Not Fair Day remix

I would like to address your general attitude of hopeless negativism. Consider the lilies of the gosh darned field or … hell! Take a look at Delmar here as your paradigm of hope.

        Everett McGill

Yeah, look at me.

        Delmar O’Donnell

That’s a couple of lines from my favorite movie of all time, O Brother Where Art Thou. Really funny movie that is power packed with wisdom for me as well. The funny is a lot more evident than the wisdom in your first viewing, but if you have seen it as many times as I have, you begin to appreciate the wisdom it contains. The movie is about three escaped convicts Everett, Delmar and Pete. They are on the run while reliving Homer’s Odyssey in an incredibly unique way. They are living life, searching for treasure and dealing with with obstacles, just like we do, they are just doing it with incredible dialog and an engaging soundtrack. They are also teaching me this week about something I thought I had wired, Not Fair Day.

What a pain in the neck (needs to be shortened)

On March 2 of this year I woke up a little before 2 AM, something that is far more common for me now than it was when I was in my 20s. Tax season brings that on, I wake up and frequently I have solved a problem from work, I just have to think about it a little bit and whatever I was processing in my sleep comes to me, I make a mental note and feel pretty good about things and am ready to get back to sleep. On this particular occasion however, nothing came to me, I laid there for a good long while before I decided that I must need to go to the bathroom, so I set out to do just that.
I got out of bed and two steps into my journey, I felt like I had been shot. A sharp pain in my shoulder blade folded me over, I straightened up and tried to straighten my right arm to stop the spasm and my right arm went numb. The doctor now says that the act of sitting up in bed actually puts a lot of pressure on the spine and the nerve between my c6 and c7 vertebrae was simply crushed. At the time however, I didn’t know what was happening. The pain didn’t stop, the arm was numb and I mentally rolled through the rolodex in my mind on who I could call that wouldn’t say go to the emergency room. I was 99% sure it wasn’t a heart attack, sharp pains and numbness in the arm were symptoms, but the pain is in the chest and the numb arm was supposed to be the left arm, still since I don’t diagnose heart attacks for a living I woke up Linda and told her we should go to the ER.

4 hours later and after being hooked up to a variety of machines, my diagnosis was correct, I wasn’t having a heart attack, it was simply a pinched nerve, I was obviously relieved but I had no idea what I was in for. I spent the next month of tax season dealing with pain in my right arm and numbness in my fingers. We have an intern at the office and I literally sat with a laser pointer and pointed out places on the screen and told her what number to enter in, she checked off returns for me and helped me get through the day.

Obviously riding my bike was going to be impossible, I went from chiropractor to sports masseuse to doctor, got x rays, MRIs and had cortisone injections and nothing worked. I was dealing with pain all the time, the more I worked at the keyboard or manipulated a mouse, the worse it got. I was given stretching exercises to try at home and a different regimen for my workouts, nothing helped. Eventually I decided that since everything hurt, I might as well ride, at least I would get out and get moving and a crazy thing happened, my pain subsided. In fact the worst thing I found I could do was not ride, so I got back on the bike and started training in ernst for the MS150 that was going to happen the first weekend in May. I felt great, I had a reasonably good MS 150 and since then my rides have improved greatly. Last weekend I rode 60 miles with a group ride and turned around the next day and rode another 46 at an 18 mph average, without a group. I had dieted well and getting that kind of average that quickly after tax season was brand new to me. I no longer need my intern to type things into the screen. As long as I kept up with my pain meds and rode every day, things were fine.

Hopeless Negativism (needs to be shortened)

A couple of weeks ago, I got a CT myelogram so the doctors could get a better picture of what was going on, I am also scheduled for a nerve study in June but I didn’t want to wait for that to meet with my doctor, so I scheduled a visit to Dr Frazier yesterday. He said that the myelogram was really good news but not because it would be an easy fix but because the scan clearly showed that there was no nerve activity from my spine to my right arm, the disc had collapsed onto the nerve and pinched off the flow of data between my arm and my brain and that the fix for this kind of issue was probably going to be surgery to fuse the two discs. That’s 3 to 6 months recovery where you can’t ride a bicycle outside, the bones have to heal and you can’t crash. I struggle during the winter to stay motivated on an indoor bike and if it is clear and sunny outside and I am in my garage riding a bike while watching the Rangers chase the Astros, I would go crazy.

I have been as on my diet and exercise plan as I have been in a couple of years and now this. I explained to the doctor that riding really helped and if I kept after it, could I get the surgery done in October or November instead of now, he said I could do that but I risked permanent damage. There wasn’t any statistical data to say what kind of chance I had of doing that, they just know that the longer it goes, the higher the probability of long term damage. I had big plans for the summer on my bike, those were gone. I also look at the fact that I am 53 now, assuming I can do this until I can ride hard and far like this until I am 70 is a stretch, in reality I probably have 10 to 15 summers left so to lose one that felt this good this early, man that is tough, this is not fair.

As far as Today I Can goes, I’d shared the story on the radio and started to gain traction, still hoping to have impact in other’s lives, how could I do that from my garage? How could I do that if I gained back that weight because the garage was depressing? What if this is just the first thing that pops up? The radiologist had difficulty finding a spot to get the dye inserted to run the test, and all the scans have shown I don’t really have a lot of cushion around my spinal chord. There are other discs that are bulging? Dr Frazier said that it’s usually one thing that goes bad, and the evidence suggests it’s just that disc but what if the nerve study shows I have a lot of damage that’s building up instead of just this?

Not Fair Day

I have told my not fair story a couple of times now on Today I Can but if this is your first read or if you need a refresher, here is a quick recap. Every parent hates to hear their kids proclaim the circumstances they are currently experiencing rate as not fair. No fair, it grates on you as a parent so I came up with an antidote to the not fair proclamation. I told my kids that life is not fair, in fact it is so unfair that once a year they have a special day called Fair Day where they close down school and you get to go downtown and ride rollercoasters and eat corny dogs and cotton candy but today is not that day, today is not Fair Day and there is nothing I can do about it, my hands are tied.

I love that story. My kids hate that story because I loved it. Frequently. I also loved that story because it worked with my kids, their disdain for it’s Not Fair Day eventually eliminated Not Fair from their vocabulary. It also eliminated the phrase from my vocabulary but did I really understand that life is not fair? I would have to say No, because my reaction to what one might call unfair looks a lot like a kid in the grocery store who is absolutely positive that one of life's great injustices is their lack of a bag of M&Ms.

So if life is not fair and this really sucks how do I keep it from shooting my wheels off completely? How do I stop a bit setback from being a throwback Thursday with me heading north of 300 pounds instead of south of 200 pounds? I guess that’s what I am trying to figure out in this post.

The lilies of the field

Looking at the lilies of the field is a pretty simple thing Everett was saying, quit focusing on the negative things in life and look around you, see the beauty and blessings that make this life so worth living. I was taught to make a gratitude list and a list can’t be made without writing it down, documenting what i have to be thankful for. If I don’t write it down, my mind will wander and the things I have to be thankful for will get cut off, write them down and you will probably find yourself in the same spot I do, overwhelmed by the good things in my life and underwhelmed by my response to them. Just this week I can list:

  • A brand new granddaughter, Gracie Girl is a precious gift.
  • A bike ride with my grandson Asher in his AshMobile.
  • An incredible wife, that puts up with me despite my propensity to act like a 3 year old without M&Ms.
  • A daughter that shows me you can be funny without sacrificing wisdom.
  • A son that shows me what authentic looks like
  • A son in law that will stand up for my daughter, every time.
  • The enthusiasm Asher brings to every new discovery
  • The way he laughs at whatever he is saying.
  • Watching Gram engage
  • Other than two renegade discs squishing one little nerve, my health.
  • Finally figuring out work.
  • Finally figuring out play.
  • A group of coworkers who are also figuring out work
  • A career choice that made it possible, there is a lot of work out there, we get to be picky.

I could go on and on, I have so much to be thankful for but when things in one area goes wrong, it’s as if my whole life has been nothing but problems and I have never been blessed with a thing, despite the presence of the above list in my life every day. Why does this happen to me all the time should be replaced with why doesn’t this happen more? Why did God give me longer to figure out fitness than he did others? Can’t I use the same tools to recuperate? What makes me think I have any reason to ask why?

A gratitude list always helps.

Yeah, look at me

Delmar O’Donnell is a saint in the movie, even though he’s a convict, he is a saint. He’s in prison for robbing a Piggly Wiggly, in all likelihood, just trying to find the money to buy back the family farm that was foreclosed on by a banker. He just wants to make his dad proud of him is his motive and no matter what he does, it backfires. Yet he is so content, he finds the good in everyone and everything. His gratitude list won’t look near as nice as mine, after all he is on the run, a convict, imprisoned, penniless but somehow, he is 20 times happier with a gratitude list that is 1/20th as long as mine. Have you ever seen a family get running water in Africa for the first time and the joy they have for having something that you and I have had every day of our life? That’s perspective right there. Someone so thankful despite their circumstances, that is what “yeah, look at me” means.

It’s easy to make a gratitude list and start to put a pinched nerve into perspective but what about the person that never complains, despite having so much to complain about. For me, my paradigm of hope is already on my gratitude list. She’s my daughter, Katie Lynne Babb. Even her name sounds happy but when I think about a pinched nerve compared to a pancreas that flamed out when she was in Junior High, it’s nothing.
For pretty close to 20 years, my daughter has dealt with that and never once have I heard her complain about it. I know she dreams of a cure, but she isn’t in despair from the lack of one. Neck surgery will solve my condition 97% of the time with a 3 to 6 month recovery. Nothing has been found yet that will wake up her pancreas, yet she doesn’t complain about an insulin pump, shots, pricked fingers, hardships in pregnancies, mounting medical costs, repeated trips to doctors, the list goes on. The only thing I have ever heard her complain about is when people try to limit what she can or can’t do because of her condition. That makes her mad because she knows that God created her to be able to deal with what she has, she would love it if He took this burden from her but until then, she’s going to rock diabetes like a champ.
Yeah, look at me. In stereo.


So … i need to work on this