Blog Archive

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's been awhile

Warm up
It's been awhile since I have posted. I will try to bring you up to speed.

Main Set
August of 2011, I hurt my hip.
A few days later I had my 3rd surgery on my stomach.
A few weeks after above surgery, I went to my orthopedic surgeon since my hip was still hurting.
7 weeks after my 3rd surgery, I shot my best round of golf ever, a 71 (-1).
On 11-11-11, I had my 4th surgery. It was to repair a plastic part in my hip that had worn out. It was a pretty simple procedure. They cut my hip open. Dislocated my hip. Pulled out the worn part. Replaced with new part. Put hip back in place. Stapled me shut. All in all it was a 75 min surgery. Surgery was on a Friday afternoon. I was home from hospital on Sunday and went to work on Monday.
But as the case has been with me, there was a slight surprise when he opened me up. What he originally thought was muscular pain in my hip was actually a fracture in my femur near the implant. My surgeon did his best to fix the break and bone erosion with grafting material. The down side to having a broken leg is that I had to give it time to heal. I was on a crutch for 8 weeks. No exercising, no normal walking, etc for 8 weeks.
Fast forward to now. I am doing well. I am extremely out of shape but working at getting back into my exercise routines. My restrictions were lifted 10 days ago. I have started swimming my usual 3x/week. I try to ride my stationary bike 2x/week. And I am working on my overall leg and core strength. It feels good to get back in my routine.
Cool Down
It’s been a long road since the end of August. However I was able to keep busy doing some things I love. To get me out of the house and try to do some walking after my August surgery, I would go the Leo Girls Soccer games and shoot an amazing player (Katie Pannabecker) and her team. I have told others, now I am telling you, that seeing a game through a camera lens is much different than watching the game. You see detailed concentration, triumph and agony. Katie’s team had an amazing run going undefeated during the regular season and lost their only game at Semi-state. I told Katie that she had a huge impact on my rehab. Looking forward to her games gave me something to focus on other than my health. Being at her games allowed me to take my focus off my recovery and focus on getting that one great shot.
Similar to taking soccer photos and after my hip surgery I am in my second year of shooting the Churubusco Lady Eagles basketball team. A good friend of mine is the Varsity coach. Hobbling along the sidelines and attending games gave me a great escape.

The last thing that kept me busy was still attending as many master swim practices as I could. I wanted to stay connected with my group and keep my routine of getting up at 5am going. Also during my non-swim time I was able to help two people improve their swimming. One was a distant runner who wanted to cross train in the pool for a few weeks. He really made improvement over the weeks we worked together. The other is a great guy named Scott. For years, Scott has swum beside our group. He is always the first one in the parking lot reading his paper until the doors open.  He would get in his lane, swim for 30 minutes and get out. During my rehab we started to talk about what our team does and he wanted to try to do some of our workouts. So I started to work with him – on this stroke, his kicking, and introducing him to new drills and equipment we use in our training. Scott really has excelled and now swims for 45-60 minutes. He loves the variety of the workouts and reports he is now in better shape. As Paul Harvey would say, now here is the rest of the story. Scott is in his 70’s. How cool is that?
I have had my share of “woe is me” moments over the last 2 years. But I have found that when I invest in others my ‘woes’ go away. I still have to do the work to get me back in shape and healthy but sometimes that becomes overwhelming. I have found that helping others takes the focus off of me and my issues. You may have work issues, health issues, family issues or just in the annual winter funk. So if you suffer from the ‘woes’, go help someone else, it might just help!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Past 15 Months

Warm up
It has been awhile since my last post. Almost two months have gone by. It has been a wacky few months since my last surgery in August. I have struggled with my exercise routine but with the support of some great friends have tried to keep at it. Through all of this I even had some personal bests. The highlights are below.

Main Set
My last surgery was on 11-11-11. This was my 4th surgery in 15 months. Here are the highlights of the past 15 months:
Surgery 1 - 8/25/10. 3 hours in length starting at 11pm. 8 day hospital stay. Left with a temporary colostomy.
Surgery 2 – 12/23/10. 3.5 hours in length. 7 day hospital stay. Home for 3 days. Back to ER New Years Eve. Diagnoised with c. diff. An additional 2 day hospital stay.
Hurt Hip about 10 days prior to surgery #3. I thought I just twisted it – which I did. But x-rays showed the plastic part that holds my hip joint, had worn out and needed replaced. Oh in case you didn’t know, I had a double hip replacement 14 years ago. More on this later.
4 days prior to surgery #3, played golf - 36 holes in a day. Because of the bad hip, I could barely walk but shot an 85-82 on a pretty tough course. In fact it was my best two rounds on this great Pete Dye course.
Surgery 3 – 8/26/11. 4 hours in length. 3 day hospital stay. Home for 1 day. Back to ER with obstructed bowel. Treated with an NG tube and rest – another 5 days in hospital.
I was able to continue to swim with some weeks off after surgeries. I even cracked the 3000yd barrier a few weeks ago. It had been over a year since I had hit that mark.
Bike riding with my swim group really helped in my recovery, weight loss and physical/mental stability. It took forever for me to get into descent bike shape, but by August, I was pleased by my progress.
I played golf once after surgery #3. I hadn’t touched my clubs for 8 weeks and had an all-time best 71 (-1) at Cobblestone GC. I played with two great friends who were able to witness my round. It was a true Caddyshack experience.
On 11-11-11, I had my 4th surgery to replace a part in my left hip.  When they got in there what we all thought was muscular pain from my hip was actually a fracture in the femur around my implant. My surgeon was happy with the results of the surgery. He had to do some bone grafting around the implant and was successful in replacing my worn out part. The down side is I have to keep the weight off my hip for six weeks. So I will be on crutches for 6 weeks then on to a more normal rehab.

Cool Down
My running joke is that I am the healthiest sick person I know. Not only has it been a long year for me, but it has been a long year for my wife and family. But they are the unsung heroes who have cared for me and have supported me through all of this. I couldn’t have made it this far without their help. I am looking forward to 2012. I am looking forward in getting back in the pool. I am looking forward to hopping on my bike next spring. I am looking forward to my first round of golf next year. But before all that happens, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. We are hosting our extended family which means I get to do two of my favorite things: Love on my family and COOK!
Family tradition dictates two things prior to us eating our wonderful meal. We sing “Great is they Faithfulness” and my dad prays. If you are unfamiliar with this song, I have shared the words below. With all I have gone through, there are so many others who are suffering and have even greater trials ahead of them. For those, my heart aches for them. But as these words have provided me and my family comfort over the years, I trust they will provide hope and strength to those who are battling for their lives. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Great is Thy Faithulness
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I may be the moldiest person I know

A friend of mine, the 200lb Man,  inspired me to catch up on my blog.  It has been way to long.

On August 25th, I had my 3rd major surgery in one calendar year. Needless to say I am somewhat sick of hospitals. I am still trying to grasp why all this happened and what God is trying to teach me. All in all I am doing okay but I can honestly say I couldn't have survived without the tremendous help and support of my wonderful wife Becky (A life above the Sun).

As routine as medicine seems to be these days, nothing seems to be routine for me. I may be the healthiest sick person I know. In my short life, I have had many weird medical issues. In James 1:2-4, James indicates that trials and perseverance makes you stronger. Trials happen to mold your character. If that is true, I may be the moldiest person you know.

To give you and idea of what I mean by weird medical issues, here are the highlights since college:

  • Knee surgery in college (self-inflicted understandable injury)
  • Toxoplasmosis in the eye - after an emergency run to IU Med Cnt I required a series of six cortisone shots in my eye socket. Also found out I am allergic to Sulfa after breaking out in a most severe full body rash.
  • Double hip replacement at age 35 - congenital issue in my family.
  • Emergency surgery to fix a rupture in my large intestine (3 hour surgery). Removed 8 inches of large intestine. 8 day hospital stay. Temporary ostomy bag for 4 months. If you want some funny and gross stories, let me know. Definition of humility - sitting on the can in front of a nurse and your wife emptying your bag for the first time. Then crying for an hour in your hospital bed trying to get your arms around what is happening.
  • Reconnection surgery in December (3.5 hour surgery). 7 day hospital stay. Home for 3 days then a trip to the ER followed by a 1.5 day hospital stay. Ended up I had C. diff. Click on the word if you want to know more. Let's just say you haven't lived until you have had a Mack Truck drive through your bowels - every 10-15 minutes for hours.
  • Then sometime this spring I developed two huge hernias at my original surgical spots. Those were repaired on Aug 25 - 4 hour surgery. All went well, came home 3 days later. And if you are keeping score - you probably guessed - another trip to the ER followed by another 5 day hospital stay. This time it was an obstructed bowel. Treatment was placing an NG tube in my nose down to my stomach and keeping the tube there for 2.5 days. It was quite the uncomfortable procedure. If you want to see a video example of it click here. I was a bit more dramatic than this man - but I didn't throw up!
So now I am home and dealing with a few minor issues and trying to get back to a healthy self. I shared all this with you - not for pity - but for clarity. I have always felt blessed to have my health and I don't consider myself to be a sickly person. Many have shared with me that "you have been through a ringer" or "we feel bad you are dealing with all of this" or "Wow, you are a strong person to go through all these surgeries." I guess some of that is true, but through all of my 'events' none were life threatening. Compared to others I know my issues are very minor hiccups. Through all of this I wasn't diagnosed with cancer, my kid's didn't lose a father, etc. What I am trying to say - seeing the pain, the hurt and strength of others who were much worse off than me helped me deal with my minor issues. When someone who is suffering isn't sure the chemo is going to work for them, pooping in a bag for 4 months doesn't seem a big deal. When you are waiting for a heart transplant, having a tube up your nose for a few days seems pretty simple.

There is one more thing I can be thankful for - the prayers and love shown by my friends and family. Does prayer work? Absolutely. Does it work on our timing? Sometimes. Does God have perfect timing when we pray? I have to say HE does. I am the first to admit I don't understand God's perfect plan, but HE does have a purpose for me and all my 'events'. He has a perfect plan for you and your 'events'.

I have never wanted to be the center of attention but my recent events have made me the focus of many prayers. Its humbling and comforting to know people are praying for you. And please don't be afraid to respond when people ask "How can I pray for you?" During my hip replacements Pastor Clarke visited and asked me that very question. I responded, "I can't pee" So he prayed. Lately, with all my issues, I haven't been able to poop (not an elegant way of saying it). So people have been praying.

So trust me, if I can humble myself to ask for prayer to pee and poop, certainly you can ask friends to pray for your needs. Remember, God is just trying to make you moldy like me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Diet is a 4 letter word

Warm up
After a doctor’s visit, she highly suggested I lose some weight. So I have been on a diet since May 16th, 2011. It seems like it has been since 2008. Diets are hard. Diets aren’t fun. And honestly diets shouldn’t be necessary.
Main Set
I knew I needed to make some changes in my eating habits. So I started out on this venture trying to do it on my own. I had limited success. After a few weeks of frustration, I went to see a Dietician – Sue Delagrange. Sue helped me tweak what I was doing and told me those dreaded words I didn’t want to hear, “We need to cut your calories even further.” I started out eating 2000 calories a day. Sue cut me back to 1600 calories/day but had me focus on my fiber and protein intake each day.
I track all my calories using a great application I have the application on my phone so it is very handy. I can also view my Fat/Carb/Fiber/Protein intake with a few clicks so I can tell if I am on track for the day. The program also can create comprehensive weekly reports that I send Sue for her input and accountability.
It took me 3-4 weeks to get used to the 1600 calories/day. I was crabby. I had a bad attitude, but I stuck with it. It hasn’t been fun, but I am now seeing positive results. Last week, I finally felt comfortable all week and especially during my exercising. It was a good week.
So what am I doing? Like most diets, I am eating 4-5 times each day. Sue introduced me to a high fiber tortilla. See below. These weren’t my favorite at first, but I now like them. Most mornings, I have a tortilla. My favorite filling is left over grilled chicken (3 oz) with roasted red peppers and roasted Vidalia onions. Also see below. This makes a great breakfast less than 300 calories. I will also add some fruit which brings my breakfast total to less than 400 calories. This breakfast is high in fiber and high in protein.

Onion before cooking

High Fiber Tortillas

My favorite Roasted Red Peppers with Grilled Chicken
I love this time of year – Vidalia onions are here. Here is how I grill them. Cut the top and bottoms flat and peel off the skin. Cut some of the onion away on the top where the garlic will rest. Cut the onion in 8ths. Place foil over a bowl and set the onion in the foil. The bowl helps hold everything together. I drizzle the onion with Olive oil. Some aggressive shaking of Worcestershire sauce. ½ teaspoon of chopped garlic. A dash of pepper. I then seal the foil tight. I cook 4 at a time in the oven at 350 for 60 minutes. You can also do them on the grill. If you haven’t had onions like this you need to try them. They become candy!
Cool Down
I have made some mistakes along the way where I have made some bad decisions and left me with little to no calories prior to dinner. But for the most part I can now deal with the 1600. Last Saturday, I played 36 holes of golf in 90 degree heat. I planned for this by backing my own lunch and snacks. What surprised me was that I actually got stronger during the day. I am sure the food I brought helped me maintain my energy while I kept hydrated by drinking only water. While I still have a long way to go to hit my goals, I am making progress. If you are on the same adventure, I know how you feel! But with hard work, you can also reach your goals.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Delivering Joy

Warm up
Have you done something kind or good for anyone lately? You know a random act of kindness. It’s something I have learned to do with great joy and enthusiasm. I grew up in a wonderful family. I was taught the JOY principle at an early age – Jesus, Others, then You. Seems easy enough right? Unfortunately my “Y” often came before the “J” and the “O” – and still does at times. However, something happened that gave me new perspective. Here is my story.

Main Set
August 30, 1989. A great day. A terrifying day. A day that changed me, but not in the way you may think. On this day, our son Ben was born. It was a great day. But in all the joy Becky experienced complications and had to be rushed off for emergency surgery. Everything was happening so fast. I didn’t want to call our parents until I knew more but I needed someone who could help me process everything. That person was my friend Daryl. I called him and without hesitation he came to the hospital. We talked about what happened, what I think was happening and he was the first one to see Ben. To this day, I am grateful for my continued friendship with Daryl.

The second call I made was to my boss’ assistant, Cindy. Cindy and her husband Matt (Matt may show up in another post) were also good friends of ours. I had a two-fold purpose in calling Cindy. First, I knew she would want to know our news of Ben’s arrival. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the call she was expecting. Second, I wanted her to let Dave (my boss) know that I may not be in the rest of the week or for that matter, I really didn’t know when I would return.

While Daryl and I were waiting in the surgical waiting area, something caught my eye and I noticed Dave walking towards us. Here is someone who dropped everything he had going on to come see ME. I honestly can’t remember how long he stayed. I can’t remember what we talked about. All I know is that he cared and came to see me. I will never forget this act of kindness. Dave demonstrated to me that people do matter – that I mattered.

Over the last 20+ years, I have done my best to pass along the kindness Dave and Daryl showed me in that hospital. It is something I have had to work on since it really doesn’t come naturally to me. But I have found myself supporting others in various ways. I have found myself in hospitals supporting friends in need similar to how Dave just “showed up.” But thankfully, I don’t have that opportunity often. What I really try to do is be observant and act in the moment. Most of the times I like to do fun things for people who aren’t expecting it.

My swim group is also turning into a bike group. Unfortunately, many in the group are directionally challenged. I researched the problem and came up with a solution. Map Clips for our bikes. They actually make them so I bought everyone one. We can now clip our routes on our bike for easy viewing in hopes no one gets lost! The group loved them.

Now fast forward to earlier this week. A friend of mine, Matt (the 200lb Man) posted on Facebook that he was craving a deep dish pizza. I immediately knew I was going to get Matt his pizza. I set my plan into action with the assistance of his wife Betsy (One Million Reasons). I travel to Chicago often and we all know they have the best deep dish pizza. So I had one of my favorite pizza joints send him a pizza via FedEx. HE LOVED IT. From Matt’s blog, "I didn't even know they sent pizza by mail. My entire outlook on life has changed completely."  

Cool Down
Five years ago I had breakfast with Dave. We were working at different companies but were at the same convention. We spent time just catching up. As we were walking back to the convention floor, I thanked Dave for the investment in me and for the kindness he showed me the day Ben was born. His response, “Wow, I totally forgot about all that.” I was somewhat stunned by his response but then it dawned on me. He is the same kind of guy who would send Matt a pizza.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I want to be an enabler

Warm up

That's right - I want to be an enabler. I want to be proud of this accomplishment. See I come from a long line of enablers. It appears I just can't get away from enablers. But reminiscing during Father's Day weekend, I am greatful for one of the greatest enablers of all time.

Main set

My dad is a great guy, but he has a problem - he is an enabler. Seems he has had this problem all of his life. Serving people was his vocation, but enabling his kids was his passion. I am the #5 of six kids in my family. By they time I came along, I am pretty sure he was really good at his skills. Let me give you some examples.

When we lived in Wakarusa, IN, he taught all of us boys how to golf. I know it wasn't, but it seemed like every Saturday he took us golfing at a Par 3 golf course in New Paris. We would wake up early and all pile in the car. We would get there before the course actually opened which was okay because he made prior arrangements with the course. My two older brothers would go off first and my dad would play with Jim, Jere and me. He taught us the fine points to the game, what club to hit, how to read putts but most important, how to enjoy the game of golf. And at the end of the round, he would pay for our rounds and treat us to something at the snack shop (which was my favorite part).  When we moved to Berne and I was in high school, he still loved getting up early to go play. Many Saturdays we would go play 9 holes at the local course in Geneva. Most of the time my brother and I would stay and play 36,45 or 54 holes on the same Saturday. He showed us that the game of golf is something you can enjoy with family and with others.

My dad with the boys in 2004
 EJ and Ben last summer

There are so many other examples I could share like how he painted white football helmets in the exact design of our favorite football team as a Christmas gift. Or how he made us pole vautling standards, which also doubled as football uprights. Or how he fixed numerous windows at the church for the wayward baseballs we threw. Or how he taught us how to build our own bikes. Or how he taught me to make things out of wood. I could go on. I am lucky. My dad was always there for me. He shared his passions with me but let me grow at my own speed. He enabled me to find my own passions.
Cool Down

I am trying to be an enabler for by two sons. There is no greater joy to see your kids fall in love with a sport or a hobby. Supporting their interests gives me great joy. EJ loves everything about cars. He loves working on his car, he loves watching car shows and he LOVES to talk about cars. This is all new to me but I am doing my best to allow him to follow his passion. We will go to the Muddy River Run and the Labor Day auction in Auburn over Labor Day. Today, he is excited to put headers on his car. Or is that "in his car"? Ben has fallen in love with biking. I think he would love nothing more than to eat, sleep and bike. In a few weeks, even though we are a few hundred miles away, we will share the joy of watching the Tour de France together on TV or the internet.

For the rest of you Dads (and Moms), I hope you can find something that you can be a healthy enabler to your kids! It is one of the best gifts you can give them.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Warm up

This past Sunday was a fun day for me. It was actually a “me” day. I rarely plan these but many things fell together for me to really have an enjoyable day. My day actually started Saturday night by attending Pathway’s 5:30p service. The service was a great ending to a very busy Saturday and a great kickoff for Sunday.

Main Set

I woke early Sunday morning to watch a bike race held in downtown Fort Wayne. The format of the race was a Criterium.  Different age groups raced around a 1km track made up of the streets near Parkview field.  Races started at 8am and went most of the day. I watched four races. Juniors, Women’s, Master’s, and Cat 5. It was a gorgeous day to be outside. And if you know much about me, you know I took my camera.
I didn’t know anyone in the Junior race, but one of Ben’s college teammates, Emily, was racing in the Women’s race. Emily’s dad rode in the Master’s race. Two of our swimmers from our group, who are also triathletes, rode in the Cat 5 race. I could never see myself riding in this race but was totally motivated by the speed and power of the riders. They ride as many laps as they can in a set time period. Races range between 20-50 minutes. It was amazing seeing a group of riders riding together going 25-30 mph on a flat road. During the race, I was able to connect with other riders, race fans, friends and families of the riders. Even though I didn’t ride, I still felt part of the event.

To give you a flavor of the day, here are a few photos (click on the photos for a bigger image):
Emily and Mr. Palmer (her dad) warming up

Emily pulling a lap

Mr. Palmer in the Master's Race taking a corner by the baseball stadium

Cat 5 race

Cat 5 finish

Justin (black jersey) riding in the Cat 5 race

After the races, I needed to get to Chicago for early meetings on Monday. A business associate (more on him in a later post) and I drove to Chicago. However we made a detour just south of Plymouth to play golf at an awesome course, Mystic Hills. It is as fun of golf course as I have ever played. It was in the high 60’s, blue sky and a great layout.

After golf we finished our drive to Chicago/Rosemont.When we got to the hotel, my associate forgot to extend his reservations for an extra day. Unfortunately the hotel was sold out for Monday night. Long story short, I ended up giving him my room (it’s a very nice hotel), and the closest room they could find me was a 30 minute drive away. Needless to say, by the time I got to the hotel I was exhausted and maybe even a bit frustrated. It didn’t help matters when I was checking in the young lady behind the counter took a call from her manager and proceeded to talk to him about their occupancy and other hotel’s occupancy for 15 minutes WHILE I WAS STANDING THERE. But honestly, I didn’t let that ruin my day.

When I got to my room, I turned on the NBA game but really didn’t watch much of it. I relaxed by prepping for my Monday meeting and working on my photos.

Cool Down

As I normally do each night, I reviewed my diet and my exercise for the day. I use for both. Even though I really didn’t have a workout, I still managed to get some exercise by walking for 3 hours at the bike races and played golf on a hilly golf course. Even though we had a cart, I still did a lot of walking. I didn’t think I exercised that much during the day but on review I did pretty well.

Most nights I feel tired from what I accomplished during the day, but I also feel overwhelmed by that is ahead of me. Sunday wasn’t one of those days. When you do things you love, it actually is refreshing and not exhausting. Hoping for many days of refreshment in the future.