Happy Heart Attack Day

Today, on the very day that everyone is wearing red to celebrate heart attacks, I am NOT on my blood pressure medication. My blood is running amok UN-MEDICATED. But, at least I am not lying on the floor in pain with a bottle of Vicodin. I’m not sure what percentage heart attack chance I am signing up for here, but it is really, really hard to conduct your life while lying on your floor in pain. I missed Indian food day at work and everything.

Here is the whole story… as long and drawn out as possible…

One day my back hurt. That kind of hurting where it feels like your muscles are attacking themselves with battery acid. The kind of hurting where you leave home from work so you can go lay on the floor in agony holding a bottle of Vicodin.

So, I did what I guess people do when they are experiencing severe pain, I made an appointment and went to the doctor. This is a big step for me, because I really HATE going to the doctor. In case you haven’t seen  the television series House, medical science is a bunch of guesswork. You go in and describe your symptoms, then the doctors order a series of tests after which they still have no clue what is wrong with you. I guess they are trying to buy time until the test results come in, hoping whatever it is wrong with you will resolve itself on its own.

The doctor enters the room and asks what the problem is. I tell the doctor that the muscles are hurting in my upper back and shoulders. She asks if I am vomiting or if I have diarrhea. I tell her, that no, as a matter of fact I am not vomiting. If I were vomiting with diarrhea, then those would most likely the very set of symptoms I would start off with. I’m not one to bury the lead.

She seems a bit disappointed about the lack of vomiting. She then suggests blood work, an EKG and a chest X-ray. I say to this doctor, “You DID hear me say that my BACK hurt… right? Is an EKG really necessary?” After some negotiation, we agree to limit the testing to the blood work. Of course, my back is still killing me. But… hey, at least I’ll get some nice blood reports later.

So, I go home and try to sleep, but then wake up in the middle of the night and can’t feel my hands. My fingers are all numb and tingly. I don’t like this because I read once on one of those medical sites that this person’s nerves were getting all compressed and she was almost paralyzed for life.

I’ve been thinking recently that I will probably die alone with cats and hoarded magazines, but I never ONCE pictured being paralyzed before I even GOT the magazines. Plus, I would hate to be paralyzed around a bunch of cats. No telling what they would do to you. I doubt they would be kind. I decide to go to the ER before I become paralyzed. That way, at least I will be paralyzed for life around medical staff instead of cats and magazines I haven’t hoarded yet.

I get to the ER, and everyone seems strangely unconcerned about the fact that my back hurts like hell and I can’t feel my hands and I will soon be paralyzed for life. They keep asking me if I am vomiting. Or, if I am having diarrhea. I am so tired of explaining the lack of vomiting.

I'm NOT vomiting

Take this shirt with you to the ER. You will need it. Of course, if you do end up vomiting after all, you can just vomit directly on the shirt. The vomit will be readily apparent and this will save time for everyone.

The medical people at the emergency room also want to do the EKG and the chest X-rays. They even want to do a sonogram of my gallbladder. While I would love to see what my gallbladder is up to, I really don’t think it has anything to do with me not being able to feel my hands. I realize I have come to the wrong place to be saved from being eaten alive by cats.

I patiently explain that I am NOT vomiting, and I don’t need an EKG, or a chest X-ray. I especially don’t need a gallbladder sonogram. The doctor seems perplexed that anyone would blatantly refuse a perfectly good gallbladder sonogram, but finally comes to a surprising conclusion, “I guess we can just say your back hurts and let you go.”

Then I say, “My back DOES HURT! That is EXACTLY what I said when I came into this freak show.” Of course, I say this inside my mind because I notice the doctor is handing me some prescriptions. Prescriptions DIRECTLY RELATED to my back hurting. Wow. I’m stunned.

I end up leaving with steroids to bring down the swelling that was crushing my nerves and Vicodin to manage the pain. Because… my back hurt, apparently.

Turns out that I went through all of this because it is a side effect of the blood pressure medication the doctor put me on. Why do they even ASK you what medication you are on if they are just going to assume you have gallbladder failure?

I’ve been through four different kinds of this type of medication. None of them have really worked that well and all of them have had side effects. The first one made me crave pickle juice. Seriously, it did. The second one made me feel like I ate gravel and was walking around with rocks in my stomach. The third one gave me this constant cough that kept me up all night and must have been incredibly annoying to co-workers. Now this one makes my muscles feel like they are attacking themselves.

I really don’t want to get on another set of pills so I can wait for more new and surprising side effects, but you can’t just go around with your blood pressure high. They won’t let you.

I don’t have cholesterol problems, so my arteries aren’t filled with goo. I exercise, so I’m not carrying around extra weight. Maybe I just rev higher than other people. My dad is the same way, so it must be a hereditary thing. But you aren’t allowed to rev higher because doctors will not go for this theory at all.

It is just like when I wanted to carry that human skull with me at graduation. No one else is carrying human skulls. You are NOT allowed to be different, and this INCLUDES your blood (and carrying human skulls). If you go to the dentist with high blood pressure, they will totally freak out. So will the eye doctor. Pretty soon you can’t take your blood anywhere without people freaking out about it. The ironic thing is that while the people are all getting anxious and freaky, they don’t seem to realize they are creating the VERY SITUATION that is going to make the blood pressure go even higher. No one sees irony while it is happening.

Don’t worry, everyone… as soon as I am completely healthy again, I am going to go to the doctor to get this whole thing straightened out. I don’t want to back there while I am sick. It is a recipe for fucking disaster.

Just eat the cupcakes

There is a person in the office who has a doctor’s appointment today. They are worried that the doctor may be upset at them because they ate two chocolate cupcakes yesterday. Someone asked this person if they were going to confess to the doctor about consumption of the cupcakes. Confess… really?

This entire conversation astounds me. I am going to email my doctor right this minute to inform him of the fact that last night I had two glasses of wine and an obscenely large bowl of spaghetti. Then, I will scoff openly at triglycerides. Then, I will tell him that if there were two cupcakes in front of me, that I would eat those cupcakes RIGHT NOW. I hope this doesn’t make him cry. Maybe I shouldn’t email my doctor and make him cry so early in the morning. I feel bad about it now. Perhaps I should compose the email and sent it later on.

Anyone have a doctor’s appointment today? Here is your t-shirt.

How successful people do NOT start their mornings

Today, I felt like a success. I started the day early, dropped my kid off at school (on time, I might add), then took a few minutes to tune into Twitter. That is when I saw that @RageMichelle had posted a link to “11 Ways Successful People Start Their Morning.”

I thought, “What a great link to follow! I’m successful. I can now see how other successful people like me start the day.” Here is a link to the article:

Marc and Angel Hack Life: Practical Tips for Productive Living
11 Ways Successful People Start Their Morning

To facilitate your morning success, I will review each item, then give you a quick summary of how it should be implemented. You will get started a lot faster than the people who are reading the entire article, thus maintaining your competitive edge. If there is anything I am all about, it is the competitive edge.

Disclaimer: I only actually make it through seven of the steps, because, to be honest, success is exhausting. I don’t know who these people are, walking around with productive lives, but they must be tired as hell.

1. Get an early start. The more time you’ve had to digest the day’s news and obstacles ahead, the greater advantage you’ll have over your competition.

Done. I got up early, got my kid to school and gave myself time to get caught up on the day’s news and obstacles. Like most people, I accomplish my news and obstacle awareness via Twitter. Today’s news from Carl‏@CarlRzo had me worried about stripper tips. He states, “Why do strippers give themselves fake names? You’re showing your asshole for $1, nobody cares if your real name is Jen.” Really, the going rate is a dollar? On considering a stipper career, I thought I would get lots of dollars. Also, strippers will be showing other parts of anatomy, not just that one particular area, so they deserve way more than a dollar. I don’t know what kinds of stripper bars you are going to, Carl, but they sound really weird.

2. Review your Focus list. What is your number one goal right now?  

Well, it was going to be picking out a stripper name, but according to Carl, that is totally useless. You don’t even need one because you can just go by ‘Jen.’ My other long term goal is to win the lottery, but you need to buy a ticket for that. If only I could figure out an easy way to get a dollar.

3. Review your TO-DON’T list. A ‘TO-DON’T list’ is a list of things not to do. It’s an incredibly useful tool for keeping track of unproductive habits, like checking Facebook and Twitter.

Well, damn. Major fail on this one already. Twitter was the only reason I am even reading this article on how to be successful. Now I am caught in some type of vortex where I can’t read the article on being successful because I wrote down on a list somewhere not to read the thing that caused me to read the other thing. I will NEVER be successful.

4. Exercise. Movement increases brain function and decreases stress levels. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, is in the gym by 5 A.M. every morning.

Well, bueno for that guy. You know what ELSE increases brain function? COFFEE.

I bet Tim Cook, CEO, wasn’t up at 12am writing his blog, was he? I am going to write my own article about being successful, and it is going to suggest that you stay away from ALL people who get up at 5 A.M. to run on a treadmill. Because you know who else does that? Hamsters, that’s who. Everyone knows that hamsters cannot be trusted.

5. Eat a healthy breakfast. Your brain and body speed are a function of what you intake. Try a spinach omelet one morning and let me know how much better you feel.

Who the hell has time in the morning to make a spinach omelette? Not even Apple CEO, Tim Cook is making spinach omelettes. I wonder if people are really making spinach omelettes and writing in to tell the author of this article how they feel. If you are getting up at 5 A.M. to run on treadmills and make spinach omelettes , don’t even tell me about it. I don’t want to hear it.

6. Kiss your partner goodbye. Most truly successful people have a great home life.

Okay, I know some of you are thinking, “But, I don’t HAVE a partner.” I am here to tell you that making these types of excuses is EXACTLY what is holding you back from having a successful start in the morning. If you don’t have a partner, then find someone else to kiss. It is probably the kissing part that counts anyway. That crazy man on the subway should be up to the task.

7. Connect with the right people. Connecting with positive people in the morning can set you up for a positive day.

I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but positive people are really hard to deal with in the morning. I have been around these people and they are going to be loud and cheerful and very talky. There is a high probability that if you are under-caffeinated, they will suck your soul right out of your body. The last thing you need is to be spending the rest of the day looking around for your damn soul.

8. Throw away all steps listed above. Because I’m not sure how successful this list will actually make you.

By the time you get up early to read on Twitter that your stripper career is entirely unsuccessful, then go through your focus list while somehow managing to avoid the vortex you create by telling yourself not to read Twitter once you already have, you still have get on the treadmill and make an omelette. You are going to be totally exhausted. You won’t even have enough energy to kiss strangers on subways and talk to positive people.

For a successful morning start, you should get up, eat whatever, kiss someone if you want to, and avoid treadmills and positive people until at least noon. Also, I don’t care what Carl says, you need a stripper name that is something besides just ‘Jen.’ At least go with Candi or Bambi. Some people know nothing about managing stripper careers. They are probably too busy making spinach omelettes to see the bigger picture.

Lastly, this t-shirt is for Mark and Angel, the life hackers. I have a feeling they are going to need it.

It will also help anyone who would just rather not hear from people who are making, or have had made spinach omelettes.

How to Zumba

Yesterday, my friend @whoremongers, whom I like to call Michiel, asked if I would like to join her for Zumba class. To understand what I am getting into, I look it up on the gym’s website. The description mentions Latin dance rhythms with easy dance moves. It doesn’t sound completely terrifying. There is a video of Zumba which I examine carefully to make sure no one has jazz hands. I refuse to participate in any activity that requires jazz hands.  It seems to be jazz-hands-free.

See… no jazz hands. Just a girl in a bandanna.

“Okay,” I tell her, “I’m in.”

“Great,” she says, “Bring a towel and a bottle of water. Or… a bottle of whatever you are drinking.”

I order to make this work, I have to go home, change, grab a towel and a bottle of water, pick up my kid from summer camp, and be at the gym before 5:30. I will need a few extra minutes to sign my kid up for Kid’s Club. I arrive at the summer camp a little after 5:00. If I can grab my kid and get out of there immediately, I will just make it. The people at the summer camp seem to have a different concept of time than I do. They are talking to me. They tell me about tomorrow’s upcoming field trip in detail and what time I will need drop off my son in the morning. THEN they tell me to be sure to WASH the camp shirt my kid is wearing TONIGHT so he can put it on again for the field trip.

I look at them like they are insane. Wash… Tonight. Yeah… that is going to happen. If by “wash” you mean spray it with Fabreeze.  I would usually throw money at the problem and just buy a bunch of shirts, but I don’t have time right now to even do that. I can’t wait here while everyone scurries around for shirts. I have ZUMBA CLASS, people!

Once my kid is in the car and informed of our destination, his response is predictable. “I don’t want to go to Kid’s Club,” he says glumly. He wants to go home and play video games, a hermit at the ripe old age of eight.

“It’s a club…for kids,” I tell him, “What’s not to like?” In the midst of this conversation, I have just passed the necessary exit. The funny thing about locations is that you have to drive very specifically to get to one. You can’t just fly past the required exit and expect to arrive in a timely matter. I don’t even notice that my preferred exit lies in the distant past for another ten miles. When I finally look around and wonder where the hell I am going, I’m pissed. Sometimes, I’m my own worst enemy. I get off the highway and immediately get caught by a light.

My phone vibrates. Stuck at the light, I glance down and see a text from Michiel, “Where are you woman?” I respond with two quick texts, “Late” and “Traffic.” Yes, I am late because of the traffic…. the type of traffic you encounter when you drive 10 miles past your destination for no apparent reason whatsoever. She tells me not to worry about coming into the class late, and that she will be “in the back.”

I arrive at the gym at 5:35. Zumba class is in full swing by now; however, the situation can still be resolved. I don’t remember this place having a daycare, but when I walk up to the front desk with my kid, the girl looks at my son with a smile. This makes me think they must have a daycare somewhere, otherwise she would be looking at me like I have a third head and saying, “What is HE doing here?”

“I would like to register my son for the Kid’s Club,” I tell her.

“Great,” says the girl, “that will be four dollars.”

“FOUR dollars?” I say… inside my head, of course, “You are going to keep my kid for me for FOUR dollars?” My mind is reeling. I can’t help but glance outside the glass doors and notice a rather seedy looking bar located conveniently across the strip mall. Guessing the person at the counter would probably object if I toss down four dollars and leave immediately to grab a beer, I take my son by the hand and proceed to the Kid’s Club for the paperwork.  With great haste, I fill out emergency contact information, a description of my child’s eyes and hair, and my mobile phone number as the Zumba minutes click by.

Now that the childcare situation is under control, it is time for the long awaited Zumba. I look in the window. The room is completely crowded with women. Very bouncy women fill every space in the room. The worst part is that Michiel is somewhere in this room with these women, bouncing, and I will never be able to find her. Undaunted, I enter the room and cope with the situation one aspect at a time.

My first goal is to find a place to bounce.  All the women are moving about unpredictably and waving their arms. I move cautiously through them, trying to avoid getting hit in the head. Now that I am facing an almost certain concussion, I regret filling out my kid’s daycare form so hastily. I’m not sure if the emergency contact information is even legible. I shouldn’t be here risking getting knocked in the head a Zumba class and leaving him abandoned at a 24 Hour Fitness. I’m a terrible parent. I should be sitting safely with a drink at that bar.

I finally find a narrow area of place in which to stand, set my bottle of water off to the side, and begin trying to figure out what everyone is doing. They are bouncing around. I start to bounce a little. I feel ridiculous. They are waving their arms now. I try waving my arms. I don’t like it. Then, the music changes slightly and the unthinkable happens. Everyone in the room starts doing something horrifying… something usually reserved for weddings and cruise ships… they start doing… the Macarena.

Something you may not know about me is that I blatantly refuse to do the Macarena. Once I was forced to do this dance by a group of old women shoving me out on the dance floor at a wedding reception saying, “All you young’uns have fun.” I have been traumatized by it ever since. I grab my water and flee. I’m pretty sure 30 seconds has to be an all-time record for shortest Zumba session. I should call Guinness.

I spend the rest of my time at the gym on the elliptical being grateful that this machine does not expect me to wave my arms.

So, for those of you who may find yourselves in Zumba class, totally perplexed as to what is happening, simply bounce around and do the Macarena. You will blend right in. For those of you who have no intention of doing the Macarena, at weddings, Zumba, or any other location, you may want to purchase this handy t-shirt.

Sometimes life is easier when you establish expectations in advance.

How to go to the Gym

In my recently developed quest to try new things, I have successfully joined a gym. I actually joined yesterday online. If you don’t want some muscle head touring you around the equipment and showing you where the towels are, then online is the way to go. Online is the new way of doing everything. I was actually going to work out online, but I guess they don’t have that part set up yet.

So, yesterday I joined a gym, printed out a sheet of paper declaring my official membership, and headed to that location. I arrived at the gym a little after five, which is apparently the time all of the members of the gym choose to park all of their cars and go inside. While I was looking for any scant amount of parking available, I noticed a curious development. Everyone was headed from their cars to the gym, all carrying duffle bags, and all with miserable looks on their faces. The look of despair on these duffle bag laden individuals made my heart bleed. It also made me run for the hills.

So, if you too are interesting in going to a gym, here is a walk through for gym membership day one:

  1. Join gym
  2. Tour parking lot
  3. Flee in terror

Day two, I was determined to actually go into the gym. After all, they are probably looking for me, their newest member, by now.  There is probably some kool-aid I need to drink or something.

Showing up a little earlier than the day before, parking is not as difficult. Plus, as an added advantage of scoping the place the day before, I now know the procedure for walking in.  Grabbing my duffle bag, I look as down trodden and miserable as possible and head for the front door. Some muscle-bound guy in a tank top even opens the door for me like I belong there. I am already winning at going to the gym.

When I get to the front desk, there are three muscley guys standing around speaking to each other in some sort of language I don’t understand. It sounds like grunts and half finished words, and from what I can tell, seems to be about some sort of substance called Hydro Muscle Bulk. I was confused at first, but then remember our resident sciency guy, Andreas (Heinakroon.com) mentioning something about stickleback gonads being of enormous size, leaving no energy left to waste on building an expensive big brain. These dudes must be reallocating their resources. See… science can explain EVERYTHING.

One of the guys notices me standing there with a document in my hand. I give him the document and announce my membership into their tribe. I can tell they are duly impressed. Also, I had NO IDEA this is a SECRET SPY gym! They scanned both my index fingers with a laser and gave me a secret code. I am not even exaggerating on this point. I am pretty sure I am getting called on a mission any day now.

I found the changing room okay, and had all the gym clothes in my duffle bag. But, then I remembered Diana (@haircuter) telling me about the huge sweaty manly muscley women clan and I am afraid they will walk in while I am changing. So I have to change in a bathroom stall with the new fear of dropping various items directly in the toilet. I rationalize that dropping things in the toilet will probably be easier to deal with than whatever it is the manly muscley women will do to me. Diana didn’t really say what they would do to me, but she did use the word ‘scary.’

Now, it is time to attach myself to one of those machines. You know, like in the matrix. I go and find a machine. The machine tells me to press a program or the green button. I press a program. Nothing happens. So, I press the green button. Nothing. DAMMIT! I JUST GOT HERE! I can’t believe I am failing already. After pressing more buttons several more times, I decide to try another machine. Much to my relief, this one works. They are never going to let me operate the secret spy equipment if I can’t get a damn treadmill to work.

Much to my dismay, I am not actually attached to the machine. Before I was worried about becoming a scene from the Matrix. Now, I am worried about falling off. Falling off seems much worse. I start the machine and it feels really strange. I don’t know if any of you have ever walked or run before, but usually when you walk or run, it is you that is moving over the ground. This treadmill system is exactly the opposite. The ground moves out from under your feet in a callous attitude where you had better either move along with it, or get flung off into the remote corners of the universe.

I notice in the course of my very successful not falling off of the treadmill that several other people are coming over to the broken machine and pressing a series of buttons with no success. I think to myself what terrible spies they will be. I also think that this situation could be easily resolved with some sort of sign that says, “Broken.” I hate to suggest it though. The guys at the front really seemed to be focused on the Hydro Muscle Bulk.

It took a little getting used to, but after about half an hour, I was finally able to keep pace with the machine without the constant fear of the thing flinging me off into the recesses of space to hang out with the dark matter. Then, it very considerately informed me it would be stopping. Great, mission accomplished, right? No. Not even close.

Now that the floor has been spinning beneath you, your new mission, if you choose to accept it, is to go back to regular walking. After spending a good half hour with the floor spinning, my feet graciously decide that is the way the world would be from this day forward. From now on, the ground moves. Got it. Trouble is… feet… this situation was only temporary. We need to go back to the system of the real floor now.

I don’t know if any of you have ever walked on a floor that feels like it should be moving and isn’t moving, but it is really disorienting. I had to sit down for a bit. After successfully NOT falling off the treadmill, I’ll be damned if I am going to fall off the damn floor. Not today, floor. Not today.

In case you are interested in joining a gym, here is the walk through for day two:

  1. Walk through the parking lot with a duffle bag and miserable expression
  2. Enter the gym with your secret spy code and finger scan
  3. Avoid the huge sweaty manly muscley women clan
  4. Avoid falling off the machines
  5. Avoid falling off the floor

And… done. Easy, right?

So, now you know how to go to a gym. I just wish I knew where everyone was getting those towels. That is what happens when you join a secret spy gym online without anyone to tell you where the towels are. I’m thinking they are probably next to the hidden wall of secret spy guns and weapons.

Here is some workout gear to prepare you for your gym experience. I can’t even imagine how grateful you must feel to me for helping you with your health and well-being.

By wearing this shirt, you can blend in with the muscley women clan until they gradually accept you as one of their own. There is a documentary here begging to be made.

This one is for me. I plan to try the elliptical machine next time and want to be prepared.