I know it doesn’t sound nearly as good as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, my apologies in advance. At least in paying homage to Hunter S. Thompson. Today I went to my local
armpit Albertson’s to stock up on groceries before I get my kids back for my custody week (my ex and I share them 50/50). Okay, calling them an armpit really isn’t fair to the store, it isn’t their fault as to who shops there … (including me), nor is the clientele the same at any given time of day. Another reason I realize I miss having a job is that I end up hitting the store at odd hours, as opposed to, say, 5:30 – 7:00 pm, when the rest of the 8-5 crowd is heading home. Instead, I’m there at 2 pm when the dregs of humanity are just waking up for the day or have just turned off the soap operas for the moment, or whatever the case may be.
Now I’m no medical expert, although I’ve worked in biotech/pharma long enough to know a few more medical terms than the average Joe, but yet there are still medical issues and conditions that I don’t claim to understand, either. Today’s case in point. When the feet or lower legs of someone rather overweight swell up and take on that reddish/purplish scaly look and seem to be swelling up from within. Forgive my ignorance and I don’t mean to be insensitive, but WHAT THE FUCK is that?
For lack of a better explanation I’m going to assume it is edema. And I know it just happens to some people due to circulatory problems, things they have no control over. A former aunt-in-law of mine has problems with edema of her feet, and she swims every day, walks plenty, gets regular exercise. This is not to comment upon or critique people who take care of themselves and who make an effort to prevent this condition. But rather, it is a comment on those who ignore it. At what point does one reach the level of apathy in their life where they see their lower limb(s) looking like Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and they just shrug and shuffle on down the frozen food aisle, looking for that ellusive quart of Chunky Monkey?
Today’s case was ahead of me in the checkout line at Albertson’s. Mind you, I already had a throbbing headache thanks to my sinuses, and suddenly dry 100+ degree weather, and having to listen to country and western music blared over the Albertson’s music system. Think I almost would have preferred rap at that point. The man in front of me had entered the store right in front of me, and now was in line in front of me on the way out – with about a third as many groceries as I had. I thought it was telling that it had taken him an equal amount of time to make his selections as I did mine, and my cart did involve the picking of at least a few items of produce whereas his seemed to have gotten a wheel stuck down the Doritos and Chips Ahoy aisles.
Now in deference to Edema Man, as I will call him, I do wonder where is the point where one just lets themselves go, stops caring, shuffles to the store in pajamas and slippers, and ends up as one of the photos on the http://www.peopleofwalmart.com website. Is it a conscious thing? Or gradual, incremental, bit by bit, like the slipping away of brain cells from Alzheimer’s? Am I on that same slippery slope myself? Case in point – I have this nasty varicose vein in my lower left leg. A couple of weeks ago, for no apparent reason, it seemed to spring a leak, swelled up under the skin, hurt, and ultimately left a huge bruise there that looked like I pounded away at it with a baseball bat – yet for a change, I didn’t bang into anything. I saw a doctor about it, he said it would heal up fine, nothing to worry about, although I might want to get the vein taken care of. Alas, it is cosmetic surgery, and not something I want to contemplate doing while still unemployed and trying to keep expenses to a minimum. (Note, the purchase of Ketel One doesn’t figure into the above equation.) But after seeing Edema Man, I wonder if the vein issue is a warning sign of something else. Say, too much alcohol consumption? Are my legs starting to retain fluid? They look roughly the same to me. The summer here has been ridiculously hot and humid and sweaty, maybe I’m just seeing the results of my lack of enthusiasm (moreso than usual) for exercise in this kind of weather. But that nagging little thought creeps in and wonders … will I be looking at my calves five years from now and they’ll look normal to me when really they’re not? Will people be looking at me in Albertson’s and calling me Edema Woman behind my back?
I don’t know. But I hope to heck someone tells me if selective self-blindness is taking over before it actually does. I’m lousy at keeping myself in shape and great at excuses. Granted, I can walk down the hallway in my house and my knee (right or left, flip a coin) will decide to blow out on me all of a sudden and make me limp for the next two weeks. This doesn’t help matters any in the exercise forum. But I could get the high-end knee braces and just buck up and deal with it, it’s not like I’m going to get any healthier or fitter by sitting around on my ass drinking dirty martinis and bitching about the world in a blog, now, is it? Oh yeah. Good point. I used to wonder why in the hell my Mom never seemed to “get it” after what I would consider fairly serious wake-up calls in her life, such as having a massive stroke in her mid-40’s that wiped out most of her speech ability. The causes – a blocked artery, probably exacerbated by drinking, smoking, abuse of diet pills and amphetamines, and a lousy diet. And yet after she got out of the hospital she picked up cigarettes and drinking again anyway, even though she could barely string two words together.
Am I missing my own wake-up calls? I’m beginning to think so.