My story blog site is named Growing up on Prytania because most of my informative years were spent on Prytania Avenue in Hamilton, Ohio. The act of ‘growing up’, (at least in my opinion), is all about learning about oneself; learning about your body as well as your inner spiritual self, how others perceive you and then using that knowledge to become a better person. I am well into my 50’s now and last summer Mother Nature tried to teach me something about my 50’s body. I didn’t learn the lesson very well so she gave me a strong slap on the wrist with her ruler the other night. Ok, now she has my attention!
Last summer when I left my job at P&G I began to exercise more. I have a bad left knee from a serious accident playing ball, (story not yet written), and my orthopedic doctor said that bike riding should be good for it. So when I left work, I began a riding regimen every other day. The day of focus for this story was a very hot one. It can get well over 100 degrees F here in the Sacramento Valley, but the humidity is rarely high, helping to make even 100 degree days bearable in the shade.
I think the temperature was over 90 when I left the house so I filled my water canister and made sure I kept drinking from it as I was riding so that I wouldn’t become dehydrated. (I’m married to a good nurse and I have no excuse for not heeding her constant warnings). I have a decent road bike that I purchased off a guy on eBay years ago when we moved here. The bike is a Cannondale Crest racing team, one of the replicas that were made in 1989. It’s a pretty nice bike and I have it outfitted with a pouch for carrying tools as well as a digital odometer, complete with a thermometer.
My normal ride is shown is a little more than 14 miles, door to door. Maybe 3-4 miles towards the end of my ride, I began to feel slightly chilled. My arms were feeling a bit chilly and I thought to myself, well this is weird. I looked at my thermometer and it said 107 degrees. Now, this thermometer always seems to read a few degrees higher than the reported air temperature, especially on my bike path and I’ve always thought that it’s because it’s exposed directly to the sunlight. Still, (said now like Forrest Gump), I are a smart man and I knew I should not be chilly in a hundred degree weather.
Being the super genius that I am, I decided to pull over into a shady spot. I had been drinking regularly so I thought to myself – self, you can’t be overheated, can you? I mean you’ve been drinking regularly, isn’t that all it takes? After maybe only five minutes of shady resting, the chills started to go away. Again, being the super genius that I am, I surmised that there must be a correlation.
Riding = chilly, Resting = hot.
Not wanting to be hot, naturally I hopped back onto my bike again and made my way the final few miles to my home. I told my wife, (Nurse Ratched), about my experience and in her usual graceful manner, she informed me – you idiot, you could have given yourself a heatstroke. You think you’re still 30 or something?
Don’t all we guys?
Ok, mental note made – don’t go out riding again in 100 degree weather, check.
I don’t think, however, that was the entire lesson I was supposed to learn. I think I was to also learn to stay hydrated.
On a recent Saturday that my wife was working, I golfed with some friends at the golf club we belong to. It was warm that day, not overly hot but I had not done a good job to drink water during the golf round. All I really drank was a beer someone had tossed my way, (not too smart). After getting home that day, I cooked something out on the grill and my wife and I enjoyed a nice meal. I think I had a glass of tea as it is my drink of choice for dinner at home.
I didn’t feel thirsty or else I guess I would have made a point to drink a lot of water. My body however was craving it without my knowing. That evening as we were watching a movie on Netflix, I decided I wanted something out the kitchen, not sure what (but it should have been water). I hopped up from my comfy chair and right as I got up, I got a Charley horse. This was no ordinary Charley horse though that you get in your calf (the most popular spot). No, this one was a muscle in the groin area.
I had never incurred one there. With a calf Charley horse, you just quickly walk around. The act of walking stretches the muscle back out of its contraction and typically within just a few steps, problem solved. But what about the groin area? (Nothing to stretch there, HEY, who said that?) I tried walking as I thought I should be doing but as I made my way to the kitchen, the pain only intensified. It was excruciating, in fact. Now, I’ve passed out from food poisoning before (this story is proof) so I know what that feels like as it’s coming on and within those short 30 seconds, by the time I’d made it to the sink, I could feel that coming on.
My wife, (an experienced ER nurse), was watching the scene play out and in hindsight I guess she knew what was going on because she wasn’t acting overly excited, (or else perhaps she was looking up my life insurance status). Knowing what it feels like to pass out, I called out to her, “I think I’m going to pass out”. With that I began to descend to the kitchen floor so that in case I did faint, the distance to the floor would be much less. As all this was going on, the pain stayed extremely strong.
What I recall and what my wife recalls of the next sixty seconds is a bit different. What I remember is laying flat on the floor on my back. The pain was so intense that it made me feel like I was in a tunnel, looking upwards and focused on nothing in general, all I could think was ‘I wonder if this is some weird kind of stroke or something’. I don’t remember saying anything but my wife says that I was talking the entire time. As I was on the floor, she was grabbing the muscle on the inner part of my left thigh and massaging it, trying to get it to relax, (make mental note – if want wife to massage inner thigh area, act as if in extreme pain, check). Eventually after maybe 90 seconds or so on the floor, it did begin to relax and as it did, I could feel myself slip back into the present.
It wasn’t the most pain I’d ever felt, (that would be a doctor and assistant pulling on my left leg to bandage it the night before surgery after I’d broken it, no pain killers yet either), but I’d have to say it was second in line. Afterwards my wife asked me a dozen questions about what I’d done that day and then read me the riot act for not staying hydrated. She told me that the passing out is a common reaction to intense pain and that she’d seen it a hundred times in the ER. I guess this explains why she was smiling at me, (versus a look of concern), as I was writhing in pain on our kitchen floor.
Today was not a very exciting one at the trading desk and so on days like this, I try to get something done against a home project. Today, it’s the taping off of the garage door, prepping for painting. It’s 90 degrees in the shade with a light breeze blowing in from the ocean as a small storm system is trying to make its way to shore. Although not uncomfortable, (the humidity level here is rarely over 70 and normally at 40), I am sitting at the table outside, finishing this story. I have my water bottle nearby. Perhaps this old dog has learned a new trick after all?
I can now always use this soft and tender phrase to help remind me:
You idiot, don’t give yourself a heatstroke. You’re not thirty anymore.