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Living in Society

Feeling A Cage

Peppers gleaned from the garden.

While riding my bicycle around the trail system I press against the edge of a boundary. It is mental, not physical.

I feel trapped in a cage, ready to break out.

June 18 was the first bicycle trip. I don’t remember where I went. The scale told me this morning I dropped two pounds since then. The purpose of increasing daily exercise wasn’t weight loss though. It was a way to deal with my diabetes diagnosis.

Since seeing my health practitioner in June I developed five types of exercise to get my heart going, produce a sweat, and support whatever magical physiological workings reduce blood sugar. I missed only three days of 25 minutes or more of exercise that included bicycling, jogging, using a ski machine, walking, and sustained gardening and yard work that produced a sweat. Combined with watching my carbs, eating fewer big meals, taking Vitamin B-12, an 81 milligram aspirin, and a cholesterol drug, my numbers came down to a more normal range. If I went to a physician today I wouldn’t be diagnosed with diabetes.

I’m ready for what’s next.

Part of me wants to ride and ride the bicycle. Mostly I run one of four five-mile routes and once or twice a week ride 10-14 miles. I have no interest in riding across Iowa with the tens of thousands who do so most years but I’m pressing the limit. I want more.

Desire is balanced by caution because of my age and the age of my 40-year old bicycle. Bicycles are always needing repair, adjustment, and maintenance so I’ve learned new skills and identified a bicycle repair shop. Even though I don’t work outside home there is a lot to do and I can’t afford a two or three-hour daily trip just because I’m restless. My lower body is strengthening and my jeans fit better. For the time being that may have to be enough.

During the days before the Nov. 3 U.S. general election the limits of my range are more profound, the cage more tactile. A lot depends on the election outcome. If Trump and Republicans do well, there is one course. If Biden and Democrats win there is another. I expect the results to be mixed in Iowa. There is a broad Republican base where Democrats win majorities only when everything aligns. Recent polling showed Biden leading Trump by 14 points in national popular vote polling. Hillary Clinton led Trump by 14 points in the same polling exactly four years ago. Political work remains this cycle.

With cooler weather approaching I’m not sure how much more outdoors exercise I can accomplish before winter. I have a good start on the ski machine and expect that to be my daily regimen until it warms again. Between the plan and reality comes a shadow.

For now, I’ll continue what I’ve been doing. At the same time this bird wants its freedom and to break loose from restrictions of a cage where we’ve been living too long. Not today, but soon.

Categories
Living in Society

Turn Around

Turn around point on a two mile run.

Some days I don’t leave the Lake Macbride watershed while exercising. What we do here flows to the Iowa River and then downstream to the Gulf of Mexico.

Our personal goal is to contribute as few pollutants as possible to the watershed. We’re not the only ones who live, play and work here though.

The lake is polluted with nutrients from runoff. Evidence of surface algae and beach closings because of e. coli. contamination are standard. It didn’t used to be this way. Locals continue to use the lake for fishing, boating and other recreational activities. I stay out of the water and use the extensive trail system for bicycling, jogging, walking and soaking up Vitamin D.

Over the weekend I worked with the county Democratic party in a campaign sign distribution activity. Our home was one of five sign pick up locations throughout the county. Activity was slow. Most people continue to deal with the aftermath of the Aug. 10 derecho and with this week’s resumption of K-12 school. People are aware of the Nov. 3 election, and mostly know for whom they will vote for president, but not engaged in politics at any significant level.

I have a back up bicycle I will dig out and get ready to ride while I figure out what to do with the blown tire of my main one. The goal of exercise is to find four activities that produce a good sweat after 25-30 minutes and can be done easily from home. Bicycling and jogging I’ve written about. There is also a ski machine which serves for indoor and winter exercise. Need to come up with one more type with the ultimate goal of rotating exercise daily. I’m monitoring the condition of my feet, knees, hips and lungs as I venture into jogging for the first time since 2014. As I age I’m monitoring a lot more than that.

Next week I return to the clinic to review the newest panel of blood tests. Since my last one I’ve been exercising more, gave up beer and alcoholic drinks, and started a prescription to address elevated LDL cholesterol. I feel I’ve been doing the work. We’ll see if the results show it.

Life could be worse than living in the Macbride watershed. Whatever concerns we have about living here at least we don’t live in the COVID-infected metropolis. While I provided easy access to yard signs I wore my mask. I’ll be using my masks for a while.