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May 14, 2000


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Well, that was a happy little cliffhanger to drop off for four days on, now wasn't it?

Sadly, it happens. Life backs up on you and stresses you out. And these days, when life has backed up on me, it tends to turn me into a fatalist, and if you couple a rant with fatalism, you get something not unlike my last entry.

So, I took a little break from journalling for a few days, and I think I'm a good person for it, and ready to give you the full and complete update now. I also didn't weblog. I think that part of my brain just had a sign up reading "not open for business, go away, I have a gun."

This wasn't opportune. I think I scared John Bankert out of a year's worth of growth, though his lovely wife was on a more even keel. She also claims to get more work done when the weblog isn't being updated several times a day. I suppose that makes sense. Folks from my parents on down checked in and made sure I was okay, which was nice. Oh, and Frank and I played phone tag. Go fig, right?

So, first off, I got a cell phone.

Actually, technically it's a dual phone, because it speaks conversational Analog and conversational Digital (where available). I'm actually supposed to drop it off for a tri mode replacement over the next couple of days, which will give me a decent nationwide calling plan, which will be good both in the future and for the upcoming trip to San Francisco. It's a Motorola Startac, which means it's a tiny little thing, folded in half and looking for all the world like a Star Trek communicator for the Original Series.

Why is it that Star Trek could get communicators perfectly right, but right when they're being released to the public Star Trek comes out with a lapel pin design instead? Think of the promotional tie ins. Think of the licensing deals.

Is it me, or is that commentary somehow out of place anytime later than 1988? Well, I'm new to the world of portable communications.

The thing is amazingly clear on digital towers. Now, it's rare I'm actually at a digital tower, but when I am, look out. The thing is amazing. It's not bad at all on the analog towers, either, though the car speakerphone leaves something to be desired.

It's sitting on my belt right now, actually. With the red flashing light that says "can't get a signal." My office is a bit low in the basement, so it has trouble receiving down here. Then again, I'm sitting next to my office phone so what does it matter.

I took my shiny new cell phone with me on Thursday, heading in for the Stress Test, try #3. And three was the charm. They reshaved me for the electrodes. They slapped the bits of gel and wires on my body. They took my blood pressure.

Which is the wild part. My blood pressure was 86/60. Not 186, mind. Eighty-six.

This freaked me out. My blood pressure has never, in my experience, been below one hundred. I mentioned this and they took it again. Nope, same deal. It was accurate. Doctor Fleet, when he arrived (yes, he was there this time) checked it as well, and it was accurate.

"Are you dizzy when you stand?" he asked.

"Nope," I answered.

"Then let's be very very happy that your heart doesn't have that bad an effort right now, okay?"

I could accept that answer.

And so, I took the stress test. My second, as long time readers will remember. My first was an exercise in humiliation and pain. But this one wasn't. I was conversational as we walked. I watched my heart rate climb (as much as it could, given the medicine keeping it down) and my blood pressure creep up (though not very much either), and I walked, as the machine sped up and grew steeper on incline.

I hit a reaction at 10:57, and the test stopped. Which is a lot longer than the last time, and Doctor Fleet was being conservative. I did 6 METs, which is Doctor speak for... um... well, whatever it is, there are six of them. He was very pleased. I was very pleased. The R.N. was very pleased.

And I got cleared for monitored exercise.

I never thought that would make me happy. Really, really happy. I mean, I was the original slug. The original "lying on a couch watching television counts as aerobic activity -- no really" type of guy.

But I haven't been able to really exercise for months. In fact, the times I did necessary physical exertion, like shoveling out snow or the like, I felt like I was going to die and at least once I came within a hair's breadth of passing out.

I'm getting better. I'm getting better.

The exercise will help that process immeasurably.

I was rubbery and a bit overwhelmed physically for the rest of that Thursday. Friday I was better, which is good because that's when I started the treatment. Which consisted of treadmill time, light, high rep freeweights and biking for a while. The bike was the hardest, which means it was probably the best part for me. I got all sweaty and junk.

My heartrate went up, but not incredibly. I was told that 120 is the absolute maximum I should expect with exercise right now. The drugs don't want to let it go any higher, and that's A-OK with me. Even with the stress test, which went quite a bit beyond what exercise should, I topped out around 130. Now, this means it will take longer to see cardiovascular results from the exercise, but that's okay too -- the heart's damaged. We don't want to damage it further. We want to gently encourage it to work better. And better. And better.

The exercise felt good, and I felt good for hours afterward. I've got more today, and I'm looking forward to it.

As for the weekend? It was sunny for Mother's day, and rainy for Saturday. It was good. Nothing much to report, though I got about five thousand words on an In Nomine story done. Why an In Nomine story? No clue, but it's going well so I'm not going to argue. Otherwise, there was chai and tea and good friends and good times, and we didn't go to Chunky's to see a movie, because Mapquest sucks.

But that, as they say, is another story.

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