Your Phone is Manipulating You

Since I have become immobile, I’m now able to sift through exactly how I spend each moment of my time, and how it affects my mood. I have to pass the time by doing various things; reading, writing, playing the guitar, listening to music, listening to podcasts, watching movies and shows.  I noticed though, that some of these actions cloud my mind and depress me, while others give me focus, and the feeling of control. Why is that important? Because achieving a feeling of control is essential when you can’t do many things for yourself.  When I can’t stand for very long because my ankle swells up, and because I lack the ability to carry things in my hands that are occupied by crutches, I could submit to a helpless feeling which could be devastating.

You can break down your time into infinite ways, but I’m going to split it into two: taking action v.s. being used.  I find that I can actually do the exact same thing, but depending on my reason for doing it, it can be either an action that I take, or it can be happening to me.  Lets take reading an article.  I can read a news article on my phone, but how did I arrive at reading that article? If I was looking for information and conducted a search, and the article popped up in my search results then my viewing it is a result of an action that took.  If however, I blindly went on to CNN.com and scrolled around looking for articles and something with a flashy picture and a semi-interesting title popped up, my reading it is the result of my basic human instincts responding to a stimulus. I am being manipulated into reading it.

cnn

Don’t read this stuff

The Republican and Democratic primaries went on this week and last, and I suppose because of a need to be entertained I followed the happenings of each. I immediately noticed a drop in my mood, and an increased feeling of helplessness. It was if I couldn’t stop picking up my phone and checking the news sites to see what new development occurred. Even when I would crutch by my phone on the charger, it would impulsively divert my physical path to walk over and pick it up before I realized what I was doing. The more I had my phone tethered to my side, the worse I felt, because even when I would resist the impulse to look at my phone, the impulse was still there, and I could feel its strong pull.

Since then I have stopped going to news websites to simply read what they provide me for entertainment, but I am now able to read articles as an action that I take. I do this by coming up with a topic for research before I pick up my phone, or open my computer. Now I am hunting for information, rather than information being fed to me, and the difference is life changing.  You can do this with all sorts of activities. Did you research a movie to watch, or did amazon suggest one for you? Are you letting Pandora play in the background, or are you being active in listening to music?  I can’t control most things in my life, including for the moment my physical mobility, but I can control this small area. I can resist the impulse to be entertained, reject media being fed to me, and instead conduct everything that I do as an action that I take.

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Getting Cut

It has been a rough couple of days.  While waiting for surgery, the swelling had gone down in my ankle, and I lived a pretty decently life mostly reading and trying to keep my mind in check. Last thursday I drove down to San Diego for my surgery in what normally takes 1 hour, but as my phone told me, there were two accidents ahead of us on the freeway and so when I finally arrived late  I was stressed out.  Also they tell you not to eat anything, and to only drink clear liquids and black coffee up to 2 hours before surgery. Since I wasn’t going to be eating all day, I decided to have a little coconut oil in my morning coffee like I sometimes do for the extra energy, which promptly made me nauseous. I also probably didn’t drink enough water that day, so when I finally arrived I was stressed out from being late, nauseous, and dehydrated. I don’t love needles, but I don’t hate them either and normally I can mentally distract myself while medical professionals do their job. The corpsman walked into the room and told me he needed to insert an IV into my hand, so I prepared all the tricks I know – deep breathing, not looking at my hand, mentally focusing on something else, but it didn’t seem to work.  Just the same, the corpman thanked me for not freaking out about him inserting it and told me I wouldn’t believe how crazy people get about it, but I guess he didn’t notice the sweat bullets rolling down my head, and I told him that for some reason it was stressing me out way more than it should.

After I changed into my gown, they wheeled me into a holding room where the anesthesiologist and the surgeon showed up and started making small talk while slapping on  heart monitors and asking me all kinds of questions like if I was allergic to anything. In my haze and the flurry of activity I tried to answer all of their questions. A nurse showed up who was probably in her late 40s, very nice, and really seemed to know what she was doing. She started making small talk and pulled out a trimmer to shave my leg. “This is gonna itch like a sonofabitch when it starts to grow out. Sorry about that” she said. The anesthesiologist started telling me he was going to start the IV, and when they brought me into the operating room, they would put a mask on and feed me some pure oxygen, and then put in a breathing tube.  I was already in a daze, but when they hooked the IV up to my hand and started the anesthesia, it hit me immediately. They wheeled me out of the holding room, and into the operating room, and everything was quickly hazy. I remember a larger room with tables, and quite a few people, probably about 10, all with masks and scrubs, and all busily prepping for something.  I remember asking a question, probably if this was where the operation would take place, and I believe they told me yes. Then I said something, but I don’t remember what.  The next thing I remember was sitting up in another kind of holding room, and shape of a person said something like, “well now we don’t have to wait for that.” I asked if they were finished, and someone told me yes. Then I fell back asleep. When I woke up again, I was in another room, a private room, where a nurse asked me how I felt. “Pretty nauseous” I replied. The scent of stale plastic permeated my senses as I exhaled, probably from the breathing tube.  I tried to drink a sip of water, and not throw it up, and fell back asleep. This process of waking up, sipping water, trying not to throw up, repeated itself several times. Eventually I ate half a saltine cracker, and fell back asleep. An orderly came in and asked me if I wanted to try to walk around, and I said “No.”

In order for the hospital to release you, they must have you eat something, drink something, urinate, and walk a lap on crutches. Since I wasn’t doing many of those things, and at that point it was 930pm, they decided to keep me overnight and wheeled my bed over to an area called 5 West. The nurse and orderly there that night was incredibly friendly. They handed me a 1 liter plastic bottle, and said that I needed to use it by 2230 to ‘DVT’, which meant I needed to pee in it. What came out was a cloud, and dark yellow liquid, which to me probably indeed meant I was dehydrated. I kept drinking water and eating saltine crackers and eventually the nausea went completely away. At some point, the nurse, who was from Nebraska, asked if she could get me some food. She showed up a half hour later with a chicken salad from subway which I promptly devoured and fell asleep. I’m not sure who paid for it, but I’m going to go with that she did out of the kindness of her heart.

I was woken up to an orderly bringing me a tray of breakfast, which included fruit, eggs, and a cup of black coffee. Even though it was probably not very good, I was so hungry that tore into it. I spent most of Friday in the hospital getting different rounds of drugs, and finally made it back home in the evening, where I took another round of pills and went to sleep.

Saturday morning I woke up and took more pain meds, and suddenly realized that the Oxy I was taking was probably a bad idea.  It is a narcotic that is basically synthetic heroin, and decided that as good as I felt at that moment I would immediately stop it. Saturday and Sunday were a blur, trying to get the drugs out of my system, but at the same time taking some Tylenol for pain, trying to do some push ups to stay active, watching a bit of TV, not being focused enough to read.  Today is the first day I feel normal enough to compose my thoughts.  I was able to do a couple of sets of pushups today, but it sent my heart racing from the minimal exertion.  I might try another set later.  At least I am doing better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today.

Golden Nuggets from my Latest Reads

I quickly decided after I crashed that I wouldn’t sit around all day and consume mindless media. In fact, I developed a goal of improving myself, and the first seemly way to do that was to start reading, so over the past week I have consumed a couple of books.  Each one had some interesting tidbits – nuggets of wisdom to glean, and I will do my best to share them here. Without further ado, here is a list of books and the lessons I learned:

 

The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday

This book sums itself up in the introduction. Rather than hardships and difficulties as a curse, they are in fact gifts from god to turn you into a stronger and better person. I find this advice to be timely, and an extremely useful frame of thought. Past injuries left me wasting absurd amounts of time thinking about time lost, and how I won’t be as good as I was blah blah. What a pathetic frame of mind. Treating obstacles as gifts does wonders for checking your own negative thoughts, and also the perceptions of others that what happened to you is a ‘bad’ thing. Most importantly, it gets your mind working to all the benefits that can and will come out of it, how you can use it to your advantage.  For example. Now that I have a broken ankle, I can use the time to learn german, learn the guitar, and acquire other skills which before I had not the time.

 

Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions 

By Carly Simon

A scientific way of looking at what is memorable. It goes into detail, but the main nugget I discovered, is that memory is useful to screen current actions and events as a prediction engine for the future. This basically means that when you do an action, lets say going to the gym and working out, it feels ‘good’ because your mind remembers you working out before, and it having positive effects for you at a later date.  It then concludes that since you had a positive result in the past, it is likely that you will have a positive result in the future.  An interesting way at looking at things in terms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

 

The Book of Five Rings By Miyamoto Musashi

Musashi was a legendary Japanese swordsman, who engaged in 60 recorded duels, winning all of them. He pioneered the use of using two swords because “when you sacrifice Musashi_ts_picyour life, you would want to make fullest use of your available weaponry. It is unnatural not to do so, and to die with a weapon yet undrawn.” Musashi consistently talks about the ‘way’, which is essentially the way of overall strategy, which is of singular focus: to cut the enemy, period.   The book is very vague, but he gives guidelines as to how he achieved his knowledge of the way. Interestingly, he places great value on learning the ‘ten skills’, and learning the occupations of others. He had knowledge of woodworking and house construction, and was later employed as a sort of project manager, but all of this he alludes to the ability to cut your enemy. Musashi also constantly stresses the importance of training.

 

Confessions of a Rogue Hypnotist

This is a random book I found on kindle unlimited. This author states that hypnosis is actually a form of deep concentration, and when you are watching tv, or playing on your phone you are actually being hypnotized.  This makes a lot of sense to me, and before I read that, I observed some sort of strange power that media had to suck me in and make time as I perceive it disappear. On one recent day, I decided to do a media binge, and allowed myself to read any ridiculous media article I wanted. After a number of hours, I noticed an almost inability to think, and I had none of my own thoughts in my head. I just felt this cloudiness, and fog in my mind, which I assume people who are constantly on their phones must always have. It reiterated the value of taking some time, at least an hour, to think your own thoughts and especially to guard against external influence that does not have your best interest in mind. Be careful what you let in.

 

Stay tuned for more!

How to Heal Bones Faster

My morning routine goes something like this: move my foot around in a position with the least amount of pain so that I can sleep a little more, then eventually put my foot on the floor and allow the blood and fluids to rush into it slowly to minimize the pain of it all happening at once. Its not the fluids themselves that are painful, but the pressure it creates on the inside of my splint. Then I swing over and put my other foot on the floor, grab the crutches next to my bed, align myself and push up to stand myself up. Then I hobble downstairs and make a cup of coffee, eat a handfull of nuts, and set up in the back yard with my foot on a pillow to read and enjoy my coffee.

The pain is an interesting filter for unimportant activities. Everything is judged literally by whether or not it is worth the pain. Coffee? Yes! Going to the bathroom? Eh, I can wait a little longer. Interestingly, I am willing to go through some pain for things that I know will help me improve in the long run. I eat 3 meals a day, and as much as I can at every meal for the extra calories and nutrients.

Shortly after getting home from the hospital, I quickly researched the nutrients and minerals involved in bone healing, got on amazon, and ordered away. I stated in an earlier post that I have a goal of healing 20% faster than average, and this is part of how I intend to do it. Bone is essentially made up of a protein matrix, filled in with mineral deposits, mostly calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, so of course these nutrients and minerals will be imporant to ingest. Here is a list of what I am taking and why.

IMG_2375Protein – I eat protein rich foods with every meal, but just in case, I am supplimenting with extra whey protein. Protein is required for synthesis of that new bone matrix, and amino acids help with calcium and mineral absorption.

Vitamin C and Alpha Lipoic acid – these antioxidants help clean up the free radicals released by the fracture, which will speed healing. Vitamin C is also essential to synthesize the protein matrix

Fish oil – the omega 3s, along with Vitamin C will help reduce inflammation.

Calcium and Magnesium – as stated above, these are part of bone construction, and while the body will probably scavenge calcium from surrounding bone, it can’t hurt to have a little more. *As a note on this, I skipped my calcium pill today because my kidneys felt a little strange, so I thought I would lighten the load.
Zinc – this essential mineral is a catalyst for cellular growth. It sends the signal for protein to start synthesizing, and is specifically needed for wound healing.

Vitamine D – this regulates calcium absorption in the blood

Vitamine B6 – For some reason, this is linked to fracture healing. I don’t need to know how it works, I’ll just take it and assume it does.
L Glutamine – This amino acid is found in your muscles, and during injury, this is depleted as it is needed at the wound site. The theory is that supplementation will reduce muscle tissue and strength loss. It also supplies 1/3 of the nitrogen required for wound healing. There are a myriad of other benefits with Glutamine, such as boosting intestinal immune function, but these are the primary ones I am concerned with.

iuI really don’t have to do much for bone healing. It’s like a construction site, and I am the logistics manager. All I have to do is make sure the workers have a safe work environment, and that they don’t run out of building materials, and my body takes care of the rest.  Amazing!

Brick by Brick

I crashed a motorcycle and broke both of the bones in my ankle, my tibia and fibula.  As I lay there on the hot ash fault, looking through my visor at my foot that was pointed in a different direction than usual, I immediately realized that my plans for summer had instantly changed.  In a strange way, it was a liberating feeling.  I knew that I had an immediate goal ahead of me – get through the pain.  I now also had the time to develop new goals that could forever make me a better and more capable person through my recovery.  This journal, beginning 5 days after the crash, will detail my journey to healing my ankle 20% faster than average. It will also detail my moods, and my ability to keep my mind on track and to what is most important – using this time to make myself better every single day.  I intend to do this several ways.

For years I pmyguitarut off re-learning how to play the guitar, something I used to enjoy, so no thoughts, no questions, I just went online and ordered a classical guitar that will arrive in a few days. Now every day, I am going to spend time playing it and learning new chords and techniques.

I also constantly think about learning another language. Now I will practice one every day. I need to set a deadline to pick one….lets say I will pick a language by Wednesday.  I think it will be German, because that is what my gut is telling me I
should learn.

I have spent hours and hours, and years and years learning different stock trading strategies.  I was/am close to giving it up, because it has not been profitable, but it is something I have put so much time into, that I really should learn about options considering how much time I have already invested, and a friend of mine has shown me how much safer and more profitable they can be.

Learning to write. My goal for college is to learn to write persuasively and well. So far as I can tell, the most persuasive writing to me is that which tells a compelling story.  I instantly find myself pulled into a story, and remember much more because my mind paints all of the details, rather than trying to remember facts that are presented to me.
So where am I so far? I have already consumed two books – one called ‘The obstacle is the way’ which couldn’t be more timely. Essentially it reveals that the greatest people love obstacles because they are gifts which make them stronger and more
brick-wallpaper-30capable. Well this situation is my gift, and I intend to use it – day by day, brick by brick, to lay down a foundation, then build a house, then the city. But it starts by laying down a few bricks every day.