Friday, May 22, 2015

Cancer can take even the strongest...

It's no laughing matter. Despite the jokes you hear on TV, and the off-handed remarks that we are all guilty of making.

Cancer is something that I have been fortunate enough to keep my distance from. Then, it found it's way into my path. When I met Lesle, I knew her mother was sick. I didn't know much more until we got to know each other better, and I later met her mother, Donna.

I learned after inquiries that she had cancer, and had even gone into remission at one point, only to have the cancer come back more aggressively than before. What had started as colon cancer had spread to what amounted to her entire abdomen.

I didn't know Donna before her illness, but I knew immediately when I met her that she was worthy of respect. I rarely heard her speak of the cancer, but she was ALWAYS concerned with the future of her children. She was so happy to hear that Lesle had found someone. Even though I felt that I was the lucky one.

She took me in and treated me like part of the family. Within the short time that I knew her, I loved her. I was drawn to her strength, and her amazing ability to make me feel comfortable. I rarely heard her complain.

Here is the scary thing about this situation. This is worth knowing, and it's very important. You see, colon cancer (as well as most others) is very treatable, but ONLY if you catch it early. Luckily our insurance companies and doctors know through statistics that there is a certain age that cancer becomes a concern for some adults. That's why we have yearly exams. I can't think of ANY cancer exams that are pleasurable.

For men, we have to get a finger shoved up our ass to check for prostate cancer, women have to get their breasts turned into a pancake, and we all need a camera shoved in various orifices. There are different ages at which men and women need these, but it is important to know when you need them.

With Donna, it was an irregular bowel movement that led her to the doctor. Something seemingly benign. She found out, after a series of tests, that it was stage IV colon cancer. It had likely been growing for 10 years. They didn't catch it because there was no testing done. Now, this isn't uncommon.

Let me throw some statistics at you.

Cancer kills 589,430 people per year. 2nd only to Heart Disease.

That is 1,620 people PER DAY

Out of the 589,430 people that will die this year:

8,650 - Oral
149,300 - Digestive Tract
162,460 - Respiratory
1,490 - Bone
4,870 - Soft Tissue (including heart)
13,340 - Skin
40,730 - Breast
58,670 - Genital
30,970 - Urinary Tract
270 - Eye
15,320 - Brain
2,890 - Endocrine
20,940 - Lymphoma
11,240 - Myeloma
24,450 - Leukemia
43,840 - Other unspecified sites

Out of ALL those...there are only SIX that currently have no early detection screening methods:
Kidney, Leukemia, Ovary, Pancreas, Thyroid, and Bladder.

The rest can be diagnosed by testing as simple as bloodwork or C/T scans. Insurance companies will pay for these screenings if you are of a certain age.

Cancer treatment is NEVER a pleasant thing. It also sucks getting tested because we all have that little voice in the back of our head that makes us think not knowing is better than bad news. This isn't the case. For the love of Odin. Get your ass down to get tested.

Donna passed away on 05/17. I watched her fight stage IV cancer for 6 months before losing the battle. Let me tell you, it is not pleasant for anyone. Even the strongest people are not immune to the affects of cancer.

It sends ripples through everyone's life. The affects can be devastating.

There isn't a cure for cancer. So even with early detection, survival isn't guaranteed, but your chances just went through the roof.

Donna was a fantastic woman, and a loving mother. I can only imagine what her family is going through, including Lesle. I know that I love everyone in her family like they are my own family. They are a great bunch, and they deserved more time with her.

I guess the takeaway from this is just to make sure you are getting tested. Be mindful of this disease. I bet you have someone you know that has been struggling with cancer in their life.

If you want to learn more about cancer, you can view statistics here:

I'm going to leave the rest of my blog entry to Lesle. She had a few things to say about her Mom.

"Hello blogworld, my name is Lesle and I (as I’m sure you’re aware) am RJ’s girlfriend.

My mom, Donna, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer on February 14, 2014. It was after a late night ER visit and emergency colonoscopy that this was found. She had a colon resection and started chemo as soon as she could. Long story short, because I want to get to the happier part of who my mom was rather than how she died. In the long run the cancer won. She tried every possible treatment, got multiple opinions, but sometimes, the cancer just wins. For my mom, it won last Sunday May 17 at 9:00pm.

Now, last week RJ posted some things about his amazing mother, so I would like to take a few moments to do the same and just talk a little about who my mom was.

First and foremost my mom LOVED her family. She loved my brother and I and would have done 
anything for us. Right up until the very end, she was more concerned with us and how we were doing than she ever was concerned about herself. My mom also loved my dad fiercely. They had been 
together since the 70’s, grew together through their hippy days, until now, loving each other through 
every step. My parents were older when they starting having children (mid 30’s) so they had a lot of 
time together as a couple before they were parents. They were best friends, and it as evident to anyone they were around. Growing up with parents that you know love each other is probably the best gift I was ever given. I’m not going to say I never saw them fight, because I did, but I also saw them laugh and love and dance, and go through the hardest times in life still holding hands. She loved my dad. 

My mom always instilled in me how important it was to just be yourself. She didn’t judge others based on their life decisions, or how they dressed, etc. She would often say “whatever tricks your trigger” to some random thing I wanted to do… whether it was shaking the branches of a cottonwood tree to make the blooms fly around, blowing dandelion seeds all over the yard..or hey mom, I want to get a tattoo. 

She never told me not to. Maybe even when I should have been told not to (I’m looking at you, 
dandelion foot tattoo). She often told me growing up “honey you aren’t weird you’re just unique” which I know was just to make me feel better, I am weird and that’s ok, but I love her for that. She never cared if I wanted to be my strange little self, she just let it happen. Because of that I am who I am today, weird and accepting of others. Not a bad lesson to have been taught. 

The hardest part of this, I think, wasn’t the actual losing part. Her dying sucked, it was sad. The funeral was awful, and I’m glad that’s over. But I think now starts the hardest part. The part where I have to learn to LIVE without her. I called my mom every morning, every lunch break, and at least once at night… I’ve already felt the urge to call her and then remembered I can’t. The part where I’ll have to find someone else to call when I forget how to make some recipe, or just need someone to complain to or share good news with…those little things that will hurt daily for a long time. Maybe forever, I don’t know. That is the hardest part. The living. I am thankful to have my brother and dad. They are amazing, and I know I can call them whenever I need to. But, sometimes you just want your mom. 

NOW I’m gonna preach at y’all. GET YOUR EFFING COLONOSCOPY DONE WHEN YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO. I mean it. It’s like one day, you’ll be out for the whole thing, insurance covers it 99% of the time and IT COULD SAVE YOUR DAMN LIFE. My mom had never had one. Never, and she was 57 when she was diagnosed. If she had had one at 50 like is recommended, this could have been a very different story. 

One where cancer didn’t win."

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Critics of Corpulence (Fat Shaming) - Killing Stereotypes

I usually like to keep things light around here, but there is something that needs to be said, and I am going to say my part. This will be ranting, so if you don't want to hear it, then I'll see you next time.

So, I'm not saying I'm not longer fat, because I am. I have lost enough weight that I feel that I can confidently blog about something that I always hoped was just my imagination. It's not though, and it's disgusting.

I cannot speak for everyone, but I can speak on what I have personally witnessed.

People are guilty of judging a person based on their weight. Hell, even I was guilty of when I was heavier.

TV has made fat people into the new edgy thing. Spinning off weight loss programs, reality shows with fat people, all because we are the new freaks. People like to gawp and laugh. Either that, or made to pity us and feel sorry for us. That's not what we need.

When I was at my heaviest, only a handful of women would give me the time of day. I had NO luck on dating sites...most wouldn't return my messages at all. In public if I started a conversation with an attractive lady, more times than not they would say the bare minimum to get me to simply leave them alone. Granted, I had issues with confidence, but nothing that I would deem dramatic. I would also get a lot of "You're good looking for a big guy." WHAT? What does that even mean..."FOR A BIG GUY?" You mean, I'm handsome but you can't be seen dating a big guy? You can't be bothered to talk to me, or get to know me. Don't say that. It makes no sense.

Since losing weight, I have noticed a difference in the way people treat me. I'm not talking about just women. I mean people in general. Men and women alike. I get asked to more events, people that completely ignored me before have started talking to me. Amazing stuff.

Here is a secret....Fat people know that they are fat. Some fat people are OK with their looks when they are fat. They know they aren't "healthy" but they do what they can to make the most of it. Regardless of what ANYONE thinks. It's not always as simple as diet and exercise. Yes...some people are fat because they are, in fact, simply lazy. That or they are just complacent. It's not OK to blanket the entirety of the fat population with the stereotype that "Fat is a choice". It's not. I tried for years to lose weight unsuccessfully.

Thin people that were handed the genetic lottery and were thin or fit their whole life simply can't understand what it's like being fat. It's not possible for them to get fat, so therefore in their minds, we had to make a conscious effort to get out of control. There is no excuse for their blind ignorance on the subject of obesity. Instead of researching what they don't understand, they jump on the bandwagon and shame people.

Another thing that I have noticed is job opportunities. I could barely even get a call back after an initial interview before working where I do now. It's different when you weigh less. I don't give flying flip what ANY EMPLOYER says. There have been job market studies that prove that heavy people that are equally as qualified for a job opening are less likely to get it because their weight implies laziness.

The study also showed that employers were afraid of health issues (which is admittedly more understandable), and hygiene issues. HYGIENE issues. Being fat does not mean being dirty, or stinky. Even at 400 lbs, I was excessively aware of my hygiene. If nothing else I think I was more sensitive of my hygiene at that weight. There are a few obese people that admittedly do not take of themselves for whatever reason. For that group there are no excuses. Don't misunderstand me. It's important for you to realize the point I am trying to make.

SOME FAT PEOPLE MEET THESE STEREOTYPES. They do. I am not defending those people that simply do not try. I am trying to speak up for those that genuinely try to make the most of the hand they were dealt. People that are fat and are trying to lose weight need SUPPORT.

Instead, in some places. (reddit for example). If I were to go and post something about my weight loss progress. I would be met with incredibly hateful remarks. Whether it be that I am still fat, or I should exercise more, or I didn't try hard enough. Strewn about in the comments will be people saying "Great job" or "Keep up the good work". But for every one of those, there will be 2 from people that are there to discourage or make inflammatory remarks.

Part of me wants to think it's all in my head, but then I read stuff on reddit that simply supports my suspicion.

There is actually a subreddit call /r/fatpeoplehate. It is inundated with hateful remarks about obese people. Some of the stuff they write on there is physically disgusting. As bad as I hate to, let me show you some examples of the things they post. I pulled these off the FIRST PAGE. I didn't have to dig for them. I will not link them. However, I will post some screenshots.

I'm sure by now, you have heard of Tess Holliday. The admittedly obese model. These guys had a few things to say about her.

Then she posted something on her facebook about working out. TRYING to at least be healthy. She said her physical trainer was "Kicking her ass". This was their response to her exercising,

So...The issue is here is that all this motivation that they have AGAINST the fat people could be channeled into good use. Motivation by insults is not motivation. It's a way to make yourself feel good about being a shallow asshole. Plain and Simple.

They FIRMLY believe that shaming fat people is a healthy way to make them lose weight. They post supporting articles like "Man loses 294 lbs after his friend calls him a Fat F**K every day for 6 months."

This is America. We allow free speech, but as a former 400+ lbs man with depression, these types of comments and people are dangerous.

So, what is the takeaway here? What's my point?

Simply this....

Being fat is not (always) a choice. It can be due to any number of things out of our control. I will leave that research up to you, as adults.

Fat people are JUST LIKE YOU. Being fat doesn't necessarily mean they are worse lovers, workers, or people. They deserve every opportunity that a healthy adult deserves. They deserve a chance to find love, because the vast majority of obese people are unable to be as fortunate as me. They will remain large the rest of their lives.

Some will get lucky and find someone that isn't shallow that will love them. They will live long lives. Some will die from health related issues. Some will commit suicide because of posts like above, or because they feel hopeless to do anything about their weight.

The hard to swallow truth is that people make remarks like the ones I posted above dont realize it is life threatening. It's not funny, it's not could literally be the comment, or laugh that puts the gun or the knife in their hand.

I know it sounds dramatic, but I assure you, it's not. I've been there..personally.

Take that energy and put it to GOOD use. Support someone. Offer help in whatever way you can. If you are healthy and go to the gym, invite someone. Offer diet advice. Offer whatever you can contribute aside from being an asshole. Because at the end of the day, you will both benefit from it.

I'm hopping off the soapbox now. If anyone from /r/fatpeoplehate see this, I'm sure I'll see you on reddit! I really do not care about their opinions. And neither should you.

If you need any help or advice please, contact me. I will do whatever I can to help.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Whoa, Momma!

Another mother's day is in the books. What did you do for your Mom?

This year was a little bit different for me. I didn't see my Mom this year. Due to Lesle's mothers health, my Mom suggested that I spend the day with them. While it admittedly seemed strange, it served as a reminder that my Mom is pretty damn amazing. Giving up her day to let me spend time with my girlfriend and her ailing mother.

Even though I couldn't see her, I thought a lot about her. I decided to write a blog entry about my Mom. This won't be some self indulgent, my Mom could kick your Mom's ass post (even though she could). Instead I wanted to tell you guys about my Mom.

No parent is perfect. If you think you are, then you are delusional. However, there are a few things (at least in my humble opinion) that define a parent. It's not based on any one thing in particular. You can't define a parent based on what you think may or may not have been appropriate for you at any given time.

There have been times that I was told I couldn't do something, and I was pissed at her, only to later learn that it was a wise decision she made.

I'll tell you a few things that make up a great mother.

FORGIVENESS. The ability to forgive your children no matter how many poor life decisions they make is an important. I have made a handful of stupid mistakes in my life. However, no matter what happens, My Mom is always willing to forgive her children. Sometimes it takes a few days, but it always happens.

LOVE. My mother has probably the most fierce love for her children out of any mother I have met. She will do anything for her kids, and I mean anything. Just talking to her on the phone, or the way she hugs you. You can feel it.

LOYALTY. My Mother is loyal to her kids almost to a fault. If anyone crosses any of her children, up and including her husband. You had better clear a path. She has the ability to reign the bowels of hell onto anyone that is looking to hurt or take advantage of her children. In fact, it's scary sometimes. She will cut a fiery path straight to the heart of the poor sap that was dumb enough to try to hurt one of her kids. The only bad thing about this is that her kids aren't immune to this Motherly wrath. Occasionally, us siblings fight, and whoever is being the ass (which is usually me) is easily marked for death until they make things right with the other sibling. So keep this in mind before you hurt my feelings. I WILL TELL MY MOMMY.

SACRIFICE. I know no other woman/mother that has sacrificed more for her children than my Mom. She would literally give one of her children the shirt off her back if we needed it (as cliche as that sounds). If we need something. She will move heaven and earth to get it for us. I'm not talking about new shoes, or a new car...I'm talking about things we need. Groceries, bills paid, car repairs...things like that. There was a time shortly after my divorce that my money was in a terrible state. There were many times when she bailed me out of trouble. Even if it meant giving me the last dollar in her account. (but she would never admit if she gave us her last dollar). She has been known to work 3 jobs just because she likes to have the financial flexibility that is needed for when/if her children need her. That, and she REALLY likes getting new furniture for some reason. (usually when one of her kids are moving and has no furniture).

PRIDE. Not the bad kind. The kind where no matter what her kids do, she is proud of it, and she will tell the world. It doesn't matter how many times you failed before, if you do it on the 100th time, she acts like whatever you did was done perfectly, and all the failures just melt away. If I need my ego inflated, I just call her and tell her something perfectly mundane that I accomplished, and get praised for it.

STRENGTH. I'm not going into all the gruesome details of how I know my mother's strength is unparalleled, Anyone who knows us personally, knows that she has been through more in her lifetime than most people I know. No matter how bad things got, and how many times she was knocked in the dirt, this woman has the unbelievable ability to get up, dust off, hold her head high and push through it with a smile. She is the strongest woman I know. Hands down, and in more ways than one. And, I'm not just saying that because she's my Mom. I promise, if you knew half the stuff this lady has been through and have ever met her, it would probably shock you that she's not a frail, meek, little lady. She is the epitome of "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." She is stronger today than ever.

PATIENCE. Have you met me? The fact that this woman has not killed me yet is a miracle in and of itself. The amazing part is that I'm the LEAST bothersome child! I mean I love my sisters....but they require quite a bit of patience too. I would say much more than I do. They are both still alive as well. So, that's a testament to the patience of my mother.

See, I am lucky. I have the BEST MOM. I'm sorry to break it to you other suckers....but, it's kinda no contest.

If you argue with me, I'll tell my mom you hit me, and she will kill you with her laser eyes.

All joking aside. I know that no matter what happens, whether it's my own fault, or somebody else's doing. I'm covered. My Mom is always no more than a couple steps behind, cleaning up after me if I need her there. Nobody asks her to do that. So, don't mistake that sentence to mean that I expect it, or ask for it. I try not to depend on my parents to fight my battles at my age, but everyone falls, everyone fails, everyone makes mistakes. Who has you covered if you mess up?

I love my Momma so much that this blog entry can only begin to scratch the surface of how much I love and respect my Mom. Written words only mean so much. They can only express so much before becoming redundant or sounding disingenuous, so I will just end it here.

Here is my Mom, Carol Mayfield.

Happy Mothers Day, Momma. I love you!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Gimme some skin!

So, here we are again. Almost exactly 10 months post VSG. Also another year older. I turn 32 today.

This has been a crazy year. Since my last birthday I have had weight loss surgery, had a terrible car accident that resulted in 2 surgeries, and then emergency gall bladder surgery. Let's also not forget the 2 kidney stones I passed.

All that, and I'm still alive and kicking, and healthier than ever. My ankle is still recovering from the accident. I have good days and bad days. It is definitely still a little sore, but I'm getting around well enough.

I seem to have plateaued at 230 lbs on my weight loss, so it's time to either up the diet game or the exercise. I can bicycle with relatively low impact on my ankle, so I dusted off the old bike, and aired up the tires, and I'm about to start bicycling. Here is the latest before/after picture I have

All is good, right? Well, mostly.

It's time for a little good old fashion self deprecating humor.

Some of you might already be asking what happens to all that skin real estate when you drop almost half your body weight? It remains. In all it's former glory. What use to be mountains is now gelatin.

Sometimes while working around the house, the skin will just randomly clap. I have to stop and look around and wonder what the hell just made that clapping noise. Loose skin flailing about everywhere is about as wonderful as it sounds.

I have never had an ass (thanks dad). What ass I did have from being fat has been reduced what I can best describe is curtainous ass skin flaps where my ass cheeks use to be. Like drapes hanging from a window. My manboobs look like a 80 yr old african lady's tits from national geographic.

That's ok though! They can rebuild me. They have the technology.

It's a surgery called a "360 Body Lift". The name is unassuming, but it is about as brutal as you can imagine.

Basically, in layman terms they remove a large belt of skin from my mid section and pull the skin together and sew it up. It is completely around the body. Recovery time is about 4-6 weeks, during which I will have 6-7 drains placed and left in my abdomen. Sounds like a blast!

Not only will I need a "360 Body Lift", but also, a Mastoplexy! This is where they remove my manboobs (or the gelatin where they use to be). Most likely, both will be done at the same time.

The good news is that my accident covered my maximum out of pocket AND my deductible, so the surgery could cost very little if I have it done.

I have an appt with the Dr. on Wednesday. I don't want to jump the gun on the surgery. After all what good will this surgery do, if I continue to lose weight.

It's also about as invasive as you can possibly get, and I have had enough surgery for one year. However, it could cost little to nothing, so I'm considering it. Compression garments can only do so much.

A lot has happened over the last year, and a lot more could still be in the future. Only time will tell!

So, while I am very happy with my weight loss, the VSG was only the first step in what is about to be a pretty painful process. I'll update after the appointment.

Friday, March 20, 2015

BFL's Important Life Lessons Chapter 2

It's time for a new chapter in my Life Lessons.

Keep your chin up: No, really, keep your damn chin up. If you don't you will rear end somebody and screw everything up. People are retarded, and these days, more and more old people are driving around. Sometimes, I honk my horn at them just to make sure they are still alive.

How to spot dangerous drivers: In the same vein as above. It is an important part of driving to spot dangerous drivers before they have the opportunity to bring you into their bubble of stupid. There are very clear signs to be aware of. 

1. Their car is already completely janked up. This indicates one of a couple of possible scenarios. Either they already messed it up because they are stupid, or they give ZERO shits about their car. Either scenario means, they don't care to mess your car up, or their car for that matter.

2. They are old. Now, not all old drivers are bad, just like 99% of them. The ones that look dead gotta watch out for them. They were driving back when everything was a dirt road, and lanes didn't exist. They think lanes still don't exist. Also, they are old, they don't care if they live any more. When they need over to get into the walgreens for their monthly meds, they will NOT check their mirrors, and you never really know if they are turning or not, because they always leave their blinker on. It's like Russian Roulette. My advice is just take a detour to avoid them if they are on the same road as you.

3. Teens. You can tell teen drivers in a few different ways. Window chalk is a great indicator. Especially if words like "Dick" or "Bae" are written somewhere. Another way to tell is if their car moves a lot at stop lights. This is typically due to them either dancing or horseplaying and they are rocking the shit out of the car. You can also spot a teen if they are blaring One Direction or Lil' Wayne and singing in unison with it. If you see a teen driver, immediately accept your death is imminent. It's best to have a pleasant surprise if you happen to live. They basically own the road. EXPECT ANYTHING from a teen driver. UP TO AND INCLUDING throwing things inside your car at a stop light.

Doctor's have a poor concept of time. This is important to note. Doctor's love to tell you the worst case scenario 100% of the time. When I had my accident, I was told I would be in a fixator for 12-16 weeks. It has been 10 weeks, and I went through a fixator, cast, and boot, and I am now walking with a brace. Save yourself the trouble. NEVER ASK A DOCTOR How long anything will take. You will leave depressed. I don't know why they do it. Maybe it's to make themselves look good, or maybe it's to make you expect the worst. Either's dumb.

Avoid catheters. I know, it sounds like a grand time. However, in general, avoid putting things into your urethra. I have had nothing but issues with these. The medical industry will use words like "necessary" and "Mandatory". LIES. Just superglue your urethra shut, because ripping it apart will be far less painful than any catheter you are likely to receive. They are AT LEAST 10 times bigger than they look. It's some type of sorcery. You can physically look at it, and it will be the size of a drinking straw, but once it makes contact with your genitals, it triples in size and grows barbs. Another thing....YOU WILL PISS AIR. I don't give a SHIT what anyone says. You will have air pockets in your bladder, and you will fart from your peehole, and you will be laughed at if you even dare ask a medical professional about it. They will claim that it's ridiculous. It's not. It will happen. You will have pee farts.

Buy a Bidet. Seriously, why are we the only country that thinks it's acceptable to wipe your butt with a piece of dry wadded up paper. Let me ask you a question, would you touch poop with your hand, and then wipe it on toilet paper, and consider your hand clean? NO. Then why the hell is it acceptable to do it do you butt? Wash that nasty ass. At the very least, give a spritz of water and then use TP. We aren't living in the stone ages. Gross.

Use Reddit. You know all those weird things that you do, and you are so ashamed of them that you don't talk to anyone else about them? No? LIAR. You have them. Not only do you have them, but I guarantee you that other people do the same thing. Reddit is completely anonymous, and you can post that disgusting or weird thing on there anonymously and talk to the other freaks just like you. While you are on there, you can learn a lot of helpful stuff. You can also read about how weird other people are and it will make you feel better. Also, all the funny stuff you read on Facebook is on there like 3 days before you see them on Facebook.

Get discounts. Seriously, if you are the customer of companies like Cell phone providers, cable, satellite, or other subscription services, don't accept ANY service interruptions. Call them, and pretend like that 30 minute outage caused complete turmoil in your life. You will often get $20 credits. They just hand them out to shut you up. This isn't slimy in my opinion. It's demanding good customer service, and if you are stuck with them because you are either in a contract, or they are the only cable provider in your area, make them work for it. Don't be afraid to be an asshole. I can't stress this enough. Aren't you tired of getting screwed by these guys.

Do things to amuse yourself. I do this constantly. I do things so ridiculous, that I laugh at myself. I find weird things to do to keep my own attention. You don't have to be around others to be funny. You can entertain yourself. It's like masturbating, only you can do it in public without getting arrested. One of my favorite things to do is to do customer service chat, make them role play with you. If I am chatting with an amazon rep to check on my delivery, I will take on the role of a robot, and insist that they play along to delivery exceptional customer service. You would be surprised at how many of them will play, and they enjoy it. Just chat all day long fixing problems, and then this one weird guy came on and made you talk like a robot. That sounds like a blast. You can also make funny faces in the mirror. Why do you have to be a kid for this to be normal. I still enjoy it to this day. If you aren't close to a mirror, use the front facing camera. Make funny faces and laugh at yourself. Do impersonations of actors or accents. If you are as hilariously bad at them as I am, you will laugh at how dumb you sound. This is GREAT therapy. People may think you're weird, but you will find that you are a happier person if you can laugh at yourself.

Expect the worst. Ouch! I'm being a negative nelly over here. Watch out! "How could RJ say's mean, and pessimistic." YUP, it is....and guess what I'm never disappointed, but I'm often pleasantly surprised. You see, if I expect the worst, and the worst doesn't happen...YAY! I did good. I'm happy instead of disappointed. Because I'll tell you a secret, people are almost always going to do bare minimum to get by. Don't be a victim. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Two Steps Forward...

Over the last 9 months, I have had my fair share of hills and valleys. Many great things have happened to me. I've lost a lot of weight (160 lbs), met the girl of my dreams, almost lost my foot, passed a kidney stone, had my sister move in with me, and the list keeps going.

Firstly, lets talk about some good news, and then we will get down to the nitty gritty. I went for my final follow-up with Dr. Grear at Campbell Clinic and was told that my ankle was not only doing well, but SO well, that I managed to completely skip physical therapy. Yes, you read that right. I did so well with my at home stretches and exercises that he said I currently have MORE mobility in my ankle than he would have expected AFTER physical therapy. I am sure my current weight and determination helped with the recovery of that. So, you will likely not be reading much else on that little adventure. Put a fork in that chapter, because it's done!

Ever since my VSG (vertical sleeve gastrectomy) I expected my eating habits, and how I feel after I eat to change, obviously. So, I went through the motions, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me. I noticed over time that I would get bloated after eating. Nothing too terribly bad, but it led to a lot of reflux, and belly pain. I just figured I was eating too much, or eating something my body didn't like. I dealt with it, because after all, my stomach is now the size of a small banana. However, over the last few months, it seemed to be getting worse. I had Lesle living here now, and she was cooking a lot, so I assumed it was simply because I was eating too much, because she is an AMAZING cook. So, I lowered my portions, and it seemed like no matter how little I ate, I felt bloated and disgusting for about an hour after I ate. I began skipping meals, because of this. I actually dreaded eating.

Last week, I started having some weird cramps after eating a slice of pizza and getting sick. It was very painful and lasted well into the night. It wasn't really normal feeling cramps, it felt almost like hunger cramps, and I couldn't really place exactly where the pain was coming from. Sometimes, it almost felt as if it were coming from my back. I got hardly any sleep that night. A few nights later, it happened again (this was last Thursday, 3/12/15), but this time was different. It wasn't letting up, and I began to wonder if I had a leaky sleeve. I decided to go on into the ER AGAIN. They scanned me and said it was most likely my other kidney stone, but they also found a little bit of inflammation in my gallbladder. They sent me home with some pain meds and antibiotics. I went through the weekend, assuming that the pain was just inflammation, and popping my antibiotics.

Monday morning rolled around, and I got up to get ready for work, and I was F-ING hurting. I decided to run into the ER one more time to at least get some more pain meds, but within an hour, the pain so great, that I didn't know what to do with myself. I called the on call surgeon and he said "Get to the ER, and tell your doctor to call me"

I went to the ER, and they did the normal thing. IV, Pain meds, vitals, and then in about 15 minutes, the nurse came in and said "Dr. Degges is admitting you".

I was brought upstairs and put in a room and waited about 45 minutes for Dr. Degges to get there, and he said "You have a massive stone in your gallbladder, and I think we need to remove it. You are scheduled for 1:20".

In a flurry, I was texting everyone to tell them I was about to have surgery AGAIN. I texted work, because the fact that I even still have a job there after all the work I have missed is amazing. My bosses response was simply "Did you expect anything you do to be simple?" Good point. However, I could hardly have predicted this.

After surgery, Degges talked to Mom and told her that it was one of the worst gallbladders he had ever seen, and they were going to keep me for 2 days! This is normally an outpatient procedure. I was quite sore. More so than I ever was after my VSG.

So,  I was doing well (overall, and considering the facts). I was sucking back the water and ice cream, and I had to pee. I asked the nurse for a little urinal, and went to do my business....nothing. I sat up in the bed a little bit and re-adjusted....nothing!

What the hell, my bladder was full. I strained (it hurt my incision), and still nothing. I told the nurse, who said "It's no big deal, I'll scan your bladder, and we'll do an in/out catheter". Well, I am no fan of catheters as you probably well know by now. As she went to get the bladder scanner, I furiously tried to pee, but it felt like it was just stopped up. In/out...that doesn't sound that bad. Just stick a little straw in, drain it, and move on. Lesle was in the room when the nurse arrived with an ultrasound and a catheter kit. My bladder had almost 500ml of fluid in it, which is pretty much capacity. She recommended the cath, and I held Lesle's hand as she explained what was going to happen. It sounded harmless enough. I just told her not to be shy with the lubricant. Next thing I felt like a red hot poker had been slammed into my urethra at gale force speeds. The seering pain gave way to a twinge of relief as I felt the pressure decrease on my bladder. It was a perfect balance of discomfort from having a straw in my penis, and the comfort of urinating. It suddenly stopped, but I could tell that my bladder wasn't empty. This is called "hitting a pocket" The solution is to very very slowly pull it out about an inch at a time until you start emptying again. This part sucks. Eventually the ordeal was over, and I laid there in the fetal position grasping myself as the nurse cleaned up.

The next day, I was feeling better, and I started trying to pee first thing in the morning, with no luck. I'm telling was an ALL DAY ordeal. Hot water, standing up, sitting down, straining, showering, anything you can think of to pee on my own, and it wasn't happening. The nurse was already talking about another cath, and that kind of pressure only made it worse. I sat on the pot and strained so hard that I lost hearing for a moment, and suddenly, I felt a little trickle, I strained and strained and managed to give her 100ml. Enough to keep her from giving me another cath. Finally they called in a script for flomax. 6 hours later, I peed. I was able to empty my bladder on my own, and I had never been so happy, from that moment on I was a peeing machine, and all was well.

I was released on Wednesday morning, and went home and slept all day.

I decided to do some research on what exactly can happen during gallbladder issues. So much was explained. All the things that I thought were normal due to my VSG were likely caused by my gallbladder. I was released to a normal diet as tolerated, so naturally I had chicken spaghetti for dinner. It was divine. I enjoyed my meal, and I wasn't bloated. I felt satisfied. I had a nice meal with no reflux or bloating or anything.

You see, I am getting healthy, but in doing so, it's almost as if my body is saying, "Oh we are doing this now, well, let's take care of all these other issues that I was putting off because you were fat."

I learned that for people that have had this surgery, depending on the amount of weight loss, have up to a 76% chance of having their gallbladder removed within the first year.

The question still remains. Through all the things I have been through over the last 9 months, how did NOBODY notice that my gallbladder had a stone? I have had AT LEAST 3 c/t scans of my abdomen. Nobody ever once mentioned any issues. This could have been caught early and avoided an emergency surgery.

For those of you that are thinking about this surgery, please don't assume that the pain you are having is because of your VSG, especially if you still have your gallbladder. Bring any and all issues up to your doctor. This went from 0 to "in/out cath" in less than a week, so listen to your body.

On the upside, everything that happens to me is one less thing to worry about. Kidney stones? I have that licked. Gallstones? NOPE, been there, done that. I now have a whole host of healthy organs, and they only stand to get healthier (I hope) as I lose weight. As long as I can keep my job, and make my family happy while continuing on this crazy journey, what more could I possibly ask for?

With that, I leave you with some pictures that I took over the course of the last entry, including some hospital pictures.

Here is the progress pic. Left (04/2014) - Right (03/12/2015)

My Momma!

 Completely High after surgery (still in recovery)

 Battle Wounds

One of us was happy

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Plagiarism, Pilgrims, and Regret.

It's time for a cleansing of the soul. I have done things, man. Things that would make Russell Brand blush...this is not one of those, because it's stupid.

This is the story of how I started a prank that ended HORRIBLY. I COULD ACTUALLY DIE FOR TELLING YOU THIS. Ok, not really....but it will be embarrassing, and the first time I have publicly admitted to it.

Before I begin. A Special Message to Mrs. Thompson. OMG I'm so sorry. I hope you still love me after reading this (if you read it).

OK. It started with the announcement of a writing contest during my senior year in High School. I was not any sort of writer in school. In fact, I hated it. However, some friends and I decided it would be a fun little thing to enter a piece of poetry into the contest that would be so ridiculous that Mrs. Thompson would call me out and we would simply have a hearty laugh and chalk it up to a poorly thought out Sr. Prank.

The plan was simple. Submit a poem that was so ridiculously and obviously fake that it would never leave the classroom. The ONLY rule. It had to be song lyrics.

I was at a fairly odd point in my life and I just happened to like Enya.

Anyhow, They have a lovely song called Pilgrim that is overly homosexual. The lyrics were OBVOUSLY over the top. Or so I thought....

For your listening pleasure, here is the song.

So. I pulled the lyrics from this overly horrible song and hastily wrote them down, being sure to remove the chorus as not to be TOO obvious. In hindsight, that was possibly not a wise decision, but hey....I have never been known for my wise decisions.

I brought it to class a couple of weeks later. I walked it to the front of the class amidst the chuckles and snorts from my friends and handed the crumpled and folded paper to the teacher, because in my head, a true artist would not have a clean piece of crisply folded paper. You know...I had to show artists angst. I take this role very seriously.

Mrs Thompson (looking shocked) took my paper and stuck it in the pile.

Now I just had to wait for her to read through it, and bust me out in front the class and have some laughs, and pray she doesn't report me for plagiarism.

A week passed, and I began getting nervous. She announced that she had chosen the finalists, whose work would be submitted to a panel of judges at ASU. They would then decide the winners.

She called out the finalists for Poetry. SHE CALLED MY NAME. JESUS CHRIST WHAT JUST HAPPENED! This is NOT going as planned. Surely this is her realizing that I was trying to mess with her, and this was her revenge. Embarrass me in front of the class. This is SO Mrs. Thompson (I secretly hoped). NOPE. IT'S HAPPENING.

I needed to think fast. If I admitted to her what I did, she would make an example of me for fooling her. On the other hand, what were the chances that this sorry excuse for a poem would even get a second glance from the panel of judges. OR what if they read it, and get pissed, and report me. JESUS THE ANXIETY WAS UNBEARABLE. There was one thing I could do....CRY LIKE A GIRL and pray I don't get into trouble. I mean, it's what any other wuss would have done. I'm no better than the others.

Another couple of weeks went by. I waited, my friends reveled, Mrs Thompson swelled with pride....

I knew at the very least, I was burning in Hell for this.

SUDDENLY! One day, the loud speaker came on. It was Mr. Dunivan with an announcement. The school had some students that placed in the "High School Writers" Contest.

Ronnie Boling wins FIRST PLACE IN NEA for his original Poem "The Journey" and guess what.... it would be published in a book!

H-O-L-Y   S-H-I-T What have I done. HOW DID NOBODY NOTICE! It's an ENYA SONG! Understand, this was in 2001, Enya was fairly popular!

I was in too deep. There was no escape. This was my life. I am now a poet. I literally cannot tell anyone I did this.

Only a small handful of people knew, and I wanted to keep it that way.


I have kept this to myself long enough to hope that I am outside any statute of limitations that could possibly get me in trouble.

I'm sorry to those who thought I was a real writer. I never had a copy of the book...but Mom did. She held it proudly until the guilt got too much and I had to tell her. I think was like 22 or so when I told her.

Lesson Learned. I am a terrible terrible person.

I feel better after having confessed, I'll go whip myself with a cat of nine tails until it bleeds just a little bit, because I don't like pain.