Saturday, April 02, 2016

It's Only for 14 Days: Day 1 of 14

I've decided to engage in a little self-experimentation. Today marks the first day of the experiment, and it will go on for a total of fourteen days, ending at midnight on April 15 which, to me, is both Tax Day in the States and the day that I teach a short gig on résumé writing at Seoul National University (it's only two hours long, this gig, but the pay is amazing).

I won't go into detail as to the nature of the experiment, mainly because I'm anticipating negative, contrarian comments, and I just don't want to deal with that crap. You'll simply have to trust me on this. The experiment won't involve trying to pick fights with random people; it won't be about engaging in risky, potentially suicidal behavior (like climbing the Lotte World Tower and photographing myself perched precariously on a derrick). It won't even be about a radical change in my exercise routine, although it will involve a marked-but-modest increase in the daily number of steps I rack up.

I will provide daily information and insights on certain metrics:

• weight (based on morning weigh-in, post-pooping*)
• approximate resting pulse (using 10-sec or 15-sec calculation)
• presence or absence of blurry vision
• skin condition (acne, greasiness, sores, etc.)
• presence or absence of chest pain
• mental state (emotion, fatigue, ability to focus)
• general comments about well-being

A medically astute person will note that a certain cluster of the above metrics—weight, pulse, blurry vision, skin condition—seem to suggest a concern about diabetes. That person would be right to suspect this. I've never been officially diagnosed as diabetic, but over the past couple of years, I've seen signs that point fairly obviously in that direction (including increased frequency of urination and tingly feet). One goal of this 14-day experiment is to turn my somatic wheel hard to starboard: a major course correction to swing me away from the heading I think I may be on. After this experiment is over, I'll have to implement certain unpleasant lifestyle changes if I plan to retain the beneficial effects of these two weeks.

This ought to be entertaining for me; I hope it'll be entertaining for you, and I promise to explain myself more fully on April 16. In the meantime, since today is Day One, I might as well write that first report right here:

WEIGHT: 129.6 kg (that's down from 134 kg a month or so ago, but still abysmal)

APPROX. RESTING PULSE: 92 (15-sec calc method). Way high. I've lost whatever benefits I had gained by walking up Namsan almost daily a couple years back. I had fought my pulse down to the 70s when I was a frequent hiker. Will need to get back to that again.

BLURRY VISION: None (obviously not counting myopia).

SKIN: Sores and scabs on both calves (shin area); way more on left leg than on right. I'll be checking to see whether these fade over the next two weeks. Hard lumps on nape that I'd like to get lasered off (there's a skin clinic right across the hall from where I work). I still get acne on my forehead and jawline, even at age 46, probably as a result of too much sugar in the diet. T-zone is mildly greasy, but not severely so. I normally wipe down with disinfectant cloth at several points throughout the day. Zits occasionally appear—annoyingly—on nose. Nostril rims are slightly dry and flaky right now; lips have been unusually dry for a few days, and I've actually got a split lip right now that's preventing me from smiling naturally without bleeding. Am thinking about going back to my old standby remedy: Vitamin E capsules. Take a capsule, poke it with a pin, then smear the "juice" all over the lips. Promotes quicker healing. Follow up with Chapstick.

CHEST PAIN: None at the moment, as of today. Recently, chest pains after walking up five or six flights of stairs, along with shortness of breath. Wondering about partially blocked arteries.

MENTAL STATE: Alert, focused, generally emotionally stable. I do get irritated by the behavior of my Korean fellows when I'm in transit somewhere, but this normally manifests as brief flares of annoyance or anger, along with the realization that I might inadvertently be doing something that others find annoying. I try to avoid eye contact so I don't have to witness, and be annoyed by, all the bumpkinish staring-at-the-foreigner bullshit.

GENERAL WELL-BEING: Thankful, as always, to be alive, but always conscious of the temporariness of life. Overall calm and serene. It's the weekend, so I'm looking forward to a restful period during which I catch up on the sleep I'd missed during the week. (On weekdays, I get maybe 5 hours of sleep a night on average, i.e., sometimes it's closer to 4 hours; sometimes it's closer to 6. I'm definitely sleep-deprived, but this isn't a result of my work schedule; it has everything to do with my nocturnal video-viewing and reading habits, both of which I need to curb.) Generally optimistic about the future, especially as I consider my progress in paying down my debts. My second major debt will be gone by the end of this year, leaving me to focus on my two remaining major debts, both of which are fairly huge. Personal-life-wise, things are okay if not ideal. Can't complain. Am curious to see what sort of tone these reports will take by Days 12, 13, and 14.

End report. Wish me luck.

*I'm pretty sure I have irritable-bowel syndrome (IBS). My morning poop never totally gets rid of the previous day's load: almost inevitably, I have to poop again not long after I arrive at work, and then I'll poop at least one more time, usually in the early-to-mid afternoon. I've told this fact to some folks I trust, and they give me looks that vary between awe and horror: "You poop three times a day?" they gasp. I'm pretty sure that's the nature of the beast with IBS, and it's one reason I consume so much psyllium fiber: if I didn't fiber up, I might be pooping five or six times a day, leaving me with a raw and bloody asshole after all that constant wiping. My point, in confessing all this, is that my morning weigh-in will be only approximate because I'll still have a decent stockpile of poop inside me.



Anne in Rockwall, TX said...

Sounds like carbs are out of your diet. Sweets and starches need to be replaced with proteins and veggies.

If you haven't been checking your blood sugar regularly get a glucose meter quickly. Massive ups and downs can be just as damaging as always up.

A rapid change like that could also lead to seriously low blood sugar and you passing out, getting argumentative and a whole host of nasties.

Check your sugar first thing in the morning, before meals so you can count the carbs in the meal and about a half hour after meals to see how your body is processing said carbs.

And be careful, hon. Blood sugar is pretty serious business and the reason I'm a widow.

I don't mean to scare you, but I kinda do. I like reading your stuff and want you to keep it up.

John (I'm not a robot) said...

Good luck with the experiment. You've definitely piqued my curiosity. Taking steps now to avoid diabetes is the right thing to do regardless. For me, other than cancer that's the diagnosis I most fear.