Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gym Time

 I work out  4-5 times a week.  Sometimes I like it and sometimes it’s a living hell; anything is better than this!  I’m not sure when I got old I just arrived at this point in my life.

One day I was working in my organic vegetable garden, taking compost and leaf mulch from the woods and the next thing I knew I was running from angry yellow jackets and the next moment tumbling into the rich dark earthy humus, yellow jackets buzzing above me.

There I was in the proverbial hole which I dug, broken in more pieces than ever before.  I was alone in the woods, hurt badly.  I spent three days in the hospital waiting for the metal plate and screws (special order) to arrive.  The skilled orthopedic surgeon, Tom Klein, operated on day four; rebuilding my leg like Steve Austin.

Little did I know my ever walking again was in question.  I progressed quickly after spending  weeks in bed, and wheelchair.  I finally was given permission to walk around my house in a walker, vowing to fly fish by opening day in September.  After all,  I was basically in good shape!  Then a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) hit; I was now officially human. . . breakable, mortal and scared.  Borderline depression was creeping in.  I could die from this at anytime; boom . . . life over, time clock punched for the last time.

The point is, the karmic wheels turned and I found myself a man, rarely ill, rarely dependent on others, now an invalid, dependent, needy!

Did I mention I’m a proud guy too? This accident provided me many opportunities for growth, asking for help and depending on loved ones and friends for things I would rather do myself thank you!

Most men don’t go gently into middle age.  We struggle mightily, remembering past victories, conquests and beautiful maidens.

It starts with the first attractive woman who calls you “sir.”  You justify it as a mistake of youth and remind yourself not to skip going to the gym but to skip desert at the next rich meal at Chez Fran├žois or the Prime Rib.

The old saying “snow on the roof but fire in the hearth” pops into your mind but it’s fleeting.

The reality is: it has happened, here you are, now what are you going to do about it?

Which brings me back to the gym.  I have become my father when I first thought my dad was old.

I am 25 years younger than my dad and my daughter is 25 years younger than me.  So I know that look when she says to me … dad, watch what you eat, not so much candy! Are you going to the gym today? I hear the echoes of my youthful thoughts from years ago.

I don’t drink alcohol and haven’t for almost 20 years, I have led, for the most part, an active life, outdoorsman, fly fisherman and very strong from years as a carpenter.  But the last 10 years I have struggled with my weight in part because I am big, 6’3” and not drinking alcohol.  I have a sweet tooth.  I love Butterfingers, pecan pie; oh, the list is long and it takes so little to put it on around my waist.

My family also has heart problems. My dad is a walking miracle of cardiac science.  He was one of the first triple bypass recipients at Fairfax Hospital when Dr. LeFrac was just wet behind the ears.  Dad has since received a second and a pacemaker all within 25 years.

I justify my life as a sweets-loving big guy with all the aforementioned excuses but the middle age clock is ticking and I really have to work-out to maintain right where I am, 265 lbs!

So here I am, fresh from my work-out, feeling tired but alive, knowing that the gym work-outs are an important and integral part of my life.

This is my first blog.  Write and share your feelings about middle age and the opportunities it provides you.  We all need help and support and a good place to bitch about them!





Saturday, June 7, 2008

Full Contact Organic Gardening

Thanks to all who have called, send notes or cards.

I came home on Friday, six days after the injury. I am getting around with limited assistance.

Thank you for your prayers and kind thoughts.

For those of you who scratched your heads, wondering how I "fell in my garden,"

I would like to clarify: I practice a rarely heard of form of "Full Contact Organic Gardening!"

I provide stimuli for all the microbes, protozoa, Hypha, Fungi, Mycorrhizae, split tails, centipedes, and red wiggler compost worms, which inhabit the Organic garden world. It is all fairly high level stuff having to do with the "soil food web."

As I was releasing some leaf mulch mold from the woodland property behind me, a secondary life form was released at the same time. A very animated and one might say, angry because of that said release. The area directly in front of me exploded with excited, angry yellowjackets, which took direct aim at me.

All of my sports training emerged; I ran directly down the trench I had previously dug as I harvested both the composted leaves and the rich humus earth. I zigged and zagged in my 3-4 foot trench for 10, maybe 12, feet and then prepared for my next amazing act of prowess.

I planted my foot and went to turn; all parts of me were sent different messages at the same time: my foot faced south, my knee hyper-extended and turned east; my upper thigh and hips rotated north by north west.

Ouch, pain, but more importantly, the thunderous buzz of the yellowjackets. I hit the ground, well not just the ground, but the trench and a pile of leaves dropped by an American Holly (Latin name: Sticka me directly in the body everywhereous). Either from the yellowjackets’ perspective I was no longer a threat or by concealing myself within the rich compost and leaf mulch, they retreated to the nest site to take care of rebuilding what I had destroyed. I was safe from the onslaught of stings and bites.

I crawled out of the woods and called 911. After a 20-30 minute wait, two women EMS arrived (weighing no more than 100 lbs each) to hoist me up on the gurney. They assured me it would happen. I had my doubts but they lifted me up, up, up just about to the gurney and stopped. I could see the pulse pumping in the throat of the one. I said, “Please put me down.”

After "I" crawled up onto the gurney, my son helped the two EMS push the gurney out of the woods. I was loaded into the ambulance. The driver needed directions to the local hospital. It seems they were "out of towners" on loan to our firehouse. I quickly felt my pulse and started counting, Thank heart was pumping strong and regular; not a chance of the big one happening, but we still had 5 miles to go.

Once in the emergency room, we found out that I hadn't really blown out my knee, but had pretty much destroyed all the bones and structure which the hardened knee cap needs to rest on and protect.

At the hospital the surgeon on call was on a two-week rotation from Walter Reed. He was good but he would cut me and I would never see him again. Or I could use a surgical team (Tom Klein) that was rated as the best in the area and had an office just across the street...hmmmm.

Oh yeah, his wife knows my wife and he just finished repairing knees on two folks we knew closely.

The hook: I had to wait until Tuesday for surgery and would have to hang in the hospital eating Percocet and some other exciting drugs for a few days; they had to order special parts for the surgery . . .

I have pictures on my facebook page; you’re welcome to see them. Write me and I will friend you.

As I said I'm home. I can roll out on my deck and watch the garden grow; some friends are coming to work my garden and compost piles.

I can pee and poop by myself. It's the little things. I hope you'll never have to learn this, but those who have, you know what I'm saying.

My wife - I love the smell of my wife's perfume and her touch on my skin and broken bones.

I am thankful for my friends and family. Without them, healing takes so much longer. Friends have gathered in my hospital room and will do so in my home. Friends have offered rides, food and books both on tape and page-turners. I am grateful and humbled by your thoughtfulness and kindness.