“What doesn’t kill ya…”

fighting

Remember when you’d get sick and some old codger would say ‘What doesn’t kill ya makes ya stronger.”?

That might be true with viruses and other annoying illnesses like the flu, but not so much with bear attacks and power tool accidents.

I always hated that saying because like most men (and my loving family will confirm), what I’m usually looking for is sympathy…and room service…and the TV remote.  Not life advice.

But it does get you thinking about what MIGHT kill you.

Statistics will tell you that men die younger than women, not because women have a stronger internal system, but because men are more likely to do something stupid enough to kill themselves, thus skewing the numbers in women’s favour.

Darwin’s theory of evolution was probably right.darwin  It’s not the fittest but the most adaptable to change that survive.  And men have a distinct disadvantage to women on that front.  It’s called testosterone.

Testosterone is what drives men to prove they don’t need to adapt, or be safe, or make good judgement decisions.

This is particularly true of younger men….and oh, boy! Do they prove it!

When I was a kid, I really didn’t think about dying at all – that’s what old people did.  When I was a bit older though, death-defying stunts became all too common, and I started to wonder what I’d do that would kill me.

I don’t think I ever deliberately pushed the boundaries of life and death, but I sure made the grim reaper sit up a few times.

grim

It’s funny how your perception of how you’ll die changes as you age.  When I was younger, I figured I’d go out in a blaze of glory strapped to a nuclear warhead and shot into a tanker full of fuel and the explosion would cause an earthquake and everyone would say ‘Wow, what an epic death!’.

Pretty stupid, eh?  I mean, how would I get a hold of a nuclear warhead?  Amazon wasn’t even invented yet.

After you’ve had a few close calls though, you figure that it’ll be something a lot less glamorous than nuclear warheads.  Probably a chainsaw accident or alcohol poisoning would be more likely.  Or an alcohol and chainsaw combination.

Now I’m beginning to understand that it’s not stupid testosterone-induced stunts,  but what’s gonna go wrong with my internal system that’ll finally take me out.

I seem to be spending more time at doctor’s appointments than seeing if I can beat that freight train to the level crossing with my car.

car

I find myself comparing notes with my brothers about colonoscopies and cardiologist results, and discussing the benefits of eating kale and drinking 4 liters of water a day.  I never thought we’d sit around comparing who had the most polyps.

I think my wife likes this change in me. She made this pact with me while I was asleep one night, that she had to ‘go’ first, so that she didn’t have to face old age alone.  I don’t recall agreeing to any such pact, and I don’t think there’s much retribution if I renege on it.

It does mean that I’m spending more time being careful than being carefree, but I’ve managed to put off joining a yoga class so far.

It could be that all those stupid human tricks I did when I was younger really did make me stronger, since they didn’t kill me.  I guess the old codger was right – what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.  Except for bears.  Bears will kill you.

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Optimist Prime

WAY TO GO

You know that feeling you get when you see pictures of yourself at a party and you gasp at how old and flabby the photographer made you look?

It shakes the soft foundation of your fragile ego.  Well, this blog isn’t about that….at least not directly.

I’ve been reading back on some of my older material, and decided that I’ve been a bit bitter lately.  Not ‘Ben’s Bitter Bog‘ bitter, but at least pretty sarcastic with a touch of nasty thrown in.

But that’s not me!  Like those terrifying photos, where I try to convince myself it was bad lighting or the camera put on 10 or 40 pounds, I want people to know that this guy is actually pretty light-hearted and fun.

I can tell jokes, and smile at strangers.  I even used to whistle, until I heard on the radio that no one whistles anymore….except for old people.  That sucks, but what song would you whistle to now anyway?  ‘Wrecking Ball?’  ‘Uptown Funk?’  Not exactly whistling music. Even older stuff by my standards wouldn’t do.  ‘Black Dog?’ ‘One Scotch-One Bourbon-One Beer?’ They wouldn’t work either….maaaaybe ‘Hotel California’.

Anyway!  Back to me.

I thought about how I might be perceived based on my blogs, and after reading them, I figured it was time for a change.
grave

So, I had this epiphany about being a bit too negative, and realized that I don’t want that to be etched on my gravestone.  I mean, that’s the one thing in your life that really is written in stone, isn’t it?

Oh, boy – now you probably think I’m being morbid and obsessed with death.  Not true!  In fact, I typically take stupid risks believing that I won’t get hurt.

Alright – off topic again.  This self-realizations stuff is harder than I thought.

Back to the blog.  I think I need to start being more positive.  More glass-half-full, as they say.  I need to share the silver lining in life more often, and leave people smiling and happy.  And, dammit!  That’s what I’m gonna do, even if I hate it, and have to drag my family along kicking and screaming on this impossible mission!

For starters, I’m going to stop commenting on all those political attack ads.  They are poison to the soul, and I for one, will not be a party to such negativity.  Of course, if it’s against someone I support, it would be wrong to just allow malicious comments go unchecked.

Springtime has not been my favourite season.  You may have even read an earlier blog from me, attacking this very important part of the year.  In fact, it’s my second favourite season – right behind the other 3.  But, I’m a new man, and I will embrace the spastic weather, the frozen then thawed dog poop stuck to the bottom of my shoes, and those annoying little bugs that show up and get into everything.  Yup – I am Mr. Spring Sunshine and Rain!  I’m almost even looking forward to allergy season.  Bring on the pollen!

Traffic is another area where I will transcend road rage and frustration, and will endeavor to find peace and harmony even if that dingbat in the left lane won’t move over. People who cut me off are simply poor heathens who aren’t as developed as I am.  So, I will wave a finger at them in show of support of their growth opportunities.  And I can’t forget to smile while doing it…it’s important to repeat actions until they become habits.

Telemarketers are brothers, sisters, children, parents and friends, just like real people.  Why should I add to the misery of their scum-sucking jobs by yelling at them for interrupting my supper, or TV, or staring at the wall?  No, from now on, I’m going to engage them in a fully detailed account about my colonoscopy.  If they give me their email address, I can even send them some high-res pictures.   Who else but a complete optimist would be happy to share a bit of their personal lives with a total stranger?  Now, that’s sharing with my fellow man!

I’m already feeling very in tune with nature, just by opening up and sharing with you, my faithful blog-groupies.  The sun is shining a little bit brighter as the glare blinds my path.  Birds that nest in my dryer vent sound all the sweeter as I try to dig them out with a broom stick.  I even feel healthier and lighter, particularly since I switched to stretch-waist pants.

Wow!  Being a positive, optimistic blogger has been a life-changing process.  No more crabby weather complainer, or disgruntled customer service guy.  From now on, it’s all good!

Even today, while watching the hockey game, I was overheard saying,  ‘Good call, ref!’. Ahhh…peace and harmony.

By the way, there really is a ‘Ben’s Bitter Blog’ – it’s really depressing!!

http://bensbitterblog.com/

 

What’s up, Doc?

When you reach a certain age, you spend more time getting prodded and poked and tested by the medical establishment. I hear that some people, especially when they are in their senior years, actually look forward to visiting their doctors, like it’s a lunch date or something.

I don’t. Like a lot of men, I don’t enjoy going to the doctor.   I don’t want bad news about my health, I don’t want them to ask for ‘samples’ to test, or to stand on the weigh scales in the open area of their offices.  And I don’t want to undress and lay on a cold examination table, especially when my clothes are out of reach and the door doesn’t lock from the inside.

It’s not that I’m unhealthy or anything, in fact, despite trying to prove Newton’s first law of motion of an object at rest tending to stay at rest, I’m actually in fairly good shape, against all odds.

But, when you hit that magical age, regardless of your perceived level of health, you really do need to suck it up and get on that cold, ugly table.  So, I did.

I’m starting to really understand why I find these things so unpleasant, and surprisingly, it’s not the reasons that you might think.  Things like giving a blood sample, while not a happy feeling, isn’t all that bad.  In fact, I even donate blood on occasion.

By the way, if you ever want to have a little fun when giving blood, there’s a question in the screening process about being close to or having contact with monkeys.  When you get to this questions, ask out loud, “Does anyone know if a lemur is considered a monkey?  I’ll just put down ‘no'”.  That usually gets their attention.

It’s not even the actual procedures that bother me, or giving ‘samples’ that I find difficult, although it’s totally gross.

It’s all the prep stuff.  I had to give some bodily fluids for testing, which seemed simple enough, since doing this is pretty normal, other than how it’s collected, but things get complicated to do that properly.  First, you have to starve yourself for 12 hours, then you have to deprive yourself of any fluids for 6 hours before going to give of yourself.

They tell me that this gives them a ‘normal’ reading.  Really? What’s normal about that?  If they wanted a normal reading, they should come by the house around 10 at night after I’ve finished a big meal, and I’m sitting on the couch with a bag of chips and a cold beer.  That’s normal!

Unless you’re a survivalist, or living in a 3rd world country, there’s nothing normal about not eating or drinking for half a day, and your body hates you for it!  I really feel sorry for women who are very pregnant then have to drink 4 gallons of water, wait for an hour, then drive to the doctor’s office for an ultrasound.  Then, just to test their constitution, they push on your bladder while sliding a cold, gooey devise all over your belly.

Years from now, the medical field will probably look at this like witchcraft or a weird voodoo ritual.

Hitting 50 means I had to deal with the ‘C’ word….yes, Colonoscopy. This word usually sends most men into the hills in fear, almost as quickly as the frightful ‘vasectomy’.  I probably just lost half of my male readers.

I will tell you that the procedure itself was a breeze (if you’ve had one, you’re probably laughing at the ‘breeze’ reference).  Really – it was not in the least way painful, uncomfortable, or in any way difficult.  I was given a nice dose of a drug that put me into a dreamy snooze.  I slept through the whole thing.  It was great!

That’s the good news.

The bad news is, again, the prep.  I won’t go into details, other than to say that they need ‘clean plumbing’ to do the procedure, so you’ll be spending a good 24 hours using a lot of bathroom supplies.  Oh, and you can’t eat for about a day and a half before hand.

Luckily, if you get the all-clear (hee, hee), you don’t have to repeat it for another 10 years. I even have pictures of my procedure.  I’ll share them if I don’t get enough responses to this blog…you’ve been warned!

I’d also like to know exactly when and how the medical profession, particularly dentists, figured they’d change the word ‘pain’ to ‘discomfort’.  With a small drill boring into my excited tooth nerves, the dentist will say something like, “this might be uncomfortable“. I don’t know what medieval school she went to, but my idea of uncomfortable is an itchy wool sweater, not a piercing pain shooting from my hairline to my toes.

There’s something else that you never expect when you get tests done.  Doctor’s who are surprised or don’t know what you’ve got.  I had a few instances where medical specialists had these reactions.  You don’t want your medical specialist to be surprised or baffled – ever!

A number of years ago, I was tested for allergies.  I had a pretty good idea of what I was allergic to, but they had to test me to see what could be done about it.  Apparently, they graph your back or arm, and do little ‘scratches’ with different types of allergens.  If something swells up, or gets itchy, presto – you have an allergy.

I was asked to lay face-down on one of those lovely exam beds, then the allergy doctor did his scratching.  He and his nurse left the room, and said they’d be back in about 5 minutes.  It only took enough time for them to leave the room and close the door, when it felt like someone had dropped a Molotov Cocktail on my back.

The nurse came back in to get something from the room, looked at my back and said ‘Oh, my GOD!‘, then ran out of the room, yelling for the doctor.  Trust me on this one.  It’s not something you ever want your healthcare professional to say.

Turns out, I was more allergic to cats than I thought.

Recently, I had a growth on my right foot.  Nothing serious, but the kids would tease me about the extra toe growing on the top of my foot.

Reluctantly, I went to the doctor, who sent me to a specialist to get it checked out.

While doing an ultrasound on the little growth, the doctor said, “Hmm.  I have no idea what that is, but I think we should remove it”.  No idea?  10 years of education, another decade of seeing people just like me every day, and she has no idea what’s growing on my foot?

I was referred to a surgeon to get my new little foot friend taken off. In the operating room, he introduced himself, examined my foot, then promptly told me what it was and what he was going to do about it.  Thank goodness!  Someone out there knows what they’re doing!

Like other procedures, the removal was easy…the freezing was another story all together.  It felt like he let loose a swarm of angry wasps on my foot, who kept stinging me over and over.  shortly, the freezing kicked in and I stopped crying.

The surgeon was performing his magic on my foot, then stopped and said “Hmm.  This isn’t what I thought it was”.  Super!  I was halfway waiting for him to ask me if I’d been in contact with a monkey recently.

In the end, the small lump was removed and I was sewn back up, almost as good as new, but a little wary of the medical profession.

I guess medicine is like any other business, really.  They’re just people who come across new things every day, and deal with them accordingly.  I only wish they had more classes on how to NOT react to something new.

I also wish more research went into how to get prepared for a test without putting your body through bizarre food and water deficiencies.  It doesn’t seem to make sense that preparing for a test is worse than the test itself…or the initial problem for that matter.

Anyone want to know what you need to do to prepare for a vasectomy?  Anyone?