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FullSizeRender-4In the high-pressure major-responsibility career that I am living I have grabbed on to a few activities where my mind can detach from the weight of leadership.  One of those relief moments was climbing aboard the Silver Dragon and roaring down the pavement of a quiet road.  But the days of motorcycle riding have come to a close in my life.

The harnessed power of a powerful 1600cc 70hp perfectly blended highly tuned machine was as slick a ride as I have ever enjoyed.  It felt good, looked great and handled like a professionally trained quarter horse handling range chores. A simple twist of the throttle and the ribbon of asphalt would turn into a blur under my feet.

I remember long rides in the beautiful state of Michigan that soothed my soul.  Good friends would share a day ride or an annual pilgrimage to a distant destination to fill up our memory albums and deepen our friendships.  Facing threatening storms, surprised by stunning vistas and laughing over silly adventures bonded us for life.

The entire United States and Canada were fair game for our annual ride.  We would invest our personal vacation time and be drawn toward adventures with good friends.  Cameras were a must to record great stops and memorable introductions to places that others could only dream.

It was the open road and the constant testimony of God’s creation that enveloped each of us into His watchful care.  Safe miles and final destinations marked each year with splendid rides and moments of serenity from demanding jobs.  Motorcycling was a sheer delight.

Now, my doctors agree that my body can no longer safely negotiate the rigors of motorcycle riding.  Even if these learned physicians did not collectively give me the diagnosis, my aching back reminds me each time I try to throw a leg over the saddle of my trusty stead.  When the traffic light turns read or a massive 18 wheeler slams on its brakes, my body wrenches in trained response but my back screams out in agony.

The Silver Dragon has been a fantastic ride since 2007.  It was my dream bike.  Each time that I polished this gleaming combination of glistening paint and generous chrome, I sensed the joy and pride of ownership.

She made me proud.  Each ride filled me with satisfaction. Our friends along the way will always be buddies for life.Thank you and farewell, good machine.  May your future miles be smooth.

Have you ever had to say such a sad farewell to something so special? Life moves on and sometimes we have to simply accept that seasons come to an end, don’t we?

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_2047It has been months since I was able to move into the swimming pool without discomfort.  Getting old is no fun.  Doing it gracefully is a daily challenge.

Gingerly I held on to the hand rail and descended into the warm waters of our club lap pool.  Of course in my mind I was bound and determined to look “cool” while doing it.  I stubbornly refused to surrender to any image of “old man coming in!”

Yet, I could only cover so much.  Turning my head too much wrenched my back.  Twisting my hips too much nearly paralyzed me with pain.

OK, I’ll admit it!  I am turning into an OLDer man.  It is worth fighting to remain young in mind and give the appearance of youthful-like mobility and foster the illusion as long as possible.  Age is mostly a mental state, right?  I do not think that last composition of words came out right.

Water buoyancy is a friend to our aching bodies.  God gave us water to show us how gravity can be modulated for a brief moment.  Lifting the weight momentarily relieves the pain.

Deftly I set myself for my first voyage since the diagnosis of four herniated disks.  “Slowly” was my operative term.  Pushing off the wall gently, my gliding moves propelled me through the water.

Just like riding a bike, you never forget how to swim.  The strokes were pain free.  While it was tempting to push my rhythm, experience and terror kept the cadence deliberate and intentionally relaxed.

Lap after lap my mind was beginning to sense progress.  Treatment for my pain-riddled body had brought me back to functionality.  Now, I could fill my lungs with air, grow back some stamina and feel invigorated again.

Still I would go easy.  After several more trips to the pool I would still move deliberately and slowly.  Each time I added more laps.  Finally, I upped my time in the waters of recuperation and knocked off 48 laps.

I did that much just because getting out of the pool is so hard.  After a good swim I use the hand rail to pull me out of the waters and feel the stinging reminder of a back that can no longer to do spinning Karate kicks or double front Kung Fu snap kicks or oblique wrestling leg sweeps.

In my early youthful days I promised myself that I would not whine about aches and pains when I inevitably grew older.  So, the sounds of shrieking that you might be hearing are simply the exhaling of breath practicing a newly discovered soprano vocal range.

photo credit: brucefong photography

There was a time when walking was a challenge.  My feet would not stand up to any strolls beyond the distance beyond kicking a can.  Those were tough days.

Pain was the problem.  Yet, my schedule was merciless.  Even though I journeyed from airport to airport, being stricken with unusual pain made for an excruciating journey.

I well remember in an international airport looking for any handrail to make my footsteps take me to my next destination.  A wheel chair looked very appealing when I passed it.  Instead, I gritted my teeth and kept up my faith walk with prayers for God’s relief.

Ahead, I was enthused to see a mechanized moving floor.  If I could make it there I could just stand on the right side and catch my breath.  I was counting on a respite for the next series of painful steps.

Ah, the relief of making it to the moving sidewalk was wonderful.  It is a nuisance to some people but I relished in the relief from the pain.  Of course I stood there looking cool and collected. 

When we can’t be in control at least we can look like we are.  That is the guy code.  It’s not pride, it is machismo.

By the time that I came to end of the moving sidewalk, I noticed a considerable drop in the foot pain.  Gingerly, I made the next few steps to the next moving sidewalk and was pleasantly surprised that my destination was easily reached.  Whatever was bothering my foot was now quieting down.

Oh, what a relief it is to sense surprising pain go away.  I didn’t know the cause but I was not going to complain about the ease of my now very happy feet.  That ugly duckling part of the human anatomy was now feeling very good.

The walkway was the cushioned kind.  It was springy and gave me the sense of a load taken away.  I hid my pain easily since it was clearly fading away.

After that rugged trip my doctor gave me an exam.  Now, that annoying phenomenon called arthritis is under control.  What was once frustrating is now a mental precaution. 

When I walk through an airport, I appreciate the walk without pain as well as the moving walkways.  Footpower is amazing.  Hail to the feet!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

I’m talking about the sneezing or wheezing kinda cold.  That kind comes during this time of year, known as winter.  These colds spread by invisible microscopic viruses that love to get airborne.

They’ll pick out a victim or two dozen and infiltrate their bodies and lay on a beatin’.  It’s an awful time to be laid up in bed and pumpin’ those pharmaceuticals like they’re candy.  Juicing up the medical tastes with imitation fruit flavors helps but we are looking for some relief.

When the lady in front of me at the post office was hacking up a storm, all of us in the line took a big step backwards.  The poor clerk had nowhere to go.  He had to keep on helping that lady.

I’m sure that the woman was nice in every from here to Friday but under the circumstances no one else in the Post Office line wanted any new friends from the general populace.  The one in line didn’t race up to the counter until a margin of space had been rendered after her departure.  Then, that new customer never did touch the stainless steel counter where the previous had rested her hands many times.

We can’t see the who the germs are jumpin’ on but we’re all too familiar when we feel the comin’ cold gripping our lives the next day.  That kind of cold is a bad kind.  But, there are others.

Now, it was on to the gas station.  I was hoping that the gasoline nozzle had enough of that petroleum product spilt over the handle so that any diseases would be burned into oblivion.  As the gas was pumping, I was letting the fumes rise up and bask my hand in their sterilizing gases.

Me, a germ-o-phobe?  Com’ on!  I’m as brazen and trusting in the providence of the Almighty as the next.  I just can’t afford to be off from work any more than my last bout with the flu. 

That little nasty wad of the sickies laid me up for a week.  I’m still coughing some on the residual end of that awful experience.  Alright, I admit it.

Everyone of those germ carriers better be wary.  I’m attacking my immediate surroundings with prayer, alcohol wipes and suspicious glares.  That’ll scare off the little buggers . . . excuse me, achoo! sniff . . . sniff.  Anyone have a humidifier to loan me?

photo credit: google image 

 

Who likes to feel sickness coming on?  You wake up in the morning and you just don’t feel rested.  In fact the weariness and fatigue are red flags that all is not right.

My day is filled with activities.  We go to our first destination.  I check my watch.  It’s only 9AM and I’m feeling tired.  Rats, that’s an ugly moment.

We head out to cheer on good friends who are embroiled in an athletic endeavor.  It’s fun.  We cheer and laugh.  Now, I’m really feeling tired.

My suspicions drag on as we finish up the day with a lot of miles, family celebration, errands that take me from one location to the next.  I know that I am feeling the invasion of a bug.  My throat is starting to get scratchy.

My longing eyes gaze at my wonderful in-home health care provider, my wife.  She has seen my tired body dragging from one event to the next.  Several times I was hacking away with a dry cough.

She looked suspicious.  “Are you getting sick?” “Afraid so.”  Then, she lined up all of the suggestions to fight this malady while I still could.

Cough drops, hot tea, pushing liquids, plenty of rest and keeping warm.  After that I had to look over my schedule and cancel activities.  It was time to rest and attack this cold with aggressive options.

God lets us get sick to slow us down.  I’m convinced of this.  Sometimes we cut corners, multi-task and over commit.  That’s when He touches us in a way to get our attention. 

Phooey!  I know the theology behind it.  The TLC that Yvonne gives me is fabulous.  But, I still despise it when my body is not at my immediate disposal.  Get out of my body you evil little buggers!

photo credit: google image

My orthopedic surgeon ordered a CT scan.  The paper work looked like a foreign language to me.  But, he walked me through it and I took it by faith that this was going to be good for me.

I scheduled the scan during my day-off.  Yvonne joined me for the historic event.  We waited in all of the right lines and took a seat to wait some more.

Finally, a technician came in and called my name.  She led me to a dressing room and instructed me how to put on my gowns.  They are such unflattering garments.

For a few minutes I waited for my turn in the fancy equipment.  The tech retrieved me.  She and her partner were both so friendly.

Bedside manner makes such a difference in such an experience.  She directed me to lie down on a table.  I asked, “Which way do you want my head?”  She laughed.

With my head in the right direction, the big donut was at my feet.  She hid behind a shielded glass control room and I lay still as instructed.  It was weird.

These techs do this all of the time.  For me it was a first time experience.  It was almost surreal.

The hum of the CT Scanner was not loud but I could tell that it was on.  Then, the shelf that I was laying on was sliding back and forth in and out of the donut.  I couldn’t feel a thing.

Then, the techs told me to relax.  Once they checked the results then I was free to go.  Sure enough, these was no need for a retake.

We chatted, exchanged some friendly banter and talked about Angry Birds.  They were very happy with the results and assured me that they we get the film to my Orthopedic surgeon.  It didn’t take me long to change. 

I wandered back to the waiting room.  Yvonne was busy looking through her Android.  So, I called out, “Yvonne Fong!” 

With a start she looked up.  Then she saw who called her name.  After that it was rolling of her eyes, a silly grin and laughter as she came to meet me at the door.

My first comment to her, “They said that I looked quite fashionable in my gown.”

Together we left the hospital.  Now, it’s up to my specialist doctor to give me the news.  We’ll see if there is a solution to my pain.  Here’s hoping!

photo credit: google image

My day-off started with a bit of a sleep-in.  Instead of bouncing out of bed at my early hour pattern, I took a look at the clock and fell back into my repose for another forty-five.  It felt good to get up well-rested.

Then, I hopped out of bed with stealthy speed so that my bride could continue dreaming of so many blessings.  She is a night owl and I am a morning lark.  When the Spring and Summer sun rays pour through the window coverings, I am energized.

Carefully, I slip on my bicycle riding gear.  My shorts and jacket are hanging from the bedroom door.  They are ready and waiting so that I don’t have to make a lot of noise searching for them. 

Looking like a rider who is serious about this sport, I grab my keys.  Next, I lace up my shoes, making sure that the laces don’t dangle.  They are already torn up after being too long and getting chewed up in my sprocket and chain.

With all of my riding clothes properly in place I head into the garage.   Just like a well-rehearsed play I loaded my bicycle rack on to the hitch of my pick-up truck.  I lock it into place.

Then, my recently acquired road bicycle is easily mounted.  Quick release straps make it easy to secure my mount.  But, I do take the precaution to lock it on to my bike rack with a cable lock.  Too many thefts in recent days force me to add this extra step.

Bubba fires up quickly.  Together we roll on to Highway 1 and veer off to the North and pick up Highway 35.  The sun is shining and the wind is modest, it will a perfect day for a ride.

We drive into the parking lot of Harding Park.  It is the jump off point for many of the boaters who train on Lake Merced.  Boaters park on the South side and the rest of us congregate on the North lot.

My road bicycle fits neatly into my hands.  It is lightweight and easy to launch for our morning ride.  Both of my feet slip into the toe cages and never come out until the ride is done.

Along the way I breath in the morning air.  Soft breezes trade-off with either a lift or a headwind.  I love the morning and I love my ride to start a new day.

photo credit: google image

One of the saddest moments of my move to San Francisco was the theft of my road bicycle. I loved that bike! When I first got it over 12 years ago, it was the entry-level road bike.

Road bikes are designed for long distance. It is for endurance. Yeah, healthy.  That means paved roads are the best route for this kind of peddling.

Wherever cars prefer to go, so a road bike adapts to it also. Key to this kind of bike is light weight. A combination of stiffness and flexibility are needed to take the beating of a long journey and not transfer the fatiguing vibration to your body.

Components are the priority for a good mount. Smooth dependable shifting make the difference over the long haul. The mechanical features of a quality bike must be preceded by a track record of consistency and toughness that you can trust for thousands of miles of riding.

Fit is also vital. Overall height and inseam length are necessary numbers to get the correct dimensions of the bike frame. On the one hand if the bike is too big fatigue sets in quickly with arms out stretched, legs overextending and back aching with strain.

On the other hand, if the bike is too small, then legs strain and strokes are inefficient. You can imagine being cramped in a small space is uncomfortable. A small bike is also similar.

After a lot of looking my sadness of losing my cherished bicycle to a thief, I have replaced it with another one. This bicycle is slick.  I can re-engage the sport of bicycling.

It is light weight. I can hold it up with one arm. There were bikes that I passed up because they were too small or too big. This one is just right.

I found the ad on-line. The description was a perfect match to my list of preferences. On my way to the bike shop I held my excitement in check.

Many times I have sought out an ad, arrived at a shop but was disappointed when the size was wrong, the bike was sold or some other limitation leading to a no-sale.

This time the bike was there. It was the right size. All of the components were as advertised.

I threw my leg over the bike and felt the instant connection. It is a Fuji CCR3.  The bike is great and was on sale for 44% off! Sold!

photo credit: google image

Sunday evening was very cool.  I was excited to start on an adventure with good friends.   Maybe I twisted too quickly getting out of his car.  Moving from the warm car into the cool evening air may have been too much of a contrast.  Pain shot through my left hip.

I grimaced.  Do you suck in the air through your teeth when agony sneaks up and bites you too?  But, I didn’t let my friends know.  No use being a baby about a little discomfort.

The more that I stomped around in the woods, the worse the pain became.  Rest would have made sense but our journey West knew only a limited amount of opportunity before we were called back home and into the office.

Every day I popped pain pills and carried out the woodsmanship that we had planned for an entire year.  Both hips were sore.  On top of that my back was beginning to ache. 

Back problems are no fun.  They ruin everything. I was disappointed that my slow movements were escalating

If the pain persisted I knew that i would have to go and see my doctor.  Lots of tests would have to be taken and any subsequent diagnosis would not be any fun at all. 

I imagined a prognosis of a few months to live.  Some malady with a name that I couldn’t pronounce would be my undoing.  God was calling me home . . . such heroic morbidity, eh?

Now, ten days later I suddenly remembered.  Walking across a parking lot with groceries in hand my mind pieced together the cause of my pain.  Aren’t such reflective recollections amazing?

A week ago Friday, I was walking the streets of downtown with a good friend. The weather turned soggy and sprinkled enough rain on the sidewalks to get them slick.  Locked into conversation while walking I stepped on to a slick spot, went airborne. 

But, because of my highly trained athletic skills I landed on three appendages with one other reaching for balance.  My friend was very impressed with my recovery.  It was a break dance move of the coolest kind.

That unexpected near-fall was my eventual injury.  The twisting and straining surely tore something that began to surface days later.  At least I wasn’t dying of some rare tropical disease.  While it may not have been break dancing, I did break something.

 

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