Health, Life, Vacation

Face Your Fears


6425b286c9f1ca14ba538f0e8d20ff45Next week is the start of our vacation in fabulous Las Vegas. It’s something that we had planned for months and saved up for, and we have a list of things to accomplish while we are there, some free and some not.

Either way it’s happening and nothing is going to stop us from enjoying some time away from home and office, and just be a family. Our list is long. It will be [mostly] conquered. You will see pictures on Instagram.

But the one thing I’m not looking forward to when we return is something that I really should have done sooner: visit the dentist. You see, I’ve got a few teeth – well, one is a partial tooth – that need some TLC or perhaps even an extraction. The last time I put off a dentist visit was years ago when I had a tooth literally rotting away and at one point, cold air entering my mouth (when I would inhale while speaking) would produce excruciating pain. I can’t even describe it but I know I couldn’t speak much. My coworkers secretly loved it I’m sure.

While one of the teeth in question has yet to reach that point, I don’t want it to. The other tooth is chipped and will need some care as well but nothing like the other.

Now you’re probably wondering why I just don’t go right-effing-now to get it done. There really isn’t a reason why I shouldn’t – I have dental insurance and plenty of sick days at work. But the answer is simple: I am afraid.

I fear dentist offices. Everything about them. The sound, the smell, the feeling. I will go to the doctor and have every exam possible done to me without hesitation. I will give blood without a second thought. But the dentist? I have to be forced.

In fact when I had to get that rotting tooth extracted, I paid the extra $300 to be put to sleep during the procedure. It was money well spent considering I didn’t have to expose myself to all that freaks me out. I remember counting to three and then waking up, asking the dentist if they had done anything at all. It was nice.

But the fear is still there, and with good reason.

Today, there are several kinds of people who work strictly on teeth. The dentist is for check-ups and cleanings. Your oral surgeon specializes in pulling teeth. Orthodontists straighten them out.

And when I was growing up, orthodontia was starting to take off. I mean, every freaking kid had braces and yours truly was no exception, in addition to wearing neck gear and a permanent retainer on my bottom teeth (later removed by Ann’s boss, an orthodontist).

Before I could have my braces put into place, I had to go to the dentist to get four teeth extracted. Yes, four. Two top, two bottom. And they were not in any condition to be extracted, meaning they had pretty much taken up residence and had no fear of ever being removed.

That all changed.

Remember, this was the time before oral surgeons and other kinds of specialists so my dentist was the one who had to do it. And when I think of that day, it’s pretty traumatic. There was blood all over gloved hands. Grinding and crunching sounds. Tools banded around the teeth to be extracted. Feeling the pressure of the teeth being pulled from my jaw (and I don’t handle physical pressure well). The dentist sitting what seemed to be literally on top of my while be tried with all his might to remove these four teeth. And of course, seeing the tooth in all its glory being held by a pair of pliers and seemingly six inches long. It all seemed cartoonish, but gone horribly awry.

I’ll be honest about this. That experience traumatized me for life. If not for this, I would have no problems happily skipping myself to a dentist for any kind of routine work. But as it stands now, that experience really messed me up and I won’t go until I’m at a point where things can’t wait any longer.

It’s stupid. It’s most likely not good for me. But then again, neither is drinking soda but I’ve already stopped doing that. (Seriously, stop drinking that garbage. It’s got no nutritional value and is a shit-storm of chemicals in a can. STOP. IT. NOW.)

So I’ve decided that upon our return from vacation, I need to face my fears and get this shit taken care of before it gets to the point my last extraction reached. I’m not sure how many people I will have to see or what, but I know that sucking it up and being a man about it is the only thing I can do.

Here’s hoping that nothing happens while on vacation or at the very least, I win $300 on the slots to pay for the twilight anesthesia.

Because I’m gonna need it.

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Health, Life, Work

Broken 


That’s pretty much how I feel after today’s unplanned visit to my doctor.

The tendinitis that’s been bothering my right wrist/thumb turned out to be a little worse than another doctor had diagnosed. I kind of figured that was going to be the case because the pain is still there and only seems to be getting worse.

In fact, this doctor — my on-again, off-again sawbones — did a much more thorough exam that included my squeezing his fingers and a lot of poking and prodding along the areas where I feel the pain. He confirmed that’s it’s definitely tendinitis and recommend a cortisone shot to alleviate the pain.

I’ll get it sometime. Today wasn’t that day.

Also worth noting is that the compression band I’ve been wearing on my wrist isn’t doing much good because most of the affected area is in my thumb. He suggested one that not only covered my wrist but thumb as well.

As far as the cause of it, he believes it to be a work-related injury because I can’t honestly tell you anything I might have done outside of work to bring it on. I’m 46 and my extreme sports days are far behind me (as if they ever existed) so he’s probably right. When I think about everything I do and have done at my job it’s easy to see how it could be the cause. Plus, throwing around 20-lb. boxes of frozen dough in the Bakery every night probably isn’t helping me. The job is very hands-on and physical with little time to take it easy.

In short, it has broken me.

Now the fun part. Because I’m in the Bakery, I’m constantly putting on and taking off gloves. It’s gotten to a point where putting a glove on my right hand is a painful experience, one that is repeated all night long. There’s no way I can get better if I’m doing this, plus wearing a compression sleeve on top of that. I haven’t even mentioned how many times I wash my hands in a typical shift (let’s just say it’s plenty).

And if it doesn’t get better then surgery could be in my future. Just what I always wanted! (Can you sense my sarcasm?)

If I get a doctor’s note that limits my workload, I really don’t know what I would be doing because everything in a grocery store is very physical. I know for sure that my current position would be out that’s since what broke me in the first place. Bagging and front end duties would also be impossible. I just don’t know, but I guess I’ll find out when I get a note from him on Monday. The only logical solution would be to get a less physical job and trust me, I’ve been looking but nothing is turning up. Even so, writing with a pen tends to inflame the injury, making it hard to do. Heck, even moving it in the wrong direction will make yell with pain. It’s no fun at all and makes me grumpy. We’ll see what happens.

I also found out I gained about 15 pounds between visits (about 7 years) so he wants me to work on bringing that down as well as getting some blood work done. I’m on it.

But there has to be some kind of good news amongst all this, right? Well there  is. I’ll just let this tweet summarize things.

So…there’s that.

Goooooodnight, everybody.

Composed on my iPad using the WordPress app and SwiftKey, because it’s not as painful as typing on a traditional keyboard 

Blog Update, Blogstuffs

Now What?


Whenever I’m absent from blogging for an extended period of time, I always feel the need to explain myself. Here’s my excuse this time. Okay, several excuses.

First, my only pair of glasses broke. Not only are they my backup pair but they are also an old prescription that no longer really help my eyes to see much better. They broke on the hinge and while I sort of temporarily fixed them (and wearing them now), they are nowhere near as good as my previous pair which suffered a similar fate. Both of them are old so I’m not really shocked that either broke but still, viewing any device or looking at a monitor for an extended period of time with my backup pair causes eye strain and not wearing them only makes it worse.

Second, I’m suffering from a case of tendinitis in my right hand which makes using a full-size keyboard somewhat painful. The pain starts in my thumb and goes past my wrist and hurts like a mother when bent in certain directions, most of which I try and avoid. I’m also wearing a compression sleeve around my wrist per my doctor’s directions. There’s very little I can do about it to make it better and all I know is that having it in my dominant hand really stinks. I can’t even throw a baseball. I’m trying to do most of my work using my left hand to carry and lift but favoring that side causes fatigue by the end of the day. To make matters worse, my hand is in unbearable pain when I wake up in the morning. I can’t seem to win this battle.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m writing this post on my iPad using the WordPress app and SwiftKey keyboard which utilities Swype. I just swipe across the keyboard and it (fairly accurately) predicts the words for me. And despite its ease of use, my hand still hurts.

So there you have it. My absence was caused by things I can can’t really control. More posts will come when my wrist starts to feel better and I get new glasses but until then, don’t count on any regular posts.

For some, that’s actually a good thing…

Health, Life

Tinnitus and Me


It’s been about a month since my last post so I thought I’d make an appearance to let everyone know I’m still interested in doing this. The time away was much needed.

Now let’s get to the heart of things and why I chose today to write, and it’s something I guarantee you didn’t know about me.

Do you know what I have in common (at least according to Wikipedia) with Phil Collins, Vincent van Gogh and Adolph Hitler? I know, it’s an odd combination but I sort of wanted it that way.

Tinnitus.

Tinnitus, which I believe to be  Latin for “pain in my ass,” is a condition in which a person hears constant (read: it CANNOT be turned off) ringing in their ears. While generally described as “ringing” the sound is more of a never-ending tone that is nowhere near the sound of a ringing bell.

So how would I describe it? Not easy. It’s kind of like asking a color-blind person to describe the color they cannot detect.

But to put it succinctly, it’s extremely annoying and at times downright painful.

And that’s why I’m writing: to get my mind off of it for a bit. While the ringing in my ears is constant and oftentimes very loud, I’ve learned to tolerate it and keep it in check so that it doesn’t drive me nuts. And it will if you let it: while trying to sleep or just enjoying some quite time to yourself, that ringing is relentless and aggravating.

Yesterday things started to get worse. I had a rumbling inside my right ear which only got louder as the day went on and by today, it was ridiculous. But this noise is one that I think most can associate with: it felt and sounded like when you get water in your ear with the notable exception being that, if the condition is flat-out at its worse/intolerable, certain noises at certain pitches will bring you to your knees.

Take this example. Years ago, Ann’s grandfather (may he rest in peace) took us out for her birthday. In what I still consider the worst case of ear rumbling I can ever recall, I had to excuse myself from the celebration because the sound of the utensils hitting the plates was bringing tears to my eyes. My ear ringing and rumbling, accompanied by a headache, was just too much to handle. Yes, it hurt that bad and I spent the entire time in the car.

Fortunately, today’s case isn’t that bad but I am still suffering a little: equilibrium slightly off, loud noises bringing a little pain, moderately watery eyes. It’s no fun but I’m getting by.

Now it’s time for some Q&A.

How long have you had tinnitus?
For as long as I can remember or at least from age 10. It’s much easier to ignore when you’re a kid because, well, you’re a kid. Time moves fast and you haven’t a concern for much else besides Hot Wheels and coloring books*.

How did you get tinnitus?
I don’t know. Licking too many frogs**? Maybe I’m just lucky. I hadn’t attended any concerts at the time I first noticed it so I can’t blame it on that. But I’m quite sure attending many shows in my teens, accompanied by constantly being plugged into my Sony Walkman cassette player with Dolby Noise Reduction didn’t help. But I can still hear fine.

What do you when to combat it when it acts up?
Well, not a lot. For the most part I just let it run its course and in a few days I’m all better. But one of the things I’ve noticed is that when it does act up (the pain and rumbling at least), is that I speak at a lower volume. I do this for two reasons: 1) it’s hard to tell how loud I’m speaking with one ear not functioning right, and 2) the vibration inside the cranial cavity will aggravate my ear and cause the pain/ringing to act up again. The best thing I can do is avoid loud noises and try to block it out by listening to white noise apps on my iPod. The noise works to a point but despite it all, if I concentrate hard enough, I can still hear the constant ringing.

No, having tinnitus is definitely not a lot of fun. But you know what is?

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Sitting on a brass turtle outside a Chipotle restaurant.

*Hey, I grew up in the 70s.
**And no, I never licked a frog.

Animals, Blogging 365, Dogs, Family, Health, Pets, Photography, Shopping

Blogging 365, Day 40: A Busy Day


The title of today’s post pretty much sums it up but I’ll break it down for you in words and pictures.

It started around 7:15 when I went for my morning run:

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And I’m not saying it was cold this morning but here’s how the roof of my car looked when I stepped outside:

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It’s not quite what the east coast is going through but for us thin-blooded Californians, this is plenty harsh. Oh, be quiet.

Once I got home and filled my body with the necessary nutrients, I took a shower and changed so that we could take Anthony to Lowe’s for today’s Build and Grow project, something called the Wheel of Love. It looks a little something like this:

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This boy’s good with a hammer, I’ll tell you what. By the time we were done here it was around 10:30 and it was off to our next destination: a free health screening at a newly relocated medical center down the street from Lowe’s. Here’s a shot of me getting blood drawn for my glucose and cholesterol tests.

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The bad news? They had to do it twice so I had to be poked again on my right hand. Apparently my blood was so strong that it broke the machine. Ahem. Anyway, the good news is that my results were outstanding:

  • Total cholesterol: 146 mg/dL which is well below what is considered desirable and puts me at less of a risk of getting coronary heart disease.
  • Glucose (non-fasting): 94 mg/dL, also perfectly acceptable and means I’m not diabetic.

The weird thing is that even when I was heavy, my levels were all at an acceptable level. That’s not to say that I don’t regret losing the weight but that genetics seems to play a bigger part in all of this. Losing the weight definitely brought the levels down, so low that even the nurse who gave me the results – he was about 30 pounds lighter – told me that my levels were better than his. Not too shabby.

While at the screening, I met KFI’s Tim Conway, Jr. He was there giving stuff away and greeting listeners. Here’s me and Anthony with Mr. Conway:

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Funny guy just like his dad.

After the event we went home and relaxed for a bit but also gave Arliss a bath since the local Unleashed by Petco store was having low-cost immunizations. While waiting for the event to begin, we checked out some of the animals up for adoption and I have to admit that, even though I’m more of a cat person, this little doggie melted my heart because of her cuteness:

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She was one heck of a dog and I hope she gets adopted real soon.

If all that wasn’t enough, our final trip of the day was to WinCo to get some groceries. And I gotta tell you, $100 goes a lot farther at that store versus our usual places. Sure, you have to bag your own groceries but that’s a hit I’m willing to take in order to get cheap stuff. We’re well-stocked for the week and beyond.

Side note: man, what did we do before cell-phone cameras? How else would we be able today’s action as well as life’s little “WTF?” moments, like this sign at WinCo’s bulk food section:

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I don’t know about you but if I was to sample something from the bulk foods area, there are lots of better choices than rawhide chips. But maybe that’s just me.

And now it’s late and I’m tired. There’s little chance of me waking up early tomorrow to go for my usual Sunday morning bike ride since I’m still beat after this whirlwind day. I may just put it off until next week.

Other than this…we did absolutely nothing today 🙂

Blogging 365, Health

Blogging 365, Day 27: Still Sick


I swear if my Health Meter was comprised of 10 little 8-bit hearts, I think I’d be on 3.5.

Yesterday I had tremendous sinus pressure above my right eye and tonight it’s my left. The pain is so bad it feels like watering.

What I’m saying is that this is about all I can handle for tonight’s entry. But at least I’m sticking to it.

Posted from my third-gen iPod touch because my phone is being arguing charged and I’m still too lazy to get the laptop. (Edited since I apparently was out of my element when I wrote this post.)

Blogging 365, Health

Blogging 365, Day 19: The Great Outdoors


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The New Year is the time for the so-called resolutioners to try to get off of their duffs and get active, and gyms are eager to reel them in by offering free passes so they can check things out before they decide to join. (And if they do join, they’ll be off the horse and home by March – guaranteed.)

I got two such passes in the mail from two different local gyms. One was for three days while the other was for seven and while I debated about using either of them, today I bit the bullet and redeemed the three-day pass.

When I arrived I was greeted by a rep who sat me down and had me enter my info into the computer. (This is where my Google Voice number comes in handy as I use it strictly for things like this.) After he issued me the temporary pass, he gave me a tour of the facility which for all intents and purposes was much more than I expected.

But I went into the deal knowing that there was no way in hell I was going to join, my theory being that there’s nothing I can’t normally do there that I can’t do outside. And by the time I had finished my workouts I had realized why, cost aside, I don’t join gyms anymore.

The scenery never changes. Depending on which you believe, in an hour I ran either 8.20 miles according to the Nike + Running app or just over 5 by the treadmill. Either way, there I stood running away in the same place watching programming I really never cared for: college basketball. I never understood the hype about any college sport, to be honest. At any rate, yeah, it was boring – the run and the programming.

You can’t spit. I tend to spit quite a bit when I run. I can’t do that in the gym. Well, I could but the person on the treadmill next to me probably wouldn’t appreciate it.

The smell. When you are in a place that was meant to make people sweat then naturally you can’t help but take in the resulting odor. It was a bit too much for me, not to mention the failure of others to wipe down the machine they were just using to make it somewhat clean for the next person.

Awful music and audio systems. Despite listening to my own Workout playlist while in the gym, I was still able to hear the muted melodies of what can only be described as downright craptastic music. In addition, the quality of the sound sucked as it does in most gyms.

Not accurate. As I said in the first point, I couldn’t determine what I ran based on either my app or treadmill display. But what I do know is that on pavement, I can normally cover 6 miles in an hour while running and at least 8 miles in 30 minutes on a bike. In 30 minutes, the stationary bike showed I had ridden 5.25 miles. Not exactly what I get while on the trail.

No options. When out, if I decide I don’t want to go the way I went last time, then I can exercise my right and run/ride in another direction just for a change. At the gym, well, you get what you get. Only the people change but they still stink.

After I had finished my workouts, I wiped off the bike as well as my forehead now dripping in sweat and headed toward the exit knowing that based on the reasons listed above, this would probably be the last time I set foot in a gym.

There may be two days remaining on my pass but I don’t see a reason to use them. I’ll gladly take the freedom of exercising in the great outdoors any time.