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Six weeks! (#1140)

Topics/tags: Autobiographical

It’s now six weeks since my heart attack. I figured my friends and family (and others who read my musings) deserved another update on my status. Most of the time, when people ask, I say something short like,

I’m alive. I’m great.

And that’s true. I feel great that I’m alive. And I do generally feel great both physically and emotionally. Well, at least as great as someone at my weight can feel physically.

But that’s not a lot of details. On Saturday, as we were driving back from a walk around some lake in Audubon county, Michelle asked me the same question, and I gave her a more detailed answer. It went something like the following.

I’m not completely sure.

I’ve lost about eight pounds since I started cardiac rehab. That’s between a pound or two a week. I think that’s appropriate. But I have a long way to go.

I feel like I’m making reasonable dietary choices. I’ve cut way down on salt, fat, and sugar. I probably need to cut down more on second helpings. I know that I need to log what I eat, but I’m not good at it.

My stamina is up. I managed a 45-minute walk around the lake on uneven ground. I couldn’t have done that a month ago.

But my joints aren’t great. I don’t like walking on uneven ground. Walking a lot hurts.

I think my legs look better than they’ve looked in years. The edema that’s been there is mostly gone. I take that as a good sign.

I can’t pinpoint the exact ways, but I don’t feel like I’m operating mentally at my normal level [1]. I know that I had a heart attack, that I was sedated, and that I got lots and lots of heparin, all of which are likely to have medium-term effects. But it’s frustrating.

I’m getting more sleep [3]. But I’m also tired a lot of the time, definitely more than I’d like.

My mood is much better. And it’s great not to worry about the department [4]. I don’t know how I would have handled cutting seniors from required courses [5].

All of that is accurate. And I’ll take most of that as I’m great, as least as great as a SamR can be right now. I hope you do, too. Here are some other details.

I appreciate the reduced workload and the reduced stress. It’s so nice to be able to finish dinner and be able to decide between doing a bit of work, reading a book, taking a walk, listening to music, musing, or whatever. For too much of the year [6], post-dinner time generally represented three to five hours of solid work.

I don’t feel at full mental capacity. That’s irritating. What’s more irritating is that I can’t tell what I’m missing. But I hit way too many times during class when I don’t feel the snap and agility that I normally have when teaching. And there are other times I feel the lack, too. Times I can’t craft a sentence like I normally do [7]. Times I struggle to find a word or a concept. I still seem to be operating at a reasonable level, but it’s not the level at which I’m used to operating.

It’s clear to me that I have to stay away from College business. My complaints about the hobgoblins that bounce through my brain led to a too-heated discussion with a valued colleague that still had my blood pressure up the next day [8]. I’ve spent too much time dealing with issues that the College that the backlog of issues always comes to the fore when I look at something new. I’m not sure whether I can ever go back to active participation in broader College business. I’m not even sure that I should. As I’ve tried to say, It’s someone else’s problem. I’m working on believing that. And I know my style of participation bothers people; there’s no reason to create conflicts with people I value.

My joints have suffered way too much weight for way too long. I cannot walk fast. I do much better on the SciFit machine [9] than the treadmill. I do not do well on uneven ground. Losing weight will help, and I’m making progress on that.

I’m enjoying the role of exercise in my life. I still don’t particularly enjoy exercise, but I like the way I feel after exercising [10]. And I appreciate the additional strength and endurance. I need to figure out where I will exercise once I am done with Cardiac Rehab. I’ll continue to walk, but I also want to continue to use exercise equipment.

I’ve managed to avoid cutting myself accidentally. That’s good. These days I bleed way too much when I get cut. I should work harder to remember to carry band-aids [11] with me at all times.

I’m trying to better appreciate the many wonderful people I know. I am so fortunate to work with amazing colleagues and awesome students. As always, I need to think of ways to better express my appreciation for others.

I continue to need to pull back on my desire to try new things. I heard that Belinda Backous is letting faculty audit her Scholars’ Seminar and immediately said to myself, Belinda is awesome. I’d learn so much. I should do that. But I shouldn’t at least not next year. I’m teaching two 3x80 classes and LFA [12] in the fall and another three four-credit courses in the spring [14]. That’s enough. No writing grant proposals. No following up on my Beyond Bean Counting project [15]. No volunteering for new roles with my professional organizations. No encouraging people to do something for the fiftieth anniversary of Tutorial and the Open Curriculum. No trying to attend lots of summer workshops [16]. No. No. No.

Michelle thinks I need to go further. Make more plans for time off, for time with family, for time to myself. She’s been right in so many other things, she’s probably right about that, too. And she’s a doctor, so she knows [17]. But I can’t find more things that I can comfortably cut, at least at the moment. We shall see. For the time being, I’ll stick with the don’t add, which is hard enough for me.

I think that’s it for now. How am I doing? I’m alive. I’m great.

Postscript: It appears this is my sixth musing in two weeks. I should consider whether I want to muse more.

Post-Postscript: I suppose I might also consider whether I should muse less.

[1] My inability to phrase that well is one example. [2]

[2] No, there was not an endnote in what I said to Michelle.

[3] At least nine hours between turning off the light and getting up in the morning most nights. I’m not asleep for all of it; I wake up in the middle of the night every night.

[4] Thanks, Jerod, Cynthia, and everyone else!

[5] Yes, we had high enough enrollments that we had to cut seniors from courses required for the major. We’re confident they will be able to take those courses in the spring.

[6] Perhaps too much of my life.

[7] Yes, I know that I don’t craft particularly wonderful sentences most of the time. But I don’t feel that the basic sentences I write are as good, and I struggle more to improve them.

[8] I did not realize the effect until I discovered that my blood pressure at Cardiac Rehab this morning was 20 points higher than it had been the week before. Perhaps other issues were at play. Perhaps it’s that a different nurse took my BP. But it’s still a sign that I need to be careful.

[9] I called it an elliptical last time, but it’s more of a seated elliptical than a standing elliptical.

[10] Or after exercising and then showering.

[11] Or Band-Aids.

[12] Learning from Alumni. Or, in my case, Learning from CS Alumni.

[14] The spring classes are still under consideration.

[15] Remember that? I planned to ask students to better explicate their notion of liberal education and to defend their four-year plans. Maybe someone else will pick up that idea. Or maybe we’ll go in some other direction.

[16] I may still muse about them. So many sound great!

[17] She’s my wife, so she knows me.

Version 1.0 of 2021-05-03.