Am I thinking too much, or not enough? Looking for happiness.

Drugs in our society



I have what some consider an analytical mind.  My mind is thinking about things all the time, not just things like paying bills or fixing a problem with the car, but phenomena I observe on a daily basis.  For example, when I see light reflecting off the surface of water, I am thinking of the texture of the water surface and how it affects the absorption of light and heat which in the ocean could be a big deal.  When I work with students and observe a certain behavior I contemplate the environment and genetics that led that child to behave in a certain manner.  There is nothing that I see that does not evoke some cerebral response.  I have learned to keep quiet about these observations so as not to cause people’s eyes to glaze over in boredom, but the constant assault of ideas never stops.

So, this morning I was lying in bed trying to force myself to get up and begin the day and I started thinking about the drug problem that has encompassed this nation and probably the world.  So many people have died, and many are currently addicted with little or no help available.  Families are being ripped apart every second from addiction.  The pain and suffering that is blanketing our country is touching everyone.  To think about a problem like this, one has to strip away all the obvious answers and look for some universal constant that explains why this has become such a large epidemic.  First, and most important, drugs have always been a part of human behavior.  From early man who realized that certain foods turn into alcohol if you do the right things, all the way to the Indians who learned that opium can be extracted  from poppy seeds, a drug that allowed them to talk with the gods.  The problem is not with the use of drugs but the quantity of drugs available!  The Indians had to collect and process a lot of poppy seeds to make a small amount of opium and it was probably not that potent.  In other parts of the world, making alcohol requires a tremendous amount of work collecting available fruits, processing them and allowing the product to ferment to an intoxicating beverage.  Tobacco used to be more difficult to obtain and had far less available nicotine compared to modern tobacco.  In other words, drugs were labor intensive and if you wanted to get high, you had to put in some serious labor. So, drugs have always been a part of the human experience.

Now, lets look at today’s drug scene.  Pharmaceutical companies produce enormous quantities of thousands of types of drugs of which some are life saving, some help us deal with pain and some are abused.  In a world where people lived by the golden rule this would not be a problem, but in a world permeated with greed, this can be an issue!  Although we see an avalanche of ads on the media telling us of the altruistic nature of the drug industry, there is an ugly underbelly.  Certain drugs that are produced by the drug complex are addictive and have been adopted and distributed by the illegal drug industry.  If the pharmaceutical companies were truly good in nature, they would make every effort to curtail the non-legal use of these addictive drugs.  This does not seem to be the case.  Anyone who wants to can walk out your front door, or take a short drive and buy most any drug illegally!   Yes, they tend to be expensive and that causes an all together additional problem which I won’t go into now.

Let me step back a few feet and add an additional factor to this scenario. Humans are pleasure-seeking creatures.  It is the basic nature of our species to search for a plane of existence that is pleasureful. We do not like pain. We do not like stress. We do not enjoy feeling depressed. We want to be happy!  Now one must realize that happy means many different things to many different people. If you have not noticed, our modern society has little interest in any of us being happy.  In today’s world it is important to be on time, dressed right, pay the bills, raise children, drive on congested roads, smile most of the time and do what the boss tells you to do regardless if it’s correct.  We live in a very stressful environment not designed in any way to make us happy. So now I can move on to my finale.

To lay this out simply, humans have relied on drugs for ritualistic ceremonies for eons.  Today, drugs are readily available to anyone who wants them.  As I said before, humans are pleasure-seeking creatures and we live in a society that does not meet our primal need of being happy. If you bunch all these things together and you don’t see the reason so many people want to get high or need to get high then you just wasted about five minutes of your time reading this article. Before any effort to battle an increasingly addicted population can be made, we must tackle the reasons people turn to drugs.  As our society becomes more rigid and demanding, the use of drugs will continue to rise. It is a natural reaction to the stresses being placed on people, the more stress, the more drugs will be a part of the coping agent.

To finish up I would like to add that there are probably a hundred other factors contributing to this drug epidemic including parental models all the way to genetic predisposition, but all these factors, in my mind, pale to the fact that we live in a stressful environment where thanks to a greedy pharmaceutical industry we have unlimited access to addictive drugs. Unless we become a happier society and lasso in the drug companies, no amount of money or programs is going to halt the direction we are headed. The way I see it, we are in for a bumpy ride.



Sue’s continueing recovery

It has been 10 days since Sue’s hip surgery and everyday is better than the last. Many of our friends have helped out and Sue’s moral is improving steadily. Our daughter Betsy came in from Florida and is using her professional physical therapy skills to ensure that Mom stays on the road to recovery. We are already beginning to talk about our migration south this coming winter. She is still moving about on a walker, doctor’s orders, to prevent her from developing a limp but that should be leaving soon.
Thank you everyone for the support and the help. Make sure that if you know anyone who is getting a new hip to do their homework and insist that they use the anterior approach!
Hope to get back to writing real soon.

Sue is heading to the hospital tomorrow

For our friends and family who keep track of our doings, Sue is headed to Sibley Hospital in Washington DC, tomorrow for her hip replacement surgery. Even though this has become a somewhat routine surgery in today’s world, it still is a major invasion into ones body. I will attempt to keep our friends and family informed as to Sue’s progress. We hope to be home on Thursday. Our daughter Betsy, who is a physical therapist, is coming in from Florida to help out for the week. Please keep Sue in your thoughts.
For those of you who do not read my blog on a regular basis, it would be wise to go back in my blog and learn about hip replacement in case you or a loved one are ever in the same situation as Sue.

I have always said my wife is hip, but now she is getting a new one.

I can remember the days when I jumped out of bed in the morning with not a care in the world and not a pain in my body. Those days are definitely gone. Just like my old Honda Accord, my body is beginning to wear out. The parts are beginning to show obvious signs of aging. My wife Sue is also experiencing the same problems; in fact, she may need to head to the “garage”, or i.e., to get a “universal joint, her a new hip joint. Somehow, despite her relative good health, her hip has malfunctioned and needs to be replaced. If it was a universal joint for my car, I would have to go to the auto-parts store and decide between a wide variety of brands and grades. Of course, there is the cheap one which might last a while, or the expensive part that may be guaranteed for life. You would think that the way we distribute artificial human parts would be different, but I am here to tell you there is little or no difference. Take my wife’s hip replacement for example. There are three major kinds of hips replacement parts: one is lined with plastic, with a small metal ball inserted into it;
the other looks like a large ball-bearing inserted into a metal cap and the third newer approach is a ceramic device.
Each doctor has his own preference on the matter and is willing to explain in great detail why he prefers a particular joint.
When it comes to the style of surgery used, it gets considerably more complicated. We found out that there are four main procedures used in hip replacement. Get ready for some medical jargon.
The post approach, enters the buttock and requires the cutting of several large muscles; the lateral post approach, enters on the rear side of the buttock and requires cutting several large muscles; the lateral anterior enters the front side of the hip and necessitates the cutting of some muscle; however the anterior method, goes directly into the front of the hip but cuts no muscle. Briefly stated these are the four main ways to surgically enter the hip to replace the joint.
It is easy to find doctors who do the first three approaches and this is the way many physicians were trained to do this operation. It is much more difficult to find a doctor who does the anterior approach. Even though there are positives and negatives associate with all these surgeries, Sue and I decided that the full anterior approach was the best for her. It was interesting as well to find out that there is only one doctor doing this approach in West Virginia and interesting enough, he is doing his first anterior hip replacement this week. Needless to say, we decided that a physician with a little more experience with this method would be a better choice.
So, if you are in need of a hip replacement, which I hope is not the case, take the time to talk to several surgeons before deciding what approach you take. Don’t buy the first universal joint you see, regardless of how shinny it is.

Another reason not to eat wheat

The reasons keep piling up for not consuming wheat.

Here is a video from a major news outlet that should help you quit eating wheat.

If you are diabetic, have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or any of the many diseases that plague our society, you should watch this video!

Getting Older The Right Way

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you know I practice a healthful life-style. I exercise on a regular basis, try to eat well and work hard to keep my weight down. You would think that I would be pretty healthy; basically, I am, but my blood pressure began to go up inexplicably about six months ago and has continued to rise. During that time I attended a Life-line Screening heart clinic and had several tests done on my cardiovascular system. The results suggested that I should see a heart doctor as soon as possible. So, I made an appointment with one in Winchester, Va.  I called the office to request a doctor who was physically fit because I believe that he would better understand what I was dealing with. Six weeks later I got to see that doctor, who in turn made an appointment for me to get a new sonar picture of my carotid artery.  A week later I went to the diagnostic center to get my test. When my cardiologist doctor saw the images, he took them to the vascular surgeon who requested that I get a more detailed CAT scan of my carotid. When the doctor saw the CAT scan results, he decided that I would need surgery on my left carotid which was severely restricted.  I scheduled an appointment with the vascular surgeon, met with him and then we decided to do the procedure on January 23.

Here is a pictures of what they are going to do to me.



So what is the point of all this?  The current theory on this problem is that it is a combination of life style and genetics. My mom and younger sister both had major issues with their cardiovascular system. With that said, I guess I would expect to have some problems as I aged.  I somewhat believe this, but am leaning more towards life style as a main contributor to this problem. About a year ago I changed my diet to the more current approach referred to as PRIMAL DIET which is sometimes called the CAVEMAN DIET. This diet is quite simple; i.e., eat only things that a caveman would have access to. This means not eating wheat, sugar or anything processed. I believe that my problems developed throughout my entire life despite the fact I had a fairly healthy diet, according to the then current theories. Moreover, I did not smoke and exercised regularly. The problem may lie in the fact that I ate many foods that were at the time thought to be wholesome for almost 60 years. I believe that if I had eaten ‘primally’ during that time, I would not be dealing with these issues today!

This leads us to the collective nightmare that we are facing as a culture. The way we eat today is atrocious! And, if we do not change our eating patterns along with our approach of exercise, it is hard to fully grasp the inevitability of the huge medical issues we are going to face in the near future!  Consider my life as a cautionary tale. I thought I did most things right but probably ate too many Twinkies, too much bread and processed food, and look what that got me-a cruded up artery in my neck!  I suggest that you take a trip to the local Ponderosa restaurant to watch the kind of eating that is going on in that place!  Go to the local Wal-Mart to witness the many obese Americans who walk or ride up and down the isles.  If you do not think we have a problem, then you must be asleep!  We need to reevaluate the way we eat, and hopefully help the next generation of geriatrics avoid the oncoming avalanche that will bankrupt our medical system. The time is now;  we have waited too long and allowed the food industry to lie to us with inpunity.  Serious research needs to be funded to discover the best way to eat and maintain a healthful life style throughout one’s life.  Remember, you decide what you eat.

Awakening the sleeping giant

Today was a beautiful day, the sun was bright, the sky was brilliant blue and the temperature was perfect.  I started out the morning with my standard Saturday morning workout, eight 50 meter sprints in the pool, eight 30 second sprints on the exercise bike, eight 30 second sprints on the treadmill followed by 40 pull-ups in intervals of eight.  My good friend Rich accompanied me in this ordeal.  After working out, I headed home to take my traditional post workout nap of 30 minutes but was interrupted by my other good friend Steve who wanted to go for a bike ride.  I never turn down a bike ride when the weather is so good, so I said yes.  I asked him if we could meet in an hour and he agreed.  This gave me time to take a short nap before loading up the bike and meeting him in Slanesville.  Of course, I over slept a little before waking to the tolling of the school house clock on the wall.  Realizing I was late, I quickly dressed for a bike ride, loaded the bike and made my way quickly to our meeting place.  I was only about 10 minutes late which was about perfect for Steve, who has never been on time in his life except when he was born!

We mounted our bikes and ventured down Springfield Grade road towards Capon Bridge.  After several miles we found the road that Steve wanted to explore.  It was called Saw Mill Road which should have given me a clue as to the fact we were heading into the bowels of West Virginia.  We were hoping to find our way back along the river but that never happened.  After riding three or four miles back this road, up and down several small mountains, we found ourselves at the top of a mountain with very steep sides.  The only real option for a logically thinking person would have been to turn around and head back the way we came but my mind has never and will never work that way.  I am one of those people who if they came to a wall in the woods, would have to, I repeat, have to, climb over it or find some way around, over or under it.  It is as if there is a caged person in side of me that feels that he must find a way out.  I have very little control over this other person who lives in me!  I quickly surveyed the surrounding steep hill side and then began to explore parts of the hill, trying to find a way down to the valley that lay ahead of us.  Steve stood near the bikes, never moving, shaking his head no as he watched me explore the area around us.  He knew that the other me was in full control and that other person was convinced we were heading down that hill side. After a short time I returned and pointed out the possible course we could follow to the bottom of the hill.  Steve quietly said NO, I am going back the way we came up.  I looked deep into his eyes past the fear of being killed or maimed traveling down that steep hill till I could see the resolve that was based on past experiences of biking with me.  So many times before we had taken the path of greatest resistance, the path that few follow only to find ourselves somewhat lost in the woods.  Because of this behavior Steve often referred to me as Deartrail, which I learned to live up to.  Seeing Steve’s resolve to not get lost brought me back to reality, and we, two old guys, beaten back by fear of Mother Nature, headed back down the road we came in on. Still, the crazy guy in my head had his moment, even though we did not travel down the road to nowhere, and it was great.  I hadn’t heard from him in a while.

A few thought on staying young

I have spent much of my life learning as much as possible about staying healthy and fit.  I am now 62+ years old and still moving pretty well, even if I have more aches and pains than I used to.  When I was a teenager I remember an older man running through our neighborhood most every morning.  I remember hoping that I would be that healthy when I was his age.  Running and biking have been a part of my life as long as I can remember and are still a major part.  I do not run as much as I used to, but biking still offers a good choice of places to go.  In the last few years I have improved my swimming to the point that I am a pretty good at it.  Even though swimming is not as fun as biking or running, it is a tremendous health benefit for skeletal, muscular and cardiovascular fitness.  All that said, I think I have earned the right to speak a little bit on staying healthy as we age, and so here we go!

Like most people who stay in shape, I was taught that it is essential that I spend as much time as possible running or biking long distances. Recently I have been reading and hearing new evidence that this may not be totally true.  In fact, over-training may not be that good for you.  A recent article stated that marathon runners may be damaging their hearts from the extensive training and competing. This leads to a whole new train of thought which I will now address.  There is new evidence that interval training may be more beneficial than distance training.  Remember those horrible wind sprints we did in high school? Well, they may have been better for you than the five-mile runs.  Current research is revealing that the human body experiences more benefits from interval training then long slow workouts. There also seems to be increased weight loss!

Let explain more thoroughly why I think that interval workouts are better for you.  It has long been thought that as we get older, we should modify our workouts to suit the age of our body.  It is becoming clear that this is only partly true.  Yes, we do slow down over time, and yes, we do experience more aches and pains, but never the less we have been told since the beginning of time to USE IT OR LOSE IT!  The of two biggest culprits in aging are inflammation as well as reduced blood flow due to heart weakness or restricted veins and arteries.  Repetitive exercises over long periods of time tend to increase inflammation and do little to stretch the blood vessels or max out the heart.  Remember when they used to tell us that one needed to take his car out to the interstate once in a while to clean it out?  Maybe our bodies are similar to that car.  Maybe we need to push them to the max every couple of days just to keep them working properly.  Said another way, when one does interval training and raises the heart rate to its max, and expands blood vessels to their max, it only make sense that one increases blood flow to all parts of the body.  By stretching the vessels you are making them more pliable, which in turn should lower blood pressure.

This is my new workout plan which is geared to increasing my quick flex muscles so that I can run, swim and bike faster this coming spring.  My workout is a little more extreme than most normal people need.  In fact, according to some exercise gurus, three workouts a week of only 16 minutes of intervals which entails 90 seconds of doing almost nothing (walking or pedaling very slowly) followed by 30 seconds of VERY intense exercise may be all you need to feel younger and be healthier!  It was also suggested that if you eat properly, this exercise routine would lead to increased weight loss!  So, I hope everybody (the three of you) who is reading this is ready to try this new fitness program.  Find an exercise bike, treadmill, pool or anything that can make you winded in 30 seconds and get to work!  You only need 16 minutes a day!

Now if you are really serious about losing weight, you can read my articles about eating sugar and wheat.  Losing weight is easy if you:

1. Do not eat processed sugar

2. Do not eat processed grains and, if possible, remove grains from your diet completely

3. Do my new exercise regimen 3 times a week.

GOOD LUCK and may the scales be with you.