Friday, February 24, 2012

Every Other Day

When I was in physical therapy, Young PT gave me a list of exercises, complete with pictures, and asked if I was willing to do them every day.  He sounded bored, like he asks everybody this question and is ready for an argument.

“I will do more than you ask,” I said.

He freaked.  “That’s a problem.”

“Why?” I asked.  “I was working the elliptical next to a woman about my age. I had to get off at 12 minutes and she kept going for 20, which is the time limit at our gym.”

Then he told me a story that he discovered during his own rehab from a shoulder injury.  Exercises work better when you do them every other day. Take a day off. Go for a walk.

I thought about asking him why he had told me I should do these exercises every day, but it wasn’t worth the argument.  Did he usually compromise with people and act like they were getting away with a special favor if he agreed to every other day? 

It sounded odd, but I decided to give it a try. I skipped a day on the elliptical.  When I came back to it, I could do 15 minutes and I wasn’t tired. I got off because my replaced hip was feeling sore. That’s a 20% improvement just for taking one day off.

My insurance gives me $150 back after I complete 120 gym visits.  I didn’t want to miss out on that, so I started alternating, elliptical and treadmill. And I switched from doing a steady pace to doing intervals.  2 minutes warm up, 30 seconds maxed out, whatever it takes for my heart rate to return to normal (2 - 2.5 minutes usually) Repeat for 4 intervals on the elliptical.  For the treadmill, I put it on a slope of 15, warm up at 1.5 miles per hour for 2 minutes, then do 4.5 miles per hour for the intervals,  and go back to 2 mph for another 2 minutes. Repeat for 4 reps.  The heart rate monitor on the treadmill is insane, so I’m just guessing. 

I didn’t get any more dramatic improvements. But I didn’t lose ground, either.  Finally, I got my 120 visits and my $150 check.  So, this week, I started taking every other day off – not going to the gym at all – going for a walk by the river.

When I returned to the elliptical, I didn’t see any major difference. I got up to 270 steps per minute instead of 260, but that’s not huge.  On the treadmill, 4.5 mph started feeling easy. I put it up to 4.6 mph. I found I could recover at 2.5 mph, or even 3 mph.

Then I saw a woman who is at least 10 years older than I am running at 6 mph, 0 slope and I was jealous.  So, I decided to look up METS on a treadmill. lets you put in the slope and the speed and it calculates the METS (metabolic equivalents).  Hah!  My 4.5 mph is twice the METS of my running companion.  I’m not telling her. I’m still jealous that she can run and with my new hip, I can’t.  But, I am getting the exercise I need and I'm getting lovely walks where I see geese.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Husband is on the Pill

After my husband’s recent surgery, he came home with a catheter. When he went back to have it removed a week later, he couldn’t urinate on his own. The nice female nurse showed him how to catheterize himself and gave him a bag full of sterile packaged catheters to take home. I found myself thinking what an odd job it must be handling men’s penises to pull catheters out, and then teaching them to stick them in.

The doctor also gave my husband a prescription for Viagra. We’d tried Cialis years before when he had a different problem. I dislike the shape, texture and temperature of a Cialis erection. It is very definitely not my husband. I find it confusing to be kissing my husband, cuddling against his belly, and feeling something weird instead of his penis.

The Viagra didn’t work. And it gave him a headache. He called his physician. He got a prescription for 6 Levitra pills. Our insurance thinks a man only wants sex 6 times a month? My husband talked to the doctor. He got a prescription for pills that are 4 times the minimum dose. I bought him a pill cutter. Cut properly (don’t tell the insurance company), that’s 24 pills.

One you’ve got a pill that works, then you have to plan. He has to take it in advance so it has time to work. We have to hope we’ll both still be in the mood by the time it works. Figuring this out reminds me of talking about using diaphragms with my mother. But less gooey.

I spent about half an hour with the doctor trying learn how to put in a diaphragm and I couldn’t get it to stay put. I’m glad I live in a time when the pill and the IUD and tubal ligation have been invented.
But, back to the main topic. Even if I’m not in the mood by the time the pill works, I don’t want to waste it. Then there’s the head trip. My husband isn’t sure how long the pill will last, so he’s as nervous as he was when he was a teenager – yes, I’ve been with him this long. I miss the improvements that come with age.

The doctor assures us that this is just a temporary phase. He won’t need these pills forever.
Having to deal with these pills reminds me how lucky we are to still have each other, and enjoy each other. And it reminds me how much I resent having any kind of bureaucracy involved in my life. The insurance company really wants to dictate how often I can enjoy sex with my husband?

Passion is spontaneous by nature. Pills are counter-intuitive. Fortunately love is adaptable.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


My daughters tell me I’m high maintenance.

I don’t want gifts that can be bought at a store. I want time. I don’t care if the time is spent chatting in the living room, walking by the river, cooking in the kitchen, or reading aloud. I want what I call BeWithing.

I want it often. I resent it if I get the “it’s your birthday” or “it’s grandparents day” or “it’s valentines day.” I don’t want my bewithing to be scheduled, or feel like an obligation. I want a sense of randomness and spontaneity to my bewithing.

I bring this up because of all the talk I’m hearing and ads I’m seeing about Valentine’s Day, or VD for short. Once you call it VD, then you can claim it stands for Very Delicious, like the Japanese soda of the same name.

All the worry ahead of time and the discussion afterwards: was the day / date a success? Was the gift appropriate? Were the words spoken “romantic enough?” You’d think there was an absolute scale on which such things could be judged, but then why ask other people? Why compare notes as if it was a group quiz?

People who have set aside VD as a holy day, insist there are only a few admissible ways to celebrate: gifts of cards, candy, poetry, flowers and / or jewelry, and candlelight dinner. Men and women worry that they’ll do it wrong and their beloved may be disappointed.

VD leads to threats and fights. VD becomes more like a dentist appointment than an occasion for happiness.

Love isn’t about setting up expectations and then judging the success of the event.

Love is about enjoying the other person. If a lover feels like making or buying a gift for his or her beloved, that’s fine. But a specific date and a specific limited list of gifts is offensive to the very nature of love itself. Love is about appreciating the unique individual – not about trying to fit one’s self or one’s beloved into a mold.

A specific date is not an obligation, just an opportunity.

So, I say: Foo on Valentine’s Day.

Don’t wait. Enjoy your loved ones today. And if they show affection to you, enjoy that, too.

Spend time BeWithing.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

At the Sales Pitch

I went to a Toastmasters meeting that was supposed to showcase a skilled speaker from out-of-town. It turned out to be a sales pitch, but the speaker did use some interesting techniques, that felt lifted from religious services. Lots of stand-up and sit down, hand clapping, shouting, call-and-response. 

It even included the I-was-a-sinner-but-now-I’m-found motif. The speaker had been cast in a big budget Hollywood movie (which shall remain nameless) but because he was into drugs and gambling, he didn’t show up for work.  When he finally “found salvation” he was living in his car, with barely enough money for food.  I’ve heard it all before – but he wasn’ selling religion – he was selling self-improvement.

The high point of the talk for me was when he went around the room asking people why they weren’t making as much money as they’d like.  He wrote everything down on a white board at the front of the room.  Then he asked, “You know what all this is?”

Someone in the room called out “Excuses.”

The speaker countered. “It’s all B. S.”

I thought that was crude.

Then he asked, “Do you know what B. S. is?”

I thought that was even cruder.  This was a room full of polite, serious people who had given up their evenings to learn speaking skills.  Was he really going to insist that somebody say something embarrassing?

Finally someone timidly said, “Bull...”

Before he could finish, the speaker said, “B. S.  stands for Belief System.”

We all laughed. 

Then he made the key point of the evening – our beliefs can empower us or hold us back. We can change our beliefs.   

This isn’t as trivial as it sounds.  It reminded me of the insight I had when I read the Myers-Briggs test.

The first time I read it, I just went through and marked the answers that made sense to me.  But when I read it again, later, I had the exciting thought – all these answers are equally good – it’s just that I prefer some to others.  And the next question was Why?

That got me thinking about the NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) research.  If you see someone doing something you want to do, you can copy them at a muscular and linguistic level. That has been demonstrated to speed the learning process.

Self-improvement courses are led by motivational speakers.  Nobody needs to take a 4-day seminar to find out what motivational speakers believe.  The real question is – is there value in believing something different from what they believe?  In the details – yes.  I don’t think there’s any sense in everybody going around giving motivational seminars.  But at core – trust that everybody really wants the same things – health, happiness, love, security (however they define these things) – yes, I see value in that attitude.  

I wish our politicians did, too.  Why vilify the other political party, when all we’re doing is disagreeing about how to get a country we can all be proud of?