Friday, May 30, 2008

My C(You Later)-PAP . . .

I've got a confession to make. I, without consulting with my physician or my pulminologist (sp?) have decided I no longer need my C-PAP machine. I am not really sure if I should confess this in such a public forum but Wifey, who knows my sleep better than anyone, has been telling me for months now that I am snoring more NOW than I ever have and that the power of my C-PAP is forcing my mouth open all night long so I'm not getting restful sleep.

Realizing that I'm sick of the thing (and Joy being sick of sleeping with me) I decided to take one full week off from my C-PAP and I have to tell you . . . I'm loving it. I sleep better than I ever have. I dream. I can actually hear Ava in the middle of the night so I can wake up and help settle her back in. I get up in the morning on the first ring of my alarm and I have plenty of energy.

I write this realizing that I am saying that being C-PAP-less is giving me the same benefits that I once adored my C-PAP for giving me. Oh irony of ironies when you lose half your body weight and everything starts to change.

Anywho - if any one is interested . . .

FOR SALE - One slightly used and super-annoying C-PAP machine. Acquired in February, 2007 to replace an older version of the machine that was used from March, 2001 through February, 2007, the owner of this machine has decided he no longer needs it.

Features include a water-basin that requires distilled water and daily cleaning (but still grows some sort of moldy muck in it), a six foot long plastic hose to allow air to flow the 18 inches of distance between a nightstand and the sleeping patient, a small and fragile computer/air compressor and a face mask that is held together with masking tape and super glue as the owner does not pack the thing properly for travel and has a 22-month old daughter that thinks the thing is a toy.

COST - Negotiable (will accept 100 Calorie Packs, racquetball matches and opportunities to do maunal labor as payment).

For those who might be concerned that I'm taking my health in to my own hands - I WILL go and have a new sleep study done in the next few weeks (I have a message out to my doctor here in Wichita now) and if they say I have to go back to the C-PAP, I will but - for now - I'm playing by my own rules and LOVING it.

Let me know about the C-PAP!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The 100 Calorie Pack . . .

I must admit - I am a big fan of the portion and calorie controlled world we are starting to live in and I LOVE that my surgery has put me on a fixed portion, fixed nutrition diet for the rest of my life. I've lost all this weight because of it and I am thankful for it.

I live my food life by portion control. Be it the pre-measured 8 ounces of fat-free milk I buy at the gas station some mornings, the protein bars I frequently eat for breakfast or lunch or even the sugar free Jell-O pudding cups that I frequently enjoy during my evening television, I am sold on buying things that limit me from having too much to eat.

I had felt, for the last year or so, truly screwed-over by the latest in snack trends though since my surgery, the 100 Calorie Pack. Why oh why oh WHY did these bad boys not come along years ago? Little, baby granola bars? Minature Hostess Cupcakes? Candy bars? Crackers? Oreo cookie balls? I mean COME ON! I would have eaten ALL of those things by the box (does that defeat the purpose of the 100 Calorie Pack?) before my surgery but the fact that they still have a lot of sugar (compared to what I can take on), they lack protein and the fat content on most of them is not great has kept me on the sidelines - only able to watch Joy and Ava partake.

I am pleased to tell you that the 100 Calorie Pack trend is no longer lost on me, friends. Nope. I've got a whole new lease on snacking life (I say that more than a hint of irony (my world is not really changed)) thanks to TWO new snack packs . . . one of which is actually the 70 Calorie Pack.

The fine folks at South Beach Living (aka Kraft Foods) have introduced the Dark Chocolate Fudge Covered Snack Stick - available in Peanut Butter or Hazelnut Creme. 100 Calories. Five grams of Protein. One gram of sugar. It almost makes it worth the six grams of fat (including three saturated grams) worth it. The packs are only .78 ounces each too so - if you take your time - you can actually eat the whole thing without stretching out your pouch.

The other latest obsession of mine (move over Lemon Creme Cookies) is the Murray Sugar Free Chocolate Bites pack. While not that great of a splurge overall (one gram protein, three grams fat) there are only seventy calories and there are probably twelve or so little cookies in each pack. The right amount to snack on.

As to not alarm my nutritionist - let me be clear - I don't eat these things every day (almost but not EVERY day) and I do take the 100 (or 70) calories in to account on my daily food logs.

Welcome to my life, 100 Calorie Pack. I hope you and I can have a long, meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship for years and years to come.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Say heh-low to-my LIL-fren . . .

For many people around this great land of ours Memorial Day Weekend is a great big, three day hole of time to fill with any thing they please to fill it with. Vacations, spring cleaning, garage sales, opening up their place at "the" lake, shopping and even home improvement projects.

We spent last Memorial Day weekend talking, very seriously, about my early post-surgery success and how different life could be a year later. I spoke with my then-boss at my old job for the first time about it and everything. Oh - we were so naive to the changes.

This Memorial Day weekend has been great. We finally saw Iron Man on Friday night. That's right, I took my special lady out for an evening on the town. It was totally worth the hype and, as a long time fan of Robert Downey Jr., I could not be happier for the success of the movie or how much the character was him and he was the character. I took in Indiana Jones last night too. That's right - two movies in two nights. Check my goals to understand the significance of this "achievement."

ANYWHO - today was the second layer of cake on the cake that will be iced tomorrow. I, under the watchful eye of my in-laws and my wife, operated POWER EQUIPMENT. RIDING power equipment at that.

We (I say "we" like I have a friggin' clue what I'm doing) are doing a paver patio off my in-laws home and the maximum weight limit on the Ditch Witch is 580 pounds. 14 months ago I would have only been barely able to get on the thing. My in-laws would not have asked me to help and Joy would not have allowed me to help. I would have been grateful to be excluded, truth be told. This year though - this year - I buzzed around the back lawn like a seasoned pro bangin' out another job site. For that matter the thing almost tipped over on me when I got more dirt in the bucket in front of me than my weight on the back would balance out.

I worked, outside, in the 90 degree heat for THREE HOURS. The last time I spent three hours in ninety degree heat without being drunk was the summer of 1993 when I was in Denver to see the Pope (another story for another time).

I had a lot of fun ripping up Mom and Dad Terry's back lawn and was very glad that my new body and new open mind allowed me to participate in the fun.

We're going back over tomorrow to do more digging and to start the leveling process. I promise not to knick the house any more, Dad (another story for another time).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Long and Shorts of It . . .

I have a 41" waist. I say that because my 42" pants are a little room and the 40" pants I tried on at just about every store I went it to last week in Kansas City seemed a bit tight. That being said - soon enough - I will fit in to those 40s and I will have lost 30 inches off my waist since my surgery.

As I've been getting smaller and smaller (I still don't feel comfortable declaring myself skinny (skinnIER maybe)) I find myself in the dressing rooms at JC Penney (oh obsession of mine - with your weekly "biggest sale of the season" and your crafty pricing schemes that FORCE me to buy, buy, buy (sorry about the 1st quarter results, by the way, I TRIED to help - I promise)) with increasingly "odd" clothes in my hands. The latest example, a month or so ago, was not one but TWO pairs of shorts (buy one, get one for $0.99 (PLEASE bring back the cent-sign, keyboard makers!)).

I have not worn shorts in public since the summer of 2000. That is when my lymphedema first formed in my left leg and I realized that the world no longer needed to see my get-away sticks accordingly.

While the eight years fluid build up on my left ankle/calf have left the skin discolored, the muscle all but gone and the general appearance of my leg anything but "cute" - the swelling and fluid has gone down enough that I finally figured "screw it" and I bought myself some shorts.

I wore them last week to mini-golf and then I wore them for one of the legs of my road trip last week and I plan to wear them this weekend (it is in the 90s here during the day with INSANE thunderstorms overnight).

Anywho, I was looking through some old pictures and here is a picture of me with my friend Tae Hee Lee from Quinnipiac the last time I wore shorts in public (Memorial Day Weekend, 2000) - note the "sexy" ankle socks WITH flip flops to "hide" my ankle swelling.

I will post a new picture of me in shorts if I ever get up the confidence to have one taken and then to post it here. Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Summer of Great Music . . .

It is going to be in the mid-80s and hot and muggy this evening here in Wichita. That means just one thing. SUMMER is upon us. Not officially - that happens, of course, in late-June but the "unofficial" start of summer comes at around 5:00 p.m. CT today when we all roll outta here (those that are left, I'm bailing mid-afternoon) for the three day weekend that is Memorial Day.

For some reason, Memorial Day weekend always makes me thing of great music. I'm not sure why that is but I can think of and name - off the top of my head - the "anthem" of my summer from the last 15 or so summers off the top of my head and to this day when/if I hear any of them, they make me immediately nostalgic for that particular summer and where ever I was in life at the time. Here are a few examples . . .

Summer, 1991 - Summertime, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. I was working at a summer camp and Jess, Darcy, Debby and I would bop around listening to the MTV Party-to-Go TAPE singing along and loving life.

Summer, 1994 - Fallin', Teenage Fan Club and De La Soul. I was graduating from high school and I was pretty sure I knew all I needed to know about life and the adventure of it. Me, GUYK, Joey Weeks, Melly-Mel, Kim, Reddy-Red, Loro, Brie and Snnut used to roll the mean streets of Groton, New York listening to this song, off the soundtrack to the movie Judgement Night hoping that summer would last forever!

Summer, 1996 - What I Got, Sublime. College. Just loving life. This song always makes me think about the first time I smoked a cigar (I had a terrible sunburn and was generally miserable and the cigar just made it worse and worse and worse).

Summer, 1997 - Every Step I Take, Puff Daddy, Faith Evans and 112. In my random, random brain there are few people that I just plain admire for who they are, how they go at life, what they are getting out of life and how much fun they seem to have doing all of the above. One of those men is Sean Combs. A.k.a. Puff Daddy, Puff, P-Diddy, Diddy, D.I. S-Combs, etc. etc. etc. Puff gave the world Mary J. Blige. He gave the world Christopher (Notorious B.I.G.) Wallace. He gave the world Making the Band II, III and IV and he gave the world Citron vodka. More importantly, he gave me Bad Boy records, a deep love of the "sample" and the strenf (that is not a typo) I need to live on. I miss you every day, B.I. Thank GOD I have this anthem to remember you - and the summer before my senior year of college - by! Keep up the great work, Sean!

Summer, 2000 - Big Pimpin', Jay-Z. Jess and Tim were still moving to DC so Jess was bunking with Bob and I at the apartment. We were loving life and laughing and hanging out and having fun, fun, fun. I was finishing graduate school. I was crashing the White House Coorespondents Dinner for Bill Clinton's last year as President and I was gaining weight at a scary, scary pace. My lymph adema started this summer and so did my love of Jay Z. Another GREAT man named Shawn who lives life with great zeal. WARNING - The link above takes you to a video/song with lots of four, five and six-letter words, you've been warned.

Summer, 2005 - Stay With You, John Legend. I kicked off the summer of 2005 by marrying my beautiful bride, Joy. This song was SUPPOSED to play as we walked back down the aisle after our ceremony but, human error had us exit the ceremony to a song I've never heard before. Regardless I listened to this song for a good part of that spring and summer and, to this day, when I hear it I get a little teary about how emotional it was for me to marry Joy and how blessed I feel to have had that experience and to have her in my life. We

Summer, 2007 - Umbrella, Rihanna. Jay-Z gave us Rihanna and Rihanna gave us the umbrella, ella, lla, a, ey! This song makes me think about the days when I was first losing weight after surgery and we were starting to talk more and more seriously about moving to Kansas and I was trying to figure out how to have it ALL and keep my sanity in the meantime. I still listen to this song almost every time I'm at the gym (ahem) as it is on my gym playmix and I have six different versions of it (including one by Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban) on my iTunes that I listen to. Just a great song that makes you tap your toes and lets you know it will all be fine as long as you have some protection from the rain and someone to ride it out with.

So what is Sean's summer anthem for 2008? Hard to say. I have a lot of great music that I am very, very excited about coming my way this summer. Alanis, Coldplay, Weezer and My Morning Jacket are all back and I keep finding new (to me at least) artists on iTunes that I love too.
I have aome ideas though. So far I'm torn between The Greatest Man That Ever Lived by Weezer (a nice play on the Shaker Hymns that seems to sort of reflect my current attitude (insert disappointed headshake and scornful look here)) and Viva La Vida by Coldplay (a song that makes me think about who I was, who I am and how much I have loved Coldplay since they first entered my iTunes with Yellow (a song that still gives me chills when I hear it) in 2000) but - I still have a three day weekend to decide what will get me through my first full Kansas summer.

Other suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On the Road Again . . .

I just got back this afternoon, from week two of my never-ending business trip (five days, 1100 miles this week alone). I'm tired but happy to be back in the office (for at least one day). Right after my surgery, I was unable to travel. I was paralyzed by fear of what would happen when I hit the road in terms of my food and my protein (I imagined a weekend jaunt leaving me in the hospital with no hair, brittle bones and scurvy (don't ask)). It has taken me, frankly, up until about this point to not worry about eating out a restaurant or going on the road or whatever. I dare say that this was the first time, since my surgery, that I hit the road without thinking of myself as a person who's had surgery.

While I was gone I learned a few interesting things about my current diet and my demeanor and how I travel as a post-GB person.

1 - If I don't get my eight ounces of skim milk a day for four straight days there is trouble with the plumbing (if you know what I'm sayin' - and I KNOW you know what I'm sayin'). I'm going to pack some milk in my suitcase next week.

2 - Beef Jerkey (and even better is Turkey Jerkey) is the best gas station offering a person who has had gastric bypass can find. Just be careful of sugar content in some of the flavors.

3 - Pork Rinds are a surprisingly high protein snack. That doesn't make them any less gross.

4 - Pre-bottled Crystal Light is just absurdly delicious. I'm sure a 31 year old man is not the key demo for Crystal Light bottlers (much like my Non-Naught Nibbles chip makers) but I'm a big fan. They have a citrusy flavor that has added caffiene. Dear LORD my body is not used to that jolt/kick anymore. NOTE - Do not drink the stuff at 10:00 PM. You will not sleep for several hours, even with being exhausted from travel.

5 - Sonic, McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's and Hardee's all have grilled chicken wraps on the menu. Rip away all the "wrap" you don't need to contain the lettuce, yellow mustard (no mayo or ranch dressing or other random sauces for me, thanks) and ask them to add cheese and you have a good meal in the palm of your hand that you can eat while driving.

6 - The flat lands and wide open spaces of Kansas provide for very long and straight and clear roads. This is useful when driving 95 MPH down the highway and e-mailing on your Blackberry at the same time while your co-worker screams and rips on the "Oh Sh*t" bar for all it is worth.

7 - Dry roasted, unsalted peanuts are just plain delicious. Peanuts get a bad rap for being "fatty" but, if you are an otherwise healthy person (cholesterol wise) you should be fine to eat them, in moderation. I love 'em and they have not stopped me from losing weight.

8 - My suitcase is actually HUGE when I am packing five days worth of size 42 pants and 17 1/2 x 34/35 dress shirts and XL t-shirts and undies (a mental picture you are sure to cherish for the rest of the day) vs. the clothes I used to try to stuff in to my bag. I like being smaller when it comes time to pack.

9 - I hate my C-PAP. Hate it. Want to smash it, Office Space style, and never look at it again. I'm tired of having to carry electronics with me so I can sleep. Time for a new sleep study. I've lost 230ish pounds in the last 14 months. SURELY my apnea has been effected by that.

10 - Hotel pools and gyms are terribly sad places when you aren't buzzed or drunk and/or just splashing around with friends. And who can POSSIBLY swim "laps" in a pool that is 20 feet long and only three feet deep at one end? My knuckles look like I just tried to join the Bloods and failed my "beating in" ceremony.

11 - It is easier to walk/tour a client's facilities for one hour at a time when you way in the mid-200s vs. high 400s. I kept walking/touring all week thinking "no way I could do this a year or so ago."

12 - It is damned good to be home. I am so excited for a three day weekend!

I will try to blog during the weekend but I'll be on the road again most of next week. Don't miss me too much!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The End of the World Is Near . . .

Dear Valerie Williams and Megan Thomas -

I owe you an apology. I was going to just send you an e-mail directly and sheepishly recuse myself from a decade of ignorance, blinding slurs and poor-hearted statements but since I made those statements and slurs and expressed that interest in such a public, public way . . . I felt I should apologize to you with the world watching as well.

I'm sure you know this, as I only ever did ONE thing to apologize for in your presence (insert sheepish grin here) but, for those who might not know - let me clarify what I am talking about. I am sorry for putting down Gap.

That's right. I am now man enough to admit that I was wrong.

I went in to Gap with my ladies yesterday. I perused. I found some stuff I liked (on the clearance rack) and I bought stuff (almost $300 worth of two sweaters and jackets for only $50). I saw a BUNCH of stuff I liked. I tried on some khakis . . . oh did I mention that I have a 42 inch waist these days? That's right - I've los 28 inches off my waist in a little over 14 months - that is two inches a MONTH on average. They make a nice pant. I tried on a few button downs. They make a nice shirt. Ava sampled some of the perfume/cologne/can't we all smell the same and get along potion and it smelled lovely (on Ava at least).

It seems that I was always anti-Gap because I was afraid of Gap. I was too fat for Gap. I hated Gap for not catering to me. I put on my blinders to this bastian of American fashion (made elsewhere but somehow "American" at the same time). I dismissed the store and alllllll that love it and shop it and wear it and enjoy it (all the MILLIONS of you). I hated the store because I hated that I could not shop there.

I apologize to you, ladies, and I warn the rest of you that the end of the world is near. I'm going to swing by Banana Republic tomorrow in Kansas City. You've been warned!

Love -
Sean

Saturday, May 17, 2008

10 Years, 10 Years. TEN FRIGGIN' YEARS . . .

In Gross Pointe Blank (one of those movies I never think of when asked what some of my "favorite" movies are but one that I will watch at any opportunity), stoner Paul Spericki (Jeremy Piven), upon reuniting with professional assassin (long story - just watch the movie) Martin Blank (John Cusack) on the streets of Gross Pointe, Michigan for the two's 10 year high school reunion ALL he can say, after a few hits of a joint, is ten years. Ten Years. TEN FRIGGIN' YEARS, man.

Today, I realized, it has been ten years TODAY since I walked, very drunk, up the brick sidewalks of Quinnipiac's main quad to recieve my college diploma.

To DeleneDog, Beer-man, BruceSnoop, Teej, Pezzu, Ferl-dog, Mmmbella, Tae Hee Lee and the rest of my QC-crew (we were as thuggish as Gap shoppers at a private New England college could be) - I simply repeat . . . ten friggin' years.

Life is a wonderful trip. I would have never believed - if you would have told me that rainy morning - that any of us would have taken the paths we have. Two of us are doctors (or close to it), one of us opens for The View and is a professional comedian, one of us works in professional sports, one of us is "this close" to a PhD from Columbia, one of us sells birth control for a living, one of us is in markeing and one of us works in PR. We have five marriages (including two that have coupled off with each other) and eight kids between us (that we know of - wink, wink TJK) and we are still in touch, sorta.

Thanks for the laughs on those magical 200 acres and thanks for the friendship, support and love in the decade since we embarked in to the "real world." Frig!

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Few Words from Ava . . .

Uncle Randy (Ryan) can't get this video to play on his computer so I wanted to post it here so he could watch it.

I can't believe it - my little bidders is talking up a storm (she's actually NOT as talkative on camera as she is in real life, oddly enough). The bad news is that I have to start watching my own words (especially the four letter ones)!

Have a nice weekend, all.

I'm traveling pretty much all next week for work so I don't know if I'll get a chance to blog or not. Don't miss me too much or be too jealous (me, a co-worker, a rental car and a trip through rural Missouri and Kansas to visit 15 active living communities).

video

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dodge City and Back . . .

My co-worker, Jennifer, and I made the trip to Dodge City and back today (about three hours each way) for a client meeting and we drove through Greensburg, Kansas to get there. The town, as you probably know, was destroyed by a twister about a year ago (they JUST had their one year anniversary).
Kansas is a very flat and very beautiful state and the winds here are wicked all the time but to see a town be literally DESTROYED by wind was quite humbling. It reminded me of the night in late-September, 2001, when I drove with Michael and Megan Thomas out to this random street in the NoVA suburbs of DC for this "perfect" view of the terrible hit the Pentagon took on 9/11 and the first time I saw the footprints of the World Trade Center in early-2002.

What I was left with, as we were leaving town, was this idea that - much like (but on a much, much smaller scale) with the Pentagon or the World Trade Center or the town of Greensburg, Kansas . . . I am changing and evolving and I don't really look anymore like I used to look and some people won't recognize me. Some people have left. Some have returned. Some are waiting it out to see what happens. Some will swear I've changed. Some will swear that I've taken on a whole new identity but - at the end of the day - life is just going on, slightly changed.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Updated Picture . . .

Since people have been asking for an updated photo that is not as horrying as the mental picture that comes with me sopping wet in a pool (yep, ladies, my meaty, pasty, saggy legs are on display somewhere in that chlorinated water in that picture (dream all you want)) . . . don't ever say I didn't give you nuttin'! Here's Ava and I a the zoo a few weeks ago (not to be confused with our trip to the zoo yesterday (we're members with a daughter that loves monkeys - we go OFTEN)).

Catching Up . . .

I've been typing lately but not bothering to finish and post what I type. I rectified that this evening. "New" posts are up for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and today. Don't be fooled if you have checked lately and there was nothing and now you are somehow behind on the blog.

Oh - some other news. I'm down a few pounds. I don't know if it was the racquetball, the time at the zoo yesterday or just the fear of plauteauing but - the scale is moving again. I might just make that first goal by my birthday. Wishes are fishes and I have a TANK of them!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day . . .

As anyone who reads this blog, has ever asked me about her or just knows my general adoration for her by urban legend and my picture next to "whipped" in the dictionary - I love my wife. ADORE my wife. Think the world of my wife. Live in awe of my wife. Think women everywhere should try to be my wife (okay - that one might be a stretch). The gist of it is true though . . . Joy is an amazing woman.

Today, Sunday may 11th, is the one time a year that I am not alone in going on and on and on about what a wonderful woman, mother, wife, friend, partner and kisser (snicker, snicker) she is. Nope. On this ONE day a year - men the nation-over will be fretting and fussing over their baby-mamas and - if the crowd at Dillon's this morning in the floral and card section is any indication . . . it should be a nice day for the women of Wichita.

This year's Mother's Day was especially sweet for me. I fed breakfast (thanks Panera, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks and Dillon's) to my daughter, my wife, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my niece and my grandmother-in-law and then I got to cook them all dinner after a trip to the zoo. As I stirred the pasta, burnt the garlic bread, George Foremaned the chicken and woked the vegetables for my pasta primavera a la cluck-cluck it hit me . . . how did I get here?!

I mean, I know we drove to my in-laws but how in the world did I find myself in this life? I am married. I have a child. My wife is a mother. I am a father. I have a mother-in-law that loves me and protects me (more about that later). I go to soccer games to root for my niece. I go to sporting events. I have a sister-in-law that fawns over Ava and a brother-in-law and father-in-law that I adore too (more about them at Father's Day). I have a grandmother again. I have TWO of them again. That's just NUTS. All of it. I cried a little thinking about how far my life has come versus the path it was once on and the short end I saw for it.

The reason that I got so emotional was not just because I burnt the garlic bread but, more likely, because we bumped in to Ava's birth-family at the zoo on Sunday. All three of them. Mother, father and daughter. Just like Joy, Ava and I - enjoying a Mother's Day of their own. They made us a family - and for that we owe them everything but, without getting in to the details here, Ava's birth mother carrying her and her birth father spawning her were in no way acts of parenting, at the end of the day. They were simply biological functions. One "job" performed nine months prior to Ava's birth and the other a longer, more complicated ordeal that was met with her pushing and us laboring to become parents.

I felt really bad for Joy that we bumped in to Ava's birth mother on Mother's Day. Joy and I both struggle, as adoptive parents, with who we are as parents v. those of you that can just stop what you are doign during a commercial break and reproduce (in the minds/eyes of the sterile that is how easy it is for those of you with the right tubes, eggs, swimmers and uteral conditions - don't bother to correct me (smile)).

Anywho, Joy was a wonderful "sport" about it and Ava held tightly to Joy so this stranger and the man and little girl she was with would not come too close in to her space or get between her and her Mommy.

We were polite. We exchanged compliments about how the girls looked and how big they've gotten and we made chit chat. And then we ran like hell to get away from 'em. We sat on a bench. Joy talked with her grandmother and I spoke with Ken and Anita, trying not to cry about how the odds of us bumping in to them - especially on Mother's Day - could not be any better than me winning the lottery later this week. My other-mother rubbed my back, said nothing, and looked at me with as much reassurance as I seemed to need (she's a wonderful mother too - and she protects me when I need her to) and my father-in-law smiled and told me that Joy and I were great parents. And I agreed.

What is the point to all of this? I don't really know. I don't. I guess it just reminded me how much I love and miss my mother. She and I talked about the interaction later this evening and she said she cries for my brother Patrick's birth mother every Mother's Day and every year on his birthday because she is so greatful of the role of mother that woman gave her and because she assumes that woman misses and wonders about Patrick on those days - and every day.

To my other-mother. To Stephanie. To Grandma Timmermeyer. To Grandma Terry. To ALL the mothers who read my stupid ramblings. To Ava's birth mother - for having the presence of mind to know that you could not offer Ava what she needs and for loving her enough to act on that. Most of all, to my beautiful, gifted and wonderful Joy. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Now Entering Court A . . .

My dear father-in-law, Ken, had a simple question for me a week ago . . . How would you like to play racquetball with me next weekend? He might as well have asked how I would like to pick which of my toes would be cut off, dipped in sugar and then fed to me. "Sounds like FUN," I exclaimed . . . worried.

Here is what I knew about racquetball before this morning. Two people. Little ball. Four big, tall walls (one of which is almost always glass so those walking by can stop, gawk, laugh and mock). Rackets. SWEAT. Then Jeff Bridges completely naked in "The Door in the Floor".

I decided that my limited knowledge COMBINED with the fact that I trust Dad and I know he's trying to get in shape and that he's a great guy who seems to be competitive enough to have fun but not enough that he would force me to a premature heart attack.

I made us a reservation for a court. Laughed when the guy told me we would have the court for an hour (I wanted to ask him what the other 55 minutes was for) and made plans to meet Dad at the YMCA on Saturday for some sports followed by lunch. I drove to the Y mainly just focusing on lunch.

But something weird happened. I LOVED it. I mean really, really enjoyed it. Even the sweating and the racing heart and the struggle for breath (we played for 30 minutes, for the record). About three minutes in to the play I figured this was something I would happily make part of my excercise routine.

We're going to play again this coming weekend - hoping to last 35 minutes and then we are going to lunch again.

A little physical activity, time with my father-in-law and some yummy grub after?! Nearly perfect.

Thanks for asking for playing a part in getting me moving, Dad.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Not Ready to Make Nice . . .

So, an update for you on my goals. I tried to reach out to the number one person on my Take Care of Old Business list. I dialed the one. Paused and exhaled carefully. I dialed the area code. A bead of sweat on my forehead. "Am I really doing this?" I pondered. Beep, blip, blop - as I typed the prefix. Heart racing. Heart POUNDING. Dialed three of the four digits remaining and had a realization.

I'll try again in a week! It's probably just as good. I doubt she wants to hear from me anyway. Maybe I'll start with number four on the list and work my way up.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

VBloc Therapy, For What It Is Worth . . .

I'm a bit of a gastric bypass snob. I'll admit it. I love and admire and respect people that went with the lap-band procedure or the gastric sleeve or that are doing the Weight Watchers thang or are still clinging on to Atkins for dear, meaty vs. bready life but I am, at the end of the day, a gastric bypass purist.

I don't mind when people call it "stomach stapling." I don't mind when people ask crazy questions about the surgery itself or what it does or how it works. I was asked by a client a few weeks ago what my pouch was made of, for instance (I told her snake skin, for the record, and she believed me citing that she knew snakes could eat entire rats so they must be "stretchy." Only then (well, after laughing) did I tell her my pouch was made from my stomach. That she was slower to believe, oddly enough.) I don't even mind (any more) when people dismiss my decision to have gastric bypass as some "easy way out" of fatness or some "crazy" decision that I'll surely regret sometime soon or whatever.

What I do mind (and again, no disrespect intended here) are all these crazy new "cures" to fatness that raise confusion around gastic bypass, its validity and the obese condition itself.

Enter my latest nemisis . . . VBloc Therapy. The tool - still in clinical trials - is a tool that is inserted under the skin that emits electric signals to block the vagus nerve (a nerve that runs from the brain to the abdomen and is believed to control hunger). A sort of "pacemaker" for hunger, as the article I read explains. You have to wear a belt over your abdomen and under your clothes to make the thing actually work (a very small and subtle belt, mind you (ahem)) but - it is "safer" than gastric bypass according to the group doing the survey. Whatever that even means.

Now, let me take a minute to explain what could possibly be wrong with this procedure. In a word . . . NOTING. It is another great option for people to try to use in their battle against obesity BUT - a simple question for all the morbidly obese out there that are reading - when is the last time you ate because you truly hungry and stopped the minute you felt you were not truly hungry anymore? I've checked my extensive food logs and it turns out the last time I did that was November 7, 1979. At the age of THREE years old.

I mean COME ON. The procedure will supposedly help people lose as much as 20% of their excess weight in the first six months following the procedure but - uh - what then!? Six months, huh?! Sounds like the amount of time the average diet might last before people get bored, the weight loss slows and the excercise drops off, the pounds come back on and the search resumes for real help.

The clear difference between VBloc and all of these other "cures" and good ol' gastic bypass is that gastric bypass is forever. I had my surgery 14 months ago. In that time I have been hungry exactly ZERO times. I have eaten for no apparent reason (every time I eat it is because I know I have to or because I want to) and I have stopped eating after my little tiny portions of food are gone - not because my hunger nerve is happy. In other words - I have the benefits of the VBloc without the trappings and minimal weight loss and long term success of it.

Anywho - do whatever you want. Try the VBloc, get a lap band, try the gastric sleeve, go back to Jenny Craig. Whatever helps you lose your weight and makes you happy and helps you along your journey is, obviously enough, right for you . . . it just so happened that gastric bypass was, after all my searching and struggle, the only thing that was truly right for me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Friend Melissa's Husband . . .

I just found out, yesterday, that my good friend Melissa's husband, Joe, has had gastric bypass surgery and had apparently had some complications. I tried to call yesterday to talk with Melissa and/or Joe about the surgery/situation but no one answered (I'll keep trying).

I'm sort of surprised, frankly, that Joe had the surgery namely because when I last spoke with Joe (admittedly, it was a year ago already) I had just had my surgery and Joe's sister had had the surgery not that long before I had it. Joe was encouraged that the option was out there and was considering it but his sister was having a terrible time with post-surgery life and he seemed hesitant accordingly (he did mention that my positive experience gave him more to think about/consider).

Regardless of how Joe came to the ultimate conclusion to go ahead with the surgery - I am very, very happy for him. Joe is a great guy. He is a smart and caring and funny and kind. I don't know him all that terribly well but any time I have ever spent with him has held a common theme - he is the quiet sanity to Mel's nutiness.

I can't imagine Joe's life will not improve for having had this surgery. Joe and Melissa have two beautiful, young kids, Emma and Andrew. They have a great house in Ithaca (they are readying to move to Florida). Joe and Melissa both work at the hospital. They are both lots of fun and enjoy having fun. I would assume all of the above (and all the other parts of life) will just be enhanced with less weight to lug around.

I hope that Joe had the surgery for the right reasons and on his own terms. I hope he is ready for the life that is ahead of him and is enjoying it more than his sister was when last we spoke and, most importantly, I hope to catch up with Joe and Melissa soon to welcome Joe to his post-surgery journey! Long live Joe!

Blogs are Group Therapy . . .

According to CNN.com, some people use blogs as a form of therapy. And by "some people" I mean me and women everywhere (statistically more women than men look to blogs for support and inspiration). A great article on the growing trend of blogging as self-therapy and support network.

Let me be very clear about my blog and my intentions . . . I am not a professional therapist. While crazy is as crazy does and while it does, in fact, take one to know one . . . I am not really here to help or comfort any one nor do I think the funny comments from Brandi or NYtoVA really help or comfort me (make me chuckle - sure, make things "okay" . . . not so much).

Blogging, for me, is really just a way to share the crazy thoughts in my heads, the happy happenings of life after gastric bypass surgery and the things I see/hear/read in this world that, as an obese person, make me chuckle or rage.

If you need real help or support - please let a professional know. If you just want to read about my journey and zap me a note about your own experiences and questions you might have or stories you want to share . . . you are welcome here any time. Literally. It is a website. It's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for EVER (in theory, this whole Interweb thing might just be a fad when it is all said and done (like the television and clothing)).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Five Month Goals . . .

As I mentioned a week ago, I am going to post my goals for the rest of my post-surgery journey (again, most in the medical community believe that the true effects of gastric bypass surgery only last for about 18 months after surgery, I am almost 14 months out) and then I'm going to update on how the goals are coming/going/advancing as I draw closer to September 20, 2008 - my 18-month-aversary.

Here, in no partcular order, are my goals for the rest of my journey . . .

1 - Weigh 245 - 240 pounds by my birthday, June 12th - I currently weight 257 pounds (yep, I have officially plateaued). I have only 38 days to lose 12 - 17 pounds. Not looking good but I'll keep working at it (obviously).

2 - Participate in a 5k Walk/Run (Walking, naturally) - While I'm not exactly interested in becoming a competitive athelete, I would like to eventually think I could walk 3.whatever miles in front of other people without having a massive heart attack somewhere around the first watering station. The heat in Wichita this summer won't help my efforts BUT I am going to give it a shot. There are two walk/runs this summer. I'll be at one of them.

3 - Become more serious about my bike riding - I currently take it out for 20 or 30 minutes, max, at a time. I find my, uh, boy parts (grimace) don't like to ride for much more than that but I'm slowly increasing the time. My hope is to be able to go out for an hour at a time, four days a week, by late September (or at least spend that much time on the bike at the gym (the summer heat here scares me (in case that is not clear yet)).

4 - Re-establish a connection with God - Yep. You read it here first. My parents are crying with pride, joy and hop now. There tears are about to turn to sadness though as I reveal that I don't plan to return to the Catholic church. Nope. I'm actually planning to read the Kabbalah (yes - I know that is the form of Judaism with the red string bracelets and the nutty celebrity following) and might take the full plung of becoming a Jew. Let's not get ahead of ourselves though - for now - I'm going to try to get back to praying and believing in the Ultimate Power that is the G-to the-O-to the Diggy-D. I have not started this process other than trying to pray each night before I go to bed (so far I'm only asking that Ava continue to grow and develop and that Joy continues on her happy path - I'm not bold enough to ask for anything for me yet (I'm not a heretic)).

5 - Take Care of Old Business - I have a few people out there that I walked away from or that walked away from me in recent years. I am going to reach out to each of them and try to get some closure to whatever happened to our relationship. Not looking to regain them in my life, frankly, but to better understand why they are not part of my life. I have my list of four people written out and I have a way to contact them. Let the dialing begin.

6 - See Ten Movies - I used to love going to the movies. We hardly ever go (parenthood, priorities, bad movies, etc.) but I miss movies. I'm going BACK. We saw Baby Mama a few weeks ago (funny movie but, as adoptive parents who have lost a pregnancy we hated the "everyone wins" ending (spoiler alert - everyone gets a kid and a mate and a happy life when it is all said and done)). I have nine more to see and twelve on the summer movie wish list. I like my odds on this one.

7 - Weigh 200 Pounds by March 20, 2009 - I know you might be confused by this as I said these are my 18 month goals and March 20 is a two-year goal BUT I can't get to 200 without medical help (I will need to have my excess skin removed (let me know if you need any excess skin)). That will take time and planning. I want to get myself to 225 or 220 and then go see a doctor about the next step(s).

8 - See My Brothers and Have Them See Their Niece - We are heading back "home" in August. We are trying to minimize the running around so hopefully my brothers can both come to Groton to see us but - if not - we will make the trek to Philly/DC to see them. It is very important they see their niece at least once a year and I want Ava to know her uncles better than I knew my uncles, aunts and cousins growing up (sadly - seeing them once a year will be just about right to equal the relationship I had with my extended family).

9 - Get Rid of My C-PAP - I am waiting on my doctor to advise me on this process now (I will likely need at least one more sleep study to confirm that my apnea is not as severe as it once was) but I am hell bent on not needing the tubes and electricity and sterilized water to help me sleep. I want to spoon my wife for the entire night without her complaining of wind-tunnel like conditions and hoses trying to choke the life out of her, dammit!

10 - Start Writing My Book - I've been poking at writing a book about what it has been like to grow up, go to college, be a young professional, fall in love, get married and start a family as a fat, moody and ambitious man from a somewhat crazy family in small town America since the day after my surgery and I think the time is right to get more serious about it (I've been writing some here and there which is why my blogging has been dropping off). I plan to call the book Stewart Park (a somewhat "inside" reference to someone I love and admire very much in this world) and it will focus on how you can get lost and find yourself at the same time if you just keep trying hard enough. I don't intend for anyone to ever actually READ the book (it would be great if they did and my wife gladly accepts your offer for us to come on the show, Oprah, but this is more about me getting it all of my chest/shoulders/mind and putting it out there).

11 - Make New Friends - We've only really met a handful of people since moving to Wichita. We want a circle of friends to invite over to the house and to hang out with. I'm very excited this - I had a great circle of friends in high school and then college and then in DC that I miss all the time. Friends really are the spice of life. I like it SPICY!

12 - Go Floating - We went last July 4th and we're going to go again this year. Just me, Joy, Ava and about 40 people from the extended Timmermeyer family and their extended families in canoes and kayaks in the Ozarks. I can't WAIT to get back another 100 pounds lighter and knowing what to expect. I might even go twice this summer.

13 - Become Creative Again - I used to play the flute. I used to paint. I used to act. I used to "write" poetry (using quotes to show respect to those who can actually WRITE poems). I used to sing. I used to do a lot of things. I don't really do much of any of them any more. I need to get back at it - especially with Ava's love of crafting, painting and mess making. No excuses to not get back to basics and try to grow her love of creativity at the same time.

That's it. My VERY lucky list of 13 goals. Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted on the progress.