Sunday, June 30, 2013

Signal Hill Walk/Jog – June 29, 2013

I had plenty of time to kill before going to my Uncle’s 75th birthday party so I joined the Long Beach Walking Club for their Signal Hill 900 calorie burn walk on Saturday. It doesn’t even come close to that calorie burn of course. Last time I used my GPS watch, it estimated my calorie burn to be only in the 400 range, while another walker’s Runkeeper app, estimated expenditure to be about 600, but then she was taller and heavier.
I woke up with a weight of 115.8 pounds so there was no need for me to workout too hard especially with the heat wave that day. I thought I might just walk with the group easily throughout the 6 mile course. That didn’t go as planned because as soon as we hit the first hill just 100 meters from the start, I felt the need to huff and puff so I could get high. A young kid of about 15 ahead of me was bounding up Hill Street while I shuffled along keeping as steady a pace as possible that would bring me over the top. It worked! I’ll leave the bounding to the young whipper snapper. As I mentioned before, I had time to kill since the party wasn’t until 1 p.m. so I backtracked to the group and walked uphill with them. Oh, I forgot to mention that the group was larger than usual – there were at least 10 of us. That was the most people I’ve walked with at Signal Hill ever since I joined them 3 years ago. There was this one lady who asked me if I was Filipino, then she mentioned that her kids are half Filipino. She also asked me why I was walking so fast and I told her that I was pre-burning my calories in anticipation of the overeating of Filipino food later at the party. She asked me if I was planning on eating a whole lechon (roast pork). Due to my cholesterol problems, I couldn’t do that anymore (not that I can eat a whole pig).
So back to the walk. I did what I usually do with the group which is walk ahead of them, then do short jogs on the uphills, then walk back to the group, which increased my distance more than the measured 6 miles, my workout time, and of course the calorie burn. Because it was a hot day, it was the first time ever that I wore a tanktop while working out with this group. On one of the slight downhill portions, I was walking at my fastest pace and almost caught up with a man who was jogging. If he didn’t make a right turn, I would have. At another flat portion, I convinced a couple of the women to jog with me for a couple of minutes and then one of them on an uphill portion. And so it went until the group arrived at the end of 6 miles having covered the distance in about 2 hours. In that same amount of time, I covered about 8 ½ miles walking and jogging with all the back and forth I did.
Remember I said I woke up with a weight of 115.8 pounds? When I rechecked it post workout, I was down to 111.8 pounds. Whoa, that’s a little too much fluid loss. It must have been the hot day that caused that 4 pound loss. I hydrated and replenished my lost fluids over the next couple of hours.

Still, I had about 3 more hours to kill before the party so aside from rehyhdrating, I also lifted some weights while I finished reading the day’s newspaper. After pre-burning the calories and starving myself for so long, it was time to go to the party and commit the sin of gluttony. Oops, I meant so I can replenish my glycogen and protein stores.The fare: palabok, sisig, empanada, lumpia shanghai, crabs in coconut milk, chicken salad, beefsteak, baked Alaska, kulma, pizza, leche flan, cheesecake, and ube birthday cake. I confess to almighty God that I committed gluttony. I hope the 2 hour walk/jog beforehand was enough for my penance.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

GREAT BALLS OF FIRE and other Random Thoughts

Well, more like Small Balls On Fire, but more on that later.
          Some prayers are repetitive. The Litany for example, and of course, the rosary. During confession, the priest gives you penance in which you usually have to recite so many Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and/or Act of Contritions to atone for your sins. My question is: is repeating the same prayer several times when you are more or less just murmuring the words, more effective than one fervent one where you put your whole heart into it? It seems like repetition is some sort of sacrifice that “makes you put in your time” so to speak.

          During my half marathon birthday walk, I contemplated my fear of offering one of my kidneys to my brother. I had been thinking about it for awhile and it has become more important now because he may have some donor compatibility issues (his blog about kidney disease). I wish I could be courageous and just do it because it's the right thing to do. Even if I was brave enough to do it, how do you coordinate the healthcare system of the U.S. with that in the Philippines as far as organ donations go? I emailed the National Kidney and Transplant Institute customer service in the Philippines but they haven’t responded.
          I used to do errand runs to squeeze in a workout where I ran to the bank, video store, grocery store, and/or pharmacy, but ever since my ankle tendon and myopathy problems, I have resorted to errand walks. One of last weeks’ workouts went like this: very brisk walk to the bank to withdraw money from the ATM, then proceed to the 99 Cent store to buy a couple of bottles of lemon pepper seasoning, then it was off to  Rite Aid Pharmacy (well I’ll be darned because I forgot what I bought there, old age, you know), and the last stop before home was Von's Grocery to buy some oatmeal raisin walnut cookies. Then I headed back home. How did I manage to carry all the things I bought. No I didn’t bring a reusable bag with me but brought a backpack instead. Total time = 55 minutes.

          And then there was The Pepper Incident. I’m addicted to hot stuff and nary a meal which doesn’t include hot sauce (Sriracha or Tapatio), raw jalapeno peppers microwaved for a minute or so, or pickled jalapeno peppers. Well, this one time, I sliced open a raw jalapeno pepper and took out the seeds with my fingers. Then I scratched or rubbed my forehead, after which I went to the bathroom to pee. All that without washing my hands first. Guess what happened? My forehead was burning, my eyes were burning, and worst of all, my cojones were burning. Despite repeated washings of the areas, they remained aflame for several hours. No, I didn’t have any milk which I hear relieves the burning better. The experience gave new meaning to the Jerry Lee Lewis song - Great Balls of Fire. Lesson learned. I now wash my hands right after handling peppers. Goodness Gracious, I hope you weren't expecting any pictures!
          I understand that sometimes workers have to listen to music or watch videos to relieve boredom during the night shift. What I don’t understand is why they have to use earphones in both ears so as not be able to hear patients knocking on the door or commotions on the unit. Just common sense -it is a safety issue.
          Flies, flies, and more flies, and not the dumbbell workout kind either. I began to have a gathering of flies inside my screen windows last week and they didn’t fly anywhere inside but rather just stuck themselves to the screen. My first thought was that – did anything die indoors? I didn’t smell anything rotten. Then I checked my pulse just to make sure. Turns out, one or two managed to sneak through tiny holes on the screen and invited their friends to the party. Only they couldn’t find the way back out. A little bug spray did the trick along with patching the holes. It seems to have worked. Now to deal with occasional spiders, ants, and cockroaches… Jeez, what’s next? Locusts and pestilence?

                And lastly the consequence of last year's traffic ticket. Remember my blog about being No Longer A Traffic Ticket Virgin? Well, that moving violation didn’t only cost me a $400+ fine but also a $200 increase in car insurance rate for at least the next three years! As if I didn’t have too many expenses already…
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A New Sofa Bed or Click-Clack Sofa?

Old Futon Frame
          About five years ago I bought a cheap futon from Walmart. I used to have a regular couch but in case I get some houseguests, I thought it would be practical to have a futon instead. After just a couple of months, the cushioning flattened out and it became a little bit uncomfortable to sit on. Earlier this year, before my brother got diagnosed with end stage renal disease, he and his wife Ninette talked about the possibility of visiting me. So I started looking into replacing the futon with a sofa bed or one of those click-clack sofas which are basically the same as futons except the cushioning is already part of the frame.
Click Clack Sofa
          A regular sofa bed was out of the question because of budgetary reasons - none were in my price range. I found a click-clack sofa on sale last month and I wanted so badly to buy one but the store didn’t deliver and I needed a truck to transport it. Unfortunately, by the time my co-worker’s truck became available, the store was out of stock. So it was back to looking for a better deal. Then it occurred to me that I’ve read somewhere before that some futons come with an inner spring mattress and they can be bought separately. I examined my futon frame and it still appeared to be in good shape. Perhaps I can just replace the flattened cushion with an inner spring mattress. It was back to trolling the internet for the best price. It was not too surprising that Walmart had one at my price range and more importantly, the reviews were mostly positive. It was a choice between a 6 inch or an 8 inch mattress and I opted for the thinner one just because the thicker one would have covered most of the futon frame’s arms. I ordered it online which came with free delivery and it arrived 6 days later. The delivery person actually managed to get inside the security gate and left it outside my door while I was asleep. Fortunately, nobody stole it. When I woke up and went outside, I just found this huge rolled package.
          The mattress was inside a bag and when I took it out, it was shrink wrapped with all the air squeezed out. I tore off the plastic wrap and the mattress opened up. I removed the old cushion then had to mightily wrestle the heavier inner spring mattress into the futon frame. Hooo boy! That darn thing was heavier than I thought. However, it folded neatly where it was supposed to in the middle. I sat on it and it felt a little too firm, but since it hadn’t expanded to its fullest shape yet, that was to be expected. There was also a matter of the factory odor which emanated from the mattress, but that faded as time went on.
Futon Innerspring Mattress
          So what to do with the old flattened cushion? I tried putting it on top of the new mattress but that made the couch too high. Then an idea came to me. Perhaps I can repurpose it as a mattress pad on my old bed. Well I tried that for a few days but it felt too lumpy and because of the way it was positioned on the futon, the middle part was raised. In an effort to flatten the middle, I piled a barbell on it and left it for several hours on two separate days. Well, that didn’t help very much or at all. Because of that middle lump, after sleeping, I woke up with back pain because my body is more used to sleeping on a very firm mattress. I ended up throwing it away. Well, so much for recycling.

                On a more positive note, the new inner spring futon mattress seems to be holding up well and the odor is mostly gone. I’ve even taken short naps on it and it was firm enough for my needs. It is still a little too firm for sitting though, but I remedied that by placing an outdoor lounger mattress which I already had, on top of it. I'm pretty happy with the product. It does pay to read reviews :). So folks, if ever anyone comes over for a vacation in my neighborhood and needs a bed for a short while, I am no longer ashamed to offer my futon. Just be careful not to bump into all my exercise equipment in case you wake up in the dark in the middle of the night.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Shave to Skin, Fade, Do Not Touch = Getting It Right

Before running on National Running Day, before walking a half marathon for my birthday, and even before the Assaultive Behavior Management class, first came THE dreaded HAIRCUT. If by any chance you have followed this blog for awhile, you would already know about my searching high and low for a barber. Too many times or more often than not, barbers have left me dissatisfied with the way they have done their abstract designs on my noggin.

A couple of weeks ago after leaving work and shopping for groceries, I was on my way home when I espied that one of the barbershops  I’ve used in recent months was open and had no customers yet. So I stopped and had a haircut. Using my previous description at another barbershop about how I wanted my hair done, I told the barber that I wanted the sides shaved to the skin halfway up, then a fade and taper the rest of the way. The difference this time was that I told him not to take any off the top because when the last barber did it, my hair remained spiky for several months. And away he went buzzing here and snipping there a la Edward Scissorhands but with an electric razor. And VOILA! When he was done, it appeared that , I finally got lucky and got what I consider to be a proper haircut. Once in a rare while, the barber gets it right. So much so that I asked him to take a picture with me which made it look like Sweeney Todd getting ready to slaughter his next victim.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Assaultive Behavior Management Training 2013

          8 months ago, I was assaulted by a patient ( Last Saturday, I had to attend a refresher course on how to deal with violent patients. Did I learn anything new?
          Professional Assault Response Training (PART), Proc-ACT, Management of Assaultive Behavior (MAB), and now ABM. Well at least it’s not LBM! What used to be a mandatory 8 hour class  for work every year has been compacted to a 4 hour class every 2 years. Is it for the better? Well, that very debatable. But first things first. A good breakfast to start with on a Saturday morning. I’m not a breakfast eater but knowing that the class would last from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., I thought it was best that I had something in my belly. So I went to the hospital cafeteria and ordered a breakfast burrito consisting of hash browns, scrambled eggs, and sausage, wrapped in a toasted tortilla. It was probably the most cholesterol laden food I’ve had in weeks. Having filled myself with all the fat I can handle, it was time to go to class.
          There were 17 students who signed up, ate some doughnuts the instructor brought in so we could give him positive reviews, and were given handouts about the course. Most of us were there for recertification so we were fairly familiar with the subject matter. So what can you do in fitting an 8 hour class to half the time, which was similar to when I took it 2 years ago? Well, there were a lot of shortcuts to be made. Mostly, the theoretical parts of assaultive behavior was discussed – how to identify and respond to it. Well and good in a perfect world. First of all, this is not a criticism of the class or instructor  because they are limited to what they can do with the time they are given. This is just an observation. There is now lesser information and training and mostly theoretical, and even that felt incomplete due to lack of real life situation examples. Even with the best intention of the class, which is to avoid seclusion and restraints by verbal interventions and alternative techniques like medications, when push comes to shove so to speak, the students will not necessarily know what to do because the physical part of the training has been lacking. Heck, even how to do verbal interventions was just skimmed over. I don't know if it's only to save time, but also to save money, but reducing the class to a barest minimum could be dangerous for someone who has not been exposed to real life situations in a psychiatric unit. Gone is the role playing we used to do in responding to agitated patients. For people who have taken the longer and more detailed classes, it would have been sufficient as a refresher. For the newbies and those who haven’t worked in a psych unit for a while, I don’t think they would be well equipped to handle explosive situations that would arise at work.
          In my opinion, the class would have been more efficient if we stuck to the syllabus or handout and were given realistic scenarios of what could or usually happens in a psych unit. It seems that the aim of the class was just to satisfy a requirement rather than to give adequate training. That being said, I’m glad it was only a 4 hour class. After all, who would like to go to such class on their day off anyway?!

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

National Running Day and Birthday Walk - 2013 Edition

          So what does one do on National Running Day when one can’t run? Well in my case, I gave it the old college try. Running was not planned that day, but with so much internet posts about it, an attempt would have to be made. It would have been preferable to do it outdoors of course, but I had to keep it on the treadmill so as to soften the blow on my brittle muscles and joints. Slowest speed possible: check, 1 percent incline: check, legs and ankles ready: question mark. Keeping my strides as light as possible, the treadmill belt moved underneath me while I kept anticipating a jolt of pain which never came. I kept going, and jogging, and slogging until I reached 45 minutes and figured that enough was enough. I had kept my National Running Day obligation for another year, albeit indoors on a treadmill. A purist might say that shouldn’t count, but having been unable to run in any way shape or form for several weeks, I’ll consider that a run. Who knows when I’ll be able to do it again or at all?

          In keeping with a birthday tradition of doing a long run which in recent years have now turned into a long walk, the day after National Running Day, I did a trek around my neighborhood. I didn’t venture too far because in case my joints and muscles failed me, at least I was close to home. Believe me, even when I woke up that morning, I was undecided on whether I should do it or not, or which direction to go (drive to the beach or El Dorado Park, or walk down Del Amo Boulevard going east and see how far an hour and a half will take me?). Instead, I kept it around Bixby Knolls and mostly in the Virginia Country Club area where I did my training for the Los Angeles Marathon a couple of times maybe a decade ago. Meanwhile, I had been thinking if it was it time to give up on this annual exercise. The reason why I had doubts was because the mental toughness I developed while training for marathons is no longer what it used to be. Why would I want to do 3 hours or more of this workout when 30 minutes to an hour on the stationary bike or a treadmill hill walk would suffice? Well, mainly because I wanted to prove to myself that it's still doable in spite of my ankle and thigh/hip problems.
          Armed with my cellphone, keys, wallet (in case I had to pay for a cab), some cough drops to keep my mouth moist, and listening to KIIS-FM on the radio-equipped phone, I stepped out into the June gloom and started walking in an unhurried pace. While I moved, I contemplated on what I was going to do. Shall I keep it to 2 hours, the time I used to do when I was still running, or walk for 3 hours regardless of what distance that took me, or go for the usual 12 miles regardless of how long it took me? Last year it took 3 hours and 11 minutes to cover that distance.
          The first hour felt easy mentally, the second hour almost felt likewise until I reached 1:45 when it felt like time slowed down. On the third hour, I tried not to check my watch too often, and that helped a lot. During the walk, I saw a lot of houses being remodeled (the economy must be getting better), gardeners mowing lawns and trimming bushes, squirrels scampering up trees and crossing overhead electrical wires from one post to another. In Los Cerritos Park, there was a smattering of walkers and other exercisers doing their thing. In the middle of the walk, my phone rebooted for no apparent reason so I had to reset the radio station I was listening to. The first cough drop lasted for an hour and 57  minutes and the second one lasted until I finished the walk. It was mostly a no rush walk of about 16 minutes per mile (I didn’t want to pressure myself with pace) until the last 30 to 40 minutes. As I was getting close to 12 miles, I picked up the pace and thought that I should go for something extra and try for a half marathon instead. Well I did manage to do a GPS based half marathon to celebrate my 56th birthday when the sun never emerged from the June gloom. The pace was faster than last year's 12 miler because there were no hills. After 3 hours, 17 minutes, and 33 seconds, 13.11 miles at 15:04 pace, and 2 bathroom breaks, I had done what I set out to do even with the initial doubts. Not only did the walk prove that I was still capable, but also that I can finish a half marathon without a training plan. That was the plus side. On the minus side, despite the distance, the workout didn't really hit the pleasure areas of my brain like running would have done. But I already accomplished the pleasure the previous day when I ran on the treadmill on National Running Day. Thus ends this year’s edition of my crazy traditions. Same time next year?

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