Sobering…

A sobering thought…

I have health insurance. By *somebody’s* measure, it’s supposedly *good* health insurance. A “Cadillac plan” in fact (which means it’s gets heavily taxed, which of course, gets rolled into my premiums).

I’ve had health insurance since I dragged myself out of the mire of poverty some 30+ years ago. I have, quite literally, paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in premiums. This is “I would be a multi-millionaire if I’d invested that money” kind of money.

I’ve also paid hundreds of thousands into Medicare and Social Security over the same period.

I’ve seldom needed serious medical treatment, in the years I had insurance anyway. The most serious injury I’ve had was during my “fight out of poverty” days and was treated “off the books” by a veterinarian…of course…that’s another story.

I’ve only even met my deductible a handful of times all those years.

My shoulder injuries have turned out to be reasonably serious…and quite debilitating. They are painful, impact my ability to work, and will impact basic functionality if left untreated.

But here’s the sobering thought…if I could not come up with, basically $7000 cash IN ADVANCE…I could get NO treatment.

Hundreds of thousands in premiums…and without $7000 cash I could not get ANY treatment.

Think about it.

I don’t know what the fix is…but this shit is beyond broken.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Big honkin dollars

REALLY big honkin wampum $$$$

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The Long Burn and the Short Fuse

Pondering my upcoming shoulder surgery…which worries me more than I care to admit. Although the surgery is fairly routine, the injury is significant and outcome is in no way certain. More a “degree” of success rather than a “pass/fail” kind of thing.

The degree of success will determine the degree of ability regained…and the amount of work (and pain) required to get to that.

…and then there’s the other shoulder to attend to…

…and the year of work to recover, along with the disruption and possible setbacks of my goals…in fitness and in the rest of my life as well.

I *knew* this fitness thing was a long burn when I started it. I still know it. It’s a lifetime prospect now.

My intellect knows this. The rational mind can even measure it. I’ve made tremendous progress.

And frankly put…I’ve NEVER had any fear or compunction about hard work OR pain…that’s part of why I’m where I’m at with the shoulders in fact…

A long burn. No question.

But I still see the fat guy in the mirror.

And why…do I so intently feel that I’m running out of time?

Doesn’t matter really…either way I’ve GOT this…and I know it.

Intellectually anyway.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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On setbacks and insecurities…

A lifetime of hard work and other abuses, combined with a recent fall, have resulted in what I must call…a setback.

A massive rotator cuff tear…full width, with retraction, likely irreparable, and pretty much any other “Oooo, that sounds bad!” verbiage you’d care to imagine is causing me significant pain and extreme weakness (in certain motions) in my shoulders/arms.

The right shoulder is the worst…

My right shoulder…pretty thoroughly wrecked. The left is nearly as bad.

Next week I’m off to surgery on the right arm…an attempt to repair, and if it turns out to be irreparable…then a superior capsule reconstruction is the backup (or, if I understand it correctly, some combination of both).

In addition, there are other conventionally repairable tears to address at the same time.

If you ever wonder what scares the 240-pound biker dude…the one that rides with impunity (and a certain degree of “enthusiasm”) in the intense metroplex traffic…well…this is it.

When the world’s gone to crap…I’ve always been able to fall back on hard work. I have “skills” that can support me and mine through pretty much anything.

Those that follow my art endeavors and my Old Vic project will also realize how important strength and mobility are to me.

And what’s a rider that can’t ride?

I also can’t help but remember a surprisingly large number of occasions where had it not been for my ability to take punishment…AND deal it out…I or others would no longer be here. A sobering thought…that.

I also worry about this setting back my fitness quest. I will NOT go back to being the fattest guy in the room. That’s an “at all costs” kind of declaration.

It’s still a worry.

It’s ALL a worry. I’m the doer. The protector. The one that can handle anything that’s thrown my way.

…and currently I can’t. That tastes like a failure.

4-6 weeks with the arm immobilized. SIX MONTHS of PT.

…and then I start on the other one.

So…next week. Chop, hack, drill…and so on.

As I said elsewhere…

It’s too bad…that all those early jobs…the hard work and grinding labor and long nights and holidays and weekends kind…didn’t actually pay what they were worth in terms of “life”…wear and tear…pain…and the like.

If they did I’d have been retired a very rich man few decades back methinks.

So…setback. Setbacks actually.

Terrifying.

But bring it on. I’ve got this.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Related: A little hard work–The Old Victorian Webcomic

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Love. Hate. Compassion. Charity.

“Please, just five bucks. I’m hungry. And cold.”

She had the look…tattered clothing. Barely adequate coat. Thin.

I noted these things automatically, but didn’t act on them. I don’t judge anymore, one way or the other. I can’t. This is what the city teaches you.

There is always more to the story…and there’s a million of them every day.

There was a time I continually spent 20% of my income on charity. I came from a long way down, and simply because of who and what I was, never got any kind of a hand up. This is society’s legacy of determining help is for certain groups instead of individuals…but that’s another story. No resentment really…unless folks start telling me how privileged I am. Even that, as they say, is another story.

As I “came up” in the world, I had the means to help. So I did. Simple as that.

Inflation, the destruction of the middle class, taxes (no charity but government, yes?) and medical insurance have markedly reduced that 20%, but I still give.

Thing is…I’m damn picky about it. I give to friends and family that need help…and organizations I know do the best they can with the resources.

But as I said, I’m picky about it. I really should take care of me and mine first. I’ve got needed home and car repairs, possible medical expenses, and retirement is coming up…and I work in tech so I doubt I’ll make it that far, so, what I do give I *really* want to make an impact.

It’s mine to give…so it’s mine to choose.

I’ve long stopped handing things to people on the street. That’s just chucking my last bottle of water at a forest fire.

“I can’t help you.” I said, not unkindly, but moved on without hesitation.

“Fuck you.” she says to my back.

The city teaches. I learn.

I still hate myself for it.

How can I not help a cold, hungry woman?

Because of that lesson…there’s always more to the story.

Ten minutes prior, I’d seen this woman pay for her meal at the small diner I was eating at. She paid, then when the cashier’s back was turned, took all the mints, two large handfuls, from the dish by the register. A small thing, but not honest. Hungry? No. She’d just eaten. Or maybe. I don’t know. I can’t judge. I don’t judge. I just simply can’t help everybody that asks…especially the ones that *don’t* need it.

…and the lesson teaches…if you care to learn at all, that most that actually need the help will never encounter me. They’re outnumbered by the scams, and the story tellers, and the cons.

Lost in the noise.

That lesson. Hell, she wasn’t my first for the day.

***

O-stupid-thirty…otherwise known this day as 4:45 am, I slide my car into a space and grab my bag as I pop the door. I’m headed for the club. The one that makes you sweat. Walk hard and fast all uphill. Move heavy stuff. That sort of thing.

I do this five days a week. Yes, apparently I AM a masochist.

I make it perhaps 4 steps toward the front of the building when an enormously fat black man, driving a newish Nissan Pathfinder, cuts between me and the building entrance and stops.

“Hey. I’m not trying to start any trouble but me and my wife and kids we’ve lost our home and we’re in the hotel down the street and I need $30 or they’re going to kick us out today and it’s cold and the kids are sick and…” and so on and so on…the story…in the fast-paced, practiced pitch of a telemarketer, intended to give me no chance to interrupt.

I almost laughed at the guy. Not in derision but rather because pitching for charity to folks at the exercise club is NOT going to be productive. Heck, I’m not even carrying any cash. I have a car key and my driver’s license. In my bag is a towel and my weight gloves. Working out in thin Adidas shorts tends to encourage one to travel light. It also encourages one to make for the club doors at high speed when it’s 17 degrees out.

The polite person, that’s never learned the lesson, would wait for the spiel to die down (probably a good ten minutes and might include actual tears), before either giving something or moving on.

But it’s cold. And I’m on a mission. And I can’t help him in any meaningful way. I just shook my head “no” at him, stepped around the back of the truck and entered the building.

Did he need help? Or is he scamming? I don’t know. I can’t judge.

“Asshole!” he says as he guns it and drives away.

Predawn…and I’ve been awake maybe 30 minutes…and somebody’s already calling me names.

“Ah,” I say to myself, “One of THOSE days.”

Less than two hours later as I exit the building and head for my car, there’s a man standing beside a Ford pickup with the hood open.

The lesson teaches. But sometimes we don’t learn. So, figuring he needs a jump (this I can do), I turn when he says, “Hey!”

Then the spiel, “Have you got $30? It’s the fuel pump and I’ve gotta pick up my kids they’re locked out in the cold because their mom got evicted and I can fix it but the pump costs $30 and….”

I don’t judge. Or try not to. Details though. I know a lot about cars. This one…yeah, no fuel pump under the hood. It’s in the tank. It costs a lot more than $30. And he ain’t gonna diagnose OR fix it with the pair of pliers he’s holding in a fitness club parking-lot.

But I’d like to make sure. I’m ignoring the lesson still. You’d think I’d know better by now.

I stop and say, “I’ve got a buddy that runs an auto parts store a couple miles from here. He’s usually there before they open and owes me a BUNCH of favors so let me give him a call and get the part run over here real quick. What year and what engine?”

The part about my friend in the auto parts store is true. Calling him though…that would be a neat trick. I don’t have my phone. I already figured that it didn’t matter…and if it turned out it did, well, I’d figure it out.

Ford dude stares at me a minute, slams the hood, gets in the truck, starts it right up, and drives away.

At least he didn’t call me any names. He even waved. Of course, he only used one finger.

Near two hours later…I dump my machine in the parking garage in downtown Dallas and start the 1/2 block trek to work.

I make it perhaps ten steps out of the building that’s attached to the parking garage.

“Got some money? I need eight dollars. I just want some coffee, yanno?”

I just keep walking. Heh…a coffee probably does cost that much just over there at the Statler. But, not to judge, if you really need to beg for coffee money, probably better to get the cheap stuff at that 7-11 over there.

Another guy says, “Blow job? Thirty bucks!” and as I keep walking, “Twenty?” I’m not sure if he’s buying or selling. I’m not interested either way.

If I had a thousand bucks in small bills…I could walk this neighborhood and give it all away in minutes…and do absolutely no good for anybody.

If I did that very often, I’d end up on the street myself.

So, yeah. Not receptive to the guy or gal on the street. It pains me…and it’s something to hate about the city I love.

In the darkest moments I try to feel a little better just knowing that not two blocks from where I’m standing…is an outreach that gets a chunk of my charity every month.

The cold. The hungry. The cons. Which are which?

I sometimes wish I knew…but then I’d have to judge.

I’ve got some coats that are too big for me though. So does the wife. I expect I’ll drop them off at the outreach tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll even feel better…even if I am an asshole.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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My year…in an image.

In fitness, people overestimate what they can accomplish in 3 months but underestimate what they can accomplish in one year…
-Travis Merrit, Rowlett Transformation Center

I’m not sure if it’s the end of the old, or the dawning of the new that seems to require us to reflect on the past year. Accomplishments, challenges, setbacks, failures, and successes litter the months gone by.

Sometimes these milestones add up to something good. Often they cancel each other out. Even more often…the jury on what they mean is still out. We end the year looking for meaning, usually fail to find any…and still wonder what it all means for the next one.

Such is the nature of life.

Lots of those milestones are littered along my months of 2017. Good, bad, indifferent. I’ve not tallied them all. As in past years, I’m not even sure I know how to…or want to.

My prediction for 2018? Based on last year I’ll just have to say, “Not a damn clue…but bring it on.”

If I had to sum up 2017…I’d do it with this one image…

On the left, me, as I went into 2017 at 327 pounds. On the right, me in the middle of December, 88 pounds lighter, at 239.

2017 in one image.

I ended the year at -90.

90 pounds down. -190 off my peak. 10 pounds short of my goal for the year. So…a missed goal…yet a resounding success.

…and still working it.

I hope 2017 treated you okay…and I hope 2018 holds good things for you.

Either way, stand with me and shake a fist at 2018 and yell, “Bring it on!”

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

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A picture is worth a thousand…bucks…

Want to see a lifetime of hard work and abuse summed up in one very expensive picture?

My right shoulder…pretty thoroughly wrecked. The left is nearly as bad.

For those that don’t “speak” MRI, the white = bad.

That much white = very bad.

Years of construction work (much of it overhead), wrecking a car AND a mini-van with my shoulders, recent hard work, and a fall last month have all added up to some degree of impairment.

I’ll know next week just how much a setback this will turn out to be…but one way or another, I’ll be dealing with this for a lifetime.

I believe I’ve mentioned before…one lesson that was consistently meted out working my way up from the dregs of poverty is that life is expensive. One of the most widely accepted currencies used to advance it…is pain.

This has not changed.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

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On choices…and costs.

The doc blinks, “You didn’t do all of this at once…?” It was more statement or professional opinion than a question.
“No…a lifetime of dangerous things.” That got his attention.
“What kind of dangerous things?”
“Hard work, women, and motorcycles.”
“Yeah…that’d do it. Which one’s the most dangerous?”
“Heh…now THAT depends on the day, doesn’t it?”

Later, somewhat sobered by the choices that lie ahead of me: “I expect I’d live forever if I gave all those up.”
“So? You gonna give ’em up?”
I laughed, “What we be the point of living forever without ’em?”

I’ll see you on the road.

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

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Goals…

My self-defined “official” monthly weigh in is normally around the middle of the month…using the InBody system at Rowlett Transformation Center, which measures body composition as well as just weight. That’s cool…and important. Turns out weight is not a good measure of your fitness, despite what my employer and about half the medical community may tout. Body composition…fat, muscle, and the strength to go with it…is where health is at.

So…December’s weigh in was this morning.

Body Analysis, 12/18/17

I posted -190 a couple days back…that was on my analog bathroom scale. I really shouldn’t weigh every day…but I do. I’m apparently a glutton for punishment. Go figure. Anyway, some variance is expected and normal. I frequently see bounces of a couple pounds up or down. I usually only report the ones in the middle.

The official number from December’s weigh in on the InBody system is -188.

88 of that is since February 9th this year.

I’m at 21% body fat.

Around 6% body fat left to lose…about 18 pounds.

It’s getting harder.

S’okay…I’ve got my teeth into this thing. Apparently I like hard.

My goal for this year was -100…I’m not going to make that (at least, safely). I’m about 12 pounds short of that at the moment, with only 13 days left in the year (AND a Christmas Dinner in there somewhere…there will be pumpkin pie!).

Not too much of a worry…the 100 pounds was an arbitrary number, chosen in a decisive moment where the important thing was that I’d had enough and was going to kick this thing’s ass.

I could lament about missing the target…but on reflection, -100 really wasn’t the target. Fitness was. Progress was. Learning how to do this was. I’m on track for all.

If I add another 6-8 lbs to the remainder of that -100 pound goal for a total of 18-20 pounds of fat loss as my “stretch” goal to hit between now and the end of 1st quarter next year…well…that will put me at a healthy/fit weight and around 15% body fat. Amazing to think about.

A few years back me looking to lose 18-20 pounds would be like tossing a deck chair off the bow of the Titanic.

I’ve not been in this good of shape in my entire adult life…nearly 40 years…yet I’m still struggling to get my head wrapped around this. Head games again. Intense ones.

I STILL see the fat guy staring back at me from the mirror. I’m really not sure how to deal with him.

The fit guy is beginning to peek through in the photographs though.

Left: 427 pounds, struggling to fit in 60″ jeans. Right: 239 pounds, 21% body fat.

Even when I hit those weight/body-fat numbers, I’ll still have work to do. Pretty much every workout shows me places where my strength and balance isn’t where I want it to be.

Mmm…on that vein…added to my daily routine…a challenge. For the next 30 days:
1) 50 body weight squats
2) 50 sit-ups, ab sit-ups, or v-ups.

ADD 2 additional to each…every day.

The math says that at the end of the thirty days, I’ll have done (divides by pi, carries the two)…uh…um…well…a shitload of squats.

My legs hurt just thinking about it (I’m on day 4 already).

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

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I did what now?

Yesterday…my trainer had me doing two things that a year ago I’d have bet you (large amounts of cash) that I would never be able to do…

1) Box jumps.
2) Jump rope.

Granted, the box jumps weren’t very tall…but that’s a head game, more conditioning, and practice.

Once again I’m stunned at just how much of a head game this stuff is. Making those small jumps…was more a decision than a physical feat…the “physicality” will come when I attempt higher jumps…and I’m sure the “decision” will be harder too.

Head games. You’d think of all the things I’ve mastered (or at least gotten good at) over the years…what’s going on in my own head would be one of ’em.

Not so much.

…and yes…I totally suck at jump-rope…I certainly made three skips on an occasion or two…I might even have made 4 (once)…in 15 minutes of trying/practice…but that’s a learning/practice thing (I’ve never even held one in my hands before this year)…not a capability thing. This genuinely surprises me.

It’s a skill to learn…requiring/enforcing getting LOTS of stuff working…and working together. Strength. Agility. Balance. Coordination. Yep…gotta get all of that stuff going on. At the same time.

I can tell just by that limited try…it’s a hell of a workout too.

Oh…and this morning the scale says:
-190
(-90 since February)

My goal for this year was -100
*looks at calendar*
I expect I’ll come up little short. This is not an issue, as, well, it was an arbitrary goal…and I expect unless I REALLY screw up…there WILL be a NEXT year to work on this stuff as well. One way or another…I’ll be working on this to some degree…for the rest of my life.

The sheer weight loss (rate) has gotten harder as I’ve approached a reasonable or ideal weight. Mostly because the focus is losing FAT, not muscle.

Some time ago the goal shifted to being HEALTHY and FIT instead of aiming for some number off a Roman era chart created by a mathematician, not a doctor…and meant to assess the suitability of captured slaves for various tasks…(yes, this is the BMI chart’s origins…to find corporate America pimping this stuff on me…with mandatory penalties…is…deliciously ironic…)

Anyway, my target has become a percentage body fat of 15% or so (fit), instead of a simple number of pounds on a scale. I was right at 21% around this time last month. I’ll get the new number next week and see what’s what.

Doing it is hard. Doing it right is even harder.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

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Just older…

“I’ve been up and down and in between
After all these years of miles and memories
I’m still chasing dreams
But I ain’t looking over my shoulder…”

I’m not sure why we, as humans, insist on marking the years as they pass…but we inevitably do. Holidays, birthdays, New Years…all turn into a time to ponder the time gone by, and hopefully, to look toward what is to come as well.

One without the other leads to dark thoughts.

So, yeah. A birthday. Mixed feelings about that. Growing up, working dangerous jobs, suffering injuries and losing friends to jobs, accidents, riding, stupidity, and more…I would have bet…back then…that I would never have made it this far.

At least four times in my life I’ve been reduced by an emergency situation/accident/illness to the point were there was nothing left for me to do, no action left untaken, and no hope for extracting myself on my own. Inevitability is not a conclusion I arrive at easily, but these times there was nothing left but to endure as long as possible…and then most probably die. At least two of those times I wished it would just get it over with. I might have even begged to some higher power. But I still endured…

I don’t know how NOT to fight. I’m not quite sure I believe in my own mortality.

Except on my birthday…

I’ve been fortunate, in retrospect, that each time I endured long enough for the situation to change for the better or for desperately needed help to come. One day…when I can do it without panicking…I’ll attempt to describe being intubated while still (barely) conscious. Those were the two times…

So. Mixed feelings. I can’t believe I made it 5+ decades. I sometimes wonder why it was me instead of others. I find myself fretting over the time I wasted, while at the same time looking forward to what I can achieve in the NEXT 5 decades.

I’ve been working hard this year…and am currently in the best shape I’ve been since a teenager. An accomplishment? I suppose…except for all the time and effort I wasted in the past that GOT me in that bad shape in the first place.

And realistically, maybe not in the best shape…certainly by some markers, yes…but when ya get into your 5th decade ya simply don’t bounce as well as you used to. Crunchy. Ouchies.

If only I knew then…

Old…

Yeah, a common enough theme.

I’m sure I’d have fretted more about that…birthdays seem to inspire such in me…but then my woman took me out for steaks and a movie…and then took me to bed.

Even after all these years…near 10,000 nights with her…that gets my immediate and undivided attention.

Not old. Just older…

The simple fact is…life’s too damn good to be this damn short.

If it’s not…well…you’re doing it wrong.

*raises glass*
Here’s to getting it right!”

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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