Ready for Russia?

Tonight was our final session of Russian class at U.T.P.B. The class, which has been a big help in our efforts to learn some of the basics of Russian language, has met once a week for 3 hours (whew!) over the course of 4 weeks. So despite only having 12 hours of actual class time, our teacher, Tatiana, seemed to cover A LOT of material with our small class! We’ve learned to read the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, how to count, a little bit about how to read & write cursive Cyrillic lettering, and several very useful conversational phrases.

One of the highlights of our class was going as a group to see Mikhail Gorbachev speak at Midland College’s Chapparal Center a couple of weeks ago. He had some interesting views and it was quite a treat to be able to understand a few of his words throughout his speech.

I’m don’t think we’re quite ready to blend in with the Russians without notice but I do feel a bit more confident about our upcoming (hurry, hurry!) visit to the country.

Cunning Linguistics

In preparation for a couple of upcoming major trips, we’ve begun the not-too-easy task of trying to master the basics of a new language. Suffice to say, Cyrillic letters roll off our Texican tongues about like butter off of a frozen knife.

     ?? ????????? ??-???????

At any rate, Dede, Marsha, & I are taking a course at U.T.P.B. led by a charming native-speaker Tatiana Tyutko. So far, we’ve learned just a few introductory phrases like:

     ???? ????? ???.

We’ve also been listening to the very helpful Pimsleur audio language programs, thanks to Brad & the Midland library. And we’ve stumbled across a few sites (like this, this, this, and this) that are helping us wrap our brains around this new stuff.

It’s My ReBirthday!

Ralph Parlett may have said it best when he wrote, “Real birthdays are not annual affairs. Real birthdays are the days when we have a new birth.”

Today, July 27th, marks an anniversary for me – its been one year since my RNY gastric bypass surgery. Many others who’ve had this procedure refer to the day of surgery as a “rebirthday” and considering how life-changing that day was for me, I think that’s fitting. I owe a great deal to all of you who’ve been so supportive and complimentary about my progress over the past months – having my own little cheerleading squad sure made a big difference!!

I’ve gotten a bit lax about posting progress pics, so here’s a “before & after” style update…

July 2004 - Before RNY gastric bypass surgery July 2005 - 106 lbs lighter and fit to be tied!

Donate Blood

I’ve regularly donated whenever United Blood Services has held blood donation drives at Medical Center Hospital for several years now but I was anxious about donating blood after having had surgery. I finally decided to get back in the groove today.

blood donation logoToday the UBS staff employed a new-to-me technology called pheresis. During this process, whole blood is drawn and goes into a machine that separates the red blood cells (or platelets) from the other components in the whole blood. The remaining plasma is then returned to the donor. Since a unit of whole blood only contains about one tablespoon of platelets, the net result is that you can donate 16 times as much of the most vital blood component while actually losing less volume than you would during a traditional donation. Pheresis donation only takes about 10-15 minutes longer than the normal blood donation method and, aside from the initial needle sting, is just as painless. (Platelets are especially vital for patients undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems.)

Donating blood is, of course, a very charitable gesture and that’s certainly reason enough to do so. But what’s more, there’s some compelling evidence that donating blood helps, among other things, lower bad cholesterol and may play a part in preventing heart disease for the donor.

So, give blood—it’s good for your community and good for your health too!

Our Belated New Year’s Resolution

Those of you who know us well know that we’ve developed a keen interest and real respect for Tibetan people and culture over the past couple of years. I think our interest in this began with the movie “Seven Years in Tibet”. This movie led us to want to know more about the Dalai Lama and Tibet, so we also rented Martin Scorsese’s “Kundun” and the documentary “Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion”. Another very interesting DVD we rented was “Robert Thurman on Tibet”, which is really more of a lecture than an actual movie.

(Robert Thurman, father of actress Uma Thurman, is a former Tibetan Buddhist monk, Director of the Tibet House in New York City, and a personal friend of the Dalai Lama.)

At any rate, we were completely unfamiliar with what the Buddhist religion is about, the reasoning behind the Chinese takeover of Tibet, and the story of the Dalai Lama’s exile to India. So these films were real eye openers for us. “Snow Lion” paints a vivid picture of Tibetan culture and the devastating genocidal affects of the Chinese occupation. The imprisonment and torturous treatment of the Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns is particularly shocking and reminded me of the unthinkable treatment of Jews by Hitler’s Nazis back during WWII. Robert Thurman’s accounts of Tibet and it’s people is very fascinating and thought-provoking stuff!

For more information about His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, and the Tibet effort, visit the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration or consider reading The Dalai Lama’s “An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life”. This book gives an overview of the fundamental Buddhist principles and aims to show how Buddhist practices can lead to a more compassionate and happier life. The concepts presented lend themselves to being applied by anyone, regardless of religious beliefs. I’m impressed by how the Dalai Lama isn’t on a mission to convert people’s religion, but rather turn their hearts and enrich their lives through compassion for others.

So this all brings me around to our belated New year’s Resolution. There is a compelling argument about how to force China to abandon it’s Tibetan occupation made in more than one of the films I mentioned above. And that argument is that the Chinese government will leave Tibet when it finally becomes too much of an economical burden, which could be brought about by a widespread boycott on the purchase of Chinese-made goods.

So, it seemed like the conscionable thing to do is join in this effort. So, we’ve made a serious effort to avoid buying anything that has a “Made in China” label over the past couple of months. And while this is not necessary an easy feat, it makes sense to us to our little part in casting a vote with our dollars. Will this work? Can a collective effort to cause a lapse in consumer demand in Chinese goods really cause Tibet to be free again? Hard to say, but you can read more about this activism campaign effort at Boycott Made In China.

What do you think?

Incredible Shrinking Me (Updated)

Tuesdays are my WLS “anniversay” days that I weigh in, take measurements, and do progress photos. This time last month, I weighed 67 lbs. less than what I had weighed on the day of my bariatric surgery, July 27th. As of today, I’m down 78 lbs. So, as Rich says, here’s da mug shots:

July 25th, 2004 Aug. 24th, 2004

Sept. 21st, 2004 Oct. 19th, 2004

Nov. 23rd, 2004

By the Numbers

If I were into numerology, I’d say that today was chocked full of meaning. The number 3 dominates this day. How so, you ask?

Well, Tuesday is the 3rd day of the 7-day week. 3 x 7 = 21 and today, September 21st (2 + 1 = 3) is my birthday. So I am, dare I say it… 41. Of course, 4 – 1 = 3. And all of the numbers in my birthdate (9/21/63) are evenly divisable by 3.

Today also marks my 8th week “anniversary” of my weight loss surgery. I’ve lost 55 lbs in that time. (8 + 55 ÷ 21 = 3) Also in that time, I’ve stepped down 3 sizes in pants and shirts. So, this last weekend, I bought 2 new shirts and a pair of shorts (2 + 1 = 3) at Dillards for just under $30.

See what I mean about the “3” thing? It’s almost spooky!

Want more? Well, Dede reminded me that she started work at MCH on November 3rd, we went out on our first date 3 months later on February 3rd, and got married 6 months after that (2 x 3 = 6) on August 3rd, 1996. August 3rd also happens to have been Dede’s parent’s anniversary day.

Still not enough? I got a cool birthday e-card from Clemens at 3 a.m. this morning!

Me Unlimited

section lâche de robes de bal salopettes à fines bretelles souvent, ce style salopette été Jianling douce peu plus féminine, avec un blanc ou de couleur claire sur un pull plus élégant, chaussures blanches peuvent choisir chaussures, vous rendre plus bon état même.robe de bal de l’épaule, il y a aussi un beau côté. Je tiens donc à changer de style, vous devez mettre sur un style de robes de bal Robe De Mariée.
robes de bal queue de poisson

Progress Report

Today is the 2 week ‘anniversary’ of my weight loss surgery! The first question that probably pops into your mind is, “Well, how much weight have you lost?” Dede and I are in a bit of disagreement over the numbers. Y’see, from what I weighed prior to surgery on Tuesday, July 27th, to the following Thursday morning, I had gained slightly over 20 lbs due to all of the IV fluids pumped in during and post-surgery.

I don’t really count all that since it was kind of an artificial gain – it was just water – but Dede thinks it all counts. Anyway, I’ve shed that 20 lbs of “water weight” and I’m down 29 lbs from my July 27th starting weight as of this morning.

I don’t feel a difference yet, but I am starting to notice a few things. My wedding ring won’t stay on my ring finger today. My watch kinda dangles off of my wrist a bit. Dede insists that she can already see a difference.

I’m keeping up with a fairly standard morning routine – getting up early, showering, having breakfast, and getting dressed – as though I were having to leave for work. I figured there’d be no point in settling into lazy habits that I’d have to wean back off of in a few weeks. I’m walking for 20 minutes twice a day and I especially enjoy the cool and quiet early morning strolls.

Daytime T.V. sucks. I’ve read books and surfed the net until my poor eyeballs are bleary. Been working my way through a Photoshop tutorial book… Spent awhile this morning vacuuming and dusting. Folded some laundry I did yesterday. Still get worn out and have to take naps during the day. I’m not released to drive yet, so I’m kinda stuck here at the house. Can you tell I’m bored?

Well, there you have it… Recovery is progressing along and I’m feeling a little stronger day by day. Still testing the waters on this whole “solid food” thing. Thanks again to everyone who’s been passing words of encouragment along via Dede!

This Special Day – Part I

August 3rd is a special day for a couple of reasons. Today marks the first week milestone of my having weight loss surgery. The decision to undergo Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass was the culmination of more than 2 years of thoughtful consideration, research, discussion, and prayer. I was initially unsure how – or who – to tell about this decision because it was such a personal choice.

Overall, my surgery and post-op days were truly blessed. I’ve experienced little pain, just general aches and soreness and unusual sensations. My surgeon, Dr. Davenport was very attentive – he made sure that I was well-informed all along the way and the visits while I was in the hospital felt like he’d gone out of his way to make quality time for Dede & me. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also praise the MCH 6C nursing staff, especially Mona, Brad, Hope, & Shawna. They were patient and supportive and, well, just everything I needed and more.

And of course, it goes without saying that I couldn’t have undergone this kind of life-changing surgery were it not for Dede’s understanding, support, and unconditional love.

So now, one week post-op, I’m back at home recovering and doing well and the prospects of the changes I’ll be making in the coming weeks and months are so exciting that I can’t bear not to share. I’m proud of myself for having the determination to go through with such a dramatic procedure. I’m excited to imagine how my size will no longer dominate and limit nearly every decision I make. I’m thrilled to imagine cool new clothes for Christmas. But more than anything else, I’m filled with joy at the idea of having bought myself many more happy, healthy years with Dede.

Thanks to everyone for the support and encouragement! I’ll keep you posted on my progress…