September 16, 2008

When Sports and Hypertension Mix

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I couldn’t help but wince as the blood pressure cuff closed tightly around my upper arm. I sat quietly on the edge of the maroon table in one of Gannett’s cramped examining rooms, trying to concentrate on my Zen breathing techniques. Despite my best efforts, those evil little numerals kept rising, finally tapping out with a little beep at — good lord — 155/102. Now, for those of you out there who are unfamiliar with the wonders of blood pressure indicators, a healthy individual should be in the 120/70 range. When those numbers creep up into the 130s-over-80 ballpark, you are classified in what is loosely referred to as the “pre-hypertension” stage.
Needless to say, anything above 140 is, well, not good. And I’m talking your obese, McDonalds-addicted, 65-year-old, chain-smoking uncle, not good. The nurse looked at my failing score with raised eyebrows. I didn’t drag myself to the clinic on a Monday morning for this kind of judgment — I was just supposed to be there for a check-up on my rash. (Yes, I said my rash, more to come on this shortly.)
It seems like the trend among this year’s Chosen Ones, a.k.a., the new sports columnists, is to start off their inaugural column with a short personal sharing portion. How’d I do guys? In other, slightly less medical news, my name is Meredith — I love Philly sports teams, greasy hot truck sandwiches, planning out extremely emo Facebook status messages, writing inspiring messages to myself on the backs of my wrists and buying large numbers of aviator sunglasses which I promptly lose at the earliest opportunity. (Speaking of which, if anyone comes across a beautiful pair of mirrored aves in the vicinity of Eddy and College Avenue, they’re mine, and I’d love to get them back. They could be on the street, beneath a pair of as yet unidentified parked cars, or possibly in a shallow ditch on Linden Avenue. Awesome, thanks y’all)
Wait, what was I supposed to be talking about right now? Oh yes, sports. Or, my extremely high blood pressure, which will eventually lead back to sports, I assure you. Anyway, the doctor came in and inquired as to the progress of my rash, which I was very happy to report had improved greatly under the influence of my recently prescribed 12-pill cocktail. My jovial doctor had not, however been able to diagnose the darn thing, which had apparently started out as a reaction to the metal of my favorite belt buckle before burrowing into my Daily Sunctivitus-riddled immune system and spreading like tiny, angry beavers to my neck and shoulders.
“About that blood pressure of yours, by the way,” my rash doctor interjected, halfway through my tangential anecdote about the awesome posters I was planning on buying at the Cornell Store that afternoon. “Ah yes,” I replied, staring at my feet. “Well, you see, I have kind of a stressful lifestyle right now.”
“I see, and have you thought about counseling,” the good doctor replied, looking solemnly into my sleep-deprived eyes. “Oh no, you misunderstood me,” I said, a little too quickly, while offering up a delightful yet wan smile. “I work for the Sun. I’m an editor in the sports section.” While Dr. Hughes did not appear convinced, I had nothing more to say on the subject and we parted ways amicably.
But health issues aside, which by the way, I cannot indisputably link to my lovely Sun experiences, I knew exactly what I was doing when I decided to run for an editor position — and I wouldn’t give it up now for anything in the world. (Please pause here to let my sappiness overwhelm your being.)
For one thing, writing for the sports section has given me a controlled environment for my potentially unhealthy obsession with sports (read: my column title). I can feel safe knowing that although my wonderful housemates would have had no idea what to do after my arch-enemy New York Giants won last year’s Super Bowl, my fellow Sunnies knew enough to give me space until the desire to rip off every New York fan’s head had finally passed. I can proclaim my undying hatred for Yankee fans and everything they stand for, and I know that here at 139 West State Street I will get at least one reassuring head nod.
But even better, being part of the sports section’s crack reporting team allows me to immerse myself in the Cornell athletics community in a way that very few people will ever get to experience.
I’ve discussed the pros and cons of Brad Pitt’s unfortunately shaggy “Troy” haircut with wrestling head coach Rob Koll. (Don’t you deny it, Koll.) I’ve sat in the press box high above Schoellkopf Field, and sampled the free soda with the happy abandonment of a child in a cotton candy factory. I know which team won its matches last weekend, which coach is having intra-squad morale issues and which freshman could just be the Red’s Next Big Thing.
However, in the interest of full disclosure — this being my first real column and everything — I thought I might spend a little time talking about all of the things I still do not know about sports. I am fully aware of the potential for embarrassment associated with this type of honesty, but I feel like if there was ever a time to clear the air, the time is now. Ready, set, humiliate!
One of my favorite sports to cover at Cornell is definitely women’s volleyball. A relatively hidden Cornell gem, the fans of “vball” never disappoint and the environment can be just as electric as any sports match on campus. So here’s the thing: I love you Meghan Mushovic, Emily Borman, Hilary Holland etc. So let’s see, that’s a libero, a middle blocker, and a setter. Except, wait. … What the heck is a libero? Seriously. Meghan, you’re awesome, you get to wear a special jersey, and I still don’t know why. Frankly, the position sounds a little like “libretto”, but that can’t be right because a libretto involves the lyrics and text from a modern musical. And I know this, to answer that unspoken question, because I have a lot of friends in Anything Goes, O.K?
Moving on, let’s switch gears a little bit and discuss one of my other favorite sports, polo. And while it’s true I use the term “favorite” rather loosely here, there is something very amazing about a game of croquet played on horseback. This brings me to “Things Meredith Doesn’t Know, No. 2:” can someone please tell me what-in-the-name-of-Leigha-Kemmett a chukker is? Do the horses need a vomit break or something? For a sport solely involving mallets, the term chukker seems a little out of place. On the other hand, what do I know. Ride on you sickened steeds, ride on.
It’s only fair to interject here, and say that I have not slept in (going on) two days, and this column, in all of its beautiful, random eloquence, is the product of a brain running on the artificial after effects of various energy drinks, including, but not limited to Khaos, by Monster, Red Bull and extra-strength lattes from the lard-stained love of my life, Shortstop Deli.
In conclusion, I apologize profusely for this misguided literary effort. I promise to do better next time. And if you happen to see me wandering aimlessly on the Ho this week, remind me to cut down on my salt, do my laundry and please, please, please make sure to take the green and black pills WITH food.
Bennett-Smith out.