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Resolutions and Excuses

The average person stops doing whatever it is they resolve to do by the 13th of January. Last week I joined the gym. This morning I didn't go. In fact, I haven't been once since I signed up.

Stone me with donuts.

I don't even know what to say. Mr. Know-it-all failed. Today is the tomorrow I said I would start. It is now 8:41 and I am still in bed. I should end right here.

But I have a good excuse. Honest.

In real life, I am coming to terms with the distinct possibility that I will need two or three surgeries. I have had chronic pain for five long months. There is a long list of medications and therapies I have tried.

Yesterday I had more of the scorching headaches.

My wife and I briefly talked about what surgery means for me and more importantly, us. I see the specialist on Friday. I am also going to see a neurologist before all this is over. Then I will get a second opinion and see if there is any wonder drug I have missed.

Meanwhile, I need to stop making up excuses and lying to myself.

Food is the real problem. If you are new, or even if you have been around here for a while, here is a list of excuses I won't be using in 2019. Feel free. :)

I Have Slow Metabolism:
Right, and if your body was a car, it would be in reverse. Personally, mine hit a speed bump at age 40 and broke the steering column.

My Parents Didn’t Teach me How to Eat:
Are you kidding, have you looked in the mirror? You are probably good at eating, in fact very good! For God’s sake, birds manage to get south.

It’s the Holidays!
The Bermuda Triangle: Thanksgiving Christmas and New Years. (Or Memorial Day, the 4th and Labor Day.) Flag Day, the dog’s birthday. There are lots of holidays!

It’s Vacation:
One of my personal favorites, lots of eating out and lying around (actually that sounds more like work). Staying in the hospital is not a vacation. You can trust me on this one.

I Don’t Like Healthy Food:
Let me know when the pity party is over. Trust me; you are not going to like heart failure either.

It’s Emotional:
WTH? It’s food, nothing else.

I Can Eat Anything I Want!

I’ll Start Over Tomorrow:
Tomorrow is here, now what?

Water Makes Me Gag!
Well, it’s a good thing you are not a dolphin, I guess.

I Have Bad Knees (bad ankles, bad hips, bad a$$):
From here it looks like they can get you back and forth from the store, the bathroom and the refrigerator.

How about you, can you share some your most creative excuses for staying the way you were?

Disclaimer: Look, there are people who have legitimate medical reasons for being where they are. However; if you can get out of bed, you can probably begin to exercise. Seeing as diet is probably 90% of weight loss, you can make better choices.

Happy New Year - I Am Making Resolutions!

2018 Was a crazy year. It had the usual ups and downs. I lost my mother-in-law to cancer. I celebrated my first year of marriage to Ruth, cruised the Mediterranean and ran the London Marathon.

I lived another year with cancer.

In mid-August I developed scorching headaches, neck and shoulder pain. You have been following the updates. Yesterday I had round two of cortisone injections in my spine and shoulder.

Not fun.

 I have been disabled by the headaches. Due to the pain, I really can't think - at least not in very much detail. The opioids and muscle relaxer didn't really work and added to the confusion.

We'll see how this turns out.

The facts are the after two rounds, they are recommending surgery. One is a shoulder repair. Labrum and bicep stuff. The other is a spinal fusion at C6-C7. The third is up in the air. It will have something to do with either fusing the occiput and C1 or opening up the occipital nerve channel.

So, what are my resolutions and goals?
- My only 2019 goal is run Tokyo.

I am resolving to take better care of my body, mind and spirit.
- Joined the gym again and I plan in do light weight circuit work to keep arthritis at bay. I need to retain the motion and weight bearing exercise is best.
- Get back to drinking more water. I have been slacking at two or three 8 oz glasses a day.
- Stick with my eating program despite what the steroids and scale have to say. I still need to hit my calorie goal of 1600-1800 a day. Period. Anything else is an excuse.
- I resolve to live everyday like it is one of my last. The includes resting, running, coffee, and engaging with my family and friends.
- Continue to grateful for what I have.
- Exercise my faith knowing the plan and calling are already established.
- Write 10 minutes a day regardless of the headaches.
- Call a friend or kid and step away from the keyboard.
- Continue to not be anxious over biopsies and cancer tests.

If you find me being negative, send me an IM. I appreciate those. If you can exercise virtually pain-free and don't, I am jealous!

Happy New Year

Stuff That Won't Kill You (but you might wish it did)

The truth is what doesn't kill you can really hurt and cause mental anguish. As most of you know, I have had chronic headaches since mid-August. How bad? Well, they thought I was having a stroke.

I wasn't.

After 4 ER visits, weeks of physical therapy, chiropractic care, message therapy - CT scan, MRIs, and x-rays, they found pretty much nothing to explain the headaches. Oh yeah, they found a dehydrated disc, a torn labrum in my shoulder, and not a whole lot else.

They gave me steroids, Cortisone injections, NSAIDs, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, and opioids. And NARCAN.

They diagnosed me with cervicalgia (not a city in Italy), spondylosis (arthritis), and finally after asking them to check, occipital neuralgia. Yeah, the nerve in the back of my head is impinged. (medical term for f*&ing hurts like a SOB) 

So how am I today?

Well, I got up at 7 am and had a cup of coffee. It's 1:24 PM and so far I have my underwear on and I brushed my teeth. I was supposed to meet a friend, which included wearing pants and a shirt.

I didin't go.

I am going back in for spinal injections on the 7th. I hope to get a little more relief. I also heard of a new miracle painkiller which I seems to work for this particular condition. I called my doctor to see if he can prescribe it. It could make this manageable.

Currently, I am spending 3 or 4 hours per day trying to be productive.

Some of it is running because I HAVE to no matter how much it isn't fun. Some of it is focused on taking care of the house. Other times it is paying bills, or spending some meaningful time with my family and friends. The rest of the time, I zone out and am seriously unproductive.

Tokyo is paid for, so I will be there. Period.

For now, that is my only 2019 goal. Finish the damn race and get my 6-Star medal. I am scared I might not make the cut off time - but I am going to try.

I did have a wonderful Christmas in my new home, visited my kids in Boston and San Diego, and slept through the ball drop. Oh yeah, and I lost 5 pounds! Just 17 more to go!

Happy New Year!

I Need Answers!

Thank you guys for all your votes and support last week!

Yesterday, I had an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon who specializes in cervical spines. I had spoken with his assistant last week when she called to ask me how I was doing. I like that they don't just schedule follow-ups.

I told her that I was beside myself with the pain and the fact it has taken since August and I really needed answers.

When he entered the room an greeted me, the first thing he said was, "I don't have any perfect answers."

Fortunately, I had to drive myself to the appointment, so I wasn't zoned out on narcotics. I answered calmly, "I am just frustrated and this condition is stealing my life. Can we review where we are at? I just need to know that we are making progress towards a cure"

I confess I felt a little bad that I caused him to be defensive.

"We are trying to isolate nerve pain. Each treatment we have done is meant to rule out possibilities. It's not a perfect science."

"I guess that's why they call it practice," I replied.

He was not as amused as I was. "I have reviewed the MRI and first, there is a dehydrated disc at C5-C6. I believe that is causing the neck and upper shoulder pain," he said gesturing to his shoulder. "The shoulder specialist believes the shoulder joint pain is due to a thinning labrum." he continued. "There are a number of things going on here."

"Wow." was about I could say.

Then I pulled out my phone to read some questions I had in the notes. "What do you think is causing the headaches? Do you think it could be occipital neuralgia" I asked.

Gesturing to the back of his neck, he said, "that would cause pain here and end up here just above the forehead."

"Bingo!" I replied.

Finally, we have a diagnosis that has a defined treatment path. Tomorrow, I am in for a cortisone injection of the disc. It is temporary but will help them isolate that possibility. Soon I will have a nerve blocker injected to see if the headaches are from Occipital Neuralgia. If the pain goes away, they’ll do a surgery to open up the nerve cavity. They have already done an injection for the shoulder. Once they get everything else figured out, they're likely to be a surgery to clean the shoulder joint up.

So that is it. I am just hoping to be pain-free at some point soon. :)

I just have one more question, doc. "Can I still run?"

"For the time being, I don't see how it will hurt if you can stand the pain," he said.

"I will take that as a yes."

He laughed and smiled. Based on the exam, I don't think he really believes I will.

A Season and an Update

I confess writing is getting harder for me. There are a few reasons. One, this neck injury makes it hard to think with headaches. My new pain meds came with Narcan in case I overdose. Those certainly don't help.

 It seems as if MFP is doing their part to discourage user blogs, too.

The Community blogs used to have a Top 10. Now it's Top Blogs with only those getting 20 votes in 24 hours making the list. Today there are none. On top of that, there's an angry reader who has had a few folks vote me down. That's been going on for more than a year. In any case, I only seem to make Top Blogs if I mention you have to vote. My wife says I am not as funny as I think I am.

Maybe she's right.

I have readers on Facebook who follow my page and others from the Pathetic Runners Group. I normally post on Tuesday morning from the east coast of the USA. I know there are readers in Europe and Australia as well as across the US. I work at being consistent. If my season has passed, I'm OK with that. I have written this blog for over 7 years. Before it, I wrote a different one for 5 years.

 What do you think? Leave a comment if you like.

 My update. Since August 13th, when I was in the ER for severe headaches, I have had a lot of different treatments. They've tried PT, steroids, cortisone injections and I have added on chiropractic and massage therapy.

I have not made a lot of progress.

I see the spinal surgeon again, next Monday. Maybe we'll have some new answers. The shoulder surgeon seems to think he can go in there an clean up the arthritis in my shoulder, but in general, everything looks OK. It hurts like hell but looks OK on film. ;)

 I will still be in Tokyo March 3rd. I am not a quitter.

Thanks for your support.

Life Changes and Body Parts

I don't know about you, but facing health-related facts is not all that easy for me. Facing my limitations is a bitter pill some days.

Getting older is easy; don't die.

Yesterday I was at the orthopedic surgeon. He is my shoulder specialist. I also have a spine - well specifically a cervical specialist. If it was a comedy routine, it would be Abbot & Costello.

"Who's on first?"

"That right."

Where is the pain coming from? The shoulder guy says my neck. The neck guy says my shoulder. In the meantime, this has been going on for months.

Can't they just do surgery or something?

The good news is that I am being referred to a physiatrist who will do guided injections in my spine. It looks like I will be out of work for the rest of the year.

All of this got me to thinking about body parts; ones which I could live without.

I am thinking no matter what, I need a spine. The shoulder - eh, not so much. Since I came to MFP in 2011, I have had a few body parts disappear altogether.

You might have heard a few of these before, but it's worth mentioning them again. When our body parts become infused with fat cells, they change shape and sometimes usage.

- Spare Tire: The obvious protruding belly. The problem is that for some of us, it's a spare tire for a Boeing 747 jetliner.

- Love Handles: This is the fat around the kidney area which keeps us from escaping a hormone-fueled mate or attack dog.
- Prayer Shelf: A belly large enough to fold your hands and rest them comfortably on when you sit.

- Double Bubbles: Men or woman with two boob bumps from wearing a bra that is 2 sizes too small.

- Groin Blobs: Genital covering to protect us from 3-foot-two-inch children. Just above the chub rub.

- Arm Danglers: Sometimes known as the reverse biceps.

- Expansion Tank: The are fat blobs that seem to show up in unusual places - if you have them, you know what I am talking about.

- Ring Roll: The little rolls that keep your rings so secure they can't be removed. The upside is you can't lose them in the garbage disposal.

- Intake Port: Your mouth. When you change your relationship with food, it becomes a way to savor good food and enjoy it.

- Trailer Brakes: The fat on your backside that hangs over the chair edge so you don't slide out.

- Man Boobs: Boobs on a man.

- Chin Coaster: 2 or more chins.

- Cankles: Calves and ankles combined.

- Pants Pockets: They look like pockets when you are not wearing pants. If they have stretch marks, they are zippered pockets.

- Cup Holder: A navel vortex. Mine could have easily held a double shot glass.

- Talons: Unclipped toenails because you haven't seen them for a few years.

- Fat Fingers: Used to type 2 or 3 keys at a time.

- Muffin Tops: A blend of belly and hip fat created by tight waist-ed pants or belts.

- Junk in the Trunk: Just means it's a bad idea to wear a thong.

It's OK to laugh at yourself. If you are new on MFP, these are the body parts that can be amputated by proper diet and exercise. In my case, it took a serious illness. I could not do this without medical help and support from all of you.

For those of you that have lost some weight, you know what I'm talking about.

Thanks for the votes and comments.


Do you remember when you first thought about losing weight? I was very obese weighing in at just about 300 pounds. I am 6' 1" but, according to my cardiologist, I should be closer to 190.

And this is why BMI is BS. ;)

I have a picture that was taken when I was 33. I looked great in that image! I stopped looking in the mirror after 41 years. I even shaved in the shower. I always had that skinny me pic as a fantasy. I still do. When I did look in the mirror, I was depressed. I had more than let myself go.

I really wanted to be thin, so I got to work.

I lost 20 or so pounds pretty quickly. I dreamt of running. I started the Couch to 5k program. Then I had congestive heart failure. That set me back.

I didn't quit.

I kept on working out, eating less, and running. As I started to feel better, I also started to look better. My self-image was changing. It was an important step to accept where I was while I worked for a future goal.

I had never really examined my self-created body image.

Speaking of body images, I had to get up at 5:30 to be at the MRI center for 6:30. My priorities were coffee, food so I could take my pain medication, and well, not wearing anything metal. This was MRI number 6. I know the drill.

It's not that I'm going for a record, but if I was, I am off to a good start.

It's warm here today, and it was flip-flops, a t-shirt, and gym shorts. There is something wonderful about being able to go around in public wearing your PJs. Just one layer away from the bed.

I was slid into the imaging machine like an <insert metaphor here>.

I don't really like the tube. I close my eyes, listen to all the buzzing and clanking, and try not to hold my breath. They clamped my head in something like an S&M mask.

It was white and not black. No studs.

They put the whip in my hand (emergency buzzer) and left the room. I tried to fantasize about something other being stuck in an elephant rectum. Is this what it feels like to be an earthquake victim?

OMG, I have an itch!

I start praying and 30 seconds in, I am pretty sure God is mad at me for something, I mean here I am in a tomb thinking about S&M. 

Ahhh, images of my wedding to Ruth.

The beach. Click, bang, buzz. Now I am pretty much terrorized. It sounds like GANGNAM STYLE! "Oh, God!" I cried out.

"Are you OK?" came the voice from the tube.

"Just fine, sir. I feel good about myself"

Results next Monday.

You Can't Outrun a Bad Diet

It's a huge battle which I suck at some days. 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. It 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-peasy after seven years. It's not.

Most of you know that since I first logged onto MFP I became a marathoner. I have run nine of them. The real deal, the 26.2 mile (42KM) 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 in.

Not good!

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 within walking distance. I can't have leftover birthday cake, chips, dips, and other types of snack foods close by. Or Halloween candy! 

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.

Now I need to get ready for Tokyo. They have a strict time limit and pull you off the course if you are not on pace! I cannot afford that. This will have to be one of my best marathons in terms of time.

I will finish my last World Major!

Did I say I need a controlled environment? I make lots of good food choices. I usually skip desserts except for special occasions. I drink oceans of water and coffee (no sugar). 

What I don't do was 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 7 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.

It's All About Today!

I stupidly started smoking cigarettes in 9th grade. I was feeling cool, and no one seemed to care. Oh sure, they told us how bad it was, but it was too late. I was hooked. I was a real pro blowing smoke rings through smoke rings - and coughing up a lung every morning. I quit in 1994, but my first wife died at age 56 of lung cancer. We said we would quit the same day.

She told me that day she would start tomorrow.

I guess there are lots of things that are bad for you in life, like too much food, or too much alcohol. And there are lots of other warnings that I probably disregarded, such as a padded headboard for safe sex.
This month marks 5 years since my first cancer diagnosis and 38 years without a drink or recreational drug. 
If you are new, sometimes it takes a bit to get your sea legs. There is a lot to learn about food, exercise and living life in a society that plops killer portions in front of you day and night.

What can you do today to be a success at the weight-loss game which is good for your health?

- Log it!
- Log it all!
- Make MFP friends.
- Search the forums. (actually, don't do that)
- Read the blogs. (Well, at least this one!)
- Ask questions.
- Don't lie about your bad days.
- Find people that have achieved your goal. I friend the runners and the old guys that lost 100 pounds!
- Drink water.
- Take a walk or a run.
- Take another walk or run or a ride or a swim or a trip to the gym.
- Don't quit.

No matter what, do it today!

I Will Recover

There is something daunting about fighting illness and trying to prepare for the last marathon of the World Majors series. I haven't really run a long distance in months. I know I have time to train, but I wonder if I will be prepared.

I do know that I will be there.

Currently, the preparations are mostly mental. I keep telling myself I will finish no matter what. I am getting in a number of short runs a week. Some are walk/runs, others are run/runs.

Others are no run/no runs.

This morning I got up and was almost headache free for an hour. My physical therapy and chiropractic care have made some progress. Once the headaches start, I am onto my regimen of medication which includes NSAIDs and muscle relaxers.

Then my ability to think ceases and I am a zombie for most of the day.

In the midst, I have not forgotten how to live life. My family and friends are familiar with my complete brain freezes in which finishing a sentence is impossible. Ruth has been gracious filling the blanks so I can keep on going.

We had a small dinner party for 7 on Saturday night.

I read excerpts from my last book. They laughed, we had fun! Then without out even one glass of wine Jane began to tell us stories about lost islands in the Caribbean, cliff diving, and nudist colonies. We laughed some more.

I saw the spinal surgeon last Friday.

He thinks I am making some improvement. He said I could run a little as long as it didn't make things more painful. It turns out the gentle massaging of the disc and the higher rate of blood flow is good for my condition. I have had a similar condition with a lower back disc, and running is the one thing that makes it feel better. 

He recommended cortisone shots to see if that would take away the pain.

I have had them before and didn't have that much luck in reducing the pain. But what the heck, it's pretty bada$$ have a needle the size of the radio tower on the Empire State building stuck in your neck and shoulder.

It makes for good reading.

It's been a few days... nothing much. I am about to take my meds and zone out for the day. If I feel better later, I may work on my World Majors tattoo so it's ready when I finish Tokyo.
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