Posts Tagged ‘Weight loss’

Cooking Adventures with my Grandaughters!

August 29, 2010

While on vacation with me, my Granddaughters love to cook during quiet time. I enjoy it because once they choose the recipe and cook the meal, they eat it without argument. For the most part, they choose meals that are weird and fun to make so we may end up eating various forms of chicken for six days in a row. The only limits I make on the selection process is that it must be real food that I like and we can’t have the same meal every night. The only concessions I make are that I leave out the scotch bonnet pepper and if Cayla chooses a recipe that is really spicy, I may make an alternate meal for Ana.

Pot Roasted Chicken, Ready to Serve!

They prefer the coffeepot for both the weird factor and the convenience. Once the pot is stuffed and turned on, we can go to the beach or do what ever else we want.  One of their favorites and mine is Coffee Pot – Pot Roasted Chicken.

Rot Roasted Chicken Ingredients

The most amazing part is that all of the ingredients actually fit into the coffeepot.

All In The Pot

The chicken is actually a Cornish hen and the onion, garlic and celery mixture is stuffed inside, but it even amazes me that it fits and the girls are fascinated. And yes, if the original recipe calls for Cruzan Rum, I cook with it.

The Girls Checking the Pot, Again

Of course, they ate every single piece of chicken and potatoes and they know that their Mom always saves the juice to make soup so of course they wanted to make soup for the next day so they could make the dumplings. Now no matter how many times I carefully pre-measure the water and tell them to slowly add it to the flour to avoid a sticky mess, they always dump it in and play and I have to help in the end. I cant complain, their dumplings always come out perfect even if the process is a little messy.

Fun Making Dumplings

Of course this had to be done on the stove top to get it hot enough to cook dumplings and, I had to add more chicken, potatoes, broth and the dumplings to build a full pot of soup which only lasted the one day. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention and get a picture of Cayla making a rue to thicken the gravy. I doubt that many of her friends know what a rue is.

Rasta Pasta and Chicken

Another smash hit was Rasta Pasta which has summer squash and green bell peppers and I used Wacky Mac veggie pasta. When I described the meal to a friend, he asked for a sample and there was nothing left. They had it for dinner and then lunch the next day and finished all the pasta and sauce. I am not sure if I agree with purely vegetarian meals for young people because my Mother swore more than a half a century ago that protein was essential for brain development so I still make sure the kids get a portion of meat for dinner and they can eat their nutritionally worthless cereal and jelly bread sandwiches the rest of the day.


If You Can Tolarate the Food, You Can Leave the Hospital.

June 30, 2010

Tolerate is an interesting word and I wish I had my camera to take pictures of the food I was being asked to tolerate.  I went to the hospital at 5:30 am and woke up about 4:30 pm. I had leggings on my leg working in a peristaltic manner that could move the blood through my legs two days after I was dead,  I have  already written about the catheter but also had six needles and two blood pressure devices probing my body and my first quest ion was when would it all be removed and when could I leave the hospital.

My first test was if I could tolerate the liquid food, I would get solid food and then they would check me for discharge.  If I didn’t eat the food, I couldn’t go home.  Dinner that night was the color and surface texture of old-fashioned concrete blocks with their characteristic gray color and white pebbles occasionally poking through the surface.  I protested that this was an unfair test as on the healthiest  day of my life I would never cook, serve or eat a meal that looked that bad.  There was no way I would tolerate food that bad and rejected the whole meal.

The next morning was an equally unfair test.  They served a chicken broth made from the powder base that institutions use.  It was barely warm and the salt, fat chunks, and spices were laying undissolved on the bottom of the bowl.  I tested the so-called broth and once again was forced to reject it because it had enough salt to stop my heart and make me a lifelong resident of Largo Medical Center.

I ate the jello, but would have preferred jello shots, drank the juice and drank my tea and begged my nurse for administrative relief from the requirement to tolerate their liquid foods.  She asked about Graham Crackers which was one of the comfort foods of my youth that I rarely eat anymore because of the sugar but jumped at the offer.  I inhaled three packages without problems and was declared fit to eat solid food.

Amazingly, the lunch was tender morsels of beef in a  mushroom onion gravy served over  a bed of noodles. Now this was real food that I would make in my coffee pot, serve and eat.  It was the only meal that I actually ate in the hospital in 36 hours because I simply couldn’t “Tolerate” he thought of anything else.  This is a long ways from the days of my “see food and meet diets”.

I still remember those concepts well, if you see food, eat it.  If you meet food, eat it.

Looks like I have to really thank Cait and Dagny for changing my eating habits and having me start to focus on preparing and eating “meals for one” with flavor, taste and substance that I like and remember from a lifetime of cooking.  The family remembers my Mother as a fairly bad cook,  but in her defense, the poor man’s chicken broth and potato soup that she made and served was a lot better than the hospital food I couldn’t tolerate.

Under the Knife

June 23, 2010

I remember the phrase “under the knife” from my youth and the fear that it invoked mostly because of the fear of the unknown. To me the only unknown factor was whether or not I was fit enough to die. Yesterday, I was declared healthy and able to proceed with my operation,

Seems that I am not the only person who fears the unknown, The biggest issue was the cause of my paralysis incident and whether or not it was a stroke. The team of teaching doctors wanted all the answers before surgery and there was no apparent reason for a stroke. I was in shape, had lost 40 pounds, was eating a healthy diet, and the symptoms were unusual in that it was not complete, didn’t last long enough, and I walked it off without medicine or professional help. Yesterday it was defined as a stroke without the usual symptoms and for unknown causes. This allows them to proceed with surgery after declaring that I was a moderate risk because of their fear of the unknown.

That all doesn’t bother me because there is hope of removal of the neck brace and getting on with my life. I am like one of those high string race horses with a cast on the leg who beats themselves to death in their stall because they cant stand the cast. Last night I drank my wine and went to bed without aspirin and sleep well after I removed the cast in the middle of the night without knowing. I am planning on exercise and Dagny and I are planning on a full recovery in a couple of days.

The pre-surgical paper work is talking about don’t lift 5 pounds, don’t do any strenuous exercise, how to lay flat on your back and wiggle your ankle, don’t drive, the multiple pain medications, don’t swim etc. The only thing I can do is stand up and walk. Dagny and I laid out a 1.5 mile course which I hope we can complete in the 20 minutes of walking time I am supposed to do 3 times a day. Of course, I am supposed to do this outside in Florida without sweating because I am not supposed to shower for a week. And definitely no active sex as if there is any other kind.

Well, the next week will determine whether I am superman of if the caveats of the pre-surgical paperwork are the same for everyone.

Space Camp – Day Two

June 3, 2010

Space camp started with the 6:30 wake-up followed by the 7:00 breakfast. I haven’t had a camp experience in 50 years but memories of the long lines and bad food came back instantly. One woman from another group called it the Space Camp diet program. You get served food you really don’t want to eat, exercise muscles you forgot you had and walk 5-10 miles a day.

Family Rocket Building, Boyd-Evans Clan

Our day started off in a tame manner, we built rocket ships. This was an amazing exercise as we all sat together for 1 ½ hours working on the same projects. Our family is close but no one likes television. We all go on long walks in Old Town Alexandria – Carson doesn’t. We all play table games like Mahjong and Sims, John and Ana don’t. You get then picture, we all are together but under the best of circumstances there is one person who chooses not to do something and there is no peer pressure to join.

More Family Rocket Building

Well, under the direction of Whitney, we all built rocket ships. For the whole time, everyone built their own and helped others build theirs.

Decorating the Rocket Ships

After they were built, more time was spent on the decorations.

Rocket Designers at Work

No one noticed that Miss Ana had designed her rocket in a different manner.

Ana's Unique Design

At first the other kids laughed but Whitney, said since they all pointed in the same direction and the ship was balanced, the ship would make an interesting experiment because there was no safety issues and the rocket would be launched along with the others.

After the rocket building there was a half hour of outdoor sims ie. Simulations. There was the g force machine that spun you fast enough to generate 4 G’s of force which is the gravitational force exerted on astronauts during take off. There was also the space shot which simulates the effect of being blasted into space.

I did a walk away on these high impact events because of my neck but everybody had so much fun that I wasn’t missed.

Next was the training for the Discovery Space Mission which would take place later that afternoon.

This was scripted role-playing and for the younger set it included scientific experiments to bake foam, silly putty and a super-ball that was actually brittle like glass in your fingers but bounced when you dropped it.

Obviously this was the educational part of the program which balanced the physical.

After lunch, we launched the rockets. There seemed to be some variation in the rocket engines at least that was the excuse I used when my rocket failed to achieve orbit.

As it should be, the young become the masters and Cayla’s rocket went higher than mine.

Miss Ana Launches her Rocket

But best of the day was the rocket designed by Miss Ana. We will never know until we fire it a few more times if it was the engine variation or the design which gave her the edge.

There were a few more educational secessions and a briefing on the more complex Mars Mission that we would be working on the next day. But for the kids of all ages, the Indoor Sims were next as the kids got to climb the wall.

Dagny Reaches the Top

Of course Dagny made it to the top.

Cayla Reaches the Top

Followed by her daughter Cayla

Ana Takes Her Best Shot

Then the Intrepid Miss Ana gave it her best shot and did a credible job.

Once again, I skipped the physical activity which as those who know me would tell you, I am glad I was there for the fun but really wished for more participation.

The cerebral event for the day and for many, the last event period because of Fatigue was the Discovery Mission. Only real astronauts got to where the NASA jump suits.

World's Cutest Astronauts

Cait and Ana were Astronauts.

Poppa John and Dagny

Dagny and I were Mission Scientists on the Space Station.

Day 2 ended early for everyone because we were all tired and couldn’t make it past 8 pm.  Dagny took Ana back to the room because she was starting to get cranky and a half hour later, I took Cayla to the room.  There was supposed to be another kids activity but since Ana and Cayla were not there, the other kids decided to delay the activity until the group was all together again.  Obviously that is part of the fun for grown-ups,  watching individuals morph into a team.

I Went to Florida to be Probed by Space Aliens – Day Three

May 22, 2010

So after Day One and Two of being probed by space aliens in Florida, how could Day Three be worse? Well the first two days were based on mental anguish without anything that was really painful especially if you don’t count my drinking a dozen glasses of water to flush the dye out of my system. Day Three included testing methods that depended on physical pain and being electrocuted. No Lie! (To start at the beginning of my Alien Encounter Go Here.)

The nerves in your body carry electrical impulses to the muscles to tell them to move. The speed that the impulse moves determines how quick your reflexes are and if the electrical impulse doesn’t move at all, then you are paralyzed. Nerve Conduction Studies are used to determine damaged nerves that do not transmit electricity.

Over my lifetime, I have been electrocuted several times starting at age 5 when I first started playing with electricity, again at age 12 when I built my first hod dog electrocuter, age 16 when playing with the ignition coil on my 40 ford coup (20,000 volts) and during my adult life whenever I got careless. Electrocution is not really painful, it is “shocking” and causes an involuntary response at every level. The image of the bucking body with a defibrillator or Frankenstein being brought back to life with an electric shock are very real at almost any level of electricity applied to the body.

Nerve conduction studies should be obviously simple a probe is attached to the upper arm and an electrical impulse is applied to the nerves in the wrist area and the speed of the impulse is measured. If the nerve is damaged and there is no response, they just up the power until you do respond. When the power is high enough, your body bucks all over the bed just like a Frankenstein monster and it is a complete body response with arms and legs on both sides twitching in an involuntary manner.

Now since some nerves are damaged and some not, you never really know when the technician is going to up the power. Also since nerves at the wrist are like branches of a tree compared to the upper arm, there are multiple places for them to probe before they get a complete picture.

After the random and aggravating electrocution process had gone on for some time, I asked the nurse if she got her training during the Inquisition and got no response.

The next test was only slightly less aggravating and administered by the neurologist, Dr. Luis Figueroa.

In Electromyography, a very thin flexible wire about three inches long is shoved through your skin and the doctor tells you to flex various muscles while he listens to static. The test is really not painful if you are comfortable with the concept of a thin flexible wire being shoved into your body at various locations on the arm.

I told him my comment about the torture and the Inquisition. His wry answer was that my question was rude because the Technician was far to young to be around for the Inquisition and it should be obvious that the quality of the training could only be had at Guantanamo. Well at least my doctor had a fine sense of humor which is good.

At the end of the day, Dr. Figueroa said that he found a small blemish on the brain that could be associated with a sub-acute stroke but he would like a heart specialist check me out to make sure I didn’t have any additional problem. Yes, the neck was bad but he would be happier if there were two months from the incident before I had the operation. The tests for the day were for carpal tunnel syndrome and yes I have that and may need it operated on someday.

Day four of testing was actually Probe Lite as nothing was intimidating or painful. I had an EKG and echocardiogram which is pretty much a sonogram and as most mothers know this is not a terribly evil test. Both tests came out fine.

Obviously the red wine had won the battle of clogged arteries and my only problem was my blood pressure was high. But go figure, my wife died six months ago and my grandchildren were still suffering, I went back to the gym, lost 40 pounds, was paralyzed, my mother died, traveled 1500 miles to the funeral two weeks after being paralyzed, I had a brain scan, been pumped full, of dye and electrocuted. I am amazed and thankful that the stress didn’t kill me.

My story would end right her but during cocktail hour yesterday, people were asking me about the neck brace and I said that it is hard to conceive of any test worse than my Nerve Conduction Studies. One woman popped up and said she could top me. First she had it done twice, once locally and again when she went for the operation. In addition, they had done her legs and she pointed to a spot, just below the end of her bating suit in the groin area where they attached the fixed electrode.

As a guy I cringed and accepted that the fact that her alien probe experience was far worse than mine.

I Went to Florida to be Probed by Space Aliens – Day One

May 19, 2010

When I booked my tickets to Florida to take care of my Paralysis, I thought I was superman. As a matter of fact, the day before I went to Florida, I opened a new checking account and ordered superman checks. In my mind, I thought the trip was going to be mostly fun. My Doctor had already seen the x- rays of my spine and they were rough. He advised against a simple adjustment and said I should get a MRI and a professional evaluation by a spine specialist and let them worry about any adjustments. (To start at the beginning of my Alien Encounter Go Here.)

Seems that Dr. Scott Webb of the Florida Spine Institute was a personal friend of Dr. Bishop and had a great reputation. After a parathyroid operation 15 years ago, I had no reluctance in accepting Dr. Bishop’s advice.  Parathyroid is tough to diagnose with symptoms of pretty general pain and a need to sleep 24 hours a day. Just before the operation, the only way I could stay awake for 4 hours was by taking massive amounts of steroids which would have qualified me for the Olympics if I worked out instead of sleeping 20 hours a day.

I decided to second guess his suggestion of getting my parathyroid operation done right away (September ) at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and tried to find my own expert at the University Hospital which was close to my children. Just in case I died, they would be stuck with the mess, and I had no family in Florida. Well when October and November passed and I had not heard back, I booked my operation in Miami in January and had all my kids home for Christmas for one of the most loving Holidays ever.

In March, the University Hospital called me and confirmed that I had the operation elsewhere. Seems they misplaced my file and when they found it six months later they called to see if I was dead or had the operation elsewhere. At this point I figured I might have cut that adventure a little close but what the heck, I survived and had a great Christmas as a bonus. But that’s a whole different story.

The Florida Spine institute turned out to be a truly amazing place, it is big and highly efficient. As a matter of fact, I was totally impressed with the friendly efficient help of every organization I touched except for the airport car rental. Somehow they pushed the rate up to $200 per day for two drivers (my traveling companion was under 25) and since she is moving back to Florida, it became cheaper to purchase a car and insure it so we returned the rental car on Day 2 without a drop fee. The neck brace convinced them that I was too great a risk so they waved the drop charge even though we were 30 miles from the airport.

La Quinta Inn was a friendly, safe, clean, place and no one seemed to notice the 40 year difference in the age of my traveling companion and myself. They offered a complete breakfast that you could gain weight on even if it was the only meal you ate for the day. The Tilted Kilt restaurant next door offered good food, drinks, and service and the waitresses in their skimpy outfits were easy on an old mans eyes.

I was at the clinic at 8:30 am on Thursday and before I finished filling out their entry forms, they were moving me to be x-rayed. The x ray team was a young woman and man who were pleasantly bantering with each other and myself as they went about their work. Some how with their equipment, they were trained enough to assess if the pictures were good enough or they should do them over although they expressed no opinions to me, medical or otherwise.

I went back to the waiting area and before I had read very much of my book I was called to see Dr. Joe who was substituting for Dr. Webb who was out sick. He had read my x-rays and agreed with Dr. Bishop that my spine looked like hell, and before any decisions were made, they also wanted a three dimensional MRI so they could see the complete picture.

The waiting room at the Imaging Center appeared full but they said they would slip me in about 10:15 and they did. Being in an MRI for a short test is a unique but not terrifying experience. All metal must be shed from your body along with wallets, credit cards, hotel keys, and anything else with a magnetic strip.

For this MRI lite, I was allowed to wear street clothes and when they say all metal they mean it. The stapled laundry tag on my shirt was enough to invalidate the first test so they had to start over and since I had left my belt on it was a constant distraction to me as it vibrated and jumped around every time they turned up the power. For those who have never had this unique experience, they shove you in a tube about 1” wider than my greatly reduced current body size and blast you with loud magnetic waves. The original time I did it at 260 pounds, I actually had to fold up my shoulders to fit inside. They now provide non metallic headphones to pipe in some music and distract you from the sound.

The other unique aspect was I felt my neck getting warm in the ½ hour test and when I got freed from the machine felt the temperature of the bed in my neck area and it was not hot. When the technician asked what I was doing, I told him I felt my neck getting warm, and he explained that it was internally generated. In other words, I was being cooked like a piece of meat in a microwave.

Before noon, I was in a patient room and visited by Drs. Joe and Webb. Seems Dr. Webb came in sick so he could be part off the evaluation process. As they explained it, my neck was bad and dangerous. If I didn’t get a neck operation, I could end up paralyzed permanently. I told him I knew the cure for paralysis and my daughter, Dagny agreed. The hint is 357.

They wanted me to schedule the operation for the following Wednesday and stay a week longer for recuperation. I didn’t see a real choice so I agreed to change my accommodations.

The other little item was that while the neck was bad, they were not sure it was the cause of my paralysis so they wanted me to see a neurologist that afternoon at 2:30. Dr. Figuroa put me though those standard tests of stand on one leg, touch your nose; stand on the other leg and touch your nose with your other hand; stand on both feet and touch your nose with both fingers. He also wanted all the gory details of the event as outlined in the first post. At the end of his examination, he wanted to run an MRI on my brain and veins to determine if I had a stroke and one was scheduled for Friday at 6 pm sharp and don’t be late as the lab would be closed for other business.

At the end of Day 1, I had filled out forms describing my complete medical history, I had filled out a form describing my ability to walk talk, run swim, bicycle, climb stairs, wash and wax my car, mow my lawn and have sex. I left some of the areas blank as I believe it is a personal decision to hire someone to mow your lawn or wash and wax your car.

The 7 hours of probing which included completely read x-rays and MRI’s would have taken a week in St. Croix and with scheduling problems and limited equipment, possibly longer. So at the end of Day 1, I was amazed at the Clearwater Florida Medical Industry and all of the industry related services like cabs, restaurants, motels, shops etc.

Oh yeah, they fitted me with the horse collar to stabilize my neck.

Go to Day Two

I Went to Florida to be Probed by Space Aliens

May 16, 2010

I remember from my youth being fascinated by all of the stories in the National Enquirer about space ships crashing at Roswell, New Mexico and am a huge fan of Will Smith and the nerd in Independence Day, the recent movie. I read everything I could about people being beamed up and probed in every manner possible and descriptions of the excruciating pain of the examination.

I was also a fan of the twilight zone particular those stories involved with alien encounters and humans being treated like lab rat to be probed and examined. As time passed and instant communications became the norm with videos of every event possible hitting and the Internet, I started to doubt if any of those stories were true. After all, there is no reason for aliens to come probe us and then suddenly stop as if their intergalactic space program went broke and ran out of money.

Now hold that thought.

My encounter with being probed started a month ago on April 12th the day a good friend, Elsie Blanc, was being buried. I woke up early and did my normal routine of checking the price of oil on the Asian exchange, going to the bathroom, weighing myself and brushing my teeth and then normal stopped.

I felt my left leg getting weird and weak so I gently put myself on the floor and dragged myself to the bedroom. I realized that my left leg was totally paralyzed with no feeling or ability to control it with my mind and even using both hands to move it or lift it was only marginally successful.

I called my friend and coworker Vanise and told her to come get me as from experience she would be faster than an ambulance. She arrived in about 25 minutes and by the time she got to my home, I had crawled to the other end of the house to get an appropriate walking stick and and managed to dress myself which is pretty tough with a dead leg.

Vanise is taller than me and about half my weight. She had to assist me in walking to the car because I really had difficult holding the stick and keeping my balance while hopping on one leg. When we got to work I was beginning to feel some movement in the leg but had difficulty handling steps without the support of Vanise. By 5:45 am I was at my desk. For the next 45 minutes, I continued testing my leg and by 6:30 I was once aging walking and able to jog. But all was not well, as I had a problem skipping and my depth perception on the left side was atrocious as I kept on brushing against the backsides of the eight woman I work with and apologizing.

When my personal physician arrived at the shopping center where I work, I walked under my own power to his truck and showed him I could walk and jog and described the event. I was at his office ½ hour later and he ordered x-rays. I was out by 9:15 am including the x-rays so did the only logical thing. I decided to take the day off and texted a young person 1/3 my age for a luncheon date. The biggest issue was even though I was driving an automatic jeep, I was terrible with my left sided responses like putting on a seatbelt and using the turn signal.

The evidence this was not a stroke was that I was in shape working out against a heart monitor while doing cardio training, had lost 35 pounds and had walked the episode off. You don’t simply walk off a stroke like a football injury or so they say.

My friend Ted who is very health conscious and my daughter who tries to take care of me both suggested I go to Florida to get checked. I told them I would wait for my physician, Dr Frank Bishop to tell me what’s up.

Well, on Thursday I had a consultation and got the results and Dr Bishop said that he would need an MRI to make a final determination but since he would recommend a classmate of his anyway and since testing was cheaper in the U. S. I may as well go to Florida and have everything done there. In the meantime skip the gym and give up sex. He referred me to Dr. Scott Webb of the Florida Spine Institute. I booked Tickets and he set the appointment. Dr. Bishop got half of what he asked for as I skipped the gym.

Before going, I researched the Institute on the Internet and couldn’t find a single negative comment from anyone. Now that got me worried. Were all their patients too old to complain, were all their mistakes dead, had a team of lawyers worked to take all negative comments down from the Internet under threat of litigation or were they really that good? Only time would tell but it gave me something else to worry about other than paralysis.

So what does the picture have to do with my back. That’s my friend Vanise who literally picked me up and carried me to work after I had my paralysis incident. We were at a fund raising Breakfast for our friend Donna Christiansen, Delegate to Congress at the Palms Hotel. I am glad I treated her like royalty on Sunday because she came trough like a champ on Monday.

Go to Florida Day One

The St. Croix Vegetable Market

May 16, 2010


The St. Croix Vegetable Market is one of those places you just have to love. You can go there to socialize and meet old friends, you can go there to talk politics or catch up on news that never made the papers. You can go there to purchase ornamental plants and herbs. You can even go there to purchase fruits and vegetables. The only thing you can’t do is go there if you are in a hurry.

 Whenever my daughter is on vacation, she wants to go and her cousin has learned to love it because it is full of fruits and vegetables you don’t get up north. Cait had a big head start on loving farmers markets. She grew up within 5 miles of dozens of farm markets and her mother or father was always running around to one or the other. The biggest difference between here and there comes because of the small size of our farms, and the culture which means everything is picked fresh and nothing is stored. Now because of temperature shifts, seasonal changes and the amount of water each week you can never be quite sure what you are going to get or how dear the price. Today fruits were in season and cheap.

 I brought eight mangos for $4.00. Four were ripe and would have cost $1 apiece a week ago and 4 were thrown in for free because they were over ripe and good for juice. The yellow fruit in the picture is a carambola which has a star profile and makes a beautiful garnish for fish. They can be sweet or sour and you can’t tell by looking at them. I like the sweet ones and avoid the sour but today it did not matter because I will blend them with the over ripe mango when I make juice and they will be fine. The other fruit is a Java apple which has a crunchy texture like eating flavored air. You could eat them all day and starve to death but they make a pleasant snack.

 I also purchased Arugula, Parsley both a plant and fresh cut, a butternut squash and scotch bonnet hot peppers. There were no cucumbers or tomatoes because it is the wrong season, but that’s part of the adventure when you go to a local Vegetable Market. I have been to the one in Marblehead, Massachusetts with Lauren and Andrew and been to the one in Alexandria VA with my granddaughter’s and Cait, my niece.

 At first, my granddaughters thought it was weird to follow Poppa John around and listen to him talk about all kinds of stuff to various people, but when they found out that their Mom and cousin Cait loved it as an adventure, they decided to join the family and have fun skipping, tasting food, or begging for a piece of fruit or strawberries to take home.

 It’s a good thing I like fruits and vegetables because now that my doctors want me to lose another 30 ponds for a total loss around 65 pounds, I have to start eating like a rabbit instead of a fat savage. Oh well, life is just one adventure after another.

Feeling Mortal!

May 11, 2010

Over the past two months, I have had some strange experiences including paralysis, death of my mother and dealing with a close friend who has turned hard and angry over the hand that life has dealt her.

I refused to write about any of it until I developed a prospective which allowed my sense of humor and my total love of life to emerge victorious as dominant forces in my writing. 

Thank God for family and friends. 

Vanise is tasking care of the business so I could come to Florida. Claudie and Suzi are supporting her.

Two lovely women from St. Croix have called and laughed with me.

My Friend Carol who lives in Clearwater has also laughed with me.

My family, included Anne-Marie, Katherine, Cait, Andrew, Walt, Dagny and Carson have all laughed at me. As a matter of fact, so did Carol.

While my sense of humor never left, my writing was a little flat.  I am now back to laugh at the written stories which were forced  out of me by Jerlyn, Anne-Marie, Cait and Katherine who were in constant electronic communication forcing written answers and I hope some of those stories will encourage others to take care of themselves starting right now.  Actually, I am glad that right now was December 28th for me but you can’t turn back the clock so I am rather contented with my former  life of debauchery.

In retrospect my wife dying made me sad and filled me with excessive grief which is just now subsiding.  I skipped exercising and dangerous activity for about 3 months until I could focus enough to not put myself in harm’s way.  On January 19th, I was feeling healthy enough to excercise and joined a gym. At the gym I was walking at 4 miles per hour for a couple of miles and doing serious interval training on a rowing machine. Interval training is where you excercise as hard as you can while getting your heart beat up to 150 for four minutes and then slow down for 3 minutes. You repeat each set 4 times.  

In early March I was snorkeling in a riptide over a barrier reef with sharks in the area for over an hour with my son. At the end of March I was jogging in an interval pattern with Cait, Dagny and Ana in winter.  I was feeling immortal.

Even the death of my Mother did not alter the feeling of immortality.  She was a good woman who lived a good long life and we had a birthday visit with her in March that showed that even though she was immobile and  speechless, I would never be so crude to say she was better off dead as she was responding to the presences of her family with her eyes and even smiling and laughing at jokes being told at her expense.  This was not a wake but a normal family celebration of a great woman’s birthday.  When she died, I was indeed sad as there would be no more smiles, but as it turns out there would still be love. 

Now paralysis was enough to slap me up side of my head and challenged my absolute faith in my own immortality.  I woke up went to the bathroom, weighed myself and was brushing my teeth when I felt weak and lowered myself to the floor paralyzed on my left side.  My left arm was weak but recovered almost instantly and my left leg simply did not exist except as a dead anchor on my body.  I crawled to my bed and made a phone call to Vanise to come pick me up. 

The following conversation at The Florida Spine Institute sounded weird to them but those who know me and St. Croix it was all logical:

Doctor, “So you called 911”

John, “No”

Doctor, “Why not?”

John, “Because when my wife died in October, it took them 45 minutes to get there and they had me doing CPR on a corpse for the whole time.  Vanise got there in 25 minutes.”

Doctor, “So Vanise took you to the emergency room?”

John, “No, she took me to work.”

Doctor, “She took you to work??  Are you nuts? Didn’t you get any Medical care?’

John, “Yes, my Doctor shops in the same shopping center and I worked off the paralysis by the time he arrived and could walk and jog but he still had me come to his office by 7:30 am and I had X-Rays of my spine by 9:30”

The reason my Doctor had discounted a stroke was because I had lost 40 pounds, and gotten in shape, was eating right and the x-ray of my spine was a mess with compressed floating disc’s and other weird stuff.  He ordered me off all excercise including sex but if you are lucky enough to have a willing person half you age why not give the concept a test? Twice?

While many things I was able to do within a couple of hours, there were others which pissed me off. Even though I could jog and walk within hours, it took me three days to relearn to skip.  This is very important in my immediate family as everybody knows you are starting to get old when you forget how to skip. Another issue was I seemed to have lost my left side depth perception as I bumped into furniture, door jams and the rear end of the eight women I work with.  That actually bothered me more than them as most had arrived early enough to see me as a cripple.  My point is that there are more than enough willing woman in this world so there is no excuse for a man touching a person who is not in the willing category.  The last thing I recovered was my ability to drive my 5 speed standard transmission far too fast. 

When over driving my car I use ever sence at my disposal. Shifting and steering are done with both hands and feet working as partners. At first it was so bad, I had to mentally plan to put my left  hand on the steering wheel and left foot on the clutch and putting on my seat belt and using the turn signal became conscious acts of will power. I relearned to drive again when I learned to skip. Shortly after that the aforementioned willing partner was put to the test. 

Joking aside, I did cut way back on work and let Vanise take over, booked tickets to Clearwater, and got a referral to the Florida Spine Institute.

My Kids, You Got To Love Them!

April 24, 2010

So first my daughter gets me all excited about going to space Camp with my granddaughters and then she and her cousin gang up on me about being fat and having to lose weight. The ultimatum drop 40 pounds or I cant go.

I have to admit that it turned into a fun project. First step was working with a qualified nutritionist to make sure my eating habits were OK. Next was the planning and execution of portion controlled meals which I report on at and after I lost twenty pounds, I joined a gym and worked out 2-4 times a week. I was in such good shape that I was actually able to jog with my daughter, niece, and granddaughter and not embarrass myself.

Like Icarus, my pride got the best of me, I flew too close to the sun and disaster struck. My back gave out and I suffered temporary paralysis. Seems I have an inherited degenerative spine disease and it was going to strike sooner or later so its better it happened at 210 rather than 260 pounds..Since the incident, I have been moping around doing pretty much no vigorous exercise (except sex) for fear of permanently damaging myself. The diet has held because I realize I should probably drop another 30 pounds.

Last Thursday when I was bored and almost feeling sorry for myself and avoiding my young friend who really is more than a little nuts, my son sent me an article about hacking Sous-vide cooking without buying a $700 Sous-vide Cooker. Sous-vide literally means cooking with vacuum.

Naturally, I went out and purchased a vacuum pump, plastic bags and some red meat which I don’t normally have in the house and gave Sous-vide a try in my coffee pot. That took the rest of the day and when I hooked up with a few of my Chef friends, they had never heard of the method.

It is a French method which uses low heat to cook food and is probably illegal to commercially do in many US States including Virginia and the US Virgin Islands. If I were a caterer, I definitely would get more familiar with the method as I believe it could do a better job of preparing properly cooked beef and fish without overcooking.

For home cooking, I believe that beef and chicken are cooked just as well or better with other methods I will be posting on the cooking experiments at

But this blog is about adventures of the body and mind. I definitely would not have dreamed of trying to cook Sous-vide in a coffeepot without the challenge of my son and going to space camp without my daughter sending me the information. Even the timing of my back problem is not an issue. I will see the specialist and have three weeks to get in shape prior to space camp. If there are limits I will know about them prior to my going and therefor have a safer trip even though I am sure I will challenge any limits.

You just got to love my kids the keep me young and bold in body and mind.