Injury Update And Big Boy Pants

It’s been just about a month since I injured my back. Today, I deadlifted at the gym. Not much weight, but a full deadlift. Zero pain. I can’t tell you how happy that made me. I’ve been super lucky through life and have had very few injuries. This was the first time I had to make a conscious effort to figure out pain management, and what to do to fix the problem. I honestly think this could have been one of those things that at my age, had I not been aggressive about PT/rehab, could have drifted into a chronic issue that limited my activities for a very long time.

But it didn’t. Because I put my big boy pants on and refused to give in. I continued to work hard with a good strength and conditioning trainer. I did mobility work on my own. I aggressively used heat and a TENS unit to stimulate the muscles. I think most importantly – I just kept moving. Hiking, walking, riding the motorcycle. With lots of warm-up, I did some mountain biking. Last week I was able to do some (slow) trail running again. I massively upped my protein intake. Continued movement, targeted strength work, and holistic pain management techniques and we’re back in the game. Four weeks of work and I think I’m at least back to where I was pre-injury.

I left the gym today with a pretty good endorphin high. I was just super pumped to be able to do a deadlift pain-free. It gave me all kinds of motivation. I came home and pulled out and dusted off the daily vitamin regime. Drank a crapload of water. What I realized driving home from the gym is that in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t take very long to make a change. Four weeks and I was able to rehab an injury and probably come out the other side stronger than I was before. That wasn’t much time.

If I put my mind to it, what else can I accomplish in the next four weeks? Last night I was listing to a Navy Seal talking about the initial six months of training. He laughed and said all that crap you seen on TV – BUDS, Hell Week, etc… are actually the easiest part of the overall training. He said that really all they’re looking for are people who can shut everything else out and just focus on the immediate task. The next ten feet. The next 5 minutes. People who can’t stop thinking about how much further or longer they have to go, fail. That’s it. It’s that simple.

It’s true. We step on the scale obsessively. The idea of going for a run every day seems impossible. I have so much else to do today, there’s no time to get a workout in. I have so much weight to lose, I don’t see myself every reaching my goal. I can’t run 3 miles without walking, how am I ever going to get back to what I used to be able to do? Too much focus on the macro picture, and you’ll fail.

So, what’s the lesson? I’m going to stop thinking about the weight loss number or running mileage. Instead, I’m just going to try to win every hour. Today I went to the gym early. I organized and took my daily supplements. I ate well. Now what? I’m just going to focus on what’s in front of me each hour. Water instead of soda. Intentional calories instead of snacking. Find 20 minutes this afternoon to do some mobility work. I don’t need a beer (or two) tonight. Water instead. Go to bed early. Rinse, repeat. My only goal for the next month is to keep focus on the task at hand. Hour by hour. We’ll see where that gets us in the next four weeks.

I put on my big boy pants, stepped up and paid the man this last month. Now, let’s pay him again tomorrow.

An Unexpected Lesson From Tragedy

The other day I was surfing through YouTube before I went to bed. It was getting late and I was looking for just one more video to watch before retiring. A thumbnail came up that I’d seen several times the past few days but had ignored because it was almost two hours in length, and I just wasn’t terribly interested in it. It was an analysis of what went wrong at the Uvalde school shooting by a guy named Mike Glover.

If you’re not familiar with him or his YouTube channels, Mike Glover is a former Green Baret with 18 combat deployments. He’s clearly been there, done that. He now provides tactical training to law enforcement. The failure of law enforcement in this scenario was horrific. Here’s a link to that analysis if you’re interested. I ended up watching the entire thing and going to bed way too late.

Out of everything he said, one thing towards the end really struck me. He was commenting on all the sexy “kit” the officers had on. We’ve dumped truckloads of money on police departments so they can outfit themselves as quasi-military units. They’ve got the ballistic helmets, plate carriers, ballistic shields, even wearing military style fatigues and boots. But in this case, none of them did anything with their fancy equipment while kids were being shot and left to die. They stood around, checking phones, getting hand sanitizer, and waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Mike’s comment was:

“Everyone wants to be an operator until it comes time to do operator shit”

That lesson is so true and can be applied to almost everything. Everyone wants to lose weight and look better (myself included), but very few want to put in the time in the weight room and or do serious cardio. You want to be a writer? Are you getting up and cranking out 1000 words every day? You want to be a YouTube star? How many hours a day do you spend learning and perfecting the filming, editing, and storytelling? You want to climb the corporate ladder? What are you doing to improve your skills and value daily?

We all want to be or do something. Only a small percentage of our society actually wants to do the work to achieve those things. I get it. I’m in that same boat. I kinda half-ass things. Sometimes I’m motivated, sometimes I’m not. Shockingly, it’s when I’m motivated that I get/achieve what I want. Crazy how that works.

Buying fancy gear, joining the latest fitness or diet fad, or subscribing to the killer new app is all great… but it doesn’t do diddly-squat if you don’t do the work. Another great example comes from David Goggins, who’s a crazy over the top, type-A overachiever. But he didn’t start out that way. He was a fat, lazy pest exterminator working nights and eating doughnuts. He had an epiphany one night, quit his job, went to a navy recruiter and said, “I want to be a navy seal”. The recruiter laughed and said you’re 100 pounds overweight. He’d have a very short few months to lose it if he wanted to actually attempt to qualify.

Spoiler alert – he did and went on to a successful career as a navy seal. When asked what program he used and what diet he followed to lose all the weight, he said “I stopped eating so fucking much and ran every day until I collapsed”. Simplicity. But the real reason was that he was willing to put in the work.

We all want something. How many of us are actually willing to do what it takes to get it? Very few. It’s a metaphor that struck home for me. Hopefully it’ll light a spark under my butt to get after it. Even at my advanced age, there are still things I want to achieve. But how bad do I really want them?

Everyone wants to be an operator until it comes time to do operator shit.

Are You Better Off?

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon on Facebook. I had to put up with about five plus years of non-stop wailing and gnashing of teeth when the bad orange man was running, in office, and immediately post-election (INSURRECTION!). Virtually every day one of the liberal/democratic folks on my feed would post something about how horrible Trump was and/or how ashamed of the country they were. Day after day. Every word he uttered or tweeted was mocked and pointed to as an example of disaster and impending doom. If you engaged with or disagreed with these folks, you were quickly shouted down as a MAGA loving, xenophobic, right-wing extremist.

But the last year… radio silence. Crickets chirping. Oh, there were a few things posted after the Roe decision and the start of the Ukraine war but for the most part very little political content shows up. Why is that? Inflation hit 9.1% today (probably more like 12%-15% realistically). Not a single mention of it from the left leaning side of my feed. Isn’t that curious? Did the entire left suddenly decide they were no longer interested in politics?

Let me ask an honest question. If you trend more towards the left side of the spectrum, can you point to something the current administration has done that you’d consider a success? What have they done that’s gone well? Are you better off now than you were during the previous administration?

I’m doing my best to be objective, but I can’t point to one thing the administration has done that has moved the country in a better direction. Not one. Literally every single thing that affects the average person in this country has gotten worse. The economy, prices, supply chain, the border… it’s all bad. And don’t get me started on global/foreign engagements. This administration is, to be blunt, a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

Mrs. Troutdog actually asked the other day if we should stock up on food due to the looming food shortages. It now costs me $130 bucks to fill up my truck. Replacement parts for the motorcycle and some construction materials either can’t be found or are on indefinite backorder. The market and our retirement account have taken a hit that will take years to crawl back from. Is this really Build Back Better?

My point is not to claim the right side of the isle is better. 90% of them are as useless as tits on a bull. The bulk of the left and right are a giant uni-party. While I liked many of the things the bad orange man “said”, he was a horrible judge of character whose massive ego led him to spending most of his time in petty twitter spats rather than following through with campaign promises (see, border wall). When the R’s take back congress, I have little faith anything of substance will change. More arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

So, the point… if you were one of the left-leaning folks shit posting bad orange man memes as fast as you could go, why the silence now? Why aren’t you publicly praising the daily actions of the President? Is it that you’re now embarrassed by your political choice? There must be something you can point to and say, “whew, thank God Biden is President”. Isn’t there?

Maybe, just maybe, the takeaway from this period will be a realization that blind partisanship is stupid. Following your party like a lemming leads to… well, where we are today. A barely functioning grandpa propped up and controlled by unknown and unseen forces behind the curtains. But hey, no mean tweets right?

Now, more than ever, it’s time to join the church of Contrarianism. Become a Contrarian. Question everything. Dump your party loyalties. Trust me, they don’t care about you. It’s a hard thing to really examine your opinions, do some actual research, and admit you’ve been duped. It’s a little painful, but just ripping off the Band-Aid is really the best medicine.

Because if we don’t become an army of Contrarians soon… I fear the lemmings are going to reach the edge of the cliff sooner rather than later.

I Got Hurt. Now What?

Back in the stone age when I played Pop Warner football as a kid, I remember getting my bell rung. Full speed, helmet to helmet, I’d made a pretty spectacular tackle. Or so they told me, as I had zero memory of it. I staggered off the field and sat dazed on the sideline, trying to remember where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. The coach came over and asked if I was ready to go back in. I answered that I didn’t know. He gave a deep sigh and asked, “well son are you hurt or are you injured?” I have no idea what I said, but eventually someone stuck some smelling salts under my nose, and I went back on the field. Today I’m sure I’d have been diagnosed with a minor concussion and sidelined for a few weeks.

I was never quite sure what was the worst part in that saying – being hurt or being injured? I think being injured is the worse one. I imagine injured is broken bones or torn ligaments. Being hurt means it’s time to pull your big boy pants up and get back after it. Suck it up, buttercup.

When you get older, getting hurt rarely involves anything dramatic. Usually, it’s something stupid like stepping awkwardly off the bottom rung of a ladder, walking into an open cabinet, or slipping on some ice. In my case it was something even more mundane. I bent over. That’s it. I bent over to pick something up off the floor and BAM, it was like someone hit me with a baseball bat in the low back. Sigh.

Now in my defense, I had just come home from the gym and a pretty hard back and squat session. But still, a muscle strain bending over – really? Is this what old age looks like? The worst part was that I was scheduled to do a two-day backcountry motorcycle trip in a few days. Determined not to miss out, I consumed a frightening amount of Ibuprofen, applied non-stop heat, and subjected myself to hours of electrical stimulation using a TENS unit set to cattle prod levels. All of that got me on the bike and I survived. Although, sleeping on the ground with just a thin pad and a sleeping bag is not an ideal recovery plan after a full day of motorcycling. Just saying.

So now what? I went to the trainer when I got back, and after a pretty thorough evaluation, he essentially said that the answer was movement. I needed to move, lift, stretch, and move some more if I want to get better. He said that I wasn’t going to hurt anything or make it worse by continuing my activities… it’s really just up to my pain tolerance as to what I can do.

Crap. What I wanted to hear was to sit on the couch for six weeks and let it heal (and eat nachos. I hear eating nachos cures most anything). I have a hard enough time being motivated to work out as it is – trying to be motivated when everything hurts is a tall order. Pulling on a pair of sweatpants in the morning when I’m super stiff and painful is a comedy routine right now. I’m probably going to send myself headfirst into the back of the closet one of these mornings as I try to fling one leg of the pants around an outstretched foot without bending at the waist. I’m sure it’s not a pretty sight.

But I suppose my old Pop Warner coach was right. I’m merely hurt, not injured. Time for some smelling salts and to put on my big boy pants and get back after it. But I will say… this is my first real taste of what old age pain must be like. I can see why older folks are reluctant to move or workout and take large amounts of pain medication. It’s actually scared me a little bit.

I will not let that be my future.

I Didn’t Read The Manual

I bought a drone. Because I am this close to becoming the next Jimmy Chin, Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman documenting the “Long Way Round“, or the next Itchy Boots. All that’s been holding me back is the ability to capture that epic footage, dude. And the drone is going to catapult me into fame. I’m sure of it. I just have to figure out how to fly the thing.

When it arrived, it was raining and windy. And then again the next day. And then a day of other commitments. Finally the weather was reasonable and I had the afternoon free. I announced that I was going to go for a motorcycle ride to test the drone. Mrs Troutdog, who’s far smarter than me, helpfully offered some advice. “Why would you do that? Go to the park first and learn how to fly it.” Sigh, women. They just don’t get it sometimes.

I’d watched some YouTube videos on flying it. I come from a highly technical background. Go to a park. Please. You cannot get epic footage at a park. So, I spent at least two hours figuring out how to attach the drone’s case to the motorcycle and getting wires and chargers and batteries all loaded up into the tank bag. Off I went to launch my film career.

About 45 minutes later I arrived at my planned destination in the backcountry. No cell service. No people. Just beautiful backcountry trails in the mountains alongside a flowing river. How perfect will this be! I could already see the footage I was going to capture. I unpacked the drone, the controller, and drone’s beacon.

Power on the drone, turn on the beacon, and… “STANDBY, GPS SYNCING”. I waited. And waited. And the drone timed out and powered off. The beacon, no longer connected to the drone, stopped the sync process. WTF? Power on the drone again and repeat the process. Same result. And again. And again. I finally noticed a message that said, “Pair beacon with app for faster sync”. Ok. I loaded up the app and looked for a way to pair with the beacon. Nothing. I tried to pair with the beacon via the phone’s Bluetooth connection. Nothing. Since there was no cell service in the backcountry, I had no way of looking anything up or downloading the manual.

An hour later I had to admit defeat. The drone wasn’t going to fly that day. I had to pack everything up, make the long ride home, and admit to Mrs Troutdog she was right all along. I should have just gone to the park. Sigh.

The next day it rained. We then had a three-day trip. When we returned, it rained again. FINALLY, we had a day of no rain. It was time to be humble and go to the park. I knew the perfect place, right near the house. I drove over and pulled all my gear out and got set up. I decided I should look at the FAA’s app that gives you flight authorization for your drone. And… you’re not allowed to fly at that park because it’s too close to the hospital. OMG.

I packed everything up and drove to a nearby school. There were approximately 1,000 little kids running around on the fields at what looked like a summer camp. I drove and drove and drove, until I finally found a large park without people. I checked the app and got clearance to fly.

Long story short, the drone is amazing. The technology in these things is hard to believe. And I honestly don’t think I could have figured it out standing on the side of the trail in the woods that first time. It certainly took some trial and error in a very large open space to start to get the hang of things. So, I suppose it was a blessing in disguise.

The moral of the story? I’m not sure. The trials, tribulations, and errors I went through probably taught me more about the drone and flying than if everything had gone perfectly the first time. Life and learning is a process. Embrace it. Laugh at it. The path forward is rarely a straight line.

Also, real men don’t read manuals.

Exercise Your Brain

Everyone’s heard of the old saying, “use it or lose it”. It can refer to many things, but one of the more important references is to the brain. The brain is massive collection of brain cells, or neurons. These neurons are constantly communicating with each other. If a brain cell is no longer continually communicating with its neighbors, it will lose its function. This is the “cognitive reserve” theory. Meaning, a high-capacity brain – a brain with high cognitive reserve – has plenty of healthy brain cells and those brain cells maintain a lot of connections with other brain cells. A brain with low cognitive reserve has fewer connections and fewer healthy cells.

This is obviously important for many reasons, but one of the biggest is aging. You will experience cognitive decline as you get older. It happens to all of us. What’s important is to slow down or minimize the rate of decline for as long as possible. You do that by maintaining a high cognitive reserve going into old age, and then continually work to build new connections. Otherwise known as – NEVER STOP LEARNING!

When I was 50, I’d burned out badly in my first career (software engineering) and decided to make a change. I went back to school and got my RN/nursing license. I can 100% say that the rate at which I was able to absorb and memorize information was massively slower at 50 than it was when I was a young whippersnapper. That first six months of working on the hospital floor pushed my old brain to its limits. Rapid thinking, decision making, multitasking, and learning new skills daily left me mentally exhausted every night. But I also think it improved my ability to learn and think. Maybe not back at the level it was when I was 20, but certainly an improvement over when I started the process.

It’s never too late to start. Always be learning something. Read something other than Facebook posts. Take up a new hobby. Learn a new skill. Anything, all of it – just start exercising that brain. As a neuroscience RN, trust me – the various forms of dementia are one of the saddest ways you can finish out your life. It’s devastating for the patient and the family. While there’s many things that contribute to it, it is undisputed that starting out with the highest cognitive reserve possible will help stave off or at least significantly slow the progression of dementia.

My latest choice to keep exercising the brain (and the reason I’ve been absent here for a while), is learning video editing. It’s a high-end technical pursuit that has been super challenging. There are so many aspects to learn – editing/creative skills, color grading, audio mixing, and understanding how a video file is rendered and processed. The learning curve has been painfully slow, but is starting to ramp up. Each time I learn a new technique I feel like I’ve just left the gym. A little tired, but also a little bit stronger. Building those new neural connections daily.

You owe it to yourself and your family to exercise that brain. As Dean Wormer told Flounder, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son”. Listen to the Dean. Go learn something new today.

If you’re bored, check out what I’ve been slowly working on. Maybe it’ll inspire you to take up motorcycling!

Dean Wormer

Why Is Diet So Confusing?

I will confess that I have been known to get sucked into drinking the Kool-Aid from time to time. Beliefs, approaches, or fads that I was convinced was the one true path. I talked ’em up and spoke with authority about them. I even had a bit of condescension towards people who didn’t know, understand, or believe in the new great thing. Fools who still bought into the old school set of beliefs. Here’s a few of the things that I’ve thought were the end-all-be-all in the past. I’m not suggesting any of them are bad – just that as thinking evolves, they’re not the magic bullets I once believed them to be at the time.

  • Barefoot shoes and running.
  • Crossfit.
  • Keto.
  • Intermittent fasting.
  • Primal/caveman
  • Body For Life
  • Zone diet
  • 5/6 small meals per day
  • Foam rolling
  • Apple cider vinegar (I have no idea why I thought this was a magical thing)

And on, and on, and on. Even though I think I’m being a rebel and cutting edge, I realize I’m just as much of a lemming as anyone else following the latest fitness and diet fad. Meanwhile, I was happily making fun of people eating the cabbage soup diet, doing juice cleanses, or the Whole 30 diet. Why is it so damn hard to know what you’re supposed to be doing to lose or maintain weight?

Meanwhile, my trainer wants me eating more calories because my BMR is too low, and I need a massive increase in the amount of protein I consume. Zone 2 is best for aerobic improvements, and carbohydrates are now good.

Sigh. I don’t know what to think anymore. My body fat percentage is getting worse, but my muscle mass is the best it’s been in a very long time. I feel stronger and better balanced now, but I can’t button the waistband on most of my pants. Why is this so hard? I just want someone to give me a weekly menu with exact portion sizes that’s easy to make/prepare. And yes, I’ve Googled that exact thing. A billion results come up, all with conflicting information, or promise to be the perfect diet plan… for $29.99 a month.

Why is diet so difficult? Why can’t I find a way of eating that gives me enough of a routine to keep calories in control, yet lets me eat out from time to time? I clearly don’t have the discipline to eat “strict” all the time or count calories daily. So, does that mean my only choice is to constantly keep up a crazy amount of workout/cardio activity to balance it? At my age, I don’t know that I have that in me anymore.

Our grandparents did not calculate out their daily macros, walk around all day with giant BPA free water flasks, or worry about zone 2 training. Yet on whole, their generation did not have the obesity problem we have today. Maybe that’s the book I should write – “The WWII Generations Guide to Diet and Exercise”. I’ll make a fortune!

But then again, my grandfather’s favorite exercise machine was a vibrating belt you’d put around your waist. I have no idea what its actual purpose was. To jiggle the fat away? To be fair, we have kinesio tape today. Maybe we haven’t evolved as far as we think?

It Was Time To Leave Healthcare

My last day was very surreal. With each task, I’d think “Oh, this is the last time I’ll ever do this”. I’ll never start an IV again. I’ll never pull out another Hemovac drain. This is the last time I’ll hang antibiotics. It’s the very last time I’ll dispense medications. It was an odd feeling.

It was time to leave healthcare for a lot of reasons. Healthcare has changed, and not for the better. Healthcare workers have been leaving the profession for a while, but Covid turned that exodus into a stampede. Hospitals are facing a crushing shortage of workers. That lack of staff is making working on the hospital floor unsafe. The patients are sicker, more demanding, ruder, and more violent. At the same time the near-daily onslaught of new rules, regulations, and charting/documenting requirements leave little time to actually connect with your patient. It’s sad, and I don’t see it getting better.

As an RN, I’ve been hit, kicked, spit on, yelled at, threatened, peed on, vomited on, and cleaned up more poop than you can possibly imagine. All while working a 14-hour day, sometimes without enough time to take a lunch break. We worked the Covid floors without enough supplies, being forced to wear the same dirty mask for two and three days because there was such a shortage. It’s been interesting times the last few years.

At the same time, it’s been an amazing experience. I saw and did things I never thought I’d be doing. I was able to connect with people at a level you can’t do at a cocktail party. I’ve held the hands of people as they drew their last breath. I spent time consoling people who just received devastating news about a tumor prognosis or were newly paralyzed. I sat quietly with people whose loved one was going to pass away soon. I also got to hear some fantastic stories from old folks about growing up in the depression, war experiences, and traveling across the country before there were interstate highways. I made some good calls that probably resulted in people living vs dying. I responded to codes and performed CPR on folks. I’ve had several people stop me in a store and tell me that, “you won’t remember me, but you took care of my father. He was so grateful for your care.” I have enough stories of crazy, wacky patients, gruesome injuries, and blood and gore to last a lifetime. In my pre-healthcare life, I never would have imagined that one day I’d be chasing a crazy, naked old lady with dementia as she ran down the stairs towards the parking lot. They definitely skipped over that part in nursing school.

I’m grateful I got to experience all of it. The good and the bad. (ok, maybe not the poop) It’s made me more appreciative of the blessings I have in my life. It’s also made me realize how important it is to try and be a good human. At the end of the day, that’s all you have. When you exit this world, how do you want people to remember you? Healthcare reminded me on a daily basis that you don’t know when your time is up. Slow down a bit and enjoy life. Make sure you take the time to see and do things. Because you never know what’s around the corner.

So, it’s time for the next chapter. I’m not entirely sure what that is yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

Wins And Losses

It’s been an interesting week. One filled with highs and lows, ups and downs, good and bad. I’m going to steal the slogan from Lance Armstrong’s new group, WEDU and their podcast The Forward – “Always forward, never straight”. Life would be boring if it always went in a straight line. This week definitely had a few turns.

Fitness took a (mental) turn this week for sure in a couple of categories. I felt like I was making some progress and then my trainer introduced some new movements. I’m now so sore I can barely walk. That’s good in the sense that I’m clearly pushing hard. But it’s a bit discouraging because I thought I was past the crippling DOMS stage of working out. Clearly my improving strength isn’t as well-balanced as I thought.

And then there’s the issue of weight. I’ve been avoiding the scale because I know how I feel and what I look like. My diet’s been… well, not good and I know it. At the beginning of the week the trainer asked if I was finally going to be serious and track my intake. Ok, ok, ok, stop yelling at me. I was diligent and tracked everything all week. I bravely stepped on the scale this morning. And now I’m super confused.

Per the app, I’m way under on the number of calories I should be consuming. But per the scale, I’ve gained 2+ pounds. My muscle mass increased, but so did body fat and visceral fat percentages. Something’s not adding up. I know that my calorie intake has to be much higher than I’m tracking. Realistically the app doesn’t account for all the sauces, etc… because the physics doesn’t lie. You can’t be significantly under in calories and gain weight. Regardless, it was enough of a motivational spark to keep me tracking my intake and to start getting my diet in order. I don’t know what that diet will be yet, but I can’t go back to keto. I just can’t.

On the positive side of the ledger, a couple of good things happened. One of them was an unexpected surprise. I have a little YouTube channel that I post to from time to time. Almost no subscribers, and my silly little videos only get a handful of views. That’s ok because I enjoy making them and it’s mostly a learning experience at this point. But as I’ve mentioned before, there’s still a nagging feeling in the back of your head – why am I doing this if nobody watches? Well, out of the blue one of the older videos hit 10,000 views in just a few days. Very strange. That’s miniscule traffic in YouTube terms, massive for me. I’ll admit it’s nice to feel like someone is watching/reading what you create. It’s enough of a spark to motivate you to keep on being creative.

So that’s it. A real mixed bag of events for the week. The weather continues to be crap. I can’t get my sprinklers to work. Diet continues to be off the rails. But some exciting personal stuff happened and then I got a little creator spark/validation.

The path we take wobbles all around and certainly isn’t straight. But all that matters is that the path keeps moving forward.

P.S. In a fit of desperation, I’ve thrown away all food in the pantry and fridge. I’m now staring at empty shelves and unsure of what I should do now. Perhaps I was a bit hasty…

What’s Your EDC? (everyday carry)

EDC. Everyday carry. I’m a sucker for clicking on EDC YouTube channels (yes, there are channels dedicated to just this). There’s just something about all the little gadgets and doodads I find fascinating. Mini flashlights, pocket knives, cool key holders, all-in-one mini tools, wallets, I absolutely love this stuff. I click on almost every link and wonder if I could use that gadget or not.

But I never buy any of them. For all of my obsession over the idea of cool EDC stuff… I absolutely hate carrying stuff in my pockets. Here’s what I carry every day: Three keys; a mini pocket knife; a tiny minimalist wallet; a phone; a handkerchief. That’s it. I’m astounded at the amount of crap the dudes on these EDC channels purport to carry in their pockets. They must jingle, rattle and sound like a old suit of armor walking down the street.

It’s not that I wouldn’t like to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse at all times, my problem is more anatomical. I was born without a butt. Zero. None. It doesn’t exist. My legs just go straight up and suddenly you’re at my lower back. I’ve heard you can fix this issue by doing squats with heavy weights. I tried it once and it didn’t take. Implants may be my next best choice. Anyway, the end result of my curve challenged backside is that it’s an everyday struggle to keep my pants up. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I cinch down my belt, gravity wins out before too long. All day long I’m constantly hitching up my pants.

It’s manageable in my day-to-day life because I don’t carry anything. Work, however, is a different story. As an RN I have to carry a bunch of crap because you never know what you’re going to encounter in a patient’s room. My work EDC is as follows:

  • Penlight
  • Trauma shears
  • Hemostat
  • Multicolored pen
  • Mechanical pencil
  • Sharpie
  • Handful of 10 ml saline flushes
  • Bunch of alcohol wipes
  • Work badge/ID
  • Emergency SOS tracker
  • Med room keys
  • Locker key
  • Watch
  • Stethoscope
  • Coban wrap
  • Breath mints
  • Handkerchief
  • Personal phone
  • Work phone
  • N-95 mask
  • Safety goggles

In addition to all that stuff, I have a mini clipboard with my daily brain (notes and plans for each patient), phone numbers for all the departments, some frequently used reference material, and a few extra pieces of paper to scribble random to-do reminders on.

I’m quite a sight to see sprinting after a crazy naked patient as they try to make a break for the stairwell (happens way more often than you’d think). I leave a trail of stuff all the way down the hall as everything in the above list comes flying out of my pockets.

Everything on that list gets used every single shift. It’s taken years to pare down to what I currently carry. Every item goes in a specific pocket. I’m very functional. I see RN’s roll into the nurse’s station with giant backpacks, coffee mugs, water bottles, and lunch coolers. I don’t understand. What could you possibly need for a single work shift that requires a massive backpack?

Where was I going with this? Oh yes – gravity, pants, and EDC. At work I wear scrubs which only fasten with a drawstring. Even though I pull the drawstring tight enough to cut off circulation, my pants are halfway down my rear most of the day with all the crap I have in my pockets. The aforementioned running down the hall scenario carries the very real risk of my pants suddenly ending up around my ankles and me doing a sliding faceplant in front of all my coworkers. I’ve lain awake at night worrying about this.

Because of this nagging nightmare scene that never leaves the back of my brain, in my civilian life at home I want as little as possible in my pockets. At this point if my butt gets any flatter (and belly gets any bigger), I’m going to be forced to go the suspenders route. And that my friends, unless you’re a carpenter or firefighter, is the end. Complete surrender of fashion. You cannot make suspenders look good. Period. And because I’m all about fashion, I’ll stick with the belt and minimal EDC. Maybe try the heavy squats again.

Of course, I could go the route of the fanny pack or purse – ahem, murse. Hmmm, maybe that’s the ticket. I’ll dig out my old school messenger bag/briefcase and just carry that everywhere. Just think of all the cool stuff I could carry every day!

What’s in your EDC?