Categories
Exercise Health Journal

The Strength Within

Ever since high school where many of the all-male students used to test each other’s maleness by beating up the weaker students and competing in he-man sports like wrestling and basketball (the most popular and highly funded sports in the school) to bolster up an image of glory and dominance, I’ve disliked, even hated, sports that emphasized one person’s preeminence over another. I’ve steered away from gyms where the odor of male sweat and the sight of men sizing up one another both intimidated me and made me feel scornful. And, after, the bench-warming days of the high-school soccer team, where winning the matches played a more important role in the existence of the team than the enjoyment and participation of the sport that every team member had signed up for, I have rarely gone to mass spectator games or found much interest in the super-hero athletes that so many boys get all starry-eyed over. All of it was annoying and pointless, with too much weighted toward crooning over men who spend their lives kicking or throwing a ball, rather than giving equal respect and praise toward those who might prefer to use their minds. I have nothing against people who do amazing things with their bodies and take care of their health in a balanced way; I just have little patience for people who spend too much time thinking about winning and losing.

I guess these are some reasons why, ever since I can remember, the equally physically demanding sports like hiking and mountain climbing, bicycle touring, and kayak touring have always held such great appeal to me. They don’t require that you compete against anyone but yourself, and they rarely come with rewards other than the accomplishment of reaching a peak or simply being immersed in the elements, feeling alive. I still have high school classmates who snicker when I tell them I love backpacking, thinking that what I do is somehow not cool or that it is wimpy. But that’s the thing about such activities: I have nothing to prove to anyone. And so their comments slide off, sounding silly and ignorant. I doubt most of those former classmates could keep up with me on the hills.

Over the last few years I’ve let my body run down, though, and for the first time in my life I’ve gained weight. This is due mainly to the amount of insulin I have to take, which causes me to gain weight even on modest amounts of food. With my desk job and distance from the mountains (the nearest mountains are two and a half hours away by express train and those are not even the real mountains I love walking in… it takes me at least four hours to go to the bases of the nearest higher peaks and about six or seven hours to the places I’m most interested in… all of which makes it hard to get out to where I want to be on the weekends, especially since I’ve still got to climb those slopes!) it is harder now to get the mountain training I need, but I’ve also slacked off from sheer laziness. Depression had me lying about too much, getting soft.

Back in January, though, I, and some of my university colleagues, got together to learn and train with Crossfit, a training regimen that focuses on all-around fitness by concentrating on intense, short workouts that vary day-to-day, and are scaled according to one’s level of fitness and abilities. It is quite demanding and never easy, but the results have been astonishing. My muscles have grown and the strength of my twenties is slowly returning (though recovery is taking considerably longer). I surprised myself the other day by being able to do 53 pull ups without overly straining myself. And last Sunday I did a 10 kilometer run during which the old rolling, smooth glide over the ground, where my legs feel as if I am flying without gravity, something that I hadn’t felt since 1997 when I used to run every day, returned. The fat has yet to really come off, but that is only a matter of time. When I visited my diabetes doctor last month she announced that my blood hemoglobin (the measure of the severity of the diabetes, with 6 being normal and 10 to 12, which I had been at for over seven years, being close to dangerous) was better than it had been in seven years. At this rate I will be able to scale the more difficult peaks this summer, something I had almost given up on in the last few years.

The funny thing is, I enjoy heading to the gym now. Having those young, annoyingly fit judo fighters and gymnasts from the university pumping weights alongside me no longer bothers me. For the first time I see their world a little bit more from their point of view, and it isn’t so different from mine. Maybe it’s just Crossfit, which discourages too much competitive comparison with others, or maybe it’s because I feel stronger and competent enough to challenge those youngsters should I desire to.

Whatever the reason, it’s just good to be in shape and feeling good about my body. If only they had taught this back in high school!

Categories
Journal Musings

Taking the Leap

Shetlands Puffin Beating Wings
Northern Puffin frantically beating its wings as it launches itself from a cliff and tries to make a soft plummet to the sea below, The Shetlands, Great Britain, 1995

I guess it was bound to happen. After years of uncertainty and longing to make changes in my life the pebble under the boulder that had been holding inevitability back finally let loose and the whole mess has started to come crashing down. It’s been two months since I was laid off from my ten-year teaching job, and very coldly at that. In hindsight I realize now that I’ve been a fool to hang on so long there; where I’d thought that I actually meant something to the upper level others I was working with, came the blow between the eyes that I was nothing but a convenient cog. It’s quite sobering to wake up to your own delusions.

On the same week I lost my job God played another hand, brushing away the rust from the spinning circle of doubt in my relationship with my wife. And, as such things inevitably go, with it came a torrent of pain and guilt, things which have orbited my life for far too long. The divorce now waits upon our convenience, which somehow never really seems to be the right time. How do you finally lay down the ultimatum to someone whom you still love and respect, and whom you never wanted to harm or, to be brutally honest with myself, abandon? Fourteen years. It seems like a lifetime.

That same week my diabetes took a bad turn for the worse, with blood sugars reaching into the stratosphere. I woke up one night with a pain in my stomach so bad I couldn’t walk. I kept retching up food and couldn’t stop coughing. This being Japan, with a two-month wait until my doctor would have an opening to see me, I was utterly terrified about attempting to go see the doctor for help, and, with the experiences I’ve had until now, just being given the same useless runaround about how to deal with my diabetic issues. So I decided to clamp down hard on myself and just do what had to be done. First I looked up possible diabetic complications with my symptoms and found information on gastroparesis, a result of neuropathy, or diabetic nerve damage from too much prolonged high sugars. I immediately cut out all sugar, excessive fat, high glycemic index foods, coffee, alcohol, and any snacks, and upped my intake of vegetables. I ate only what was necessary and no more, always going to bed slightly hungry. I started exercising, running every day, doing lots of stretches, weight lifting, and relaxation exercises. I completely stopped going to restaurants and instead of taking the train all the way from one place to another started getting off the train early and walking home.

The results are astounding, for me, and inspiring. I’ve lost three kilograms so far, gained some muscle, and can run ten kilometers again without huffing and puffing. The gastroparesis has completely disappeared and when I visited my doctor last week I was informed that for the first time in about a year my blood glucose levels have fallen halfway to the ideal level.

In the meantime I managed to secure a new job at a university out in the country. It’s not quite in the mountainous area I was hoping to start living in, but the job seems interesting and respectable, with quite a few more challenges than I’ve had until now. It’s a chance to finally start moving in the direction I’ve been needing to go, to pay off debts, to gain some valuable experience, to do some traveling, and perhaps meet some interesting people and make much-needed friends.

So I’ll be moving in September, making the break from this awful apartment I’ve been railing against for four years. And most likely a separation from my wife. That is the part that shakes my confidence and resolve. I don’t know if I have the courage to do it. Or the meanness of spirit. Or the blinders of a selfish fool. I know lots of people have gotten divorces, but I honestly don’t know how they manage to survive it or even know in their heart of hearts that they are making the right decision. After all, my wife is a kind, gentle woman who loves life and likes herself. I’ve learned a lot from her. I can’t imagine life without her.

But life has to feel right, I guess. I can’t forget myself or stop trying to find my personal balance. It’s been unbalanced for so long that I no longer really know what balance it is that I am seeking. I keep looking back at old memories of when I was happy and try to work them into who I am now and find that they just don’t go far enough. I need to challenge myself with new goals and new ways of perceiving. And to find some kind of nourishment that will wipe away my growing cynicism. I sense strongly that a much more rigorous connection with the natural world is imperative to my sense of fulfillment. But the question is “How?” How can I be close to the natural world and make a living at the same time? Must it always be an unacceptable compromise? Must I always be where I don’t want to be? Must I always settle for jobs that, as my mother recently stated, “most people in the world are not happy with”.

What is it exactly that makes up a satisfying and meaningful life? Is it still possible to reach the end of my life and say, “Yes, I lived my life fully and as best I could.” and to die with a full heart? Is the modern template for what constitutes a “successful” life the only option? For so much of what I see seems completely insane to me. So much of what so many people think of as important seems dull and without imagination, apathetic and blind to the world around.

I look out of my window and watch a bumblebee gather nectar from the flowers in the garden. The flowers bend under its weight and tip back their petals in perfect conformance to the bumblebee’s act, as if genetically everything was dancing to the same tune. A robber fly makes passes at the bumblebee, but turns back, perceiving the danger. Hoverflies and skippers flit among the fronds, whizzing through one another’s trajectories and circling these islands of green. A sulfur butterfly flutters along the ground, laying eggs. And beyond the houses come the electric buzzing of cicadas and the throaty calls of jungle crows. And I don’t know why but so often when I see such simple things I want to start weeping, as if I recognize that I am no longer a part of that world, but I need desperately to get back to it. It is a world that exists in and of itself, all components and members sharing in the workings of its web. Humans are part of this, I know in my head, but the presence of people always feels like a jarring off key note. I keep asking myself, “Where do I fit in? Why do I feel so unnatural?”

Perhaps that is why the teachings of the Buddha ring so much more relevantly with me than those of Christ. They talk of reconciliation with this world rather than the next. They say live today, here, rather than tomorrow and there.

Ah, a black swallowtail descends from the rain clouds into the garden like a dark angel, beating her filmy wings above the reaching hands of leaves. Then she is followed by a tiger swallowtail. And I have it. This one place, like all places, offers food for the gods. To find your own place, you have but to make your own, unique offering. It is the thanks that makes life worthwhile, not the satisfaction.

Categories
Exercise Health

Howl!

Moonlight Moosehead Lake
Full moon over Moosehead Lake, Maine, U.S.A. 1991

For the first time in almost two years the strength in my body broke through the accumulation of inactivity and slow muscles. For four weeks now I’ve been keeping up a regular succession of exercise, in part to prepare myself for less encumbered mountain walking this summer, but also to take control of my diabetes and to just plain feel good about myself. With all the heavy events and responsibilities of the last two years, turning 41, then 42, and now 43, seemed to weigh down upon my sense of vitality, as if all the voices had pummeled me into submission and I was about to join the flocks of flabby-midriffed housebounders. So many people my age seem to have given up. They want life easy and handed to them on a plate. They feel they have earned the right to rest and atrophy.

But I miss the mountains. I miss swinging my legs and feeling the air fill my lungs and my legs propelling me along the ridges. And I miss waking with a jump out of bed. I feel that piece by piece the elation at being alive is blowing away on some temporal wind, like dandelion seeds. That’s not how I want to grow older. I don’t want to succumb to cynical newspapers, closed curtains, and packages of potato chips. The engine that drives me… that drives us all… yearns for hope springing eternal. Again and again.

So I’ve embraced this physical promise of reawakening the muscles, bones, lungs, and eyes, talking myself into rhythms, tweaking a defiance against gravity, pushing and pulling at the immovable. It is a kind of dance, and the more often I reincarnate this resistance against entropy the more the movement reinforces itself and my body awakens. It is just sleep that incapacitates us.

Tending my core with Pilates workouts, yanking gravity with weights, bending branches with stretches and calisthenics, and touring my neighborhood with long loping runs and walks, all leave a feeling of occupancy, of claiming my place in space.

The effort has begun to pay off. This afternoon the weights lifted with less pull. My head inched closer to my knee. I breached the pull up bar five extra times. And most of all the run felt like bouncing, allowing me to spend more time acknowledging the glint of sunlight on the river’s water than on the crashing of my feet.

On the way back to my apartment I passed a house where a huge German Shepherd occupied a metal cage (Japanese have a bad habit of buying dogs too big for their tiny homes and often leaving them locked up in cages). Right as I paced by, the nearby kindergarten’s 5:45 chime went off, a loud, canned version of Big Ben’s bells. At the same moment the German Shepherd began to howl, sounding for all the world like a wolf. I stopped and watched him, his muzzle raised to the air, eyes shut, lips pursed, and hooting at the sky. With my rediscovered muscles bursting with energy I wanted to join in, to call to the horizon and regain paradise, the pack rolling over the hills and taking me away. Something was singing in me and I wasn’t alone.

As if a silent start gun had gone off my legs resumed their walk home. This is just the beginning. The cage will melt away, and I will heed the calling of the wild.

Categories
Diabetes Health Journal Musings

A Parting in the Veil

AEro Beach Life
Beach life along the AEroskobing coastline, AEroskobing Island, Denmark, 1995.

Back in 1994 I had to visit a country hospital in a small town west of Tokyo where I used to live. I was having problems with a pain in my abdomen. The doctor poked around with his fingers for about 5 minutes then announced, “You have cancer of the pancreas. You have about a month to live.” I was, naturally, speechless. (what exactly do you say when someone you hope knows what they’re doing, tells you that you are going to die?).

I left the hospital with my wife and wandered across the street to the strand that swept past the hospital, east and west, for 20 kilometers of black sand in either direction. It is the very place lined with black pines you see so often in woodblock prints from Japan, with Mt. Fuji looming in the background. Once a stunningly beautiful place. Today the beach is strewn with kilometeer after kilometer of washed up and tossed away garbage, so that’s it’s almost impossible to take a step without treading on some plastic detergent bottle or shard of broken glass or bauble of aluminum beer can.

In all the times I had been here before I had walked around cursing under my breath and stewing with outrage. Why the **** do Japanese have to be so slovenly and apathetic in the way they take care of the land? (It’s like this throughout the country… any illusions that people may have of a pristine, nature-loving society ought to remember that this is one of the most crowded, industrialized countries in the world… there is a reason why they have been so successful)

But that time it was different. As I strolled along, the impact of the doctor’s announcement still fresh, everything seemed utterly beautiful: the way the sunlight glinted on the old bicycle half-buried in the sand; the practical and unself-consciousness of the strip of butyle rubber, bicycle inner tube hanging from the beak of a passing seagull; even the old man, in baseball cap and socks pulled over his polyester workpants hems, who was burning a pile of polystyrene lunch platters and used, wooden, throwaway chopsticks… the black smoke drifted up into the air like a skein of incense, platitudes to the dying god on the horizon. The whole scene took on a gloaming quality, of a world sinking in embers, and each and every element that constituted its existence quietly and desperately held on to the few moments it had left to be.

I stood for hours at the wrack line, my wife beside me, listening to the waves dump and wash away, dump and wash away, dump and wash away…


I had intended to write the whole story about the pancreas cancer diagnosis, but somehow I got mesmerized by my own preoccupation with pretty words… sorry about that… leading readers by the nose is a writer’s misdemeanor.

It’s kind of weird about the diagnosis. The doctor only poked around my abdomen for about five minutes and then pronounced pancreatic cancer. When I got home that day I kept thinking, how could he possibly have known that, just by prodding me? The more I thought about it, the angrier I got, that he would so blithely pronounce my death without doing proper check-ups.

The following weekend I took the long-distance bus into Tokyo, alone and full of trepidation, to be examined by my family doctor. After x-rays, a boron test, blood samples, lots more prodding of abdomen and chest, lots of questions, and then one week of anguished waiting, my doctor pronounced me fit as a fiddle… I didn’t have pancreatic cancer. Which made me even more angry with the doctor in the country. Since this is Japan though, taking the doctor to task for his negligence and misdiagnosis is nearly impossible. Doctors are treated like gods here.

I look back now and I wonder, though. None of the doctors had specifially checked for diabetes, though I had the beginnings of all the classic symptoms (I still knew next to nothing about diabetes then). Two years later after about three months of suddenly losing half my weight, constant needing to go to the toilet, ravenous hunger and thirst, I visited yet another doctor near my new home in Tokyo and he discovered that my blood sugar was in the 800’s… I could have died any day. I was immediately checked into the hospital with a strict regimen to lower my blood sugar. This was the start of my diabetes.

I’m not sure exactly when the diabetes started, but it must have been around a while, only mild. I remember the exact day and moment, though, when it got bad… and that is weird, too. I was bicycling alone along the coast of Izu Peninsula, south of Tokyo, on a cold winter weekend. On the first night I took lodgings in a small seaside inn, the only guest in the entire place. The owner gave me the best room up on the top floor, a corner suite, with two huge picture windows overlooking the Suruga Bay, with its twinkling fishing boats out along the dark horizon. After taking a bath I returned to my room and sat in the armchair gazing into the night, when suddenly an earthquake hit, setting the whole building atremble. The next moment I got very dizzy and a sharp ringing awoke in my right ear. The ringing has not stopped to this day, and every time my blood sugar goes up, the ringing increases.

The way it all happened makes me wonder about the causes of diabetes. My diabetes doctor today denies that stress has much effect on diabetes, but two years ago, when I returned to the United States to spend five weeks with my brother after 8 years absence from the States and my family, mysteriously, though my eating habits and exercise routine didn’t change much during that period, the blood sugar stabilized at the normal levels of a non-diabetic. Upon my return to Japan, the old blood highs and problems returned, requiring use of insulin daily.

I wonder exactly what mental processes are at work here, what the great stresses of the last seven years have contributed to the demise of my health, and if the proper environment is as much a factor in preventing diabetes as diet and exercise and medicine. I find that my diabetes gets worse in the cold of winter and lightens up during the warmer months of summer. As the causes for all the anger and anxiety that plagued me in the last few years simmer down, so too has the grip of bad blood that coursed through me.

That week when I thought I would die remains with me, especially the first moments along the beach after the diagnosis. It is like a quiet song that plays in the background, arousing me to repeat the chorus. And I keep hearing the sound of the sea, reminding me of where and who I am.

But the biggest question still lingers: the diagnosis failed to confirm pancreatic cancer, but how did the doctor know that there was something wrong with my pancreas?


Coup de Vent ( of London and the North ) wondered about similar quandaries in a post (Changing Landscape) about the frustration and dismay of trying to protect land that is dear. Her thoughts further added impetus to thinking up my own post…

Categories
Diabetes Health Journal

Skirting the Border

Herrenhausen Fountain
The Great Fountain in the Herrenhausen Gardens in Hannover, Germany, my hometown, 1984.

One thing about having diabetes is that it does a good job of reminding you about the fragility of your life. Aside from the daily struggle with manually maintaining that metabolic balance that most people take for granted because it is automatic for them, just the sight of the insulin needle four times a day or the countdown of the blood sugar meter as it measures the level of sweetness in your heart, or even the waves of numbness and pain that ebb and flow with the tides of your body’s mood swings, can sometimes stop you short when you realize that what you are doing is gauging and resetting an hidden clock. And the clock keeps ticking, regardless of whether you want to set the snooze button or not.

Once a month I must haul myself over to the hospital to have my extremities jabbed and poked and probed, internal juices sampled, irises dilated and retinas blinded, veins pressed and released, substantiality of bodily presence in this world weighed, and rude questions posed about such private matters as what I ate for breakfast or how often I visited the toilet. It is like a reckoning; the Lord of Life and Death beckoning, to sit observing me while I bleed. Every time, about a week before the appointment, a cloud of guilt envelopes me, tightening my arteries and causing the banging of my heart to ring loud in my head. Was I good? Did I live up to what the doctor expected? Would all those other patients sitting in the lined up benches in the waiting lounge, expecting their names to be called next, notice that I hadn’t done my exercise or that I had eaten a MacDonald’s hamburger, or spent too many stressful hours at the computer screen? Would I somehow be punished?

There are times when the hours pass at the hospital and I watch the other patients who are my silent peers in this frightful contract. All kinds of people sit facing the blinking appointments monitor, little children in strollers, young women with their knees pressed together and shoulders hunched, old men gazing about bewildered, and overweight businessmen who fold their arms and shake one knee, still defying vulnerability. If I stare alert and don’t allow myself to slip into the stupor that the stuffy air ought to cause, I see the shadows hovering behind these people, claiming them. One afternoon an old man who had lost his eyesight recently stood ramrod still in one corner of the lobby while his wife carried out the responsibilities of getting him through the check up. He stood as if facing me, his eyes hidden by dark sunglasses. It was disconcerting because he almost seemed to face me directly, but his eyes seemed to face away just off to the side. As I sat gazing at him more and more the sink hole of empathy shuddered through me as I came to understand that he could be me, especially if I don’t take care of myself. The prospect of losing my eyesight, a very real and common verdict for people with diabetes (I hate the word “diabetics”, as if we are some kind of pariah or an impersonation of the disease itself), knocked me over the head and shook me awake. And this kind of awakening happens every time I go to the hospital; just yesterday a trio of elderly women sat beside me discussing their diabetes, like gossip over the garden wall. One of them said, with a finality that hushed them all up, “You really have to be careful. If you lose your eyesight then you’re really in trouble. I mean really in trouble!”

All this may sound macabre and morose, but in actuality it keeps you on your toes. Almost every person with diabetes that I’ve met who manages a well-balanced control of their blood sugar, gets regular exercise, and has stress lowered, seems to be correspondingly energetic and cheerful. Just look at the famous people with diabetes: Halle Berry, Mary Tyler Moore, Jerry Mathers of “Leave It To Beaver”… they all project this. Perhaps it has something partly to do with daily turning around and facing the possibility of death and not running away. It is like a Buddhist koan, an intimate comprehension of the ending of things right there a finger’s breadth away. And with the recognition of this ending, a converse eye opening to the breath of life. You can’t help but live awake and full if you face the reality of being snuffed out. Diabetes helps to remind you that, as Buckminster Fuller mused, “I seem to be a verb”. This body, doing all these unconventional misdemeanors, occupies space as a swarm of ideas, even the sensation of physicality but a synapse of one idea relating its theorem to another idea. Sitting in the midst of that swarm is the globule of the self, like an astronaut, drifting like light through the aether. You have to harness the gist of who you are and feed it with reminders of its own ephemerality, to rein it in and determine how the life you have been given, but a mere gesture, is to be lived. Reminders, although they can be scary, are good. They scoot the pebble across the pavement.

On the twenty minute walk from Shin Okubo station near the hospital to the hospital, I often pass a wizened old homeless woman huddled on the sidewalk. She never looks up and usually barely moves. Her clothes and skin are always dark with filth and drool often slips down the side of her lips. One time I found her passed out on the verge of the street, cars passing just an arm’s length away from her head. No one passing by made a move to help her. Since there was a police box a minute away I ran over there and told the officer in charge about the old woman. He laughed, as if she was a common problem, and told me that he would send someone over. I wrestled with going back to see that she was taken care of or rushing on to my hospital appointment. I decided to get to the hospital appointment, but to this day I feel I missed an opportunity of squarely facing life, of relating my experiences in the hospital and with the quirks of diabetes to the reality of a little old woman whose inability to rise to the challenge of her daily brushes with death. It is a bridge that crosses a vast, but incremental gap; and if I can but cross that bridge I will have discovered the very justification for such a disease as diabetes.

Categories
Diabetes Health Journal

A Gift

Girl Breton
Girl wading along the shore of Bretagne, France, 1989

It’s been quite a few days since I wrote anything in this journal. I want to apologize to anyone who has been checking in to see anything new and was disappointed. I haven’t been feeling well all week, what with the delicate balance of my diabetes deciding that it would commence its summer vacation without me.

And that is what diabetes is… an equilibrium of outer circumstances meeting with inner workings. Getting the disease has, of course, irrevocably altered my life and my reactions to it have ranged from rage to despair. Most people when they think of diabetes think of the scare scenes in movies, so often depicted as occuring when some hapless diabetic just so happens to be at the wheel of a car and blacks out. I’ve never blacked out, though there have been a few humiliating moments when I miscalculated my insulin dosage and, having fallen asleep, woke up sweating up a river and shaking so badly that water would spill from a glass I was holding. Luckily I was never alone when these incidences happened, but I wonder what I would do if ever something like that caught me while I was up in the mountains?

But really, diabetes, in its day-to-day manifestation, is no worse or better than managing your body in the same way that anyone who cares about their health would try to maintain themselves. If anything diabetes is like a strict coach, doing good by you when you treat yourself right with balanced food, exercise, rest, and right attitude, but punishing you when you trip up and act stupid. The symptoms that diabetes throws at you can really open your eyes at times, and remind you just how sensitive your body is to changes and things which aren’t good for it. I certainly will never forget the importance of exercising my legs and feet regularly after some excrutiating cramps that woke me from sleep screaming in agony. Those cramps in a swimming pool have nothing on these cramps… these are the kings of cramps!

Because diabetes follows you day in and day out every day of your life and never once loosens its grip on your throat it is hard to put thoughts of it aside. Like any human I have my moments and I just want to lie back and turn into a couch potato, forget about abstaining from the ice cream or potato chips or beer. At such times walking into a convenience store, or passing a pizza delivery store weakens even the hardest won patience. I want to EAT!

You would think that all this would leave me bitter and resentful. I admit that at times, like when I can’t coordinate my fingers to write clear letters or I miss steps as I walk up the stairs, anger flares up, but usually it’s learning to observe and understand myself better. The amazing thing is that diabetes has taught me to quiet the pall of anger that I used to carry around for so many years. I guess it helped me understand that there is nothing really so important or urgent as the ticking of my heart. And, for those times when the pain is great or the fear of not having enough food when my blood sugar has plummetted, really remind you of the preciousness of each moment.

I don’t know how long my health will hold out, if diabetes will one day claim victory over the equilibrium and take my life, but for now I want to coddle the daily spark that flickers in here and live each day as it comes as best I can. That is perhaps all we can hope to do. Nothing is certain, and there are no guarantees.

Categories
Exercise Japan: Living Journal Nature

Evening Rhapsody

Took a run this evening along the river near the apartment. Twilight had overcome the earlier fiery sunset and it had gotten cool enough to need a windbreaker as I ran. It had been a long time since I felt so light and agile and, deciding to take the run slowly, it seemed as if the passage of concrete and soil beneath my feet slipped past without effort. Something about today seemed to awaken the animals, too. As I left the path that followed the river and descended to the overgrown trail next to the river itself, the air was filled with bats swirling about my head. Some passed close enough to hear the soft batter of their wings. Spot-billed ducks watched me warily from the water and everywhere cats stalked among the tall stands of grasses.

It was a perfect blend of tranquility and energy. A whisper of the world long before we plastered over it.

Categories
Diabetes Health Journal

Complications

Wow, I’m weary today. It’s more than the late nights as I try to learn CG software and work on my two books. I went to the doctor yesterday to have my monthly diabetes checkup. I’ve been working pretty hard at taking care of myself lately, but to hear from the doctor that things haven’t been improving just brought me down. After I finished work I made my way home and then sat outside in the nearby park, looking at the stars and singing quietly to myself. At times the bulwarks crack a little and doubt creeps in. It’s scary watching my body deteriorate while I so love the world that produced it and gave me the means to appreciate the wonder of living.