Category Archives: Health

Take a break

As many of you may be aware, I was training to take part in the 2013 Grim Challenge when I managed to injure myself. The injury has so far stopped me running for over 6 months.

Luckily cousin Wendy still managed to do the Grim.

Luckily cousin Wendy still managed to do the Grim.

I was increasing my training pace and distance gradually so as not to injure myself when at the tail end of August 2013 I managed to hurt my leg.

I had a lovely endorphin rush whilst setting my best distance & time out running. There was a bit of a pull on my leg as I was running, but I thought nothing of it for the last two miles. I simply thought it was a slight twist or shin splint.

I got home, happy with my run, then sat down to a cup of tea.

I went to stand up and I couldn’t put any weight on it. Incredibly painful. I couldn’t even stand having it touch the floor without weight on it. In a word: PAIN.

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Lumpy

I went straight to Accident & Emergency where I had the leg looked at. An X-Ray showed nothing to worry about, although this was 2 hours after it happened. I did asked if I should go back in a few days for another X-Ray, as a stress fracture would not show due to swelling so soon after it had happened, but the hospital staff said it was fine.

I was told it was muscular & to try and keep weight off, but keep it moving & stretching lightly during the healing period so that the muscle wouldn’t tighten up. I was given some strong anti-inflammatory pain killers.

3 weeks later I went to the doctor & said it was getting worse. He said that is expected from muscle injuries.

3 more weeks & the doctor decides this isn’t quite right after I show swelling and increased tenderness in a specific point on my tibia.  I finally go for the second X-Ray.

When the results came through there were blatantly obvious fractures. The swelling appeared to be new bone growth that was trying to heal over the fracture, but I kept re-breaking whilst following the original advice of ‘keep it moving‘.

The specialist who saw me at this time said the last thing I should be doing is moving it around or putting weight on it… Yeah, that really didn’t surprise me.

A removable cast was fitted & worn for several months to no avail. It remained very painful.

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Plastic Fantastic

I went back to the specialist who agreed something wasn’t right. I had an MRI scan carried out & a few weeks later when the specialist got the results he became concerned at what could be seen on the MRI scan images.

The specialist immediately sent me for a priority ‘same day‘ CT scan. I was a little concerned as they are usually reserved for serious bone issues or tissue problems such as tumours. I didn’t think it could be a serious bone issue, after all at this point my leg had been broken for close to 6 months… not exactly an urgent life or death break… which left a nagging ‘tumour‘ thought in my mind, which I pushed almost entirely to one side.

I tell you, nothing makes you panic in a hospital like being rushed around for urgent scans by a specialist. Suddenly I longed for the hospital visits that take so long you can finish a couple of good books whilst waiting…

A few hours later and the CT results come through with good news. I was told that the dark tissue areas were nothing to worry about (the fact they hadn’t mentioned these areas before did make me think that they had thought they might be a serious problem – hence the need for a CT scan). The fracture on the other hand showed no signs of healing. It had possibly stopped healing due to initial ‘muscle’ treatment & painkillers masking the injury.

I’m now over 6 months into this broken leg and have a few options left, which aren’t really options…

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Oh Snap!

I have a fixed cast on my leg that covers my foot and comes halfway over my knee. In a few days time I am starting ultrasonic treatment to try and aggravate the fracture to try and kick start the healing process. To do this they will cut a small hatch in my leg cast for me to apply the treatment each day for 20 minutes for 6 weeks.

At the end of that they will scan the leg again and if the ultrasonic treatment is not successful, they will commence with putting a titanium rod down through the top of my tibia just under the kneecap, down to the bottom by the ankle.

Basically… really, really basically… it’s this:

This CGI shows the more technically accurate version, which is oddly less graphically repulsive,

YUMMY…..

So… the challenge is to do the Grim Challenge 2014… Watch this space.

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Hypnotherapist Bullshittery?

I used to think hypnotherapy was all either staged or at best a placebo effect, so a book by a hypnotherapist on overcoming stress & anxiety would be a no brainer on the ‘do not buy‘ list for me… BUT I know the author of this particular book… Gary ‘Smiler’ Turner, and I hope he reads a bit further than this, as he’s a multiple kickboxing/MMA World Champion…

… but above all, a thoroughly decent, helpful guy.

It’s through Gary that my ‘engineering: how does it work side‘ has been satisfied that not only is this not gypsy tea-leafery, but it is a very real & a very beneficial thing.

I’m a bit of an OCD worrier & I know I put blockers in my own head that make me avoid certain situations.

When it comes to running & shooting I also build mental walls that hold me back, but those walls have now become targets as I know that they are purely in my head, and I have the ability to knock them down.

The mental walls in my head for running simply stopped me in my tracks and I couldn’t run any further… Yet I knew I should be able to physically. By constantly trying to punch on through the wall, by positive reinforcement and the knowledge that it was all in my head, I managed to break that wall down… Not all the way, as some nagging doubt is hanging on in there, BUT from struggling at a 1 mile run, to suddenly pushing out 5 miles with similar ease, I proved to myself that it was just in my head, and I did have the ability anyway.

My running achievements and return to form on competition target shooting are testament to that… and that’s just from a few general chats with Gary, taking out barriers that are many years old.

So I have ordered his book based on what it says it can offer, and what he’s already done for me first hand.

Stay tuned for a review once I put it into practice.

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From Amazon:

Have stress and anxiety become too much? Nerves and worries holding you back? Suffering from panic attacks? Would you like to be able to relax, be calm and at peace? In this remarkable book Gary Turner reveals the simple steps of his Anxiety Clearing Technique (ACT) to help you easily overcome nerves, worry, anxiety and stress. He will guide you through a series of simple, yet powerful techniques to recondition your mind and effortlessly let go of anxiety and stress so you are free to live life to the full. Gary Turner is a World Champion Sportsman, Trainer and Hypnotherapist. He developed his unique Anxiety Clearing Technique (ACT) over many years of working with men and women from all walks of life, as well as athletes, executives and top celebrities. Now you can learn directly from Gary how to say goodbye to anxiety in all its forms – and simply transform your life!

Click HERE for your copy!


Picking up speed

A new way to donate… AND A VIDEO!

Our attempt on The Grim Challenge for CANCER RESEARCH UK using a more extreme variant Nordic Walking is going pretty well. Sure we’d like to see more sponsors and donations, but it’s early days and we’re both training to make sure we don’t let anyone down.

I’ve added a method to make donating really easy now. You just need to use your mobile phone and text STIX99 and a donation amount (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10) to 70070.

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Meanwhile, along with cardio and endurance training, I’ve thrown together a little video to promote our challenge. It’s only a first attempt and I plan to make another (more?) as time goes on.

It is for Cancer Research UK, although they support the worldwide fight against cancer and are simply based in the UK, so to everyone out there, where ever you are, please do donate and share this page. It’s for a very good cause after all.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO OUR ‘JUST GIVING’ CHARITY PAGE


A FIRST for team STIX & STONES

It’s official…

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As a challenge to get me fit again after injuries (ankle, back, and recently cellulitis in the elbow – yay me!), me and my physical trainer cousin Wendy are going to be taking part in the Grim Challenge at the very end of November.

woo

The Woo: Tougher than the Grim Challenge itself.

me

The Return of the Black: What doesn’t kill me better be able to outrun me…

Dirt, rocky roads, gravel, mud, man made mounds, obstacles, water holes, more mud, more hills, ditches, more muddy wet holes… 8 miles of tough challenge. She’s not used to the Nordic style which I really enjoy, and I’m not used to straight running… Hopefully we’ll learn the right things from each other…

We’re doing it for Cancer Research UK, and just to make it interesting we thought we’d attempt to do it using Nordic X-country poles.

Like it wasn’t going to be tough enough in the first place…

The thing is, the Grim is technically a run, although some folk do end up walking as it is a very tough course. We didn’t know if actually starting out ‘walking‘ was going to be a problem (albeit Nordic Walking, which is a different ball park to hiking or normal walking – especially how I do it…).

The organiser is not in favour of people who turn up just to walk the route… but in the organiser’s own words when I suggested about us using Nordic X-Country poles: “… I know all about Nordic walking and suspect you guys are not the strolling type!”

Team Stix & Stones

Team Stix & Stones.

Our TEAM PAGE is STIX & STONES – (Stix due to the poles and x-country, and stones, because it’s both off-road, and you need figuratively two of them to do the challenge…). Please visit it to make donations.

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It turns out that we are officially the first people to attempt the Grim Challenge using the Nordic method. I wonder why?

Course (taken from the Grim web page):

This land is used to test Army vehicles so expect it to be interesting!

You will reach a long hill shortly after the start before descending again eventually reaching a water filled ravine.

You will run on over puddle-strewn paths before having to crawl under camouflage netting.

You’ll eventually reach some man-made mounds before arriving at and running through some rather large puddles.

Expect to get very wet!

You’ll run on to the fast vehicle driving circuit where it is rocky underfoot.

This brings you to some more large areas of water and the finish area.

Sounds delightful!


First Aid ~ Everyone should know it.

One of the things that I have found very useful in life is my First Aid training.

Both for helping others & knowing what’s happening to me, it has proved invaluable.

One of the strange ways it helped me was a few years ago when I suffered a traumatic injury. Whilst in hospital I started shaking, convulsing & collapsed. This would’ve scared the crap out of me, but I knew that I was going into shock, and I knew this was my body’s way of shutting down to protect me by concentrating on my vital systems.

It helped me understand what was going on, and why certain things had to be done. I was actually very calm in a situation where I would’ve otherwise panicked & possibly made things worse.

It has also helped when my son has been ill or injured. I’ve either known what to do, or understood why his body was doing what it was doing. Either way it helped me stay calm by giving me an understanding of the situation. It’s not knowing things that scares most people.

I highly recommend going on a course. If you’re lucky you could get your company to send you on one & maybe get a little extra cash for being a work First Aider. It’s win/win.

Courses are supplied by the UK’s leading first aid providers, although other courses are available (I use St John Ambulance). When I had my first course there was a practical exam at the end, but now the trainees are observed during the training course and there’s no pressure of a final exam.

Click the logos below for more information:

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Movember

I’m not growing a moustache for Movember. I suit a moustache as well as my mother, but she is far better at growing one…

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Soooo I’m going to shout out and help a friend who Tweeted me the following:

@LucasBlack As I can’t grow facial hair, can you retweet my #Movember entry? Pretty please? With light fur on top? http://uk.movember.com/mospace/4749937

Why?

Because it’s a good cause and also because he said pretty please.

Oh yeah, and also simply be because it takes very little effort to blog and help…

Very little effort to spread the word. AHEM!!!

Soooo, if you want to help, please either donate or re-blog this page to spread the word.

AAAAaaand whilst you’re at it, why not go two for one…

@LucasBlack *cough* http://mobro.co/SteveW68 *cough* (Pretty pretty please….)

Go on… You know you want to…

MOVEMBER


Air SupMRI – The search for brainzzz

Since August last year I have had a bit of a problem with headaches.

Scroll down the page if you just want the MRI Simulator video I made…… otherwise, read on….

For 12 weeks I had a constant headache around the back of my head. It didn’t really stop me doing anything, but it was bloody annoying. A series of medication knocked this headache out, so that was all well and good.

Trouble is, on top of this headache, ever couple of weeks I would get a short lived slamming headache hit me in the back of my head to the right…. and it felt like a 12″ nail being hammered in. The pain felt like it is in one very specific area, like a knife point.

These wonderful ‘extras‘ have been enough for me to get on my knees or lay down and physically scream out in pain as they’ve gone on. I’ve broken bones and had various injuries, but I had never experienced pain like it. Over the 20 to 40 minutes it lasted, it started off as unbearable, and then ramped up.

Tests were done to make sure my brain was okay, and all functions were firing… and they were. Increasingly strong migraine medication was given to me, but none of it made the slightest difference.

As one came on over Christmas I took a painkiller/muscle relaxant left over from when I put my back out. These pills knocked me out cold when I had the bad back, so I reasoned that it would be better to be unconscious whilst this bastard headache ran its course if I couldn’t actually get rid of it. Yes…. probably not the greatest thing to do, but it was back medication that was prescribed to me, and I took a normal dose.

The headache stopped.

I saw a specialist and he said it is most likely tension related. That is to say a muscle under tension might be trapping a nerve and causing the pain. This is why the back medication worked. It is not work stress or mental tension… it is a physical tension within muscles etc.

So… I can now easily control the headache with meds and stop it before it even gets started…. but we still need find what’s causing it….

I was sent for an MRI scan to see if there was anything brain with my wrong.

People will tell you that the machine “will make a little noise“… Ha…. yeah, and then some…

The MRI operators will often play music through headphones to you, to help mask the noise…. ah ha ha…. no… really.

To help you understand what it is actually like, you might like to try my simulator…

The sound is an MRI scan, with an Air Supply song being played to help take your mind away from the noise of the machine….

This video and music track will help you simulate an MRI scan in your own home!

Yes, all you need is a good bass speaker and a bucket (white would be best).

Now just follow the on-screen instructions…..
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If you have an MRI scan, you might be lucky and they won’t play music…..

Due to the nature of an MRI scan, you can’t have normal headphones. To get the music to you, they use a modern version of the speaking tubes used in days of old.

The music is played from a speaker away from the MRI machine and into a rubber tube. The tube splits off to your left and right ears.

Music is literally piped to you.

Unfortunately the MRI scan is so noisy, and the effectiveness of the sound tubes is so poor, the end result is, well…. crap.


Thank … God?

Okay… there are a lot of links in this blog entry. They go some way to showing what is involved, and who is involved, in parts of the following tale…. It is quite a short write up, considering how deep I could take it… so please bear with me…

The Scene…

A lorry has a tyre blow out on a major busy road in a hilly area of the country.

The trailer slides across the Tarmac & hits a car.

The car is smashed off of the road and it ends up upside down at the roadside.

A little girl inside is seriously injured.

In seconds, the traffic has stopped & other road users are phoning in the accident. They use mobile phones that have been developed over time by countless thousands of engineers who can trace telephone technology back to people like Bell and Marconi – or in this case, Dr Martin Cooper of Motorola with the first mobile phone.

These engineers went to school, college & university to study. They were taught by countless more lecturers & teachers who spent their lives learning their vocational skills and also attending schools, colleges, universities etc to enable them to go on and educate others. The same is said of the people who trained these instructors and… well, it goes on and on. Thousands of people lead to the witnesses of the crash being able to phone emergency services.

Of course, the emergency services couldn’t be contacted if there was no telephone infrastructure in place, and also if there was no way to generate electricity to power the systems that allow for the phones to charge and for the entire grid of communications to operate.

Again we have engineers, scientists and the initial inventors to thank for harnessing the power of electricity, into making it possible to give all the houses & businesses the ability to power their equipment… and go in all of the cars, lorries, boats, aircraft and so on… that all need batteries to start/run their engines, motors & electrical systems. And again there are the instructors, lecturers etc that teach these skills to enable this resource to develop and operate safer & more reliably day after day…. and the people who taught the people to teach…

Thinking about it, those teachers need somewhere to teach… so we must remember architects, builders, plumbers (ooh, the Romans for their work on plumbing), electricians, carpenters, roofers etc… and all the people who taught them… and those that taught those that taught them… etc.

Oh Hell, mustn’t forget the workers (and those that died progressing their areas of employment, working to provide for our prior generations, and those to come) in foundries, mills, mines, quarries who supplied the materials to build the schools… And don’t forget the people who taught them…. and here we go again….

So far we have a witness calling for help over a mobile phone, and someone from the emergency services taking that call & passing it on the the relevant rescue services… and we have thousands and thousands of people who helped make that call take place…. So many people who are each owed something for what they brought to the table on this day, so to speak.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Rescue and emergency services head out to the crash site. The rescuers included countless Police to divert traffic & control the crash scene for starters. Then the ambulances & fire engines come along. Paramedics & firefighters to cut the victims from the wreck & give emergency aid to get them stable for the urgent ambulance helicopter flight to an airport so that the girl can be transferred to a faster aircraft to get to the hospital.

I've worked on this aircraft at GAMA - I'm part of this huge chain that helped.

Think of the technology, the training, the skills and dedication involved in all of this! Even down to the rescue services “Jaws of Life“… the hydraulic cutters used to remove the roofs off of cars to allow people to be removed from them safely…

Heck, we need to thank the ancient Greeks & Chinese for their initial work in hydraulics, and Blaise Pascal (1600’s) for his work in modern hydraulic principles, that eventually lead to generations of teachers training generations of engineers to eventually come up with, and make “The Jaws of Life”.

All of those emergency vehicles have engines that developed from steam engines to internal combustion engines… We owe Karl Benz for some of the first practical motor cars… Nikolaus Otto is to thank for coal/gas burning reciprocal engines.

Then there’s the gas turbine engine in the air ambulance helicopter… this goes back to Bernoulli and more practically, Sir Frank Whittle… Oh yeah, the helicopter goes back to Leonardo da Vinci… and the modem father is Igor Sikorsky.

The technology that went into making all of those car, lorry, helicopter systems etc… is owed to an impossible number of inventors, scientist, scholars, boffins…. teachers, foundry workers… and on and on….

Almost forgot Babbage & the calculating machine he created, or the first simple mechanical computer of Thomas Fowler in 1840! … or the many variations of the abacus… or the efforts at Bletchley Park with Alan Turing and Tommy Flowers… regarded as the fathers of modern computing… Without this line of thought & engineering, the computer reliant vehicles (ground and air) would not function… or be able to be designed…

Do I have to go into how many people have helped progress THIS side of technology! MILLIONS! Don’t forget all of those ancient mathematicians that developed theories, rules, formulas etc that allowed ANY engineering to take place… Archimedes, Aristotle, Pythagoras… some of maths many fathers…

So yeah… The little girl is cut from the car & her condition is stabilised. She is put in the helicopter & flown to the hospital (by trained pilots who have spent years training etc and so on… you know what I mean by now…).

She arrives at the trauma centre, which was an idea first established in the 1960’s by R Adams Cowley, and is rushed into surgery (developed from around the 1500’s by countless scientists and researchers in medicine)… and I think if you have half a brain cell, that you’ll know where this is heading….

Trained staff, technology, inventors, scientists, infrastructure, upper tier staff, lower tier staff, buildings, services…. allowing the paramedics, doctors, nurses & other specialists to save the little girls life, using equipment that has been developed over generations of medical and non medical research, by people whose names you can’t help but recognise, including the likes of Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, Hannah Myrick, Louis Pasteur, Alexis Carrel and Henry Dakin, Joseph Lister…. the list is endless…. or at least it may as well be, because every branch of medicine or medical research was generated from a different branch, or developed into others…

Research has expanded and helped us… and with that expansion comes the need for more people to teach, to learn, to think, to progress…

Millions of people and their ancestors all helped

The above list doesn’t touch the surface of all of those that were involved in that one little girls life being saved, but as you can see, the human count in this pyramid that ends with that little girls life contains millions of unsung heroes. People who worked just to find answers. Some were imprisoned & forced to work. Some were slaves, some were kings & queens… All walks of life through the ages.

And then there’s the press who interview the parents after the girl has been saved…. and the parents… they turn to the camera and say into the microphone…

“Thank God our daughter survived…. We knew he was looking down on her all the time…”

No mention of the Doctors, the nurses, the pilots, the Police, the rescue and emergency services, the witnesses at the scene… let alone the millions in history that allowed it to all play out….

Even if you are religious, then sure, thank your God, but don’t forget the physical people who did all the hands on work.

If you do want to thank ‘God’….. Don’t forget one tiny little thing…

…Who do you think allowed the crash to happen in the first place?

Yes, you guessed it....

You live on the shoulders of millions who lived before you.

Don’t ever forget that.

Oh, and before you go and say “It’s all a test God has set us“… then please read THIS


A brief pause… and ZOMBIES!

Christmas came and went. New Year landed.

Lots of fun time was had with Chris and Alex as we spent quality time together. Thank you to those who sent greetings and/or gifts, they were greatly appreciated. Alex has had a wonderful time and is really getting into the Christmas thing.

Tesco, Earlier today.

Anyway… ZOMBIES!!!

At the supermarket  earlier I was surprised to see so many vacant eyed mouth breathers wandering around masticating on gum with their mouths open. Some even doing it as a family…

I wondered what was happening… and then it clicked… 2 days into the New Year and these were the New Year ‘resolutionary’ non-smokers.

I give them a week at best.

You see, the way I see it is; if you have to wait until New Year to set a resolution, then you probably don’t have what it takes to make it happen anyway.

If you really want to do/quit something that much, then why would you wait? Just do it.

You don’t believe me?  Tell this to someone who just set a resolution and watch them break sweat and reach for a cream cake and a cigarette as they realise that it is absolutely correct. See the realisation creep into their eyes as they understand how weak they really are, and how the resolution was never going to work….

I gave up smoking many, many years ago. At my worst I used to smoke 20/40 a day…. I simply decided enough was enough and stopped. No gum, no patch, no hypnotherapy. I used that long lost tool humankind seems to have let wither and almost die…. “Will Power” and “Getting the Hell on with it“.

You can do it – gum, patches, self help books, plastic cigarettes – these things may help a few people, but mostly they are there to make money off of you by convincing you that YOU ARE WEAK AND CAN’T QUIT WITHOUT THESE PRODUCTS….. they just want your money… You ARE strong enough… all you have to do is dust off that back bone and get on with it – and it’s in this area that hypnotherapy can really help. Yes… use it to unleash that will power – You don’t need drugs or patches or other gizmos…you already have it in you.


Ali kicks in

I’m finding that my boxing and kickboxing (Southern Martial Arts) is really helping with my fitness. I have come to live with the fact that my cardio isn’t the greatest (lung issues), but my overall fitness is improving. The weight I lost is going back on, but my waist size is staying the same… so that suggests I’m getting some muscle back… or at least getting some muscle…

The kickboxing is really helping my flexibility, balance and co-ordination, and that’s good because that’s what I am in it for. I’ll say that right now, if you asked me, that I am not going to do any competitions. I don’t need to do things that could put my health at risk and cause me to have time off of work. Family comes first, and with that I must think about income security… and anyway, much though I enjoy it all, I’ve not got the stamina to compete (not yet, at least) – I’ll leave that to the guys at SMA that have those skills – and they DO have the skills.

Anyway, I like the training, but really need to practice in-between classes, and where shadow boxing/kickboxing is all well and good, there are times when you need to put out the full force and make contact with something…. so I purchased a kick/punch bag from BLITZ SPORTS via SMA .

I filled the bottom 18″ is filled with builders sand (in a couple of bin bags to avoid any potential leakage), and then the rest is off cuts of leather and fabric which was cut down into small swatches. The leather forms the core and the leg section, then the fabric is used to fill the sides of the bag because the leather isn’t soft enough to fill the contours around the bags curves. It is designed to allow for lower leg, body hits and upper cut work. Once filled it weighed in at 80kg.

Alex likes to know what I do, so he knows I shoot and box/kickbox. He also knows that shooting people and fighting people is bad (rogue dinosaurs and evil pumpkins are fair game though), and that there is a difference between sport and bullying (he’s a bright lad!). He wanted to help me fill the bag, so I hung it up and put his step next to it so he could reach the top to put leather in…. the thing is that help didn’t last long as he wanted to try it out whilst we were still filling it!

He really enjoyed giving the bag some punches and kicks – and I hope that he’ll become interested enough to take it up. A local gym (Maximus Gym) offers a class for 5 to 14 year olds, so maybe that’s an option. I’d like him to take it up so he learns self control, how to defend himself and also the co-ordination and flexibility it offers.

He’s a gentle lad, but can put his strength down if picked on or if he gets carried away – and due to his size I don’t want him seen as the aggressor, but because he is such a caring child I don’t want him to become a victim either. I’d like him to have the skills so that he doesn’t ever get picked on – but if he does, he can deal with it cleanly. Man… he’s only 4 and a half, but you have to think ahead.

Most importantly though…. he seems to enjoy it!


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