Tuesday, June 14, 2016


It's been a hard couple of days, I won't lie.

There are the inevitable questions: Why there and then? Who was really behind it all? What made him do it? And while there are answers, they won't satisfy, because there are no answers good enough to make up for the sickening horror, pain, and devastation.

 Time does strange things when you're grieving. Two days can seem like a week, and hours can disappear in the blink of an eye. The heaviness I carry around makes me tired without having done anything. Fighting despair is apparently exhausting.

Friends have put up heart-warming posts on Facebook telling me that it's okay to grieve and feel bad, passing along celebrity reactions to the horror, wise and witty memes to distract, and doing what we ALWAYS do when attacked as a group; bucking each other up. Even one of my white, straight, cis-gendered male friend (35 years my junior to boot) reached out to tell me he valued me as a person and a friend. My mother sent me a text telling me she thought the massacre was horrific.

And although all of that helps, none of it makes the fear go away. It's easy to say that we must answer hate with love, that our Pride counters his cowardice, and that just keeping on keeping on is enough. But it's a lot harder to ignore the gut-gnawing fear that swam into my belly as I realized that I'm suffering a kind of PTSD, born of the many times I've reacted to the number of attacks in our history. There have been so many, too many, over the years and like an overstretched rubber band I'm finding it hard to bounce back.

Still, Barack Obama, George Takei, and dozens of others have soothed my ragged nerves some with their balm of rational concern. It will take time (which may pass quickly, or not, depending), but eventually I will carry on again, if not calmly, at least with hope for a better future.

The bastard may have scared me, but not witless. As long as I have a brain, and I can express myself through words, I win.

#Pride #NoHoldingMeDown #AmWriting #PTSD

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bariatric Surgery Success!

Today it will have been exactly four months since my Roux en Y or gastric bypass surgery. Next week will make it a year since I started this amazing journey.

I've lost fifty-two pounds. My blood pressure is lower, my arthritis less painful, and my triglycerides are behaving themselves. I no longer use the C-PAP machine, or take medicine for gout. I haven't had a bout of Plantar's fasciitis or bone bruises for months.

Has it been easy? Hell, no. I spent a month (2 weeks before and 2 weeks after surgery) on a completely liquid diet. When you look forward to some sugar-free applesauce so you'll at least have something to kinda chew, that's hard. And, of course, my surgery was scheduled for mid-December, completely eclipsing the usual Christmas celebrations. And as much as I wanted the surgery, I hated how it tied my family and friends up in knots, making them tip-toe around me, not eating things they wanted, afraid to tempt me to do something to spoil my plans. As often as I reminded them that I'd CHOSEN to do this, and they should eat normally, they saw the liquids and mushed up food and felt bad for me. I kept telling them that next year I'd be eating with them, just much smaller portions and they should enjoy themselves.

Their support meant so much to me, however. They watched me go to endless doctors appointments and be tested for everything under the sun from breast cancer, to sleep apnea, to a colonoscopy. I was examined inside and out. I still laugh about how shocked I was when a doctor first lifted the folded over part of my belly to examine the skin underneath. It felt like such an invasion of privacy... LOL Little did I know what was in store.

I went through a plethora of emotions and was surprised by their vehemence. Hope warred with despair, anger fought with appreciation, and through it all, I held the deep conviction that I would fail yet again. My wife was terrified of the actual surgery but repeated several times that she supported whatever decision I made. She survived the four-hour wait during the surgery, and hers was the first face I saw when I woke.

I've handled the healing phase well. The wounds are all scarred and have lost their purplish hue. Although I've had to deal with excessive gas (and the resultant hours of walking) when experimenting with raw vegetables, I've managed to escape - knock on wood - the 'dumping' I'd been warned about. I needed to travel only a few short weeks following the surgery, but even that went well. The flight crew weren't happy about my rising and walking the length of the plane every half-hour, but they preferred that to blood clots.

Because I was so busy for the first month and a half, it came as an almost sudden surprise when my entire wardrobe stopped fitting me. I sorted out those I could still get away with, and bagged up the rest. When it came to donating them to charity, though, I just couldn't do it. Part of me still expects to gain back the weight, just like I have after every single diet in my life. They're upstairs in the attic, but I may put them out for a spring yardsale... maybe.

I've learned a lot about myself, and I'm still learning. I've also learned an awful lot about other people and the way they treat people based on stereotypes. But more about that, next time...

Monday, January 11, 2016

You're Doing It Right Now

Or you will be once you finish reading this. If you're within reach of a PowerBall lottery ticket, you're dreaming of what you could possibly do with over $6,000,000 dollars. That's the lump sum payout for a single winner.

My wife and I just spent a pleasant hour discussing the possibilities, those we'd help, how we'd help, what kind of dreams we could make possible, what responsibilities we'd like to shoulder. A retirement village for low-income LGBTQIA+ seniors was mentioned, free operations for kids born with cleft palates whose parents struggle financially, a writer's retreat for authors struggling to find their voices, and, of course, the house purchases for those we love.

Everyone's doing it - dreaming of the possibilities of great wealth. It's the new American dream, that you win enough money to be independent for the rest of your life, and enough left over to provide for those who are the most important in your life.

And then there are the little digs that would be possible. One grandson suggested he would buy his grandmother anything she wanted, but that his own father would be gifted with a small, one bedroom house. "And no maid," he added. "He'd have to clean it himself."

It's human nature to dream, and a uniquely American quality to dream BIG. So buy a lottery ticket, and dream out loud, sharing your thoughts with others and ask them about their own.

Lottery dreaming is more fun than even planning for Christmas because the boundaries are unlimited. And all you have to do is buy a ticket. Lottery chance means you have the same chance that a millionaire has, ticket for ticket. It's the great equalizer, but if you win it leads to joining the top level of American icons, leaving the common people behind.

But then the doubts set in. Strangers will come out of the woodworks claiming to be friends or long lost family. Others will ask for donations to one or a million worthy charities. Friends will stop valuing you for your inner qualities, instead courting you for your help and assistance. Everyone is suspect, and the temptations placed before you and your spouse can lead to disaster.

So you decide not to tell anyone, let a lawyer accept the prize and keep your anonymity as best you can. (If you live in a state that even allows you anonymity) You know that won't work, that someone you know will begin to notice the new cars, and houses and travels to corners of the world you didn't know existed before - before you got rich. And of course, all the new people you meet would know you were rich, so that blows the secret right there.

But still you dream - dream of impossible deeds and unexpected assistance. Of all the big and little things having lots of money can do for you, for yours, and for the world at large.

And all of this can be yours, yours mind you, for a mere $2.00. The dreaming alone is worth the cost of entry.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Young Adults... Great Models for Moving Literature

 This is the beautiful face of my favorite young adult. She lives near me, visiting when she can. Smart, suspicious, silly, sensitive, and strong... and that's just the S's. Of course I love her, who wouldn't? But I'm also, in the interest of full disclosure, her nana. My wife is her maternal grandmother.

But I'm not only impressed with who she is as a young adult, after all I've known the special person, "M", since she was born, and she was a freakin' awesome baby/toddler/big girl/pre-teen before. No, I'm also impressed by her group of friends, and so many like them around the world.

Young adults these days are rockin'. They embody many ideals, tempered with a world-weary acknowledgement of the commercialism of their learning environments. They know social media is self-serving, and have learned the hard way that many messages are commercials disguised as truth. Young adult these days, however, are savvy. They question, not just values, but power. They are demanding answers, and when those aren't forthcoming they dive headlong into research.

World-wide, nearly instant research. The world is much smaller than it's ever been before. With the proliferation of videos, kids are finding out that people are much more the same, than they are different.

Which is great, because the next older generation is getting that all wrong, accepting wide divides between people and being prodded into conflicts which settle nothing, but greatly stir dissatisfaction and inflame passions.

Personally - and remember you heard it here first, folks - I believe that a new '60's type revolution is on the brink of exploding. I think today's young adults are watching the posturing and posing of their elders, and are about to do what another group of young adults, who have been neatly categorized and dismissively labeled as 'hippies', did fifty years ago.

Their music tells stories of rebels, and vigilantes. The depths of despair are appearing in their art work across genres, as are the heights offered by hope. They are demanding better educations, and holding their educators to ever rising standards. They are remembering what so many of their elders have forgotten:

Love Conquers All.

Yep, young adults these days totally rock. "M" and her friends - here's to you! Go get 'em, kiddos.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Moment of Truth

I'll use this for my before picture. It was taken in early 2015, after I'd begun the journey to get to this point. An interesting thing was happening to me at the time. I'd begun to say good-bye to foods, as if I'd never see them again. I binged on pizza, chocolate, and french fries. This photo was actually taken at a local pizza parlor!

Okay - let's get down to it: I started this journey because the last straw was heaped on the donkey's back. Yes, I'm borderline diabetic, have high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. My health has been going downhill even though I try to stay healthy. Yes, my back, legs, and feet were no longer willingly supporting my body. I hobbled places, or worse, waddled. That happened only once, and after that I walked as slowly as it took to never again sway side to side.

But if I'm honest, there were other reasons, ones involving self-esteem and issues of embarrassment. I had an experience that showed me if I fell and couldn't get up, my loved ones would need help to get me up. I'm tired of being squeezed from all sides when traveling on a plane, and dealing with people who fat shame with glances. My feelings get hurt when my family discusses my size/eating habits/weight in normal everyday conversation. And I avoid looking at my own reflection in a mirror, narrowing my vision to a single area that needs work, teeth, hair, and more and more recently, my neck.

I've managed to be a normal weight at least six times in my life. None of those experiences lasted. I blew past 100 pounds sometime during 4th grade and never saw it again. I don't know any other way to be than overweight, or losing weight. Maintaining a normal body weight will be a whole new experience for me.

And I'm afraid of failing. Again. A failure. Again.

But then again, everything good that's ever happened to me started with me taking a chance. I've managed to do some relatively extraordinary things: travel the US in an RV, write an award-winning novel, performed before large audiences AND received standing ovations. So if the woman who achieved all that decides to put her effort into creating a new food/eating reality, she'll make it.

I'll make it. I can do it. I've done hard things before and succeeded. I've got this. It's extreme - but then, I can be extreme. *deep breath* I will do this!
And I've still got two days more to change my mind and run back to the world of comfort I know so well if I chicken out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fist Pump - Throat Lump

The fist pump! Yeah! I've done it, did it just the other week. Will probably do it again.


When I started out on this journey over a year ago, I wasn't sure it was going to end up on the surgeon's table. I went to an info meeting, but still wasn't convinced. This is a really big, irrevocable decision, and I had failed so many times before I no longer had faith in the weight loss process.

I have some issues with the way the bariatric surgery group I'm with handled things. I was made to jump through innumerable hoops to get here, including many medical procedures and exams. I've been sleep studied, x-rayed, EKGed, palpated, weighed, measured, and charted. I have listened, asked, been handed numerous handouts and a 3-ring binder to hold them all, and support grouped along. And I was forced to lose weight to continue the process. Without going into actual numbers (which are not for publication) from my first weigh-in until the pre-op two week liquid diet started, in seven months I'd lost a grand total of eight pounds. yippee 

Then I started the liquid diet and stayed on it. A few days in I got sick. Because of med changes I dealt with dizziness. But I stayed on the diet, and it's now less than a week away from the surgery. I weighed myself on my bathroom scale, which is probably at least several pounds off of the bariatric one, and to my shock found in the first week I'd lost another nine pounds. (BTW - I only weigh once a week at most. I learned that lesson the hard way during my first twenty diets...) That's a total of seventeen pounds, and there's already a change in the way my clothes fit. FIST PUMP!

But there's also this lump in my throat, a recognition of all the times in the past when I've successfully lost weight, and ALWAYS gained it back again. The fear is there, the ever present anxiety of failure. After all, I've successfully fought the battle many, many times, but never won the war of sustained weight loss.

Apparently I've dieted and then regained the weight so many times I've created a Pavlovian response in myself. Feelings of success are immediately damped by forebodings of failure. I'm my own psychological lab rat. My conditioned response is excitement tempered with sorrow. And the really bitter taste to it all is that it's become a very familiar response. How many times have I started diets, knowing that the results of all that pain and hard work would never last?

I'm trying to let myself feel successful, recognizing and paying respect to the times I've failed before, but this time won't be the same (already I hear the razzberry being given by my own psyche), because this time I'm changing the circumstances. This weight loss journey is different than any other I've taken. I'm changing the rules. After the hard work of losing weight has gotten me where I'm going, my stomach will have healed into a much smaller pouch, and the craving centers will have been excised. I hope that the desire for food will never again supplant my need for nourishment.

Here is my promise to my future self:  I will still enjoy food, in moderation the way it was meant to be. I will savor the flavor, and feel the heal. No longer will I waste the taste, or need the greed. I will be an informed, and intelligent consumer. And I will be healthier for it.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

When the Schmecken Beckons...

GUILTY PLEASURES     Day 8 of the liquid pre-op diet started out with thoughts of watching television cooking shows. What? Talk about putting temptation in your own way. But I enjoy watching the Christmas cooking competitions every year, and I guess I'm missing that.

And, I won't lie, I feel a little sad as I move through the stores and see the plenty - all the deliciousness I'm turning away from this season. Gingerbread cookies stand up on the bakery shelves and shout my name, as I wander past trying not to look them in the eye. Yule Log cakes with their promises of rolled up jelly cakes beckon with their frosting covered branches. Pies of many flavors try to toss themselves, like fattening frisbees, into my artfully dodging cart. Eggnog cartons line up like soldiers in the dairy aisle, saluting my resolute determination not to blow my chances for surgery a week from today. Although weight gain (or lack of loss) might be the least of my worries now.

I'm still dizzy. This is day five of being dizzy and I've been in contact with both the bariatric center and my primary care physician about possible reasons. I stopped in at our local fire station for a blood pressure check yesterday, and my numbers were 140 over 114. Not good. My blood pressure meds have been changed a couple of times lately, and clearly the new combination wasn't making it. So I contacted my primary care physician, who added another med to the mix. Last night I wasn't dizzy at all, and I was so hopeful. But today I'm once again swaying on my feet. I will have my blood pressure checked on Friday morning, and hopefully by then all this dizziness will be over once and for all. The irony is, of course, that after I've lost some weight, my blood pressure should regain normal levels without medication.

I'm still ignoring the big question - and I am stating it in words here because I want to commit myself to asking it. Am I doing this surgery primarily for my health, or primarily to finally achieve the life-long goal of a slender (i.e. beautiful) body?

Time is getting short - and I need to make absolutely sure that I really want this irreversible change to my body, and all that entails. Thanks for keeping me company as I try to figure it all out, watching snippets of baking competitions and weaving through the shopping with my pre-op blinders on. There is, after all, next year. And hopefully by that time I'll have learned how to handle my new body and new appetite. By then the Gingerbread Man will be my friend once more, although I'll probably never enjoy his company as much as I have in years past.

Oh well, there's always Pumpkin Spice Greek yogurt...