Is it just me or does everyone start feeling worse the moment they look up a malady on the Internet and start reading about the various symptoms and possible outcomes?
Yeah, it might be cool to be able to Google anything in the world, but looking up whatever ails you is rarely a smart prescription. Yet that’s exactly what I did the other day when I found a weird bruise on my hip.
At first glance, it looked like I had taken a knee or elbow in a rough half-court, old-man’s basketball game. Problem was that I hadn’t played in any rough half-court old-man’s basketball games since 1994. And although he usually racks me monthly with his trusty Wiffle Ball bat, I couldn’t blame this on my son either. And weirdly, it didn’t even hurt.
So I plopped down in front of my laptop and started searching. Then I got really scared. At one point, I started looking for my will and planning that skydiving trip I keep chickening out on. Based on what I was reading, I would be dead by the end of the weekend. So I closed the laptop and called my internist for a much-needed second opinion. Even though his oh-so-kind assistant (this is called sarcasm) informed me it would be a month before I could see him, I gently (again, sarcasm) coaxed her into an earlier appointment.
The outcome? Took some blood work, which came back fine. Blood pressure, fine. In the end, he said it was probably a result of some work pressure and a blood vessel that popped just under the skin. Then he hit me up for TCU vs. Oklahoma tickets. I acted as if I’d lost my hearing and scrambled out of his office.
Pressure definitely leaves a mark.
After I got home from Dr. Horned Frog, I jumped on the web again (no, I didn’t learn my lesson) and looked up some stats on the average Joe’s lifespan. Seems that the typical working-class guy with two kids, wife, mortgage, two cars, select soccer fees, pool supplies, occasional staycations at Great Wolf Lodge, manageable credit card bills, college savings plans and monthly trips to GameStop for latest Call of Duty updates will have his ticket punched at 75.6 years of age. By the way, that ranks us 38th worldwide. For the record, men in Iceland outlast us all at 80.2.
Women still have us by five years. The good news is that five years is actually two years better than the average at the turn of the century, so we’re either living right or they’re now under nearly as much stress as we are.
Brad Pitt says being a dad is more stressful than doing his own stunts. This coming from a guy who likely hasn’t changed a diaper or searched for a pacifier in his life.
For new dads, the Mayo Clinic points to the following as sources of stress: 1) limited paternity leave; 2) new responsibilities; 3) disrupted sleep; 4) financial strain; 5) less time with your partner; 6) loss of sexual activity; 7) depression.
Nothing against the big brains at the Mayo Clinic, but my response to their deep scientific research on the subject of stress and fatherhood is … DUH! Even a journalism major from North Texas could list those seven along with about 77 other causes of stress for dads.
I realize I’m not alone. I’m the last guy to whine about going to work, especially when way too many of my peers are looking for jobs while also taking on stay-at-home dad honors. What’s the solution for all this stress? Why can’t I just chill and let the world wash over me like a gentle ocean breeze? Because I can’t. Because someone invented the Smartphone. Because I have bills to pay, kids to coach and clients to entertain. Because my son will need braces, my daughter will need a car in three years (three freaking years!), and because I still haven’t been to Europe. Because stress is an annoying part of the puzzle for all of us. There’s no perfect solution. Sure, more exercise would probably help. Maybe I shouldn’t act like I’m solving global warming at work. Maybe I need more vacations on desolate beaches. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
But, guys, stress is here to stay. We all share that bond. We all deal with it in our own way. I shoot baskets on 110-degree days. Brad Pitt does his own stunts. A friend of mine gardens. Another plays video games.
Whatever works, man.
Rudy lives in Flower Mound, works in Fort Worth and plays everywhere in between. He has one wife, one daughter, one son, one published book, one obsession with sports and 20 million observations on marriage and children. Follow him on Twitter: Manifesto10.