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New is the New Old Thing

Today I am back in the hospital for round 2 of my cisternogram - then 2 more days to go. I haven't given up and I am allowed to run 72 hours from Monday morning at 9 am. So let's see - Tuesday, Wednesday - right Thursday at 9 am!

The lumbar puncture has made my headache go from brutal to near horrific. :(

I have medication for that, so we move forward and live life as best we can. I am still dreaming of a future with less pain. I am still dreaming about all the things left to do in life. I am going to visit all my kids between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I missed them last year. Covid ruined most of those plans this year - but I am going. I don't feel like traveling. I also don't feel like a lot of things. The benefit is I get to be with the people I love.

Living life!

I am learning that what I think matters a lot. The conversations I have with myself have always needed to change. This isn't completly new, it is just that I gave myself permission to speak to myself like some sort of jerk who just cut me off in traffic.

Add to that a disability and it can spiral down quickly.

Today I am back to turning things around. In weight loss, in running, and in life. I am taking care of my body as best as I can. I am taking care of my soul. I am taking care of my spirit. 

It all begins with what I think and the little actions I take.

I have a new running goal. I have a new life goal. They are not like anything I had before. The pit of indecision, that was the same.

- Think fitness, not weight loss.
- Think inches, not pounds.
- Think about what you are doing right.
- Think about adding new things, not subtracting them.
- What can I replace instead of what can I hold on to?
- What I can I schedule to make this work?
- What is a step I can take today?
- How can I reward my success instead of sabotaging my progress?
- Can I confess my failure without judgement?
- Who is a cheerleader that believes in you?
- Stay away from bad influences! (or shoot them!)
- Do it for yourself.
- Set goals. This is tough one. What is a good and achievable goal? What if you don't make it?
- Change your goals if you need to.
- Get enough friends so you enjoy your journey.
- Read success stories!
- Don't give up! Ever.

Am I Ever Going to Win?

I don't know about you, but even though I am not afraid of being mugged my a chocolate cake with vanilla icing (is this profiling), this effing food thing is tough. I does not care how fit you are, or what you do; when you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight.

This should be easy - easy after 7 years. It's not.


Most of you know that since I first logged onto MFP I became a marathoner. I have run 10 of them. The real deal, the 26.2 mile kind! I have run about 90 other distances and did a 60 mile charity run across Massachusetts and a 30-miler across Rhode Island. I do love running, but it is not a weight loss program.

You cannot outrun a bad diet.

Marathons are a lot different than shorter distance races. You need to have lots of rest before and lots of recovery time after. With a 3 week taper leading up to the race and a week or two of recovery, you don't get a lot of exercise.

The problem is that it is hard to cut down on your food intake.

Well it is for me. I need to be in a highly controlled environment. That means nothing that I should consider an occasional treat can be in walking distance. I can't have left over birthday cake, chips, dips, and other types of snack foods close by.

I just can't do it!


I have to divide up portions meat, fish, chicken and turkey when I get home from the grocery store. It's SO easy to toss the second turkey burger in when I get home from work and I am hungry. If there is more than one in a package, I will eat them all. The good news is that when I run, I am a lot less hungry.

What I don't do is control portions.

One of the things I know about failing is that we give ourselves permission to do it. We make excuses. "It's only once", "it's vacation", "it's OK to start over tomorrow", "it's just a stressful time" and the hits keep on coming. In 4 years on MFP I have seen a lot of people come and go - a lot - thousands in fact!

Overeating is an enemy of mine

The fact still remains that 55% of those who lose weight will not keep it all off, 20% will return to their previous weight and 20% or so will gain even more weight then they lost. That leaves 5% to win the championship and make a true lifestyle change.

I want to be one of them.

Do You Have a Problem, Sir?

The story begins with the ride to the airport after finishng the 2014 Chicago Marathon.

I booked a flight home the day after the marathon. Worst. Planning. Ever. 
Science research shows that human beings are getting taller and fatter with every generation.

Especially me - I mean the fatter part.

It seems that every airline has used that information and interpreted that to mean they should decrease the space between the seat rows and compact the chairs. Instead of making clusters of two and three seats per row, every row crams three seats on each side of the aisle. What that means is, I was sitting in my seat with my chin propped up with my knees. There was no room stretch out, or even move.

You can imagine what my muscles thought about that after running a marathon.

Whatever you’re imagining, it was worse. Every runner has experienced muscle cramps, and the way to get rid of a cramp is to stand on it to apply pressure. As a runner, I have experienced some horrific Charlie Horses!

Eff Charlie. Eff the horse. Just saying.

It’s only a two hour flight; the flight attendants are trying to do their job and offer passengers the Dixie cup of Coke that is included in the ticket price. During food service (this sounds elegant for a 5-cent pack of stale pretzels)

I was asked to return to my seat.

I couldn’t walk it out, and I couldn’t stretch, and when it hit, it caused extreme pain - the kind that makes you let out a yelp like a dog who got its tail caught in the car door. Apparently, that noise sounds a lot like a terrorist attack. It was just my luck that it happened to be an Air Marshal one seat ahead and across the aisle.

As he turned around I could see the pistol hanging from inside his jacket, which incidentally was not an official Chicago Marathon Finisher’s jacket.

One eye making direct contact with mine as I was trying to stand up with a seatbelt on, and asked in a baritone voice, “You got a problem, sir?” As he talked, his left eyebrow lifted upward and he looked at me in such a way that I knew better than to tell him my problem. Trying my best not to look like a nervous infidel with a body bomb, I simply shook my head. “No, I’m good.”

Eventually, the plane touched down in Boston.

Identifying Pathetic Runners and Raceholes

Every sport has @$$holes and variations thereof, but running seems to have a unique flavor of @$$hole that I refer to as raceholes. The fact that raceholes run-shame other runners is nothing new. This however, does not mean that you may act anyway that you like. Based on my made-up scientific research, I have found that raceholes can be subdivided even further into three classes:
1. Asshats are runners who do stupid things and may not be aware of the reason why. Even pathetic runners can be asshats. They’re recognized by these actions:
· Splashing water on the volunteers
· Sudden stop for any reason
· Run races with dogs on a leash

2. Twatwaffles are runners who are just rude.
· Not pulling over to the side with a hand signal before a walk break
· Using speakers instead of headphones during a race

3. Douche Canoes do things to specifically aggravate other runners

And that's from my new book so you will be educated. :)

The Great Goat Hill

From the new book due out in December.

After I moved to a more rural section of Massachusetts in June of 2013, not far from Connecticut and Rhode Island, I joined a local running club. They held a Monday night trail/road run around a pond. It was shaded and made for cooler running in the summer. I really enjoyed that!

There, I met my best friend Tim.

I liked trail running so much that I decided to try it on my own one gorgeous fall day. The crisp New England air, the scent of sweet chrysanthemum, and the artist's palate of the Lord God himself, surrounded me in vibrant fall colors. From the greenest green, to red, yellow, and orange. All this beauty under a brilliant blue sky with a few wispy white clouds. I don’t care if I ever see a street or sidewalk again, I thought.

I checked in on Facebook and hit the trail.
 
As the canal path narrowed along the Blackstone River, I stopped to make a cellphone video of this incredible scene to share with the mere mortals (non-trail runners) in my life. It was just so amazing, just perfect.

Breathtaking.

As a kid, I summered on small islands in the middle of Indian Lake, which is located in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. My siblings and I played a serious game of hide and seek. One which used the entire island. The topography included granite rock cliffs and sandy beaches, as well as a small deciduous forest with a stand of mighty pine trees. Once you were spotted by the most recent loser, it was a race to homebase.

Streaking along wooded paths, bouncing from rock to rock, and making the final cliff jump to the sandy beach below, we raced to home. 

That is what I was thinking about as I was virtually dancing from one flat stone to the next, my ever-changing cadence up to avoid a tree root, a fallen limb or a loose rock. I was so connected with nature that I felt almost weightless. 

BAM!

I hit the pine covered section of trail like a burlap bag full of turnips from the local farm being dropped off an old pickup truck. It took a moment to account for all my appendages. Fortunately, this part of the trail was nothing like the dry and rocky gullywash I had transversed moments earlier.

The alarms began going off. Skinned knee, check; scraped elbow, check; pine needles in my shorts, check; head trauma, none.

Whew! I started to get up. CRAP! I cried out to no one just a mere three miles from civilization. This scream would have been more dramatic had there been a canyon echo. There was none. I swore on getting evermore creative in my cussing.

I was alone and steadied myself on my knees.

I probably should have prayed; however, first I needed to find my glasses, which without, I can see nothing in focus. I searched around the brightly colored leaves and brown pine needles. It was like sifting through a swimming pool-sized-vat of mustard and ketchup.

My first concern was, what if they are broken like Piggy’s were in Lord of the Flies?

What would I do then? My next thought was, what if I can’t find my way back home? Could I realy on my uncorrected vision, or would it be blind faith? I had read about the poor Italian runner who got lost in New York City after the 2015 marathon. I often ask my wife this rhetorical question such as this. “Do you know why I have a GPS, honey? Because I need one.” The good news is that I had my phone. My next thought was, I hate trail running. Eff the damn tree and roots and rocks and creepy creatures and - shoot, this sucks I sputered. And damit, there is no cayon echo. A bullfrog belched.

I fired off another string of expletives.

I continued to search for my glasses in an ever widening circle in the middle of hell itself. After what seemed like a month, I found them in perfect condition. The problem was that they were next to a snake!

Shoot, I screamed with my inner-wimp. Actually it was a stick which happend to look like a sixteen foot anaconda.

I made my way back to the car where I took some water and old Dunkin’ Donuts napkins and cleaned up my wounds. I watched the video I had shot a few times, and headed home. Son of a gun, I hurt. Trail running is stupid. Trees are stupid, gravity is useless…

I pulled in the driveway and limped up the stairs.

My phone rang. It was my good friend Tim. Hey David, I saw that you were running the Blackstone Canal trail on Facebook. You know that there is a trail race down near there. We should do it. I hung up the phone. I dislike telemarketers. A. Lot.

He called back, “Hey David”

“NO!”

Stupid F$%cking Marathons

From my new book due out in December.

At his office I sat there in a chair and listened to every ugly detail of my cancer diagnosis. Really, all I heard was surgery and radiation. I didn’t know what to ask.

I took the names of two doctors.

My first appointment was with a surgeon who does six to eight prostatectomy surgeries a week. There were no happy people in that waiting room. Scared men, nervous wives, and some frail men there for follow ups. I looked at my phone and kept to myself. Soon I got checked in and brought to an exam room.

It was strange looking down over Boston' Back Bay.

Like a prison, this cancer was. Then Joel Olsteen’s German twin entered the room. The surgeon introduced himself and chattered away about the wonderful life I would have after surgery. For Pete’s sake, it was like buying a used car. The hard sell was on. I really didn’t listen. I didn’t have any questions. I scheduled surgery for after the Boston Marathon of 2014.

Two Days after.

Not long after I saw a radiation oncologist. He was in Framingham (MA), and his office was one floor under the Framingham Heart Center. I thought about those days in ICU just across the jetway. It was surreal. Two of the most tragic health events in my life in one building.

I just sat there defeated.

I finally got called into the office. The doctor was super bright. After the pleasantries of greeting each other, he asked me. “Where is your wife? Wives usually want to know how this will affect them.”

I looked down - sort of ashamed. “She had to work.” It was all I had. How could I begin to explain living through all the uncertainty of congestive heart failure was all she could handle. She was angry and felt insecure with me out on disability.

Then risking my life to run a stupid fucking marathon?

Then cancer. She had almost completely shut down when we had to move. It was worse on the way home from the doctors appointment where we discussed my results. In fact it was ice cold. I was alone. It was too much for her.

Damn it, it was too much for me!

Running that marathon - yeah, I sort of hoped I would die that way instead of shriveling up and dying of cancer.

Hope in Berlin

Another little excerpt from my book.

I kept counting the kilometer markers on the marathon course.

God there were so many! I closed my eyes and breathed a sigh of gratitude. I had beat heart disease. I had beaten four types of cancer - so far. I could still run with my prostate tumor. That makes 8 full marathons with this damn disease. There is something in all this that made me very emotional.

I'm OK, I said to myself.

I checked my phone and had a Facebook message from Ruth. It was my only connection. I felt a little better. Mile 22 was a blur and so was mile 23. I just put one foot in front of the other. I ran by Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church where the terrorist attack was in 2016.

As I came in Potsdamer Platz, Ruth was in front of me taking a few photos and waiting to hug me.

There it was. 40 kilometers! I stopped for a quick drink and took a selfie. There was a guy walking and he was in pain. I grabbed his arm. "Comrade, let's go get a medal."

He laughed but couldn't get going. 

I started running again. I didn't care if I locked up, but I was going to finish. I picked up my pace and raced on past the Lowenbrau building. I rounded the corner and there was Brandenburg Gate. I poured it on. I just wanted to be done. To drink. To relax.

They hung a medal on my neck.

I thanked God for allowing me to finish. Finish with cancer. Again. There were still 2 marathons on my bucket list; London and Tokyo. I am almost there.

Cancer Sucks- Being Strong Is Hard

Some days you don't feel like being strong. You need to dig deep to find a reason to keep on living like this. I still have yearly colonoscopies to check for colon tumors and I am happy to report that instead of biopsies, I am monitoring my cancer with MRIs. Here is an exceprt from my new book on one of my not so strong days.

 

When the colonoscopy and biopsy days came, I would start my prep, work from home and manage it. Those days the emotions would work hard at generating fear and anxiety, ending in irritable frustration. I was living alone in my little one-bedroom apartment. I remember coordinating my work calls between bathroom runs. It was hard to concentrate. I had decided to cook a turkey so I would have food during my recovery period. Forgetting it needed to thaw, I had forgotten to purchase it in time. 

 I used the bathroom in hopes of holding on while I rushed to the supermarket a few doors down. I made a list on a sticky note to minimize my time in the store. I jumped in my car, pulled into traffic and a moment later I was parked and walking into Hannafords. I grabbed a basket, plopped a turkey in it and then found the stuffing, onion, apples, walnut and an aluminum baking pan. I dropped everything on the cashier’s conveyor belt. She rang it up. It was $19 or something. I reached for my wallet. I had left it at home. I just began to cry. It was all too much. “I’m sorry.” I blubbered. “I’m having a procedure tomorrow and I am a little out of sorts.”

“Oh honey, it’s OK. What are you having done?” The cashier asked.

 “A biopsy. I just don’t like them.” I saw her name tag. It said Donna. I started to ask Donna if she could set my purchase aside when she made her way around to the front of the payment terminal and swiped her personal debit card and  paid for my groceries.

“God bless you, sir. I hope it’s good news.” Come back and let me know how you are doing. I am always here on Thursdays. I thanked her more times than I could count. I went home and put my turkey in the refrigerator. Then I lay in bed, my mind racing, tears, and utter despair swept over me. Today - the next day or so, I would be in the “worry about cancer” compartment. Gratitude and fear of the unknown were the anchors of those thoughts and feelings.

Anesthesia Is Your Friend (Part II and III)

These are excerpts from my new book The Pathetic Runner, due out in December.

Part II
In college I was an amateure pharmacist. It was a pretty good living and I was a popular kid, having such an esteemed vocation.

It paid for books and supplies and kept a small New England town financially stable. Nitrous Oxide was one of my favored inhalants back in the day. If you are practicing to be a comedian, this stuff was it. However, It was a bad choice as a telephone operator. “You want to call who? Let me connect you to the president.” Speaking of presidents. The sitting president came to my college. We entertained him with a talent show and a redneck state dinner. My band Insanity played a few tunes for Commander-In-Chief. White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane and Light My Fire by the Doors. Sadly, it was a 2nd place performance. Jimmy Carter got my vote that year. If he had liked my music a little better, he would have gotten it the next time, too.
 
Part III
Nurse Jennifer: You can change into this *handing me the surgical gown and cap* with the opening in the back. You can leave on your clean underwear. Put the rest of your clothes in the plastic bag. I will be back in a couple of minutes.
Me: Don’t be too long, because I came dressed for action. (I really only was wearing flip-flops, underwear, shorts with no pockets or belt, and a t-shirt.) This is a 30 second job. I was done before she pulled the curtain.

A little later...

Nurse Jennifer: We are going to give you something to relax. But first can you tell me what you are here for?
Me: The relaxation drugs. 
Nurse Jennifer: Anything else?
Me: Nope
Nurse Jennifer: What procedure are you having.

More to come.

Stop the Food Pushers!

Don't you just hate it when "no thank you" doesn't work? What do you do if those inconsiderate family members, friends and Type-A soccer moms continue to offer you food, suggest the worst restaurants, drinks and other deadly treats?

Well, here is an arsenal of snide remarks from my first book, which should stop them in their tracks. Feel free to mix-n-match. Gender options can be used as needed.

Them: You have to try it.
You: That's what they said about remote control underwear.
 
Them: I made it myself. You'll love it!
You: No thanks, I'd rather drink sour milk.
You (alternate answer): I make poop myself, but I keep that quiet.

Them: Here, have {some crap you don't eat.}
You: Did you check the package? I heard that was recalled due to E. coli.

Them: It's just once a year!
You: So are OBGYN visits and I am not sure I like the stirrups.

Them: You should have a beer.
You: No thanks, I am going skydiving at lunch and don't want to splatter on the roof of your wife's mini-van/husband's BMW, it might scare the hell out of the kids.

Them: Have another piece of cake.
You: So, I can look like you?

Them: One bite isn't going to kill you.
You: Unless it's cyanide.

Them: We have so many leftovers. Take some!
You: You are really going to give me the crap no one else eats?

Them: But it's your favorite!
You: No, running at 4 am is. Would you join me tomorrow?

Them: Let's stop at McDonald's.
You: You are what you eat, and I am not interested in being fat, cheap or passed out a window.

Them: You should have some {Name of some food item that your MFP friends will delete you over.}.
You: I am allergic to sugar, fat and sodium, but thanks for asking.

Them: Let's go to KFC.
You: I heard some one got a fried mouse there - pretty gross, right? 

Them: Have a piece of pizza.
You: I just saw the {name of the person most disliked in the office} sneeze on it. It's hard to tell with the broccoli, I know.

Them: How about a Margarita?
You: No thanks; I was looking for a José/Juanita about my age with ripped abs.

Them: Try some banana nut bread.
You: I can't, I am fasting for my colonoscopy. Actually I need to run...

Them: You are a vegetarian?
You: Yes, the only animals I eat are crackers.

Them: It's good for you.
You: Let's see *picking up the package* Bleached Flour, Corn Syrup, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Vegetable and Animal Shortening, Dextrose. Modified Corn Starch, Glucose, Leavenings (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sweet Dairy Whey, Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium and Sodium Caseinate, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour, Cornstarch, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness), Yellow 5, and Red 40.

I think you are wrong.

Them: If you don't try my dish, I'm just going to have to force you to eat it!
You: Is this food rape?

Them: This is to die for.
You: Last time it gave me raging gas and I was asked to leave the bait aisle at Bass Pro Shops.

Them: You should eat another serving of turkey.
You: No, thanks, it makes me fart and I sound like a tuba with benefits.

Them: You can go off your diet.
You: Think of it like this: I am speeding down a mountain road in Argentina; there are no guardrails. Would you tell me it was safe to go off the road?

Them: You don't look like you weigh too much.
You: Not on a scale of 1 to 10, no I don't.

Them: Here try some pork.
You: Was that once a real pig? It looks like your ex.

Them: We've got donuts in the break-room.
You: Is Michelle Obama on vacation this week?

Them: Looks like someone is obsessed with dieting…
You: I would say passionate about health. But what would you know about that?

Them: Come on, you only live once.
You: And when I die, I'm leaving my body to science fiction.

Thanks for the votes and comments. You guys are amazing!

Friend me for wise cracks, sarcasm and support on your news feed. 
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