Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Six-Million Dollar Man...or Maybe Not.

   Remember Steve Austin? Remember the show's opening scenes? "We can rebuild him, we can make him stronger, faster, sexier, cheesier, and he'll smell like chocolate chip cookies!" OK, that wasn't exactly how it went, but close enough. For those who don't remember the show, Steve Austin was a test pilot/astronaut/door gunner on the space shuttle/whatever, who was in a bad crash, and the government decided to rebuild him with bionic implants. If you have never seen the show, rent it or look for it on those cable networks that specialize in 1970's cheese fests, drink several adult beverages, and enjoy the wholesome family goodness of bad sci/fi special effects and predictable, heart-warming plotlines...don't get me wrong - I loved it! Watched every episode at least once, making sound effects right along with the TV!

    Having taken a detour down Nostalgia Lane, I guess I need to come back to the present and talk about my own $6,000,000 project, except it is a lot less high-tech, and a lot more old-fashioned than Colonel Austin's reconstruction (it also wasn't funded with Taxpayer Dollars, dammit). About 4 months ago, I was a fat, waddling, shambling hulk of a miserable man, pathetic and in pain, and generally possessing a rather grumpy disposition. I walked with a cane and was severely limited in my mobility and activities, and popped a lot of pain pills, cuz I needed them. A very skilled doctor drugged the crap outta me and cut out a chunk of my guts; specifically, approximately 80 percent of my stomach...best thing that ever happened to me, health-wise! I have since lost about 95 pounds, and 10 inches around my waist. My diabetes is gone, my blood pressure has dropped, my sleep apnea has disappeared, I have tossed my cane in a corner, and now I can walk like a normal person...

    A few months ago, every normal, ordinary activity was an exercise in pain, the brute pain of simply moving my large carcass from point A to point B. There were so many things that were simply beyond my physical capacities that life really wasn't worth living any more. The only reason I stuck around was for my family, and because of the vague hope that maybe someday, something would happen to make things better. What eventually happened was so simple in concept, yet so profound in its effects, I only regret not doing it sooner...I lost several years of living to being a wretched fat bastard, and I can never get those years back. I can, however, make up for that lost time by becoming the best man I can be, physically and otherwise. Hence, the "Reconstruction" theme of this rambling dialogue. I am rebuilding myself physically, and the outer change is noticeable, according to friends and family. I also suspect that the inner change is also noticeable to those few who are paying attention. 

    I go to the gym at least 4 times a week, pumping iron and working the aerobic machines, walking on the treadmill, building muscle and endurance, getting stronger, tougher, leaner, harder, and becoming one sexy, awesome beast of a man!...Well, OK, let's not get carried away here. "Stronger, harder, more muscular, leaner" - all true. "Sexy, awesome beast of a man", maybe not, but here is the deep-down truth. I feel like a sexy, awesome beast of a man, even if I don't look like one. The difference in how I look has been described as "great", "incredible", "fantastic", etc, etc, blah, blah, blah (I actually look entirely ordinary and common-place)...I appreciate the kind words, and the outer change is pretty dramatic, but the real change is inside. It's how I feel as a man, a human, a living breathing animal of a being...I have not felt this alive in many years.

       A few days ago, I was at the gym, doing the weight machines and jogging on the treadmill, and I felt so damn good, I just went out the back door, paced off 40 yards in the grass, and started doing wind sprints - 40 yards as fast as my big, hairy self could run! I would dash, walk around in a circle for a few seconds catching my breath, then haul ass back the other way like a scalded chimpanzee. I'm sure I looked absurd, a 51 year old fat man running wind sprints, but I felt what can only be described as an animal joy at just running as fast as I could! I wanted to chase down a mailman and bite his leg, or go tearing off into the woods chasing rabbits and barking at squirrels...it was awesome! And now I'm limping, cuz I am experiencing a very curious physio-medical phenomenon; Too Much Too Soon Syndrome.

    TMTS syndrome happens when someone is suddenly released from a life of significant physical limitations, and finds themselves with a fierce desire to do everything they have been denied for so long, so they try to do it all, right-by-God-now! I want to go trail running, and sky diving, and bike riding, and hiking in the mountains, and...well, you get the idea. I want to do it all! Right now, dammit! But an honest assessment of my abilities tells me that I need to develop one other kind of strength that is in short supply - patience! I need to work up to all of these things a bit more gradually than I am attempting right now, or I may wind up doing myself some damage. The last damn thing I want is to have to dig that cane out of the corner just to walk from the parking lot to the office!

    On the other hand, I will be running in the Long Beach Jingle Bell Jog this coming Saturday, doing the One Mile Fun Run... I'm sure there will be a good deal of walking involved before I get to the finish line, and that'll be just fine with me!

4 months, 258 pounds, down from 351, on my way to 205 or so...

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