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Daily Archives: September 26, 2012

Big Daddy Jim’s Self Evident Truth #4: Sweet, Sweet Sleep

I can remember back when I sobered up all those years ago, how difficult it was to sleep.  At first, sleeplessness was caused by DT’s (scroll down – it’s in the second batch of symptoms), and let me tell you something, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone – it’s a horrendous awakening.  Later, though, after I left treatment (a shout out to The People of the State of Michigan who funded my stint in treatment 20 years ago – Thanks, it worked and you got your money back, several times over) the reasons for my insomnia were more insidious – and getting a hold of those reasons to rectify them was no easy task.  You see, unlike a normal illness in which you are prescribed a pill of some form, or offered corrective surgery, there is no removing a drunk’s will to get drunk.  They’ve been trying since roughly ten years after they first invented alcohol and they still haven’t found a way around that.

In the circles I run, there’s a common phrase that we love to toss around:  “You can sober up a horse thief, but when you’re done you’ve still got a horse thief”.  In other words, once Dawn Farm sobered me up there was still a trainload of shit that I was trailing behind me that had to be cleaned up.  I was 22 years old, coming up on 23, and I was faced with a stark reality.  I had no marketable skills, only a partial education (dropped out of college for various reasons), no job, no money, no car and I was at the end of mom and dad’s rope.  Not only did I believe that I didn’t have a future, I didn’t possess the skills to build one either.  In other words, there was a lot to lose sleep over.

Now, before you old drunks chime in with the “Son, I spilled more than you drank” hoo-haa, don’t mess with me.  If you hadn’t spilled so much, you’d have sobered up decades ago.  They call that alcohol abuse where I come from.

Now, and here’s where it gets important;  I knew I wasn’t capable of “thinking” my way out of my predicament.  My best thinking landed me before a judge (and the aforementioned People of the State of Michigan) and in treatment for addiction.  I looked to older sober men for advice on how to live right, on how to clean up the wreckage that I’d created in my drinking years – and to maintain a decent, productive life so that I didn’t ever have to go down that path again.

And so, Big Daddy Jim’s Self Evident Truth #4:  Sleeping is difficult with a pile of crap on your chest. 

Now that may read humorously, I smiled when I wrote it, but there’s a lot of truth in those eleven words when you really break it down.

Starting at the beginning, when my life was run amok by self-will and pleasure-seeking, I left a lot of very important things go by the wayside.  When I flunked out of college, I had a good excuse so I shrugged it off – an excuse, by the way, that will not see the light of day on this blog, one because I’m over it, and two because to label it would mean to give it legitimacy as an excuse and it has none.  Suffice it to say it was a touch worse than mommy setting me on the toilet sideways.  More importantly, I used the alcohol to medicate the pain away instead of dealing with it.  To put a metaphor to it, my life was a wreck because I tended to shrug off all of the important things that needed to be dealt with right away.  Every time I did that, it was as if someone took a shovel and dumped a fresh load on my chest.  To avoid smelling that through the night, I’d simply drink more so I could pass out peacefully.  The more I drank, the more crap piled up, the more reason there was to drink.

If you think you’re dizzy after reading that last sentence, it’s a lot worse when it’s happening, trust me.  So, here’s where the horse thief comes in, and why a pill won’t fix what ails a drunk:  When I put down the jug, I still had all of that shit, from years of drinking, piled up on my chest – sitting there stinking to high heaven.  To add to the problem, my capability of dealing with messes at that point did not equate to a shovel which I could use to remove the pile that I’d sculpted over the years – I had a teaspoon when I needed a back hoe.  And that’s why I needed help to get my life sorted.

Sadly, it doesn’t end there though, and this is where the normal folks can start to relate…

Once I cleared that mountain from my chest I did sleep well.  I slept well for years.  Fortunately (or unfortunately in some cases), life isn’t stationary.  It moves and changes, ebbs and flows.  Once I had the pile removed and I could function like a young adult I began to grow.  I started with a decent factory job and that grew into a job in the inspection department at another plant which grew into a marriage, which grew into a construction job, which grew into a management position, which grew into the management of a branch division, then kids and so on…  With each of those changes came new responsibilities and new problems (or piles).  I had a tendency, especially back then, but still even now, to not know how to shovel all of that stuff off of my chest before I turn in for the night.  Over time a spoonful here and a spoonful there starts to amount to something – and unlike real shit, life shit doesn’t dry up and stop stinking.  Life shit stinks until you deal with it.  That said, I still need advice and perspective on how to deal with life’s new challenges because I don’t know every damned thing.  As I grow into bigger and better things, new things must be dealt with and sometimes I just don’t have the answers…  Well, when I don’t have the answers I tend to do that which I know – leave some of the mess on my chest.  The more there is, the harder it is to sleep.

The short version is, “I have to clean up my shit”.

Heart Rate App Review Update

I wrote about a new Heart Rate app that I downloaded for my iPhone a few days ago.  I should have clarified that the app I looked at is from Azumio…

In addition, I also included my heart rate zones for cardio that the program kicked out.  I had no idea if it was accurate or not and I surely doubt I’ll ever get tested to find out if it is…  But Elisariva just happened to have been tested recently so she checked out the app and reported back:

“Okay – I got the right app. I found it fairly accurate in reading my pulse and it set my AT at 160, the test I last took read 158. Close. My zones 1 and 2 were a bit high, but that is likely due to my over training that I am still fixing. The app had the zones where I should be, I am still repairing that damage. For people starting out or curious…it is a good app.”

So there you have it, from someone a whole lot more knowledgable than me about the mystical ways of the heart rate.

Thank you for checking that out.

 

A Good Night To Have Friends…

I had a great club ride last night in some conditions that can only be described as pleasant but miserable at the same time.  The weather had been fair but cloudy all day with a mild 8-10 mph breeze from a heading of south-southwest but the clouds broke and the breeze picked up as start time approached.  I did my warmup 5 miles with Mike again, only this time, we headed south for a mile to test the tailwind.  We rode along, pedaling easy and chatting for the first quarter of that mile when the conversation turned to how easy the first couple of miles were going to be – and how tough the next 15 would be…  As we started up a small roller I checked our speed, figuring somewhere around 21 as easy as we were pedaling.  We were at 25.5, uphill without breaking a sweat and holding a conversation.  We laughed about how brutal the middle stretch of the ride would be when we turned around to head back…  Oh how little did I know, we drastically underestimated the suckiness.

We’re starting a half an hour early now to make up for the shortening of the days so the group would be shrinking as it does at this time of year.  After Mike and I finished the warmup, we both dropped our leggings off at the car as the sun was warming us up nicely…  There’s no way they’d be necessary.  We mingled about for a bit before heading out with about 12 in our group (it’s normally around 30).  The first mile was easy waiting for everyone to catch up.  I took the first pull at 1-3/4’s of a mile so I could (hopefully) fall to the back and hide.  Recovering from a cold, I’d hoped I could spend plenty of time at the back.  As I peeled off and faded back, two of the guys slowed to let me in ahead of them – this was not a good sign.  We turned north, the wind at our backs, and took it up to 26-27 mph for the next four.  On the fourth headed north, it was already my turn to pull again – not a good sign.  Then we made a hard left into a hard cross-headwind…  Speeds dropped from 27 to 19-20 and pull length dropped in half.  The next 12 miles were brutal.  With every gust even the faster guys were laughing, and as it got harder, we had a couple of the same guys stay to the back, doing half or 1/3 duty.

Now I get it, if you can’t pull, you can’t pull, so you cling on the back and let everybody else do the work.  Unfortunately for me, I don’t possess the ability to shirk what I feel is my duty like that.  I just can’t do it.  I’d spoken to Mike about it (remember, this guy was a Nationally Ranked Triathlete in his day – he’s fast) who actually recommended I hide at the back to make it to the end…  I tried.  I really did.  I skipped one pull and felt like a complete ass for letting one of the other guys do the work that I should have been doing.  It just is what it is I guess.  In any event, with the remnants of my cold, I fell apart at 19 miles and took the shortcut that knocks 3 miles off of the 32 mile ride…  I’d hoped to rest for a few miles and then latch on with the group to help the rest of the way but I ended up beating the fast guys back by about two or three minutes.  I didn’t find out until afterwards that less than a mile after I dropped, the group splintered and about 5 of the remaining 8 guys formed a group and took it easy on the way back…with the wind at their backs.

All in all, it was a really good ride and I can tell you, for that first 18 miles, with the wind in our faces, it sure was nice to have friends.