Eulogy

If you’ve met me you’ve met my mother.

I told my mother that’s how I’d start her eulogy.  When I arrived in Portland Oregon on Saturday evening she was alive, alert, and except for having difficulty breathing she was essentially normal.  So we did what we have always done.  We spoke to each other frankly about realities and our thoughts and feelings.

I had planned to come here Tuesday evening.  Last night.  I had planned to bring my youngest daughter Laura, so she could say good-bye to her grandmother.  We had been told she had less than six months to live.  I had planned to do a lot of things.  I had planned, selfishly, to pop in for a visit.  I was going to give the hugs and kisses, get back on my plane, and get a phone call in a month or two that mom had passed away.  Friday night that all changed.

My sister called me and said she felt like I didn’t have until Tuesday.  So I shuffled some money around and flew out here without my daughter on Saturday evening.  I arrived to find my mom talking about taking me to see Crater Lake.  I said to her, “I thought you were dying.”  She replied, “I’m sorry if I’m not dying fast enough for you”.  This is how we talked to each other.

My mother had asked a family friend and our former pastor to preach her funeral.  But then she decided that she’d rather just see him while she was alive and skip the funeral.  So my sister made a call and he flew out here.  He arrived late Monday afternoon.  As it turns out, I guess that was all she was waiting for.

We told stories.  Recalling shared memories from way back when.  Mom lay in her bed laughing late into the evening Monday.  Tuesday morning she sat in the chair at her new  hospice facility talking with her new doctor.  Still cutting up, though she was having trouble breathing.  The pastor and I went to breakfast.  When we came back she was feeling poorly and clearly weaker.  She lay in the bed listening to us discuss religion and beliefs, though I cannot recall her chiming in at all.  By Tuesday evening she was unconscious, and around 6 am this morning she passed away.  I have never seen a person decline so quickly.  The pastor agreed that he had never seen that either.

So here I sit an hour later…

I told my mother when I arrived that I had started writing her eulogy in my sleep on Friday night.  I told her that it started with, “If you’ve met me you’ve met my mother”.  She said, “If you can finish it I’d like to read it before I go”.  I’m sorry mom…I didn’t get a chance to do that.  But I’m writing it now.

My mother was loud and opinionated, just like me.  She said what was on her mind, and didn’t much care whether you liked it or not, just like me.  She was loved by some, tolerated by many, and hated by a few…just like me.  She found the humor in tragedy.  The last thing she did while she was still conscious was laugh.  It was tough to convince the doctors she was dying…I imagine they believe us now.

My mother was not a great woman, but she was a good woman.  She did not change the world, except in the way that people who touch individual lives change the world.  She raised two responsible, contributing members of society; and her DNA contributed to the creation of three of the greatest grandchildren to ever grace this planet.  She died the way she lived, laughing and talking smack.

This morning I became the oldest living Brewer.  I am the patriarch of my family now.  There is no longer anyone older and wiser for me to call for advice.  The buck stops with me.  While I am blessed to have a wife, two kids, and a sister who love me, there is a terrible loneliness in that realization.

I will never see her name pop up on the caller ID and think, “Christ…now what?”  I will never win another award, get another certification, receive another raise, or do anything that I am either proud or ashamed of ever again, and call my mom to tell her about it.  The voice that has asked me all of my life, “Is that the best you can do?’ is silent now.  The voice that said, “Douglas, I raised you better than that” will never prick my conscience again.

Those who think they know me will be surprised at how badly I am taking this at the moment, and likely also surprised by how quickly I appear to recover.  Those who truly know me will be surprised by neither.  I will survive and I will prosper.  I have been knocked down, but I will rise again.  Because I was raised by a fighter, and I don’t know how to stay down.

I am not comforted by the thought that I will see her again someday, because I do not believe that.  But she did… so who knows.  I am however comforted by the fact that I saw her before she left.  I laughed with her.  I hugged her.  I kissed her on her forehead and I said good-bye.  She did not die alone and afraid.  She died surrounded by people who loved her, and a hospice staff that saw to it that she died in comfort and with dignity.

In the end my mother’s legacy will be this. I will take the considerable resources at my disposal and do everything in my power to insure that some poor son or daughter, who does not have the financial means to pay for hospice care, is not forced to watch their parent die in some shitty hospital where they are just an inconvenience to a staff that barely cares.

I called my wife right after my mother’s last breath and I said, “Beverly we’re going to drop an entire ass load of money on this place in my mother’s name.”  To her credit my wife, who is also a good woman, simply replied, “Of course we are”.

If there is in fact life after death, my mother is somewhere right now laughing about something…and whatever it is, it’s probably something inappropriate.  While I do not cling to that as an article of faith, I hope for her sake that it’s true.

Mom, for the last time, let me answer your question.  No.  This is not the best I can do.  But it’s the best I can do right now.  I promise I’ll keep working at it.

Keep cool mommy.  Keep cool.

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Type 2 and Keto day3

Yesterday was pretty awesome!  I got to eat some really good stuff and my blood sugar, while still high, is high-normal.  Most importantly, it’s levelling out.  Here’s a quick recap.

  • 2:30 pm 181
  • 8:30 pm 188
  • 5:00 am 183  (today)
  • 10:30 am 135 (today)

For those who do not know, my blood sugar should be around 90 before I eat and up to 180 after I eat.  I did have meals between those measurements listed above, so my after-meal measurement is showing improvement.  My fasting measurement is also showing improvement, just not as much as I would like.

I am still taking my Metformin and Glipizide (for now), and carefully monitoring to avoid hypoglycemia.  But so far so good!

I had Haddock for the first time in my life yesterday.  Crusted in coconut and almonds.  Yummy!  The brussel sprout casserole was also very good.  I have concluded that my mother simply cooked brussel sprouts too long, which made them acidic, and that’s why I didn’t like them as a kid.

I baked some keto cookies which turned out decent.  I wouldn’t say they are yummy.  Definitely not Keebler.  But they are a passable, healthy alternative.

That last number, 135 at 10:30 am, was just taken prior to my breakfast (a peanut butter cup smoothie).  We’ll see how things look in an hour or so.  I’ll compile the numbers and report on today, tomorrow.

Headache is nearly non-existent, but still there.  Having some trouble sleeping, but I was dealing with that before all this.  I do feel like my vision is clearing up a little, so that’s a definite plus.  No other health pros or cons to report.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Type 2 and Keto day 2

For the record, Diabetes will not become the focus of this blog over the long-term.  But for the next couple of weeks I will be focusing on this particular journey.  Once things have settled out I will not be updating the world on my daily meals, blood sugar, etc.  To be honest, I’m not sure there’s any real value, or entertainment, in that.

My main purpose in writing is two-fold.  I either write to inform other people of my opinion on important matters, or I write to stir things up.  This diabetes/keto discussion is a bit of both.  Since it’s controversial, it’s right up my alley.  And since I have no products to sell, no speaking tours to populate, no books on Amazon…you can take what I say as exactly what it is.  My honest, personal experience.

So let’s get to it…

Physically I feel okay.  I have begun having slight headaches, and my stomach is confused about what all this new food is.  But, other than that, I’m doing okay.

When I woke this morning my BS was 174.  That’s the high end of normal, but it’s definitely progress.  I’m not going to update this every time I prick my finger, but I will summarize the important points as I move forward.

I have to say, this diet is way better than some of the other diets I have heard about.  I don’t much miss the things I cannot have, and the things I can have are tasty!  This morning was a blueberry/spinach smoothie for breakfast, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The wife and I have agreed that we are going to pick a handful of foods we really like and then follow the book for portion control and ingredients.  There is no need to eat things I don’t particularly like just because they are listed as dinner for Wednesday, when the dinner for Thursday is something I do enjoy.  I can just eat the same thing twice…or however we work it out.

I am down a couple of pounds.  By that I literally mean a couple.  But that is also progress.

The only issue I am having at the moment is long around 7 pm or so I start really jonesing for a snack.  I actually went to bed hungry last night.  Odd as it sounds, that actually kinda felt good emotionally.  I have tended in the past to stuff my face right up to bed time.  I am sure as my body adjusts these issues will work themselves out.

The agenda for the day is:

  • Eggs/avacado (was supposed the be breakfast, will be a snack instead)
  • The aforementioned smoothie
  • Cauliflower Cheddar soup
  • Nutty Shortbread Cookies
  • Baked Coconut Haddock with brussel sprout casserole

Calories 1607; Fat 123g; Protein 77g; Carbs 34g; Fiber 17g; Net Carbs 17g

Fat 77%  Protein 19% Carbs 4%

I’ll keep you posted.

 

Type 2 and Keto day 1

This blog has always been just me speaking my mind.  Right now my blood sugar is on my mind, so that’s what I’m going to speak about.  I find the thoughts of others informative, so please comment and share.  I prefer a dialogue to a monologue.

Quick recap.  I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a couple years ago.  I started out taking it seriously and trying to manage it, but I fell off the wagon and didn’t really make much of an attempt to get back on it.  However, the eye doctor informed me a while back that he is starting to see tiny hemorrhages in my eyes…  My whole life revolves around the ability to see and hear.  So I am back to taking it seriously.

I went back to the doctor about 6 weeks ago and got back on my meds.  I started trying to “watch what I ate”, but I had no real plan.  On the day of my visit, sitting in his office, my blood sugar was 550.  I have been testing regularly, and it’s not really coming down.  Mid 300’s is about where it hovers.  I wake up in the morning with a blood sugar in the mid 200’s.  Needless to say, this is a problem.  And I am a problem solver…

Over this past weekend my wife and I threw out all the food in our house.  We bought a couple of books with keto shopping lists, meal plans, and recipes, and we stocked the fridge and cupboards accordingly.  I started on the keto diet yesterday morning.

Now.  While I plan to document how this goes I also plan to discuss my thoughts and feelings on subjects related to diabetes and the keto diet.  So I want to start right here by doing that.

I cannot count the people who have decided to chime in on this.  Most of whom are not medical professionals.  Most of whom begin their interjection of their unsolicited opinion with, “I heard that…”  Yeah well…I heard that Santa Claus was real.  I heard that the Earth is flat.  I heard that misery loves company…  I don’t really care what you heard.  I care what you can tell me that is based on personal experience or scientific study.

For those who are medical professionals, or who stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night, I want to discuss frankly my thoughts on the medical community’s opposition to the keto diet for reversing type 2 diabetes.  Yes, I said reversing it.  Let me try to apply my thoughts in an orderly fashion.

1)  The officially sanctioned ADA classes I went to informed me that type 2 diabetes is a chronic, progressive, irreversible condition which will eventually blind me, cripple me, and eventually kill me (if cancer doesn’t get me first).  The only hope I had was to eat a low card diet and take medications.  Of course, due to the progressive nature of the condition I would require more and more medication as time went on…

So I said “cool”.  Low carb it is.  In fact I’ll go keto.  “Oh no!  No!  You cannot do that!”  They exclaim.  You’ll die, or some such thing.

So let’s be clear.  You want me to lower my carbs.  But you only want me to lower them to the point that I need medication to control my blood sugar?  Could that be because the ADA receives big money from big pharma, and they sell the shit out of insulin?  Is that at least possible?

2)  I am not a doctor, but I have a PhD in common sense.  If I ate my way into this situation, I can eat my way out of it.  If I am fat, dehydrated, tired, and going blind because there is too much sugar in my system, then I can change those things by reducing the sugar in my system.

3)  Let’s be real.  “Hey Doc, should I take all these meds for the rest of my life?”  “Why yes.  Yes you should.”  Come on man…  “Gee Mr. Drug Dealer.  I heard crack is bad for you.  Is that true?”  What the hell do you think they’re going to say?  These are the same people responsible for the opioid epidemic.  These are the same people responsible for antibiotic resistant super bugs.  These are the same people who cannot decide if popcorn is good or bad from year to year.

Here’s the bottom line.  Type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance.  The cure for something your body is resistant to is not to pump more of that into yourself.  That just builds resistance and causes you to need more and more of it to have the same effect.  Any cocaine addict can tell you this.

The cure, or answer if you prefer, is to increase sensitivity to insulin so that your body produces what you need and it does the job it’s supposed to do.  The keto diet may be extreme, and if it is too extreme I will modify it, but the point is to lower carb intake.  Which is precisely what the ADA says to do when you have type 2 diabetes!

In this life there are those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who wonder what happened.  I make things happen.  So for those of you too meek or scared to question what your doctor tells you…I will be your test subject.  I am going to try the keto diet for 28 days.  I am going to stick to the book like glue, and I am not going to cheat.  I will only deviate from this plan if my blood sugar drops so low that I need to take glucose to keep from dying.  For that reason I have glucose tablets sitting next to me at all times.

I will attempt to sit down every day and discuss my blood sugar levels, what I ate or plan to eat, how I am feeling, weight loss, etc.  It should be an interesting experiment.  As we near the end of the 28 days I will sit down with my wife and evaluate how things are going and what we plan to do for the next month.  If we are making progress toward our goals and don’t feel like death every day, then we will stick with the diet.  If we need to modify it a little, then we will.  My objective is to reach my objective, not to adhere to a method like it’s my religion (which is why I don’t have a religion).

Chime in!  Share this post!  I love to discuss, debate, share ideas.  I’d especially like to hear from anyone who has done what I am doing!

Stats this morning:

BS 205 at 7:50 am

Breakfast: 2 Deviled eggs with bacon chunks.

I’m drinking Diet Dr. Pepper which has no calories, no carbs, and no fat.  Aside from that I drink water.

Be Wary of a Woman

There’s a song by Darius Rucker called “Be Wary of a Woman”.  It is one of the many songs I relate to my wife Beverly.  In fact, every person I know or have ever known has one or more songs.  Perhaps in a future post I’ll publish that matrix…

In any event, I’m going to post the lyrics and a link to the song here before finishing this.  It’s important to the reason for which I am writing this morning that you understand who Beverly is.  Darius seems to know her.  My favorite line is where he says, “Man you don’t stand a chance, don’t even try…”

Be Wary of a Woman

If you’re a man like me who’s good at leaving
If you like your space and you love your freedom
Don’t see yourself as ever settling down
Or your whole world being tossed around
Be wary of a woman
A woman so fine
Don’t wanna change you
Loves you just right
Makes you feel like a man inside
Sometimes she’ll make you cry
Till you don’t know what your doing
Your out of control
Forget about leaving your heart wont go
If don’t like that you better run and hide
And be wary of a woman like mine

She’ll make you laugh when you feel like crying
Make you wanna live when you feel like dying
So if you like living in the dark
Just walk away your gonna lose your heart
Be wary of a woman
A woman so fine
Don’t wanna change you
Loves you just right
Makes you feel like a man inside
Sometimes she’ll make you cry
Till you don’t know what your doing
Your out of control
Forget about leaving your heart wont go
If don’t like that you better run and hide
And be wary of a woman
Be wary of a woman like mine
Man you don’t stand a chance don’t even try
Be wary of a woman like mine

Now, on to why I sat down to write this post this morning…

Two Thursday’s ago, completely out of the blue, the government cancelled the contract I am working on.  I work for a sub.  The prime was kind enough to give us two weeks before we had to vacate.  I woke up on that Friday intending to install all the equipment I had purchased for my new 180 gallon saltwater setup.  Roughly $5,000 worth of equipment sitting in boxes, and a probably a thousand or two in things like sand, rocks, chemicals, etc.

Needless to say, what was supposed to be a fun even involving the whole family turned into a long ass weekend, wondering what the future holds.  It’s hard to sleep when you just lost your job… and spent a butt load of money.

So there was a flurry of email activity, phone calls, resume’s being traded amongst the folks in the office.  In fact I have to say I have worked in a lot of places, and I have never seen a group of people work so hard to help each other out.

But let me get to the part about my wife…

I got an offer fairly quickly.  $100,000 to do vulnerability management at the Pentagon.  I went home concerned…

I told Beverly about the offer and she could tell by my tone that I wasn’t excited. She asked me what the problem was and I told her honestly, “I don’t want to work at the Pentagon”.  And then Beverly did something I cannot imagine a lot of wives doing…

She said to me, “I have faith in you.  Even if you have to spend some time looking, I know you’ll find a new job.  If you don’t want the Pentagon job, don’t take it.”  And so I didn’t.

As of this writing I have another offer letter sitting in my in box, and two more interviews lined up for tomorrow.  True to Beverly’s prediction, I will I fact have another job.  But there is freedom in knowing I am married to a woman who has complete faith in me.

This is what allowed me to walk away from an offer when I had nothing else on the horizon.  This is what allows me to be me, and to be who I want to be.  It’s what let’s me know that no matter what life throws at me there is one constant I can always count on…like gravity…like the speed of light…

So let me say officially…  I love you Beverly.

And to those of you who aren’t married to a woman like mine… you should try it sometime. 🙂

 

 

How a Fish Tank Kicked My Ass

On Thursday I left work excited.  I had purchased a bunch of new stuff for my 180 gallon saltwater tank.  Some of it I needed.  Much of it I just wanted.  I knew there would be some challenges, but I also knew I would overcome them.  I invited my children and my oldest daughter’s boyfriend to help out with the project.  I set up the camera to record it.

Then came Friday….

On Friday we began by upgrading the RODI unit while we waited for the kids to arrive.  Sometime early that morning I checked my email to find that the contract I was on had been cancelled.  Meaning, I am about to be unemployed.  So, I looked around my living room at thousands of dollars worth of equipment…and went back to it.

It only now (Monday morning) occurs to me that I could have simply sealed up all those shipping boxes and sent the stuff back.  At that point I hadn’t removed a single rock, fish, or gallon of water from the tank.  But, I have a tendency to focus on an objective, plot a route to achieve it, and move forward.  So the thought of giving up on the project didn’t cross my mind.

I think there is a tendency to reflexively look for an excuse when things go sideways.  It is certainly possible that the news of my pending unemployment, coupled with the fact I had just spent a whole lot of money, affected my thinking.  I know I didn’t sleep well Friday night.  In any event, for whatever reason, I made some mental errors.

I’ll end the suspense.  The tank is back up and running.  But, it was much harder than I thought it would be, and there were a few moments when it seemed uncertain.

On Friday, while I was still in relatively good spirits, I made an effort to capture a lot of the detail.  By Saturday night I was less enthusiastic about it, but I still captured some of the work we were doing.  Sunday….bloody Sunday…I don’t think I recorded a damn thing.

It boils down like this.  We took all the rocks and sand out of the tank and sterilized it with a bleach solution.  We disconnected the sump, removed the skimmer and other equipment, and sterilized all of that stuff as well.  We placed the fish in a 20g tank, and the inverts went in the 10g tank with the corals.

We put the new rock and sand in the tank and I filled it up…at which point I realized that I did not rinse the sand, and now my tank was a giant mud puddle.  I tried adding some clarifier, and we settled in to watch UFC 220.  At 1 am I was draining the tank again…  I got it empty and turned on the RO unit with the hose in the tank.  The next morning I discovered two things.

  1. The tank was only 1/3 full, and that wasn’t going to work.  So I finished filling it with the garden hose
  2. I had left the heater in the sump on all night.  Fortunately it was in the slightest little bit of water and hadn’t burned a hole through the acrylic.

After buying more salt and starting over we got the tank running and it cleared up reasonably.  My daughter and her boyfriend then hooked up all the pumps, dosing units, lights, controller, power bars, etc.  Needless to say the area beside my tank is a jumbled mess of wires and tubes.

Then came all the programming and calibration….

We finally finished at 8 pm Sunday night, and I went to bed exhausted.  This morning the tank is relatively clear, though not crystal clear like the 75g is.  The sump and everything in it is covered by a fine layer of dust.  The lights need to be mounted differently.  The corals need to be placed.  There is a ton of wire management needed.

Bottom line…. my weekend project is likely going to take a lot longer than that.  All the youngins are gone.  It’s just my wife and I.  I will spend days thinking of how I could have done it differently, more efficiently, better.  I will likely swap the rocks around repeatedly, chasing a “perfect” look that I will never find.

Eventually I will find some level of contentment.  There will be an agreement that what could be done, and what I can do, are not the same thing.  I will question for some time whether it was worth the expense, then ultimately conclude that it was.  In the end I will be happy with this tank.

But for right now, this fish tank is kicking my ass…

A New Blog

If you have ever enjoyed reading anything I’ve written here, I hope you’ll consider following me in my new endeavor.  I am going to write a blog to permanently store my thoughts and feelings for posterity.  Specifically to offer words of advice/wisdom to my girls.

You can find my new blog here:  https://paternalilluminations.wordpress.com/

I look forward to seeing you there.