My Couch Dweller

I just read a facebook post from an online friend who enjoyed a two mile run with her husband. She quipped that, for him, it was a long run. It was not long for her but she cherished every foot fall because they were together.

Following her post were a number of comments, all saying how great it is when couples run or workout together and how it helps make their relationship stronger.

I read through them all and felt the strong urge to add my perspective as the triathlete wife of a couch dweller.

But, rather than put it directly on her facebook page and reach – oh, I don’t know – the thousands of people who LIKE her page – I came here, to my personal blog, to share it in more detail with you, my nearest and dearest devotees.

In the beginning, when the world was younger and I had no need to look for hair color that ‘covers all the gray and doesn’t fade’ (which is a lie, by the way), I often thought it would be fun to have a husband who shared every interest of mine.

I pictured us laughing our way through everything together. No matter what either of us suggested, the other one would say, “Sure!” and off we would go, under cloudless skies, enjoying whatever we did in perfect harmony with no disagreements of any sort along the way.

Did I hear you snort out loud just now? It’s okay if you did – I totally understand…now.

It’s not that I really thought it would happen that way. It was just, as they say, my inner fantasy. And, from the very start, I never thought it would extend to physical activity.

After all, I married a man who was never interested in physical fitness. I knew that going in. This is the man who joined the health club nearest to our home simply to enjoy the sauna, steam room and hot tub. Seriously. When he went there one day and found all three of those “CLOSED FOR REPAIRS” he marched out of the men’s locker room and asked the buffed young athlete behind the front desk how long they’d be out of commission. When the man told him it would be indefinitely, my husband asked whether or not they planned to issue any refunds for that time. Why would we, the man asked my husband? You didn’t join just to use those, did you? My husband took a step back from the desk. He stood there in all his glory, extending his arms out and down, and said, “Look at me. Take a good look at this body. Do I LOOK like I work out? YES, I joined just to use those.” And, while you are coughing through your laughter, I will add this footnote: he DID get a refund.

I worked with a woman whose husband was/is totally devoted to healthy eating and fitness. We ended up seated across from them at a company Christmas party and the man listened as my husband ordered a medium rare steak and cheesy potatoes and watched him devour a roll slathered in butter. I watched the man’s face and knew he thought he could/should try to enlighten my husband. He was known for trying to change people’s lives and eating habits – and my husband presented him with a great opportunity! Within minutes, it began. He told my husband the benefits of healthier eating and then boldly told him he wouldn’t live a long life if he kept his current eating habits. You want to live longer, right? he asked. “Listen,” my husband answered in between bites. “Living longer doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better’. It doesn’t mean you’re going to live more years like you are 20 years old. It probably means you’ll have more years sitting in a wheel chair, drooling on yourself. So, no, I don’t want more of those years. I’ll go out younger, knowing I savored every bite instead of eating tasteless food and sacrificing that for a couple of extra years.”

As you can see, he’s pretty set in his ways and more than willing to be vocal about it.

He’s overweight and knows it. He’d like to lose weight, but also wants to find that magic pill, the magic potion that will make it easy to do that. (Boy, don’t we all?) He’d like to have our doctor “just liposuction it all out of me, ok, doc?” Again, if it were only that easy…

Then there’s me. My fitness and health goals are fueled by self betterment and the need to stay physically active because I know, for myself, how much better I feel and how much I need to be active and healthy to maintain my well-being. That’s me. That’s how I roll. I want to be a great example for my children, grand children and great-grandchildren. I want to be able to do things with them rather than just watch them from the side lines. That’s just me.

Two divergent lines, to be sure.

I do not try to change him. He does not try to change me. I do not push him, although I will always invite him to go with me on a walk, snowshoeing, swimming, whatever. He does not rudely refuse – and, in fact, sometimes he does join me. I cherish those times, but I don’t resent him if he doesn’t go. It’s not his ‘thing’. He doesn’t like it. Why would I try to force him to do something he doesn’t like?

Do I think he’d feel better if he were more active? Absolutely. Do I think he’d lose weight and ultimately have less health issues? Without a doubt.

But I also realize he needs to do what he needs to do because HE wants it, not because someone else tells him he should. It’s like quitting smoking or any other unhealthy habit/lifestyle – a person has to want to change to make that change.

I also have to say that he is, without a doubt, my biggest fan and supporter. He is my sounding board – the person I can go to and express my inner most fears – whether it’s training related, race related, job related or something else in life. He is the one who buoys me, tells me how strong I am, tells me I am an inspiration to him and to our family. He rubs my back at night, lulling me to sleep, telling me he loves me. He kisses me as I head out for training and says, “Have fun!” and smiles at me when I return, always asking how it went. And when I tell him…he listens…really listens.

Can I ask for more than that?

Truth be told, yes, I probably can ask, but it probably won’t change the outcome. So, we move forward. I know I am very, very blessed to have this eclectic soul as my partner through life. My biggest fear is that he will be taken from me too soon. In the meantime, I just love him.

My Nick Note

Hindsight is always 20-20. If not perfect, it’s dang close most of the time.

When I got home from work yesterday, Nick was sitting on the couch, face streaked with dirt and his eyes looking (as my dad used to say) ‘like two piss holes in the snow.’ He was dead-ass tired. He had been working on the trail most of the day (remember, he said he needed help to finish? Yeah. Not strong on patience when he wants something done, that man of mine). He was spent. I noticed he was breathing a little hard and asked if he was okay. “I’m alright,” he assured me. “Just tired. Really, really tired.” I took his blood pressure anyway and was relieved that it was normal. He didn’t say anything, but his face said, “See, I told you. Just tired.”

He said he was just going to relax while I went to spin class. We kissed goodbye and told each other “I love you.” I left with that thought in my head.

Yet, somehow, when Chris’ phone rang while we were spinning, I knew the call was for me. I knew it before Allan came down the stairs and pointed at me. “That was Ken. They are taking Nick to the hospital. They think he’s having a heart attack.”

I’d ridden to class with Dana so I had no wheels of my own. Allan drove me to the hospital. The whole way there, I worried that he would be gone when I got there. I wanted to scream. To cry. I didn’t… because it have done no good. Instead, I concentrated on holding it together and praying. That took everything I had.

I ran into the ER lobby and was by Nick’s side in less than a minute. My mind took it all in: Nurse. Nick. Good neighbors and friends, Don & Sue Q., who had driven him to the hospital when things started to go south. Busy room. Lots going on. But the main thing was: Nick. He was conscious. Vitals were stable. Heart was beating…strong…watching the blips on the screen comforted me almost as much as seeing his eyes focus on me… Oh, so much better than the LAST time we were in that SAME ER ROOM—don’t think about that, Deb; focus on the present, not the past.

They’d given him nitro and started an IV. His limbs and lips were tingling and he kept asking me if I was rocking the bed, because that’s what it felt like to him. No, hon, it’s ok. Just relax. Take it easy. Keep breathing. Stay with me. Don’t go.

He did. Eventually the tingling left and they gave him a shot to attack the headache. Jake came by and made Nick smile. Rest and relax, everyone kept repeating. Don’t worry about anything and stay calm. Take it EASY.

Then, they sent us home. Unsteady and weak, home we went, thanks to strict medical criteria and insurance rules. But I digress- We’re home. He is still tired and his headache is lingering. He’s sleeping a lot. That’s okay. Rest, my love. Rest and recover.
I was here with him today and will be here tomorrow, too. He shouldn’t be alone and I don’t want to be away from him.

Nick will be absent from facebook for a bit. He doesn’t want his phone, either — so you know he’s just not feeling well. If you call his phone and I hear it, I may answer – but probably not. At this point, we’re just tuning out the world most of the time.

Good thoughts and prayers would be most welcome.

Resistance to Change

Most people do not like change. Plain and simple. They grumble and groan – they may even throw a tantrum – but, in some way, shape or form, they definitely let it be known that this ‘change’, this horrible, horrible change, cannot possibly be good for them/you/the world. (and kids’ attitudes can be even worse *snicker*!)

It’s been like this for centuries, throughout history. It’s affected virtually every facet of life, from weather to law and all things in between.

One of my favorite quotes about life is, “The only thing constant about life is change.” The quote is attributed to both French author Francoise de la Rochefoucauld and the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Whoever said it, the wording is clear, succinct and mindful: Don’t get too accustomed to things as they are, because they will likely change.

Our home…our tiny microcosm of the world…is not immune. We claim to be ‘hip’ and ‘with it’ (although, just writing those words, I notice how behind the times and resistant to change I am–stuck in the 60’s I am, Yoda).

We cling to the familiar. But, like the child peeping through the hole in the fence to see what’s on the other side, we’re curious and interested and not completely averse to trying something new if it offers hope, promise or some other brightly wrapped happy concept. Change is often welcome here!

Unless (until) you cross the threshold onto the sacred soils. You know the ones-
• religious conviction (wait, I converted to a different faith less than 10 years ago, so I would say I’m not exactly close minded there),
• politics (okay, my views have changed as I’ve matured, and they are not set in stone, either)
• healthy food/cooking (unbelievable that it’s ranked as one of the top three, isn’t it?) Yep, that’s one of the show-stoppers in our home. My husband will groan, complain, sulk, pout or just plain avoid healthy food. His mantra is, ‘Life is too short to waste time eating healthy food.’ If it tastes healthy, it may be good for you, but it isn’t good to eat. Meanwhile, I’m trying to prepare meals to help us be healthier.

It raises the art of meal preparation to the level of intrigue found in a Tom Clancy novel. I treasure small successes:
• we now have 2% milk in our ‘fridge instead of whole milk.
• I usually cook with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) instead of butter, although when my husband cooks it’s the exact opposite.
• Some of my recipes, like the Weight Watcher’s cheesy-vegetable soup, are actually requested meals. My husband told me, if healthy food tastes unhealthy, I like it. Point taken, dear heart.

So, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised yesterday when I had an epic failure cooking a relatively healthy breakfast.

I started out by cooking some ground pork with seasonings in a sauce pan, then draining off the oil and rinsing the pork. While that dripped in a colander, I sautéed red, orange and green peppers with onions and garlic in a bit of EVOO. I added sliced mushrooms and diced Roma tomatoes. From the living room I heard, “mmm, smells good, hon!” So far, so good.

It took a turn when I opened the canister of powdered egg whites, measured some into a bowl and began whisking. (Meanwhile, I began toasting whole grain white bread to complement the breakfast). I added two whole eggs to the egg white mix. It looked good to me! I’d added pork crumbles back to the pan and was just about to add the egg mixture when my husband ambled over. He loves to cook, so it’s not unusual to see him in our kitchen. “Why is it so frothy?” he asked. Probably from the egg whites, I told him. Long pause that stretched into a LONG PAUSE. “Are there any egg yellows in there?” he asked, trying for diplomacy. It was, after all, early in the day and I could tell he did not want an argument. Yes, dear, I answered with a definite tone in my voice. Yes, I repeated. There are egg yellows in there.

“I just asked,” he said as he retreated. I knew then that the meal was doomed.

I added some mild cheddar cheese to the mixture and (I thought) breakfast turned out very tasty. The eggs were meant to be just part of the meal rather than the focus and, for me, that balance worked. But then, I was the cook, wasn’t it?

At the table I watched as my husband picked at his food but inhaled four slices of toast (two whole grain white, two plain white) with apple butter. As he slathered the apple butter on the second to last piece of toast he told me he was ‘full’ and couldn’t finish the food on his plate.

I didn’t argue or cajole; he’s not a child and there’s simply no point. Then I watched him pluck the last piece of toast from the plate. I didn’t say anything. I picked up the plates and divided his leftovers amongst our dogs.

I take some solace in the fact he ate the whole grain white toast without comment. He says he hates it (“Blech”) and can taste the difference. If I had asked, he would have told me the apple butter must’ve drowned out the bad taste. I won’t ask. In my mind, it’s a small victory. Small indeed. But I’ll take it.