Wednesday, May 28, 2008


We need another correction, this time not of the spelling of a name, but of a blood pressure rating. The second reading of the bottom, or diastolic, figure was not 116, but 113. I don't recall the top, or systolic figure accurately because, as I said, the whole process was entirely unfamiliar to me and I had no understanding of what the figures meant, even though I had much taken to heart the example Dr. John Douillard - the Body, Mind, and Sport author - had spoken of in his own moment of confessing that he also had received a stunning surprise over his own blood pressure count, even after he'd mastered his daily schedule, so he thought,via ayurvedic medical wisdom.
The medical profession, in its own defense, might conclude that I have, for a self-professed intellectual, simply been a very lazybones, a perfect sloth, when it came to the question of home study of health questions. There most certainly are a lot of books out there, and apparently I have nothing but time for reading them. Why so late the inspiration to suddenly come on like Albert Schweitzer?
And late it is, for between actually starting this post and then getting called for breakfast, I managed, in my ignorance and inexperience, to get "diastolic" and "systolic" mixed up. Not an unreasonable mistake when you realize that it was only two mornings ago, discussing these issues with my third music method "lab rat", the remarkable Shelby Tett, that I for the first time heard those scientific terms used in any meaningful context. It reminds me of my initiation into the computer world, when I finally had to think about the lingo that I had happily ignored for so many years. Among Shelby's many attributes is a degree in food science from the University of Queensland in Australia. The only way to a clear understanding of my predicament is to blame God. It's all right. Go ahead, he really is big enough to take it.
You see, I made the choice when I was a mere ten years old, and it was via God's methods of inspiration and clarifying things.
I wasn't always stupid about medical matters.
Because of the war, our family moved a lot, as I have said before, so that by the time I was in the second half of my grade five year, I had changed schools ten times. None of these changes hurt my reading habits. On the contrary, they presented me with a great variety of school libraries and their boyhood treasures. In Nova Scotia I discovered fairy tales, in Ontario, King Arthur, Captains Courageous, Glengarry School Days, and Penrod. But the moving around never allowed me to find out that I was head-of-the-class material, and I'm not so sure I would have been especially delighted anyway, because my idea of success was to own a ranch with a lot of horses, or maybe become a professional athlete.
But by Hallowe'en of 1945 we were back in Vancouver, or more accurately, Burnaby, living on Jersey Avenue, a block below the wading pool in Central Park. We were four, then quickly five when my youngest brother was born early in December, and we were living with my father's parents, holding down three rooms on their upper floor and having the run of the rest of the house and three-quarters of an acre of garden and a big chicken house. I was enrolled at Inman Avenue School, where my father and aunt had known all their elementary schooling. I learned a lot of songs, via the young man who could read piano music and sing out, but also, after the set of class exams the grade fives sat to, it turned out that I had the highest mark in the anatomy test. I had quite honestly become fascinated by the orderly structure of the skeleton, worked hard, without realizing I was working, at the medical terms for all those bones, and aced the exam. And then it turned out that I had had led the class overall in other subjects as well.
Then a few weeks later we moved to Lasqueti Island, 60 miles north of Vancouver, so my Dad could log with horses and make his last bid to be his own boss.
My new school, Tucker Bay, had less than a dozen students and a very pleasant middle-aged lady presided over the room. Her surname was Tucker too, but only coincidentally. The island had been named after some big wig in the British navy. The school was a mile-and-a-half away from our house and barn and field. I learned to ride a bike over the first two days in the new home and either rode or walked for the next year-and-half along a gravel road between two walls of trees that ran unbroken by any sort of building until I got to the school yard. The middle brother - whom I just called to wish happy birthday - joined me in the fall.
Had it not been for Mrs Tucker, would I have become a doctor? Probably not, because I think that to actually become a doctor or a nurse you have to actually like hospitals. The only way I can like a hospital is to meditate aggressively, before I have to visit one, on the necessity and charity of the medical profession.
Whether it was in the last weeks of grade five or the first of six I can never be clear on, but it was in that section of my life that I encountered the next phase of the writer's apprenticeship, after a sheer love for words and stories itself, through the office of my teacher's happily realizing that the language text then in vogue for British Columbia schools was not my real cup of tea. It was long on cartoons of dancing commas and so on, and short on accurate definitions.
She went to the small shelf of books on the wall behind the school's wood burning heater and brought back the first day of the rest of my life. It was the standard complete syntax text for elementary schools in the province of Alberta, published in 1937, the year after I was born. I opened it up to find a masterpiece of common sense. "A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing." And so on. I never looked back, but I also never forgot Mrs Tucker, and whenever my friends in the world of culture get too high on the hobby horse that insists that our neighbour to the east is the most redneck province in the country, the West Texas of Canada, I bring out the tale of the grammar book.
Stephen Harper can't be totally bad, but like so many people he's only going to get better if he takes up Dr B's water book. There is excellent advice in there, as a matter of fact, for asthmatics.
How many parts of speech are there? Eight, I think, if you include interjections.
YBMCFW uses the same number for the schedule of physiological priorities for water use when the supply in the body is inadequate. This is built into us in order for us to be able to survive droughts and lesser predicaments such as being stupid about the difference between simple water and all the other stuff we drink. Water has to do with preserving life, or even with just living it properly, while the other stuff is mostly about self-gratification and entertainment. These are not bad in themselves, but nobody ever died from lack of coffee, tea, Coca Cola or Johnny Walker. They didn't even get heartburn from foregoing those pleasantries.
So in the body's self-protective hierarchy for water utility, the list goes thus: brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, glands first, although as I understand it also in a kind of descending priority; and then muscles, bones, and skin. (Models and actresses might like it the other way round, but there it is.)
It was for this reason that I was excited on Monday to find out that the skin on my thumb I had sliced on Friday with the grass shears was healing faster than skin wounds generally have been for the past several years. Since then too, as my body starts to rehydrate itself to the originally designated level, I find my lips the sensitive indicators of real thirst they are supposed to be.
Interesting, how finely the Creator tuned his prototype. This first came to my notice with BM and S, after I began reading the directions and jogged with my mouth totally shut, breathing both in and out through the nose. I'm a pitta, I was a member of the track team, and I'd had the 220 K in mind for a long time, so naturally I pushed my luck. Creation had the perfect response: after a few too many yards of jogging at a time, even pretty slow jogging, my nose would start to sting. Just in the right nostril.
Aha! So that's how some of the old rishis found out some of this stuff. Neither the lotus or any other position seems very connected with track and field, but perhaps back in the old days some of them ran down game like the Tarahumaras in northern Mexico. And maybe if they'd kept on running down through the centuries I wouldn't have had to find out all this the hard way.
And maybe, just maybe, the prevention of illness would be so effective that the cure wouldn't be so expensive that it endangers the economic balances of society.
By the way, as of yesterday morning, after an early walk, the weight is 170.

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