Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 76 and Lost Time

I didn’t used to keep much of a routine. Startup life and Manhattan nightlife made for a lot of variability in my days. But the trick of losing your body to sickness means that you don’t need the novelty of nightclubs or the emotional highs of startup life.

My body now provides all kinds of surprises all on its own. I can feel terrific one day and the next for no apparent reason I’m practically immobile from pain. The frequency has gone down significantly this year thanks to modern medicine and a lot of biohacking but let’s just say I’m grateful I work on the internet so no one cares if I’m flat on my back typing in bed.

But one things I’ve found to be extremely helpful in managing the foibles of an unreliable body is a deliberate routine. I honestly wish I had learned the value of routine earlier in life. Maybe I’d be healthy now if I had shown the same dedication to supplements, exercise, meditation and sleep. Objectively that’s probably unlikely as some stuff is just chance and generics but man when you find something that works you want to retcon your whole life.

But there is a downside to routine. You cannot get sucked into work manias because you have to stop to meditate or take a supplement or get in a workout. Routines keep you from meandering as you can fill a whole day with good behavior. But life sometimes needs more randomness than a strict day of check lists. Today I felt like an entire disappeared to my routine and while physically I feel well I’m not entirely sure I got anything done despite having taking all my pills on time. I lost time between all the good things I was going to keep stable. Sometimes I worry that all this effort will keep me from the creativity and serendipity of a life lived without good habits. But then I might end up sick and back in bed so I hope it’s a fair trade. But I still worry I’d rather lose time to work binges or nights out.

Categories
Chronicle Finance Internet Culture

Day 74 and Unfinished Thoughts

First off I’ll admit that I don’t really feel like writing today but I’ve committed to “putting pen to paper” every day so I’m stuck with it. I have a dozen topics I actually want to discuss but I don’t feel like I’ve got it in me to be coherent.

I’ve been thinking about how the idea that all property rights are a gradient from violence to grift to institutional legitimacy and this is just how civilization codifies worth. I’m particularly interested in it because we’ve reached the NFT is a grift stage of the discourse but I’m not at all convinced that NFTs are a grift for the reasons people think.

And while I’ve made really elaborate jokes about NFTs, finance, crypto and semiotics with illegal.auction I’ve noticed people with vested interests in this category working out, really don’t want anyone to joke about it. It’s likely wise as we all have varying degrees of horror that property rights is always some degree of grift working towards legitimacy.

That we don’t like to touch on it amuses me. I suspect that the internal logic of wealth and money as always being abstraction guarded by state violence is just too much for folks. It hurts too much. It makes us angry. Surely money, wealth and inherent worth must exist in a moral framework? Good hard working people are rewarded with wealth right? If you want a truly excellent read on the subject of property rights, violence and investing I recommend this essay on emerging market investing and Deadwood by Ben Hunt at Epsilon Theory

Another topic I also want to dig into is environmental impact of crypto and energy equity but I don’t think I’ve got all the facts. I’m still very much in a skeptic phase when it comes to moralizing over the energy usage of crypto. As if crypto brought about the carbon apocalypse on its own.

I’m sure “crypto used a lot of energy” is a valid criticism until you remember we subsidize monsoon crops in deserts (they grow rice in California ffs) and we ship plastic trinkets across the globe while a plutocratic elite consumes the majority of our resources. Maybe moralizing about impact should come with some caveats on how many lives it might improve? I haven’t seen much discourse on this topic as American media leans towards a generic tech skepticism stance at the moment which is making them lean in on attacks as it’s the wrong people who are pushing the crypto agenda. But we deserve more than “environmental impact bad” like maybe it’s a net good to use this energy to decentralize finance?

By allowing the global south and the unbanked to have access to capital instruments we actually discover this is the best use of our energy resources and may distribute wealth more equitably. I don’t know yet and I’m not even confident I can find relevant statistics that won’t overstate one tribal position over the other.

At any rate none of these thoughts are coherent or useful yet but I’m thinking about how we codify wealth and property and what energy usages might be valuable for a more equitable planet. Don’t cancel me please.

Categories
Chronicle Internet Culture Startups

Day 72 and Isolation

I’m an introvert. I do not draw energy from crowds or socializing. My energy comes from within. I like to socialize with individuals, in fact I enjoy one on one conversations quite a bit, but can easily be overstimulated by them and require a quiet period afterwards. Engagement with others draws down on my energy whereas with extroverts that engagement sustains and builds their energy. If you are curious about this framework visit the work of Carl Jung.

Despite the skill set being heavily weighted towards people skills, I suspect leaders in startup land tend to lean towards introvert. My suspicion is that it is a function of the heavily generative nature of the work, you are bringing something from nothing. To be able to consistently bring something new about you need quiet mindful time to yourself.

Sadly society, particularly professional society, is weighted for extroverts.

Open office plans, meetings, collaboration and buy in, managing up and down, all assume that that extroverted behaviors are the default positive positions for a team. Add in after office cocktails, team dinners and off site events and you start to see a pattern that privilege people for whom social interaction is enjoyable (not even considering if it’s possible or a family strain like parents).

Modern work is a battle between extroverts and introverts and the extroverts have definitely won. Which is weird as despite the Jungian tradition it may turn out that ambiverts, balanced personalities who exhibit both traits, are actually the largest group.

I’ve always loathed conferences as it depleted my energy stores for at best dubious content benefits. During the pandemic I’ve been much more willing to engage with events as instead of arranging for transit, getting polished for a professional environment, moving my productive work hours around the event, I can simply show up and learn. It’s miraculous and frankly I’m sad so many people want to move on from these accessible events as it probably means I’ll drop attendance entirely. I can say yes to a lot more if the accessibility of an event remains geared toward remote, introvert and disabled. You don’t have to be any of those things to prefer it either. Maybe you have kids and appreciate participating in the culture all those child free extroverted wealthy twenty somethings enjoyed all this time.

I’m afraid that post pandemic the extroverts will win work culture norms again. Even though we are all sick of the over scheduling and the exhausting nature of office and event culture, we miss it a little. And the boomerang back is likely to make it seem more appealing than ever. But I can’t shake the feeling that the pandemic is a bit like a societal hypochondria moment. We needed to be sick to heal our culture. Prioritizing one kind of person and their needs (the extrovert) has led to all kinds of inequalities and tensions. I hope we can come back with a little more respect for the culture and desires of introverts. I know I’ll be coming out swinging for more balance.

Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 71 and Caprice

I felt just terrific this morning. Woke up and had nary a dip all day as I went from work to chore with energy to spare. I often live in a bit of fear of the “bad” days when despite rest, nutrition, medications and supplements I feel like shit. It’s completely unpredictable which makes me feel like I live at the whim of a capricious god. Good days can feel equally bolt from the blue. I feel like I’m dying one day and the next I am hale and hearty.

Living life without much control is something all humans should probably make peace with, but I’m finding it especially crucial as I learn to live with a recovery from my health imploding two years ago. The trajectory of my health is one of continual improvement but scatterplot is jagged as hell as each day vacillates between health and pain. So while I can see that overall trend line is improvement I still get psyched out when the line takes a dip on a bad day. I am equally anxious about the good days as I seek to maximize every minute of feeling well by packing those days with to- dos. I always fear that the good day will never come again. And on the bad days I fear it will never pass. The one thing I can never seem to keep is that the data points themselves don’t matter it’s only the aggregate. And the aggregate says I’m getting better. But oh how the capricious health gods get me with their tricks every single time.

Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 63 and Directionally Correct

I default to action over inaction. Don’t know if something will work? Try it!

I’ve never struggled with paralysis by analysis. I intake a lot of information and then even if I’m not sure I’m entirely correct I’ll still jump if I’m confident I’m directionally correct. This had proved to be a good recipe for startup work and financial gain. But I’m learning this methodology is fairly shitty for health.

Medicine needs a little more patience and a lot more precision. Data points accumulate and you can only effectively progress if you can isolate what is causing distress. I fucking hate this. I want to throw a thousand drugs and supplements and protocols at my body and just move “directionally” towards health. Portfolio theory doesn’t really work on autoimmune diseases as it turns out.

Thanks to an incredible functional health doctor I have been making fast strides in my quest to control my autoimmune disease. My pain has been under control, my spinal swelling is down, my energy is up and my focus is clear. So I was particularly frustrated last week when adding a new drug to my regimen wasn’t clearly “correct” and I had no way to tell if it was directionally correct. I just have to wait it out.

I had terrible migraines. My pain spiked. My sleep suffered. And all I wanted to do was throw more drugs and supplements at the symptoms so I could get back to life. I have been doing more investing, advising more companies, and taking on more personal projects. I didn’t want to lose that. I love working.

But unlike with startup life I can’t just muscle through it and see if my bet will pay off. We have to be careful. Systemic cascades are bad in biology. Think cytokine storms and covid19 cases. I could easily undue all this progress in my pursuit of action over inaction. We need to be more certain that my body can handle this new drug regimen and winging it isn’t an option.

So I’m stuck being patient (pun not intended). I can’t push it. Directionally correct isn’t good enough. And that means slowing down so I can go fast later. In some areas you need higher degrees of certainty.

Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 60 and Never Saving Anything For The Swim Back

I’m feeling scrambled today as I’m not quite in a place where I can push myself without consequences but I’m also not so sick that I can’t work at all. It’s an awful liminal state where I’m working what is probably the actual productive output of an average person but still need to buffer in time for medical shit.

I honestly contemplate just lying about being sick some days. I could hide the disability of chronic illness and no one would be any wiser. Well minus the public posts about being sick but you get my meaning. I’d probably have to get a little bit better at scheduling work during consistent productive hours, push through when I feel like shit, and then crash when I wasn’t on the clock. I’d be seen as a little unreliable but definitely enough that I could manage as a director at some company.

I’m not sure if this says something bad about me or about the expectations of the American workplace. Probably a little of both. I’m clearly a bit of an outlier and we don’t actually expect that much output from the average worker. When I’m operating at my full capacity I blow away workloads. I sometimes doubt if I’ve ever been at full capacity and I’ve been faking it my entire life. I’ve never been completely hale and hearty. I’ve always had a tendency to put on a show when I’m in public and then retreat into recovery when in private. I’ve been a very boom and bust person.

I don’t really want to live this way though. I’d rather run a marathon than be a sprinter that is collapsing after each race. I recognize that in some way this pattern of intense work and recovery isn’t sustainable. It’s also clearly an addictive pattern. But I’m too scared to admit that I don’t really know what a consistent healthy working life looks like. I’ve been an addictive compulsive worker my whole life because I never trust that I can rely on my good hours to be consistent. I gulp at each hour of feeling well like I’ll never get them again. The fear that this is my last shot at feeling well is palpable.

One of the most formative pieces of art in my narrative self is the movie Gattaca. In a dystopian future, children have their genes edited before they are born. The protagonist of the film “Vincent” played Ethan Hawke is an “old fashioned” human conceived without any edits. He has a heart condition and other frailties. His brother Anton was given edits. Despite being an “in-valid” Ethan Hawke is able to find his way in to a space program using contraband genetics. His brother is furious and cannot figure out how his disabled brother is able to beat him. This fraternal tension plays out in two swimming competitions. The invalid brother Vincent bests his genetically superior brother Anton. Twice. How did he do any of this!?!

“You wanna know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton; I never saved anything for the swim back!”

I really internalized this logic as a teenager. There is no gene for the human soul. Winning is not about being superior it’s about giving it your all. I bought this. So I never saved anything for the swim back. Except that maybe this is a shitty strategy for anything but races. That if you need more than to win a swimming match you can’t go all out every single day. That this is actually a strategy that will kill you.

Of course, I am petrified that this isn’t true and I should be swimming like Vincent every day. That he was right that greatness is forged in extreme effort. That I should give my all till I collapse. But then what?

I’m stuck in a behavioral pattern of self limiting fear that I must always be striving or I will literally be dead. It’s live at the edge till I win. But win what? Sometimes you fail. That’s how you learn. Failure is a crucial part of success. But if I am always swimming to failure I’ll never recover enough to learn from my failures. I’ll literally be dead in the water. So I’m stuck in this place of fear where I know I can’t always give my all but I don’t really yet believe that there is any other way to succeed.

Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 58 & The Line Between Progress and Woo

While I spent my childhood deep in the western canon, now I spend my leisure hours reading science fiction. I’m just gaga for space operas, singularity stories, transhumanist breakthroughs and anything else you might put in a paperback to showcase “the future” right around the corner.

I’m what you might call an old fashioned technical progressive. Everything the future brings has a bright side. It’s probably the counter cultural hippie heritage I have. A better life is just around the corner.

Add in the additional nuance of having a chronic autoimmune condition and you can see how the line between science fiction and woo is a little blurry for me. One day a supplement is part of your favorite biohacking routine and the next it’s in the business papers making news as the latest breakthrough for life extension. That’s a real drug by the way. It’s called metformin and I take it every day.

I play around with a lot of weird “science-not-yet” stuff like a pulsed electromagnetic field to produce an analgesic effect in my spine. And I get made fun of pretty regularly by scientific method folks who scoff at basic studies that haven’t fully satisfied their curiosity.

But I honestly don’t care. I want to feel well. I want to thrive. Why wouldn’t I be trying out the latest treatments, supplements and pharmaceuticals? Why wouldn’t I experiment on myself. I don’t want to wait for everything to be double blind studied to death in twenty years. Will it kill me? No. Great let’s go.

We’ve given up on the joy of progress in my generation. We’ve let our imagination sour on the birth right of scientific advancement for the human race. It’s sad we’ve become so cynical. And sure, I often critique predatory health care that sell shame cures to the worried well. But are we confident we understand the line? I’m not. That electromagnetic device I thought was woo? My fancy upper east side New York rheumatologist used to have one in his office but found patients would rather take a drug than spend an hour on a machine even if the efficacy was the same.

Why is it so impossible that I might cure my spinal pain and reset my immune system? Is that crazier than landing Perseverance on Mars? I don’t think so. Sure I don’t like hucksters or charlatans either. And I still think places like Goop prey on desperation. But do I want to believe? Yes! Because progress happens. And it is making our lives better. We can expand our lives. Live better ones. It’s not a hopeless spiral to the destruction of the planet and our species. But if you want to come along for the ride you might have to tolerate me doing some weird shit. Till we prove it of course.

Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 56 and the Indignities of Physical Existance

I was raised in a “walk it off” family where my father got walking pneumonia like clockwork once a year. Working through it was just what tough Scandinavians braving the world did. We are tough people that can ride out the indignities of physical existence.

I find myself saddled with that self limiting belief to this day. Even as I recognize the importance of restorative rest for building physical and emotional gains. It’s hard to let go of the addictive tendency to prioritize pushing the work when you should be recuperating.

I’ve been trying out an an antibiotic that just doesn’t agree with my stomach. I found myself with a mess on my hands and the kind of emotional exhaustion that only comes from physical embarrassment. I soiled myself and I just wanted to shower and take a nap. But I had calls so I pushed through as I was excited to hear a pitch from a founder. Afterwards I was a mess. I had dug into my energy reserves and was starring down a migraine and a panic attack. Wisely I got myself in bed and took a few hours to get back to a baseline. Called my doctor and asked if there was a different option which there was.

I’m jealous of people for whom daily life isn’t a constant balancing act of scheduled obligations and exciting opportunities butting up against the reality that bodies are unreliable and even fragile. I’d give anything not to constantly have the back of my mind taken to with supplements, medications, treatments, tallies of how long I’ve got before I need a break. To be free of the many bodily concerns that have come to define my existence. Oh how I envy those that never worry about what new thing their frailty will bring them today.

The feelings passed and I was able to go for a long hike in the snow in the afternoon. But the fear of never knowing when my body will go from reliable to requiring help is a burden I’d like to give up. I’m hard at work trying to make it a reality.

Categories
Chronicle

Day 52 and Circadian Rhythm

I have come to appreciate routines and rhythms. They have a place in anchoring our lives. I didn’t always feel this way. As a twenty-something I enjoyed novelty and varied schedules. As I’ve aged the wisdom of setting your body to nature’s clock has become my preference.

One crucial routine for me is walking or hiking for an hour a day. Getting outside in full view of the sun turns out to be crucial to my health and well being. It helps my sleep and keeps my energy steady. It’s a routine I didn’t keep when living in Manhattan as there was little nature to enjoy and even less sunlight. While I walked everywhere that was a transit decision more than an anchoring rhythm.

But the past two weeks have been completely shot routine wise for me as the polar vortex brought temperatures well below zero and then a series of snowstorms piled up the powder. Usually in Colorado the sun will melt off light snowfall within hours and the temperatures will climb into a pleasant place where you can be outside without layering up. Instead we’ve been Arctic cold with snow that is sticking around past it’s fluffy white powder phase.

The biggest impact has been on my sleep. Typically I am in bed by 9pm and try to stay off my phone. I’ll read and drift off to sleep. Without the sunlight resetting my circadian rhythms I’m letting the blue light of my phone tempt me into staying up “just a little bit later” till I find it’s past midnight. It’s not even doomscrolling. It’s just not winding down when my body normally does. Rather than falling asleep naturally I’m struggling to come down. So I talk myself into just reading one more article and then I’m sure I’ll be tired. Then another. And another. And well you get the picture.

This is beyond the help of hot tea and magnesium. Only sunlight and movement in the morning is going to reset me back. Thankfully it seems the Arctic air has passed. I’m tempted to take a double Ambien and force myself to sleep so I can restart the process in the morning with a good night sleep and a wander in the foothills. So on that note I’ll leave you to a good night as well.

Categories
Chronicle Preparedness

Day 49 and Waste

I’ve been using WordPress as a content management system for fifteen years or so. It’s had a penchant for losing drafts all of that time. Journalists complain about it constantly. You tend to retain that information in your lizard brain after losing a few pieces and get in the habit of saving things into other systems when it starts to get janky. Call it muscle memory.

However, as I learned tonight, if you don’t have a longtime blogging habit you don’t have this habit. I spent the last forty five minutes writing about my memories of Hurricane Sandy and how the crisis in Texas is bringing back memories of the storm that brought about my preparedness interest.

Sadly an expired SSL cert meant I couldn’t publish the draft. I asked Alex to help fix it as he’s got a knack for fixing glitches quickly. I warned him that the post was only saved locally and he should copy it to the phone clipboard and paste a backup into Gmail. He apparently has never lost a draft into the hungry maw of WordPress so “saved locally” was good enough.

After deleting and reinstalling the certificate well I bet you can guess what happened. The writing is lost to the ages. Alex didn’t have the muscle memory to save it to other program. But like hell am I losing my streak of writing every day. So here I am writing about the the annoyance of spending time crafting something only to have it disappear into the ether. A new post will be sent into the world.

I’m somewhat comforted knowing that the post didn’t seem very good to me. Which probably means it was excellent. But alas some eldritch horror has spirited it away into the black hole where lost socks and blogposts live.

I also kid you not I got a text warning me a negative energy had wandered into my room and I should open the door. I guess the world knew I was pissed I lost my post. So I’m going to go burn some sage. Because I live in Boulder and honestly I don’t want the bad juju of anger on me before I sleep. the key to happiness is never going to bed angry. Or so I hear.