Friday, 3 August 2012

Medal winning mentalities and smiling your way to success

this week has been fun, my pelvis is healing at a frankly Olympian speed and i can now sit on the bike for 45 minutes and put out 225 soul crushing watts for that time. The nice thing is, it feels like i'm riding at 225, not like i'm bleeding out of my eyeballs doing 380. I hope this translates into something approaching comfort when i start riding outside again, which will be soon, i hope.

Fortunatley i have had the olympics to watch whilst convalescing this week, I always enjoy the games (who doesn't?) they're the only time when I can really shout at a tv showing someone doing dressage without feeling slightly self conscious and there is something so fulfilling about cracking a beer and pontificating with your mates about women's heavyweight judo when none of you have the faintest clue what on earth is going on. I enjoy the pagentry of the ceremonies as well, it tells us a lot about how nations see themselves. I wrote an article on the Barcelona 1936 games (journal of olympic history if you're interested) and ever since then i can't help but go a bit meta on olympic symbolism. Given that the London i grew up with was more like this and less like this it was nice to see a reflection of what makes up British identity (even if i had to see that through the lens of the Numbskull Broadcasting Corporation who didn't know who Tim Berners-Lee was) especially when that identity isn't all about football, people who happen to be related to people who happen to live in Buckingham Palace or some constructed imagery which wasn't even true at the time it is supposed to reference. These things have their place, but they aren't, to me anyway, salient pillars of identity.

what IS and what I was really proud to see highlighted was the national health service, state run health care is one of the things i miss most about home. Put simply it seems to me to be the hall mark of developing a post industrial society. it shows a level of mutual respect and value and I cannot think of a more compeling use of public funds. I just finished talking to my little sister, she is about to take her med school finals. She's working on a paed ward in which she was telling me that there is an electronic toy jeep the surgery jeep. Any children having non emergency surgery get to drive the jeep from the ward to the theater, theother kids see them and get excited about the prospect. Parents on the ward apparently find it breaks a lot of the tension to see their little kid careering and crashing his or her way to the anesthetic. What a brilliant idea.

There's also someone called a play specialist who is in charge of explaining procedures to children in a way they will understand, making them comfortable and making the ward a fun environment. I think it's not only youngsters who would benefit from this, although admittedly if they had to explain all my injuries in the last 5 years on a teddy bear, i wouldn't envy the bear!

There's something we can all learn here, beign sick and getting better isn't just about science it's about spirit. I try to do the same thing with diabetes, make it fun, make it cool don't make it all about needles and numbers. At the end of the day, when someone is sick we wish them to "feel better" but we so often approach medicine in a way that makes people feel worse. Obviously you're not going to feel good if you're up to your eyeballs in medical debt, or if you can't go to hospital at all because you lack insurance and i think you can all guess how i feel about the US system but i don't feel like going on a rant today. I'll just say that a unique benefit of a state funded system is that it allows investment in holistic practices such as those i have described above because of the scale of the system and because the idea is to save drug costs, not fund drug reps' new lexus payments.

Interestingly this idea of holistic happiness producing better outcomes brings us back to the track. Victoria Pendleton, despite being the most talented track sprinter of her generation, struggles hugely with self confidence and in her case, what makes her fast is making herself relaxed and happy. So many people could learn from this, i see people every day distracting themselves form their low self esteem by working ferociously at jobs they don't enjoy and don't find fulfilling.

So, when you see Vicky P or anyone else standing on the podium or you see your own challenges in life confronting you, be they gold medal finals or just a tough week at work or perhaps some health issues remeber to take some time for yourself and heal up your soul as well as your body.

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