Owies

I’ve had a challenging few weeks.

It started off with a typical sinus infection… or allergies, I’m not sure which exactly. All I know is that I had a sore throat, stuffy nose and semi-regular headaches. I managed it with cold medicine and nose spray the best I could. I continued my normal workout regimen because usually, working out actually helps with congestion. This wasn’t the case this time around.

The problems hung out for a few days. It started to clear up on Friday around my birthday. On Sunday, we decided to go on an 8.5 mile bike ride. It felt great to be out in the sun and spring air. When we got home however, my right ear instantly filled up. It’s like someone poured glue in my ear. It started a high-pitched squeal.

The worst part was the pain. The pain was epic. I’ve never had pain in my ear like that before. It was so brutal that I would try anything to get rid of it. I tried all kinds of home remedies. Nothing worked. A few days later I finally went to the doctor and he confirmed it was just a massive ear infection. They gave me a shot of some plant spores in my ass and sent me on my way.

A day or two later we were sparring in Tae Kwon Do class. I was fighting one of my classmates and decided to do a regular, clean roundhouse kick with my right leg. I brought it up. So did he. We kicked at the same time. Our shins met and clacked like swords. The pain was instant and terrifying.

The bruise was even worse. Fifteen minutes after sustaining the hit my leg was already bruising.

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The pain subsided a little bit. I suppose it was adrenaline kicking in or something. Who knows. It really didn’t feel that bad. Then I got home and noticed my leg was burning. I looked down and discovered that it was pissed.

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This really wasn’t turning out to be my week.

I forgot the best part. While this fantastically shitty week was going on… I was working from home because of how awful I felt and the fact that I was deaf in my right ear. I just wasn’t fit to be around people. I had absolutely zero joy to share with the world. I was working along on and then decided to take a break. I went downstairs to grab a drink or a snack or something. I don’t remember. I came back upstairs and my Macbook Pro was completely black. The fans were running… loud. This wasn’t good. This usually only happens when I’m booted into Windows 8.1.

I pressed a key. Nothing.

I powered it off. I waited a few minutes. I pressed the button once more to turn it back on. I was confident this was all going to be okay.

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Nope.

Yeah, that’s my Macbook Pro with a blue screen of death.

I made a genius appointment. They took it in and held on to it for a few days. They contacted me back around three days later and proclaimed that the Data Doubler part I had put in to run the secondary SSD was faulty. As soon as they unplugged it from the logic board everything was fine. “Weird,” said I, since this had been running fine for three years. I picked the laptop back up. I turned it on. Sure enough, it was fine.

Fifteen minutes or so later, it died again.

thanks apple

I made another genius bar appointment and brought it back. This time I had replace all of the original parts in the MBP.

During this time I worked off my iPad as the primary machine for a few days and then switched to my 2008 Mac Pro. This was fine because I wanted to work from home anyway, thanks to my medical challenges.

On Saturday that week they returned the MBP with a brand new logic board. It’s been working fine ever since. This time, I thank Apple… without the sarcasm.

My leg and my hearing were still bad. At this point I’m in week two of a nightmarish way to start my 43rd year. I was having trouble walking for sure and my leg developed hematomas all over the place from the injury down to the bottom of my foot. I was icing it regularly and doing my best to keep the swelling down. The swelling is what was hurting the most. The injury itself wasn’t that bad.

Now it’s about three weeks later and my hearing has gotten better. I ended up visiting an ENT thanks to a friend of mine who works there. I had been prescribed another round of antibiotics from my regular doctor.

He also put me on blood pressure medicine.

Out of all of the maladies, this was the most crushing I think. I felt like I had failed. Three years ago this doctor had told me to lose weight or face high blood pressure and diabetes. I lost 80 lbs. over the past three years and I’ve managed to keep most of it off. I was putting weight back on this week because… this week. I wasn’t given a choice on the blood pressure medicine. This saddened me for a few days, but the more I think about it, the more I think it was a good idea. We’ll see.

Overall it’s been a really tough week. I’m getting through it. I’ve not really worked out in 2-3 weeks and that’s been tough. I hate feeling like I’m a lazy bastard. I hope the worst is behind me and it’s nothing but up from this point forward. I probably needed a break anyway.

A Single Kick

This past weekend I had the honor of participating in the Alabama State Games‘ Taekwondo competition. This is the third year for my son to participate in this particular tournament. It was my second. I started TKD in November of 2011 and have advanced at a moderate pace to a blue belt with a red stripe.

Originally, I started TKD as part of my effort to lose 120 lbs. and get my health back. It has assisted in the loss of 80 of those lbs. (and I’ve been stuck there for quite a while, unfortunately, but that’s another story). Now the love of TKD has taken me over and I thoroughly enjoy it for many other reasons. I especially enjoy the sparring competition. I’m not very good at it, but I still enjoy it.

I signed up to the competition as a green belt. I downgraded myself just so I could feel better about it, yeah. What of it? My son entered as a blue belt (he is a red belt in class). I had a pretty good inkling that I would fight one of my classmates who is also a green belt. That worried me a little bit. He’s taller than I am and when I fight, taller people are the bane of my existence. They’re hard for shorter people to fight. You have to be able to move/dodge and out-fake them quite a bit and that’s just not something I’m good at.

This classmate had acquired an annoying new skill that drives me crazy when fighting taller people. The defensive side kick posture plagues me. I spent all week trying to figure out what to do about it. When we got there… he didn’t use it. Not at all.

Now that I’ve set the stage, here’s what I remember of the fight.

My coach was one of our black belt classmates who actually taught him the defensive side kick posture (and yeah, he uses it on me in class, damn him). My opponent’s coach was, shockingly enough, my best friend… who is also a black belt in our class. I actually didn’t realize it was her until after round 1 was over.

Anyway, round 1 begins and I launch into this guy with a fast kick. He immediately charges me with a front push kick and brawls me out of bounds. I wasn’t expecting this. I was expecting the defensive side kick. I did not expect him to go with a gate crash style of offense. That shock played all through the first round and I think I may have scored 1 point. I went out of bounds twice. If I went out of bounds again, I would start losing points. That’s no good at all. Inbetween the rounds, my coach asked me what was wrong. He mentioned that he’s doing the same thing every time – a front push kick and leaving himself open.

It was about this time that I realized my best friend was coaching my opponent. I was a little flabbergasted at this. She knew all of my tricks (what few tricks I had) because she worked with me a lot in class and we’ve spent a lot of time discussing tactics in matches. She knows what I’m thinking. This can’t be good. It’ll either make or break me. At first I was a little ticked, then I realized… wait… she’s probably in a worse position because she’s conflicted about what to give away to my opponent about what I’m doing.

The second round begins and he gate crashes me again. This time he brawls me out to the side of the mat and one of the few things that I remember from this fight is that I felt my foot hit the very edge of the mat. I could tell that if I didn’t lock my leg and strengthen up, I was going out for that third time. I refused to let it happen. I puffed up and pushed myself off to the side to get away from him. On the way out I did a switch roundhouse or something… I think… and started to make up the point deficit.

By the end of the second round I wasn’t as behind as I thought. I could do this. I sat down and expected them to call the fight. I was sure I had lost. However I was quite surprised to discover we were going for a third round. This shocked my friend/opponent as well. He told me later that he used all of his energy in the first and second rounds and had no gas left for a third. I was the opposite. I decided to capitalize on this chance to take the fight back to him.

Again my coach warns me about the front push kick and the gate crashing tactics. I’m getting wise to it. I’m not dealing with it perfectly, but I was getting him off me more effectively. The third round starts and I managed… somehow… to launch into him enough to completely tie the score at 22-22.

That means an overtime round.

In Olympic WTF sparring rules, an overtime round means whoever lands the first scoring kick wins. I went to the side of the ring. My coach stands in front of me and smiles. I didn’t sit down.

“Aren’t you going to sit down?” he asked.

“Nope.”

I was pacing side to side to keep my heart rate up. I wanted to get in there and finish this so bad I could taste it.

“Alright,” he said. “Here’s what’s going to happen. The ref is going to say begin and he’s going to charge you with a front push kick. Get out of his way and get him back. Either get out of his way or front push kick him first.”

“Done.”

The ref called us back to the ring. I waited patiently. The ref said begin. Sure enough, my coach had called the shot. He drives forward with a front push kick. I did the same thing. I went forward into his kick with my own front push kick. Apparently we made contact at the same time – or enough of the same time to confuse the judges on who landed the kick. I remember my right leg going down to the mat and my brain asked… “Is this match over? No one is calling it.” Quickly, I did a switch roundhouse and tagged him with my left leg.

Bingo. That was the kick they scored.

In the end, I won the match. Somehow.

It was exciting. It was stressful. It was rewarding. I bowed to my friend, shook his hand and hugged him tight. He’s a great guy and he fought hard. He told me later he wanted to give the kids a good fight to watch. He knew that if he had done the defensive side kick it wouldn’t have been exciting at all. I was going to try to make it exciting – I had spent all week preparing for it. In the end it was the wrong thing. I finally starting to develop enough instincts to bend the match in my favor when I need to.

It was a great, great experience.

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