How to spend the last few days recovering from a cold or the flu:
I rode my bike to get here, of course. 18 miles of 90 degree misery – and almost the whole ride was into a 15 mph wind. Never been so happy to see a 17 mph average. On the bright side, my wife brought the minivan so I’m hopping a ride home.
For dinner this evening: Salmon, my famous grilled asparagus, and a nice salad. I’m going to sleep well tonight.
Yesterday was about as perfect a day as I’ve seen in some time.
I’m trying to wipe out the last of that cold so I’m still just a bit off but it was one of those days where, when you look back on it, you can’t help but see God’s fingerprints all over it. I love it when that happens.
So at 5:30 I decided that I wanted to see my sponsor. I read some posts until six then got ready and headed out the door. When I got to the church, I met a kid who was just a touch older than I was when I quit – only he had a pained look on his face…one that was immediately recognizable. Not only had I seen it before – only a true drunk who has sunken to the very end if his or her rope wears it like this – I’d worn that same look more than twenty years ago. I knew that pain.
Now, the temptation here is for us old-timers to get diarrhea of the mouth, to try to cram a bunch of platitudes into the kid’s head, hoping that something we say will inspire him and “change his life”. This is mostly ego-driven horse shit. My sponsor and I instead took him out to breakfast and talked with him about why he hurt. We let him talk it out, then offered him a few simple solutions.
The tendency, in regards to the odiferous platitudes mentioned above, is quite well intentioned – for the longest time I wanted to take all of the lessons I’d learned in sobriety, all of the day at a time accomplishments and all of the peace that I finally had grown to enjoy – I’d try to ball that up and transfer it from my head to the newbie’s so they wouldn’t have to feel the raw pain anymore. Where the ego gets mixed up in there is that I thought I could place years of experience and God’s grace into another’s head with a few well-placed clichés. Looked at that way, you can hopefully begin to see the folly.
Anywho, that’s enough about my new pigeon. You know it’s going to be a good day when you’re tapped to pass on what was passed on so freely to you though…
After breakfast, I headed home where I was to meet my buddy Dale who was coming over to help me replace my bathroom floor (finally). It took us about three hours and my wife is (almost) happy again. I cleaned up the mess, put away my tools and took a much needed nap.
I woke up somewhere around 2:30 or 3:00 to a hot sunny day (around 90). My wife wanted to take the kids down to our friend’s house to swim at the lake. My awesome wife suggested I could ride my bike down and back to get my miles in for the day…and if it was too hot, we could put the bike in the minivan and I could hitch a ride home… Perfect!!! (though if you know me, there was no way I was hitching a ride home).
We’ve had a relatively cool spring, so riding in the heat yesterday, especially with what was left of a cold, was a bit of a shock to the system. Even so, I managed an 18.6 mph 12 miles into a steady but mild breeze. My strength is coming back nicely. As hot as it was, I decided against swimming. I didn’t want to shock my system as the lake was still quite cold. A bunch of friends had stuck around from the run so we had a nice time just mulling over life’s intricacies. The ride home, with that breeze at my back, was grin inducing – 23-24 mph. As is usual, I got stopped at every possible intersection so my average was just a touch under 20 mph, but for those stretches where I could manage a mile or two without stopping, the ride was glorious. I couldn’t help but wonder how I was producing so much speed, the breeze was just strong enough to move the leaves on the trees – it wasn’t that much of a help… Then on mile ten of the twelve mile return trip, I was struck by a coughing attack. One of those phlegm gurgling in the lungs, coughing attacks. I’d pushed too hard. At that point I was close enough that I just dialed it back and cruised home.
I took the most wonderful cool shower of the year, we ate dinner, and at about 8:02 with the kids watching Harry Potter, I was out like a light. Stick a fork in me. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Today will be another busy day for yard work and maybe some trim for the bathroom floor. I’m planning on another 16 miles today so overall for the week, missing three days, including the club ride and cutting 20 miles from yesterday’s ride, I should still end up with about 72 miles for the week. Not bad considering.
Recovering from alcoholism is not a joke. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t emotionally lovely… And it almost never happens in a country club setting (though it would have been nice if the State of Michigan would have sprung for that instead of shoveling pig shit on a working farm, but whatever – at least I made it, eh?). Recovery from alcohol a scary, ugly, messy process, at least in the beginning. The nice touchy-feely shit you see in the movies only comes later. In the beginning, it’s tears and snot, shaking and puking, sunken eyes and a lot of ugliness. It’s usually gnarly enough that you can’t put lipstick on that pig. There is a rare high-bottom recovery that sticks but those are almost as rare as unicorns.
When I first got sober I didn’t fight the process too much and I was told to do some pretty weird stuff. For instance, I had a new sponsor ask me (on the night I asked him to help me navigate through the “program”) if, when I parked my car if I pulled in nose first or if I backed into a parking space. I looked at him with a twisted, confused “Huh”? He repeated the question. Now, rather than fight it, I answered the question – I pull into a space nose first. His response was odd. He said, “Okay, for the next month I want you to back into every parking spot that you reasonably can. At the end of the month I’ll tell you why, and I promise you will see how this little exercise will help you get sober”. I didn’t say so, but I thought he was freaking nuts. Even so I did exactly that, for one month. We didn’t talk about the parking spot thing again until I brought it up the day after my month was up. Here’s how the exchange went:
Me: Tom, do you know what today is?
Me: I’ve backed into every stinking parking spot that I could for the last month and I still don’t know why.
Tom: Really? You actually stuck to it for a full month?
Tom: Nice. So you would like to know why I had you parking differently.
Me: Yes I would.
Tom: Pay attention, because this is important. I wanted to see how far you were willing to go to get sober. If you’re not willing to do something as silly as backing into a parking spot, how are you possibly going to be willing to do what it really takes to get over drinking? How would you be willing to do the messy work?
I understood immediately.
I tried this same exercise with a new kid I was sponsoring years later. Here’s how that went:
Me: Okay Wayne, I’ll sponsor you, but I want you to do something for me. When you park your car, do you pull into the parking spot nose first or do you back in?
Wayne: I don’t have a car.
Me: That’s fine, but when you drive, do you pull in or back into a spot?
Wayne: I ride a bike, my mom gives me rides to meetings.
Me: Hmmm. Which leg to you put into your pants first?
Wayne: I don’t wear pants, I wear shorts.
Me: Crime in Italy Wayne, do you wear freaking underwear?
Me: Good! Which damn leg do you put into your freaking underwear first?
Wayne: I don’t know.
Me: Think about it for a minute.
Wayne: Uh, right leg
Me: Fine, for the next month I want you to put your left leg in first.
Wayne (interrupting): But that’s stupid, why would I do that…
Wayne did eventually make it, but he went back out a lot before he finally got it. I did work with him, as best I could, too. As a casual reader, are you surprised he had a tough time? You shouldn’t be. If I was told, in the beginning, that standing on my head would keep me sober, I’d have been one standing on my head idiot. I’d have absolutely thought it was weird as hell, but I didn’t care. I needed the pain to stop and stop now. Wayne, on the other hand, was thinking too much. He was looking for the angle. He wanted to do the math in his head rather than stand on it. In short, this is the “surrender”, or cease fighting to win part of getting sober. I surrendered, Wayne kept fighting.
It is through this filter that I view fitness and weight loss. When I started running more than a decade ago now, I didn’t know my butt from a hole in the ground when it came to losing weight, my diet, or running – I just knew I didn’t want to be heavy anymore so I ceased fighting. The excuses stopped, the looking for an easier, softer way stopped. I strapped on a pair of running shoes, with the help of some good friends and I literally ran my ass off. Eventually I got to a point where I could pass what I’d learned on to others – or maybe it would be better to say that I got to a point where I had something of value to pass along – to give freely that which was given to me.
In the end, in both recovery and fitness, I had to be willing to be teachable. I had to cease fighting the notion that I could get better. I had to surrender to win – and win I have.
I know the stats and what the doctors say:
Cold in the head, exercise away. Cold in the chest, stay on the couch. Wait until the symptoms are gone. Exercise too early and it will prolong recovery from the sickness. Etcetera, etcetera, yada, yada, yada…
My experience, which is fairly extensive spanning over twelve years, is a little different. I am not about to advocate against going doctors’ recommendations (that would be stupid) but I will state beyond a shadow of a doubt, for me, standard recommendations would require too much couch time.
First of all, I have trouble sleeping if I don’t get my daily ride. I’m not tired at 9 or 10 pm and have to try to force myself to fall asleep. Adding to my consternation, if I take more than a day off, I can’t sleep until the alarm goes off either. This presents a problem when I’m trying to get more rest to recover from a cold or the flu.
I’ve been running and riding through colds or the flu for more than a decade and I can say for certain, if I follow a few simple rules, I recover faster and am much, much happier.
First, if the hair hurts, I’m on the couch. We all know what I’m talking about here. You’ve got the first day when you’re still trying to convince yourself that you’re not going to get sick. Every once in a while this works, but I always take that first day off. If my body is trying to kick something, the last thing I want to do is make that process more complicated by stressing it. The next day, when I know the “I’m not getting sick” mantra didn’t work and I wake up with my hair hurting, I’m either on the couch (if I’m lucky enough to get sick on the weekend) or trudging through a day at the office (though I will take a day off if the bug is bad enough). This is a day off from the cardio. There is no chance I’m getting on a bike or running.
Next, it gets a little tricky for how I gauge whether or not I’m going to work out or not. This last bug that I had really tested my “system”. With this last bug (sore throat, chest cold, fever, the whole nine yards), I felt better on the third day but I knew darn good and well I wasn’t in any shape to exercise – let alone put a full day in at the office. I was so wiped out, I ended up taking a nap in the fetal position on the thinly carpeted concrete floor in my office before I went home so I wouldn’t have any issues driving home. I used a jacket I keep in my warehouse as a pillow. Under normal circumstances I’ll feel good enough to take an easy ride after a couple of days, but not with this one and I knew it. The third day was iffy. Again, I felt much better than the two days prior – I could tell I was getting better, but at about 10:30 in the morning, my energy level just crashed. I was on my way home from the office at 3 and I knew I was still too hit to ride so I spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch. Then the fog cleared yesterday. My energy level, while still low, was rebounding well and I was feeling a little cagey. Cooped up if you will. I still had some symptoms, minimal congestion, still coughing (and I could still feel it in my lungs) but the sore throat and mild fever was gone. I felt much better. Now, if I were to follow recommendations, with symptoms improving but still present, I’d have stayed on the couch again. Not in my world.
I went out for an exceptionally easy 16 mile ride yesterday, the slowest of the year as a matter of fact at about 17 mph. On that ride there were a couple of times that I questioned the wisdom of the choice but I did keep going, though I did slow down a bit. I blew out a lot of junk from my lungs in the last half. In fact, I have to imagine I looked pretty funny almost coughing up a lung cruising down the road. On finishing I did not feel all that good and I thought that I’d jumped the gun just a little bit so I took a 20 minute nap, then had something to eat. After dinner I was still feeling a little out of it so I took another 20 minute nap, and that did it. I felt normal. The rest of the night went very well and come 9 pm, I was ready for bed. I slept straight through, like a baby, until 4 am (seven hours is a great night’s sleep for me, I’m used to six).
This morning, still with a little stuffiness and a touch of a cough, I do feel rested, clear-headed and ready to go. I’m almost back to normal and am fairly excited. Having gone through these phases before with recommended rest, I know if I’d have stayed on the couch yesterday, I would have had a much rougher night of sleep which would have left me drained yet again today and probably suffering from less of an improvement.
Three days was enough. I was still worn out, just plain old tuckered out, when I got home. Having been sick since Monday and off the bike for the last three days, I’d gotten to a point where I had a tough time sleeping. I took a 30 minute nap and dressed for a ride. Probably too soon, but I didn’t care… I was feeling itchy to ride. I took it very easy for my normal 16 miles (about 17 mph average after I split from Mrs. Bgddy and the kids), and worked some serious gunk out of my lungs.
I know there are folks out there who will disagree, but I know when I’m saddle ready. I could hardly contain myself when I got home – I need my fix that bad. Yesterday, on the other hand, there was no way I was getting on the bike. That’s how I know I’m good to go.
So I tooled about town and finally stretched my legs out and it felt good. I’ll see what tomorrow brings, but Saturday and Sunday, it’s on.
I’ll sleep like a baby tonight.
I have a Lifeproof case for my iPhone, and have written about my affinity for it. My phone, which hasn’t seen the unprotected light of day, is still brand new. Not one scratch or wear mark. I’ve dropped it, sat on it, taken videos under water with it, and taken it on every single cycling, mountain biking or running workout I’ve been on since I bought the phone. The thing has seen some sweat, a few thunderstorms, a 54 mile ride in a rain storm and a dozen spills. To clean it, I just run it under a faucet and wipe it off.
Well over the last year and some change, wear started to show on the front face of the case so it’s time for a new one. Unfortunately the cases are anything but cheap so I’ve put off buying a new one. I’ll be heading down south for a much needed vacation in about four weeks where we’ll be spending half of our waking hours on or in the water and I must have my phone with me at all times, so I can’t chance a leak in the case. Time came to bite the bullet.
Now, the back of the case is in perfect shape, it’s the front that shows the signs of constant usage (50-100 calls a day, five days a week and 10-20 on the weekends). Imagine my surprise when I found on their website that they’re selling just the front face, and for half the price of the full case. Being cheap, I was just a bit more than happy.
My new case face showed up yesterday, in plenty of time to test it and install it before vacation.
For my money, my experience with Lifeproof has been exceptional from day one. If you want to protect your iPhone from almost anything an active lifestyle will throw at it, I know of nothing better. In my experience, Lifeproof protective cases are perfect.
This post is unsolicited. I paid full price for all of my Lifeproof products – the stem/bar mount holder, the armband holder and the belt-clip holder, case and the new face.
Here I sit broken hearted, tried to… Now you should know by now, that’s not how I (usually) roll.
I’m staring outside, the sun is shining, the temp is a perfect 71 with not even a hint of breeze or a cloud in the sky. Alas, the Tigers game is on and I am not blistering down the road on my trusty Trek 5200 with the advanced club guys… And I miss it.
I am sick. Not a little bit sick, I’m sick. My hair hurts – even the one’s I shaved this morning. I’m so stinkin’ sick my 5 o’clock shadow hurts. It hurts to breathe, to move, to sit still. I have a sore throat and another one at the top of my lungs from coughing so hard.
Still, I got 3/4’s of a very productive day in at the office. Working alone has its benefits when you’re ill – nobody to infect.
I am sitting here because I am part cocky and part stupid. Everyone knows you don’t kiss your spouse on the lips when she’s sick (with, you guessed it, a hacking, wheezing sore throat). I’m Bgddy though. I’m fit as an ox – heck my immune system does push-ups while it’s waiting for the next bug to eviscerate. My once fried liver does downward dogs. My pancreas? Planks. My heart? It’s so strong and sure, I can feel my pulse in my pinkie toe – without even touching it! I don’t get sick. I’m a cyclist. When I have dreams, I wake up with my legs pumping. I am HEALTHY.
Remember, cocky and a little bit stupid.
I had a most delectable Sloppy Joe (or two) for dinner this evening. It tasted like the organic Mac and Cheese, which humorously enough tasted like the four potato chips I ate – and the Gatorade I drank.
Sweet, now my big toe is cramping up.
Well, I suppose I needed a few days off anyway.