A New Start – June 01, 2016

June 01, 2016

In the last three days, my blood sugars have gone from readings of 122, 117, to 112.  I stop taking the Metformin (1000mg, twice a day) and have eaten only eggs and a tablespoon of fruit-only jam with them for the last two days. Two eggs and a bit of jam late mornings and three eggs and jam early evening – both with coffee and a little cream.

My plan for the next three months is to eat a diet of near-zero carbs (no plant foods) for 90 days.  Meat, eggs, aged hard cheese, butter, water, coffee with cream.  (Beef, bacon, ham, sausages, chicken, turkey, some fish and shellfish, lots of eggs, hard cheeses (like extra sharp cheddar), filtered water, and coffee with a bit of cream and some black tea.

No sugars.  No plant foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts).  No vegetable oils.  No bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, crackers, rice, potatoes, etc.

Eat only from the animal kingdom.  Train 15 minutes a day (minimum).  Body weight, kettlebells, jump rope, swimming, and cycling.  Walk or ride the bicycle everywhere possible, with a 30-minute walk every day (minimum).  This will be basically two meals a day, approximately six hours apart, with Intermittent Fasting of 18 hours or so combined with a training regimen of short, intense exercise coupled with long walks, bicycle rides, and low-level cardio work.

I am currently 63-1/2 years old.  I am 5’7” in height and weigh 166 pounds at the start of this program.  I had a stroke a little over a year-and-a-half ago and can no longer work.  I have around 80-85% recovery at this point.  My fine motor skills are still affected; I have grip problems sometimes and my handwriting is shaky.  I have a slight balance problem if I try to move too quickly or even stand up too fast.

But with the near-zero carb way of eating and the training routine and change to my lifestyle from one of stroke-enforced sedentary living to one of a recovering athlete, I will make this comeback by being physically active and taking charge of health and body.

I will post my progress, my feelings as I go along, and other things of interest (to me).  I am an (unaffiliated, non-denominational) freelance missionary at large, so some of my posting will be about being a follower of Jesus Christ, about theism, about how I am not a Calvinist and why, and often the post make be as short as a reference to another writer’s / blogger’s article that I find important or interesting with just a URL or website and a short comment.

If you find the material worth reading, great.  If not, that’s okay too.  I’m really doing this for me anyway as a means of keeping a journal (real men don’t say “diary”) and a record of my progress back to health.

 

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Begin Again… and Again

Today is the 30th of March, 2016.

I have come to terms that, because of a stroke about a year-and-a-half ago, I am only back to about 80-85% of the person I used to be… and that’s okay.

I may not be able to do some things I used to do, and I’m still relearning some skills over again that once came easily; but God still has plans for me and life does go on.  I cannot hold a pen and write legibly anymore… well, not very legible anyway.  So it is fortunate that I have a computer and a keyboard that allows me to type (even when I have to backup and re-enter something due to a stroke error (pun intended).

So I will be posting more often and on subjects near and dear to me… but often, I will also be posting links or recommended sights or authors for you to check out because they’ve expressed something I want to share and they have done it so much better or clearer than my own thought process (I know, go figure).

Expect subject matter from how my own physical journey back to fitness is covered, to theology questions and answers, to open theism, to how we related to the Bible, to thoughts about Jesus and why I both believe in Him and am a follower of Him.  In fact, I often respond to the question of, “Are you a Christian?” with a short, “I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and let me explain the difference.”  (We’ll cover that in future posts as well.)

 

WHERE TO BEGIN

Where to begin…

It has been one month since 9/3/14; on that Wednesday I had an Ischemic Stoke.

When my wife said I was slurring my speech and my face looked a little slack on one side, I ignored the early warning signs.  I just said, “Well, we’ll sleep on it and see about it in the morning.”  I got up and went to work, my gross motor skills working more or less and got work about 45 minutes later.

But when I walked in to my work station and a fellow employee said “Hello,” and then, “What’s wrong?”  I figured something must be amiss.  I still had the slurred speech when I tried to talk and I had no fine motor skills on my left side… I couldn’t hold a pen to write anything but chicken-scratch and my ability to even log in to my work screen was weak.

The office then had me sit in a low chair and they called the paramedics.  Who hooked me up to a blood pressure cuff, and immediately hauled me off to Kaiser – Anaheim (La Palma) and their emergency room / Stroke victim ward.  Four days there of IV’s and insulin shots and a series of tests.

A CAT Scan, MIR, etc. determined that a combination of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes/high blood sugars, and stress resulted in a small (temporary) blood clot that caused the ischemic stroke.  They let me go home on Sunday the 8th of September.  I was to follow-up with my private doctor within five days.  (Joke’s on them – I don’t have a private doctor!)

When going to get the three prescriptions filled, our pharmacist mentioned a doctor in the same building who saw patients at a super reasonable price of $50.00 a visit for cash-only patients – and with no medical insurance – I qualified!   To see him as soon as possible, we opted for his ‘no appt. – wait til there’s an opening – times of Thursday from 4pm to 6pm.  After a 90-minute plus wait, my turn.  (I’m no expert on doctors but I think I lucked into one who is qualified in stroke treatment.)

After a 20-minute visit (no rushing, lots of questions, and a few basic office tests) he concurred I had suffered a stroke, and prescribed a couple of alternate meds from what Kaiser had prescribed, and some follow-up tests.  Now, almost a month later, I haven’t had the tests done that he requested, nor the blood work, or the other referred to people he suggested I visit.  Again, cash only, no insurance, and to see any of the people he recommended (occupational therapist, speech therapist, physical therapist, etc.) required the one thing in short supply – money.

The following week it was off to social services.  Three hours of waiting to fill out some forms and then wait some more – before seeing someone who said I don’t qualify for any benefits the month of September because I received a paycheck on the 5th of the month – I can reapply in October.  Forms completed online, forms completed in person, waiting on hold, waiting in line, waiting… waiting… oh, hey, they called my name!  You need this other proof of ID before we can proceed… home do I make it through to the end of the month?

This week it was Social Security Administration.  There it was another waiting game and fill out these forms and let’s see…yes, you will qualify for a couple of programs – but  one will not kick in until January 2015 (three months away) and the actual check would be paid in February – and the other (SSDI) takes three to six months to see if you qualify.  Great.

So, here we are… playing a waiting game for services that I’ve paid into all my working life.  And the tough part is that during this waiting time with absolutely no funds coming in from any source, it has become necessary to give 30-days notice to our landlord.  (We can’t wait simply ‘hoping’ something will come through in time to avoid being evicted.)  And we have to try to plan whom to give the bulk of our furniture and other household goods away to since we cannot afford to store anything.  I am a big fan of the idea of minimalism (my wife is not), so getting rid of most things will be easier on me than on her.

So at almost 62 years of age, I am essentially going to have to depend on others for a few months to survive while waiting to see how much I recover from the stroke.  The doctors have said it will be three to six months or more before they can determine how much fine motor skills I recover and how much coordination and balance I will get back.  They said 100% recovery is “possible” but not realistic.  But I can, with proper treatment, diet, change of lifestyle, etc., expect maybe 90-95% recovery.  Exercise protocols, a diet tailored for reducing blood sugars, high blood pressure, and a lifestyle that reduced as much stress as possible at the primary prescriptions for now.

Starting over at 62 is scary – I can’t depend on doing the things for work that I used to do for living.  But as my masthead tag says, “It’s never too late to become what you were meant to be.”

New Year – New Job – Old Company

Pre-interview:  December 31, 2012.

Job interview – offer review:  January 07, 2013.

Two-weeks notice given:  January 08, 2013.

Start new job:  January 21, 2013.

Yep, the company I previously worked for about five years ago, Specialized Builders Hardware, is bringing me back as purchasing / inside sales and providing compensation that makes it an easy choice to change employers.

I’m going from working nights (9:00pm – 5:00am) with Sundays and Mondays off to a more “normal” schedule of daylight hours (7:30am – 4:30pm) with Saturdays and Sundays off.  Of course, one drawback is I’m going from no commute – I work at the same apartment complex  where I live – to a drive of 27 miles one way.  So part of the compensation needed to be sufficient to cover the added wear-and-tear on the car plus fuel (at today’s fluctuating gas prices).

The ‘industry’ is commercial hardware, and I have been out of it for about three-plus years.  But part of their decision was it was going to be easier and quicker to re-train and bring me up to speed on their unique computer system and parts coding than to train someone from scratch, even if they have industry experience.

I am truly looking forward to making this change and the next 11 days can’t go by fast enough.

I’m A Grandpa!

On Tuesday, December 18th, at 9:33 PM PST, my first grandson was born into this world.

We welcomed Noah Robert Newcom to the family; he weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces and was 20-1/2 inches long (tall?)

Noah 001 Noah and Grandpa Chuck

 

In these pictures, Noah is about 15 hours old… I got to hold him while Heather (mother) and Bonnie (grandma) were talking and giving Heather a break.  He slept in my arms for about an hour until the doctor came in and wanted to do a quick check-up.  Can’t wait to start spoiling this boy.

 

I Stole This Idea – The Next Best Step

I subscribe to a weblog called the IF Life.  IF stands for “Intermittent Fasting.”  A cool concept, but not the focus of this post.  I am also into two other ideas of his, Two Meals a Day and BodyBurst Training.  But again, not the focus of this post.

The author, Mike O’Donnell, has an article he wrote and sent in his e-mail newsletter and also put on Facebook this morning.  I read through it rather quickly, as I often do, and then had a “WOW” moment; and went back to re-read it slowly and let the material sink in to my conscious.

I’ve nicknamed the idea “TYNBS” which stands for “Take Your Next Best Step.”  This is the main point of Mike’s simple motto; when you’ve done something that screws up your plans (in health, fitness, diet, training, or even your job, relationships or your lifestyle – don’t sit and whine about it.  Don’t be consumed with guilt.  Don’t even worry about it (okay, take three minutes to worry, then put it in your ‘worry box’ and forget about it).

Decide to TYNBS – Take Your Next Best Step.  As Mike explains, “It doesn’t really matter how you got there, only what you are going to do next.”  His point is this:  Okay, now what?  What are you going to do today?  What is the next best step for you to take now?  Don’t tell me that after Christmas (I really dislike calling this time of year the holidays) you plan to start a new exercise program.  I do not want to hear about the great diet you’re going to be engaged in as a new year’s resolution.  I want you (and especially me) to tell me what you’re going to do now – what’s your “Next Best Step?”

You know I recently posted an article following a small weight gain that I was going to “Quit Bread.”  I know I’m not perfect and may (probably will) slip up and fool myself into thinking, “well, it’s just this one time… I’m having a burger with some friends and I’ll get back on the wagon tomorrow.”  The goal now is to recognize the event if and when it happens and to not beat myself up over it.  I need to Take My Next Best Step.

This simple motto from Mike becomes a mantra.  Didn’t make the time to get the kettlebell swings in – take the next best step.  Disappointed my wife when I forgot to do something she had asked – take the next best step.  Let a day slide without studying my future means of self-employment as a freelance copywriter – take the next best step.  As with any of the areas discussed, including health, fitness, diet, finances, relationships, job or lifestyle, accept the mistake, quickly evaluate the situation, re-focus and determine what it is and “Take Your Next Best Step.”

This is what I’m going to do.  Mike tells us to “reflect and focus on what you want to do in life.  It won’t happen by chance.”  And like he suggests in his post, repeat this process … hourly … daily …monthly … for a lifetime.

You can, and I recommend you do, read his article here.  Then apply the motto to your own life.

~ Chuck

The Bionic Energizer Bunny Woman

The “Bionic Energizer Bunny” Woman

What else would you call someone who tirelessly works to help others – family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers?  Someone who’s home is always ‘show-ready’ and comfortably lived-in?  Who never seems to slow down – even after two complete knee replacements (one about six years ago and one seven weeks ago), major repair surgery for a torn rotor cuff injury that same year, and other surgeries and medical procedures for various personal and health problems over her lifetime?

This lady has been a widow for a bit over two years but has put her memories in a treasured mental love box (63 years married to the same wonderful man) and continues to live and enjoy life.

It has been said of her that “she has never met a stranger – just people she hasn’t gotten to know yet”.  If you meet her for the first time, within minutes, she’ll engage you in conversation and know more about you in ten minutes than you’ve shared with your best friend in ten years (okay, but it’s only a slight exaggeration).  She simply has a knack for making you feel comfortable and at home, and that she genuinely is interested in YOU – and she is!

Friends and strangers alike are often amazed, at nearly 84 years old, how she keeps going, and going, and – got the picture?  The ‘Energizer Bunny’ come to life in a senior lady that does not know the meaning of the words stop, can’t or rest.  Her philosophy seems to be she’ll rest when she’s dead and you can try, but you won’t stop her – and she really does not know the meaning of ‘can’t’ – her attitude is maybe not now, but eventually.

If she likes you (and there is an extremely small list of those she doesn’t), there is nothing she won’t try to do for you.  Need a few bucks?  Done.  Need a meal; or two?  Done.  Need a place to stay for a night, a few days, a week?  She’ll put you up and feed you, give you your own clean towels, bar of soap and a new toothbrush.  She is true Southern Hospitality come to life.  A truer friend one could not ask for.

Gracious, caring, loving, street-smart and savvy; you might take advantage of her once – but she’ll forgive you and just put you on her watch list (burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me).

She has always kept a clean home (not just house, a home), so much so that you can eat off the proverbial floor and not have to worry about dirt or germs.  A wife to her husband that others envied, mother to two boys (okay, men now – one is 59 and one is 56 – but they’ll always be her boys), grandmother to four (three boys and one girl), step-grandma to two more girls, and great-grandmother to one (so far).

While her formal education officially ended with high school (although in her time, a H.S. education was equal to a 2-year liberal arts education today), she has continue to be involved in training her mind and personality.  She reads, not just skims, two newspapers a day (minus the sports section – except when her boys were playing sports and sometimes were mentioned), watches the news, had conversations with her husband about events around the world (usually professing to not care about the rest of the country or world – but then try to hide a tear at the plight of the poor, the disadvantaged, and generally unfortunate ones, both here in the U.S. and around the planet).

She can be opinionated about what she feels and believes, but is always willing to have an honest discussion and to be open to the ideas of others.

One of the things that changed for her has been her unwillingness to just accept things that should or could have been done better – or right.  In her younger days, she would never complain in a restaurant if her order was wrong – over-cooked steak, limp salad greens, whatever – she’d simply eat it and then tell her husband that she didn’t think they’d be coming back to that place again.

Now, having ‘earned the privilege in her old age’ as she tells it, she will send an order back, change an order completely, insist on having it her way (no matter how many times we tell her she’s not at Burger King – old advertising slogan), and kid with both server, the cook, and always over-tip (she once worked as a waitress and has great sympathy for the breed).

In spite of the artificial knee joints (now she has to show two photos to the airport screeners when the metal detectors go off), repaired shoulder, and other medical procedures, in spite of advancing years, and especially in the face of those who keep telling her she can’t or shouldn’t or she better slow down, she just keeps on truckin!

So while others might call her the “Energizer Bunny” or the “Bionic Woman”, or that “tough old bird with no quit in her”, I am lucky enough to call her “Mom.”

~  Chuck