Friday, September 10, 2010

It's been awhile, but let's give this another crack

I've been away for awhile, and I apologize for not updating. It is September 2010 and last weekend was Labor Day. I'll pick up from there. My weight loss has stabilized at the 240lb mark - I'd like to lose another 25 pounds. I go back to Dr. Richard on Oct20 for my 1-yr followup!

OK. back to "getting there from here"

Had a wonderful time at the Del Yeah bluegrass concert in Black Mountain, NC, though we did not actually hear Del McCoury! We arrived at the concert venue just behind the Pisgah Brewery which is located of Hwy 70 about 3 miles outside of Black Mountain moreso in Swannanoa. There is a field behind the brewery and they had a stage set up that would (theoretically) seat 2500, but once there were about 500 folks in the area, it was pretty much full. Laurie and I got there about 1pm and set our chairs out and enjoyed some local bluegrass bands as the crowd built. The stage was rustic looking, and the volume was just right. The crowd was just what I thought would be in this area – a lot of ‘natural’ folks, lots of toddlers and babies and pregnant ladies, mountain men (full beards and kinda rustic looking), and there was even a dance area in front of the stage. The crowd was remarkably friendly and encouraged the bands and enjoyed the $3 beer that the brewery was selling. The tickets and web page said the show would start at 3pm, so we planned on leaving by 6pm – well, when we got there the staff said the show would actually start at 1pm and go well past midnight! We stuck to our original plans and left at 6pm. The weather was wonderful – never got much past 80 with a nice breeze. We heard some rustic bluegrass with just 4 instruments (banjo, fiddle, bass, drum) and some more elaborate (full electric guitar and bass, several banjos and fiddles and drums set). We had a great time, but knew that we had a 2hr drive ahead of us to meet Courtney/Donley/grandkids at The Riverhouse, so we stuck to that plan.

There were several food vendors there and some clothing and the local PBS station – there was even a Tarot reader! One of the vendors offered ‘game sausage’ and beef, as well as seafood including a very tasty seafood sausage that the vendor waqid was purchased that morning from The Lobster House in Asheville. Asheville has a Lobster House? :o) Another vendor offered Vegan items, including a gumbo and ravioli. All were busy. As we left the venue I saw that the brewery was offering something called a ‘growler’, a chilled ½ gallon glass jug of their product for $9. If you bought one they cut off your wristband (I guess to ensure you didn’t take the jug and contents back into the concert ground).

The drive to The Riverhouse was magnificent, with the weather so clear and crisp. Great views, no haze at all – in fact, the sun was so bright as it set that it kept us busy moving the sunshades around and taking sunglasses off and on. We arrived a bit after 8pm and Peirce and Caden were out front to meet us. They arrived earlier in the day on Saturday and Donley had mowed – he said the pasture side was quite high and he had to go over it twice! On Sunday we used the grass sweeper to clean things up and the place looks great. Courtney and Laurie took the kids in to town to play at the park there while Donley and I finished the yardwork. Donley had brought his gas weed eater, he had all of that taken care of just right.

The river was not running as high or fast as it was previously, so I guess the lake is ‘low enough’ for the planned maintenance. There were many kayakers and canoes on the river – just beautiful. Donley took the kids fishing off of the dock and while they didn’t catch anything, they had a great time.

We awoke Monday, cleaned up, and headed back to civilization – I think Courtney and Donley were planning on stopping at one of the apple orchards / petting zoos on the way home, maybe a corn maze too.

Now it is time to get back to the real world!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

05-12-2010 All is well, random thoughts

Hi friends. Not much to post as of late, for that I apologize. My weight has held steady near 240, sometimes lower, sometimes higher. I’m off Reglan altogether, which after seeing all the ambulance-chasing Lawyer commercials for folks who have taken Reglan makes me glad to be off it. I’ve been hungry lately and have to be very conscious of what I eat and when I eat. I’ve worked too hard to go back. Dammit!
I listened to a great interview today on NPR on Satellite radio by Joel Satore. He does photography work with endangered species, but when I visited his web page, I found that his wife had survived breast cancer and he wrote a very stirring essay. Check it out here. Not sure why this hit me, it just did.
The pic here is of Thomas Richard Cottingham, my great-grandfather on Mom's side.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

4/30/2010 this has been a bad week, but my health is great!

I had a great 6-month Post-Op checkup today. My Dr's first question was 'what did you eat yesterday?" His concern at my last checkup was that I was not getting enough solid food into me - I seemed to be enjoying soups and things and not moving forward to solid foods. I told him what I ate on Tue: protein mix and milk, coffee - caffeinated!, a chicken quesadilla from Taco Mac for lunch (yum), a pork chop and baked potatoe for dinner. He asked how I felt - I told him I felt full, but not too full. He reminded me to be careful with any form of carbs - breads, pasta, etc; for once you start back on carbs, things can escalate quickly to "too many carbs". Good advice. He said to come back in six months, and since his practice is no longer considered "In Network" with my new health plan (as of 1/1/2010), seeing him just twice a year will save me some cabbage (mmmmm cabbage mmmmmmm)

But prior to the appointment I had a major screwup at work and caused a pretty significant outage to our production databases - I really expected to get canned for that screw up...... but the end of the day came and I was still employed! The CIO came by, asked a few questions, shrugged and said "we all screw up at times, let's just make sure it doesn't happen again". I'd love to believe that is the end of it, but my antenna are still just a-wiggling.

I told the nurse who took my metrics that my blood pressure might be "higher than normal" based on my screwup at work and she laughed a bit but still insisted on taking the B/P. It was 160/90, which wasn't as high as I thought it would be.

I kidded that it was a really bad time to agree to lay off alcohol and "drugs" for a year! I sure could have used a toddy or two after the day that I had...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

04/27/2010 Softshell Crab and a weekend in Charleston, SC

I have my six-month post-op checkup tomorrow with Dr. Richard. So far all is going quite well; I have noticed that hunger has returned to my diet – I am quite conscious of that. My weight continues to drop off, but much slower. I am down to 237lbs – a los of 111lbs so far!
Now for the fun stuff. Last weekend Laurie and I were able to spend a long weekend in Charleston SC compliments of my work – there was a one-day user conference by Software AG Southeastern User Group (Friday, April 23), and at the last minute a teammate had to back out and I quickly said “yes!” when asked to fill in. The conference was great, and by 4:30 that afternoon on Friday the conference was over and we had the rest of the weekend to ourselves.
We spent the evening in Charleston having dinner and drinks at the harbor area, at a seafood house (RB’s in Mt. Pleasant SC) and The Noisy Oyster (in Charleston on Bay St) – the weather was outstanding, never got out of the 70’s and a nice breeze. There were a goodly number of Navy recruits that were amongst the crowd – they were dressed in their white uniforms with green coverings over their shoulder epaulets (for security purposes, I hear) , we found ourselves surrounded by lots of very interesting folks.
At the Holiday Inn where we stayed there was the Women’s International Fly-Fishing Association annual conference, and there were lots of (mostly retired) ladies having quite a great time and talking about fly-fishing!
On Saturday Laurie and I drove to Port Royal, SC for their annual Soft-shell Crab Festival and we ate soft-shell crab – a first for either of us. We had to ask one of the vendors “how do we eat this?” for I didn’t see anyone else tearing theirs apart to eat – it turns out you eat the entire crab – shell and all! Ours was deep fried and placed in a soft tortilla and served with an avocado and salsa relish – it was wonderful! We also shared a goodly sized bowl of gumbo served by “We Island – Gumbo and Tings”, one of the many food vendors at the festival. The crowd was friendly, the music plentiful and broad ranging, and the town of Port Royal did a fine job with their festival.
Saturday evening also brought some tremendous storms to the SE United States, especially in Mississippi, but while The Weather Channel called for thunderstorms all the way through South Carolina, our trip home Sunday was uneventful and we encountered very little rain. A few hours sleep, and now I am back at work and on-call!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rain today (4/20/2010), pollen down for a day or two

It rained today, and the pollen that has overtaken this part of the US is slowly washing away. But fear not, for more is surely on the way! I went to the dentist today. No surprises there. Laurie and I had fried rice for dinner last night, Laurie's stomach has been upset for the past few days, the rice seemed to be just right for her. My diet is doing well - I see Dr. Richard (surgeon) next week for my six month checkup. It seems that life is back into its summertime routine - no surprises!

Friday, April 16, 2010

House is quiet, Bridgette and Jon are back in Houston, TX

The house has returned to its 'quiet self' after a 2-plus week visit by Laurie's daughter Bridgette and grandbaby Jon, from Houston, TX. That grandbaby sure keeps everyone on their toes! Now things are quiet again. I'm not sure which way I like better - busy or not, quiet or not.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend at the cabin 4-10-2010

spent the weekend at my parents cabin in Mineral Bluff, GA on the Toccoa River. What a wonderful place, and a great weekend it was. Mom, Dad, and I wpent Saturday doing yard work - they got a new riding mower that really cuts the grass well. I helped Mom with some planting and got things fixed up a bit - my brother Ken and his wife Lisa and family spent the week before there and did a really thorough spring cleaning - many thanks for that! Mom fixed several great meals for Dad and I, including a great tuna salad with apples - lots of fresh fruit and her turkey meatloaf.
On the way to the cabin I stopped at Ingles in Blue Ridge to get some dog food (Koko was with me) and I parked Stella out in the outer fringe of the parking lot with no one any where near me. When I came out of Ingles I found this cement mixer parked right next to me! I could barely get my drivers door open - the dang tire on this mixer was taller than Stella! Oh well, next time I am going to take advantage of my handicapped tag.
Weight still holding steady at 240lbs. Feeling great!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I sold my airline seatbelt extenders on ebay 4-4-2010, Easter Sunday!

I sold my seatbelt extenders recently on ebay, then I saw this article about Air France refunding money they charge "large" passengers for a second seat, if the flight does not sell out. The web page is here. But what made me sad was the picture someone took on an American airline flight. I was that guy, for a long time. How sad.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Back from Cancun, back to work 03/29/2010

The Mexico trip ended last week and we arrived safe and sound back in Auburn, GA. I worked 2 days last week, and am on call this week – time to get back in the swing of things!
I gained 4 pounds during the 2-weeks we were in Cancun, which honestly is not all that awful. I’ve since lost almost 2 pounds, so I hope that my weight-loss slope is back on the downward momentum (currently at 242lbs)
While in Cancun I found that the fresh fruit and seafood were plentiful – and the restaurant food was…. OK. Laurie and I could have split most dinners, but honestly we didn’t eat out all that much. I found a new WalMart Superama, which is like our local Publix, and they had a fresh seafood section that was – amazing. As was their deli offerings. At another supermarket called Sorianna I found amazing fresh salads including a Pico De Gallo that is unbelievable – I found that I could buy “a mess” of fresh seafood (steamed) that included a mix-up of squid, crab, mussels, scallops, shrimp, and surimi (fake crab), mix that with several spoonfuls of the Pico and a liberal application of catsup (!) and I had a Seafood Ceviche that was very close to that available at El Cejas (in Market 28).
We rented a car this trip – a great move – and to avoid the Hotel Zone madness, we would take the alternative route to get back to our condo at Solymar and we had to pass right by this WalMart Superama, it was never crowded so I could run in and out with no troubles.
I got a real kick out of the ladies at the deli there – they of course spoke no English but we were able to get business done with a lot of pointing, smiling, nodding, and “si!” The offerings at the deli were tasty – the macaroni salad was what I am accustomed to in the US but there they add small chunks of sliced ham. The chicken wings are more like HUGE wings – like a leg or thigh at KFC – and their wing sauce is very aggressive! Not too hot/spicy, but very strong. The deli also had beef and chicken offerings, but they were more of a stew or goulash – I haven’t really gotten “back into” beef just yet, so I passed on these meals.
El Cejas is my favorite restaurant while in Cancun. It is located in Market 28 and has a fantastic menu at what I consider “Mexican prices”. Nearby is La Parilla, which offers great buffets three days a week – Since my volume is way down, a buffet may seem like an unnecessary thing, but I like the wide selection offered in places with a buffet. We also like Mocambo’s – in the Hotel Zone but out of the way and has a great view of Isla Mujeres and Cancun “bay”.
I did get to eat at Taco Factory once and got the Tacos ElPastor, which is a carved pork roast that is interlaced with pineapple and cooked on a spit similar to what your see in a Greek restaurant. The authentic tortilla are very small, about what you could fit into your palm, so I got 4 of them and ate more of the insides than the tortilla! This place is in a very bad section of the Hotel Zone. During the day the workers are cleaning up from the mess the nighttime partiers make, and at night you just flat out stay away from this area. Drugs, prostitutes, just a bad scene. But good food! There are about five ‘clubs’ in this immediate area, all offering ‘all you can drink’ packages to partiers for about $30USD – I’m surprised more people don’t get in a lot of trouble in those places.
I have my 6-month post-surgery follow-up on 4-28-2010 with Dr. Richard, and as part of our discussion, I have cut back on my Reglan from 4x-day to 2x-day, with plans to eventually cut it out altogether. He placed me on this med after my digestive ‘events’ on t’giving 2009 and New Years 2010, - his first though was that my intestinal area was acting like an accordion and collapsing in on itself as a result of excessive stomach acid in my “old” stomach. He also fears a kinking action where the ‘y’ part of the Roux-en-y procedure took place – he said he could go in and tack that up to stabilize if necessary, but he wanted to wait as long as possible to allow my weight loss to stabilize, as the chances of success a much greater if the weight loss has been achieved prior to any surgery. The same prognosis goes for my hernia (repaired 03-92) that needs to be readdressed. But since I have been on the Reglan, I have not experienced any further pain or discomfort since the New Years Day event; we will see what the good Doc has to say on 4-28. I also had an appt with my Cardiologist that I missed (gasp!) for I had foolishly scheduled it for the day after we got back from Cancun. I now have to call and reschedule.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sat and Sun in Cancun (3/13&14/2010) - Chamber of Commerce weather!

Sat March 13 & Sun 14 2010. Weekends are the busy times here in Cancun. A Typical vacation starts and stops on Saturdays, so those days find the most traffic, crowds, confusion, and partiers. All four of those found their way into our lives over the past two days. On Sunday Laurie gave herself her Humiera shot, which is a new drug therapy for her to help with her Crohn’s Disease. It has some minor side effects, but just the injection itself is pretty intense. She has to find a suitable injection site – this time it was in the back of her upper thigh. She quickly started a low grade fever, but that is somewhat normal.
We hung around the condo for the past two days, watching the world go by and enjoying the beautiful weather. It is what I describe as “Chamber of Commerce” weather, for it is the absolute perfect conditions that the local tourism authority and politicos know will draw great crowds of visitors. The days started out in the low 70’s and never got out of the 80’s and not a cloud in the sky and with light breezes. How could it get any better?
I am on my 2nd book of the trip, The Memory Collector, by Meg Gardiner. I just finished The Dirty Secrets Club by the same author on Saturday. Meg Gardiner is a mystery writer, in the Michael Crichton vein; I discovered her books while reading a Stephyen King article in Entertainment Weekly – he found Ms. Gardiner’s Evan Delancy series to be a great read, and I bought the set of five books for our trip to Solymar two years ago. DSC and Memory Collector introduce a new character, Jo Beckett, a forensic physchologist. She comes in after a “life ending event” – maybe a murder, maybe a suicide? And works to unearth what the state of mind of the deceased was and tries to unearth the truth from that angle – very interesting. I highly recommend her books if you are looking for a engrossing book(s) to read! But be sure you have some time to devote to reading (like on a vacation!) for you will not want to put them down. One thing for sure, sometime before next summer I will invest in a Kindle or similar, as lugging over 10lbs of books around is no fun – I have the new Stephen King book to read during this trip, “Under the Dome” – it alone is several inches thick! I did bring two paperbacks, but it seems that all of the most interesting books aren’t out in paperback yet (or so the marketers would have you belive!)
OK, back to the vacation. Saturday found us just lazying around here, enjoying the beautiful weather and the peace and quiet. We are enjoying so just ‘wtaching the world go by’- there are cruise ships passing by on their way to Cozumel, vendors roaming up and down the beach selling items (constantly, it seems) and and entire generation of different kinds of people all with different plans and agendas, hopes and dreams, some on schedules and some not, young and old, working and relaxing – it is amazing just to sit and watch.
Our condo is on the 2nd floor, which means there are really three levels below us. Solymar is built on an interesting floor plan – the two hallways have three accessways to the rooms. As an example (look at my pics for more info), from Level 1 you see several doorways. On the left there are doors that lead to rooms overlooking the ocean. On the right there are doors to rooms overlooking the lagoon (much cheaper), but there are also stairways. Some of the stairways go up, others go down. So from Level 1 you can access rooms on the ‘ground floor’, rooms on that level, or you can access rooms on the next level (but that is not Level2). If you were to take the elevator (or stairs, lots of stairs) to Level 2, you would find similar access – there are rooms on Level 2, there are stairs leading down to rooms below (which would be ‘above’ the ‘up stairs’ rooms on Level 1) and stairs leading up to rooms above Level 2 (which are the penthouse rooms). So if you are standing at the beach and look back at Solymar, you see there are six floors of rooms, but if you come into Solymar you only find 2 hallways. Very Efficient.
From our room, 2407, we have a great view of everything. We can see the pool, the restaurant and the beach. The sun angle is great in this room as there is just a few early hours of direct sun – which is a good thing, for after a few minutes you can get quite sunburned. Below us on the ground level are some college-age young men, and they have ‘the best spot’ in the complex – direct access to the pool, a nice patio with chairs (and a bathroom), which makes their room ‘party central’. Laurie and I have had a great time watching people come and go with this group. At times the crowd of young people at the pool can exceed 30 – the girls are not paying any attention to the guys, the guys are acting like typical college guys trying to get the girls to notice them, there is a lot of alcohol involved – even drinking before 9am! – and it seems that the world is in a good place – there will be this kind of interplay for generations to come, now and forever. There are families with young kids that play around the perimeter of the action – the pool to the left of our view is a very shallow “kiddie pool” – we are having fun watching the kids play and the parents and grandparents concentrate on them while also watching (staring?) at the college kids and maybe remembering times back when they were part of that group….
The Solymar “entertainment staff” cranks the music up early to get everyone’s blood moving around – but this is not The Oasis or The Rui Palace, though they try very much to be. They drag a volleyball net across the pool occasssionally and try to get the crowd involved, the poolside bar is constantly busy with imbibers, The beach has just been ‘rejuvenated’, the Cancun Association brought in barges to pump sand back up to the beaches which was washed away by the active hurricane season they had last year. But as oceans can do, Mother Nature is busy moving all of that sand back where she wanted it to be in the first place – you can see in some of my pictures the dramatic dropoff at the oceans edge – with each wave, more and more of that sand is working its way back into the ocean – right where it was intended to be. But for as long as man has assets on the beach, he will fight for the right to exploit The Beach, and Mother Nature will fight back just as hard and quite relentlessly to set things back the way she intentended. Such is the cycle of life.
Laurie and I tend to just eat one meal a day here – we used to say it wsa because of the heat, but in March it is just not that hot… anyway, on Saturday we went to The Shrimp Bucket – Laurie had a 1/2 lb of the Peel-and-Eat shrimp – they were the size of your finger and quite tasty. I had the Scallop and Shrimp skewers, and they too were quite tasty and pretty much exactly as described – scallops and shrimp on skewers (kabobs). I had cole-slaw as well. The Shrimp Bucket is lagoon side, and we got to watch the Aqualand Marina customers as they went on their Jungle Cruise excursions, rented JetSkis, or took group rides on the Jet Boat – everyone is looking for a different thrill. Me? I am too old for thrills like that :o)
Sunday was a quiet day, we lounged around Solymar most of the day, Laurie was really feeling the after effects of that Humiera shot. Late yesterday we headed to La Isla mall to find an internet café where Laurie could call back to her mom and Bridgette (our cell phones cost $.99min to call back to the USA!) but the café that used to be at La Isla is not there any more. We went by the new WalMart Superama and got some macaroni salad, chicken, and refried beans and stuff to make grilled cheese sandwiches and headed back to the condo. This new WalMart Superama is out in the middle of nowhere, so we gringos were quite out of place – and not a single person there spoke any English. I was peering into the deli selection and was able to get my ideas across to the deli lady – 2 of this, 4 of that, can you wrap this in cellophane? She offered tastes of things I didn’t recognize (and there were a lot of that), I also got a small container of their seafood mix – it looks like squid, crab, scallops, pico (salsa) – and Kenneth, I found the Rooster Sauce! After a quiet eat-in meal, we relaxed. A quiet day in paradise!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cancun MX part 2 - Playa Del Carmen

Fri March 12 2010 – today we decided to head south to Playa Del Carmen, since we had the rental car, why not see some new sights? Our first stop was at a new WalMart Superama in the commercial district near the airport to get some sunscreen – the two aerosol bottles we had purchased would not work! Heavens knows how to return them… the Superama was interesting, very small, more like a Publix vs Kroger. After we stocked up, we headed south on MX307 – the main drag that heads south of Cancun. It is as wide as a 4-lane interstate (2-lanes each way), but there are really no road rules – if there is room for 3-wide cars, then there are 3-wide cars! The speed limits are in KPH, and 100KPH seems to be about the maximum.
We traveled through Puerto Morales, past several new large hotel entrances, over several arbitrary speed tables and huge speed ‘bumps’ – all mean, I assume, to slow things to practically a stop for no obvious reason. We arrived in Playa Del Carmen and really had to hunt for a parking spot – one of the perils of having a car in this part of the world. We wandered around this town a bit – it was really just a smaller version of Cancun, as we expected, but it is a major port for ferries that run to Cozumel, visible on the horizon. Cozumel is a major port for cruise ships, and you could see them as well. Hit my flickr page for more pics. The beaches in Playa Del Carmen were pretty, but they were occupied by two major hotels – both looked pretty pricey. We had lunch at a nice eatery – I had shrimp and chicken fajitas and Laurie had chicken tacos – neither of us ate all of our meal, though we did get some table-made guacamole dip which was very, very good. The waiter asked if we wanted it ‘spicy’ – I did, Laurie didn’t :o), so we got it not spicy. We arrived back at Solymar in plenty of time to be able to enjoy the evening, and Laurie was able to get on the net and ‘text’ message her daughter Bridgette. We bought some bootleg DVD’s at Mkt 23 and tried to get them to play – we found out the DVD player didn’t have any cables hooking it to the TV! We’ll have to talk to Michelle about that! Laurie was able to watch one of her movies on my laptop. I awoke this morning to a beautiful moon, pre-sunrise. Check out the flickr page for those pictures – and I found out that Starbucks doesn’t open till 8am on Saturday and Sunday – I saw the “7am Lun-Vic” on their sign, but didn’t recognize the ‘8am Sab-Dom’ meant Sunday AND Saturday! I gotta learn some Spanish.

Friday, March 12, 2010

3-09-2010 We started this trip to Cancun in the most traditional way – packing out suitcases. How people can go to far-flung destinations with just carryon bags amaze me – just Laurie and I ended up with two suitcases each – I brought books, electronics, medical supplies. The stuff we brought just seemed to grow with each moment. But we made it. This year we were able to get our two Delta tickets with frequent-flyer miles that I had accumulated over the past 10 years; I paid for the taxes and fees, the rest was covered by the miles.
My brother Ken volunteered to deliver us to the airport and pick us up after the trip. Laurie’s Mom and Dad offered to keep Koko, and we sure do appreciate all of that great help. Without it the trip would have not only been that much more of a hassle but also cost us more.
We boarded out plane early and with little effort – the plane was much less than half full, so and that made the 2.5 hr flight just a bit easier to take. Landing was “good” – I’ve heard that “any landing you can walk away from is a good landing”. The airport in Cancun has changed over the years, the latest change made immigration and customs very easy to navigate. Cancun Valet was waiting for us as we exited the airport, and we arrived at Solymar about 3pm Cancun time. We got our bags into out room, 2407, and got unpacked. And we crashed. No food to speak of today, Laurie and I each had snacks on the plane and some more munchies in the room, but we were so tired the first night that we just crashed.
3-10-2010. Wed. brought the discovery that the promised internet access in the room really didn’t work. I can ‘see’ the signal while sitting at the kitchen table, but not connect. We later figured out that if we take the laptop into the bathroom we can connect there (a bit closer to the wireless access point in a nearby condo). OK. So that is what we have to do. I went to Starbucks on Wed morning to do my Univ. of Phoenix work and was there from 7am to a bit after 9am. While at Starbucks at the La Isla mall I stopped at one of the car rental agencies and found that we could rent a car with all insurance for about $50/day. Hmmm. Talked that over with Laurie and we decided to splurge on it, and the next thing I know we are driving a fire-engine red Nissan Tsuru, an entry-level 4-door car. Auto tranny and an entry stereo, but it is a nice car for Cancun. Our first trip was to WalMart, but we first stopped at Bubba Gumps for an early dinner. After the WalMart run we went to Soriana for some Pico-de-Gallo, and then came back and unloaded our purchases. Again exhausted, we retired early. I gave Laurie a necklace for her birthday; it is of the state of Georgia with ‘heart” over where Warm Springs is located. :o)
3-11-2010. Thu found us on the balcony listening to a CD and reading. The sun was out, the wind was blowing, and we had a nice quiet afternoon. We headed to Market 23 to buy some DVD’s – they had Avatar :o) – and we ran by Plaza Las Americas to hit the drug store for some Tylenol (needed for Lauries sinuses). I am navigating the Cancun madness pretty well in the red Tsuru, we took the “aeropuerto” road home and saw the Cancun Autodromo (where a future Formula One race is slated to be held) and the Cancun BMW dealer, a bunch of new building going on, and in general controlled mayhem on the roads, but everyone going along and getting along.
Our return to the condo brought the discovery that, while we do have a DVD player, there is no cables from it to the TV! We will have to talk that over with Michelle the next time we see her. Another fun day. Tomorrow we go to Isla Mujeres. Peter and Michelle came by and dropped off some flowers for Laurie’s birthday. They are beautiful.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Off to Mexico for 2 weeks... pray for me!

My wife and I leave on Tue 3/9 for our annual 2-weeks in Cancun, we stay at a condo managed by good friends of ours. (they have great condo's at an even greater deal - here is their site - use my name! It might be worth something, maybe even for me ) Michelle and Peter Hermick, great folks.

The big thing is this year I will be (at least) 110 pounds lighter than any year before! The condo we are renting is on the 4th floor, and though there are elevators, I am gonna use the stairs when my hands are free to do so! During all of our previous years we have had a ground-floor unit - which at my weight then (350ish) was almost a necessity.

And this year I am draggng alot of new things that will almost fill a suitcase - a tub of IsoPure protein (enough for 14 days), six bottles of mineral supplements and vitamins, five bottles of prescription drugs, liquid Lortab (haven't needed this in several months, but better safe than sorry) Liquid Tylenol (2 varieties, simply not availalble in Cancun).

And this year I will be able to take advantage of the nice wide sidewalks in front of our condo - the question is, will I take avantage of it (my plans say yes!) Access to the condo from the main highway requires a pretty good hike up their driveway - rea;listically not all that far, maybe 2 minutes and up a nice paved driveway to the main entrance - previous trip this hike alone would have pratically brought me to my knees, gasping for breath and sweating like a, well, like a stuck pig.

I am still under my 'no alcohol for a year' pledge to my surgeon, so no cervesa or margharita's but lots of water and relaxing and enjoying our time together. Lots of pics to follow!

But here is where it gets tempting - the food! I know some great seafood places, and plan on visiting them moreso than the equally-great tamale, burrito, enchilada, nachos (oh those authentic nacho chips!), rich sauces, Tequila (!).... my favorite breakfast spot has a great grill that makes absolutely tempting omelettes, but also has an equally tempting fruit bar and such....

I'm taking six books - two by Stephen King, one by Michael Crichton, two by Meg Gardinier, one by Temple Grandin. I will have an internet connection there, but promise I am just going to use it to teach my college classes and email, and for no longer than 2 hrs a day and only while my wife sleeps late. I promise!

Friends, please pray for me! I am heading off to this trip at 238, blood sugars "normal", blood preessure "normal", my knee(s) don't hurt near as bad - and I want to return on 3/23 even lighter / healthier / happier / rested / refreshed - can I do that? Ah, the journey is where the fun is!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Feb 26 2010 - "I'm Back In The Saddle Again"

I’m back on the weight-loss curve again! Down to 237lbs this morning. I was plateaued at 240 for over 2 weeks, but didn’t change anything – same diet, same exercise, same everything. Maybe now I can get these last 27 pounds off….
Laurie is still in Houston visiting her daughter Bridgette and new grandson Jon Jon, and they are having a ball being together again. I can only imagine how tough it must be to live that far away from her daughter and new grandbaby…. Thank goodness for AirTran and cheap Tuesday ATL<->HOU flights!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sun 02/21/2010 - how big is a 50lb bag of bird seed?

Wow. Everything is so normal. My weight has plateaued at 240 for now. Its been a week since I have lost anything, but I am OK with that. It has been four months since the surgery, and I am down 108 pounds. My ultimate goal is to get down to 210, but I feel so much better now than before.
My brother and I are at my parent's mountain cabin for the weekend and we drove into Blue Ridge for some supplies - one of the things we needed was bird seed. I bought a 50lb sack and the fellow at the Blue Ridge Feed and Seed ("The Zoo") loaded it into Stella for me. When we got back to the cabin I threw that bag over my shoulder and walked it down to the lower level - and I imagined that just three short months ago I was carrying around TWO of those 50lb bags of seed on my frame. It does make you think......
My meals are going good, I am able to eat pretty much anything I want, but I have had to get accustomed to dating what I want and THAT IS ALL. No guilt about leaving food on my plate. It is just the way it is. No doggie bag (what, am I gonna eat it later?) No apologies. Buy what you want to eat, then eat what you want to eat, then have the strength to say "that's enough". That has been a tough lesson to learn.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Good Followup Visit with Dr. Richard on 02/11/2010

I had a great followup with Dr. Richard. He said that with my trip to Mexico coming up quickly (3/9 thru 3/23/2010), and me doing well under the current regieme, he was not going to change a thing. I am taking 4 doses of Reglan daily, and when I return Dr. Richard will start to take me off of that, first to two doses daily for 2 weeks, then none.
But I really have been doing great - no abdominal pain at all. My appetite has returned, which is really scary because if I am not very aware of it, the weight will return. I have to remember - and remember and remember - that this gastric bypass surgery is just a tool for a lifetime of weight control. It is not a magic potion, for 'it' can be defeated and I could potentially end up right where I started; or worse!
And after going through all of this, I will not permit that to happen. I'm currently at 240 and seem to have hit some kind of plateau. Dr. Richard says to be patient - those last 30 pounds will be the hardest to lose! He also wants me to start exercising, especially in the upper chest area. He said that as men lose weight, it becomes the most obvious in the chest and shoulders, and we can, if not very careful, start to look gaunt. I don't want that!
It snowed today in Auburn, GA, and it was a dry, fluffy snow. Within just a few hours everything was covered and as long as my loved ones and I are safe and sound, I say let it snow! But I am already tired of it. To add to this fun, Laurie and I are packing a ReloCube this weekend to have shipped to Bridgette and family in Houston, TX - and the snow is adding a new wrinkle to this project! I'll post results of all of that later, but here is a link to the pictures of the snow - and the ReloCube.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Feb 07 2010 - Boxers or Briefs?

My underwear is getting really sad. I know I am not supposed to go out and buy new clothes till I get (most) all of the weight off, but my underwear is just really, really sad. So I went out last night to Wal Mart and bought new underwear and socks. Boxers! Hey, it is time for a change.
My weight is down to 240, my blod sugars are in the 100-110 range, blood pressure looks good, so far everything is going my way! I have an appt next week with my surgeon Dr. Richard. It has been over a months since my last 'episode' with abdominal pain. Perhaps the Reglan is working? Something is!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lunch today, Feb 04 2010 Open-faced Turkey Sandwich with...

Luch today was just absolutely yummy: an open-faced turkey (no bread), a scoop of cornbread dressing and a serving of steamed squash. 2 Clementines. Totals: 650cal, 33gProtein. I also had my powdered IsoPure Protein in a pint of chocolate Milk: 330cal, 66gProtein. Totals so far for the day: 980cal, 99gProtein.
Dr. Richard wants me to get back onto more solid foods, and it looks like that is working just fine. My weight this morning was 240lb - down 108 total, 30lb to go. Stella is really working well and she is a blast to drive.
Life is good. I go back to Dr. Richard for a checkup next week, on Feb10. So far, no more episodes of that unexplained abdominal pain. Thumbs up and fingers crossed!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's February! Have you ever tried Wakame soup?

things have been going very well for me as of late. I have been able to eat fresh fruit again, and am doing well in getting my protein in mixing the powder with milk, most notably with Nesquick flavored reduced fat milk. Laurie and I had BBQ for dinner over the weekend, but it just didn't work for me - I barely ate two or three bites and even then I had to be certin to chew it very thoroughly. For lunch yesterday I tried spinach lasagna from the cafeteria at work, and while it was very tasty, I only ate a few bites. I also had a side salad, and that was quite good, and with 1000 Island dressing, satiated my lunch needs.
In fact, I am finding that salads are becoming a larger part of my daily meals. The roughage is good, the variety is nice, and it seems to be working quite well.
I also found Wakame soup, a Japanese Seaweek soup - quite tasty! And has a deal going on right now.
Bridgette and RJ and baby Jon are moving into their first apartment in mid-February, so Laurie and I are arranging for some of Bridgette's things to be shipped out to her in Sugarland, TX. That ought to keep us busy for awhile!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hey Hey - sorry I have been absent for a few days (11/28/2010)

It has been a few days since I last checked in, and for that I apologize. My weight loss continues, as of today 1/28/2010, I am at 242 pounds, down 106 pounds in 3 months (10/22/2009 surgery date). I have returned to a somewhat regular diet, but I still have not recovered my taste for beef. I miss a good rare steak, but if it were set before me I would not eat it. Yesterday I went to lunch with a colleague and we ate at a Mexican restaurant. I ordered the lunch special (burrito, taco, tamale) – he asked ‘can you eat all that?” I responded that, no, I could not. But one thing I had to get over was that I could NOT eat ‘all that’, but be satisfied with what I could eat and not feel bad about leaving half of the meal or more. No doggie bag, no leftovers, no guilt. Eat what I want, then push the plate away. It is harder than it sounds, not because4 I am hungry, but because I feel guilty for NOT eating it all.

Since I was here last I bought a new (to me) car – a 2007 BMW Z4, picture attached. Her name is sTella II. Stella I was my 1990 BMW 750iL, and Stella II is quite the scooter! I had to travel to Luxury Motors in Chicago to picker up, lots of pics are here and here. I also spent a great day of fun with some coworkers and friends at the golf course, pics of that outing are here.

I’m working hard to get my daily protein in, eat more solid food, and NOT have a reoccurrence of the pain I had on 11/29 and 01/02/2010 (coincidence that those two dates were also holidays?) Dr. Richard prescribed Reglan for 30 days and has me continuing the Protonix, so far so good. I promise to be more prompt!

I had been thinking about a nice “I Love Me’ present for once I reached my weight goal, but I went ahead, 30 pounds early, and found the right car. Bridgette (step daughter) and her husband RJ and baby Jon live in Sugarland TX and are without a car, and they really need a car – so I am shipping my 1989 BMW 325iS (“Booger “) to them now that my 2007 BMW Z4 – Stella – is here! But Stella was in Chicago and Luxury wanted $600 to ship her to me. I found one-way plane tickets from ATL to O’Hare for $114, so Laurie and I took off on 01/22/2010 and we spent the weekend in Chicago, picked Stella up on Monday, and drove back to Atlanta – in the snow! 754 miles, we got as far as Bowling Green, KY before we had to stop for the night. Then up at 4am and finished the journey home before noon on 01/26. What an adventure!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Matt Dusk in concert @ The Hoover Library Theater in Birmingham, AL January 15, 16, 17 2010

Laurie and I saw Matt Dusk perform this weekend at the Library Theater in Birmingham AL. The show was amazing. The theater is actually in a library. Very intimate setting. Matt sang for about 2 hrs and the trio with him were amazing. These four guys absolutely pounded the tunes out. The crowd was mostly a “subscription” crowd – you know the pitch where the local arts organization brings in groups or plays several times a year and you can buy six or ten shows for a flat rate. Most had no idea who Matt Dusk was, but at the end of the evening they were on their feet. Afterwards Matt mingled with the crowd and a good time was had by all. What really made this fun is that Matt and his trio were staying at The Wyndham Hotel - and were even on the same floor we were. As Laurie and I were getting on the elevator at the hotel after the concert, who should get on with us but Matt Dusk and his trio! They were not only staying at The Wynfrey in Birmingham, but on the same floor we were! I ran into Matt today - early - he was on his way out to run - and he came in our room and chatted with us, and even sang a few bars of Laurie's favorite song off his new album "Good News". I bought two of his CD's from him and he autographed them "To Laurie". pics are on my facebook page as well as my flickr page.

FOX TV used to have a series called "Casino", which was a reality-based show about, tada! - a casino - and the lounge singer was Matt Dusk. I really like his Sinatra-esque style and his powerful voice. There is a good bio on his home page, and a good review here. Having met him now I realize that he is just as genuine as he seems on stage - young, energetic, and hungry to "make it" big time. I hope he gets his shot!

As for food, I think Laurie and I have come to realize that we could really share a meal and both do fine. I went to McDonalds one morning and drank lots of coffee, but the next mornings I went to the restaurant at the hotel - Shula's - they had a wonderful fruit plate (for $8) and it was alot quieter than the McDonalds and also let Laurie sleep in a bit. On Sunday morning I paid for the buffet for $2.50 more - and got all the fruit I wanted as well as a custom-made omelet and juices. Dr. Richard had asked me if I was back to eating fruit yet, and I can now say, enthusiastically, "yes!". I did carry protein powder with me and mixed it with chocolate milk from McDonalds, and kept my vitamins up. So far, so good! For dinner on our final night we went to "Sweet Bones Alabama", a BBQ joint. I ordered the rib and brisket plate, Laurie got pulled pork, and each of us ate about half. We did split a peanut cheese cake for desert, and between the two of us we ate about half. Even tonight at Longhorn's in honor of Laurie's Mom, Shirley, we both ordered a 7-Pepper sirloin salad - and then each ate about half. No desert for me!

I feel good, bought two pair of work slacks and a pair of Levis - with 40inch waist! (down from a 46). Laurie bought me a real nice sport shirt, too - an XL! (down from a 3XL). I still have 38 pounds to go, so not gonna go out and get a new wardrobe - at least not right now :o)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

100 pounds down! Onederland! January 14, 2010

January 14, 2010. 100 pounds down! In the WLS family, this milestone is considered “Onederland”. 38 pounds to go. I am 12 weeks post-op today. (Lap RNY on 10/22/2009. (“Lap” means Laparoscopically done, “RNY” means Roux-EnY method of gastric bypass surgery. Check out this link for more details. There is a video of a RNY procedure if you are really interested and not too squeamish!)

This week has been especially hectic at work as we have our database vendor in-house for a periodic checkup on our environment. This means very little time at my desk as we are in meetings and presentations, but still the work has to get done! My day yesterday went from 6am to 5:30pm, and when I got home about 7:30, I just collapsed in the bed. And here I am for day 2! I do get tomorrow off as I was on call last week; Laurie and I are off to Birmingham AL for the weekend to see Matt Dusk in concert and wander around. We’ve been to Cancun many times, but never Birmingham!

The vendor folks did take us out for a very nice lunch yesterday, and I had a Pollo Especial fajita, but of course did not indulge in the tortillas at all. There were six shrimp on the platter, with a chicken breast, Mexican sausage and grilled onions and peppers. I was surprised at how really tasty the entire offering was, but I ate only what I felt comfortable eating: all six shrimp  some of the chicken, and all of the onions, peppers, and cheese. I worried a bit about the last part as it was pretty greasy, but I had a great afternoon – other than having to work 3 hours late! For dinner I stopped at Jason’s Deli and got Laurie a tuna croissant and a cup of chili; I got a bowl of their wonderful seafood gumbo, but when I got home I ate 2 spoonfuls and just felt like that was enough. I did save the rest!

I was so tired that I was in bed before 8pm, and again arose at 4am for another day with the vendors. This is not as big an ordeal as I am making it out to be. The vendor brought along their expert in the database field – she is considered the top expert in this field worldwide. It was as if Paula Dean had showed up to a cooking class at a local community school! We stayed as late as possible just to learn everything I could from her – the hours spent yesterday probably taught me more than I have learned in this field in the past 10 years. And she offered to come back every few months for ½ day sessions if we would like her to! How cool is that?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday 01/10/2009 - 15 Bean Soup

I was oncall this week and that means I was up alot early this morning performing maintenane to my corporate databases at LexisNexis. During that time I took on a project - fix 15 Bean Soup. I bought a 3-pack of ham hocks and the bag of soup beans(Hambeeens brand). Soak the beans in water for 8 hrs, add the hock(s), onion, garlic, and chicken bouillion, cook 2 more hrs, taste. Cook 15 more minutes. Very tasty! And good for you - a 1/2 cup serving of cooked beans has 1G fat, 8G protein, just 1G sugar, 20G carbs.

My maintenance work went well, I caught up alot on the stuff stored on the DVR (less tivoanxiety!), and feel pretty dang good.

Yesterday Courtney and the boys came over early as their water pipes had frozen and she needed some clean bottles and a load or two of clothes done. I took pics of the grandkids having a good time. See the link above.

I have a post-ER checkup with Dr. Richard in the morning, 9am. Everything since the New Years eve weekend ER visit has been going well, I am taking the Reglan 4x a day as prescribed, and eating a more solid food diet. Here is to better days!

Next weekend Laurie and I are off to Birmingham, AL for the weekend to see one of my favorite crooners, Matt Dusk, perform at The Library Theater. We are staying at The Wynfrey hotel and very much looking forward to the "break". Then March 9 it is off for our 2-weeks in Cancun. Busy times ahead.

Friday, January 8, 2010

This has been a good week. I bought myself two new pairs of shoes for my birthday, and their eccentric styles is driving my wife crazy! I’ve been eating ‘regular’ food, though staying away from breads, beef, anything fried. I’ve been working through my protein issues, working in the new Greek yogurt offerings – like Chobani – which has14G in a single serving. It is a bit more expensive than the traditional yogurts, it works for me! I’ve also been able to mix the powdered protein in with milk as I describe in a few posts ago.
We had our first snow and icy weather of the year this morning. I was able to get to work, unlike many others in my department. Some of my peers have very treacherous drives with the windy roads and all. Better to be safe!
I’ve got lots of pics on my Flick page; before and after pics and all. Have a great weekend! I am oncall :o(

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

1/6/2010 - I'm 51 years old today

Down 92 pounds since this entire journey started, nine weeks post-op. Doing well at the moment, ate good today, had the innards of 2 McDonalds mini-wrap grilled chicken thingies - the chucken and cheese and ranch dresssing were good - and solid food. Had black beans and rice for dinner, got my protein down with 2 Nesquick Banana milk drinks (16 oz total). And on Wed 1/6/1959 I will be 51 years old. Life has just begun!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Oops, I did it again... New Years Eve and weekend

New Years Eve brought another instance of intense abdominal pain, similar to what I had at Thanksgiving. That evening my father, brother, and I went to see Avatar at the IMAX 3D showing at the Mall of Georgia. What a movie. 3D is definitely come of age.
After the movie we went our separate ways. I stopped at The Green Tea Restaurant and got two sushi rolls to go. When I got home, let Koko out, and was eating the sushi, I could tell that something was going on with my stomach. I didn’t even finish the second sushi roll. I worked very hard to get my fluids and protein in that day, and completing that task went to bed early (Laurie was back in Sugarland, TX for a few days as Bridgette and RJ decided to get married on New Years Eve).

I suffered through Friday 1/1/10 taking periodic doses of the Lortab elixir, and the drug did give me some relief, but within a few hours the pain returned. Laurie was returning at noon on Sat 1/2/2009, and I was determined to get through this without having to have a repeat to the E.R.

I called Dr. Richard at 8am that Saturday and spoke with him (he was oncall) and he said to do what I thought was best – he was indeed oncall at the hospital and I could come in through the ER. He first asked several questions: was I passing gas (yes), was I drinking (yes, at the time I was still able to keep water down). I left for the airport at noon and picked Laurie up and got her home, then took off for the ER. The pain had not let up any, and might have been somewhat worse.

Upon my arrival at the NE Ga Hospital ER, I was quickly seen and given a bed in the ER. The ER doc, Dr. Freeman, came in and assessed me and ordered an XRay which was promptly taken. Dr. Richard did come by an acknowledged that I was there and ordered a CatScan, but first ordered me some Dilaudid and something for nausea. Once the nurse administered the Dilaudid, it was like a ‘whoosh’, and the pain disappeared. I was completely pain free (and quite drugged up).

Dr. Freeman came back in and said that they did see a possible blockage of my intestines and were going to admit me, which I kinda figured. I called Laurie and told her of my predicament, but insisted she stay home and wait for more word from me there. I saw Dr. Richard again and he described his concerns to me – he said it looked like my residual remaining stomach and the bypassed section of intestine were inflamed and possibly not draining properly at the junction with the “Y” part of the Roux-en-Y procedure. I was whisked to a room (6704), given more meds, and slept peacefully and pain free.

Sunday IU awoke and Dr. Richard said that he would “probably” release me if I had an uneventful day, but that he could see some additional surgery in my near future. Either my “Y” portion was kinking during these painful episodes, or the Y itself was not draining properly – and the related hernia that I had repaired over 15 years ago might be part of the problem, too. So he wants to watch me for a while and let the weight loss continue (I was at 258lb today, 1/4/2010). He would like to see me lose more weight prior to the surgery, but wants to ‘fix it’ quickly so I do not have any further painful episodes.
And he wrote me a prescription for the Dilaudid in pill form and for Reglan, which from the info on the internet should help ease things up on my gut – and help reduce the inflammation in my old stomach and related intestinal run. I return to see Dr. Richard on Monday 1/11/2010 at 9am for a follow-up. I’ll know more then!