Chapter Break

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.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

29 thoughts on “Chapter Break

  1. I never did get an answer as to why I had/have high blood pressure. This was almost 10 years ago, and I spent 2 days in the hospital having tons of tests. When the cardiologist came to talk to me and I asked why my BP was so high, he just shrugged. They couldn’t find anything wrong.
    Ten years later and I still get a 157/93 lots of times. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    Those falls off the cliffs are Wile E Coyote falls! I would’ve thought being disabled since my 30s would’ve prepared me for the degeneration of aging, yet here I am, shocked at how long it takes to recover from an injury.🙄🤦🏼‍♀️

    Keeping my fingers crossed that your next chapter starts with answers and solutions🤞


  2. I hear you about the Chapter Breaks. I’m in the middle of one right now and it blows. I was at the spice store yesterday and was having a hard time reading the labels (When did this happen?). I also ran 2 miles and thought I was going to die (I used to be able to run 10 off the couch). Recently, I decided to reset and take baby steps to get back into shape and lose some of this COVID fat. lol. I HAVE to get things back under control so I feel like I am moving forward in a good way. Switching doctors is probably a really good idea for you. Not having answers could be creating some high blood pressure. Hang in there Jeff! A New Year is coming!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’m completely ready for a reboot. It fees so cliche’d to do this right at the new year, but it might be the kick I need. I went for a walk after work today and it dropped my blood pressure by 10 points.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, here’s an update. Starting 5 days ago my leg healed remarkably fast, so now with the exception of a bone bruise right on the knee, it isn’t bothering me at all. I switched blood pressure med. which has dropped my pressure into a very sane range. I’m guessing she’s going to up the dose a bit at my follow up. I haven’t really exercised hard enough to see if I’m still getting dizzy, but on a hike the other day, I had a few brief brain swirls. She’s got a couple of ideas about that as well once she sees my labs. So really, I’m much happier than I’ve been for a while and I feel like I’ve got someone listening to me now. Now if I can just dodge covid for the next 9 months until my vaccination number comes up, I should be just fine. Thanks for asking, that’s very kind.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Of course, I think about my friends (blogging and such) all the time. I am soo happy to hear things are on the way up. It makes a difference when you feel like you have good healthcare. We have managed to escape COVID – it doesn’t sound like it, but we really do hunker down here at home and when we travel, we are pretty safe. It’s starting to drive me wild we don’t see people that often. Onward and upward Jeff! We WILL get through this!


  3. As my 94 year old mother in law often says, “Aging is not for the faint of heart.”
    At first reading I thought chapter breaks was a great way to describe the process of aging but, as I reflect on it, I wonder if the downward trajectory of the “adverse effects” isn’t better represented by a whole new book, a sequel. I’ll be seventy in a few months. Ugh.
    Hope you get some helpful answers and resolutions from your new doctor. You have had a rough year.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Our body is made of our thoughts – what are you thinking? Are you thinking I am strong, I am healthy, my body is constantly regenerating or focusing on the problem. I only say this because I am having breakthroughs right now because I am changing the way I think and seeing the results directly and quickly applied in my physiology. Our bodies are weakened by thoughts of weakness – it’s not denial or wahoo. If you have a fearful thought it will weaken your body. Feed your mind strong positive thoughts one after the other after the other and feel the difference. Just a thought 😊 I hope your 2021 is powerfully transformational Jeff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, in my defense, I didn’t start out thinking I’m weak, but this never-ending cycle of feeling ill has definitely worn me down. I have a real sense of taking action right now. I’ve made appointments with the necessary medical professionals and I’m looking very forward to when I can ride and run again… maybe a week or two. Thanks for the kick in the pants. I hope your 2021 rocks too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jeff I spent the last month or two of 2020 going backwards in my thoughts – I was practically toxic by the time I had a couple of weeks off and reset – it’s the only reason I commented because it’s on the other side that you realise just how adversely negative thinking has been affecting you or even that you are doing it. 2021 is going to be a wonderful year, I’m sure of it 🎉🥳


  5. Is it possible some of this is the result of being too fit, i.e. over-training, mixed with stress?

    A long time ago – early 90s, in my early forties – I was incredibly fit but having strange symptoms of elevated heart rate and blood pressure, plus swelling in my hands and lower extremities after long runs. Symptoms were were during races, or around certain people. (That latter part is a clue.)

    Lots of medical tests ensued. No answers, other than my heart was so strong and it pumped blood so forcefully that small vessels leaked fluid, causing the swelling. Okay, then.

    It took me a long while to parse it out, but bottom line, the issues were stress-related.

    Something to consider after this annus horribilus, to which you’ve added crashes/physical injuries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, too fit at this point seems almost impossible. I think my elevated blood pressure right now might be related to the fact that I haven’t gotten any exercise in 17 days. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning and I hope I start connecting some dots and get over this crap. I’d really like to be 100% by spring. Oh and my wife points out that my work is really stressful right now. Someone just started following me with this blog url. Thought of you:


  6. Hey Jeff- Chances are the spike in your blood pressure has to do with the injury/trauma you sustained in the bike accident. Often when we have had a jolt to our existence our brain goes haywire and all the strange fears we’ve subliminally harbored pop out causing blood pressure to spike, panic attacks, hearts to race, eye twitch, nausea.
    I ain’t no Doc or quack but I believe first actions are deep breathing, homeopathic aconite, and chamomile or valerian tea.
    Strange shit has been occurring all around us. It’s difficult to say if the goddesses and gods are just trying to wake us up to get off the pot or are just messing with our tiny minds. In any case, Feel better.


  7. Ughh. this sucks to hear, and I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Pain can increase BP too, as can worrying about it…
    This too, shall pass — it must. You’re only 58 years YOUNG! Positive vibes your way, and who knows, maybe in 2 days, it will all magically improve…Sigh.
    Chapter breaks. I like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. On a positive note, last night was the first time the pain in my leg didn’t keep me up at night, and I was able to ride fifteen minutes on a spin bike and still feel OK. Looks like I’m on the mend.


  8. Hoping your new doc can give you some much-needed answers, Jeff. I am so sorry you are still feeling the ill effects of your fall. I think you are right about us losing fitness not little-by-little, but like falling off a cliff. It happened to me when I was injured, then again when I lost my confidence this year. But…yesterday, I went for a run with a much-younger friend and I could keep up with her. And hold a conversation! It is possible to come back. That’s what I hope for you. You’re still a spring chicken! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw the new doctor (who is really a nurse practitioner) a couple days later. I loved her. She really listened, asked intelligent questions, made some immediate decisions and came up with a plan for the future. Great first step. Last night I slept all night without leg pain waking me up a dozen times and this afternoon I walked 1.5 miles. Feeling upbeat about it all.


  9. Good Day Jeff: I enjoyed reading your blog which brought back memories of my own pain from… age , and injuries and just … just being human! Blood Pressure: I have found that stress and pain are the culprits. The next time you take a B/P test close your eyes and breathe, and just try and relax while the machine is running. Just a thought..


  10. Jeff, I meant to say that pain and stress are definitely contributing factors; not that they are the only ones… I like your thought about the deep state too. We are all there with you in those thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knew what you meant and I fully agree. It requires a holistic remedy that includes everything from diet to meditation. The deep state probably isn’t involved, but with those guys, you never can tell. I think I saw George Clooney driving down my street.

      Liked by 1 person

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