Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Happy 54th Anniversary, Mom & Dad!

Today marks my parents' 54th wedding anniversary.  They were married August 26, 1961.  

My parents are very different people. They met on a blind date in the late 50's.  She wore sweater sets and blushed easily.  He was an ornery greaser prone to mischief.  But if every good girl loves a bad boy and if every bad boy just wants a mother, then of course they'd hit it off and get married.

From all appearances, my parents had and have a happy marriage.  It's changed recently because of Dad's Alzheimer's and the fact that he lives in a nursing home.  But if the very fact that my mother visits my father two times a day every day (only missing in cases of extreme weather or doctor appointments), then her devotion to him suggests that their marriage is still good and filled with love.  My biggest wish is that they would be in a different situation than they are, but I think they are demonstrating what a good marriage is all about:  sticking with each other for better or worse, sickness and health.  It's not the retirement they would have chosen for themselves, but at least they still have each other.

If my parents had any marital discord through their 54 years together, it was most likely the mashing of their innate characteristics:  Mom's sometimes puritan tendencies vs. Dad's resilient "good-time Charlie".  It's probably not only what initially attracted them to each other, but also most likely served as the stumbling block that would, at times, sully an otherwise perfect relationship.  Many was the time where Dad's "life of the party" attitude was met with Mom's arm-crossed disapproval.  And what's even more interesting about all of this is that I seem to have inherited both of these qualities from them. The pugnacious duo of Dad's accelerator and Mom's brakes lives inside me.

In my life, "Mom's brakes" have won out 99% of the time.  For the most part, I've prided myself on knowing when "a little too far" was far enough, when to cash in the chips, when to stop the tomfoolery.  But occasionally Dad's accelerator has gotten some use as well.  I lived a bit of a reckless life the last few years I was in DC.  "Dad's accelerator" caused me to push some boundaries that I might not otherwise have pushed.  But Mom's brakes eventually prevailed.  I decided to leave DC altogether to start fresh in Chicago.  And how very lucky I am that I did just that.

Of course, I celebrate many other wonderful qualities I've received from my folks, whether genetically, physically, or naturally.  I am the best of my parents, and am thankful for all the wonderful love and support I have received and continue to receive from them.  Today I celebrate them and their dedication to each other.  They are leading by example and continue to show me what it means to truly love someone.

May 2005

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Things That Annoy Me #513: "Share A Coke"

Coke - enough already.

The "Share A Coke With..." campaign was cute and all, but it's over.  I'm tired of it.  And tired of the energy that's been wasted on this whole travesty.

First of all, there's no Dop can.  Despite standing in front of open cooler doors for hours, much to the chagrin of every 7-Eleven clerk in the city, I did not find a "Share a Coke with Dop" can.  So screw you.  I went through the complete list of all 250 names that you figured were worthy of a personalized can.  No Dop.  But I bet Divya, Griselda, Lakeisha, and Vishal are all feeling pretty full of themselves at this point.  Are those your relatives?  Double-screw you.

Yeah, I know I can order a personalized Coke bottle online with my name on it (ooo, how fun!).  But I don't care to spend $10 on something I shouldn't have to beg for.  What's that?  I can download a virtual bottle instead of the real thing (note the double entendre there)?  What the hell good is that going to do me?  My dry mouth isn't virtual, you moron.

Building on that concept, your attempt at being all-encompassing by using "names" such as Bestie, Superstar, Legend, and Better Half is just obvious proof that somewhere in the process you all got together and said, "Let's call it.  This idea is flat-lining."  Even YOU lost interest in it.

And, it's no secret I don't like many people.  So having to search for a Coke can that does NOT display the name of someone I don't like is simply a waste of my energy and my time.  I don't want to drink out of a Carla can or a Brad can or even a Julian can.  I can't stand those people.  And I can't stand you for reminding me that those people even exist in the world.  Besides, it's not doing anything to quench my thirst either.  If nothing else, I'm actually getting MORE thirsty as I sift through can after can looking for ANY name that won't make me think the can is actually full of some kind of poison.

I'm not sure why all this matters to me anyway because I haven't had a Coke product in about 30 years.  I'm a Pepsi guy - Diet Pepsi that is.  And to be even more specific, Now Aspartame Free Diet Pepsi, if you must know.  I've been a DP fan since back when the can was white and then turned light blue and then turned silver.  I remember driving back from the beach in 1985 and noticing a billboard on Route 50 that showed the new DP can design and being excited about the change.  Yeah, me and Diet Pepsi go way back.

So I guess this isn't about drinking your product at all.  But I still use you to clean my toilet, so there's that.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

2005-2015: My Heart Attacks

Unbelievably, it's been 10 years since my heart attacks and quadruple bypass surgery.  I say attacks because I had several over the course of a few days, but there was no way to know exactly how many.  The first one I remember was in the wee morning hours of Sunday, August 6, 2005 - I think around 3AM.  I woke up in the middle of the night at my parents' house feeling numbness in my upper left arm.  I thought I had just laid on it during sleep and it had gone numb.  So I got up and walked around a bit and the pain eventually subsided.  This feeling followed this experience.  I probably should have been more aware.  But despite being a heart patient for the previous 4 years, my then-cardiologist had told me that my heart was actually diseased and failing and that I would soon need a complete transplant.  He also said that I would never have to worry about having a heart attack.  Yeah - Dr. Edward Bodurian was awful and is, sadly, still in practice.

The rest of the story can be recounted in the following posts I wrote 10 years ago.  You should read these.  They're actually quite good:

There are a few measurements doctors take before and after bypass surgery to ensure the heart is once again a healthy muscle.  One such measurement is the actual diameter of the heart.  Normal diameter is 56mm.  Before surgery, mine was 58mm, after it was 49mm.  Another measurement is the ejection fraction which measures how much of the blood being pumped into the heart is then being pumped back out.  Normal fraction is 50% or higher.  Mine was 35% before, 55% after.  Dr. Mark Nelson and his team did an incredible job on me.

When I had initially started writing my blog, only a handful of people were reading it; a few close friends and a couple of people who found me on blogrolls pretty much made up my audience.  But a reporter had somehow found the above posts on my blog and posted them on a popular site.  Suddenly, my blog went crazy - not "Carol-Burnett-Crazy", but the readership escalated exponentially.  At one point, I had one of the most popular blogs in DC.  It was THAT kind of crazy.

So fast forward to 2015, I'm doing very well now.  I've been seeing the same cardiologist, Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, for the past 10 years and he's done an amazing job keeping me healthy.  I was part of a heart campaign in February 2011 (photo at right).  I've been the subject of articles, like the one that written for Northwestern University in Spring 2011.  I was featured in a fundraising ad for the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.  I was even part of a news program in Canada that focused on young people who suffer heart disease.

I give a lot of the credit for my staying healthy to Kevin, who simply refuses to allow me to act my age.  I live and eat better because of him.  He's my inspiration in just about everything.

There is a day down the road when my 4 bypass grafts will need to be replaced because about 50% of placed grafts close in 10-12 years.  This means that of the 4 bypasses placed in me, 2 would be expected to close 12 years after surgery.  I plan on making them last as long as possible.

In another ten years, there will be another update on this.  But until then, I remain pretty healthy, and very happy to be able to look back 10 years ago to see how far I've come.