Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde

My father ruled by intimidation.

He was an imposing man with a quick temper. When you were in trouble, you made sure you went by him fast enough to catch the inevitable swat on the upswing. When he yelled, there was no warning. Like a volcano, you were never quite sure when he was going to explode.

I’ve spent my life trying not to be like my father. I always kept my temper under control. My co-workers mentioned one day that they had never seen me get mad, and I told them I couldn’t remember the last time I had yelled at someone. And one of the women said, “That’s because he doesn’t have kids…”

That was then.

Now I have a healthy, sweet, and ridiculously happy 2 year old. My wife and I tell people all the time how lucky we are to have such a drama-free child. Mind you, he is 2, so hearing “No!” elicits whines and sometimes crocodile tears, but in general, he is silly, happy, and cry-free the majority of the time.

Until yesterday.

He picked up something that had fallen on to the floor, and I asked him to give it to me. But he threw it back on to the floor. So I spoke his name again, and asked him to pick it up and give it to me. He picked it up and I spoke his name again, and asked for it again. And he threw it down on the ground again, and started to walk away. I called him again, and he stopped, looked down at the item, smiled, and ran away.

I yelled his name, but it wasn’t the voice he was used to hearing. This time, my father’s voice yelled his name. Big. Booming. Ground-shaking.

And just like when my father exploded, it scared him so much that he jumped.

He came running toward me, arms out-stretched, crying. Now my son is not a cuddle-bug, so this was huge. I picked him up and he latched on, put his head on my shoulder, and he soaked my shoulder with his very real tears.

And I died a little inside.

I was always afraid of my Dad, and I don’t want my son to be afraid of me. I also never ran to my father for comfort. He wasn’t a warm man, and it wasn’t a safe place. In contrast, even when I did something to make my mom spank me, I tried to console myself crying in her arms.

We held onto each other for a long time. I ran my hand up and down his back. Played with his hair as he sobbed onto my shoulder. When he finally stopped, I put him in front of me and said, “I’m sorry I yelled at you”.


Sorrier than I can put into words…

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Worst Christmas ever

Anytime he is fussy, we just have to put him in this chair.

Anytime he is fussy, we just have to put him in this chair.

I have many things to be thankful for. Aidan is a happy, healthy, giggly little 4 month old.  He is quick to smile at anyone he meets, rarely ever fusses, sleeps through the night, and is willingly handed off to anyone that wants to hold him. When my wife recently worked a craft show, we brought Aidan along and joked that we should have charged people for baby cuddles. He is easily amused, and has the start of that perfect baby giggle that I adore. He also can kill you with his baby gas. Balance in the universe, I guess.

But life changed for us on the morning of December 10, 2014.

My wife and I received a text from her father that her mother was showing signs of having a stroke. He had called for an ambulance, and was on the way to the hospital with her. My wife left work, I left work, and we headed up to meet at the hospital.

I got there first, and walked through the doors of the emergency room. I immediately heard a woman angrily yelling from the opposite end of the building. I walked down the hall, past the other rooms in the emergency area, past the hospital personnel busily tending to their patients. The farther down the hall I went, the louder the yelling became.  I started to recognize the voice of the woman yelling.  It was my mother-in-law, but it wasn’t my mother-in-law. People who are familiar with stroke victims, or the effects of a swollen brain know what I mean.

The curtain to her room was closed, and I didn’t know if I should go in.  So I just stood there, transfixed while the hospital staff went about their business around me. I just stared at the curtain, listening to the sounds coming from behind it. Every sentence she screamed was repeated several times. Every word was angry, and painful to hear.

A nurse finally saw me, and asked if I needed help. I told her who I was and of my hesitance for continuing into the room. She opened the curtain, then came out and said that my father-in-law thought it best if I sat in the emergency waiting area for the time being.

I sat there, waiting for my wife and wondering what to do next.

We lived at the hospital for the next few days. The doctors told us it was bad.  The entire back half of her brain was damaged, and in both hemispheres, which was rare.  The neurologist said that what she thinks happened, is that Debi recently had a stroke on one side of her brain, in an area of the brain that people don’t always notice as a stroke. (And several days prior, Debi had been complaining how tired she was.) The doctor thinks that the swelling from the first stroke, caused the second stroke.

My wife’s Grandmother passed away almost exactly 5 years ago. She had no living will, no instructions, and my mother-in-law watched her mother suffer and it almost killed her. She was determined not to put my wife through that. So after her mother died, my wife’s parents both sat down and made emergency plans. Debi was very specific. No extraordinary measures. No feeding tubes. She did not want to suffer, and she didn’t want her family to suffer.

The doctors said she would most likely shut down when the swelling from the second stroke occurred. If she recovered, she would never be able to walk again. Her brain would be unable to process what she was looking at. She would see a dog, a chair, my wife, but would be unable to process it. She would be confused all the time.

She was moved to Hospice the Sunday after she had the stroke. Per Debi’s wishes, she was taken off of dialysis.  They are making her comfortable, and we wait.  Either my wife, her father, or my sister spends the night with Debi. there is never a point where a family member is not in the room with her.

There have been agonizing, heart-breaking moments. Brief moments of lucidity that the nuerologist said would come.

Debi sitting up in bed and repeating in her robot voice, “Please kill me.”

My wife leaning over to say good bye and having Debi kiss her cheek.

The nurse, asking Debi “How does that feel?” while washing her back, and having Debi reply, “Good.  Fucking good.”

But she looks through you. And in the rare instances when she does speak, it is more instinctual. She isn’t able to respond to commands. She can’t squeeze your hand when you ask, she can’t open her eyes when you ask, she just isn’t there.

And I am helpless. My wife loves her mommy. And this is killing her and her father. My wife never knew her Grandfather. He died before she was born. But Debi spoke of him so often that Caitie missed him, even though she had never met him. And now Caitie is hurt, and angry that Debi is doing the same thing to Aidan.  Aidan is never going to know one of his Grandparents. Because Debi didn’t take care of herself.  Because Debi wouldn’t take her medications, wouldn’t eat right, wouldn’t exercise. Because Debi used to joke about how she never did anything she was supposed to do, how she never did anything the doctors told her to do.

And now we are waiting for her to die.  And I don’t know what to do for my wife, or her father, other than be there for them.

We’ll be having Christmas at hospice this year.

Debi had already purchased years worth of gifts for Aidan, and was really looking forward to Christmas. She was really looking forward to spoiling him rotten.

So much for that.

Merry Christmas

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They try to prepare you…but

I can’t believe how exhausted I am.  I walk around like a Zombie most of the time.  I honestly don’t know how anyone has more than one child.  Don’t they remember this part of the deal?

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Future Boy’s Secret Identity Revealed!

Aidan James

Born Aug 11, 2014 at 3:40 am

21″ long

6 pounds, 14 ounces

Mom and baby are doing great!


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Harry Potter

If Future Boy is born tomorrow, it will be on the same day as Harry Potter.  This does not mean we will be naming him Harry.

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The baby won’t wait…

The due date for future boy was 08/16. Last week we saw the baby doc and my wife was 1.5″ dilated. The Dr. thought that my wife was likely going to deliver early. She said we would know after this weeks appointment. Today, at our appointment, she over 2″. The baby may not wait until next Thursday’s appointment. So…we’ll see what happens.

My wife is dealing with swollen feet, stretch marks, exhaustion, and a baby sometimes trying to punch his way out.  We’ve also been taking classes. How to take care of a baby class, how to have a baby class, and today was breastfeeding.

I selflessly offered to assist with proper latching, but she declined.

Sigh.  You try to help…

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post surgery

It’s now obvious that i came back too soon.  I can’t sit up, can’t lean forward, can’t make it through a full day at work.  When I try, my abdomen swells up, and sitting and leaning are next to impossible.

What’s making it worse, is the deadline for the project at work is at hand, and during the five weeks I was gone, almost everything I left to be completed…wasn’t.

Before I left, I was killing myself trying to get everything done, working 70-80 hours a week.

I can’t do that right now.  And the clock is ticking.

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33 Weeks – 48 days to go

Future boy weighs about 4 pounds, is about the size of a pineapple, and has passed the 17 inch mark.  My wife’s feet are starting to swell, and last week she found stretch marks under her stomach that I knew about that she didn’t.  She was not happy.

She had her baby shower yesterday, and we received lots of nice things.  Lots of diapers, lots of baby wipes, lots of newborn pacifiers (I didn’t know there was more than one size), lots of clothes, lots of books, and lots of baby bath time stuff.

We still need to get a crib, stroller, car seat, baby monitor, and a few thousand other things.

This kid better be worth it


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First day back at work

Today was my first day back at work after the surgery…and I only made it 4 hours.  The act of sitting upright and leaning forward was as uncomfortable as I was afraid it was going to be.  It didn’t help that I couldn’t sleep last night worrying about what I was coming back to.  So I talked to my boss and then went home and slept four hours.

Sadly, I had around 1300 emails waiting for me.  But my boss let me know how really glad he was to have me back.  He said some really nice things about the documentation I had left for the person backing me up.  And then he said something that dismayed me.

Something like (my interpretation) that not much was done while I was gone.  So essentially, (still my interpretation) I took a 5 week vacation, and now have all the work from 5 weeks ago to do.

Stress level just went from 0 to 80.


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So this happened…

In March, I weighed 240 pounds and started dieting and exercising.  I managed to lose around 2 pounds a week until I stalled at 228 pounds.  Much of that was because I stopped walking my 10,000 steps each day because I was spending literally every waking minute on a project for work before my surgery.  But I kept between 228 and 230 until May 9th when I went to see the Gastroenterology Doctor.

My regular doctor was concerned that medicine to lower my cholesterol was causing liver damage because the liver numbers from my blood work were elevated.  It actually turns out that I have a fatty liver.  Which went along nicely with my fatty butt, my fatty thighs, and my fatty neck.

When I went to the Gastroenterologist, we sat and talked about my diet.  He asked me what diet I was following, and I told him I wasn’t trying any diet in particular, but that it was basically a low-fat one.  I told him what I was trying to avoid, and what I was trying to eat more of, and he stopped me and said I was damaging my liver in much the same way that an alcoholic does.  Only I was doing it with carbs and sugar.  So he put me on a low carb diet.  His only instruction was to keep my net carbs at under 50 per day.  He showed me how to calculate a net carb using the Nutrition label on a bag of nuts he had in his office.

You take Total Carbohydrates and subtract Dietary Fiber giving you the Net Carbs.  And I get 50 per day.  He told me that a glass of orange juice would probably put me over for the day.  I told him that I thought my weight loss had leveled off because I had stopped exercising, and he told me that the beauty of this diet was that anyone can lose weight on it, with or without exercising.  This sounded especially good to me since I was having surgery in less than a week, and not about to do any exercising anytime soon.  I said I would give the low carb diet a try, and he encouraged me to check the food labels of everything that I had been eating,  So I did, right after I left his office.

If you were in Giant Eagle that day, I was the grown man walking up and down the aisle, sobbing as I picked up item after item after item of things I could no longer eat.  I have never been a big meat-eater.  Ever.  In more than one instance, I have been mistaken for a vegetarian.  I am also a fuss face and a VERY picky eater.  So I was pretty sure that I was going to die on this low-carb  diet.

But I kept it up, even when ordering from the hospital menu.  I apologize in advance for this visual, but since the surgery, I spend most of my day with only a shirt on.  When I first got home, the drain tubes were right where the band of my underwear sat.  Workout shorts didn’t help either.  And the day we went to have the tubes removed, the belt dug right into the main stitches.  But even when the drain tubes came out, the stitches and the VERY sensitive parts of my skin were right where my the elastic wanted to press.  So I remained without pants.  With the blinds closed, feeling a bit like a vampire.

These days, I keep trying to get back to a normal routine.  So to get me walking, we will go out to eat, or I will tag along while she goes to the grocery store.  And I found that my pants don’t fit me right anymore.  I have been wearing size 40 waist pants for a very long time.  When I was at my high water mark of 250 pounds last July, I was using every bit of those 40 inches.  Mostly because my pride wouldn’t let me buy anything in a size 42.

Today, those 40 inch pants slide right off me if I am not wearing a belt.  Literally.  I pull them on and and button them, and if i let go, they hit the floor.  I had to dig into the back of the closet and bottom of my dressers to find my old 38 inch clothing.

Which makes sense, because…

This morning, when I stepped on the scale, with zero exercise since May 9th, found that I now weigh 217 pounds.

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