Indoors, Sick, & Injured for the Holidays


That’s a title that sounds like it could be sung to “There’s no place like home for the Holidays,” and pretty much describes much of my life since around Thanksgiving.  That’s the day I consumed at least 3000 calories at one sitting and at the same time acquired a gut ailment that required medical treatment.  Not long after that cleared up, I did get to ride a couple of times.  The first time, I was the only one who showed up for a club ride (but stupidly forgot to bring a water bottle so had to abbreviate the ride), and then went on a club ride touring some of  Stepford’s more elaborate Christmas light tableaux – two of which were synced to Christmas music.


Then, on the afternoon of the Wednesday one week before Christmas Eve, while playing lightsaber tag (I was “It”) wielding the blue good-guy lightsaber my young son gave me for my birthday earlier this month, I ran between the shed and the oak tree stumbling in a depression in the grass, there re-injuring the same ankle that was severely injured in September of 2013.  I dropped and I remember as I lay on the cold, damp ground, that I was awed by the fact that the dirt, the grass, the thought of bugs, leaf-mold, and other lawn detrita provided much in the way of soothing comfort over against the screaming pain that began in my lower extremity and exploded through my central nervous system.

When I could again open my eyes and regard the world about me, I saw that my boy had obtained the safe harbor of his home-base and was pretending not to notice that I’d fallen and appeared to be in distress.  That’s probably one of a constellation of normal responses an early elementary-school boy has in response to witnessing his father’s injury, but I was at the time a little put out by his seeming total lack of empathy.

I called Stepford’s premiere podiatrist, a Cornell-educated genius with years of active duty Army experience who agreed to fit me into his schedule if I could get to the office immediately.  I then called my barber, an equally brilliant fellow in his own line, and rescheduled our haircuts for later in the afternoon.  Currently, I have five more weeks in the air-cast boot and at least two before the next podiatric appointment at which time the medico will determine whether further diagnosis demands magnetic resonance imagery.


Prior to all this, however, in response to the gut ailment precipitated by the Thanksgiving Day meal, I’d radically altered my dietary regime.  Initially, I entirely abstained from coffee; formerly, I’d consumed at least one full pot of coffee a day.  I quit eating cheese.  I laid off the leftover Halloween and early Christmas candy.  I started drinking herbal tea as my Internet researches indicated licorice might soothe the gut:  Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer tea.  When my symptoms became less tolerable, I also consumed generic Thera Flu as well as Airborne.  So, about that Celestial Seasonings tea – I’m guessing the box’s graphic is code for something…


We took our annual Christmas trip to the farm where visited with my wife’s family.  Our little boy was sick much of the week, but still enjoyed playing with his cousins.  He and I both suffered from some renewed bout of viral infection and both our appetites waned.  I spent most of the week watching Magnum P.I. reruns from the show’s fourth season and playing Angry Birds on my wife’s Ipad.  I talked theology with my father-in-law and his best friend, dropped my data-plan and went back to a flip-phone, tried to eat carefully, and, by the time we returned home Saturday after Christmas, had lost three pounds.

The prospect of five more weeks in the air-cast, and possibly even longer before I can ride or walk for exercise is irritating.


Winter Ride


Last Saturday, I was the only one to show up for the local bike club’s Winter Standing Ride.  The ride is so named, I think, because it falls on the same Saturday each December.  The season’s still Fall, though, isn’t it?  I drove to the meeting place, arriving about on time, and waited until about a quarter past the hour during which time I talked about cycling with a couple who’d parked next to my car and started asking questions about the bike, about the club, about cycling.

I realized that I’d left my water bottles at the house, on the floor of the garage beside the stand where I keep my bike.  The day was cool, but I’d worn enough layers to keep me warm and, anyway, my alpha-class mutant power is sweating.  With that in mind, I set out against an annoying 10-15 mph headwind and rode out to a nearby college campus – maybe seven miles distant.  On a long, straight stretch of country road, the side-winds once or twice threatened my control of the bike’s forward motion.  That’s a down-side to riding a lightweight, modern frame; I never would have been blown the least bit off course riding the Miyata 610, a bike that’s almost 30 pounds fully rigged.

At the school, I stopped in at the Baptist Student Union – seeing lights on and cars out front – to use the bathroom and get a drink of water from the tap.  Turns out a congregation was in there having a Christmas party.  They kindly allowed me to use the bathroom and gave me a bottle of iced water from their cooler.  I was glad I’d worn a pair of windpants over my indecent-around-non-riders, anatomy disclosing thermal tights.

I halved my ride’s distance due to lack of much to drink; the 8 or 16 ounce bottle I’d been given didn’t last long.  On the way back, I stopped and visited a good friend and my amazing mom.  The horse picture I snapped at my friend’s house.  His wife home-schools their many offspring, and I guess used the rebus painted on the back of an out-building to teach equine anatomy.  I rode over the bridge pictured on a greenway near where I’d parked my car.


Drive sides in – bike and horse

Sick at Home on a Holiday Weekend

I’ve frankly admitted in this space earlier this month that I’ve been eating foolishly for about the past 40 days.  That, along with reduced opportunities for high intensity exercise, has resulted in a net weight gain of about six pounds.  My gut sticks out like I’m a few months pregnant and what I seem to be in danger of giving birth to is a fat, middle-aged man.  Oh, and the beard.  The beard has made it all seem worse.

For all that, I’ve taken what opportunities I can find to ride and have renewed my upper body strength training regimen.  Age doesn’t have to be about getting fat and weak.

After my cold, damp ride Thursday, my family and I drove to my mom’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving with the extended family.  Relatives from several states, as well as some living nearby, filled my mother’s house for the holiday meal.  The kitchen table held turkey, ham, gravy, and dressing.  The countertop under the china cabinet was covered with side-dishes.  One common ingredient to many of the sides was cheese.

I would guess that most of the adults present for the holiday feast consumed about 3000 calories.  Heck, I know I did, and the food was delicious.  In addition to the main and side-dishes was a counter covered with salads, and another surface covered with desserts.  About salads and The South – most congealed salads (except tomato aspic, I think it’s called) are really sweet jello desserts; the salad is the first dessert course.

Friday, at the workplace, I felt funky all day and cognitively off-key.  I said, at one point in late afternoon, “vital sounds” instead of “vital signs,” which I hope does not portend an amnestic disorder of some kind.  For lunch, I had a small meal from the cafeteria – not only because I felt ill, but also because I wanted to get an early start on my Disciplined December regimen.  My gut ached, my head throbbed slightly, and my lower back also ached.  I could not wait to get home.

Driving a car is easy, especially when it is an automatic transmission Swedish station wagon.  Back home, I thought I could relax and just crash, but we’d been invited to supper at Mom’s house where also present were my younger brother and his family.  We stopped at the store to buy a loaf to make garlic bread, and I filled up the red car’s tank at the gas station.  At Mom’s house, I tried to dial back my feeding, having only half a piece of chicken parmesan, and just one serving of spaghetti noodles, salad, and so forth.  I didn’t make a pig of myself.  Shortly after supper, chills set in and not long after that, we went back home. 

I spewed, then conked out in the spare bedroom with a towel and a Rubbermaid tub next to the bed.  Turns out they were unnecessary.  Saturday, one of the loveliest Thanksgiving Day Weekend Saturdays on record here at Stepford, I spent most of the day in bed, sleeping.  I probably ate no more then four or five hundred calories.  My gut continued to ache, as did my head and lower back.  I did, however, seem to have no further confusions of speech, but I didn’t talk a lot that day.

Because I was sick, I didn’t get to take my son outside, ride my bike, or enjoy an unexpected visit from dear  friends who passed by on their way home to Chattanooga.  Truly a wretched day of rest.

Sunday, I got up and taught (if you could call it that) my regular Sunday School class at the congregational meeting place (I need to update the Strip Mall Church page, because a lot’s happened with the congregation since I last made an edit there).  I went back to the house while my wife and son were at worship service, and rested a bit.  Still feeling pretty bad, but better than Saturday, I mowed and mulched up the thousands of leaves littering the yard.  Then, I got the Christmas decorations out of the attic so my wife could fill the house with visual reminders of the coming Holiday.  I think we forgot the Advent calendar, though.

I was able to eat Sunday, but by evening, felt chilled and checked my temperature.  Had a fever.  Had a lousy night’s sleep, and went to the local walk-in clinic first thing this morning.  The NP prescribed antibiotics for what he reckoned is a “stomach bug.”

So much good weather and so many opportunities for exercise and cycling, and opportunities to spend time with people I love as well as people I like, spoiled by a bacterium and its progeny.