Tag Archives: Health and Fitness

Somebody Spoke Too Soon About Being on the Mend

I’ve been sick for over a month now. The good news is that I’m not down with fever and body-aches anymore, but I’m still exhausted all the time, and my voice is a ragged wreck of a thing which is painful to use. I can only imagine what it’s like to listen to.

This has had an effect on my work, obviously. Keeping up with the comic strip, which is Job One, has been a struggle. Other stuff has fallen completely off, and I feel pretty badly about it because some of what has fallen off is some key tasks for delivering the next Schlock Mercenary book.

I haven’t reviewed any movies in a while, either. I definitely feel well enough to sit down for a couple of hours and watch something, but I don’t feel good about taking this cough into a theater.

My hope is that by the time February 29th rolls around (carrying with it the beginning of my 53rd year as a corporeal Earth-human) I’ll be back in good health, and getting stuff done again. Really, that’s all I want for my birthday.

MTHFR and Avocado Toast

I got my genes scanned, and we found cool things. For starters, we found that we could get my genes scanned by using FedEx to send a Q-tip to a laboratory. The 21st century has its problems, for sure, but it’s really, really cool, too.

MTHFR looks like an abbreviation for something impolite. It isn’t—not unless you think words like methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase are impolite. The salient point here is that the MTHFR gene, which codes for the production of that methylwhatsit folate stuff, is not working quite right for me. Most folks can get the vitamin B12 they need from folic acid supplements. I don’t do very well at turning folic acid into usable B12 folate, so I either need to go back to nature and eat lots of leafy greens, or I need some special folate supplements.

Did you know that avocados have lots of B12 in them? And I like them a lot more than I like kale.

We found other things, including a strong indication that my current antidepressant, bupropion (Wellbutrin), isn’t the best choice for me. Over the next few weeks we’ll be changing my meds, feeding me some methylfolate supplements, and putting more avocados in my diet.

Probably not on toast, though.

 

 

 

“No, This is Not an Oregon Trail LARP”

From Tuesday through Friday my family and I are participating in “Trek,” which, in the local dialect of Mormon-speak, is interpreted to mean “hiking and camping with handcarts, hymns, and harmonicas.” Just like our pioneer ancestors. I joked that this event was a cross between a Mormon Pioneer cosplay and an Oregon Trail LARP, but I’ve been told that this is not the case, and no, I’m not allowed to pretend to have died of dysentery so I can go home.

If it sounds like I’m making light of it, that’s because I make light of pretty much everything. Especially things of which I’m frightened. Camping in general has lost its appeal for me. Hiking? Sounds suspiciously like work. Doing them together, so that after a long hike you get a crap bed and food you carried and zero long soaks in a hot bath? Let’s just say it’s not Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup math.

I am not, however, a heartless, spineless fool who cannot see the benefit in these things. Sandra and I have been given the opportunity to walk the trail our ancestors walked one-point-six centuries ago, and we get to do so with all four of our children. The window of opportunity for this activity is pretty much this year, or never. Our kids are growing up and growing out. If we want to be miserable, all six of us, together in Wyoming, this is the time to do it.

Am I making light again? Perhaps.

We won’t have “electronic devices” with us, which is Trek-speak for “no phones, no music-players, no movies, no laptops, no getting any work done Howard, and if you want to take pictures the camera must only be a camera, not a smart-something.” If I want to tweet anything I’ll have to write it by hand in my journal, and carefully count the characters on my fingers to make sure I don’t use too many.

I am issuing an electronics exemption for my Fitbit, which I will be wearing for the whole trip. I have it on good authority that the pioneers had 1) odometers, and 2) timepieces. Besides, this is the damaged one (the replacement from the manufacturer is still in the packaging) and the repair scars I’ve inflicted upon it exemplify the old saw about thrift:

Use it up, wear it out. Make it do, or do without.

PioneerFitBit

That particular aphorism probably dates from after the time period in question, but only because during the time period in question you didn’t need to say such a thing, because it was what everybody did without some pithy rhyme as a reminder.

In this spirit, everything I’m wearing, carrying, or packing is newly acquired for this trip EXCEPT for the anachronometer on my wrist. Especially the shoes, which I have already broken in and stress-tested on a 22,000-step day. If my ancestors had crossed the plains in boots like these they really would have sang as they walked.

The point is that I’m going dark for four days. We’ll be back on Saturday, and I’ll be refreshed and ready for my presentation at the Salt Lake Public Library.

DiedOfDysentery

They Know What To Do, But You Have To Tell Them

There was a minor medical emergency on Friday night at World Fantasy. I share my account of the events, and my role in the process, because the event pointed up the fact that some people don’t know how to respond to this sort of a problem.

I didn’t do very much, and anybody could have done what I did, but somebody should have done it ten minutes earlier.

I was engaged in a late-night conversation in the lobby bar when one of the bikers with whom we shared the hotel approached our group.

“You guys, man… you guys gotta take better care of your own.”

“I’m sorry, what’s wrong?” I was puzzled. He seemed frustrated and worried.

“One of your girls, she’s sick drunk outside. She needs her friends to take care of her.”

At this point I excused myself from the conversation, and strode quickly out the door and around the hedge to where we’ll-call-her-Jane was sitting slumped against one of the bikers.  A couple of other people from the biker event were standing close trying to wake her up and get her attention.

I read her name tag, leaned in (without touching her) and said “JANE, WAKE UP PLEASE.”

No response.

“I’ll be right back.” I strode into the hotel, marching with purpose to the front desk.

“There’s a woman on the bench outside, and she’s non-responsive. It looks like alcohol overdose.” (Note: I used the word “overdose” because I wanted to make sure they took the problem seriously — not because I have any medical training in the matter.)

That conversation was the point at which my involvement effectively ended. Hotel security arrived within seconds. They DID touch Jane, checking for a pulse, and attempting to roust her by loudly explaining that unless she answered them RIGHT NOW, they were going to have to call an ambulance.

They called an ambulance. Summing up, after an overnight in the hospital Jane was okay, but I didn’t see her back at the event until Sunday night. Apparently the alcohol didn’t agree with one of her medications. (See? Not an overdose. I was wrong!)

Here’s the salient point, the take-away for you, and for any convention-goer who finds themselves in a similar situation: HOTEL SECURITY KNOWS WHAT TO DO, BUT SOMEONE HAS TO TELL THEM THERE IS A PROBLEM.

When I returned to the group I’d been conversing with, they treated me as if I had done something amazing, like I performed CPR, or a field tracheotomy. Guys, I didn’t even call 911. I thought about it, then realized I didn’t know the address of the hotel. All I did was take ownership of the problem for just long enough to hand it off to the folks who knew how to solve it.

To be fair to the bikers, they probably see a lot of friends overdo the consumption, and they take care of those friends on their own. They’re a tight group, and they know each other. Still, the moment one of them realized that Jane was out cold, they should have called hotel security.

I’m an Eagle Scout. I can staunch bleeding, and feel for a pulse. I can do the Heimlich, and though my CPR skills are rusty, if I’m the only guy around who can do it, I’ll do all I can. But the critical skill in this particular situation, and in most of the convention medical emergencies I’m likely to run into, was the ability to speak clearly.

Oh, and the ability to decide to speak.

You can do this.