This blog has intentionally never sought to become a sinkhole for personal musings about my bodily functions. But sometimes biology intervenes, forcefully, and discussions of politics and metaphysics become trite and seem like just so much wordplay.
Recently, I had the flu. Not a take-to-your-bed-and-make-the-wife-pat-your forehead flu, just a bad case of the sniffles and aching joints. By, say Wednesday I was over the worst of it. On Friday, the family was over for dinner and I noticed a dull ache in my upper-left chest. I put it down to the last pangs of the flu, took some paracetamol, and tried to ignore it.
On Saturday it was still there, stronger, so I took some more painkillers and went into the City to see The Producers on stage (which was actually rather good).
By Sunday things had not improved, but I was on the roster at my Church. By now the pain had travelled up my neck and down my left arm. I looked awful, or so people told me. My wife asked me how many painkillers I had had by the time we were at a wedding reception after Church. When I realised I was popping Paracetamol and Ibuprofen like a junkie and the pain was as bad as it had ever been, she (how shall I say this?), tactfully and demurely suggested I seek medical attention.
Well, those who know my wife will see my last statement as a heroic euphemism. I married into a medical family, full of nurses, paramedics, midwives and such. When I, as a typical male, suggested that all I needed was a cup of tea and a lay down, she responded with a gesture that only our fairer sex are issued a hazardous materials license to dispense. Those of you who have received "the look" will sympathise, the look being a stare and posture of such withering scorn and do-not-argue-with-me-ness that I dared offer no resistance. So in short order I was laying in the Coronary Care Unit of Hawkesbury Hospital for two nights, poked with holes, dangling with leads, and rigged to machines that made rude noises if I rolled over too quickly because it made the traces go "burp" on my monitor.
By Tuesday I had convinced everyone I was not dying and was released. A visit to the Cardiologist since then has convinced me that sadists can gain a respectable face in such a profession. They invite you in with the promise of interesting machines and flashing lights but then put you on a treadmill, again wired like a substation, with the firm intent of making you go "pop". "We need you to keep going until you reach your target heart rate, Mr Zamprogno" she said. "Easy", I thought, as they started me off at a gentle stroll. "I did the Six Foot Track last year, and that's 42km from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves in two days with a 20kg pack, AND with people 10 years younger than myself". The treadmill kicked a notch in its program forcing me to a gait where it was hard to decide between a power walk and a jog. "But," my mental narrative continued, "you crashed and burned about 5km from the end and had to get a lift, remember?" Grrr. Click. I was running like I was trying to outrun a giant spider. "Can... I... stop... now?" I gasped. "No" was the curt reply. In the end, I made my target heart rate (which is 220 minus your age, if you ever wanted to know), but only just.
Then came the lecture. It turns out the pain is nothing permanent, but the unfortunate conjunction of work-stress, high blood pressure and the leftover effects of my Flu. I need to be more active, have less stress in my life, and eat right. With grudging acknowledgement, all these points are true. I've arrived at the point in my life where being young is no longer enough to preserve my vitality and health.
I need to start consciously getting out there and doing things for the benefit of my health in and of themselves, and I'd like to start by going swimming or to the gym regularly. I need some accountability partners. Any takers?