Archive for Running

9 July 2013: Is Cancer Sexy? You Decide.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 9, 2013 by spinoza1111

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Edward G. Nilges at the Theater April 2013…weighing 130 pounds

Cancer could create more responsible individuals in the presence of the possibility of death, a possibility we’re trained to ignore. That could be sexy.

I read, prophetically, a 2011 column in the New Yorker in which a long-term runner like me got the big C and at first, as the cancer started feeding on her, dropped pounds as I did around that same time (Google “spinoza1111 Orphic Mystery”). She felt sexy but not when, exhausted and in pain after her last run, she thought, I have run my last run.

On March 26 2012, my late son’s 34th and last birthday, I had that thought but pushed it away as an artifact of reading the New Yorker article. But the next day I felt savage back and leg pain: in April I was crazed nightly and in May I was diagnosed with cancer, that was pressing nerves and organs. I started on Tramadol and Panadol and graduated last December to morphine. The pain comes and goes, today, it’s mostly absent but not in any sense gone.

Tuberculosis was the sexy disease of the 19th century, creating the romantic high concept of Camille and La Traviata. In the HBO Mini-Series The Big C you know the sexy ones such as the star Laura Linney will be almost but not quite immortal. Well with cancer you keep your friends as opposed to leprosy in the old days and AIDs in its old days. But this isn’t being sexy.

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This is what I was getting to: these British POWS in WWII Hong Kong were being fed rotten sweet potatoes by the Japanese.

Therefore I drink my Ensure supplements and I consume loads of dark chocolate with at least 60% cacao added to lower the sweetness but I am only at 147 for today.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, climbing steps at what are for me brutal levels and walking are my new forms of running. Also, walking uphill to the Senior Staff quarters.

But nothing provides the sudden emotional release of running which I must forgo.


5 April 2013: Atrophied: Can’t Walk

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 4, 2013 by spinoza1111

Made the distressing discovery that I can no longer walk.

Yesterday, my client showed up with dumplings, hot and sour soup and I had a second lunch. But when I tried to join her in a walk I had overwhelming pain and could not stand up.

OK. I shall make a “walking attempt” every day.

This isn’t good. I can only try things one at a time. There’s still another round of chemo and I shall have to be focused about getting out of bed and trying to walk.

I still have a choice. I can bemoan no longer being able to run or celebrate my running in a spirit of gratitude. Gratitude! Perhaps like Froissart I need now to chronicle the many and varied adventures I had when able to run.

Insomnia Cures Immortality, Details at Eleven!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on July 28, 2012 by spinoza1111

Listen! (Link may not work, it is to the aria The Trumpet Shall Sound from Handel’s Messiah as staged by Claus Guth in a very innovative way…as an opera taking place in a modern business hotel! When I click it I get “this video is currently unavailable”. I recommend, strongly, that you do as I did, which was to buy the DVD: it’s also on BluRay.)

Two Cures for Insomnia

Lift your arms above your head and try to balance them there. You will probably fall asleep and they will fall to your side.

Look out the window rather than turning on the TV or even the lights to read a book, for before electric light it was Man’s Fate to be in darkness at night.

The Olympics

Go for the gold? Why? To impress rich men in yachts in the Isle of Dogs?

Bassanio goes for the lead i’ th’old play, The Merchant of Venice:

You that choose not by the view,
Chance as fair and choose as true!
Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content and seek no new,
If you be well pleased with this
And hold your fortune for your bliss,
Turn you where your lady is
And claim her with a loving kiss.

It pleased me in 1984 to run twenty miles. “A lonely impulse of delight”, like Yeat’s “Irish Airman” in his poem “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death”. “It’s a treat, being a long distance runner.”

It pleased me last March to run two miles on my kid’s birthday even though I wondered at the finish will I ever run again.

I’m going for the lead. This would be to run again albeit how slow.

The question is what immortality would even feel like. The Emperor in the old Hans Christian Anderson Chinoiserie is given immortality by the Nightingale. But that wouldn’t be a continuation of his former life, in which he get guilt, did wrong, and preferred a mechanism to the real thing.

Siehe, ich sage euch ein Geheimnis: Wir werden nicht alle entschlafen, wir werden aber alle verwandelt werden;

Und dasselbe plötzlich, in einem Augenblick, zur Zeit der letzten Posaune. Denn es wird die Posaune schallen, und die Toten werden auferstehen unverweslich, und wir werden verwandelt werden.

I met a man who said these words to me
About “immortality”: it is not what
You would expect, and it is not, you see,
A thing that starts here or there like that.
How many times could you seriously endure
A single marriage in all its complexity
What children become, the pain that is pure
The uncertain hours of waiting, perplexity?
What you say you want is a trick of memory;
Von Neumann said off the top of his head,
The brain forgets nothing in its treasury
The brain retains the bread and pain for the dead.
And then we go on, carrying this weight
Up the side of the mountain. We love what we hate.

– Edward G. Nilges 2010

Workout log 3 July 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 3, 2012 by spinoza1111

30 minute free dance with weights including many “off the wall” standing pushups with negative curvature to heal back. Have some sort of procedure today based on PET scan results. Coming to end of stilnox sleep aid don’t want to refill. Before la debacle was able to fall asleep by simple focus and quiet meditation and “cognitive” therapy: this is knowing that when we think we cannot sleep we are actually catching short intervals in most cases.

May also use the “night watch”. This is based on the fact that before electric lights people used to awaken normally, but in a quiet and meditative state, around midnight. It’s happened to me in the wilderness. Might involve a walk to the beach.

Back continues to improve. Have Epsom salts to address the numbness which is the “logical baseline” of the pain since you always have numbness when you have pain but not vice versa. During the freelance, a running movement caused no pain but we shall have to see.

Workout Note 13 June 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 13, 2012 by spinoza1111

Yesterday’s colonoscopy has revealed no cancerous structures at all. This isn’t necessarily good news since we need to find the source of the bad guys (the cancerous cells) in my lymph nodes. It means more tests. But hark, forward, all the same. My body is a well-maintained body in many respects but somewhere there may be a malignancy, probably caused by my isolation and stress

30 minutes free dancing to Bach, and Journey to the Line by Hans Zimmer. Choreographing one’s own dancing seems less “intense” than doing a workout based on a leader or a DVD, but it’s a good way to learn my body as it ages and deal with my illness.

In particular, I took the idea of “cardio” from Billy Blanks: just do the same thing again, twice as fast. That guy (Billy Blanks’ Taebo) is a riot…he somehow got on that series ER with George Clooney, and promoted his tapes in the nineties in an episode where Kerry got mad at the nurses for doing his workout in the ER. Plugola, but a useful bit of plugola.

Can’t do impact since that kills my lumbar gaps whose narrowing causes sciatica. But can do plie (bending and straightening the legs while the feet remain on the ground) while using weights at a cardio rate.

Never need “ab” work which I used to love (crunches, etc.) because of sheer vanity and it made me better able to chase after my kids when they were little. This is because as Bruce Lee said, every move you make involves the abs. Making them visible from vanity simply needs proper diet. I have a new blender and have learned, in theory, how to make fruit shakes for breakfast.

Pushups, both full-on and with the lower body on the floor, are good for the lumbar area.

All is vanity…I think one should celebrate one’s own particular type of body and physical fitness. Hatred of the body and Creation itself tells people not to be “vain”. But that Eighties running boom taught me that it is not vanity to touch the face of God or Nature on a run.

It also taught me that fitness is multidimensional. It’s not a one dimensional scale from wimp to bully. It is a sort of “Kiviat diagram”: this was a two dimension shape that expressed computer power along different dimensions. Your fitness goal has to be a shape rather than a number.

Mine right now has to be increasing upper body strength which I’ve always neglected.

No pain this morning, but a lot of numbness in the foot.

My rule for using painkillers as a recovering something or other is simple. The goal is to get off the painkiller without punishing oneself for the athlete has to use pain empirically as data. In particular I need to get off Cosalgesic (codeine based) and Stilnox (sleep aid…puts me out like a light). I need to watch the other medication, ibuprofen and to take it with antacid, it wrecks your digestive system.

On the one hand we have the pleasure of looking forward to the painkiller especially at the end of the day. I do not think that there’s anything wrong with that. Orwell wrote of Englishmen in the Thirties who would take aspirin recreationally, just one tablet with a cuppa, and he was a great spirit who did not condemn Anodynes in that grim world.

On the other is the challenge to use it properly, to set a goal.

The military is filling men with drugs in the bestial wars of the Middle East in its own interest, and then casting them aside, and this year, military suicides have outnumbered combat deaths. It must be very hard to be a drug counselor in the military, for the needs of the beast machine war with your desire to help the guys.

My rules for going back to running, if I do:

1. No use of painkillers and no pain for a week, with no significant numbness
2. Five minute trial “run” followed by 24 hours monitoring
3. Two miles

I have plenty of options if my last run ever was on my son’s birthday. As Emerson wrote: when the half-gods depart, the gods arrive. Gods and grand-daughters.

Walking lessons

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by spinoza1111

Stripes, a Moron Movie of 1981:

Sgt Hulka: HUP two three four…
Harold Ramis: Hey! We’re walking!

First of all I mostly feel grateful for thirty years of running all over the world if my running is at an end; if the sciatica is linked to my cancer it may be (it is not known to be at this time). It is like Chief Dan George, in that old film Little Big Man: thank you great spirit (Welt Geist in “St Louis Hegelianism” a real if forgotten American school of philosophy): here is part of a prayer of thanksgiving from the Haudosaunee:

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

In the scene of Old Lodge Skins (played by Dan George) in Little Big Man, he thanks the four winds, the sky and the ground. He then proceeds to die but cannot. So he and Little Big Man go down the mountain (in a possible reference to Abraham and Isaac, who went down a mountain?) and Old Lodge Skins says, do you want to eat.

Moral: don’t count your chickens.

Now, my left leg is gimpy. Apart from the pain, which characteristic of sciatica starts in the lumbar, chomps on the piniformis in your ass, then smacks the great muscle that fronts the great Femur, and, for shits and giggles, hits your hip joint, with in the worst cases causes a bit of referred pain in the other hip joint (which may just want to join in the fun, although I do not know how the pain goes through equine cauda), the constant, unlike the pain which comes and goes, is the surface numbness connected with a deeper difficulty in keeping the left foot in tune with the right.

Well, I know that running will cause agony. My last run was fine during the run but caused pain later. Comments from runners are welcome on this issue, since as gradually over the years at Power Station Beach, as I turned from the initial start into the first stretch, I could feel the left leg’s slight unwillingness to get on parade, to get with the program. I also stumbled on it during my dance performance last December.

But the left leg was always able to get on parade and then the overall “high” made me forget its weakness.

I have since 26 March (my son’s birthday) stopped all running to replace running with the equivalent time spent dancing with weights, working out with “Badass” Billy Blank in his Ripped Extreme Tae-Bo workout and swimming or dancing in the water. This and a radically improved diet gives me “negative” love handles where the flesh retreats from the hip slightly and visible abs, both of which I am very vain. “Positive” love handles are a male bane, simply because we have narrower hips.

Yes, all is vanity. But Creation should be celebrated and not scorned. To TS Eliot, and “that which is only living can only die”, I say this is wrong, and “love that well which thou may leave ere long.”

Walking with weights is reasonably aerobic, I need to do it more.

Steps are great because your gait is far more manageable yet they are almost as aerobic as running. I was most delighted to climb Queen Mary’s stairs during my stay last week. There is a set of steps that rises above Sok Kyu Wan on Lamma Island and leads to the rather remote beach of Tung O Wan, where there are black flowers and white butterflies in June.

I need to watch food intake. The pain causes depression, and my own vegetarian cooking in this Dawn of Man needs to be doused in hot sauce to be at all palatable since it’s raw vegetables in a commercial soup base. So I eat light. But last night, at a great vegetarian restaurant in Wanchai I couldn’t stop eating different delicious bits and forgetting to use serving chopsticks. But that’s probably OK because one good thing about cancer is that it isn’t contagious, and your friends do not shun you.

At this point my lifetime thinness is not implicated in the health problem. Indeed, it has probably delayed onset of cancer, and has helped me to avoid common illnesses.

Running at Sixty

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 16, 2010 by spinoza1111

Listen! To an even better tune than Chariots of Fire, also by Vangelis: L’Enfant. Featured in Peter Weir’s film. The Year of Living Dangerously. The YouTube music will open in a separate window and you can come back here.

I know no other Heaven
And this, I know of Hell
The space I take when out of Breath…
This, my Angelus bell.

The Hill was there when a darkling Plain
Took the place of the wide wide Sea
The hill doesn’t care about such as Me
I take comfort in this Mystery.

The wounded Insect fills his wing
Again with what’s left of Blood
This is said to be a holy thing
As holy as the rood.

The pious Jain doth carry a Broom
With which to whisk away a fly
Lest he be shamed by corporal presence
Where each one is a soul, and an I

And so we come to to the top
Of a small hill: ’tis my Calvary
I miss Church each Sunday morn
But cannot ‘scape the mystery.

16 March 2010 Edward G. Nilges. Moral rights have been asserted, paradoxically enough. With apologies to Emily Dickinson for swiping her style.