Tinnitus: Ringing in the Brain

Josef Rauschecker talks about the science behind tinnitus and treatment options. I have been fighting tinnitus for about ten years now. For the most part, I have adapted. There are times when it becomes very pronounced. It can lead to a very negative state of being when that happens.

If you suffer from tinnitus, Josef offers some excellent insight into this awful condition.

Life Is Not An Emergency

Emergency

Sometimes we’re looking too far ahead and we begin to worry about how we are going to get there while other days we’re creating too much stress by saying yes, too often. We find our plates completely full. Whatever the reason, we’ve got to slow down and breathe.

Kristine Carlson

Too many commitments and not enough time. It does come about by saying yes too often. Looking out to the future can create dissonance by making the current journey out of step with that vision of the future.

I really struggle with patience which is another way of saying that I find it very challenging to slow down. My personality is such that I expect to get everything that needs to be done in a day, well, done. If life throws a curveball, then I react poorly. I get angry, frustrated and guilty. All at the same time.

I have been experiencing an extended period of stress over the past few months. In looking at the literature, there are a number of things that can help manage and reduce stress. I need to incorporate a few of them into my daily life. This list comes from the Canadian Mental Health Association:

There is no one right way to deal with stress. The tips below are common strategies that are helpful for many people. Try them out and see what works best for you. Remember to look at both short-term and long-term solutions when you’re dealing with stress.

Identify the problem. Is your job, school, a relationship with someone, or worries about money causing stress? Are unimportant, surface problems hiding deeper problems? Once you know what the real problem is, you can do something about it.

Solve problems as they come up. What can you do, and what are the possible outcomes? Would that be better or worse than doing nothing? Remember, sometimes solving a problem means doing the best you can—even if it isn’t perfect—or asking for help. Once you’ve decided on a solution, divide the steps into manageable pieces and work on one piece at a time. Improving your problem-solving skills is a long-term strategy that can help you feel like you’re in control again.

Talk about your problems. You may find it helpful to talk about your stress. Loved ones may not realize that you’re having a hard time. Once they understand, they may be able to help in two different ways. First, they can just listen—simply expressing your feelings can help a lot. Second, they may have ideas to help you solve or deal with your problems. If you need to talk with someone outside your own circle of loved ones, your family doctor may be able to refer you to a counsellor, or you may have access to one through your school, workplace, or faith community.

Simplify your life. Stress can come up when there are too many things going on. Learning to say no is a real skill that takes practice. Try to look for ways to make your to-do list more manageable.

Learn helpful thinking strategies. The way you think about situations affects the way you respond to them. Unhelpful thoughts, such as believing that everything must be perfect or expecting the worst possible outcome, can make problems seem bigger than they really are.

Learn about stress management. There are many useful books, websites, and courses to help you cope with stress. There are also counsellors who specialize in stress. There may be stress management courses and workshops available through your community centre, workplace, or school.

Start on the inside. Practices like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, prayer, or breathing exercises can help you quiet your mind and look at problems from a calmer, more balanced point of view. With time, these practices can help you manage your response to stressful situations as they come up.

Get active. Physical activity can be a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood. Activity could be anything from taking up a new sport to walking. The most important part is that it gets you moving and you enjoy it—it shouldn’t feel like a chore. If you experience barriers to physical activity, try talking to your doctor or care team for ideas.

Do something you enjoy. Making time for hobbies, sports, or activities that you find fun or make you laugh can temporarily give you a break from problems. Listen to music, read, go for a walk, see a friend, watch your favourite movie, or do whatever makes you feel good. This can give you a little mental distance from problems when you can’t deal with them right away.

Down and Out

20160501_fantasy_259

Yes.

Me on the cruise ship. BB (before bronchitis).

Healthy, working out for a couple of hours every day. Maybe not eating as well as I would at home but not going crazy either.

Washing my hands constantly.

And then it happened.

Time for a First Aid station.

20160506_castaway_cay_248

It started off as a bit of a sore throat.

When I got back from the cruise a couple of weeks ago, it became acute bronchitis.

The symptoms included coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath, fever and chills, chest discomfort. It knocked me off my feet for almost two weeks. I was unplugged from almost everything: work, email, blogging, cycling.

Finally starting to recover now. My voice is almost back to normal. Sleeping over the past two nights has finally improved. Coughing fits have finished although I still wrestle with coughing in the morning and at night.

Even though we have great weather here in Ontario for riding, I have not been on the bike for two weeks. I may need another week or so before I hit the road again.

It takes about two weeks for bronchitis to run its course although the coughing may last longer. All you can really do is rest as best you can and drink plenty of fluids.

I’m just glad to be back on the other side of this thing.

Abundant Living

Life20th

I received this update from the team that supports Peter Diamandis:

As of 1998, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 77 — nearly twice what it was in 1900.

Note the rate of change on this chart. You don’t see world wars, terrorist attacks, or even the Great Depression. Just gradual, constant growth.

Several factors contribute to this increase of life expectancy: higher education, improvements in medical technologies, a rise in the overall standard of living, and improved nutrition.

There’s never been a better time to be alive.

The statistics are somewhat better for Canadians:

Life20thCdn

Throughout most of human history, life expectancy was below 40. And, I suppose, a 57-year old male living in the middle ages would have been very old indeed. Today, 57 hardly seems that old.

Except after a hard bike ride.

Guitar Injury

brokenguitar

From the Guitar Master Class website:

Many guitar players run into serious problems when they discover that they have picked up an injury from doing what they love, injuries will generally repair over time but this can mean an extended period of not playing guitar. Many GMC members have found it necessary to take a few weeks off guitar playing or in some more extreme cases several months or years. Some people think that they are immune from getting various arm, wrist and tendon related injuries because they have been playing for years with no problems — this tends not to be the case when guitarists start to concentrate their efforts on playing long periods of time on guitar…

During the months of October and November I had been spending at least two hours a day practicing and at least four hours or more of stage performance each week. My days at work are sedentary as most of the time is spent sitting in meetings or behind a computer. I spend most of my day in a prone position. Not good.

Beginning of December I experienced incredible pain in my upper back and shoulder. In a way, it felt like I had dislocated my shoulder. The pain was so intense that I was unable to sleep nor could I find a comfortable position to rest.

The pain travelled further along my right arm. I played through several concerts and weekly at my church with a very intense level of pain and discomfort. Until two weeks ago.

I stopped playing. Because the pain was just not going away.

I was told to stop in early December but I had too many playing commitments. I was told that if I did not stop playing, the pain would move from being acute to chronic. I kept going thinking that somehow the injury would heal on its own.

Here are a few things I learned from the experience.

Despite having played the instrument for about 40 years, I am not immune to a repetitive strain injury. A repetitive strain injury requires time to heal. With the onset of such pain, I have to stop playing to recover from the injury. Most importantly, I have to rest.

I have to stretch. Several times a day. Every day.

When I resume playing, I will have to focus on stretching and warming up gradually prior to practice and performance. I will have to focus on posture. And I will need to take breaks.

And, if I experience pain, I have to stop playing. I have to rest and recover.

Better to stop playing for a few weeks than to stop playing for several months or years.

“Taking it easy” won’t cut it: RSIs mostly just need rest … and plenty of it. The truth is boring: rest is incredibly powerful medicine for RSIs … but tedious and often spectacularly inconvenient, even job-threatening. This boring “miracle cure” is almost never adequately emphasized to RSI patients.

Via

Fortunately, I had the benefit of a two-week vacation over Christmas. I rested. In a way that I had never done before. I think this was the best thing that I did for my RSI. But I tried to continue playing and that was a mistake as the pain would not go away. The pain is gone now. Hopefully I can play again in a few weeks time.

Good insight on RSI here.

First Day Out

The Colnago EPQ had been waiting for a long time in the hallway of our home. I would walk by the bike numerous times each day. There it sat, patiently waiting for winter to come to an end.

Although I was somewhat doubtful, I did get my first outdoor ride done in March. With a colder than expected spring, coupled with some late snowfall, I thought I would be spinning indoors until mid-April.

Friday was actually a marginal day. I debated for a few hours about whether I should take the bike out. Reluctantly, I went downstairs and spun indoors.

Saturday was different. Sunny. Somewhat milder at around 10 to 12 Celsius.

Open road. Finally.

I did a 42 km loop in 1 hour and 32 minutes. I maintained an average speed of 27.2 kph, an average heart rate of 141 bpm. I burned somewhere around 1,300 calories.

Last year, my first 42 km loop came after a week of outdoor riding. That longer loop happened quite a bit earlier on March 18th, 2012. The temperature was 20 Celsius. A year ago I managed an average speed of 24.7 kph and I burned somewhere around 1,400 calories.

The winter training this year made quite an impact as my first ride was longer than my first ride last year — last year the first ride out was only 22 km. And my pace on the first longer outdoor ride of the season was up 2.5 kph despite much colder temperatures and stronger headwinds. And despite a punishing interval indoor set taken the day before.

It was simply awesome to be out on the roads again.

So Far Away

The view from my office window.

Snow.

Somewhere around 10cm or so. Enough to push out the start date for outdoor riding from last year.

What was it like last year? Wonderful.

Yes. The high was 15 degrees Celsius. I started riding outdoors last year on March 17th. I could have gone out earlier. March 11 was also in the double digits however the roads were still pretty messy from the winter.

I’m starting to think that outdoor riding in March may not happen at all this year. The longer range forecast does not look very encouraging.

More time for me to be spinning indoors.

With a bit of time off for March break, I did not update the fitness log. I’ll keep that going until I get outside so it may be a few more weeks.

Here goes:

Wednesday

Total calories consumed: 1,265 (carbs: 171 grams, protein: 89 grams, fat: 27 grams, sodium: 1,859 milligrams, fibre: 17 grams)
Personal Trainer workout: 295 calories burned
Net caloric intake: 970 calories

Thursday

Total calories consumed: 1,466 (carbs: 205 grams, protein: 94 grams, fat: 39 grams, sodium: 1,980 milligrams, fibre: 20 grams)
Recovery day

Friday

Total calories consumed: 1,466 (carbs: 205 grams, protein: 94 grams, fat: 38 grams, sodium: 1,980 milligrams, fibre: 20 grams)
Hard interval training: 733 calories burned
Net caloric intake: 733

Saturday

Total calories consumed: 1,466 (carbs: 105 grams, protein: 94 grams, fat: 38 grams, sodium: 1,980 milligrams, fibre: 20 grams)
Hard interval training: 650 calories burned
Net caloric intake: 816 calories

Sunday

Total calories consumed: 1,326 (carbs: 191 grams, protein: 74 grams, fat: 38 grams, sodium: 1,902 milligrams, fibre: 19 grams)
Recovery day

Monday

Total calories consumed: 1,945 (carbs: 297 grams, protein: 117 grams, fat: 43 grams, sodium: 3,097 milligrams, fibre: 30 grams)

Yesterday was an off day. My personal trainer cancelled and I had a few things going on with my family that required some direct support. I missed a workout and, for some reason, I was really, really hungry. Funny how a 2,000 calorie day feels like a lot of food.

Drama

The Velominati currently maintains a list of cycling rules. I am reminded of a few right now.

Rule #20 // There are only three remedies for pain.

These are:

  • If your quads start to burn, shift forward to use your hamstrings and calves, or
  • If your calves or hamstrings start to burn, shift back to use your quads, or
  • If you feel wimpy and weak, meditate on Rule #5 and train more!

Rule #5 // No whining. Suck it up.

Rule #10 // It never gets easier, you just go faster.

“Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.? — Greg Henderson

Hard interval sessions Saturday and Sunday. Hard training session Monday. Recovery day on Tuesday.

Am I recovered?

Er, no.

I am stiff. And sore. Stiff and sore. Sore and stiff. I can barely keep my head up. Wonderful stuff this being in shape.

More fun with the personal trainer tonight. He is quite familiar with Rule #5. I made the unfortunate mistake of telling him about this rule. Whining, as a technique to manage my personal trainer, simply does not work.

I will have to do some further research in this area.

Monday

Nutrition

Breakfast
Calories: 140, Carbs: 14 grams, Protein: 20 grams, Fat: 0 grams

Lunch
Calories: 391, Carbs 52 grams, Protein: 24 grams, Fat: 11 grams

Dinner
Calories: 782, Carbs: 123 grams, Protein: 40 grams, Fat: 16 grams

Total intake
Calories: 1,314, Carbs: 187, Protein: 84 grams, Fat: 27 grams
Sodium intake of 1,853 mg and total fibre intake of 24 grams.
Net caloric intake after exercise: 962.

Exercise

Challenging session with personal trainer. Estimate 351 calories burned.

Stretching

No stretching.

Tuesday

Nutrition

Breakfast
Calories: 140, Carbs: 14 grams, Protein: 20 grams, Fat: 0 grams

Lunch
Calories: 391, Carbs 52 grams, Protein: 24 grams, Fat: 11 grams

Dinner
Calories: 782, Carbs: 123 grams, Protein: 40 grams, Fat: 16 grams

Total intake
Calories: 1,314, Carbs: 187, Protein: 84 grams, Fat: 27 grams
Sodium intake of 1,853 mg and total fibre intake of 24 grams.

Exercise

Recovery day (although no recovery evident).

Stretching

No stretching.