Friday, March 07, 2008

Greetings from Vegas, where I'm gellin', but not happy about it.

I've long felt that if there's one critical-thinking skill that colleges should be sure to drill into students, it's a solid appreciation of the Law of Unintended Consequences. There are all sorts of complex theoretical models designed to illustrate how the LoUC works*, most of them venturing into Chaos Theory, the so-called "butterfly effect" and the like. But the past few days have provided me with an excellent illustration that's somewhat more low-tech and easily comprehended.

My right heel.

A bit of background. Last year was a nightmare baseball season** for me, physically. I began with knee stiffness, suffered a groin pull midway through, then finished out the season by hurting my heel. And when I say "finished out the season," I mean it literally. On my last sprint (I use the word advisedly) to first base, in my final at-bat of our final playoff game, I landed awkwardly on the bag and knew immediately that I'd done something to my heel. When the pain didn't subside over the next few weeks, I did what any red-blooded guy would do: I pointedly avoided going to the doctor and instead adopted a new walking technique that favored my right heel. This made my gait look a bit odd, and will probably result in further injuries down the line, but it seemed effective at minimizing the heel pain much of the time. And that is how I've lived out the past six months: walking kinda funny but mostly in little or no pain.

Then the other day, after hearing another one of those insipid "Dr. Scholl's" spots, I decided to splurge $5.99 for a set of gel inserts. And let me tell you, people, they're amazing. Just amazing. Not only was there no pain at all from the moment I stuck them in my shoes, but it was as if I were walking on a velvet cushion. In fact, they're so amazing that over the past few days, I've gradually (albeit unintentionally) reverted to normal heel-to-toe walking.

And today my heel hurts like hell. It hasn't been this bad since I first injured it last August.

That is classic unintended-consequence: You do something that's supposed to make something else better, and it does make that something else better, except that the making-better has a downside you couldn't have foreseen that makes another something else (or, in this case, the original thing) worse.

I guess sometimes, even if it is broke, you shouldn't fix it. Clearly when I get back from Vegas I'll have to have it looked at by a medical professional. Hmm. I wonder what the unintended consequences of that will be.

This is why, when we posit our solutions to life's issues and dilemmas, we should do so with humility. You never know what chain of events your brilliant idea may set in motion.

* And the interesting part is that this is one law that actually has much to say about what happens in real life, as opposed to the Law of Attraction, which seems to hog all the press nowadays.
** Dedicated SHAMbloggers know that I've played on various men's amateur hardball teams since 1991.


Cal said...

How did you hide this from your wife? Isn't it usually the females that make the guys go to the doctor?

Steven Sashen said...

I can't tell you how sad I am to hear that you attracted this injury into your life, clearly, from all all the negative thinking you post on this blog.

And it's your heel, oh, Achilles. That points a psychological issue which is so obvious neither I, nor Louise Hay, need even mention it!

If you go to a conventional butcher -- I mean, doctor -- I hope you at least seek the aid of a competent homeopath to help undo what was done to you, address the root cause, and advance your spiritual progress.

With no judgment, but only light and love,

(geez, I hope people get this)

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Cal... We females can only do so much (contrary to the compulsory myths about our awesome power). Sometimes you "guys" just happen to have minds of your own, you know. ;)

If I'm guessing right, I could almost write out the conversation that took place between Mrs. and Mr. Salerno re: Steve's injured heel. And every woman reading it would nod her head in a knowing (and exasperated) agreement. And every man would look at it without much comprehension, thinking, "What's the big deal here?" (Though I maybe wrong about this.)

Steve, stay put, keep your leg elevated, and let your kids and grandkids spoil you. You have a perfect excuse, you know.

Elizabeth said...

OK, Steve, too much of a cognitive leap here in your reasoning ("I guess sometimes, even if it is broke, you shouldn't fix it.")

You SHOULD fix it when it's broke. But you did not. You pretended you did by soothing the symptoms, while the source of the problem itself was not addressed. And now it came back with a vengeance to bite you in your proverbial, er, heel.

So there may be a different lesson to learn here altogether. (Just thought I point it out for the sake of all the young and impressionable people who count on the SHAMblog wisdom to guide them in life. ;)

Matt Dick said...

I had a similar experience with gel bicycle seats. They are amazing -- AMAZING -- for the first five minute ride around the parking lot of the bike store.

12 hours on a gel seat is hell.

Anonymous said...

I can correlate that your gel inserts are a lot like most of the self-help movements, alright in the short term, but not so good in the long term. Just another easy fix for a much bigger problem. I must ask why you did not go to a doctor when you first got this injury, but due to the lack of healthcare in the U.S, I might know that answer or was it something else? Did you not want to get a lecture from your doctor about playing sports at your age, etc? So by not going to the doctor when the injury was first acquired, you saved yourself some grief, but in the long run have more problems. This would be considered avoidance BTW.

Elizabeth said...

As if I weren't late to this game already, this is off topic... I don't even know if you can match my comment with your original post here (June 1, 06), or whether it even makes sense (likely not), but I feel compelled to say that McIlwain wrote a critique not so much OF your book as NEXT to it. More precisely, she wrote a critique of her own expectations of your book, expectations that you did not promise to meet (even if you knew they existed).

Personally and professionally, I have been interested in much the same issues as McIlwain (narcissism, psychopathy, psychology of personality development and emotional transformation) and while I appreciate her added perspective to SHAM, I would say she missed the point of your book. It was not meant to be a psychological/anthropological/
sociological exploration of the phenomenon, but an investigative journalist's look at the SHAM business. As such, it should be considered a springboard for a broader and more in-depth discussion of the subject, such as McIlwain attempted there. However, her criticisms of your book, though make for an interesting reading, are simply unfair. She appears to blame an apple for not being an orange.

P.S. As you see, I'm slogging through your archives, slowly but surely. Well, slogging is not the best word to use anyway, since I'm having much fun in the process. I hope you come back from your hiatus soon, otherwise I may actually read everything there is to read on your blog... Either that, or the withdrawal symptoms will become unbearable :)

P.S.2. I swear, these verification words are something else. They give me goosebumps. This one tells (me?) that movefna... One could easily get paranoid (if one were susceptible to such abnormalities, of course).

P.S.3. I think it may be better not to post this (water-under-bridge type of entry).

Elizabeth said...

Steve, below is my nomination for The Quote of the Year (if not decade):

"Our goal is to make life more peaceful, balanced, beautiful and meaningful. We honor commitment to our clients as we covet long-term relationships of trust and mutual benefit."

No, this was not taken from an ad for Byron Katie's The Work or Tony Robbins' enterprise. This is how Emperor's Club, the prostitution ring patronized by Spitzer, advertises its services.

Steve Salerno said...

I think Elizabeth's comment (and the quote with which she presents us) goes to an important point: that in all of these diverse "enterprises," actual content is almost irrelevant. The same packaging can be used to market financial services or female flesh.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, that's it, Steve.

And after I read your comment, it dawned on me (slow on the uptake, remember) that SHAM businesses never really talk about "mutual benefit" and "long-term relationships" with their clients.

They frame their "services" in a way that appears to say that YOU are the most important part of the relationship and their only focus. They do not peddle their wares for their own benefit, no -- it's all to help YOU (even though they are usually the only ones who really benefit here). And the long-term aspect of the relationship with your preferred self-help guru is also never mentioned, even though your involvement with them is a repeat business proposition. They make you believe that the change you will experience thanks to their help will be "instantaneous" (to use Hansen's promise) or close to it.

So, in a way, the Emperor's Club owners seem to have more integrity than most self-help peddlers.