Monday, April 24, 2017

What it's like spring cleaning with asthma

I have attempted to explain to my readers what it's like to have asthma. My contention that having asthma is more than just being short of breath, mainly because you're not short of breath most of the time. Still, even on good asthma days -- which most days are these days -- I still have to work to avoid asthma triggers. And I have another good example I wanted to share. Although, with this one, I might be walking on a fine line. I will try not to cross it.

I have said that asthma is all about explaining to those around you why you do things the way you do. For instance, I have learned that, if I want to clean my house, I have to do it in short spurts. I have to do a little bit at a time Technically speaking, I usually follow two unwritten rules.
  1. Clean for a half hour and take a break to re-assess how you feel. If you sense any of your early warning signs of asthma, it's time to quit.
  2. Clean until you observe your early warning signs of asthma, and then quit. 
I find that both of these rules are violated somewhat every time I clean. I don't intentionally violate them, but it's just that when you get into a cleaning funk, you get on a roll, you want to finish. It's not like you feel like cleaning every day. It's not like you have time to do it every day. It's not like you're motivated every day. So, when you are on a roll, you want to go with it. 

When we were kids, my brothers and I would observe this in our mother, and we referred to it as "cleaning tangent." Mom is on a "cleaning tangent. Watch out!" When we saw this, it was our cue to get out of her way, or we would be plowed over. By that, I mean she would say something like, "John, why don't you pick up those blocks behind the couch." See, she'd suck you up, maybe even make you feel guilty for sitting around watching TV while she was on a cleaning tangent. 

Anyway, there isn't a lot of time around my house to clean. I work three twelve hour shifts a week, and much of my free time is spent right here working on my little Chrome book writing about asthma, COPD, respiratory therapy, or creating newsletters for the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus. This is my home job; my part time job; my side job. Any free time is spent with my wife and kids, and they are a priority when they are home. This job gets moved down the priority list. 

So, yesterday I decided to clean. And, keep in mind here that I have four kids. And if you have kids, you know darn well that it gets hard to keep your house clean when you have kids. So, that said, just think of worse case scenario, and that's what my house looks like. I actually have a small house, so the piles of stuff look a lot worse in my house as compared to, say, a capacious house. 

So, I decided I wanted the mess to end, so I started digging under couches and chairs and tables and pulling out all the junk that collected in those places. There were books scattered all over the room, and Lego's, and magazines, and homework brought home from school. You would be amazed at how many papers were scattered around my living room alone. It was a mess. 

So I took (and I realize I just started three paragraphs in a row with so, but we'll just ignore that for now) all this stuff and I made a big pile in the middle of the living room. I started cleaning behind the TV and behind the desk, but I realized those places were replete with dust and cobwebs, and probably contained millions or trillions of dust mites. So, (and there it is again) I decided to skip those areas for now. I would focus on the mess in the middle of the room. 

I have to clean this way. Okay? I have to clean this way because of my allergies. I know that once I start cleaning I don't have much time. I cannot pick up a toy, take it to where it belongs, and put it away. I have found in the past that all this does is result in me being exposed to even more dust mites. It makes it so I get very little done. So, I make the pile in the middle of the room. Then I sort through the stuff one at a time. 

Trust me when I say that my wife has gotten mad at me more than once because I have left the pile in the middle of the room. Why do I just leave it? Well, according to her it's because I'm lazy. She sometimes gets mad at me. And I find myself having to explain all over again to her what it's like to have asthma. I explain that I have to do it this way. 

But, anyway, yesterday she didn't get irritated with me. So, a part of me wants to think that she finally understands. In fact, not only did she not get irritated, she actually finished the job. I did not explain to her why I quit. I did not tell her that I was feeling the sniffles, and head congestion that often start up as soon as I'm exposed to dust mites. And, sad to say, they are even in our living room. They are under the couches and chairs. They are on the carpet. 

My house does not look dirty, it's just messy. Dirty means the furniture looks trashy. That's not the case at all. However, messy means there's stuff scattered about in a sloppy fashion. Messy means you have kids, for example. Okay? So, by telling you there's dust mites everywhere in my home I don't want you to think I'm white trash or something like that. I'm not. At least I don't think so. 

Anyway, yesterday I did not have to explain why I quit. My wife didn't get irritated with me. My daughters didn't complain because I piled all their shoes in a bin. Well, until this morning anyway. This morning my teenage daughter got upset that she couldn't find her shoes. Then she and my wife, in a hurry to get off to school, were openly irritated with me. 

My son is home from college. When the women were gone, I said to him, "They get mad at me when the house is messy, and then they get mad at me when I clean." He laughed. But it's true.

Keep in mind this is not a criticism of my wife and daughter. It's natural to get frustrated when you can't find something, and it's natural to blame the person who cleaned, or the person who got half way through the job and quit. That's just natural. But, because they don't have asthma, they can't fathom what it's like. So they forget. Or, in the case of my daughter, I probably never told her. 

So, as I get older and wiser, I find myself not explaining myself as much. Yesterday I didn't explain what it's like to have asthma. I didn't say why I quit cleaning, even though there is much to be done. And that is my job when I get done with this: to spend another half hour or so cleaning. 

I want to finish with the living room today, and perhaps move into the kids room. And, you would be amazed at how many dust mites I will get exposed to in there. My Laney, my special Laney, when I said yesterday that she should clean her room, she did. She is a pleaser. I was so happy she did that. So, this should make it that much easier on the asthmatic dad on a cleaning rampage.

The fact that I didn't have to explain myself yesterday brought joy to my heart, in a way. Finally I didn't have to explain why I left the job half undone. It was so nice to get help from her and from my daughter. And I think this is even more so true when you have an invisible chronic illness and your mission in life is to avoid those invisible asthma triggers. So, thanks, family. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Why do we set goals anyway?

So, I have been talking about goals. Why do we set goals? Some people don't. Some people don't know any better. Some people are satisfied with where they are at. That's fine. I'm not. I'm never satisfied. And I don't think that's bad. 

I have this idea imbedded in my head that if I lose weight I will feel better. Actually, even if I don't accomplish my ultimate goal of weighing 170 pounds, it feels good trying. So, that in and of itself is the big picture isn't it? To be feel good. To be happy. 

So many of my friends keep saying, or implying, "I'm satisfied with myself." That's fine. But to me, I think they get happy confused with being satisfied. Are you really satisfied living in your body the way it is? Or are you just saying that so you feel better. 

I mean, I'm not judging others. I'm obese myself. Really. I am. If you look at the body fat chart, I'm a guy and my body fat is about 30%. This puts me in the above average section. Now, for those of you living in the political correct world, I'm just going to tell you that above average is a really nice way of saying that I am obese. I am overweight. I am fat. I mean, if you are going to tackle a problem, you ought to identify it for what it is. 

This brings me to another point. I do not try to lose weight to look good. I am married. I am in my 40s. I don't care what I look like anymore. No. That's not why I work out. I do it so I feel better. I do it because when you work out your body releases more endorphins into your bloodstream, and these are natural morphine-like proteins that make you feel better. I do it to feel good. I do it because I want to be happy. That, to me, is the big picture: to be happy. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Endorphins: God's gift to runners

If we get back to our Christian example, we can consider our body's as temples of the Lord. We use our temples to spread the word. That's the ultimate goal for Christians, to spread the word and get to Heaven. So, in this way, it's our duty, it's our responsibility to take care of our bodies, which are essentially on loan from God. 

So, if you take care of your body, you're naturally going to feel better. You are naturally going to be happier. I mean, it's in the science too. The more you exercise, the more endorphins are released into your bloodstream. These endorphins are your bodies natural morphine. They make you feel good. 

Ever hear of runners high? People, after they run, experience a feeling of euphoria. This is why they get addicted to running. That is why I run. It is to experience this natural euphoria. The reason for it is because of the release of endorphins. 

It's God's way of thanking us for taking care of His body; His temple. 

Here's why I think goals are good

There's a lot of people who hate resolutions. They say that setting resolutions is essentially setting yourself up for failure. You fail, and you feel bad. So, the logic is you shouldn't set them. I disagree with this. In fact, I think this is a stupid notion. The idea that setting goals is bad?

It's almost like telling people that the economy right now is as good as it's going to get, that it's the new normal, and we might as well just get used to it. Of course, then Trump comes along and he tells people to think big. He tells people to expect the economy to improve. He set the goal high. And this sort of optimism was a big hit with Americans and helped him get elected. 

I don't want to knock Obama, but he kept telling Americans that this was the new normal. He did. He said this over and over again. He said that we should just be happy with where we are. This was important, as to obtain his goal of giving everyone healthcare, we were all had to make sacrifices. We all had to make less money. Heck, I went five years without even having a raise. 

Then Trump comes along and told us to think big. I mean, he might not be able to accomplish his goal of creating an economic boom, but at least he's going to try. And if he doesn't try, we will not get there. If he doesn't try, our economy will be blah. You can go back to any point in our history and say the same thing. 

What if the founding fathers said, "A war with England will be too bloody, too hard. If we fight and lose, we will feel bad." What if Ronald Reagan said, "It will be too hard to lower taxes and cut regulations. Look what happened to Goldwater when he said that's what he wanted to do. So, I might fail. Why should I try?"

You see. They didn't think this way. They all set goals, and they set them high. Reagan never fully accomplished his goal. Some people were not better off at the end of the 80s. However, many people were better off. They were better off because Reagan set a goal and he kept reaching for it. He worked hard at it. He kept trying. 

Same with the founders. They did not create a perfect nation, but they tried. They created a country that was better than England. They created a country that future generations could make better. They set the goal, and they kept reaching for it. We are still reaching for it. 

Think of it this way. Life is hard. So, are we just supposed to say, "Well, I might fail, so I shouldn't go to college to better my life?" It's too hard. I might fail. I shouldn't take risks, because it might result in me failing. I might feel bad if I fail. I actually think this is why some people hate capitalism, because some people get shoved under the carpet; some people fail. 

Well, think of it this way. If Thomas Jefferson didn't fight for our freedom, most people would still live in poverty. If the founders didn't set a goal, no one would have healthcare except the elites. Their dream, their goal, was not to give people freedom, because they couldn't do that. Their goal was to create an environment where people could utilize their God given freedoms and accomplish any goals they set. This is what embodies the American Dream; what made it possible. What makes it possible. 

Capitalism is the economic system that came out of the founding dream. Sure some people fail, some people remain poor. But, if you go back to the old system, everyone is poor (except for the elites). Capitalism, at the very least, creates an environment where everyone can at least set goals and aim for them. If they fail, they can get right back on the wagon; they can set new goals; or they can just keep shooting for their original goals. 

Sure, you can and should be happy where you are. But that doesn't mean you should be satisfied. Just imagine if the founding fathers decided to just be content with their lives. Okay, so goals are good. Resolutions are good. If you don't set them, you have no chance of succeeding, of making yourself better. However, if you set them, at least you have a chance. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Keep aiming for your goals

Yesterday I wrote about my opinion on goal setting. We all set goals. Some goals we set we don't even think about it: they just exist. They are just there, lingering over us and we don't even consider them goals. So, you want examples, well, what is the ultimate goal of Christians? It's to get to Heaven. Right? 

So, all Christians have a goal to get to Heaven. So, how do you get there? You try to be like Jesus. Jesus was perfect. Is is possible to be perfect? Is it possible for any of us to be perfect? No. But does that stop us from trying to obtain this goal? No.Well, it does for some people. But for most of us, it doesn't stop us.  We keep going. We keep yearning for this ultimate goal. 

You have good days. You have great days. But I can say with relative certainty that we all have bad days as well. We have bad moments. We have bad days. We have bad weeks. And some of us probably have bad years. But you wake up in the morning, each morning, and you make another gallant effort to be like Jesus so you can get to Heaven. You may not think of it that way, but that's essentially what you are doing. You are reaching for your goal. 

So, why do other goals have to be any different. Last year, for instance, I set a goal to lose weight. I wanted to at least get under 200 pounds. I have many friends who had the same goal, but they made no efforts to get there, to get to their goal. So, at the end of 2016, they weighed the same as the beginning of the year. 

I decided I was going to accomplish my goal. I decided this over the overwhelming pessimism over it by others in my social group. They weren't mean to me, they were just being "realistic." I'm fine with that. My wife, for instance, said that I should just be happy with the way I am. Well, I am happy with the way I am. I just would be happier if I was 199. My asthma would be better controlled. And there are loads of advantages of losing weight. The studies are so overwhelming in this regard I don't think I even need to site any as evidence. It just is. 

So I set this as a goal. And I decide I am going to accomplish it. There were times I was stuck on a certain weight for weeks. For instance, I was stuck on 205 for so long it was frustrating. My wife told me I should just be happy with my weight as it is. My doctor even told me to just not weight myself anymore, that's what he does. I think that was cook my doctor said that. Some doctors are obsessed with weight, and mine tells me just not to bother looking at the scale. 

Still, you can be happy with with your life, but you don't have to be satisfied. So, you just get back on the wagon and you move forward. You begin a new day. And then, after a week of working hard, the scale shows something you like. Then you are happier. You still didn't accomplish your goal, but you are constantly moving in that direction -- or at least you try. 

You may not get there, but it feels good trying. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My opinion about setting goals

I know some people who won't tell you they set a goal out of fear they might not succeed. For instance, I have a friend who is going back to school to get her Bachelor's Degree in nursing, but she doesn't want anyone to know (except for me of course) because she's afraid she might fail. I know she won't, but that's beside the point. 

I'm not sure I agree with this strategy, although it is what it is. On the contrary, I had another friend several years ago who was obese. She decided she was going to go on this diet. To me the diet seemed a little extreme, as it was far more restrictive than the diet I live by. However, it is what she decided to do and I wasn't going to begin playing devil's advocate with her self esteem. 

This was her New Year's resolution. I remember talking to her about it. She was so excited she was giddy. A week later she stopped talking about it. It was never brought up again. She did not lose any weight. As a matter of fact, she is heavier now than she was then. 

I'm not criticizing her. I don't judge other people. I'm just making an example to prove my point. My point is that I believe that you should find a path someplace in between gloating about your goal and keeping your goals a secret. 

Last year I told my friends I was going to lose weight. They all told me I would fail. My wife didn't say I would fail, but she gave me that look of annoyance. I think she gets annoyed because, when I'm dieting, I eat foods that aren't things that she usually buys, such as cottage cheese, cheese sticks, protein powder, and other sources of protein. They are expensive, or more expensive than what she normally buys. 

But that was a year ago. My brother in law was more blunt, as he said: "Most New Year's Resolutions fail, and so you're probably going to fail too." He wasn't being mean, he was just saying. He was speaking the truth. He was being a literalist. He was being a realist. And, as a guy capable of reading another guy's intent, I was fine by it. 

But his words became my inspiration. I was going to prove him wrong. I was going to set an example for everyone else. And I did it. I accomplished my goal. I lost 30 pounds last year. And my wife bought some stuff for me, and sometimes I had to go to the store and get it myself. But I made it through the year. 

I think it was the 9th grade when my English teacher had everyone write a goals on a note card for one year, five years, and 20 years. I don't remember what I put down for the other goals, but for 20 years I wrote: "I want to be a writer."

At the end of the year she passed out these cards again. She asked us to turn the card over and write goals again. We did. For 20 years I wrote, "I want to be a writer." When everyone else read their old and new goals, I was the only one who did not change my goal. Her point was that most of us have goals that change throughout the course of our lives. We all set goals, although, as life moves forward, most of us fail at our goals -- yet we keep going. We set new goals. 

I decided right then and there that I was going to accomplish my goals. I was going to be a writer no matter what it took.  I was thinking about a novel, but I will settle with blogging. I will settle with writing for and 

So, last year I set a goal of losing weight. I was going to succeed no matter how hard it was. I started at 226. I got down to 220. I was stuck there for a while. It was hard to stick to it because I love to drink beer or whiskey and cokes. I decided I was going to have to incorporate this into my diet. I would have to plan and limit. I got down to 193 by November. 

I stuck with it, all the while the pessimism of my wife and brother in law were recited over and over again in that niche in the back of my mind. I used them as words of motivation. 

I don't know if I my point came across in this blog post or not. It was that, I think, it's good to set goals, and it's good to tell people about your goals -- or at least a few people. And, rather than beating yourself over the head when you fail, you should use them -- or at least their words -- as motivation to keep going. 

Rather, you are going to have set backs. You are going to have bad days. You are going to have days when you weight yourself and you gain five pounds over the past week (or in the case of January 1, 2017, ten pounds over the holidays). But then you consider the BIG PICTURE. A new day begins and you hop right back on the wagon. You keep moving toward your goal. 

Monday, January 09, 2017

Losing weight and alcohol

Sometimes the analytical data does not match the scientific data. When it comes to health and fitness, this is so true so often. For example, so many times we are told that you should not drink alcohol, for one reason or another. It slows down your metabolism, and this effect may last up to 3 days. If your goal is to lose weight, you should cut out the drinking.

So, if that's true, then how the hell did I lose 30 pounds last year. Between January and April, 2016, I lost 25 pounds. At least one day a week I took a free day. On nearly every one of those free days I consumed alcoholic beverages. My beverage of choice was whiskey last year. I like whiskey and coke. On most of those occasions, I drank on average 3 drinks, or more.

Okay, so, if the theory that alcohol prevents weight loss, then how the hell did I drop 30 pounds.

Now, let's use this year as an example. On January 1 I weighed in at 207 pounds. I set a goal to lose 5 pounds on week one. On January 4, it was my birthday. I took a free day. That night I decided it's my birthday, and I can drink if I want to. So I did.

Today, January 8, was my weigh in. My goal was to weigh 202 today, right? Well, the verdict is in: I weight 202.4. That is pretty darn impressive. I did it despite eating an unlimited number of calories and alcoholic beverages on Wednesday.

Yay!!!!   If you go read my other blogs, I have given plenty of evidence to bash the science. I have proven that salt does not raise blood pressure, it actually lowers it. I have proven that running is not bad for your joints. I have proven that man-made global warming is a myth (try me on this one).  I have proven albuterol does not treat pneumonia and CHF. I have proven that taking extra puffs of albuterol does not kill... (speaking of this, I'm going to make this the topic for tomorrow's post). 

Anyway, I think if you quit doing the things you love to do, and you try to lose weight too fast, you are going to just crash on your diet. That's what I believe. I think that alcohol gets a bad name by the plight of a few who abuse it. I don't see any evidence that responsible drinking prevents weight loss. Sure, the numbers may say one thing, but the analytical data says otherwise.