Friday, November 30, 2007

A cheeseburger a day...


I went to the doctor today for the first time in over a year (not including work-related physicals). I decided to try yet another new doctor, because I've never been a doctor-going kind of guy, and since I'm staring 30 in the face it's probably time for me to start taking care of myself.

There was some good news and some bad news. The good: I'm not 30 yet. The bad: just about everything else.

I have spent the past 20-odd years methodically destroying my body. I am SEVERELY overweight; more than 200 pounds. My feet hurt, my knees hurt, my hands hurt, my chest hurts, and perhaps worst of all, my pride hurts too. I have a terrible food addiction, and though I've had intermittent spurts of motivation here and there over the years, on the whole I'm about as driven as a hibernating bear to change my poor diet & exercise habits, and my lifestyle as a whole.

The dangerous part: Meg, who should have been my inspiration to change, has grown accustomed to living with me, and I fear that my poor influence is beginning to affect her health as well.

So where does it end?

The doctor's visit was actually quite refreshing; he was honest with me, but he was also very upbeat. I didn't feel judged at all. We had a very frank discussion about my goals and dreams, and I think he was satisfied with my perception of my own reality. I know I'm dangerously fat, and I know that I need to do something about it. Like many fat people, I also know alot about how to do it, but I've never been motivated enough to avoid those little traps that have always led to failure for me. We discussed my family's health history in detail, and I was pleased that he seemed to feel strongly that bariatric surgery is not the solution I should be searching for. While I'm not about to blame my father's problems on his surgery (I believe wholeheartedly that he probably ignored most of the advice that his doctors have given him..his willingness to throw the advice of the doctors who saved his life-they wanted him to lose more weight-out the window because he feels he knows better than them is all the proof I need), I've never felt that it would be the right solution for me. I like to exercise; I always feel great leaving the gym, exhausted, muscles pulsing and heart racing. I just never seem to get around to it.

Food is the bigger problem. I've come to rely on fast food and takeout for the majority of my meals (no wonder I'm broke), to the point where I'm actually bored with eating out altogether. Meg and I are probably some of Vince's best customers @ Dominick's. I'll spare the gory details; the bottom line: I eat to excess on a regular basis, and I am sick of it.

So the plan is to start slow. The doctor ordered some bloodwork (cholesterol, diabetes, thyroid) and referred me to a nutritionist and a sleep specialist. I'm going to spend December increasing my activity bit-by-bit, starting with walking the streets around here and maybe the trails @ work in the morning. Come January, I plan to join Brandon's gym so that he can help motivate me to go. My next appointment with the doctor is in March.

I've known for a long time that I need to do something. Honestly, if I don't do it now, than I probably never will, and my family will have another funeral to go to before much longer...

Wish me luck.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Learning from loss

As I sit down to write, my 15 year old cousin is laying on an operating table at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia while surgeons attempt to harvest his usable organs. From what I've heard, part of his liver is going to an 11-month-old baby.

I like to think that Daniel would smile knowing that in death he is helping save other people's lives. He was a good kid who grew up in an environment that was tough and unfair; for the sake of my aunt in her time of loss I'll refrain from commenting further or passing judgment on a situation that I was too far removed from to truly understand.

This hurts though. Seeing him in that bed, so young and so strong and so full of potential...I don't think I'll ever really get over that. Not that I should either. How fair is it that my father, who has done everything to throw his life away over the past five decades, manages to pull through his life-and-death situation, only to revert to his same selfish, disgusting, "who can I blame for my problems today?" ways; while Daniel, feeling trapped in a life that was never fair to him, makes a mistake that he can't recover from?

Of course, everyone's living with tons of regret in the aftermath. I'm worried about my aunt and my cousin-daniel's sister. I feel bad for not playing a bigger role in his life. I wish he would have called me.

I've learned from this though, and I won't make the same mistake with Aaron. On the night Daniel was being flown to CHOP, Aaron and I were in Philadelphia; I took him to his first concert (Avenged Sevenfold @ the Electric Factory) as a reward for his awesome report card. I'm pretty sure he had a great time; I know I did. He's a good kid too, and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure he doesn't make the same mistake that Daniel did. When you're fifteen every little curveball that life throws at you feels like the end of the world; it's my responsibility as Aaron's big brother to teach him how to hit those pitches out of the park too, or at least foul them off...

On Thanksgiving I had a lot to think about, and among the many wonderful blessings that I have in my life, I should probably be most thankful that my mother was strong enough to make sure that we didn't make the same kind of mistakes that Daniel did. Believe me, I thought about it more than once. Mom is far from perfect, as we all are, but she gave us the tools to overcome our lives and the dark cloud of our father, and we're all doing okay. If I can have that kind of influence on Aaron, whose mother isn't even 1% of the woman that my mother is, then he'll have a fighting chance.

We miss you Daniel. You'll always be the good kid whose footprints on our hearts will never fade.