Archive for the ‘Health and wellness’ Category

Well, this is a brutal truth I am now facing.

I’ve had some clothes in my closet for years. Shirts, shorts, pants, you name it. I’ve been proud of the fact that I can still wear clothes from years ago.

Or, rather, I used to be able to.

About a year ago, I went to buy a new pair of jeans. I discovered I had to buy 32×30, instead of 30×30.

I wasn’t sure whether or not I had put on weight or if pants sizes had changed. I understand that cuts and styles change over time, so a size small today may not be the same today as demographics shift (people get older, more immigrants, etc.) and stores can’t just important five dozen different sizes.

But today I went into my closet and tried on a few pairs of black pants that used to fit quite nicely. None of them fit.

Sure, I could get them on, but they all felt tighter around my waist.

To be honest, I knew this was coming. I’ve noticed my waist is bigger now than it was 1 or 2 years ago. I’m not sure what’s going on, I exercise my stomach every day. I measure the amount of fat on my stomach using calipers and it’s the same. And all of my shirts still fit fine. I even use a measuring tape above my belly button and write the down the results, and it’s the same from a couple of years ago.

Yet my pants require a bigger size.

No use denying it. I have to go up in size, I am officially 32×30.

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A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a podcast about a writer who has written a few books, one called War and the other called Tribe. The writer, Sebastian Junger, was originally a war reporter. During the podcast interview, he described that after his time covering the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s (or perhaps the second Iraq War), after he came back to the US, he experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

During the podcast, Junger describes the time when he was waiting in the New York subway and suddenly had a panic attack where he seized up and was overcome with a sense of dread. He had to go hide out in a corner and wait for it to pass.

When I hear these stories, I think back to my own time. I identify closely with people who have this because I, too, have had it. 10 years ago, while I was hiking in Fiji, I had a hiking accident where I nearly died. The day after my accident, I found I had trouble with my memory. I couldn’t remember people’s names whereas I was usually good with them. Days later, I kept forgetting where I would put things like pens, pencils, and even my shoes when I walked in the house (I also lost a blue recycling box somehow). I had trouble focusing and concentrating, and I also lost interest in some of my favorite activities like sponge hockey.

What sealed my self-diagnosis is a series of panic attacks I had when reading a comic in the newspaper. It was about a cartoon dog who got lost from his master, fell into a small ditch and started yelling that he was trapped and stuck. It was a joke because it was such a small ditch and he was exaggerating to get attention. But when I read that comic, I suddenly had a panic attack where my heart started racing (the same flutter you might get on a roller coast, except worse). I had the same experience watching the movie Cliffhanger when a character fell into a chasm, and a third time watching a movie and some characters were just walking through a waterfall, no danger involved. All that anxiety was real and it came over me automatically, no thinking about it involved. How does reading a comic or watching a movie give you panic attacks?

I looked up my symptoms online and it seemed clear I was experiencing PTSD.

As time passed, my symptoms started to go away. My memory returned, I could concentrate again, and I didn’t have panic attacks nearly as often. However, I still have a fear of heights and I don’t like driving along a ledge that has no railing. I freeze up when that happens. When I think about skydiving out of a plane and actually visualize it, I do start to panic a little bit. I have no idea how I went skydiving in Turkey; I think because I had dirka I was distracted.

So, yeah. PTSD is real. It sucks.

It’s mostly gone now, but I feel bad for the war veterans who suffer with it. It has entrenched my aversion to war as being mostly good for nothing.

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I found this website today that calculates how many people are older or younger than you, given your age.

I tested myself and there’s 49% of the people older than me, and 49% younger than me.  The other 2% would be the same age as me. I think this is only in the United States and not the rest of the world.

So, I’m almost over the hill, but not yet. But I will be in 7 more months!

That doesn’t bother me that much, though. I just consider myself experienced. 10-15 years ago, my ideas were narrower, I didn’t have as many life experiences, and there were a ton of things I hadn’t tried yet. The only thing I miss is not having the minor aches I have now.

But other than that… not much.



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On jetlag

A few months ago, I was talking with a friend of mine about jetlag. He was saying that in his younger days, he had no trouble with jetlag but as he got older, it started to affect him more and more

I’ve been thinking about that because we’re currently in Germany and suffering from it. You know the symptoms – awake at 5 am and fast asleep by 9 pm. Or, in my case, taking a nap at 6:15 pm and up by 9 pm, and then looking to go back to bed at 11:30 pm and up again at 6 am.

Looking back over my life, I think to myself – do I deal with jetlag worse as I have gotten older?

I first remember getting it when I went to England at the end of 2000 when I went to check the place out, as I was moving over there at the end of year. I remember laying on my hotel bed, staying awake all night because I couldn’t sleep.

That was my first experience with jet lag (6-hour time zone shift).

My second experience I can remember was when I went to Singapore traveling from England in early 2002. I remember getting off the plane and thinking to myself “Man, I feel pretty good!” but by 10 am, I thought to myself “Oh, I need to go back to my hotel room to sleep.” I did, went back and slept for six hours, and felt better. This was a time-zone shift of 8 hours or so.

Every time since then, whenever I head over to Europe, I have a hard time with jetlag. I can’t stay awake past a certain time, and it’s usually quite early in the evening. And, it’s always been this way, it hasn’t gotten worse as I have gotten older, it’s the same.

My cure for jetlag – not fighting it. I just accept the fact that I’ll be getting up quite early and going to bed quite early for 7 days, and then I will adjust. Until then, I make sure that my schedule will allow for me to get back to my hotel room so I can fall over on the bed late at night.

So, in a way, because I now come to expect the time zone spreads as an inevitable part of traveling, I deal with it better. My body gets over it in due course, and then I feel fine. But until then, I simply adjust my schedule.

Who says you have to feel worse as you get older?

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It’s been a few weeks since I got my braces off. Below are some before-and-after pictures (after = two weeks after, not today which is three months after).

You can see that the top ones in front were angled out and have been straightened, while the bottom ones which were completely crooked have all been straightened out as well but they are still not the same size which makes them look weird. Even the top ones are not the same size, either. There’s not much I can do about that unless I get more cosmetic work done.

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The wife also said that it changed the shape of my face, too. Did it? Let’s see:

April 2014

January 2016

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That’s the best comparison I have when looking straight on into the camera. It’s hard to tell, but from what I can see it appears like my jaw and face is a little narrower, and my chin is a little “flatter” whereas before the left side of my chin came down a bit lower than the right side. Overall, my face is even less round than it was before; or rather, it’s a bit more oval now.

Of course, some of it is natural aging. Our faces grow longer as we get older, and the pictures above are 21 months apart. So that’s part of it, too. The lighting and shading is also not identical.

But yeah. My teeth have changed for sure.

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Yesterday, for the first time ever, I got the flu shot. I have never done this before because I didn’t think I needed it. But last December, I did get the flu and it was the worst sickness I ever had, at least in the past 10 years. I made a resolution right then that the next year I was getting the flu shot.

Well, this year came around and I remembered my promise and I just about chickened out, but in the end I decided to get it.

I went in for my appointment and talked to the health professional who asked if I ever had gotten a flu shot before and I said “I don’t think so.” I definitely haven’t had it in the past 20 years, but maybe I had it when I was younger.

Anyhow, she explained what would happen and the possible side effects. The shot itself wasn’t too bad, it stung a little bit but I’ve had worse scratches by the cat.

On the other hand, the possible side effects turned out to be real side effects. My arm did get more sore as time went on for the rest of the day. I also became tired in the evening, and today I have some aches in my lower back. These are all symptoms that I had with the flu last year, although they are much milder.

Still, if I don’t get the flu, it’ll be worth it.

But another reason to get the flu shot is that even though the odds of it working are not guaranteed, if it does work, it cuts down the risk of me infecting someone else with a weakened immune system such as a child, an elderly person, or someone who is sick. And, I think that all of the anti-vaccine people are a bunch of quacks, so I figured I’d do my civic duty and get the shot in order to add to the herd immunity.

So, that’s what I did yesterday.

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It has now been two days since I got my braces off and had to wear a retainer. How am I doing so far?

  • The first day I was gagging like the dickens. Today, I don’t gag quite so much. I do a little bit after I put the retainer into my mouth but now it is better.

  • I talk with a lisp when I say the letter ‘s’. For the first day I couldn’t speak without choking. Now I can talk, but not every word comes out straight. I have to relearn how to talk.

  • I know it’s always there. With braces, I didn’t really feel them for the most part except when I moved my lips around them. With the retainer, I can feel it the entire time except for when I am totally distracted or focused on something else.

So, overall there is some improvement.

When I first got my braces, they told me that the total length of treatment time would be 24 months. I got mine off in 16.5 months and I was thinking “Hey, I’m doing pretty well!” But it turns out that I have to wear my retainer all the time except to eat for the first 6 months, so I count that as part of treatment and so including all of that, it’s 22.5 months which is pretty close to the original estimate.

I put a calendar alert on my phone to let me know when it’s April 28, 2016 – no more retainer full time! I will only have to wear it at night.

I’m looking forward to that day.

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