“Dad?” my youngest one asks on Saturday after I rescue his stuffed animal from the other side of the fence. “Can you push me on the swing?”
My tasks for the day scroll through my mind, and I’m going to tell him maybe later because I have a lot of things to get done today.
“Sure,” I answer and start to push him on the swing. His giggles and absolute enjoyment makes me smile, and I’m glad I went the other way with my answer.
After five minutes, he launches off the swing (like most kids, my brother and I would do that – we’d pretend we were Apollo and Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica blasting off).
“I was flying like a bird,” he says happily and is done with the swing and heads back inside the house.
It only took five minutes, and I was able to bring my son so much joy. Really, no amount of time or household task should ever come in the way of me and my kids…
One year ago today, I was walking along Lakeside Avenue, returning from picking up a copy of my youngest son’s birth certificate in order to enroll him for Kindergarten (I believe that’s what I had been doing). I texted my wife to see how our older son’s doctor’s appointment was going. He had been feeling off and not quite acting like himself, so my wife made an appointment with the doctor.
I believe he had been tested but were still waiting for the results at that point. I was back at my desk when my wife informs me that the office was calling ahead to the hospital and expecting our arrival because my son needed to be admitted immediately. I took off from work (luckily, I’ve always had great bosses who understand that family comes first and when you have to go – you have to go) and met my wife and son at the hospital (after I navigated the maze of Rainbow for a lot longer than what I should have). His blood glucose was just a touch under 700, if I’m remembering this correctly (the average number should be around 100), and he was just barely allowed to go to a regular patient’s room, instead of going to the ICU. He was in danger of his blood glucose levels causing him serious problems.
My son was trying to fight the doctors and nurses as much as possible, wondering why they were trying to kill him. Eventually, he was stable enough to move to a room, and we started our whirlwind education about Type One Diabetes, while we also tried to bring Ethan’s levels back to normal. To be honest, like most everyone else, I had heard Diabetes mentioned on tv. I didn’t know that when you hear about it on tv, 99% of the time, they are referring to Type 2, which can actually be controlled with diet and exercise. Type 1, on the other hand, has no cure (yet).
I don’t remember the order of events anymore. I just remember sitting with Ethan trying to convince him that we needed to check his blood sugar level (it would take about an hour to do this because the kid knew how to put up a good fight). I remember him telling me to just let him die because he’d rather die than get his finger poked (oddly, he didn’t mind the actual insulin shots so much). I remember him looking forward to getting out of the hospital, so he can get back to normal, and my wife and I needing to tell him that the daily finger pokes and insulin injections were the new normal. I remember him saying that continuing the pokes and shots at home would turn home into a hospital, so, instead of living in a hospital, he was going to run away as soon as we got home. I remember telling him that, if he decides to run away, he will still need to take the finger poker and syringes and insulin with him. It didn’t matter where he was; he needed to care for the Diabetes. I remember having to give Ethan a shot of insulin before they’d let us leave the hospital. I used to be afraid of needles. It didn’t matter anymore because my son needed me to be able to do this. I remember coming home on February 14th after two nights in the hospital. My parents come over as they just got in town from Chicago, and Ethan greets them with “Hi. I’m not going to be here for very long” (something along those lines) because he was going to run away.
I remember my wife coming downstairs that night and saying he took his blood sugar. I remember him immediately going online and checking the carb counts on all his favorite foods. Were there any foods he liked with no carbs in it (no carbs = no insulin)? Eggs and cheese could be “free” snacks. Out of nowhere, his attitude towards his health changed, and he took ownership of the disease.
One year later, he is doing well. He hasn’t needed to be admitted to a hospital (his goal is to stay out of the hospital). There has been a lot of research into Type One Diabetes, and a cure may be on the horizon. He has had high numbers, low numbers, and good numbers. After the diagnosis, his behavior at school has improved. It has been a big learning curve to know when Diabetes may be used as an excuse for behavior/effort and when it truly is a reason.
Luckily, Ethan has had lots of support at school. The front office and staff and teachers have been great. His classmates have been amazing. Instead of pushing him aside as the “weirdo with diabetes,” they have questioned it and learned about it. Early in the school year, they even organized a fundraiser to donate money to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) – Ethan was participating in JDRF’s Walk to Cure Diabetes.
The biggest reason I think the first year has gone well for us is Ethan. The kid has been amazing. He has embraced his role and the seriousness of the disease. He isn’t sneaking candy. If he wants something high in carbs as a treat/snack, he weighs whether it’s worth the injection. Many times, he will put off the treat. Or, if it’s a night he wants a treat, he will ask us to account for it in his dinner insulin. He’s thinking ahead and being smart about it. If he doesn’t feel right, he will get his blood sugar checked. He has caught his lows himself, which we’re told is not easy for a diabetic, so he is really lucky there.
I hope to be writing about a cure soon. Everyone wishes that when a loved one suffers from any type of disease. It would be great to fall asleep at night knowing your child was not in danger of possibly not waking up in the morning and not breathing a sigh of relief until he comes downstairs. It would be great to not question whether we remembered to give him his 24-hour insulin the day before (it’s so second-nature now it always seems like we have). Hopefully, here’s to another year free of the hospital and to being that much closer to a cure.
I love you, Ethan, and I’m so proud of you.
First off, let me say that I know racism exists. It always will exist no matter what anybody does. I’m not someone who has his head in the sand about that. But, like just about everything in my life, I’m conflicted on the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
People need to be aware of what’s going on because there are people with their heads in the sand. The peaceful protests make absolute sense to show outrage in a non-violent way. If white police officers are targeting blacks, that is wrong. I don’t think any rational person would disagree about that. So, I agree with the “Black Lives Matter” movement in that the issues need to be brought into the light
I’m not going to say “con” because that’s not the message I want to send.
However, when I think about it, I can see this movement having the opposite effect that it intends. Let’s say you’re an Arabic kid who seems to be targeted by the cops or who is always getting sideways glances while shopping at a store. He sees the signs that “Black Lives Matter” everywhere and wonders why his doesn’t. He starts building resentment towards blacks…
Maybe we need to start small, need to start one group at a time. Maybe it’s too big of a job to try to make people understand that everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Everyone is going to have pre-conceived notions about a person because of their appearance. I understand the severity of gun shots vs. sideways glances, death vs. slow service at a restaurant. I’m just trying to say that there needs to be tolerance all around. Everyone is an individual, and their appearance really means NOTHING.
Racism, Prejudice, etc. goes both ways. I’m not equating this to Ferguson or Tamir Rice. I was driving home one day on the Ohio Turnpike. As I was driving home one night, a light flashes into my car. Suddenly, I’m pulled over even though I’m not going too much above the speed limit (I was speeding – I admit that). I think it’s entirely possible that the police officer (who happened to be black) pulled me over because he saw it was a young white guy. I had a sociology professor who would say he would always get pulled over by the police because he was a black man driving a nice sports car, and you just know the police were thinking, “how can someone like you drive a car like this?” (he told this story a few times during the class). What if the guy was speeding? Maybe the cops were thinking, “you’re going twenty miles per hour over the speed limit so we’re writing you a ticket.” It’s racial profiling, but it goes both ways.
Sometimes, race can be used as an excuse to bend the rules. Maybe the professor was always speeding around in his car because he could convince himself that the color of his skin caused the ticket instead of taking responsibility for his own actions. All the looters after the decision to not convict the cop sets the movement back a lot. It’s disgusting that people use race as an excuse to break the law and cause damage. They say they are doing it because they are outraged about the decision, because they are being suppressed and discriminated against. NO. You’re being a criminal. You’re robbing and looting because that’s what you want to do. It’s an excuse. It makes even less sense, especially in Ferguson, when the outraged citizens attacked black-owned businesses. Seems to go against their logic for convincing themselves of why they are looting.
A 17-year-old transgender person killed themselves because of all the prejudice. Homosexuals are killed or kill themselves because of prejudice. Skinheads may attack punks. Christians attack Muslims. Someone with a well-groomed appearance is more likely to get a promotion than someone with long hair, regardless of ability. People will always be prejudice against someone because of some reason. Not everyone is the same because of how they look – whether it’s skin color, style, age, etc. Not every Republican is the same. Not every Christian is the same. You get the idea. My biggest concern about “Black Lives Matter” is that it seems to keep the idea of segregation flowing strong. I’d rather see signs and t-shirts that say…
ALL LIVES MATTER.
A two-part (at a minimum) series with thoughts I’ve had in response to what has happened in Ferguson and Cleveland.
I don’t think I need to re-hash the events that happened in Ferguson (Michael Brown) or Cleveland (Tamir Rice). Besides, so far, I would have to say that no one has a true account of what happened. If they do, no one can be 100% sure about it. The biggest issue about the stories (and any story like it): The Internet.
I think the The Internet is a great place for:
- Social Networks
- Sharing/Marketing Music
- Entertainment News
- Sports Scores
- Cat Photos
Big news items are dangerously reported through the internet. Everyone wants to get their agenda out, so they will slant the story however they need in order to make their point. Everyone also wants to be the first to break a story. With a story able to be written and posted to the internet within minutes, it leaves no time for fact-checking if you want to be the one that breaks the story. Someone says something, and you report it because you can always edit it later. Unfortunately, it’s already out there, and people have read the first attempt and have taken it as fact, forming their opinions and beliefs. We do not live in a society where you can take someone’s word for what happened and have any confidence in its accuracy. Unless I am there to witness something, if there are a couple different ways a story can go, then I don’t believe any of them (actually, I believe that each story probably has a little bit of truth to them – do you find the similarities and throw away the rest?).
I wasn’t in Ferguson. I can’t really form a definitive opinion about what happened. I have my own interpretation, but it’s not based on any facts because I wasn’t there to witness it, and I don’t believe anything I’ve heard about the case.
I’ve heard Michael Brown was running away and was shot dead. I’ve also heard that Michael Brown was fighting for the gun with the police officer. Nice. I guess I can take either side, depending on where my morals and beliefs reside. If I am one to believe that a black teenager is nothing but trouble, I’ll hang onto the stories talking about how he helped rob a store and fought with the police officer. If I am one to believe that all white cops are racists looking for any reason to shoot a black person, then I’ll hang onto the stories of Michael Brown running away (and ignore his involvement in the robbery). Personally, I don’t believe either of these things, so I try to look at the facts (the only facts I know for sure: Michael Brown helped rob a store and was then killed). For me, it’s not much to go on.
I wasn’t at the Cudell Recreation Center to witness what was going on with Tamir Rice. In this instance, though, there is video. I watched the video. To me, you can’t clearly say what happened based on this video. You can draw all the conclusions you want, and I’ve drawn my own, but, again, there is nothing definitive about this. The big thing (for me) is that there is no audio in the clip that has been released, so who knows what is/isn’t being said. Again, it turns into one person’s word against another’s, and I believe the police officers are the only actual witnesses to the fatal shot.
Was the kid screaming “Don’t Shoot! It’s a toy!” at the cops as he decided to grab the gun from his pants to show them that there was nothing to be concerned about? Were the cops screaming “Hands up! Don’t move!” as the kid continued walking towards them, revealing the butt of the gun, and reaching for it. I can’t tell from that video. All I know is that the police car comes flying into the frame and, within a couple seconds, Tamir Rice is lying on the ground. So, I don’t know what lead to the shot. One thing the video does show: the police officers did not do enough to try to save the boy’s life.
Did the shots occur due to the color of skin? I don’t know either police officer, so I don’t know. If the struggle between cop and Michael Brown is accurate, maybe he felt that he was in a kill or be killed situation. If Tamir Rice was warned but proceeded to go for his toy gun anyway, maybe the cop felt that he had a second to make the choice. Were they in the moment thinking: “Great. My chance to kill a black guy.” It’s possible but not guaranteed.
In the case of the Tamir Rice shooting, my personal opinion is that Tim Loehmann was a trigger-happy nut. I don’t know this for sure, but it’s my opinion. He wanted to be near the action (according to his father), and I think he jumped at the chance to shoot at someone. In the case of Michael Brown, ehhhhh…I’m thinking race may have played a part in his decision.
In either case, it’s my opinion that both situations could have been avoided. There is a scene in Lethal Weapon where they talk about shooting a leg to immobilize a suspect (I hope I’m reporting that accurately). This makes sense to me. I don’t know if that’s actual police protocol, but it seems like this is the way to go.
In the case of Tamir Rice, Tim Loehmann had the time to fire a shot. He could have just as easily gone for the arm or leg to immobilize him, saving his life. If that was not his first thought, then he needs to be removed from the force. If that was his first thought and he tried to do that but horribly missed, then he needs to be removed from the force (at a minimum – not be allowed to carry a gun). I feel the same in the case of Michael Brown. Unless they were in a life and death struggle with the gun, I would hope that if the cop was able to get a shot off that he would have been able to immobilize the suspect. Although I am not going to overlook the fact that he committed a crime, stealing cigars is not on par with raping or killing someone. Even if he was running, the crime is not worth that type of reaction. If any guns are to be involved, I believe they should only be used to help immobilize a suspect. Even then, it should be only if a non-violent solution cannot be reached.
Like I said, this is all just opinion. More than ever, I believe stories such as these that appear on the internet are nothing more than opinion. If a story is this big, then there’s probably enough incentive for someone to lie about what happened. I don’t blame people for having their opinions (it’s your right).
Personally, I can’t believe anything I read anymore. I know it’s not just the internet – been a part of media forever. I just think the internet exacerbates the issue because of the ease of misinformation going viral. As quick as the stories are published, people are quickly forming their opinions. I’m thinking that fact-checking should be declared an endangered species…
Part Two: All Lives Matter
Wouldn’t it make much more sense if the standard color of toilets was brown? That’s all I’ve got. Thanks.
Gimme Some Sugar, Baby
So, my latest attempt at healthy eating is to avoid any foods with added sugar (at least, as much as possible). On Monday of this week, I had a glass of wine, which has some sugar. Aside from that, I went Monday through Thursday without any foods with added sugar. There is plenty of sweetness to get from fruit. For the most part, I’m moving towards more whole foods, which I tried to do anyway.
As a treat for myself, I decided to go to Peet’s Coffee and Tea this morning (Friday 10/31). I ordered a Large Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte with Soy Milk, as it had the lowest sugar content. I was going to go with the Almond Milk, as it does not have added sugar, but the Peet’s website stated it had more sugar than the Soy (it occurred to me they probably use sweetened Soy and Almond Milk). So, with tip, it cost $6 for the coffee. Is it worth it? Not at all. After not going to Peet’s all week except for today, I think I can easily break that sugary product. Not only will it be healthier to avoid it, it will also save me some cash.
Aside from avoiding sugar, I’m also going to try avoiding artificial sugar, as well, most notably, Diet Soda. For me, Diet Soda is a main constant in my life. So far this week, I started out well on Monday but have bought a bottle each day since. Hopefully, I will avoid it today, but we’ll see.
How is it making me feel? To be honest, I’ve been fighting a cold since before I started this, so it’s difficult to tell, especially since breathing has been a difficulty from time to time. Due to this, I put off exercising this week, hoping to really get into this starting next week, especially since the congestion seems to only be hanging on by a thread now. I’m hoping to be able to see the results after next week. I do know that drinking the Latte did not make me feel all that great. Also, it is Halloween tonight. I have a feeling there may be some cheating going on…
Run, Fatboy. Run.
I continue to run, even though I had a disappointing year in that department. My training was lacking. I did a couple half marathons, but I did not do as well as I had hoped when I signed up. I also did a couple smaller runs. Hoping to turn that around. The better diet (limited sugar) + exercise will hopefully get me on the right path.
I have one more race planned for this year to hopefully end on a good note, which is the Cleveland Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a 5-mile run. A few weeks ago I had started up running again (just doing a mile) before I took off this past week. I think that weight loss will greatly help my stamina and speed. With only a few weeks until Thanksgiving, I know there won’t be much loss before the next 5-miler, but I’ll see what I can do, hoping to still have a respectable time. The mile run hasn’t been bad, completing those even quicker than planned. If I can get a longer run or two in before the Turkey Trot, I think everything should go well there, mixing it with some cross-training (bike, elliptical, weights, kettle bell, cardio, etc.). The problem I had with training so far this year is that I was running a bit before the first half marathon but didn’t do much, if any, cross-training. I never got far, distance-wise, with the running. For the second half, I did more cross-training but barely ran leading up to the race.
I’ve also signed up for the full 2015 Cleveland Marathon, which is in May. With the weight loss I should be able to achieve prior to the full if I stick with my plan, the running plan I’ve set up for myself, and the cross-training I’ve scheduled, I should have a successful marathon. Let’s see if I stick to the plan this time. I figure I’ll also do one race in between the Turkey Trot and the Marathon as training (most probably the St. Malachi 5-miler in Cleveland).
The latest album by the best band to ever grace this stinky planet, The Dead Milkmen, have released its newest album, Pretty Music for Pretty People. The 17-track album is available on CD through the band’s site, Amazon, and all the other usual places. The album has also been released on vinyl under the name Pretty Music for Pretty Special People. The vinyl release, however, does not contain all the songs from the CD. Why the Hell would they do that? you may ask. Well, during the recording process, the band was releasing 7″ singles (2 songs per single). They released four of these, so, since those songs were already available on vinyl, they were omitted from the LP release. I believe a record has time limitations. A double album probably would’ve been too expensive to produce and sell (especially to those of us who already bought all the singles already).
The Dead Milkmen continue to put out quality music, perfectly blending the different genres of music that the four bring to the table. They are functioning very well as a group. When I heard the songs individually on their singles, there were a couple songs I really enjoyed. A few of the songs, I thought they were okay. Hearing them all together on the CD, it all flows very well and makes sense. The album, as a whole, has elevated each of the songs for me. As was the case prior to the album’s release, my favorite is still “Streetlamps – Walking to Work.” The great thing about the band is that, yeah, you’ll hear songs that may be reminiscent of others they have recorded, but it never sounds like they put out the same album twice. They are constantly growing and evolving, staying fresh. Their take on life and the world is usually a little skewed, sarcastic, and dark. Much of what they do comes off as humorous, but they don’t seem to be setting out to be a humorous band. You don’t get the feeling that they are sitting around trying to put jokes into their songs. If it comes out humorous, then so be it. If the song is straight out humorous, then they won’t shy away from that either. I have a lot of respect for the band and love what they do. I guess they wouldn’t be my favorite (been so for nearly 30 years now) if I didn’t feel this way.
I loved the album before this one – The King in Yellow. I think I need to listen to them in succession, but I think this one may even be better than the former, and I thought King in Yellow ranked right up there as one of their best records. “The King in Yellow/William Bloat” may still be the best song they’ve ever recorded, though. If you ever liked the Milkmen, I’d highly suggest checking out these latest releases (the nice thing about modern technology is that you can actually listen to some snippets of the songs before you buy). I’d definitely give this album 5 milk jugs out of 5.
Musicians Anonymous Cleveland
My personal musical front has been pretty non-existent. I keep having ideas and want to go back and re-record a lot of my songs. Having recorded and then tried recording with others, I think I finally understand what I need to do during these “demo” recordings. For instance, when I first started, I played guitar and I sang. Once, I tried to later add in bass and drums with a couple friends. They did an admirable job with it. However, I didn’t play to a specific beat when I recorded my part, so my timing kept varying, from faster to slower, etc. It was really difficult for them to add their parts because of this. I also had done this on another song that my friend added bass to. He did a great job, but I think my lack of timing made things difficult on him, as well. At least, now, I know that if I’m going to record a base track first that I at least need to play to a beat so that I keep myself on a steady pace. I recorded a base track with this philosophy, recording my guitars and vocals to a drum beat from my Casio keyboard. However, the recording itself does not have a drum track on it. When the bass was recorded, I was told that it would be easier to play the bass if the drum track was included in order to better know when the changes were coming. Makes sense. I haven’t recorded since then, but, the next time I record, I will definitely be doing this. It will also be beneficial because, since I’m just doing demos now, if I don’t get drums recorded, then I will still have a drum truck to get a flavor for the song.
So, I am currently sitting on a demo for a song that I need to finish. The song is just guitars, bass, and vocals. I need to add some finishing touches to the song. I hope to put the songs up on bandcamp when I finish – making them available for free download, if it lets me. I can’t see charging for the music unless I’ve had the songs professionally recorded (which I would love to do sometime in the near future). If they are free, I also won’t feel bad if the songs are rough and in need of work. I may also put up different versions of the same song – try to get a feel for how it works best before it is officially recorded. Anyway, new ideas continue to filter through my brain, and I hope to start recording some new demos soon and also re-record demos for some older songs. With the garage cleaned out, I may be able to move into the garage at night to start recording (since my in-house playing seems to be heard throughout the house).
Well, I am no longer a writer. Have I given it up? Well…..no. I’ve decided to use a pen name going forward. The writing is going a little bit better than the music but has been going pretty slow lately. I thought I’d have this latest draft completed before the year is up. I’ll really need to bust ass to make that happen. It’s going to be difficult because I’m just finishing up the part of the book that I’ve written in previous drafts. The rest of the book will be new material, which always takes me a little longer to write. I was also hoping this would be the “final” draft before just needing to fine-tune some things, but there are enough new elements that the next draft will definitely be more than just a fine-tuning. I also know I will need to tighten the story. I’ll see when I read it over, but it may be a bit too talky right now. I’m also trying to write a screenplay.
Been reading This Book Is Full of Spiders by David Wong for what seems like an eternity now. Kind of like writing and playing music, my reading time seems to come in spurts. The book, so far, is excellent. Slightly more than halfway through. I think I may be enjoying it even more than its predecessor, John Dies At the End.
Until Next Time
Until next time….