2009.12.16 A tough sell on exercising

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It feels like this is becoming a self-help column. Last week the topic was leg cramps; this week it’s moving into other territory.

But first, an update on leg cramps. After writing about my calf muscles gone wild—and the cure of pointing the toes up toward the head and the prevention by eating bananas—I received a phone call from an anonymous source. She had two words for me: Ivory soap.

She used a few more words to explain. Put a bar of Ivory soap in a sock and place it between the covers in your bed. You will no longer get leg cramps.

She admitted that this sounds a little weird, but she also swore that it works.

I’m not going to do this because I get a leg cramp very rarely and because my wife says she hates the smell of Ivory and refuses to sleep with it.

I think the leg cramp issue is pretty well covered now so let’s move on to the next problem for which I’m seeking assistance: finger splits.

There’s probably another term for this problem, but many of you will know what I’m referring to: when the skin opens up a little near the end of a finger.

It’s a cold weather thing. It seems a little early in the season for these to begin,  but we’ve had an overnight low of 6° and a daytime high of 16° this month—plenty of opportunity for finger splits to start in. My first one opened Thursday. Now I’m typing with a Vaseline laden bandage on my right index finger.

I feel the finger slip around the keyboard. I frequently stop to correct an error from the bandage hitting two keys at once. Before the winter ends, I’ll be using a modified typing system to avoid certain fingers altogether.

With the first occurrence on Dec. 11, I know there’s a lot of pain ahead before spring arrives. I think last season I set a record one week with three coetaneous splits. 

Coetaneous. I’ve never used that word before, but it sounds a little more medical than concomitant or simultaneous.

My treatment consists of applying a dab of Vaseline, comfrey salve or Bag Balm to the wound and wrapping a bandage around it. Then I go to sleep or go to work, or a little of both.

This method has fairly good success, but it’s no instant cure. And I end up going through so many bandages due to showering and hand washing.

I’m also interested in prevention. Maybe I could get a doctor to write a prescription for a move to Miami to live with my son.

I’m ready for another good anonymous phone call telling me what to do about these things. Nothing involving Ivory soap, I hope.

One more thing on the health front. It’s sort of the health front, as far as health implying being alive and death implying the end of health concerns.

Former Morenci resident Scott Porterfield sent a link to the Mortality Calculator from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

At the website, you enter information to about 20 questions ranging from the health of family members to facts about your lifestyle. 

Click the button and out comes your life expectancy. For my circumstances, the range is from 78 to 94 years, with an expectancy of 86.32. I might have a long way to go, but then you never know. The questionnaire didn’t even want to know that one of my grandmothers lived to 103.

One of the questions asks what state you live in. I thought for sure I’d get a different number if I answered “Ohio,” but it was the same. I tried a dozen states and my expectancy never changed.

I thought I might be overrating myself, so I added another stress factor. That’s probably more accurate for my job. It was just last week that I announced on the front page that Santa was coming to Fayette on Saturday instead of his actual visit on Friday. That third stress robbed me of an entire year.

I was probably fibbing a little on the sleep factor, too. Better shave off another quarter of a year there, but I could put that back on simply by becoming friends with alcohol. Two or three drinks a day restores that quarter year.

And exercise. I answered truthfully that I’m only an occasional exerciser. If I did better, I could put half a year back on.

All that work for just half a year? It hardly seems worthwhile. Let’s just get a bottle of wine.

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