Cliffhanger. Do people know this word? My generation does, and those generations before me. It’s old fashion-y, like nickelodeons and world’s fairs. Nickelodeons—I just stumbled on this word while I looked up the etymology of cliffhanger. The first cinemas were called nickelodeons—back around the turn of the century (the prior one, old fashion-y, remember). People watched movies for a nickel. A cliffhanger is the end of a story, written, spoken or performed, where the protagonist is left in a dire situation—such as hanging from a cliff. Tune in next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel (sorry, you need to be at least fifty to get that reference).
A few weeks ago, I left a huge cliffhanger. Over the course of three consecutive blog-posts, I convinced myself I was dying. Uncomfortable dizziness led to blood-pressure medication changes, which led to scarily high blood-pressure readings, which accompanied a sky-rocketing pulse-rate when I ran, which led to me freaking out in a very public way on my blog. For me, this is sort of the point of writing. If something weighs heavily on me, I write about it. Often, I don’t really understand my feelings on a topic until I sit down for a few hours writing, revising, rewriting and then scouring Unsplash for an extra hour looking for a photo that also conveys my intent. It’s a process, but every time I finish with a clearer picture of whatever is bugging me.
So, cliffhanger, me, the protagonist, dying. And then I switched topics. Back to the pandemic and then on to Donald Trump. Predictable, but both posts turned out well. I assumed people understood I didn’t die.
WordPress is a cool place. I call it a place, because it’s a gathering spot. For me, as real a gathering spot as a coffee shop (which only does carryout now anyway). Sure, WordPress is social media—we’re social, right? But people connect deeply here. A blogger creates an intimate window into their life and others enter through that window. We converse, we share, trade stories. We develop caring friendships with people we’ll never meet face to face. After I wrote my cliffhanger, I neglected my friends, I never followed up. And they let me know. So, before anyone else emails me, here’s the deal.
I feel good.
I took several challenging runs and bike rides over the past two weeks without any real trouble. One night, feeling a little dizzy, I tried out some vertigo exercises I learned from the internet. I’m not sure if they worked. I headed to bed soon after, but I woke up dizzy-free the next day, and I haven’t been dizzy since.
Based on the advice of a doctor-friend, I bought a watch with a heart rate monitor. He said I needed to gather more data. I tried it out for the first time today. Surprise, my heart rate wasn’t skyrocketing after all. I am simply able to sustain a higher heart rate than most people my age. Where’s my dizziness? I suspect the new blood pressure medicine kicked in and the old medicine cleared my system. Possibly just a drug reaction.
Do I feel silly for spinning out of control over my health? No. Guys pushing sixty need to take precautions to avoid becoming a sad news story. I don’t ever want an article about me to say “He died doing something he loved.” The other night, while coaching, I got in an age-conversation with another dad. He’s forty-two, and I called him a kid. “You’re fifty-seven? Wow, I would have never guessed!” I liked that. I hope to continue surprising people well into my sixties and seventies.
I think I’m entering a new phase in my exercise regime. A mature phase that should have started twelve years ago. I’ve already made huge changes to my diet over the past six-months, and now I’ll now be tracking my heart rate. I’ll train in the proper ‘zone’ and I’ll hopefully see improvements that I’ve suspected were long behind me. For the past two weeks, I’ve felt fantastic. Today, thinking I didn’t get enough exercise this morning at practice, I went to our team’s training park and ripped out an anaerobic forty-five minute stomp that reminded me of my thirties.
Yes, I feel good.