Circling the Drain – Introduction and pop culture reference.
I first heard the term “Circling the Drain” in of all things a Katy Perry song Lil was into years ago when she was a preteen. One of my not so secret loves if you were to spend time with me in person is songs about sex and or addiction. This one was mostly about the destruction addiction causes which feeds my morbid sense of humor.
My addictions are simple for the most part in modern society legal although certainly frowned upon at times. I could list a million of them, beautiful women (not always un-partnered but neither am I), German cars (a lifelong fetish), Wing Tip Shoes (I’m fancy like that), capitalism (but I hate large corporations which is odd. More of a small business startup create jobs capitalist), and above all else my work. So what else in new right? Ok a mild affinity for Vintage Rovers and an interest in Italian pasta rockets. Facts are I’m getting close to 50 so no real shock there and they make nice mid-life crisis rides.
By most accounts I live a good life (not pure, or holy but damn good) and do well financially. No apologies for that as I try to always act decently even when brutality is called for. Business is a contact sport and sometimes you have to hurt people (competitors) in terms of profits, market share, and what have you. Also although rarely say so in direct terms have given up a lot to make it to where I am. Socially, quality of life, friends, and time with loved ones. And as I learned this year possibly health.
What you are about to read is my account of several professional and one personal friends had “circling the drain” this year. In all but one case because of their lifestyle related to work with a little genetics mixed in. And then an abridged interpretation of my first meetings with my new Doctor who I’ll call “Doc Mode” since she reminds me of a young stacked version of the Incredibles movie character Edna Mode.
Circling the Drain
There is the perception for the modern business man/executive as a fit and trim fellow. Unless you are a socialist nut job and don’t understand money and economics (hint assholes like me pay A LOT of taxes, donate buildings, and support the arts). Then you think we are all fat slobs. Oh and the libertarian in me feels the need to remind you that taxation is theft. With that out of the way…
The truth is just like dicks and tits businessmen come in all shapes and sizes. In the past I have written about the pressure I have had to be thinner. Not (just) for health reasons but for image. Even when I am thin I am not really thin – wide shoulders, barrel chest, and a good Polish ass mixed with thick thighs. A run way model I am not. A mob enforcer is more like it. That is the genetically predisposed shape and size of this particular dick.
One of my peers who is built just like me lives in England. We do 5-7 miles runs together when travelling. He does distance running (intermittently). This year despite that he had a heart attack scare coupled with other health worries. He drinks, eats a fair amount of rich foods and has a stress level that could carry us all to Mars.
The fittest of my peers group is having issues related to stress, lifestyle choices, and maybe a little bit age. 45-60 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes of weights every morning, dancing a few nights a week. Basically living healthy and active this way for all his life. Lots of fish and veggies, etc. And also always travelling, tired and under enough pressure to make a diamond out of his genuinely pure soul if it was half as black as mine. This one caught me off guard.
Then there are the ones who are still here but were not so lucky
Victoria was dead on the office for 45 seconds before her heart it restarted itself while people called 911 and looked for the shock paddle to jump start her, She now beeps at metal detectors thanks to her new state of the art shocking aftermarket addition.
One of my right had people who is rail thin, former college athlete, and seemed to have a reasonably good diet had a heart attack and is rocking a stent. Along with a new outlook on life. A little bit of diet, some genetics and a lot of stress personally and professionally didn’t help.
Another is rushing toward a liver transplant and had 30 years of living like a rock star catching up with him on every front in terms of health and lifestyle based diseases.
Finally a personal friend who was dead literally for 6 minutes, beat the odds and is back and as healthy as ever with only some shorty term memory loss. He only survived because of his amazing level of fitness and clean life style…food and exercise wise. His taste is women and cars is pretty awesome too and ironically one of them found him in his favorite ride and called 911.
The others shook me, that one truly scared me.
So I could be thinner, eat better, exercise more. But fuck you all I am invincible until the moment I’m not. Except the reality is I am just the one beating the odds and like Keith Richards might be the one who survives along with the cockroaches after The Orange Idiot and “Rocket Man” get done killing everyone. Hell I run, do hard core yoga and use to have a vigorous sex life. Which leads us to the part that usually goes “Mal is EVERY Doctor’s worst nightmare”.
Mal Meets Doc Mode
In walks Doc Mode. She taller, younger and cuter than the cartoon character I‘ve named her after. But there is a striking similarity in features and glasses. None of her specialties or areas of interest fit me. Yet I was referred to her as a “reasonable” doc to work with. In other words I probably won’t freak her the fuck out. I stand up to shake her hand and introduce myself all while dressed like an old fucker in a sprockets skit from SNL. Black shoes shined like mirrors, dark gray tailored jeans, a black cashmere crewneck sweater, tan face and silver hair.
After the usual questions and greeting we begin.
Doc Mode (DM) “Who was your last Doctor?”
Mal – “What’s his face from the chart? He left a few years ago. Holiday? No wait Brothers.”
Doc “Really you haven’t seen an MD in over two and a half years? Closer to three”
Mal – “Yeah that’s about right?”
Doc “ Have you seen anyone else in that time?”
Mal “Sure I’ve been working with Suzi”
Doc “Who is Suzi?”
Mal “The Nurse Practitioner. You know the tall one.”
Doc “You mean Suzanne?”
Mal “She introduced herself to me as Suzi. But sure, that’s probably her.”
At this point Doc Mode is not digging me. I do look like a parody of a late night comedy skit, both my phones are buzzing like wand vibrators, and apparently I’m a bit too familiar with her nurse.. And she hasn’t even looked into my chart yet.
Doc “ It seems like your most recent tests were STI related. And you haven’t had other blood work done since early 2015”
Mal – “Yep every six months, Sometimes I get to Planned Parent Hood as a form of political protest and get them done there. I haven’t had an MD since about then so probably right.”
Doc after a lengthy disclaimer about not judging sexuality and lifestyle “It seems odd you get STD tested regularly but haven’t had other more routine medical care. Are you involved in high risk activities as your doctor I need to know about?”
Mal “Occasionally I date married women. Otherwise not really other than work related travel to places religious nut jobs seem to hate and target. Not much you can do for me on those.”
You can see her weighing my answer. I was not a smart ass or trying to be provocative. She asks me to tell her again what I do and asks a series of detailed questions about where I go. She leaves the dating comment alone. In the course of this conversation you can see her start to warm up to me. In a professional way.
Doc “A few more medical history things I want review again. You go to the dentist twice a year, ophthalmologist annually, chiropractor as needed. Do 90 minute hot yoga classes 2-3 times a week, an additional two hours of cardio beyond that. Refuse to take any meds other than your sleeping pills and managed to make what is a 9 month supply for most people last almost 3 years. Mal why are you here?”
Mal “Everyone around me is dying or having health problems. I don’t want to bet the ranch that I’m going to be the Keith Richards of the bunch.”
She asks me to tell her about that. Basically a more medically exhaustive version of what is above along with work load and living patterns add in some cancer cases and others who didn’t round the corner but weren’t immediate peers. Easily a 10 minute conversation with Q&A.
Doc “So you are looking for someone to partner with to help you beat the odds”
Mal “Exactly and as they die off I’ll raid their kingdoms and take their spoils” I say with a laugh but not really joking. I absolutely plan on being the last man standing.
Mal “ I have some questions and things I want to show you. It will take a while I’ll make another appointment”
Doc _”ok but if you’re having a problem we should look at it now.”
Mal “No problem just research I need your opinion on and a series of spread sheets. Before I make some decisions.”
Doc “Spread sheets?” she says quizzically.
It seems that most patients don’t show up with 15 tab spread sheets filled with what I consider relevant data points. Something about it fascinates this poor woman. She proceeds to ask a few simple questions about the spread sheets. Calls to the front to move her to “behind schedule” in the online patient system. Something Suzi would later tell me Doc Mode absolutely hates and never has done by choice.
Doc “Show me your spread sheets?”
So I whip out my tablet, which already had the file open and proceed to take her through charts detailing my weight history over the past 44 months, resting and active heart rates based on a weekly average, sleep patterns, nights spent abroad/in hotels vs home. Race times for the handful of races I’d run. Painstaking exercise logs. And a terribly incomplete dietary record. All of which were there in both raw data and graphical chart form.
Mal “I can’t out run my diet or stress level. I have a sugar coffee and bread addiction.”
Doc “ You don’t drink alcohol regually.?”
Mal “Not really. Like I said a sip of wine at a toast a few times a month, a mimosa now and then and when I was on vacation 45 days ago.
Doc “how much have you had since that trip”
I stop to think then offer “4 Sips of wine, 3 cabs and something terrible and red plus one Mimosa that was ¾ OJ and ¼ prosecco.”
She looks on just now realizing the freak that she is dealing with. Without prompting I tell her from memory when each was and what I ate at the meal.
Doc “Are you being serious?”
Mal – “About what?”
Doc “You actually remember those details?”
I shrug. To me that type of recall is normal but admit later that I probably have some type of undiagnosed OCD.
From there we poured through the data. Doc Mode was geeky enough and young enough in her profession to be truly curious. Like most women who entertain my insanity even in passing I wreck something. In her case it was simply the day’s scheduled. I agreed to some non STD testing, you know things normal near 50 year old men get – glucose, cholesterol, etc. The results are in Crazy as Fuck and Healthy as a Horse!
We agreed I would look at several other things (like not frequenting places blown up but extremists or Latin American drug lords quite so often, maybe some life to go with my work) but could do whatever I wanted exercise wise then calculated the metabolic impact of things based on heart rate. Then worked through everything from nutrition plans to sleep patterns. All designed to help me not end up like my friends and even if I do to have the best chance to beat the odds long term. Even in Shakespeare someone ends up king after everyone else goes. I plan on that be me and their ghosts be damned.
We spent over 60 minutes going through it all, agreed to take care of other topics. Both left with reading and literally placed orders for supplements and food items from Amazon before I walked to. In 30 days we’ll meet again and are also scheduled for 6 months out. We’ll see how long Doc Mode can put up with my brand of crazy.
This is the Second post in the “My Dark Odyssey” Subset of the “Last Incantations”.