Cotton – 8/95 – 10/11

My best friend Suzanne received word from her ex-husband Randy last weekend that their dog Cotton was failing in health and might need to be helped along her journey soon. That day came to pass yesterday.

Cotton was probably my favorite dog of all time.

A Westie (West Highland White Terrier) with an attitude, hell for all I know all Westie’s have attitude. She was so sure she was the toughest dog on the block, she didn’t back away from danger and barked at any little creatures (children) fiercely.

I was fortunate enough to dog sit for Suzanne and Randy more than a few times over the years and Cotton was always the best behaved of the dog. At bed time she’d crawl under the blankets and sleep right between your legs, and you weren’t to move, she was comfortable. When you’d pet her she’d be so content, and if you’d dare to stop she’d paw at you until you started again. I’m certain that if it were possible for her to she would have purred like a cat during those times.

I always gave all of Suzanne’s dogs love and attention, but I’d go out of my way for Cotton, she was the best. She could look at you with the saddest puppy eyes that said “Don’t Club Me” and you’d feel so sorry for her, even though she was spoiled rotten.

She was Daddy’s girl really, she would go wherever Daddy was and just sit there with him for hours, and if the door was shut she’d whine until she could be with him. In these later years in life her Daddy would carry her on his shoulder with him and you know she was in heaven during those moments.

In 2008 when my Pa died Suzanne couldn’t come to the funeral but she called Randy and had him bring Cotton down for me and it really meant the world to me to have that little girl there for me to get love. Cotton always made every person she loved feel like they were the most important human in the world. I’m a little teary right now thinking about the little angel.

She was a good girl and I’ll miss being able to see her when I visit Wisconsin. Last night she joined her sister Destiny and her brother Rocky. Cotton, love and miss you.

Dreaded Dentist

A small cavity had me at the dentist this morning, the decay was located on my lower right wisdom tooth. Going to the dentist for a cleaning is a stressful situation for me so going when I have to have a cavity filled is even worse.

I arrived 10 minutes early in case they could get me out of there sooner, sadly I was there until 10:25 (25 minutes after my scheduled appointment) waiting and letting fear get the better of me. I imagine every conceivable and inconceivable scenario that can possibly go through my mind – they’ll need to do an emergency root canal, maybe they’ll have to pull out all my teeth after discovering a rare form of mouth cancer, perhaps this batch of Novocaine is faulty and it doesn’t dull pain but enhances it… yes, my mind goes to all those places for the entire 25 minutes.

The Dentists office has several dentists working there and dentists that I become accustomed to leave right when I’ve gotten used to them – Is it my breath? So this current dentist I’ve only seen once and that was the week before, she seems nice, but like all dentists, is an evil monster who thrives on causing others pain. That smile, it’s only in anticipation of hearing a patient scream. I remind her that I usually get nitrous oxide when I’m at the dentist and she didn’t know that so I had to sit in the chair longer while they prepared the gas. This is not a good sign, they haven’t read my chart and know how fearful this event is for me – it reminds me of the last time I had a cavity and a new dentist was there and he was talking about my root canal – I wasn’t there for a root canal so I freaked out a bit and had one of my anxiety attacks – never saw that guy again fortunately.

They give me the gas, I breathe in and out in deep full breaths. I picture a nice ocean front beach with blue water, palm trees and serenity – I can’t concentrate on that for long though, before I know it I’m anticipating pain again and then the sweat starts to roll off my body in all places conceivable – it’s possible I sweat more in the dentists chair then I do at the gym – ok, not really, but it all pools into the lower half of my body and it’s icky. My heart is racing pretty quickly even with the gas when she arrives to puncture me with a needle that makes the right side of my head feel heavy and tingly in places. The gas has started to affect my legs and they are numb – I think to myself, stupid gas my legs don’t need to be numb my head does get up here!

The dentists female assistant suddenly leaves and is replaced by a male assistant and this is another thing that worries me – was what they were about to perform in my mouth to gross for the female assistant to witness? Again… Is it my breath?

The dentist informs me that they are going to start and stuffs huge balls of cotton in my mouth and reminds me to continue to breath through my nose so I can continue receiving the nitrous oxide, I gladly obliged and am starting to feel fine – then I hear the drill.

This entire time I’ve had a tight grasp on the arm rests and when the drill kicks in I squeeze a little tighter. The dentist instructs me to raise my hand if they need to stop – like I could suddenly make my hands release their death grip on the chair and lift up in the air in a panic – yeah, that’s very likely to happen. I’ve also not opened my eyes since I sat back in the chair, I know they’ll be grinning evilly and their instruments of pain will be dripping with blood and enamel.

I’m actually doing ok for a while then they hurt me and I cringe, but I think it’s going to be ok it was just a minor pain – then they hurt me twice more in rapid succession and my body squirms all over the chair. The sweat pouring off my body has tripled and my breathing is more panting then anything else. She stops and they pretend to be concerned for my welfare, but I imagine they’re giggling up a storm and savoring the pain that is evident on my face. They give me another shot of Novocaine and we wait for a few minutes for it to take effect. The dental assistant uses one of their tools to blow air on my face and I start to relax again.

Shortly thereafter they finish up and the dentist asks me to bite down – after doing so she asks if that “feels normal” I try to tell her that I have no idea if it “feels normal” the entire right side of my head is numb, how should I know…

As I approach the counter to pay my co-pay the receptionist person asks “How was your visit?”



If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

In spite of knowing better and having lived in a home where I was fed real meals with meats, vegetables, milk and bread and butter – when I finally lived on my own my main meal almost every day was an entire sausage and pepperoni pizza. A standard 12 inch Tombstone or Roma’s pizza, cooked in the oven for 18 minutes until golden brown on top.  Not that I didn’t eat other things, I did. Like bowls of cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, burgers from a burger joint (and later in life steaks from a restaurant) or if I got to Ma’s for dinner or lunch whatever she would happen to be cooking if I liked it.  Ask anyone who knows me pretty well – I’m a picky eater. I don’t like sauces and dressings generally and am not a big fan of cooked vegetables.

Despite my careless eating habits and lack of physical exertion, I never really got big or chunky (well there was the first summer at Ma and Pa’s where I put on a belly but it didn’t take) and I could have probably fit into the same pants that I wore when I was 16 at 24.

Then in 2005 I did two things that changed all that

  1. I quit smoking
  2. I went back to school for a year

Suddenly I was twenty (20) pounds heavier and my pants and shirts were tight. Worst of all? the start of man boobs, moobies as some like to call them. I haven’t needed a manzier, but I could see they were threatening to become a little more than I was interested in having. Moobies are something I don’t find attractive on men and it would be silly of me to have something that I didn’t like seeing on others you know.

When I was in school (and sometimes on weekends within the last few years) there were days when I’d start the day with coffee a bowl of cereal and a couple hours later have a pizza for lunch, followed sometimes by a pizza for dinner. I’d follow that up with day long World of Warcraft marathons only moving from the computer to grab water or a snack (candy, ice cream, cereal).

One Tombstone pepperoni and sausage pizza has the following Nutritional “value”:

Amount Per Serving                         
Calories 1635                                    Calories from Fat 736
                                                              Percent Daily Value*
Total Fat 81.7g                                  126%
Saturated Fat 30.4g                          152%
Cholesterol 156mg                             52%
Sodium 3944mg                                164%
Total Carbohydrates 152.9g            51%
Dietary Fiber 10.6g                            42%
Protein 71.8g                                       42%
Vitamin A                                             36%
Calcium                                                 89%
*Based on a 2000 Calorie Diet

Two of those pizzas a day was a lot of bad, especially when you think that I wasn’t doing anything to counter act all the bad that was there.

So in the working world life changed a little bit. I’d start out the day with coffee and cereal, get to the 7-11 by the office grab two cinnamon twists and two bottles of chocolate milk and maybe a candy bar, then eat burger or pizza or fast food of some kind with the boss before heading home where for dinner I’d have a pizza and a bowl of ice cream – and sometimes finish the night with a bowl of cereal.  Every day pretty much, unless the housemate was cooking dinner then I’d eat whatever that might be (poor guy’s a great cook, but is limited to cook what I’ll actually eat).

Besides the slowly growing moobies – the waistline kept expanding, the belly seemed to protrude a bit more than I’d like and the cholesterol has been high for probably a decade now. My biological parents were both heavy (Phillip was a football player in high school and Cheryl had my eating habits and aversion to exercise) so deep down in my mind I think I’m destined to be bigger. Suddenly the twenty pounds heavier was 35, 36 and 37…

If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes… So what changed. Hell I don’t know…. oh I remember… I was having issues pooping – yes, too much information I know… and the doctor suggested I try to eat more fiber and I actually LIKE my doctor so I started to read about fiber and started to make minor changes in my diet.

Every morning now the bowl of cereal is raisin bran (lots of fiber). Instead of the donuts and chocolate milk from the 7-11 it’s two bottles of orange juice and sunflower seeds and almonds. Tried to get the housemate to include vegetables that I like in meals he cooks (corn, green beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower). Sometimes dinner is a bowl of raisin bran and a handful of nuts. And every night I try to eat an apple.  That’s a lot of change for me and my diet let me tell you – and I’m not perfect at it and sometimes I’ll still have a burger or yes, a pizza… hush, I said I wasn’t perfect.

So slowly my body started to change, but not fast enough so I spent a little cash on a personal trainer and things got a little faster, but not super speed. Apparently dieting and exercise isn’t instant – who knew? The personal trainer and I are doing a lot of things that will never be useful in the real world – push ups, pull ups, lifting weights, curls, this that – but it’s certainly made my arms and chest a little firmer. I’ve also noticed that my nipples are kind of going off to the side now – which I think is really weird – shouldn’t these things point out front? I’ll have to ask someone who knows more than I know about these kinds of things.

Throw in some cardio classes, keep walking about a mile and a half a day, and up with the fiber and healthier foods and we’ll see what happens to me. It’s not something I had planned on doing and I don’t know how it’ll all work out (the first week back to the gym I hurt my leg and was on crutches for a week – still hurts every now and then too) but it’s probably a step in the right direction.

Happy Birthday Ryan

My little brother Ryan turns 38 today.. I’m three years older than him.

When I see him at this age it’s always a little bit of a shock. I have an image of him from when we were kids that always comes to the forefront when I picture him – it’s nothing like he looks now. But if you think about it, we spent a lot of time together in our youth and much less time as adults, so it’s probably the way it’s supposed to be. But it’s still strange to see this grown man where I expect the boy to be.

Where I was always interested in books, imagination and superheros – Ryan loved engines, muscles and girls. I remember him always being the center of attention for girls, having greasy hands from helping Dad (Step-Dad #1) with a car or some other thing I wanted nothing to do with.

I could always usually beat him in wrestling by getting him in some hold and not letting go until he said uncle. He could always beat me in arm wrestling though. He’d always be faster then me in tag which frustrated me so much one time I grabbed something close by and pitched it at him as hard as I could – surprisingly my aim was right on – he had to go get stitches. Once, knowing he might win a fight I feigned that his attack had blinded me and got about 5 minute of sympathy before admitting I was just joshing everyone.

So today he’s 38. A grown man with a grown child of his own. Still the guy that flirts with girls and is up to his elbows in engine grease. To me though, he’ll always be the little kid I couldn’t catch in tag, the little brother that more often than not I shared a room with growing up.

Happy Birthday Ryan!

My "Little" Brother