Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

4 months and counting…

December 3, 2012 5 comments

In July, my weight fluctuated between 285 and 290. When you’re that heavy, five pounds is pretty much inconsequential. I was scheduled to have my annual physical and was not particularly concerned. I had been this weight for years and it hadn’t been an issue.  Sure, I had been diagnosed with diabetes a year earlier, but I was on medication. No prob. I could eat the same as before and let the meds do their job. Right? RIGHT?

Let me step back a little and explain what diabetes mellitus type two is. From Wikipedia:

Diabetes mellitus type 2 (formerly noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes) is a metabolic disorder that is characterized by high blood glucose in the context of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. This is in contrast to diabetes mellitus type 1, in which there is an absolute insulin deficiency due to destruction of islet cells in the pancreas. The classic symptoms are excess thirst, frequent urination, and constant hunger. Type 2 diabetes makes up about 90% of cases of diabetes. Obesity is thought to be the primary cause of type 2 diabetes in people who are genetically predisposed to the disease. (emphasis mine)

The recommendation is for your blood sugars to be below 125 and your HgA1C to be below 7.

I last tested for it the previous year and my HgA1C was 9.2. I was ready to see how far it was down. The physical itself was uneventful, except for the fact that, turning 50, I now had to face tests and procedures that, heretofore, had not been necessary (don’t ask. It involves a camera and one’s ass). I waited eagerly for the results (okay, I wasn’t particularly eager, but as I mentioned earlier, unconcerned).

I got the call from my PMD and got the result.


I was stunned. This couldn’t be. I took my meds religiously. My blood pressure was controlled well by meds, as was my cholesterol. Why hadn’t my diabetes? I researched some more and I talked to my doc some (one advantage to working at the same place as your doc is that you see them all the time and get free face-to-face time with them) and found out that DM type 2 has some pretty significant issues that manifest itself in many nasty ways. Such as:

  • a ten-year-shorter life expectancy.
  • two to four times the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • a 20-fold increase in lower limb amputations (!!!)
  • blindness
  • kidney failure
  • cognitive dysfunction and dementia
  • increased infections
  • sexual dysfunction
  • frequent infections


Here I was, with two young kids, probably eating myself into a state where I would not see them marry and have children. I got scared. So I started talking to bariatric surgeons, since getting the surgery was the quickest way to resolve the issue. After much deliberation and constant talking with friends, and most importantly, my wife, I decided AGAINST the surgery.

Either path would have been difficult, but I chose the slow painful way over the fast painful way. I am still on this path and and have reconciled myself to being on this path the rest of my life. I made very small changes.

  • I switched to a smaller plate at dinner
  • I ate less rice
  • I stopped eating fast food
  • I brought lunch most days
  • I started working out 10 minutes a day twice a week
  • I went and signed up, not for a gym membership, but a personal trainer

Now, four months later, I have increased my workout regimen to 30 minutes of elliptical five days a week, 30 minute training sessions three days a week and Pilates one day a week. I have maintained the dietary changes I listed, but, unlike the surgery (which would have prevented me from eating some foods and beverages), I am able to have whatever within reason. I have a great time with my trainers and even though Pilates is hard as shit, I want to keep it going. I’m down to 242 and have given away all my larger sized clothes. I have no end point in mind, because there IS NO END POINT. I don’t have a target weight, I have a target number.

About four weeks ago, I re-tested my HgA1C.


Now excuse me while I work out.

Twitter moves faster than earthquake

August 26, 2011 4 comments

Interesting phenomena about how the internet sometimes can show you a glimpse into your future. Apparently, when the earthquake hit the east coast a few days ago, twitter was flooded with tweets as it was happening. In fact, if you were following tweeps from the Charlottesville area (as I do), and you live say in NYC, you would have been given advanced warning about your potential future.

Now granted, it’s just a few seconds of warning, but still, it’s amazing how twitter has been used to broadcast the Iranian protests against the improprieties that occurred during the last elections, the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Egyptian/Libyan/Algerian/Syrian uprisings and now earthquakes.

Interestingly enough, this was predicted by Randall Munro in a comic he did about a year and a half ago:

Six Before Breakfast: In Which We Are All Woefully Inadequate

August 20, 2011 2 comments

Six Before Breakfast: In Which We Are All Woefully Inadequate….an introduction to First Grade.

She’s a friend I’ve known since she was an innocent 14 year old. Now she has a potty mouth and a scathing sense of humor. I’d like to hope I played a small part in her transformation. I would be so proud.

My Love/Hate Relationship with my Therapist

August 18, 2011 8 comments


Psychology. the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.

I’ve been in therapy for about 20 years. I started years ago with an LCSW that I had a good rapport with and continued on until today, where I see a Psychologist. The therapist I was seeing before that was an awesome psychologist and helped me out tremendously, but he retired and so at the beginning of the year, I started seeing someone who he recommended.

It’s always difficult to start a therapist/patient relationship anew. I had been with Dr. C for three years and he KNEW my issues. Hell, he was there at the most difficult part of my life. Now, I was forced to re-hash all the crap to this stranger. The prospect of revisiting past event can be tiring and cathartic at the same time, depending on how the new person interacts with you.

So, as those first few sessions passed, I began to feel comfortable with her. She was my first female therapist and as a female, brought a slightly different approach to the issues at hand. Yes, I understand each individual therapist brings an approach unique to that individual; however, I would argue that there are perspectives a female can bring to a session that a man may not be as aware.

Eight months later, I find myself looking forward to the sessions more and more. There is an interesting dynamic that occurs in the room and a constant give-and-take that I didn’t have with most of my other therapists. I like the challenges she presents and, while it can be infuriating, like her placid demeanor. She’s provided me with insights on issues that were heretofore unaddressed, as well as new impressions on items I had deemed resolved. But that’s not the purpose of the post. I just wanted to get on paper (yes, I know) what me feeling were about this particular therapist;

  •  I love/hate my therapist because she takes the time to ponder and mull over before interjecting
  •  I love/hate my therapist because she is stoic, even when I’m breaking down
  •  I love/hate my therapist because she can never be a friend
  •  I love/hate my therapist because she challenges me
  •  I love/hate my therapist because she refuses to succumb
  •  I love/hate my therapist because she laughs with me
  •  I love/hate my therapist because she doesn’t understand me completely but she’s trying
  •  I love/hate my therapist because she insists on the invisible barrier
  •  I love/hate my therapist because she cares
  •  I love/hate my therapist because she doesn’t show it
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Lithuanian Independence – January 13, 1991

January 12, 2011 1 comment

A Lithuanian-American friend of mine wrote this and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a part of history most people in the U.S. are unaware of and I thought it would be an interesting read for all of you. Her name is Rasa Tautvydas, she was/is a hospitalist and is an amazing woman. Light a candle for her and for the rest of Lithuania on January 13th.

Twenty years ago January 13, 1991 the world witnessed Lithuania’s darkest hour as it struggled to regain its freedom and sovereignty from the Soviet Union.  Eight months later, the USSR as we had known it throughout the Cold War years would no longer exist.  The dissolution of the USSR was long in coming, but Lithuania along with Latvia and Estonia (the three Baltic nations) created the spark that would lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

When I graduated from college twenty years ago,  I had the unique opportunity to work in Lithuania.  Lithuania had declared independence from the USSR on March 11, 1990.  A handful of intellectuals from physicists to musicians played a dangerous but crafty game with the USSR government.  They took advantage of existing Soviet laws and of Gorbachev’s glasnost (openness) to regain their country’s independence, an independence lost after forceful incorporation into the Soviet Union after World War II.  It was a peaceful revolution, dubbed the “Singing Revolution” because demonstrations included the singing of national folk songs, an act forbidden under Soviet rule.

In response to Lithuania’s declaration of independence, the Soviet government imposed an economic blockade in June 1990.  By the time I arrived in November, inflation was rising and fewer and fewer goods were available for purchase.  Along with my salary, I received ration tickets for cigarettes, vodka, and toilet paper among other items.  If I saw a long line, I knew that I should get in it too.

The dark days of the fight for independence deepened.  By late December, rumors began to spread that something more serious was about to happen.  Gorbachev wasn’t pleased with Lithuania’s actions, and he was finding that an economic blockade was not enough to stifle the drive for independence.  Beginning in early January, Soviet tanks moved into the capital city of Vilnius along with several other key cities, and  Soviet troops began taking over government and infrastructure buildings.  The Soviet’s ultimate goal, take over the parliament building and regain governance of Lithuania.

Rather than hide, the Lithuanians took to the streets.  Vytautas Landsbergis, a professor of music by training and Lithuania’s newly elected leader, asked the nation to gather outside government buildings and to protect them from occupation.  Busloads of people flowed into the capital.  They came from all over the country and kept vigil day and night despite the frigid winter weather.

Wanting to join the demonstrators, I drove to Vilnius from Kaunas with friends both native Lithuanians and Lithuanian-Americans like myself.  It was January 12, 1991.  Little did we know that in the early hours of January 13, the Soviets would resort to brutal violence against peaceful demonstrators.

We initially stood outside the radio and TV tower, a structure resembling Seattle’s space needle.  Under grey skies and black umbrellas with temperatures hovering near freezing, our voices joined those of over a thousand other Lithuanians.  As a slushy rain fell, we sang songs of loss and longing.  We sang songs of hope.  We sang songs of joy and humor.  Young and old stood defiant in the rain and the cold.

By evening the temperatures dropped, and we drove to the Parliament building in downtown Vilnius, a contemporary architectural structure that contrasted with the Baroque architecture of Vilnius’ old town, the classical style of an adjacent library and the stoic apartments that surrounded the parliament square.  Rock and roll blared from massive loudspeakers perched on the library steps.  The atmosphere felt more like a festival than a vigil: the young flirted and checked each other out; older couples walked arm in arm; others offered hot cups of broth, soup and sandwiches that they had made at home.  The music of folksongs, accordions, fiddles and laughter filled the air.  Young and old danced folk dances.  But by the early hours of January 13, the atmosphere turned somber as news spread that the tanks were coming.

We felt the tanks approach before we saw them, a deep vibration that rumbled up from the ground, through your body and into your heart.  We watched as they rolled down a distant highway.  Then we heard explosions in the distance and the rat-a-tat-tat of machinegun fire.  The radio and TV tower was under attack.

The radio announcers continued to broadcast over the loudspeakers.  The crowd of over 10,000 outside the Parliament building now stood silent. The radio crackled as the announcer, a young woman, described events as they unfolded.  We could hear the guns firing in the background as she told us that she was in the broadcast studio, that she had just locked the doors, that the paratroopers were in the building and running up the stairs.  Then we heard muffled words spoken in Russian and banging on the door.  She continued, “We will continue broadcasting as long as we are alive, this is The Republic of Lithuania radio -.”  Then silence.  The radio and TV tower was occupied.

The silence was palpable, and it was more than the cold of below freezing temperatures that caused me to shiver.   Vytautas Landsbergis then came out again and asked that all women and children leave.  The crowd of ten thousand linked arms and waited for the tanks.  Standing near the Parliament entrance, I linked arms with a Russian woman on one side of me, a Lithuanian on the other.  No one in the crowd left.  Looking over the sea of people standing shoulder to shoulder in the square, I knew there would be no way out when the tanks turned on us.

Then the ground shook, the deep rumble of approaching tanks.  We waited our hands and feet growing numb.  As the darkness of night faded to dawn, the Parliament building remained unoccupied.  The tanks had turned away.  Lithuania remained free.  Much later I learned that the crowd had been too big, even for the Soviets.  As the USSR was learning, the world was watching.  In the aftermath, the world learned that Soviet Special forces had shot unarmed civilians and drove their tanks over peaceful demonstrators.  The final count, 13 dead, and over 600 wounded.

Later in the year, I moved to Vilnius and went on to work at the Parliament building for Lithuania’s Bureau of Information.  There I assisted with English translations.  There would be several more brutal deaths of unarmed Lithuanian border patrol guards as the Soviets made further attempts to re-occupy Lithuania.  By provoking the Lithuanian guards to fight, the Soviets would have an “excuse” to enter the country by force.  The border patrol guards were unarmed for this very reason.  In the end the Soviets could not hold back the drive for national identity and self-governance even in Russia.  On September 6, 1991, the newly created Soviet State Council recognized the independence of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

After fifty years of Stalinist purges, forced labor camps, Siberian exile, secrecy, duplicity, and Soviet stagnation, Lithuania, a small country on the Baltic Sea, stood up to Goliath and won.

In memory of those who have fought and died for freedom and democracy throughout the world, I ask you to light a candle on this January 13, 2011.

Rasa Tautvydas

Winthrop, WA

Love this poster

October 15, 2010 1 comment

A friend of mine posted this on his Facebook page. Succinct. What do you think?

Some People

Categories: Friends

Family Victimized by Floods Learns About Kindness of Strangers – Local News – Milwaukee, WI – News –

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment
Categories: Friends