It’s so easy to blame it all on the deep state. Or my doctor; or the universe. Myself? Someone’s to blame dammit. This can’t all be a coincidence. I’ve lived for fifty-eight years. Those have been healthy years, mostly. Yes, lots of surgeries, but those can be explained. The bike crash accounts for three of them. Sure, my hearing sucks and my vision is worse, but those are corrected, at least enough to get through my days.
There’s a pivotal scene in Rocky IV, you know, the one with the Russian. In the big fight, Ivan Drago pummels Rocky Balboa round after round, clobbers him. Rocky never loses a step. He remains as fresh as at the start of the fight. His goal is to wear down the fighter by serving as a punching bag. Drago complains to his manager: “He is not human; he is a piece of iron.” Five years ago, that’s how I thought of myself. Yes, I thought I was Rocky.
I ran twice a week, taught spin classes, took spin classes, did HIIT workouts, boot camps and incessant core exercises. I was indefatigable (I’ve always wanted to use that word), rock hard. A friend related a conversation she overheard: “You mean that ridiculously fit guy? I’m not taking his spin class.” So really a healthy person, even at fifty-three. Especially at fifty-three. How far can we fall? All-the-freaking-way. I just got off the phone with a “tele-medicine” provider.
One day, after my Rocky period, I talked with a coworker about aging. I pointed out that the adverse effects aren’t seen in a gentle continuous downward slope, but more like going down stairs… or falling off cliffs. He said “Chapter breaks. I call them chapter breaks.” Essentially, the next time we pick up the scene, at the start of the next chapter, the degeneration has already happened. A physically older person in my place. Somewhere along the way, I started a whole new book.
Right now, everything sucks. I fell off my bike two weeks ago, hard, and it hurts. New bruises are still popping up. Yesterday I looked at my knee and found an angry purple stain right on the cap—that wasn’t there last week, I’m sure of it. When I get into bed, I lie down on my right side, as I always do, and find myself flipping to my left a few minutes later. My hip aches. My thigh aches. Even my ankle—I didn’t even hit my ankle—aches.
2020 has all the markings of a fitness cliff. This year has been marked by headaches, pervasive dizziness, a seizure, and today, crazy high blood pressure. I just switched doctors—or I’m in the process of switching doctors. I transferred my medical records and I have an appointment next month. To get ready, I decided to take regular blood pressure readings. My blood pressure medicine doesn’t seem to work, and my readings are always elevated. My family watches on nervously as I take my pressure. They’re making sure it’s still in the reasonable range. I don’t actually think their concern helps lower my pressure.
After work today, my blood pressure was disturbingly high. I took it a second time, just as high. Two hours later, higher still. I hovered just below what’s known as a hypertensive crisis. The tele-medicine doc suggested that I don’t head out to an urgent care facility because those facilities are all packed with Covid cases right now. Not really the reassurance I was looking for, but I’ll take his advice.
Something is amiss and it’s time to find out what. Too many weird things are going on at the same time. And these things, coupled with my not so weird but rather painful hip and knee pain… I’m wearing down. With my new doctor, I plan to hammer on all of these issues. I want to figure out if the deep state is plotting against me, or if I’m just having a run of bad luck. I’d like the start of my next chapter to show me on an obvious upswing. I’d like to be clearly healthier than I am right now.
It’s a resolution.