Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Onward Toward the More Useful Metric Healthspan: Sunday musings…9/18/2022

1 Quiver. A group of cobras. Normally a totally icky thought, but Beth and I finally started watching Cobra Kai, so…

Why isn’t this what the Cobra Kai kids call their team?

2 Announcers. I no longer really watch sports of TV unless they are spectacles. Super Bowl, NCAA championship games, Majors in sports such as tennis and golf. However, as I find myself at home, often alone, with hours to burn, I have had sports of some sort on in the background these last couple of weekends. The games are still not very impressive. Honestly, it seems as if the quality of play in all of the major sports leagues has declined over the years. The individual sports, on the other hand, continue to amaze as one GOAT after another arises to thrill us with their exploits.

One thing, though, is amazingly consistent: the teams of announcers who are not the top teams are uniformly terrible. As I write today’s musings I have our local team, the Browns, filling auditory background. They appear to be on their way to blowing a 2 score lead in the last 2 minutes, and the announcers are simply awful. Their banalities are entirely devoid of insight, provided without an iota of style. In what turned out to be a rather exciting game it sounds like a snoozefest. They add nothing.

I suppose I can sorta, kinda understand why I’m left to suffer at the hands of these end-of-the-benchers. The Browns are not exactly NFL royalty, after all. But the same thing was on tap yesterday for the Notre Dame home game. NBC has spent a fortune buying the rights to these games and they can’t find better announcers? Seriously. Snooze fest.

It’s enough to make you pine for the CrossFit Games feed, ca. 2015 or so.

3 Healthspan. Given the luxury of time to myself I’ve been doing what I’ve done each time this has happened: do a deep dive into something that has appealed to me but escaped me due to time constraints. This is how I spent my time during my recovery from carpal tunnel surgery in 2003 (resulting in the launch of SkyVision), the early days of my new practice in the 2000’s where I just wasn’t all that busy (the start of my CrossFit immersion), and my first hip surgery in 2019 (a re-set of my nutrition and sleep study). During my post-hip rehab I’ve been looking into the ultimate form of increased longevity.

Healthspan, the measurement of healthy, vibrant years lived with a relative absence of both disease and decrepitude.

This is really the ultimate expression of the quest I’ve been on since discovering CrossFit in 2005. The ultimate goal I’ve sought as I’ve tried to develop a single measurement of health that encompassed both fitness and traditional health measurements. Whether or not we decide to measure our true biological age (actually possible, albeit pretty expensive at the moment), we probably should be adding to our quiver (regular use!) of strategies some of the things that the pioneers in longevity research have already uncovered.

For a CrossFit OG this is really the next logical phase. Work capacity across time and modal domains extended across a longer lifespan unencumbered by disease or infirmity = healthspan.

Do your self a favor and pick up a copy of “Lifespan” by the Harvard professor David Sinclair. If you are of a scientific bent you will thrill to the explanations of the first section. If you lean toward the more social engineering side you will likely find yourself nodding along with Sinclair’s thoughts on not only the expected effects of more people living not only longer but better, but on why this is likely good for everyone and everything. Most of you, I suspect, will jump to the “what to do” sections in which Sinclair lays out what we can, probably should, be doing to apply the science right now as I did (going back to read the science afterward).

Allow me to save you some time. I actually read several other books on both longevity and maintaining one’s mental faculties as we age, but all you really need to do IMO is read Sinclair. “Lifespan” not only covers all of the meaningful ground, it lays out a playbook for the next part of the journey. If I get a little inspiration and set aside a little bit of time I’ll expand on both the “soft” and “hard” interventions available right now to almost all of us to expand something much more meaningful than just a lifespan.

It’s time to work on expanding our healthspan.

4 Stethoscope. So, how did I end up faring on the other side of the stethoscope? As you may recall I had my right hip replaced about 10 days ago by a surgeon and in a facility where I was known to no one. Just one more middle-aged ex-jock with a busted up hip and a big prostate. Short story: surgery was uneventful and my recovery got off to a great start despite the fact that no one bothered to listen to the sad, sorry story about my prostates efforts to spoil the party last time. No matter. I was out after about 30 hours total.

What came next is the indictment of our increasingly consolidated healthcare system I thought I’d escaped. After 5 days of simply all-world recovery spent on the farthest righthand side of the Bell Curve I suffered a bit of a setback. On Post-Op day 8 my IT band and abductors went into full revolt mode and I was thrown back to day 3. I didn’t feel comfortable calling or texting either the nurse of PA who sat between me and the surgeon, opting instead for the PT who’d been with me the day before the wheels came off. Is that because I “normally” would have been able to just pick up the phone and buzz my surgeon buddy? Sure. Of course. But the vibe of a large hospital system where the system protocols reign made me wait days before I eventually texted the PA.

That’s probably the lesson for your buddy the Eyeball Boy. If there is a psychological barrier that is effective against someone as confident and plugged in as I am, what must it be like if you really ARE jsut one more middle-aged guy with a busted hip and a big prostate? It’s the big system, not the location of the big system, that creates the distance between doctor and team, and patient. I’m left with the realization that my experience would have been largely the same had I been here in the neighborhood and cared for by either of the big systems in town.

In the end I will surely be just fine. The PA responded to my Sunday text and seemed nonplussed by my symptoms, a response that will eventually make me feel better I’m sure. The big system is able to see me on Thursday, four days from now, if I get worse (no information about what to do if I get worse in the mean time), something they don’t foresee. The reality that a 3 or 4 day delay in my recovery will upset hundreds of apple carts does not register at any level in a large healthcare system. Honestly, I never would have known this had my recovery continued on its early course. My “review” of my journey on the other side of the stethoscope would have been mostly self-deprecation at the notion that I would notice any difference at all.

What I learned is that it’s not the distance between your house and your hospital that matters.

I’ll see you next week…

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