Sunday, May 20, 2007

Land of 10,000 steps

So I had a month away from work. I had envisioned this month as a period in which I'd spend a lot of time in bed at first, gradually increasing my activity level, so that by the time I was ready to return to work, I'd be comfortable having my wife drive me to work, and I'd be able to walk from the car into my office. Then, I could show off my scar.

As it happened, my "Days Spent Mainly In Bed" scoreboard never ticked higher than "1" - the day of my surgery. By the time I left the hospital, I'd worn a path around the North Tower of Froedtert Lutheran Memorial Hospital, which conveniently has a large square circuit path that leads through the cardiac unit and through some of the public areas of the hospital, a fact I had to keep reminding myself as I adjusted the bag attached to my catheter.

But the point is, from the time I made it home, I was already at the stage of my recovery in which I was ready to Increase My Activity Level. As anyone who has faced a potentially long recovery can tell you, it's important to have an environment that makes it easy, even pleasurable, to exercise. Fortunately, my neighborhood is just such a place - lots of pleasant, tree-lined sidewalks, blocks of moderate length, and - most importantly - a donut shop just a quarter-mile walk from my house.

Especially at first, a quarter-mile was the perfect distance -- just long enough that (after major surgery) I was pleasantly winded by the time I got there, and in need of a nice, donut-eating breather. And likewise, the walk back was just long enough to leave me pleasantly winded and in need of a comfortable couch by the time I got home. Plus, I could justify the donuts as long as I was getting in that half-mile roundtrip walk.

The walk also put me in better touch with my neighborhood and its people, whom I can now divide into three groups: People with kids whom my wife and daughter know from various playgroups and other activities; People with kids whom I recognize from the donut shop; and people without kids whom neither my wife nor I knows.

(The problem is, I'm usually unable to distinguish the first two groups from each other. Typically, I'll be sitting in the donut shop, and I'll see a woman - sometimes a man and a woman - with a couple of kids, and I'll recognize them, but have no earthly idea whether I've been introduced to them, or whether I recognize them just because I've recognized them before. They all recognize me, of course. I'm the weird guy staring at them in the donut shop as though I recognize them.)

But sooner or later, that situation was going to end, unless my employer allowed me to produce my radio show from the donut shop. So without the quarter mile trip to Cranky Al's to inspire me, I needed a new gauge for my recuperative progress. So I've employed the services of a $5.99 pedometer from Target.

The medical, or at least the pedometer, industry believes you should walk at least 10,000 steps a day to reap the benefits of walking as exercise. My trusty pedometer helped me close in on that goal in two key ways:
  1. I've learned that my walk to the bus in the morning is about a half-mile, or around 3100 steps.
  2. The pedometer was so sensitive that crossing my legs while sitting at my desk generally registered as a step, and I apparently cross and recross my legs roughly 1100 times every day.
You'll notice I've switched to the past-tense. This is because in a tragic turn of events this morning, my pedometer fell into my cup of coffee and has suddenly became not sensitive at all, even less sensitive than guys in beer commercials.

In a staggering bit of frugality, I've taken it apart and put it back together several times, and I am pleased to report it no longer is non-functional as a result of falling into my coffee. It is non-functional as a result of my taking it apart and putting it back together so many times.

So I will be forced to find another way to chart the progress of my recovery. And thankfully downtown Milwaukee affords several opportunities - Dunkin' Donuts outlets at 2700 and 3300 steps from my office.


Anonymous said...

The pedometer fell into your cup of coffee? Where exactly were you wearing it prior to the fall? In any case nice to have you back.

Anonymous said...

I think this is God telling you it's time to update your pedometer. $6 on a pedometer, surely you would want one with a few more bells and whistles, maybe something with a built-in donut counter.....

Mitch Teich said...

I hope the Sportline people are reading this. A pedometer with a built-in steps-to-donuts calculator. That is a piece of technology I could get behind.