Dropping Chocolate

This evening, Donna and I were driving home from dinner out with friends. It was snowing pretty hard, and we were at the intersection of a wide, busy road. Donna warned me of car coming from her side, and then after it passed I gunned the gas pedal to get out on the road quickly. (My new truck is the first 4 wheel drive vehicle I’ve ever owned, so I was admittedly playing a bit)

As I’m turning left across the 4 lanes very quickly, Donna says in a frustrated tone, “Oh man, you made me drop chocolate!”

There was an awkward silence.

I responded, “You mean, like, you pooped?”

I assumed my rapid turn scared her, and she was creatively claiming I scared the crap out of her. I didn’t really think she pooped herself, but I’d never heard someone say they “dropped chocolate” before. It turns out I was very wrong.

“What?!?! No. I was eating a piece of delicious dark chocolate, and you took off so fast I dropped it!”

If you listen close, you can probably still hear me laughing. 🙂

Health Update: 5 Months Later

I’ve posted on Twitter & Facebook as I’ve progressed over the past few months, but I haven’t really put all the information together in a “greater than 140 character” post. So here’s the update for all those folks who are curious.

My Kidneys Are No Better
This is depressing. I ate as healthy as a human being can eat, never cheated, and lost 40+ pounds. I also drank enough water to support several small lakes. Unfortunately, when my blood was rechecked after 4 months, it hadn’t improved even slightly. BUT. My kidneys also didn’t get any worse, which made the doctor quite happy. It made me happy too, but I was hoping for some drastic, never before seen improvement.

I Still Have 20 Pounds To Lose
I’m to the point where everyone says, “Oh, you look amazing, you don’t need to lose any more weight!” That’s really kind, but I’m still a tad into the “overweight” section of the BMI scale, and I’d like to be in the middle of the “healthy” area. So 20 more pounds.

My Cholesterol Is Oddly High
Mind you, I ate broccoli, beans, and fruit for 4 months. My cholesterol should be comically low. But it’s actually high. I’m guessing that before I lost the weight, my cholesterol was freakishly high and I just didn’t know it. So along with the 20 pounds to lose, I need to exercise daily in order to get my cholesterol numbers down. Due to my diligence concerning my health, the doctor didn’t put me on cholesterol medicine — just assigned me daily exercise. I plan to “take my medicine” so to speak. (I actually need to raise HDL or something like that, cholesterol confuses me)

I Have To Monitor My Blood Pressure Like A Crazy Man
Keeping my blood pressure low is one of the biggest keys to staying alive for a long time. I’ve had my medicine adjusted a couple times already, and as I continue to lose weight and exercise, it will probably have to be adjusted more in the future. My part in the equation is to monitor my blood pressure VERY closely. Because I know myself, and know that I’d be bad at recording such things — I just ordered a Withings blood pressure cuff. It automatically uploads the readings and keeps a record of times/pressure/pulse that I can send off to the doctor in an email. Pretty slick actually. It’s also a cool technology toy, so I look forward to the monitoring more than I did before. 🙂

My Diet Isn’t Crazy. Just Reasonable.
I’m no longer on a super strict, low sodium, low protein, low grain, low carb, vegan diet. Due to kidney problems, I have to try for low protein and low sodium, but I can once again eat human food. This is a nice change, but will likely slow down the weight loss. 🙂

I. Can. Have. Caffeine. Again.
I asked the doctor on a whim, because winter is coming, and I can’t imagine the winter season without tea. Decaf coffee is bad enough, in that it doesn’t really taste bad, it’s just that the best decaf pales in comparison with really good coffee. If you think I’m wrong, you’ve never had really good coffee. Just sayin. Decaf tea, on the other hand, is vile. The only tolerable decaf tea I’ve ever had is PG Tips Decaf. But it gets old quick, and is just plain grocery store tea — not something to depend on for the long, cold winter. I’m allowed a moderate amount of caffeine (2-3 cups), and I immediately asked about drinking more than that. My only stipulation for consuming more is that I drink lots of water too. I’m TOTALLY OK with that arrangement. So, the caffeine fast is over!!!

All in all, I’m doing pretty well. I think this health crisis has been good in that it has forced me to be more aware of my general health. I’ll be thinner, healthier, and most likely happier thanks to the forced lifestyle that is keeping me alive. Now if you’ll excuse me, my Breville One Touch Tea Maker just beeped…

In Which I Make a Fool of Myself for a Good Cause

Tomorrow is it. With all my crazy health problems of late, I haven’t done anywhere close to the fundraising I hoped to do, but regardless — tomorrow I’ll be golfing 50 holes. Again due to the health stuff, I haven’t been to a driving range, so my first golf swing attempt will be on the course tomorrow. Yikes. 🙂

What am I golfing for exactly? I’m glad you asked, even if you really didn’t. Hehehhe.

  • Harbor Light Christian Schools is an independent, non-denominational school. It shares a name and building with a church, but is not actually a church ministry. It’s completely separate.
  • I’ve seen HLCS transform my kids. In a good way. Yes, it provides a Christian education as one would expect, but it does so much more that I honestly never expected:
    • It’s given my kids a safe place to learn who they are. No bullying. No ostracizing for being “weird”. No judgement based on background.
    • Even with a district size of under 100 students (K-12!), my girls have all played multiple sports, competing successfully with schools 10 times their size. Heck, Lizzie (a 7th grader) made a double play the other day on the varsity softball team against a school at LEAST 10 times their size.
    • The student/teacher ratio is such that teachers form a personal, sincere, and direct relationship with the kids. This means students can’t get away with fluffing off, because the teacher will follow through with contacting parents and arranging extra help if needed.
    • It’s also shocking for me to see families of drastically different Christian denominations not only exist together, but excel in making each other better Christians, and better people. In fact, the differences at Harbor Light are one of the biggest strengths. When we learn to get along and agree on commonalities, it helps everyone relate to the rest of the world better. Getting rid of the “us/them” mindset is so healthy, and it happens every day.

 

But tuition is so, so expensive for a private school. Even in our economically depressed area of northern Michigan, it’s not uncommon for tuition prices for Christian schools to hover around the $10,000 per year range. While in other parts of the country that is a paltry amount to pay for tuition at a private school, up here, it makes it unreachable for the majority of families.

And so, golf.

Harbor Light does an incredible amount of fundraising. So much so, that for a top notch, parochial education, the base tuition is reduced to around $5,600 per student. PLUS, there are incentives (half off for the first year, things like that), scholarships, and tuition forgiveness that takes place every year. No one gets rich educating students at Harbor Light Christian School, but student’s lives are enriched beyond measure.

I could go on and on about the specific things HLCS does to benefit the community and world, but I’ll save that for another day. Giving families the ability to provide their children with a top notch academic education, while at the same time teaching them to exist peacefully and productively around others of differing world views is priceless. So, I agreed to participate in this golf marathon. My goal is/was to raise $1,500 to offset tuition prices next year. Again, due to my recent health concerns, I haven’t been able to beat the bushes for support, which is very unfortunate. If you’d like to contribute, even a small amount, I would be grateful. If you’re unable to contribute financially, please either pray for HLCS, or at the very least ponder how amazing it is to raise a generation of young Christians who understand how to get along with people of varying faith systems.

Here’s a link to my contribution page if you’re interested in donating. Thanks for reading. 🙂

A Fairly Scary Health Update

I’m not famous, but my jobs past and present have given the opportunity to have a large number of online friends who genuinely care about my wellbeing. I pour my heart into the things I do (which sounds odd for someone in a technical field), and countless people support me, defend me, and protect me from the big bad wolves of the Internet.

So when something significant happens in my life, people often want to know. It’s not a creepy invasion of privacy, or a juicy tidbit for gossip around the watercooler, but rather real people genuinely concerned about my wellbeing. That’s incredibly humbling, just so you all know. And so I want to give an update, because I think it’s better than leaving people wondering. Plus, I truly appreciate the wellwishes, prayers, and encouragement. ANYWAY:

This week I went to the doctor because I have a pain in my abdomen in about the spot my gallbladder lives. I’m about the right age, the right (over)weight, and the right skin-tone to be a likely candidate for a faulty gallbladder. So I had a blood test, a urine test, and an ultrasound. When the tests came back, my gallbladder looks OK. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t appear to be full of stones or anything.

My liver and kidneys, on the other hand, appear to have issues. That’s fairly shocking, as I haven’t had any symptoms related to kidney or liver, but the tests came back with issues. My liver is fatty, and is stressed, but is still functioning well. So for that, I need to lose weight, and things should improve. My kidneys, however, appear to be in really bad shape. I don’t have the specific numbers, but the numbers that are supposed to be low are very high, and the number that is supposed to be high is very low. In fact, the test were so unsettling, that the doctor referral slip had “Acute Renal Failure” written on it. I didn’t realize the severity of things until I saw that. Scary sounding, no?

So far I’ve consulted with 3 doctors, and the next step is to get an ultrasound of my kidneys to check blood flow. Then I need to hydrate REALLY well for a few days, and get my blood/urine retested. My close friends have been urging me to go immediately to a specialist, and I understand that mentality — but this short-term plan makes sense to me. The initial tests may have been skewed, partially because:

  • I have no symptoms of renal failure.
  • I have been hitting the Couch-2-5K program HARD, doing a new run every day, instead of 3/week.
  • It’s possible I was dehydrated and didn’t realize it.
  • Only my blood test showed issues, my urine test (on the next day) was fine.

 

One of the doctors consulted specializes in sports medicine, and he’s seen an intense workout regimen combined with insufficient hydration cause test results similar to mine. (so, a false positive) If my next tests still show problems with kidney function, I will do what it takes to get the best treatment I can. I know kidneys are nothing to mess with, and I’m not ignoring the issue. I promise. 🙂

I’ll update everyone as I learn more.

Sucking Sucks, A Runners Tale

Be thankful it's not smell-o-vision...

Today is the 7th run on my path to running a 5K. It’s my 4th day straight, which is pretty cool. I hope to continue with my daily runs, even if they’re small runs. Building up that habit is something I’ll be really proud of. But…

I really suck at running.

No really, that’s not a false humility sorta thing. I’m not fishing for compliments. But today was the first time I had to jog 3 minutes straight. Oh. My. Word. It’s unbelievable how difficult it was to stay trudging along at 5MPH for 3 consecutive minutes.

I have friends who are “runners”, and I often see them talk about the “short 5 mile run” they took that morning. Or, “it was rough between miles 6-8, but the last 7 were smooth.” I’m really happy for them, and it’s cool they can run like that. The problem is, if I look at the math, at my current rate of improvement, it will take approximately 6 millennia for me to get to that level of ability.

I know, I’m just whining now, but I’m not even running! I almost died from jogging for 3 minutes. It’s difficult to imagine jogging an entire 5K, much less running that far. And taking a “short 5 mile run” any time in the foreseeable future? Ugh.

Anyone else have a difficult time imagining themselves as real “runners”? I sure do…