Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Senior Moment

In a previous post, I described what it was like turning sixty. Well, today I had a serious senior moment – so I am there.

I went to see my family doctor this morning. He has changed practices and this was the first time I saw him in his new office. I really like my GP and we spent time talking about the new office and the challenges of not having a computer in the exam room (his previous practice was a little more modern). So, after catching up on my lab results and my last visit to a specialist, I left. I headed to work and about six blocks from the office suddenly realized that I had forgotten the reason that I had booked the appointment in the first place – I had wanted to renew a prescription!

I am sure I am not the first and won’t be the last. But it was a humbling experience explaining to the pharmacist why I needed them to fax my doctor with my renewal request. Welcome to the senior zone – just have to remember not to take this seriously.


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One of the things we learned when recording was how precise the process is. And precise means it takes far longer than we ever imagined. The last three times we have been in the studio there was precious little recording happening. Mostly we were going over the songs again and again – picking up imperfections, mistimed notes and variations in the sound levels. Rick, our sound guru, is amazing at picking up these little issues and as he works he is continually asking what we want and how we like the sound. And this is the right thing to do but it illustrates a very interesting phenomena.

Less of this ...

and more of this

It was a couple of nights ago and nearing the end of a 3-hour session mixing a 2 minute song when Rick asked our opinion on something relatively trivial. My brain just said “whatever” – I just wanted to get it over. Thankfully someone else had the right answer (which I knew was correct but I was so tired of things at that moment I just didn’t care). At the end of the night, Rick told us about “ego depletion” – a theory that it the more decisions you make, the harder it becomes to make them. He used the example of car salesman – they ask the easy and trivial questions first and then hit you with the expensive decisions near the end of the negotiations – when your brain is tired and the “I don’t give a rat’s ass” malaise sets in. Ego depletion is based on the work of Ray Baumeister in the United States.

This is fascinating stuff with lots of real world implications. Recording is just one small example. When we read more, some of the research talks about the possible role that blood sugar levels may play in this situation. As a diabetic, this caught my interest. I think the next time we go in, I am going to bring along some form of sugar to see if it makes a difference in how I approach the tasks associated with recording. Playing is one thing – putting it all together is another.

And the New York Times’ columnist John Tierney had a real interesting article on the subject earlier this year. It is a good article and gives an insight into how this phenomena can be used in your everyday life.

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One of the most amazing sites on the net is www.ted.com.

It is a site I find myself going back to again and again and listening to some of the brightest minds and best speakers on the planet talk about an infinite range of subjects.

The talk below concerns work-life balance; a subject that I, and many other people, struggle with. In this regard, getting older has a couple of advantages – I can see the end of the tunnel and I have learned how to say “no”. But I also see what an issue work-life balance presents to younger people who are expected to give their all to get ahead or at least get noticed.

This particular talk has a great quote; “There are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like”.

So have a listen and enjoy – and maybe even take something away with you.

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Getting Better

I haven’t given up on the blog – it has just taken me a long time to get better after the flu. With my second son coming down with a slightly different version of the flu yesterday, we are still not through with it in our house.

But rather than dwell on health issues, I want to talk about my dog.

Penny is an almost 7 year old yellow lab/border collie cross. We got her from a farm family south of Edmonton. She was the only blonde in a litter of 8. Dad was a purebred yellow lab who drooled buckets but was a big sweetheart. Mom was mostly border collie but had some other sides to her as well – our vet thinks Penny has some greyhound in her based on her long, thin tail.

Penny was the most rambunctious of all the pups from what we could see. She would run around knocking over her brothers and sisters when we visited to look over the puppies. My third son was very taken with a chocolate coloured puppy that was a lot more docile but the majority voted to get Penny.


Penny as a pup

Our previous dog was a golden retriever named Molly. She was a rescue dog that we picked up from the Edmonton Kennel Club’s adoption program when she was about three years old. So Penny was our first experience with a puppy.

And it was an experience. Finding those little wet spots or piles on the carpet in the morning was always entertaining. We tried to crate train Penny but her cries and whines soon got to us and we gave up on that. She went to puppy kindergarten and learned a number of commands. There is no doubt that she is a smart dog – and if there is food involved, she learns all the faster.

Someone told us that labs take a long time to mature and leave puppyhood. Penny was no exception. She has sort of a goofy side to her and even today, with a little coaxing, will play as long as you want.


Hey, Who Took the Remote?

But there is another side to Penny that didn’t emerge until a couple years ago. In mid 2008, I became ill with salmonella. I ended up in emergency after a particular difficult night in and out of the bathroom. When I returned home from emergency, I promptly went to bed. While I was in bed, it took me a while to realize that Penny was coming into the bedroom on a regular basis. She would walk to my side of the bed and stick her nose in my general direction. She would stay for a minute or two and then wander off again. I realized after a while that she was checking up on me. She didn’t want anything; she was just seeing if I was alright.

Unfortunately the salmonella led to a condition called reactive arthritis. The arthritis caused my joints to swell, especially my knees and ankles. After the first session to have my right knee drained, Penny did something she had never done before. As I went to bed after getting back from the hospital, she jumped on to the bed and lay down beside me – and she didn’t leave until the next morning. As I got better, she her stays on the bed were shorter and shorter but there is no doubt she could recognize that I was sick.

With this latest case of the flu, I was quite ill for a couple of days. I ran a temperature of close to 104oF for a while and was quite out of it (even more than normal!). And again Penny hopped onto the bed and stayed with me. However this time was even different from before. Dog owners will know that our pets are creatures of habit. Penny will normally come into the bedroom between 6:00 and 6:30 every day – knowing that eventually I will get up and feed her.

But this time she jumped up around 10:00 at night and stayed for the entire night. I recall waking up several times and finding her lying right up against me as if being in physical contact was important. I had a restless couple of nights and found I got my best sleep around 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. Penny never left my side. I know she was hungry but unless I was going to get up, she was not going to move. When I did finally get up around 9:00 she waited until I actually got into the kitchen before she came out to get fed. And for the rest of the days, she was very attentive – wherever I went in the house she was there, including staying outside the bathroom waiting for me to finish.

I appreciate that I am the “alpha dog” in our pack but I am still touched by the concern and devotion she displays. Sort of makes all the other issues of pet ownership seem small in that light. She is definitely a “good” dog.


Our Girl

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I didn’t and I am paying for it.

I have been sick since Monday night so I am into my fourth day of this. I think I am getting better (however better is a relative term). At least, as of Friday morning, I am not spiking a temperature anymore. Wednesday afternoon I managed to hit 39.7 C (or almost 104 F for us old timers).

Last night was a great example of why you want to get your shot. I wasn’t feeling too bad and even managed to get down a grilled cheese sandwich. Go to bed at 10. Wake up – middle of the night. OK, check the time. 1:30. This is good – longest uninterrupted sleep since Sunday. Next, reflect on the very strange dreams – Picasso and Sartre would be proud. And then realize I am cold – even under the blankets. This is really not good. I am obviously going hypoglycemic (blood sugars were too low). Since I was diagnosed with diabetes last year, blood sugars have taken on new meaning in my existence.

But like getting out of a sleeping bag on a cold mountain morning, I have to do something about this. I start to shiver. This is really not a good sign because I know where this is going. So get up, throw on my sweats and a fleece top. I have to wear my slippers because the floor is too cold even through my socks. It gets worse as I start to shake. I make my way to kitchen after bumping up the programmable thermostat. It is now a problem to even pour the ginger ale that will hopefully boost my blood sugar. Recalling my winter survival course, I stop and get a toque and put it on. Back to the bedroom and throw an extra comforter on the bed. So now I have the inner flannel sheet, a thermal blanket and two comforters on the bed. I climb back into bed and still can’t stop shaking. It takes about 20 minutes after first drinking the ginger ale before I can at least stop shaking for a few seconds. After 30 minutes the shakes have stopped and I am starting to feel warmer. It takes a full 90 minutes before my feet feel warm. And this is the third or fourth time this has happened since I got sick. This is not fun!


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