Sunday, February 27, 2011

Match Play

I got a call the other day from the National Marrow Donation Program that I might be a potential match for a patient with lymphoma.

I don't remember exactly when I signed up for the registry.  Most likely, I did it back when I was in graduate school and thus more susceptible to the pull of good causes.

While I don't remember signing up, I do remember thinking that I would never in a million years be asked to donate; the odds were just too long, I figured.  And besides, most people who needed bone marrow would just get it from a family member anyway. 

Since I got the phone call about being a possible match, I did a little research.  The National Bone Marrow Program has almost 7 million people registered.  That's a pretty impressive number, until you consider that according to the latest census, there are approximately 308 million people in the United States.  That means that just over 2% of the population is on the registry.  Factor in that 70% of patients who need bone marrow don't find a match withing their family, and the number seems even smaller.

I'm in a wait-and-see mode right now, as they do more tests on my blood to see if I am, indeed, a match.  And I'm not going to lie, I have reservations about donating should I be a match.  But I don't see how I could possible say no.  How can you take away someone's hope like that? 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Accurate Signs

Yep, turns out that's right.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nerdy Winter Maintenance

Before I started running a lot, I used to wonder what people thought about when they ran long distances. I mentioned this to a friend of mine whose parents were marathoners, and he looked at like I was stupid and said dismissively, "What don't you think about?"

I was thinking about this yesterday as I was engaging in what passes for marathons these days, shoveling ice and snow from my driveway, when I became aware of exactly what I think about when I'm doing this chore.  At the risk of forever identifying me as a nerd, here's what it is: I think about Moby Dick, specifically chapter 67, "Cutting In," where Melville describes the process of butchering a whale.  Something about chopping the ice with that ice chopping tool.

"Now as the blubber envelopes the whale precisely as the rind does an orange, so is it stripped off from the body precisely as an orange is sometimes stripped by spiralizing it. For the strain constantly kept up by the windlass continually keeps the whale rolling over and over in the water, and as the blubber in one strip uniformly peels off along the line called the 'scarf,' simultaneously cut by the spades of Starbuck and Stubb, the mates; and just as fast as it is thus peeled off, and indeed by that very act itself, it is all the time being hoisted higher and higher aloft till its upper end grazes the main-top; the men at the windlass then cease heaving..."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fitness Room TV Rage

It's winter.  There's a lot of snow on the ground, and there's more to come.  I can't run outside because I don't want to risk hitting an icy spot.  Plus, my younger son is playing in the Hampshire Regional Y's basketball league this year, which means practice during the week and games on Saturday. As a result of all of this winter horror, I find myself spending a lot more time working out at the Y these days.   

I'm not complaining.  I've got to do something to stave off cabin fever, and the Y is just as good a place as any, I guess.   But it recently occurred to me that when you exchange the freedom of exercising outside for the warm confines of the Y, you're also giving up a tiny part of yourself to an institution.  The Y may be family friendly and all, but it's an institution nonetheless, with its own quirky rules, both written and unwritten.  And my God, have you seen some of those classes?  The way the instructor gets everyone doing the same thing at the same time? 

So take a hard winter and an institutional, soul-crushing mindset and you've got a recipe for trouble.  The discontent bubbles to the surface most notably in the cardio room, where members sweat as they manipulate various machines in front of a bank of flat screen televisions.  Everything will look hunky-dory until Channel Changing Time comes.  The staff working the cardio room are slaves to these blue binders that apparently outline in minute detail what channels should be showing what shows, when.  The idea, I suppose, is to remove the personal preference for a set of rules.  (If that's not institutional, I don't know what is.)

Of course, the problem with these institutional rules is that they don't take into account the human element.  If the rules say change the channel from X to Y at Z time, the rules don't take consider either what might be on, or what people might want to watch.  This is why lately I've found myself being entertained by infomercials for weight loss programs and The 700 Club.

I like to think that the anger from watching these shows makes me workout harder.

But I don't know how much longer I can keep it up.

That damn groundhog better not see his shadow tomorrow.