Sunday, March 29, 2009

What is Justice?

How often have you ever gone to a church service and been confronted with a controversial issue being presented? On top of that - the issue is extremely polarizing and instead of seeing or getting into a heated debate, you instead walked out still pondering the discussion that took place during the service?

That's never happened to me before. Well, that is until today when I visited the fellowship of The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, or UUFT as they refer to themselves (to me, it sounds like a new brand of shoes or something).

Today was Social Injustice Sunday among all of the Unitarian churches, and the Topeka church decided to tackle an issue that I'd never heard discussed as a social injustice, and this is Incarceration. It was quite a paradigm challenge to be presented with these facts and figures, and then something I've never seen, the congregation had "talk back time" to respond to the information presented. How novel -- you get to share while at the service. How cool!

In a nutshell - we all know there is something WAY wrong with our prison system. But did you know we have more imprisoned people than any other nation in the world?? Didn't know that. Furthermore, 1 in 4 of the worlds imprisoned population is in America -- interesting. We don't really have more crime than other societies, but it appears we deem more offenses criminal than other countries. Then you can throw in Racism, Mental Illness, and Drug Offenses into the mix and it was quite thought provoking.

Now - what got me thinking in my head was why . . . why so many imprisoned? And the thought that occurred to me is the concept of justice. What is justice? Is our version of justice much harsher than the rest of the world? Why is that? Why do we want someone locked up for the rest of their lives or put to death. Why do we have the 3 strikes rule? Why are their "protected races" and harsher punishments for so called "hate" crimes than regular crimes? It really made me think about all of this. Maybe to be a more just society, we need to rethink our definition of justice -- especially in crimes that are non-violent in nature (do we really need to lock up drug users, or help them? do we really imprison people that right bad checks or just take away their ability to write checks?)

Now don't get me wrong - I'm not a crazy person that thinks prison is wrong. But I am a person that is wondering now what do we do with people when we lock them up. I mean, do we honestly think that if we just lock someone up they will change when we let them out? Isn't that the biggest form of denial ever??

I like this thought provoking thing that just happened . . . now just what to do with it . . .

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Three Weeks After: Fill 'er up!

Okay, so I didn't know this before - but when they put the band on, they don't fill it up. See -- there is this little issue with your gastrointestinal tract (like that Claire??) that when they mess with it, it swells. So, they have to wait three to four weeks for the swelling to subside so they can fill the band up.

So - I go to my first fill appt with several other people, and of course, the first step is to get weighed. Hmmmm, I'm not real excited about this, because between the surgery and now, I've been eating more and more, and the past week I've almost eaten regular size meals, which is NOT supposed to happen. I was a bit stressed out about the scale, and the scale confirmed my stress. I'd only lost an additional 3 lbs since my last weigh in . . .

Now, I'm thinking something major is wrong, like my band has slipped or it's not small enough - and after I sit down and we start talking, I find out everyone else has had the same experience as me. Then the nurse sits down with a big ol' grin and says "Y'all probably have eaten a lot more this week than the past few weeks huh?" She goes on to explain that means our swelling has gone down and they can go ahead and do the fill. I was like -- why in the HELL didn't you tell me before. I've been all stressed about it. (I didn't say that, I was much nicer in my delivery.)

I was much relieved after that. To get a fill, you have to get up on an xray bed that's literally like 3 feet off the ground, they had steps thank goodness! They use a flouroscope to locate the port valve under the skin, and they close it off completely. Then, you drink a little barium, and the doc slowly draws back the saline solution from the port until the barium trickles through. Ta-dah! I now have a small pouch of a stomach that holds about a half cup of chewed food. Might not seem like a lot, but then again that IS the point. My band holds up to 14cc's (when it's closed off), and I have 6 cc's in me :)

Now - they said it would take 3 to 6 fills to get the band at the right spot, but I'm not so sure about that. Mine, for the moment, is working rather well. I know this because if I don't follow what to eat when, it doesn't work out. The hardest thing to change in this journey is my behaviors around food. I've learned several times over NOT to eat too much, but I sometimes still do. It's weird because my mind tells me I should eat and I'm hungry, but I'm really not. I'm playing mind games with myself (and you thought there was only one way to do that, huh?).

Learning some new rules and restrictions - like no fried potatoes (that one hurts pretty bad!), fastfood is not good at all, chew at least 20 times before swallowing (shut up Nilla!), and don't drink until 60 min after you've eaten. It's all a bit challenging, but worth every minute. Even when I'm "learning" not to break the rules.

I feel so much more energetic than I have in years -- literally! Although the weight has primarily come off of my face, hands, and feet -- It's a start! I am proud to share that I no longer have cankles!! Well -- that's all for now. 23 pounds in 3 weeks is pretty sweet -- dontcha think? Now - must find a doctor in Topeka to do my fills so I don't have to go back to DFW every month . . .

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two Lives

Life is weird. I just wanted to get that out of the way.

So - those of you looking for an update on the Lap Band (aka my sis-in-law Vicki) will have to wait. This is more of a personal reflection about something I've been thinking about since I've been down here in Texas - and that is merging my "two lives".

See, I have two lives - one that took place before I was 28 and reality hit me, and the one that came after I dusted myself off. These two lives are very seperate, in many, many ways.

Endulge me on this rather long entry (as it is my blog). Before I was 28, I had one brother. I went to and graduated HS from Alvarado High and then graduated from A&M. I had one very special relationship with a wonderful woman and several whatever relationships with women that were convenient, but not what I wanted. I quickly lost interest in dating and focused on my career. I went to my Mother's when I was obliged (holidays, once in summer). That was my life. Very compartmentalized, very controlled, and very expected.

Then, in the summer of 2001, my mind exploded. Flashbacks of sexual abuse by my stepfather hit me. Depression, anti-depressants, tons of counseling, crazy/unexplained behavior, questioning everything in my life, denial, anger (the list goes on). Needless to say I was a fish out of water. I didn't really live during this time - it just passed. I call this my regeneration period.

During the Summer of 2007, I stepped into my current life. I had accepted who I was, and had also learned to be happy with who I am. I was able to say things like: "I am gay", "I am very, very angry with my mother", "I miss my father", "I need to pick myself up and get back to living", etc. I became who I am today. I'm at peace, happy, excited, hopeful, and just tickled pink (no pun intended) to be where I am. I remember the day that my step-mom called me and helped me re-establish my relationships with the side of my family that I had lost.

My sis-in-law had told me that she was stunned to learn that her husband had a third brother (that's me). It shocked her because that's how much I had withdrawn. It shocked me at how effective I was at doing that. I now see my brothers, my dad and step-mom, and my nephew and niece on a pretty regular basis - which is good considering I live in Kansas :)

So - why all this on my mind? Well - it's because of facebook! Yes, facebook . . . old friends from HS have stumbled across my page on facebook and have reached out to me to re-establish those friendships that were lost. They know the old me, not the person I've become. I'm very nervous about re-establishing these relationships. Notice I said nervous, but not hiding. I know I have hidden who I am for so many years that I don't want to do that anymore. So - here I am - being who I am - and finding out what lies in the water. I know some will gossip, and I know some will not be open, but I also know some will accept and continue to love me for me, and I don't want to lose those friends.

Whew . . . did I ramble on this . . . ;)

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Week After: Three Rings

Hello my Pretties! So, it's been one week since the surgery, and we're at 20 lbs. I'm flabergasted and excited . . . and not really that hungry. One of the things that I'm finding that will be the real struggle is to break my habit in eating, not actually the eating itself. But more on that in a moment . . .

You may have noticed that my weight loss total has only gone up by 3 lbs from the last graphic. At my first appt, I found out that the surgeon's scale was not working properly and therefore, mis-weighed me. It made all of the patients that day weigh light, not just me -- so phooey on that. But the bottom line is that 20 lbs have fallen off since the start, and that's just too cool for school.

Ring 1: My Aggie Ring
Yes, that is the picture of my beloved Aggie Ring. I have not been able to wear this ring comfortably for extended periods of times in probably 4 or 5 years. My fingers were just too damn big. However . . . I've now been able to wear it for the past 4 days, nonstop! For most, it's not a huge deal to wear your college ring, but A&M grads know that it's such a huge thing to qualify and get your Aggie Ring, and the vast majority of grads wear their rings for life. I was excstatic to be able to put it on my finger and be able to wear it again.

Ring 2: My Lap Band
Alright gang -- not to get too gross, but I had my first "bad band" That means that I had some issues keeping food down -- specifically lunch. I had tuna fish and some pasta (overcooked it as instructed) but let's just say it didn't agree with me. This was the one thing about the band that I was not happy about -- sometimes if you eat too much or are having a bad day, food doesn't stay put. Now, I HATE to throw up . . . HATE IT! But -- kind of odd to say but it wasn't as bad as an actual throw up. You don't wretch -- it just comes back up. My step mom calls it a "productive burp" (she has one too). So -- I've finally experienced that and know what to do.

Ring 3: The Block
So yesterday at the doctor's -- I got the okay to start walking for exercise. Yay?? Keep in mind I hate exercise, but am over it. I know that I won't like doing it, but will feel better after I do it (which I did). It's kind of the self-conscious part of me that thinks everyone is gonna point at the big guy exercising . . . but damnit! I should be!! So - I walked about 3/4 mile today. Just made a lap around a 3 block (or so) area where my parents live. Felt good to get out and just do it. Goal is by the end of next month, walking 2 miles three times a week.

So -- there's your weekly update (Thom!). I didn't want to bore everyone with this but it is the biggest thing going down in my life right now, so I need to capture it. It will be neat to go through all this later after all is going strong and see how silly I am on some stuff :) Until next time . . .