In my usual manner of comparing life to flying and positive control of aircraft, I’d like to take you on a little journey into the world of health concerns and how we deal with them. Compared to life, dealing with upsets in airplanes and things that get out of balance which require us to retake control is relatively easy. In many situations, a look on the instrument panel will verify suspicions, clarify our current state within the medium air and let us make some choices, which may ultimately help to regain positive control of our airframe. It may be a rapidly decaying airspeed, a change in heading, altitude or an engine that just doesn’t want to put out 100%. I’d say that in 85% of such upsets we regain control by careful evaluation, making a decision after weighing the potential outcomes and by preparing ourselves as much as possible for the impending consequences. In 22 years of flying I have become habituated to the standard recipe of “letting go/ relaxing the grip/ feeling the airplane and to regain control by soft and coordinated inputs”. Static and dynamic stability have a lot to do with things, so our ability to let go might be affected by what kind of plane we fly…
To explain the graphic above and how it can be applied to our body, one would look at the ball to the left, which has a tendency to return to it’s starting point upon having a force applied to it. The middle ball behaves neutrally, will translate the applied force as it is, change position and come to a rest. The ball to the right, finally, will behave very different when being forced from it’s position in that it will continue whichever movement it started on its own account. Unless the ball to the right is stopped (by force) and returned to it’s original spot (which will require expense of energy) it will keep moving. The very same thing can happen in our bodies, when we develop issues. Some problems flare up, but try to balance themselves, some set points just move and all stays OK, and some things spiral out of control, while requiring a lot of work to get things back to normal. We can let go of ball # 1 and it will get back to normal. We can let go of ball #2 and it will just stop, giving us a chance to repair the damage. If we let go of ball #3 it’s gone.
For a while, we can ignore things that get out of balance in our body. Our weight increases, due to all the junk food, sugar and bad choices. Our stress levels increase due to temporary changes in our lives, the smoking, for some the drinking. Our cardiovascular health may suffer from smoking, clogging up important arteries, reducing the flow of oxygen and straining our lungs. But we can deal, right? We notice but do not change anything dramatically just because we’re out of breath earlier. We note, but do not really worry about the wheezing sounds when we climb stairs and we don’t fret just because our stamina has decreased. Its part of our current life, right? Well, yeah – I know… some would worry – but most people like me, will not. The fact that I didn’t, caused some things to spin out of control. While I truly enjoy spins and recovery from them in airplanes, I had to realize that my weight & blood pressure have spun out of control. That sucks!
A hypertensive emergency exists when blood pressure reaches levels that are damaging organs. Hypertensive emergencies generally occur at blood pressure levels exceeding 180 systolic OR 120 diastolic, but can occur at even lower levels in patients whose blood pressure had not been previously high.
I’ve had mildly elevated blood pressure for years, always within the limits of what the FAA Medical Branch in Oklahoma City still considers manageable. A recent doctor visit revealed severe hypertension, partly caused by a infection & fever, but probably more caused by being overweight, out of exercise and smoking. Hence, I was put on blood pressure medication and prescribed a radical change in habits. In the last year alone, I have gained more than 22 pounds, mostly because of lack of exercise and cheap food choices made by this college student. Lots of sodium, pasta, quick dinners and things that keep the wallet happy, when eating in. Pigging out with way to large portions, when eating out!
Step by Step
How to we recover from a spin? Retard Power. Neutral Ailerons. Full Opposite Rudder. Forward Elevator. Recover from the dive without exceeding Vne. That’s simple enough… a caveman could do it with proper goal setting.
Here are my goals and I will try to provide updates, for those who wish to follow the journey and maybe share their own struggles:
Weightloss Goal: 40-45 Pounds
Exercise: 25 Minutes/ Day – Increasing to 60 Minutes/ Day by the end of week 6.
Blood pressure under control ASAP.
Starting point: Weight 222.4 – End point: Weight : 182.4 / 177.4
Expect weekly reports!