While sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for a physician’s assistant to look at the weird bruise I picked up on the back of my arm, I glanced through a children’s nature magazine sitting on the counter. And there were revelations to be had there.
But first let’s talk about the bruise, and put that behind us. Because a week ago the back of my arm starting hurting like a fat bee had just stung me. And that’s a possibility, because it’s August, which is better known as the start of Bee Sting Season. Or Yellow Jacket season. But I had not been stung by a bee. In fact I could not recall anything that happened to the back of my arm that would cause both surface and deep-seated pain.
Well, fortunately, the doc thinks I just popped a blood vessel in my arm. We’ve been cleaning house prepping it for both occupation and sale as my fiance moves in, and I might have jammed the back of my arm with a blunt object and never realized it. And now that the Physician’s Assistant has prodded my arm and explained the blood vessel thing, it feels exactly like it does when I pop a blood vessel in my finger or hand.
So that’s a relief. And while I sat there thinking about the sequence of events* and looked at that kid’s animal magazine, it made me wonder how animals survive without ever seeing a doctor. Our pets for sure get to go see a vet if they’re sick. There is even health insurance for your pet. They sell that these days. It’s a little know fact, perhaps, but you can get it.
The other fact of the matter is that wild animals depend more on adaptive evolution to get through disease and life rather than running to the doctor every time they get a suspicious bruise. Instead they just scratch it or lick it and move on with life.
But that got me thinking about what other animal characteristics would be helpful to have if you swim, run or ride?
And as I looked through the magazine about animals, I found some answers.
For example, did you know that hippotomas sweat is red? Think how useful that could be to triathletes? Rather than that crusty white salty sweat we all release into our clothing, we could sweat red like a hippo and actually see how much hydration we need to replace?
And did you know that a butterfly’s wings are actually covered with tiny scales? That is the secret to all those beautiful patterns, bright colors and cryptic eyeballs crafted so that their enemies will think they are looking back at them. If human beings had tiny scales growing out of their skin, they could replace Ironman tattoos and save people a ton of angst over the choice of a design and the pain of getting inked.
And how cool is it that a chameleon has eyes that can look two directions at once? That animal characteristic would be enormously helpful when riding a bike or running on a
busy road. It would be great in the swim leg of the triathlon too, so you could see who to follow and who is coming up behind so you don’t get run over by some behemoth who swims like a crocodile. Cyclists could keep an eye on the road ahead and the road behind, and runners of both sexes could check out those cute potential partners with a discreet glance. How useful!
We all know cyclists love their kits. All those engaging designs and bold fashion statements in lycra are the mark of a real cyclista. But cyclists aren’t the only ones with
flashy kits. A baby skunk is also called a kit. And its cool black & white pattern is well within the cyclist’s call to Obey the Rules.
And think how very useful it would be to be able to simply raise one of your legs or point your tail and squirt an offensive smell at people who stop their cars to yell at you for riding on the road. That would shut them down in a hurry. Sure, the stench might stick around a few days, but what cyclist doesn’t stink after a four hour ride in the heat. It’s an animal thing to smell when exercising. Let’s be honest about this.
And when it comes to getting nutrition during workouts, no human being has anything on a catfish. See, these fish have taste buds all over their body, not just in the mouth. Which means you could take a PowerBar or some other source of nutrition and just rub it on yourself to get the same effect eating things on the go.
Some species of catfish can also live outside the water and walk across land to get from pond to pond. This would be a very helpful skill among triathletes seeking to become better in transition from Swim Out to the bike. Grow some fins and your swimming will improve, but being able to breathe through your skin while trundling up some sandy beach onto a sidewalk to transition could be really helpful too.
So there you have it. Animal characteristic from which we could all benefit. And given that we human beings shared 90% or so of our DNA with all sorts of living things, we’re not that far away from being able to sweat red, grow reflective scales on our bodies, or shoot stinky fluids out or butts as a defense mechanism. We’re all just a science experiment away from perfection. Just ask all those Hollywood actors and actresses getting all that work done. They all look like strange animals in the end.
*The sequence of events ot which I’m referring is the cellulitis that somehow appeared on the back of my hand earlier this summer. The Urgent Care people assigned antibiotics, which I merrily ingested for several weeks. When they were over, my gut bacteria was all messed up and I got this weird condition called C-Diff, in which bad gut bacteria takes over your lower abdominal region and turns your butt region into a zoo without cages.
Which is a wild place, if you catch my drift. So that meant even more antibiotics to knock back the bad bacteria. So my body was basically like a Superfund site in which chemical warfare was taking place.
Finally the C-Diff was eliminated and I tested negative for that. But them my body was wracked by a weekend bout of the flu. Most likely I got the flu from the little animals I taught in Vacation Bible School, where Kid Bugs are likely rampant.
So finally, after eight weeks of medical experiments I was starting to feel normal, and could run again without hiding in the bushes to take a spray dump, and even felt safe to get into the pool.
Then the bruise showed up. And I was like, “Whoa, WTF?” Because I’m not a hypochondriac, but when one bad event leads to another you learn not to take any of this stuff lightly.