Category Archives: Health/Fitness

Pain in the Brain 2014 Health/Fitness

Just a quick note to document my cluster cycle this year. They started early – March maybe. Very slow burn-in this time with a few false starts and aura-only episodes. They went full-blown at the very end of May and lasted until the end of August. The final one was in the middle of the night. Around 3 months of this is a LONG cycle. I was able to short-circuit most of them before they got a grip on me by burning up my legs on the stairs at the office. I added push-ups and tension-hanging but couldn’t do much else without buying a membership at the “office gym”. I’ve wondered before if just letting the headaches “run their course” doesn’t shorten the cycle but I’m not willing to do that when a quick hit of adrenalin pops them like a bubble. I wouldn’t say I learned much new in this cycle. Knocking off sulfates doesn’t seem to do much in terms of preventing or shortening the cycle. Sleep cycles were definitely out of whack and stress was high this summer so those are still definitely my prime suspects. Science continues to play catch up with my own personal research. 😉

Coincidentally, the cycle lasted from around the start to near the finish of the “Get The World Moving” Global Corporate Challenge that I was participating in this summer. That worked like this: Wear a fancy pedometer that records your “steps” throughout the day then enter the steps online and succumb to Peer Pressure to increase your daily-step count. I averaged 13,700 steps a day and, according to my stats log, walked 548 miles in the 100 day challenge. I must admit I was completely bored with it by mid-point so I started playing games with the pedometer to see how I could increase my count without wasting more time walking. The end result was that I did get out more. I even started running again. 🙂

Brain Pain Twenty Twelve! Health/Fitness

Cluster Headache SimulationJust an update in a series of Brain Pains – I have officially survived the Cluster Cycle of 2012. For those who are seeing this for the first time or are otherwise unacquainted, I suffer from cluster headaches. They’re related to migraine headaches and are a part of daily life for several weeks a year. Worldwide acknowledgement and support for this rare type of migraine has expanded exponentially over the past decade. We’ve come a long way since a pair of doctors shrugged and referred me to an eye specialist back in the 90s. Duh.

Anyway, I started feeling this pending cycle in April though I had a few “ghost” headaches all the way back in January. It took a while to really come on. I actually thought the trip to Ireland might bring on a cycle as it seriously messed with my sleep patterns but only one ocular migraine resulted. At Heather’s urging, I had (nearly) eliminated nitrates/sulfates from my diet. As usual, an ocular cycle precipitated the full blown cluster routine. The cycle went full-blown at the end of June and lasted until mid July when it began to taper. I had my final headache during the last full week in July. A rather short cycle this time but friggin’ intense. With my new job I have access to the little work-out room and I used it 2-4 times a day for a quick adrenaline burst to prevent the full onset of headaches. That many headaches in a day has been rare over the years. Fortunately, that density lasted for under 2 weeks when it settled back into the one-a-day routine.

Purely conjecture on my part but the stress of a new job and very active toddler might have been enough to kick off the cycle. The fact that I only grunted through a handful of headaches without the “adrenaline intervention” of pushups, curls and presses might have caused the dense cycle. On the other hand, being very busy at work might have helped end the cycle. As long as I can drop and push out 40 ups just as the throbbing starts to prevent the full agony of a cluster headache I’m going to take that opportunity. If it makes me have another one an hour or two later? Worth it. As long as I get a few hours to recover my muscles – or have other options like stationary bikes or stair-masters – I’ll take the quick fix any time.

A day in the life… BabyBrain DrippingGeocachingHealth/FitnessNews

I don’t update this blog much anymore just because I rarely have the time/energy to really sit down and type something out. Like most of us workaday schlubs I succumbed to the quick fix that is Facebook. However I recently stopped updating my status there as I was drowning in shared images and game notifications. That seems to be 90% of what FB has become. To buck this trend I thought that I might, just for a day, pretend it was still 2009 when people were very excited by this new medium. I’ll would update my status at least once an hour with whatever was going on in my day regardless of the banality. Facebook.com is blocked at the office however so instead of dozens of updates slowly through the day, here’s what I would have typed if I really felt like wasting my company’s time. As the day progressed I jotted my updates down in a notepad right up until I went to sleep. It turned out to be a busy Monday. Enjoy my banality!

06:10   Good morning starshine. The world says hello!
06:30   Systems check. I’m not really sore from my kayaking yesterday. Except where I walked into the screen door handle with my right bicep. That’s sore as hell.
07:30   Running late for work, as usual. Snacking on some toasted sourdough bread with Country Crock ©. The breakfast of champions (or at least tardy champions).
08:00   Got to the office just on time. Now enjoying my weekly Snapple. Diet Raspberry. Made from the best stuff on earth. I have one every Monday then re-use the bottle all week refilling it from the water-cooler.
09:20   Just received a call from my wife. The damage to the car comes out to be the same as the deductable anyway so it’s a wash. Could have been much worse though and I’m just glad everyone is OK.
10:00   Cluster headache threatening. Maybe if I take a walk and stretch it will pass me by this morning?
10:10   Wow, the urinal cakes are blue instead of pink now. Changes are scary! The cakes are a lie!
10:45   The payroll system is goofy here. To compensate for employees working over night shifts the PR clerks enter the start time as 23:00 (11 PM) and the end time as 32:00 (WTH AM?) for a nine hour shift. My task is to help fix that. Giant Moth
11:45
   There’s a giant moth on the window at the office. As the bug man, I’m tasked with IDing it. It’s as big as a bat!
12:15   I went around to the outside to get a good picture. Google images comparison confirms we’re looking at an Antheraea Polyphemus or common Silk Moth. It’s named for the Greek Cyclops legend because of the eyespots. Of course, the moth has 4 “eyes” instead of 1 but who’s counting?
12:50   Caught a Squidcake Fish for the 4th Anniversary of Fish-Wrangler. Yeah, I still play this game. 🙂
14:30   Finally figured out a good way to fix the payroll programs I’ve been toying with today. Yay me.
15:20   New task: Purge some of the older employee timesheet files. We were talking about writing new programs and adding processing options but I think I’d rather type in a one-line SQL script.
16:45   Just lost the power in the office. Guess I won’t be able to work late after all! 🙂
17:45   Home! I worked my gas mileage on the current tank up to 32.5 MPG.
17:50   I thought Heather was out and about when I pulled in but I forgot her car was in the shop. I found her just finishing up a bath time for Allison. Wet baby hug!
18:10   Allison brought me her flip flops and sat down on my lap so I could put them on her. She is now running around wearing nothing but the flops and a diaper. I’m not trying to raise a Jersey Girl but I guess it’s baked in automatically.
18:30   Having “Mexican” for dinner – leftover Riceritos. Yum! I’m a simple man of simple tastes. 🙂
19:00   Another cluster headache triggered by flashing lights during a furious game of Peek-a-boo. I sequestered myself in a dark room to wait it out. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes for a minute… zzzzzzzzzz…
19:45   It occurs to me that “dollars to doughnuts” is actually in favor of the doughnuts now. Inflation FTW!
20:20   The Nugget is finally down for her “Night Sleep”. Tonight’s lap time reading list was “Hop On Pop” and the Cookie Monster “Hug Book” (Twice). The second time through Cookie Monster was a little brusque. 😉 AVGraphics wacky adventures part 5
20:45  
Heather is wearing an old concert tour shirt tonight. Elton John’s “One Night Only” Tour – October 20th and 21st 2000. Hit “LIKE” if you can spot what’s wrong with that shirt.
21:50   Solved a Geopuzzle! This one took me longer than the others in the series and I never did find the magic nose goblin in the upper right.
22:30   Time to turn in to snuggle with Smech and a copy of Pratchett’s latest. G’night moon!

So, there’s my day. This will get thousands less looks than if I had actually posted two dozen updates through the day but I submit it here it anyway. Feel free to enjoy/deride it as you see fit – just as you would have if you had seen all this spam on ol’ Facebook.  =]

Could I still play in the NFL? Brain DrippingHealth/Fitness

As I rapidly approach the statistical midpoint of my life expectancy I was curious if I could still go through a mid-life-crisis and try out for an NFL team. Realistic? Of course! Why, a player a week older than myself led the league in tackles this year!

For posterity, here’s the list of all NFL players older than me as of the end of the 2011 season:
Ray Lewis (LB, Baltimore) – by 9 days!
Phil Dawson (Kicker, Browns)
Brad Maynard (Punter, Browns)
Charlie Batch (QB, Pitt)
James Farrior (LB, Pitt)
Patrick Mannelly (Safety, Bears)
Ben Graham (Punter, Lions)
Jason Hanson (Kicker, Lions)
Donald Driver (WR, GB)
Ryan Longwell (Kicker, Minn)
Jake Delhomme (QB, Texans)
Jeff Garcia (QB, Texans)
Kerry Collins (QB, Colts)
Adam Vinatieri (Kicker, Colts)
Orlindo Mare (Kicker, Carolina)
Ronde Barber (CB, TB)
Jason Taylor (LB, Miami)
Mark Brunell (QB, Jets)
Jon Kitna (QB, Dallas)
London Fletcher (LB, Washington) – One week older!
Sav Rocca (Punter, Washington)
David Binn (Safety, Denver)
Brian Dawkins (Safety, Denver)
Casy Weigmann (Center, KC)
David Akers (Kicker, SF)
Al Harris (CB, Seattle)

The majority are kickers, punters and backup “mentor” quarterbacks. I’m sure a handful will retire each year. When the last one does I’ll probably have to admit that I’m probably going to have to give up on that dream of scoring the winning touchdown in the superbowl. But not yet!

Brain Pain 2011 Brain DrippingHealth/Fitness

Just to fully document the phenomena, I went through a cluster cycle in January into February. To those who somehow missed my previous update on these almost exactly two years ago, I suffer from Cluster Headaches. These suckers suck but only for a few months out of the year then they go away for several months. The current cycle came on slowly. I had a few minor headaches and a few ocular migraines in November and December. It went full blown the second week of January and peeked the last week of that month. I then entered one of the more stressful weeks of my professional career and – survival instincts ruling out stupid head pain – the cluster took a two week break. By the first week of March the headaches had ceased.  By documenting these cycles as they happen here I’m definitely seeing a pattern.

1) They’re brought on by Christmas Stress – or at least the disruption in sleep patterns that seem to happen here.

2) Nitrates! I’m watching my intake of the pernicious ‘trates. Alas, they’re in Hot-dogs and Bacon so I can’t help myself sometimes.

3) They tend to peter out with the worst of winter. Humidity? Low pressure? Less sun? I spent a lot of time outdoors this year despite the cold and snow.

Combining 1 & 2 and thinking back… in the beginning of November I had a business trip to Ireland and the UK. Fairly stressful is travel and the time change wompted my sleep patterns. Then there was the bacon and sausage every morning. Yum! Ouch! If sleep patterns and nitrates have anything to do with cluster headaches one might think I was trying to bring on a headache cycle! Anyway, I haven’t had one in weeks now so I figured it was time to document the cycle. See ya’ll back here in 2012!

Half Marathon SUCCESS! Health/FitnessNews

It was a rocky road leading up to the rocky trail but, with Heather’s support and patience, I lived – and finished in the middle of the pack.

Since my last update I didn’t keep track of my miles as religiously but I know that in week 5 I topped out at 20 miles and then started to go down hill. With 3 weeks to go I went out for my standard 5 mile morning run and, while crossing between a park and sidewalk, banged my knee on a guardrail. It swelled up pretty good and kept me from running for a few days but could have been much worse. One week later, on the same morning loop and very near where I hit my knee, my ankle started clicking with every step. Then it started hurting and I ended up limping the last mile home. Lots of ice and massage to the calf loosened things up but I’m still not sure what causes the strange clicking. I know it’s worse when I sit with my feet crossed over and the heel of my opposite foot resting on a particular tendon on the top of ankle. I’ll sometimes sleep in this position so I think it’s ironic that I might be injuring myself while napping!

I barely ran the final two weeks. I got out for 6 miles for the annual 9/11 memorial run and a easy 4 miler a few days before the race just to keep things lubricated. I focused on getting lots of sleep that week and prepped everything I would need including securing a hotel a few miles from the starting line. The night before the run Heather & I drove out to Philly and just crashed. I woke up before the alarm and took a walk around the motel. It was HOT already! I picked a Fall run because the heat really kills me. So, what do I get? A near record breaking heat wave. I wanted an Indian Summer, not a summer in India! Adding to my angst, I failed to enter the location of the race start in the GPS and, though I had studied the route, a road turned out to be named something different so we got lost. The final straw was when I tried to grab an extra bottle of water from the cooler. The whole thing turned over somehow and dumped water and half melted ice into my dry clothing bag. Arrrgh!

The race director was on top of things though and assuaged my biggest fears by adding two more water-stops along the course which allowed me the freedom to not carry a bottle. Just in case though Heather agreed to drive down to the half-way point and cheer me on/hydrate me as necessary. She was carrying the special bottle of home-made sports drink (Equal measures fruit juice, Pedialyte & seltzer) and was met there by our friend Amy who lives in the Philly area and was cool enough to swing by and help keep Heather sane while waiting for me. It turned out that the half way point was one of the water stops so Heather & Amy volunteered to help distribute H2O & “G”. I reached them just over an hour into the race. I was doing great at that point, and had even been conversational, but I had done a lot of 6 mile training runs so that’s to be expected. The back half would be the real test. While the first 6 miles were almost entirely trails, the next 3 miles were on a paved bike path. I’m no fan of blacktop running so I plodded along on the grass just to the side of the trail and used the opportunity to run backwards for a bit to give my legs a taste of something different. Yeah, I’m a very odd runner apparently. =]

The final water break was at mile 8.4. It took my dehydrated and oxygen deprived brain a few minutes but I figured that gave me less than two miles to go. Cake walk! Alas, that’s the point I hit the really hilly part of course. I fought cramps & fatigue the last mile but ran every step of every hill – unlike the group in front of me which walked the hills and was passed/passed by me at least a half dozen times. When I rounded a turn and saw the finish line I dumped what I had left into my legs and kicked for the finish completing my run in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Awesome! That’s a 10.36 minute mile pace throughout.

I collected my prize – a cuckoo whistle imported from Germany – and walked around sipping water for a while before Heather & Amy returned. My legs felt like rubber – both the overly quivery rubber and the hard dry-rotted kind – and I had half a headache. After re-hydrating and yummying down on a sausage sandwich I started to feel almost human again. After some stretching work I was ready to go again!

So, that’s my tale. I survived! Thanks to the race coordinators for the extra water stops, GU-CHOMPS for providing me some electrolytes along the way & Heather & Amy for being my support crew. I’ll also apologize to my friends that I blew off the past few weekends because I had to get in some long training runs. To make up for lost time I’m taking a long weekend and going biking in Central Park on Friday and camping in Voorhees State Park on Saturday & Sunday. I believe I’ve earned some R&R!

Before I even completed the half I was asked if I would continue on to run a full marathon. I doubt it. The time investment is way outside of what I’m willing to give to something that basically just hurts. I won’t say that wont ever try one… but it would take an early retirement (and probably the collapse of the GPS system) to give me that motivation. No matter what though… 13.1 is off my bucket list!