Monday, March 12, 2007

Weekend activities

Friday night we were bored, bored, bored but none of the movie offerings appealed and we'd scoured Blockbuster 2-3 times over the previous 10 days so we headed to Walden Galleria to hit Borders and Best Buy. Both of 'em are a bit out of the way for us compared to their stores on Niagara Falls Boulevard (NFB) so that in itself was a bit different.

Nothing caught my fancy at Borders but I found a couple of 60s classic movies at Best Buy, the sort I like to watch over and over again, How the West Was Won and Kelly's Heroes. Naturally, I've yet to unwrap them!

Saturday morning we got up and went to Bally's for their Boot Camp cardio class. Lordy gumdrops! Trish -- the woman who teaches the class -- is majorly hardcore! We were in the back row with the other newbies and I didn't think I was gonna make it! Plus my back didn't unfreeze until Sunday evening!

That night we had dinner with our friend Jim at Red Pepper Cafe on Maple Road near NFB. Small place but obviously popular. The food was OK but I think I've gotten to the point where I really can't take Chinese / Vietnamese any more -- I'm still feeling after effects two days later!

Sunday I had planned to go back to Bally's for their Kwando class but that just wasn't happening! So I decided to roll with it and put off doing anything active 'til after supper, when we took a half hour walk around the neighborhood. The thaw is upon us (yay!) so we could actually get around without falling on our faces but Saki wasn't too thrilled, even so. "Did I say wanted to go for a walk?!"

A month from now we'll be in Los Angeles (just overnight for me!) and Palm Springs, woo hoo!

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Friday, March 09, 2007

57 weeks and counting

Until my 50th birthday, that is. Which is why Tuesday I went to Bally's and said, "I want to talk to someone about getting some personal training." An hour or so later I was talking to Nick, the fitness director at the Amherst club where I'm a member. I told him upfront:

(1) I want to be in the best shape of my life by the time my 50th birthday rolls around

(2) I want to be able to see my abs

(3) I want to be able to bench my own weight for reps easily

(4) I want to work on balance and coordination (because I've never paid any attention to either)

(5) I want to learn how to fall down without hurting myself

(6) I want a guy trainer who is (a) gay friendly and (b) in really good shape (because I need the inspiration)

Which was fine and dandy as far as Nick was concerned. He set me up with Josh, one of his two newest trainers, and we had our first session Thursday morning at 10 o'clock.

I was quite pleased. Personal training (from what I can tell thus far) at Bally's is very programmed but very professional and very tailored to the individual's needs. Likewise, Josh is probably early 20s and very interactive, very pleasant, very laidback, very focused on achievable goals, very reinforcing in terms of what I was thinking and wanting. We got the vitals (height, weight, measurements, and way, way, way too high bodyfat ratio) and then did a workout that concentrated on balance, flexibility, and pulling in addition muscle groups, e.g.:

-- Bodyweight squats
-- Bodyweight squats plus lifting one leg when coming back up
-- Squats + leg lift + pressing 10 lb. dumbbells at the top of the motion

Then we tried the same on the balance ball -- was NOT gonna happen. Squatting while on a balance ball is NOT something my body wants to do at this point! (At least I think it's the balance ball -- it's really half a ball with a stable, circular base on the floor, but bouncy.) Without missing a beat Josh said, "let's do this instead," and we shifted to shoulder raises (bring the 10 lb. dumbbells from waist to directly in front of the chest, then up to 45 degrees out, and then up to 90 degrees out.) Much better -- I could stay on the ball and do that (most of the time.)

Plus a couple more of with the step thingy and then finishing up with planks, which were hard but felt really good.

All in all, I'm quite pleased with myself. After nearly 30 years of off and on (mostly off) in the gym, I finally decided it was time to get assistance, to make sure I was getting the best bang for my exercise effort. I'm learning new stuff and I can see making lots of progress.

(Whether it's the best bang for the buck is a different story. I figured out this morning that I have to work nearly 8 hours at my job to earn enough to cover the cost of three hours per week of personal training. Zounds! Keep in mind that I only work about 16-18 hours a week on average!)

Regardless, I think it's a worthwhile investment.

Starting point: 197 1/2 lbs. @ 5'10 1/2 inches; 24% (!!) bodyfat; 51 shoulders, 47 chest, 36 waist, 15 biceps, 16 calves.

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I’m here to tell you that 4 ½ days of virtually uninterrupted hiccups are no fun, which you probably already knew but inevitably will have prompted a giggle even so.

It started on Sunday, February 27. Naoyuki and I got up mid-morning, time enough to get ready and go pick up our friend Jim, with whom we were going to have brunch and then go to the Buffalo and Erie Botanical Gardens for the annual orchid show. I ate a banana, my usual-first-thing-in-the-morning routine, and took my meds – and immediately felt extremely urpy.

Now that’s not at all unusual. I’m sure I’ve had reflux for years and years and years and for at least three years I’ve been taking various meds (most recently, Omeprazole) to keep it under control. But this was worse than usual. I felt pretty crappy all through brunch (at Pano’s, very nice, although I can’t say I much enjoyed my French toast, just because of the urpiness) and at the Botanical Gardens (which were unexpectedly great – it’s a cool place with lots of nice stuff!) We dropped Jim off precisely at 2 p.m., then headed off to do some errands – and I immediately started having the hiccups.

“No biggie deal,” I thought, I get hiccups fairly routinely – and they never last more than 10-15 minutes. But this time they didn’t stop and after we’d gotten about halfway home I said to Naoyuki, “ya know, I think maybe I need to skip the errands.”

So we went home and I kept having the hiccups – until late Thursday evening, March 1 (our 4th anniversary together!)

There were occasional breaks. I’d eat a spoonful of sugar or a cup of yogurt or something and they’d go away – for half an hour. Likewise, I could get very (mentally) involved in something (talking on the phone to my boss to let her know I was going to need to take off to go to the doctor, breading the chicken breasts to go into the oven) and they’d disappear – for half an hour.

Thankfully, whenever I crawled into bed – stretched out on my back or on my side, getting into that pre-sleep breathing mode, and eventually – usually after about an hour, sometimes more – they’d go away and I’d fall asleep (usually without noticing either.) Then I’d wake up and sit up – and they’d start right back up again.

I hate to think what my medical bills would be if I were not covered on Naoyuki’s health insurance (as a part-time employee, of course, I don’t have benefits through my workplace) but they’d probably be pretty significant. In one week:

(1) I went to my primary care people on Monday. They were busy, didn’t really have a clue, weren’t terribly concerned, but made a referral to the radiology next door for the next day.

(2) Tuesday I went to the radiology people twice, once to have an Upper GI / small bowel radium scan (you drink this white stuff like really thick, slightly chalky yogurt), then back again (at Naoyuki’s insistence, after he called my primary care people to complain) for a chest x-ray.

The Upper GI / small bowel scan was normal, as was the chest X-ray, pretty much ruling out any active problem with the esophagus, pneumonia, or a hiatal hernia. It was still possible that I might be having renal failure (I have Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, after all) or, well, gee, maybe an aortic aneurysm? Ya know – the thing that killed my dad and (probably) his mom, both at age 57. Ai yi yi! So:

(3) I went to see a gastroenterologist on Thursday, who confirmed that the Upper GI / small bowel and chest x-rays looked normal and agreed that I should have (a) an endoscope of my esophagus and stomach and – if nothing came of that – (b) a CT scan.

(4) So Friday I showed up at the GI doc’s office at 6:30 a.m. to have the EGD. They put you under for that, piece of cake, and then stick a camera up your nose and down into your esophagus and tummy. He found a polyp in my stomach and since he was there he took it out; they’re almost always benign and this one didn’t look funny, so no biggie deal. Likewise, esophagus looked fine but there were signs of (pretty mild) gastritis as far as my stomach was concerned

(5) Which is why, afterwards, Naoyuki took me BACK to the radiology people, this time to have a CT scan.

Then I went home and slept.

All day Friday and half of Saturday. And no more hiccups.

In fact, there were no hiccups Friday morning before the EGD, presumably partly because I had – after having met with Dr. Fayyaz, the GI guy – started taking a 2nd dose of Omeprazole (plus on an empty stomach instead of after food.)

And then there was the other medication:

Who knew that low-dose Thorazine was a sovereign remedy for intractable hiccups? I kinda always figured I’d wind up on it, just not for hiccups!


Now I take Omeprazole twice a day (on an empty stomach) and I keep the lo-do Thorazine handy in case they come back (and they haven’t.)

There were some interesting side effects, namely Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights I had insomnia – and I felt sort of wired, plus way more talkative than usual (and, as you know, that’s a lot to begin with!) For whatever reason, I decided “do it now” was going to be my new mantra (and it has pretty much continued to be all of this subsequent week); plus Tuesday I finally (a) got a haircut (I was having hairanoia as well as hiccupanoia) and (b) went to Bally’s see about getting a personal trainer, two things I’d been putting off for a very long time.

It seems as though the hiccups were either (1) a wake up call or (2) a re-set switch, I’m not sure which. But I’m not complaining!

Just don’t let it happen again!