Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NYC Commuting 90 Minutes Later

After a trip to the emergency room two weeks ago, I followed some of the doctor’s advice about caffeine and “sleep hygiene,”  and now I’m going to work an hour and a half later every day than I had been for the last few years.

New York City is very, very different at 7:30am to 8:30am than it was at 6am to 7am…  So much busier.  So much noisier.  So much more chaos.

At 6am there was only one grocery store on my route with big trucks unloading, at 7:30am there’s business with deliveries all up and down the street between our apartment and the subway.

By 7:30am there are construction crews out blocking the roads and moving big equipment around, so no more just walking across the street once there’s a big enough break in traffic.  Not that there is a big enough break in traffic at 7:30am without a light or construction flagger to stop it, the cars are simply non-stop on the avenues.

Whereas I used to always get a seat on the subway, every time, often the only person on a bench, now I usually have to squeeze in to a crowded train and wait till a mass of people get off at Times Square to quickly grab a seat, feeling guilty because there’s still plenty of people standing up, and worried that I might be taking a seat someone who really needs it more than me could use.

On the 4 train in Brooklyn I used to sit with young 20-something school teachers who work at some schools near my office, a crowd that often grades papers or talks in nice, quiet conversational tones and has manners when we’re all heading to the same exits at the same time.  Now after 8am in Crown Heights, the trains are mostly full of rowdy school kids.

Fortunately, with the doctor-recommended change in sleeping habits, I don’t feel the desperate need to sleep on the train like I used to, so I can close my eyes to relax, but the noise and chaos isn't affecting me as much.

Middle Age Motherfucker!

While getting my life on track following some health issues last month, it dawned on me that I'm totally a middle-aged man now.  On Facebook I saw a post by a college buddy's wife and we swapped some messages and we're both in the same boat now.  So, I banged out a ranty email about this to another college buddy...

Middle Age Motherfucker!

It sure hit me last month, like a BB to the nuts(1).

I ended up in the emergency room two weeks ago because my blood pressure was through the fucking roof.  I had a headache like never before, and decided to go to the urgent care clinic up the street.  The doctor there checked my blood pressure and said the risk of a stroke was severe and sent me straight to the ER, no walking, either ambulance or taxi for the two blocks (we chose taxi).

He gave me a pill for it, and some notes to take to the ER...

The pill worked, so the ER doctors didn't "do" anything except monitor me for five hours, then prescribe some blood pressure medicine to take daily, pretty much for life (or until I make lifestyle changes that'll make me healthy enough I won't require it.)  The doctor there also gave me advice including following up with a primary care physician, especially since I'm now 45 and entering middle age and can expect upcoming age-related health issues.

Two days later, when the headache receded enough that I could look at the computer and phone screens without cringing in pain I began what I'd put off for twenty years, finding a primary care doctor.  You know small town life, well, Waldport only had one doctor (whose son was one of my classmates) and once I finished college and started working the big city, Portland, the choices were too overwhelming that I never got a doctor or went for visits.  Now in NYC, the choices are even more so. In our insurance company's listings there were hundreds of primary care doctors within 10 blocks of our apartment...  The hospital had a referral service so she started listing them and I stopped her after the second clinic, then called that clinic who had one doctor available that afternoon, and now she's "my doctor".

Actually, luckily, after the first visit we really like her.  Leena really, really liked her.  We told her about how I got to the ER and what was done since and she talked a bit about diet, said I was definitely overweight and needed to lose some pounds, and took some blood samples, and EKG and measured my blood pressure several times and we talked quite a bit...  Since the problem and medication were still new to me she didn't want to change much, except for me to avoid obviously bad foods...

Last week she called with results of the blood tests and said my cholesterol is very high and put me on the famous Lipitor (another nail in the end of youth coffin for me...)

We have a two week follow-up with her later this week and she gave me a preview on the phone, that she wants to talk a lot more about food...

I saw a Facebook post from Craig's wife, and he's going through the same shit.  Overweight, high blood pressure and all that.  And similar problems, he felt fat, but whenever he talked to people about eating better and shedding weight, they just said "what? you're not fat..."

I get that all the time, even now after the doctor's appointments my coworkers are telling me I'm not fat, I'm not overweight, the doctor is stupid.  Never mind that I knew I was fat ten years ago, when I bent down to put my socks on and couldn't breath because I suddenly had a gut in the way...  I was getting out of breath walking up steps and everyone's all "you're not overweight..."

So, yeah, I'm on three prescription medications now, my blood pressure is high and my cholesterol is very high.  I'm a middle-aged man.  What the fuck happened?

How about us all sucking down a bottle of Oregon Springs(2) and walking down to the Market Casket(3) to buy some junk food...

Anyway, Leena's sprung into action.  She has a mission now, get me back to health.  She was learning to cook in January, but with lots of oil and salt, so now she's researching online and learning to cook healthier foods to help lower my blood pressure and cholesterol.  She found out how to get to the nearest fish market to bake salmon for me instead of frying beef, and she's learned to cook some vegetables so they actually taste good (hint, lots of garlic).

The fresh salads are also a reminder of lost youth...  As a kid I always used massive amounts of French salad dressing to choke down a salad and the grown-ups used olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  This week I found myself looking at a salad and trying oil and vinegar so it wouldn't be plain old, boring vegetables....  And I kind of liked it...  Until I thought about that thing with the kids and grown-ups.

In two weeks I'm noticeably less chubby, my watch is loose on my wrist and my feet are slipping out of my sandals.  So, it's a start...

(1) the first day of our sophomore year he was showing his new BB gun, pointing it at me.  I said "hey, don't point it at me" and he said "it's not loaded" then preceded to pull the trigger, with a bunch of BBs shooting and bouncing off the door, just below my crotch (good thing he lowered it...)

(2) we drank a shit-ton of Oregon Springs vodka back then...  it was the cheapest liquor we know of at either of the Klamath Falls liquor stores.

(3) just a funny nickname for the grocery store near our college campus, the Market Basket.