MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

On Turning 49 & My Right Eye: Part II

It’s not much of a landmark, 49.

But it has been an interesting year and I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while.

Back in June, I wrote about my right eye getting punched by my son and messing with my vision. Eventually, this led to an ophthalmologist wanting to put yellow dye in my veins so he could see the detail of blood flow in my eye. And when his assistant took my blood pressure in a routine, pre-precedure way, we all got a surprise to find that I was feeling fine and my blood pressure was at 250/150.

A quick trip to the Cedar-Sinai emergency room led to a series of tests, a new addition to my life (a daily pill), and a period of anxiety as my wife and I investigated all the particulars on our own. (Note: Doctors prefer you don’t self-diagnose on the internet.)

Now I have a cardiologist, who thankfully found a fully operational, unthreatened heart beating in my chest. (I know… some of you are amazed that there was one.) It’s a very interesting moment to watch your own heart beating in an ultrasound.

I also have healthy kidneys, liver, and lungs… no diabetes issues… slightly high cholesterol… a bit too much meat on these 49-year-old bones… and my eyes are working pretty much back as they were before this all started. And the best news is that my couple-times-a-week headaches have completely vanished since we started treating the high blood pressure.

And here is the real reason for telling you this story. If you are anything like me, going years on end without seeing a doctor, even with health insurance, you should go for a basic check-up, at least. They call high blood pressure “the silent killer.” And mine, with no apparent symptoms aside from the ongoing but mostly improved eye issues that started with a punch to the eye, was crazy high… dangerously, heart attack-y, stroke-y high. In my case, it probably would have been a stroke, as my heart had adjusted to the additional pressure without any damage being done.

I don’t like going to doctors because I feel like they are often upsellers. If they see any reason, all of a sudden you’re taking pills and getting procedures. I know I am not alone in that feeling. But if my son hadn’t punched me in the eye and a series of doctors hadn’t given me good care, I might well have had a stroke this summer. At 48.

The alternative… the reality… is that I feel better, I know what the condition of my organs is, and I can worry a little less about being a burden on my wife and child at a relatively young age (or just dying, for that matter). The only thing that is really left on the Turning 50 list is a colonoscopy and while I am in no rush, I do know now that I will feel better when I know that the mechanics have been under the hood.

So I urge any of you reading this who are putting off that trip to the doctor to get the check-up… even if you are young like I was just a year ago. I wasn’t feeling ill. I wasn’t uncomfortable. I did have those occasional headaches, which I thought were sinus-related (not so much). But aside from knowing that I was carrying around at least 10% more weight than I should have been on this frame, my health was a non-issue. But I was wrong about that. And now, all those healthy parts that kept me from suffering in any noticeable way while I had seriously high blood pressure are still healthy and the blood pressure is under control.

Health threats and birthdays tend to focus people. And it has done so for me. DP/30, as you know all too well, is the thing I hold dearest in terms of work these days. And I am pretty sure we will be attempting a modest Kickstarter campaign in the next short while to make improvements to the show. After a lot of consideration, I still love a lot about how the show works, but I want better images, better sound, and better lighting. Over these last 5 years or so, I’ve evolved from stumbling onto something cool and new, to getting pretty good at doing both the interviews and the rapid set-ups, to being professional about it, to now feeling a responsibility to both myself, the talent, and the show itself, to make it of a production quality that can stand with any taped interviews on or off the web.

I also want to get back to writing more, though I have to say, in the current era of movie/tv media, it’s hard to get past The Bubble. I don’t want to spend a lot of time reflecting on the reflections of others. But it gets more difficult every day. As the quality and depth of content continues to degrade (with exceptions, obviously), the social event of a movie or TV show becomes more an more gladiatorial. I don’t mind fighting, but I don’t have any urge to fight about personalities… mine or anyone else’s. Over the years, I have had more than my share of presuming what someone thinks because they wrote this or that. And I do think there are moments of groupthink and trends that eat real thought.

No group is more hypersensitive than journalists… and especially critics. But I am interested in the ideas that are being spread in our world. I could not care any less about who is spreading them… though those with more clout have the potential to do more damage with misleading, lazy ideas. And not coincidentally, those who see themselves as having more clout also tend to be those who often see their impulsive, under-reported ideas as being above reproach.

Anyway… the stakes are getting lower and lower and the loudness required to be heard is getting higher and higher and, while I am a sucker for these fights sometime, they usually leave me heartsick. I am not shy about saying what I think and speaking your mind publicly is not a game for wimps. But the list of people I really disrespect is short… even if the list of people who think I don’t respect them enough seems rather long. The vast majority of time, when I disagree with someone else’s perspective, I just disagree. It’s not personal. And I love a good fight about issues… not about personalities. I am not even that hard to persuade to change my perspective… if there are facts and ideas that carry the day. Just because I find one thing in an article offensively misleading doesn’t mean I hate the author nor the other 90% of an article. But, you know… people…

Twitter has become my 1st outlet, really, as I find the issues worth discussing smaller and smaller… small enough for 140 or 280 characters. This is conscious on my part. Just because I can write 800 words on something doesn’t mean that I need to write 800 words. And as the importance of so much of this seems to shrink in a sea of opinions from EVERYONE, my tolerance for reading myself drone on about some of my pet issues has diminished as well.

I am unrested, tan, and ready. And every day, I am happy to see what’s next.

Be Sociable, Share!

12 Responses to “On Turning 49 & My Right Eye: Part II”

  1. Ryan says:

    Dave-best wishes on your continuing better health. Sometimes we all need a good kick in the ass (or, in you case, poke in the eye) to get us to re-evaluate our prespectives from time to time.

  2. Fitzerald says:

    Thanks for the blog, David, and it’s great to hear you are healthy.

  3. christian says:

    “Good health is the most important thing. More than success, more than money, more than power.”

  4. matt says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing your story with all of us.

  5. Mariamu says:

    Thank you for posting this.

  6. Joe Leydon says:

    Indeed: There is nothing like a reminder of your mortality to sharpen your focus.

  7. cadavra says:

    You’ve still got a way to go to catch me age-wise, but I’m strictly of the find-a-hangnail-head-straight-for-the-ER school of watching my health, and while I’m undeniably over my dancing weight, I’m otherwise in very good shape for a grumpy old Jew. Keep up the self-scrutiny, my friend.

  8. johnrieber says:

    Great writeup, and truly valuable advice. Thanks for sharing something so personal.

  9. Dave, this post is great and very helpful. I’m glad you’re feeling better. In a strange way, your son’s punch saved your life.

  10. Mike fleming says:

    I wondered why u haven’t been beating us like we owed u money, lately. Get healthy soon, David Poland. What u went through sounds terrible but you could do worse than have a son with a mean right hook. Cheers, Mike Fleming, Deadline Hollywood

  11. The Pope says:

    Happy to hear you avoided a big attack, David. Keep the health.

  12. Yancy Berns says:

    Yep, I was just tested at 40 after major doctor fear kept me away. Ridiculously high blood pressure, ridiculous cholesterol. Several prescriptions later, all is relatively well, and my organs seem to be in fine shape. And, now that you mention it, my headaches (a bane for most of my life) have gone AWOL.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon