

Today is the one-week mark of my usage of the Microsoft Band.  It has been on my wanted list for quite some time, and with the recent price drop, I made my move.  This coincides with my recent reawakening in exercise from my trip out west, climbing mountains and whatnot.  I regret I didn’t have the Band then, but you have to start somewhere.

At this point, I’ve used the majority of the Band’s features, including Sleep Tracking, Running (hiking and walking in my case), Workouts, and Guided Workouts.  Next month, I plan to buy a bike trainer stand so I can ride my bike indoors and I’ll make use of the Bike feature then.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever use the Golf feature.

To get grievances out of the way first, there’s a lot of reviews out there that say the Band is big and uncomfortable.  The biggest part for the reviewers is that it’s unfashionable.  I will agree.  However, I think the utility of the device outweighs its appearance.  As far as uncomfortable, that’s a personal thing.  To me, it’s noticeable, but the strap is quickly adjustable for any wrist swells throughout the day.  It’s not a deal breaker.

Does it work?  Yes, and very well.  If the question is does it work for tracking activity?  Yes.  Does it work as a motivation tool? Yes, again.  Does it work as a smartwatch?  That’s difficult to answer because everyone has a different idea of what a smartwatch should do.  The Band is a capable notification center on your wrist and if using a Windows Phone, a simple response device.

The data collection abilities of the Band are impressive, but it would be all for nothing if the software displaying and analyzing the data was poor.  Fortunately, the Band’s mobile application and corresponding website are extremely impressive as well.  I hope Microsoft works with FitBit to allow their devices to log activity into the Microsoft Health dashboard because I believe the insights are great.  And, it would allow me to consider a FitBit Charge HR as a next device.  I’ll have to wait until the Band 2 comes out to see.

After only a week, I have become more aware of my activity.  The argument that the Band is noticeable on your wrist actually works in its favor here.  I am consistent in my walking on work breaks.  I’ve been very annoyed that the constant rain showers here are keeping me from the trails.  I started a Guided Workout using weights that will hopefully improve my chest definition and found the experience to be superior to any prior exercise attempts.  Having someone (or something) say, “Now do this.”  “Rest now.”  “Now do this.” is so much better than having a piece of paper and saying to yourself, “What do I do next?”  It seems like a small difference, but it isn’t.  Self-guided workouts leave you unaccountable; you can stop anytime.  Even having a device guide you is more motivating.  Obviously a personal trainer would be the epitome, but the band is less than $200.

I feel the Band purchase was money well spent.  To be honest, I was kind of at a do-or-die point in my life and I guess I decided to give it one more try to reverse the decline I’ve been in for the last couple of years.

Checkpoint II

My hair stylist is observant.  The last time I went in to get my hair cut, she asked, “Are you losing weight? You’re looking skinny.”  I hesitated and said, yes, I was.  Then she asked something peculiar: “On purpose?” And I paused again and decided to be honest.  “Not really.”

I don’t talk about my health much at all, because no one wants to be around someone who’s going to depress them.  I’m explained before that I am an uncontrolled diabetic by choice, just living out my life and facing the repercussions.  I am fortunate enough to be around people who respect my choice and don’t badger me or try to have me committed.

Looks like I last discussed this about a year and a half ago.  So what’s life been like since then?  Well, I had plateaued on weight loss for quite some time, but that seems to have had a breakout recently.  Not much fat on me at all, so it’s starting to eat some muscle.  That makes a pretty obvious physical change, I guess.

If I had to describe the overall experience, it’s just like aging faster.  My hair is getting a little thinner, but who knows if that’s just hereditary?  I’m losing weight, like an old person does.  I’m slowing down.  But, I am still enjoying life, or rather, I’m appreciating it more.  Choice between working extra hard to please the boss and get a promotion or getting out of work right on time and relaxing with a book at home?  No-brainer.  So, in some ways, I’m acting older, too.

It doesn’t mean I’m just kicking back and waiting to die.  I still fund my retirement accounts.  I still save money.  And I’m still learning new things to help me in my career.  My curiosity and quest for understanding is not diminishing.  I believe when you stop being useful, that is when life is over.  You hear it many times from people, when they don’t feel useful, they don’t care about life.  So, become knowledgeable.  Be the most informed about anything and keep yourself relevant.  It doesn’t even matter if you become homeless.  Be the best trash, can, and bottle recycler in your area.  Take pride in what you know.

I’ve read plenty of warnings about diabetes being a slow and painful death.  Pain-wise, I guess it’s ramping up a little since my last report.  I get random sharp pains here and there, which certainly wouldn’t be normal.  It’s usually at night and usually in my legs or feet, but I’ve had it in my forearms, hands, and even my dick.  Yuuuup.

Despite pain, how’s life?  It’s pretty darn good.  I’m not immobile.  I can get around with all but the most active.  Stamina is a little lower, but then again, I’m not getting out and hiking like I used to either.  I don’t really let myself get depressed for very long.  It comes and goes.  And so does everything.  I guess it’s probably a tell-tale symptom, having peaks and valleys of energy, clarity, and mood.  But I’m ok with it.  One thing that seems a bit persistent is my disconnected-ness.  I get lost in thought a lot lately.  It seems I would be pretty ok with being alone all the time.

At one time, I considered creating a more detailed blog or journal of my symptoms and condition for anyone curious about living uncontrolled.  Maybe it would be used as a warning for those who were unsure of what to do.  I decided against it.  Mostly because it would cause me to have to focus on the minor setbacks or troubles that I face each week instead of just living my life and doing the best that I can.  You won’t hear me complain (much) and I won’t regret my choices.  I certainly am not going to blame anyone else for the results of my choices.

And life goes on.

A Fool’s Game

Today I learned (TIL for all the modern, acronym-dependent, Internet citizens), that when it comes to personal injury, I am no smarter than a toddler playing peek-a-boo.

Almost a week ago, I had some shoulder pain, like a knot in my back shoulder.  It’s not really uncommon, since I am either sitting at a desk or driving in my car 90% of my waking day.  The last time I had this specific kind of knot, it lasted for days and days and kept me pretty miserable, so I wasn’t thrilled to have it return.

So Friday night, I broke out my Shiatsu chair massager and beat the hell out of my back and shoulders.  It was like twanging guitar strings.  Just to be on the safe side, I took a pill from my emergency stash (now 5 years old) and went off to bed.

I woke up the next morning in pain.  Great pain.  I made it through the day with ice, heat, and Advil.  At the end of the day, I figured I was past my problems, but just in case, I took another emergency pill and went to sleep.

Sunday morning was no better.  Worse, in fact.  Probably because I had spent some time Saturday doing yard work since I wasn’t feeling any great pain (Thank you, Advil).  Now, I can’t turn my head or look down.  I self-diagnose myself with a pinched nerve and I can still feel the knot in my shoulder blade.  So I call up a local massage place and get a walk-in appointment.  They say, “We only have a male masseuse available, is that ok?”  Geez, whatever.  Even if I wasn’t in excruciating pain, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

So I get the crap wrenched out of me on the table.  He probably spent too much time on my neck and not enough on the trouble spot, but everything was messed up, so whatever.  As the night comes on, I’m sinking back into pain.  Advil wearing off again.  Then I get to thinking, maybe it isn’t a knot or a pinched nerve.  Maybe it’s actually an injury, like a pulled muscle or a torn tendon.  After all, I am currently on an antibiotic whose primary side effect is causing brittle tendons.

So, to recap:  I have a knot in my shoulder.  I pull or tear my lat muscles with a shiatsu massager.  I go to a massage and have them ripped up even more.  All the while, I’m peaking and crashing on Advil thinking, “I’m better!” or ”I’m in hell!”

It doesn’t end there.  Sunday evening, post-massage, my shoulder back doesn’t have a knot anymore.  Now it’s just one big swollen mass.  Sleep that night was in 20-30 minute intervals, followed with a painful repositioning.  At one critical point, I was on my chest and turned my head to stretch my neck and I heard and felt something in my neck squirt.  As scream-inducing as that was, it actually was kind of a turning point and I slept better afterward.

Monday, I had to leave work after less than a hour because the pain was making me dizzy.  Tuesday, I felt pretty good during the day, so I thought I was on the mend.  Then the Advil wore off.  Silly, me.  I took more Advil and felt better.  Better enough to do yardwork when I got home.  Silly, me.  Today, I’m paying for my transgressions again.

So yeah, I’m just playing peek-a-boo with my injury.  As long as I don’t feel the pain, it doesn’t exist and I’ll just go and injure it more.  It’s definitely not the first time I’ve done something like that.  This is just the first time I’ve noticed my behavior.

Who Wants To Live Forever?

Things that MSN Healthy Living says are bad to eat:

  • BBQ Sauce
  • Pasta Salad
  • Macaroni Salad
  • Potato Salad
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Fatty steaks
  • Breaded chicken
  • Fried chicken
  • Hot dogs
  • Sausage
  • Hamburgers
  • Pie
  • Cake
  • Gluten-free foods
  • Greek frozen yogurt
  • Asian Chicken salad
  • Fruit Smoothies
  • Fish Sandwiches
  • Chinese vegetarian dishes
  • Chipotle’s burrito bowl
  • Tomato soup
  • Baked fuckin’ potato
  • Omelet
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Light salad dressings
  • Trail mix
  • Granola
  • Artichoke spinach dip
  • Flavored fat-free yogurt
  • Dried fruit
  • Flavored soy milk
  • Energy drinks (well, duh)
  • Turkey sandwich
  • Parfait
  • Blue corn chips
  • Chicken wrap
  • Low-fat muffins
  • Frozen diet dinners
  • Canned soups
  • Veggie pizza
  • Spinach pasta
  • Wheat bread (or any fucking bread)
  • Diet soda (duh, again)
  • Reduced fat peanut butter
  • Fruit cocktail
  • Swordfish
  • Imported catfish
  • Farmed eel
  • King Mackerel
  • Orange Roughy
  • Chilean Sea Bass
  • Shark
  • Imported Shrimp
  • Tilefish
  • Bluefin Tuna
  • Non-organic strawberries
  • Anything from McDonalds
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Corn.  Yes, corn.
  • White chocolate
  • Artificial sweeteners (no, really?)
  • Sprouts
  • Anything with food dyes
  • Ice cream sundaes from chain restaurants
  • Eggnog
  • Candied Yams
  • Creamed Spinach
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Cheese straw
  • Fruitcake
  • Swedish Meatballs
  • Pot Roast
  • Yorkshire pudding
  • Prime Rib
  • Sausage stuffing
  • Dark meat turkey
  • Green bean casserole with fried onions
  • Croissants
  • Potato pancakes
  • Lobster Newburg
  • Yule log
  • Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha
  • Caramel apples
  • Gingerbread
  • Sugar cookies
  • Plum pudding
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Gooseberry pie
  • Beef Wellington
  • Glazed Ham
  • Gravy
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Peanut Brittle
  • Apple pie a la mode
  • Chocolate covered cherries
  • Cheese fondue
  • Shepard’s pie
  • Smoothie King’s Hulk Strawberry Smoothie
  • Starbucks’ Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino Blended Creme with whipped cream
  • Coldstone’s PB&C Shake
  • Auntie Anne’s Jumbo Pretzel Dog
  • Cinnabon’s Caramel Pecanbon
  • Wendy’s Sweet and Spicy Boneless Wings
  • Dunkin’ Donuts’ Coffee Cake Muffin
    And although there are many more articles I could have pulled items from, I think that serves to show that if you really want to be healthy, all you can eat is organic lettuce.  But even then, some articles complain about foods that are improperly produced or prepared, so make sure that straight-from-the-ground organic lettuce doesn’t have any bugs, dirt, or animal feces on it.

Do not, I repeat, do not cook.  Mankind has been lucky to survive as long as it has with people indiscriminately making food.  If you didn’t pull it from the ground or from a bush or tree with your own hands, it is not safe and you will die.

Stone Age of the Future

Ok, so now we officially have a place where you can smoke pot legally.  Yay.  I don’t drink or do any drugs, I’m not exactly anti-drinking or anti-drugs, either.  I say, go ahead and do whatever you want and I’ll go ahead and dislike you for it.

Growing up, I was the only person in my entire circle of friends that didn’t get high.  I took a little bit of crap for it and I was treated a little as an outsider for it, but I also was able to toss a few barbs in return.  Years later, I’m not entirely sure it made a difference.  We’re all at varied levels of success in careers, some with families, some without.

As I get older, I find that I’m trying to look at the bigger picture, not so much focused on my life or my contributions, but more focused on humanity as a whole.  Theosophy has helped in that regard, understanding that we keep coming back, life after life, to improve ourselves and all of humanity based on successes and hardships we’ve previously experienced.

You see the progression of humanity becoming ever more humane, with civil rights and equality and less barbarism.  There’s still quite a few holdouts that want things to go back, but overall we’re making slow progress.

We’re all pretty well aware that drugs of any kind impede a persons development, either temporarily or, after long extended periods, permanently.  There is a strong argument that pot is harmless and does nothing but calm and relax people.  But that there is also the harm.  You can’t simply escape life, there is much to be done.

Does this future vision of stoned zombies worry me?  Not really.  I live surrounded by a whole bunch of “functional alcoholics”, who work all day, then stay drunk all night.  I have no idea how they do it.  Maybe they’d be much more productive if they didn’t drink, and that’s how I feel about the future breed of “functional stoners”.

But again, I’m not worried, because not everyone is going to be sucked into this lifestyle.  There will always be people who will work for the common good and try to improve the world.  I guess I’m just concerned that it will be a distraction for those people who haven’t chosen a life of self-improvement and simply decide life is pure enjoyment and leisure.

Wasted Away

Wow.  That’s about it.  Wow.

It’s weird when you look back at yourself and think, “I thought that was normal?”  In the case I’m thinking about, it was an unknown infection sapping me of my life.  I accidently got it resolved during a doctor appointment for something completely unrelated.  The prescribed antibiotic knocked out the primary infection.

Within one day of the medication, I was totally different.  I slept better, I woke up easier, I didn’t have any fog or haze in my mind – I was alert.  I didn’t need to nap all the time.  And it fixed other, grosser, things, too.  Digestion-related things.  And it fixed even weirder things: my hair color started coming back and I had a renewed desire to listen to music again (believe it or not, I had stopped listening to music).  When I did a follow-up with the doc, I told him all this, and he didn’t really care what the problem was, he was glad for me that it was resolved.  I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it was something intestinal keeping me from absorbing any nutrition.

So with that now behind me, I look back and think: that was what I considered normal life?  And looking at where I was after getting fixed, I realized, shit, I am in sad shape.  How sad?  Like not even able to walk for 10 minutes without pain.  So I got to work.  Within a couple of weeks of doing two 15-min walks a day, I was able to get past the pain to the point that walking is pleasurable again, and I think now I can start to begin a serious recovery.  I tried playing keyboards a couple days ago and was shocked that I knew how to play the songs, but my fingers wouldn’t cooperate, just being slow and/or inaccurate.  Not having the stamina to complete songs is probably a given here.  So, that’s on the mend as well.

As a point of reference, I looked at some pictures I took when I was hiking for miles.  That was October, 2012.  I’ve probably been inactive for over a year.  That’s over now.  Move it or lose it.

Professing Love For One Of Society’s Downfalls

I love Dasani.  That’s all.

No, there’s more.  Duh.  There’s a long-standing argument about bottled water.  People are always saying, “why are you paying for water?  You have it in your sink!”  The answer is simple.  That water sucks.  That’s all.

I’m not sure why people don’t understand the concept of bottled water.  I mean, I guess it might be strange if I lived somewhere back up north where I had clear mountain streams at my disposal.  I will forever remember the time I was in a training camp in the Poconos and I happened to drink some water from the sink.  It was amazing!  Smooth and clear.  Not like this limestone and calcium-ridden stuff we have here.  We even bottle this crap as Zephyr Hills bottled water.  It’s called natural spring water, and that’s what you get.  Lots of minerals for a “great” taste.

But Dasani, that’s the real great stuff.  So first, they filter out everything, then they add in certain minerals to give it taste.  Just like the minerals that are in the ground everywhere you go.  If I could find the place that had Dasani-like water from the ground, I’d be in heaven.  You can try different bottled water and it really does taste different between brands.  Aquafina’s good in a pinch, and Fiji is pretty good, too.

So the argument is that some people think other people drink bottled water because those people think their tap water is unhealthy.  That’s not true and I know it.  I’ll drink my tap water without any fear.  I just don’t like the taste.


It’s been just a little over two years since I made a post about discovering my diabetic condition.  I haven’t said anything about it since.  Not that there’s much to tell; I can sum it up pretty quickly.  I started taking medication and then determined the medication sucked and was reducing my quality of life, so I stopped.  So yeah, I’m an uncontrolled diabetic.  And yeah, I know I’m going to die from it.

So, two years in, where do I stand?  Well, I’ve got my will done and notarized, I got my beneficiaries in order, and I’m still enjoying life.  I still contribute to my retirement accounts because you never know how long this will be.  Will it be more than 20 years?  Doubtful.

On the other side, actually within maybe the last month, I’ve gotten the expected peripheral neuro-blah-blah issues in the feet, where the diabetes starts destroying the nerves at the extremities of the body.  So I have tingling and pins and needles in my feet and toes now.  Doesn’t stop me from walking, though.

I’m sure there’s a lot of people with a lot of opinions about a person who is choosing an option to not take care of themselves.  But there’s one primary argument I have in my defense.  There is no guarantee that my life on medication is going to be better over a long period of time vs living a shorter life in the way that I want.  I spent less than a month on medication and from the side effects, I thought if I had to do this for the rest of my life, I’d be miserable all the time.  It wasn’t worth it.  Also, I think of all the people in the world who may just not know their condition.  Not knowing has the same end result as knowing and choosing not to treat it.  Finally, if you’ve read this blog for any period of time, I’m not exactly the one to promote longevity of life.  There’s a whole lot of other people in the world and if I think I somehow deserve to live longer than any of them or that my extension of life is going to make a significant impact in the world, that’s just hubris.

Life goes on.

The Forgotten Nestea

It’s been many years since I left this brand behind.  It was a very sad parting and not of my choosing.  I grew up drinking Nestea Sugar Sweetened iced tea mix.  I drank so much of it, I had visions of being the first rock star that promoted a consumer brand on tour.  Nestea’s change ended up being a painful, prolonged, losing battle for me.

At some point in their genius, Nestle decided to make what they must have considered a trivial ingredient change.  And because the product was different, it was re-launched under a new name.  The product used to be called “sugar sweetened”, and then became “sweet tea mix”.  The tiny change was changing the ingredient fructose to sucralose.  The latter is an artificial sweetener, which I have a slight reaction to.

When it first happened, I knew something was wrong because my tea made my stomach hurt.  I eventually figured out the difference and began a desperate search for any remaining “sugar sweetened” product available.  At one point, I ordered a full case of giant tea cartons from an online seller, only to discover they used the wrong photo in their product description and I had to ship back a case of “sweet tea mix”.  It was something like 27 pounds.

Surely, my quest was futile and the supply inevitably ran out.  I called Nestea and asked for an explanation.  Amazingly, I got one.  The change was done because sucralose didn’t cake and clump as much as fructose.  So, I wrote a physical letter to Nestle expressing my dissatisfaction with their recent decision.  In return, I got coupons to try their new liquid tea mixes.

I drank Publix brand tea mix for a little while, but it was too caramel-ly.  I eventually had to grow to enjoy the taste of Lipton tea mix, which has served me well for the years since.  Every once in a while, I’d remember Nestea and sometimes would pick up a jug to confirm the ingredients were the same.  They were.  But yesterday, I was going to buy a new jug of Lipton and saw two things: one, a brand of tea mix called Te Bustelo.  It had no sucralose, so I picked it up on a whim and I’m rather enjoying it.  It’s a little stronger than Lipton, but not as strong as Publix.

The other thing I saw?  No Nestea on the shelves.  None.  Not that it was sold out; it was not even stocked.  I found this pretty shocking.  Could it be that the change affected that many people to lower sales that much?  Yeah, it took years to happen, but was that it?  I did a little research online and it seems that Coca Cola used to be partnered with Nestea and now that partnership has ended, with Coca Cola now selling a competing product – Fuze.

In some ways, I feel a bit vindicated.  In other ways, I feel like this didn’t have to happen.