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Pollyworm Books

My Journey Back


My passion is writing Mystery-Suspense novels and song lyrics with a touch of crazed poetry. Everyone that knows me is aware I have nothing to do with self-help or motivational books. I don’t believe a book can make me do anything I’m not in the mind to do. Especially something as difficult as weight loss. I started writing this book as a journal to my journey back to who I was before depression set in. There were mornings in the spring of 2016 when I didn’t care if I lived or died. I didn’t see where it was that much of a difference. There were a lot of things I could have contributed my depression to – my lack of a romantic relationship, my children having lives of their own, my job slowing down to four days a week, crippled finances, boredom, etc. But I choose to blame all my problems on my weight. This led to a much bigger dilemma. What was I going to do about it? I had tried several television hyped products that didn’t produce the desired results. Why set myself up for more disappointment?

Weight loss is not a quick fix. Unless you are committed to the long haul, you might as well remain seated on the bench. This weight loss game is serious. You either play to win or you shut up about it. Most of my life I had been a distance runner. After I put on the weight, I talked about running far more than I did when I was running. ‘I used to’ was my favorite opening line. People that didn’t know me ten or fifteen years ago, would look side eyed at me like ‘this fool lying his ass off’. They didn’t know why I stepped off the healthy wagon. All they knew is I’d probably never climb back up on it. And to this they are wrong. There’s a desire burning inside me that’s fueling my flames to be the man I once was


June 1, 2016, I stepped on the scales at Shelby Family Practice and the assistant read my weight out to me. Four hundred and fifteen pounds. I wanted to die. Really. Lie down right there in the floor and go see Jesus. For the past ten years, my weight has yo-yoed between three hundred and sixty-five and three hundred and ninety-five pounds. Never had I crossed over into the black hole of no return. But this doctor’s visit would be different because I was seeing my new doctor for the first time. Dr. Patel was thirty-four years of age, very smart, very hip and I liked him right away. My old physician Dr. Larry Smith had retired. Dr. Smith was a vegan and he preached veganism at every opportunity. I tried it. It lasted about a month. I tried vegetarian, I tried Slim-Fast, Weight-Watchers, Hydroxycut, Weight Loss Injections and Nutrisystem. The only thing that worked to get the weight off was Zumba. The side effect was all that dancing ruined my knees to the point I could hardly walk. I was buying expensive pain relief pills like Bi Flex just to get around. Six months of Zumba was fun and I got to dance in front of a lot of people but it just wasn’t good on my joints. When Dr. Patel suggested I be a candidate for invasive lap band surgery I said yes. I made a consultation appointment at Mercy Hospital for June 15. Meanwhile I commenced to praying and watching actual surgeries on YouTube.

Am I scared?

At this point I don’t know what to think. I do know I don’t want to be over four hundred pounds.

June 15, 2016. In a few hours, I will meet the doctors from Carolina Weight Management at Carolina Medical Center – Mercy to discuss my treatment options. I’ve researched on the Internet and came up with a few options that I think they will offer me. Adjustable Gastric Band, Gastric Bypass, and the Vertical Sleeve or VSG. What any of these things mean I have no idea. I will ask lots of questions.

I met Doctor’s Timothy Kuwada and Keith Gershwin. Together they have performed nearly 5,000 operations in the last 12 years. I’m in qualified hands. Insurance requires that your BMI be between 35 and 60 because of certain hospital limitations like fitting inside a CAT scan if needed to do so. 99% of today’s surgeries are performed laparoscopically verses open cavity surgery. Gastric Bypass normally takes two hours. It’s been around nearly sixty years. It is reversible if needed. Most weight loss. Vertical Sleeve takes about an hour. It’s been performed nearly ten years. It is non-reversal. Second most weight loss. Adjustable Ban is very easy to do but costly over the long run. High maintenance. Complaints of too loose or too tight. It is reversible if needed. Least amount of weight lost. I must call my insurance company to confirm how much I am covered and let them know which operation I am seeking. CWM will call me in the next seven days to confirm I am covered by insurance and set up an appointment with the doctor of my choice.

June 24, 2016. I got the call today. My appointment is Wednesday, August 17th, at 10:45. I have until then to get some of this weight off on my own.

June 26, 2016. I stopped by the doctor’s office and weighted myself. Four hundred and eight pounds. My goal is to get under four hundred before my appointment in August.

August 19, 2016. Follow up appointment with my new doctor Joelle Mengang at Shelby Family Practice. Last Wednesday (August 10) I scheduled an emergency appointment due to swelling in the left breast, redness of skin, and soreness of touch. Signs of Cellulitis. The Doctor prescribed Doxycycl for seven days. Today my blood pressure is 137 over 72 and I weight four hundred and five pounds. The swelling has decreased a little, but the other symptoms still exist. Dr. Mengang prescribed seven more days of Doxycycl. I’m scheduled to see her again on September 8th. If the swelling is still present, she will order an ultra sound to see what else is going on. I feel pretty confident that everything will work out okay. I’m not in any physical pain but I am ashamed of my double D’s.

August 25, 2016. Until I get a full lab report and the doctor tells me for sure that I have inflammatory breast cancer it is in my best interest to believe it’s something else. Yet, I do have eyes and my eyes show me that the left breast isn’t getting smaller. In fact, I’m beginning to feel soreness and heaviness during waking hours. I’m embarrassed to go out in public because in my mind everyone can see the difference in my breast size. I’ve also come to learn that this is indeed a private matter. Out of the three people I’ve spoken with, two tell me not to talk it into existence. A third person is a coworker whose wife died of breast cancer. So, I keep my thoughts and opinions to myself.

August 29, 2016. Shelby Family Practice called and informed me that Dr. Mengang has arranged for me to get an ultra sound. Waiting for an appointment date.

August 30, 2016. In light of what is going on with my left breast I called Cleveland Weight Management and pushed back my consultation appointment from tomorrow to October 28, 2016. That’s two months longer I have to wait but I really want to get to the bottom of the breast issue before I start cutting other parts of my body. Cleveland County Imaging called today on my way to work and scheduled me an ultra sound tomorrow at 11 o’clock. And now it starts. To God be The Glory. Dance Above The Clouds. Amen!

September 2, 2016. First a guy from Shelby Family Practice called to inform me I have an appointment next Friday, September 8th at 11 o’clock with Shelby Surgical Associates. Of course, I have no idea what he is talking about. I’m driving on my way to get my hair twisted. He is under the assumption that someone had called and consulted with me. No – they haven’t I tell him. Awkward. He apologizes over and over telling me he will talk to my doctor’s assistant. He hangs up and fifteen minutes later the assistant does call. She said she just started working for Dr. Mengang yesterday. According to her the ultra sound found an abnormality and the radiologist suggested a surgeon go in and check it out. Yeah, okay. The radiologist told me that my lymph nodes looked fine and everything was okay except for a bruise on my skin that hasn’t gone away with treatment. He suggested I get a mammogram. How did I go from a mammogram to a surgical consultation?

It’s not going to ruin my day or my week but it is a little more than I expected. By the way, I felt twinges of pain a couple times last night and a time or two this morning. So yeah, something is indeed wrong with me. The sooner the better we get this thing figured out. To God Be the Glory.

September 7, 2016. Terrible mix-up this morning. Shelby Family Practice automated caller called to confirm my appointment for tomorrow morning at nine-twenty. While this message was playing, Shelby Surgical Associates automated caller called to confirm my surgery consult for tomorrow at eleven o’clock. I had forgotten the follow up appointment with Dr. Mengang and the consult I thought was for Friday. I had just finished cooking breakfast and my appetite went out the window. Suddenly my situation seemed super serious except I was not in on what was going on. Last week’s Ultra Sound results still hasn’t come yet. As I type this, I’ve calmed down a bit. I’m still giving Glory to God.

Letter of Explanation arrived today. Hypo echoic non-encapsulated appearance of the left upper outer quadrant breast corresponding to an area of enlargement and discoloration. Given the history, this most likely represents a non-encapsulated hemorrhage/hematoma of the left upper outer quadrant breast possibly related to the exercise. Differential still includes abscess/infection and tumor. Bilateral mammography is necessary for further characterization. I have no idea what any of this means.

September 8, 2016. Appointment with Dr. Mengang at Shelby Family Practice. Doctor put in order for me to take a mammogram. I will return for a follow up appointment in four weeks on October 11, 2016.

September 8, 2016. Appointment with Dr. Rice at Shelby Surgical. Doctor performed an Ultra Sound in the exam room and feels like I have a hematoma. I made an appointment for Monday at 9:00 with him to open me up and drain the bruised blood.

September 9, 2016. Shelby Family Practice called to inform me I have a mammogram appointment next Tuesday September 13, at 10:00 with Kings Mountain Imaging Center.

September 12, 2016. Hematoma surgery this morning with Dr. Rice. (A hematoma is a collection of blood, usually the result of bleeding somewhere inside the breast tissue. Hematomas can be caused by a number of things, such as trauma from a sports injury or car accident, or a hard bump to a weak blood vessel. They usually don’t require biopsy. Hematomas usually resolve on their own but that can take 4-6 weeks. Very large hematomas have to be surgically drained.) Dr. Rice tried to drain with a syringe. When that didn’t work, he made an incision. Still couldn’t get drainage. A biopsy was then taken of a lump inside my breast. Skin tissue and lump tissue were taken to be sent to a lab. I’m scheduled to come back next Monday September 19, 2016.

Dr. Rice suggested I cancel my mammogram on tomorrow. Mammograms are painful and I’m gonna be in enough pain. Prescription for Hydrocodone.

It has never become a question of ‘why me’? It is happening to me. The only alternative is to deal with it.

September 13, 2016. Weighted three hundred and ninety-nine pounds this morning. Feeling better Mind, Body and Soul. My morning then went south after Harvey Jr. texted to inform me he was in the ER and had been there since we talked yesterday. Like Father, Like Son we don’t shout for attention, we just do what we have to do and deal with it. Harvey Jr. came home mid-morning and is getting rest. I won’t broadcast his condition but I will say everything is fine and God is in Control. Harvey Jr. didn’t get a chance to visit this site yesterday. Today after he reads this and wishes it to be private, I will erase it. Life is a challenge, no new day is promised, so we must enjoy the moments and continue to praise the Lord. Amen!

September 14, 2016. Changed bandage this morning. Of course, I have regular size bandages and I need the largest self-adhesive size. All that military training became useful as I shored up the leakage. I then called the doctor’s office to request an appointment. Dr. Rice is confident I can handle the situation and to keep my appointment on Monday. I tend to talk too much when I go to the doctor or dentist about my military background. A trip to Walgreens and I returned with the proper bandages. Thank God I keep a pretty well stocked first aid box.

September 19, 2016. Appointment with Dr. Rice. *Final Report* A. Skin and soft tissue, left breast, biopsy: benign keratosis and nonspecific mild chronic inflammation; negative for hyperplasia or carcinoma. B. Breast, left, needle core biopsy: stromal changes consistent with organizing contusion; keratin immunostain shows no unexpected staining, excluding carcinoma.

Treatment. Referring back to Cellulitis. Sulfamethoxazole-Trimethopri (SMZ/TMP) twice a day for 14 days. I am to come back in three weeks for a follow up. I can go back to concentrating on the gastric bypass surgery.

October 10, 2016. Three weeks follow up appointment with Dr. Rice. Weight down to 392 lbs. this morning. Diagnosis: Unspecified lump in breast. Additional Comments: Persistent left breast mass. Mammogram scheduled for tomorrow October 11th at Cleveland Imaging Center. Will return to Dr. Rice October 18th to obtain Mammogram results.

October 18, 2016. Appointment with Dr. Rice. *Final Report* Digital Diagnostic Bilateral Breast Mammography with CAD. Findings: Bilateral MLO and CC views are performed. There are scattered fibro glandular densities which may obscure a lesion. No signs of malignancy. Re-demonstration of a 7-cm maximum dimension hematoma in the left breast. This has been biopsied and proven to be a hematoma. No signs of malignancy.

Impression: Stable mammogram. No radiographic evidence for malignancy.

Appointment 6-8 weeks to discuss follow up treatment if needed.

October 28, 2016. On the drive to Charlotte my phone rings. Shelby Surgical Associates wants to reschedule my appointment on November 28th. Dr. Rice is leaving the practice and wishes to see all his patients one last time. My appointment is rescheduled to Friday, November 4th. Just great. I’ve had so many different doctors this year I can hardly keep up.

Appointment Carolinas HealthCare System. Bariatric Consult with Dr. Keith Gersin. Problem List: Benign hypertension; Diverticulosis; Dyslipidemia; Hx of adenomatous polyp of colon; Metabolic syndrome; Morbid obesity; Obstructive sleep apnea; Well adult exam.

All those big words mean I have to have a fitness assessment, consult with a nutritionist, consult with a psychologist, have a Dexa scan (x-ray to measure bone loss), a recent colonoscopy (last had one five years ago), and follow a six-month doctor supervised weight loss program.

I didn’t decide today. I’m scared of how much it will cost me out of pocket. Will talk to my insurance carrier ASAP and call back. Right now, it looks like May or June before I go under the knife.

November 3, 2016. Teresa called from the Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute in Charlotte to schedule me an appointment for a Heart Echo Test (Echocardiogram). I have a follow up appointment with Dr. Rice at 10:30 tomorrow at Shelby Surgical Associates. I asked if I could be seen in Shelby rather than drive to Charlotte. She found me an opening with Dr. Nelson Seen tomorrow at 2:00 in Shelby. Once again, I will see two different doctors in one day. Dr. Seen’s office is directly across the street from Shelby Surgical. Wow, the time difference means I have to drive over there twice. I’ve pretty much decided I’m going to follow through on having the gastric bypass surgery. One day at a time. Praying for strength and guidance.

November 4, 2016. Appointment with Dr. Nelson Seen at Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute. Diagnosis: Exertional shortness of breath. Systolic murmur, unspecified. I am scheduled to take Transthoracic Echo and Treadmill Stress Test in three weeks at Cleveland Regional Medical Center. Appointment made to see Dr. Seen in four weeks.

November 11, 2016. Follow up lump in left breast appointment with Dr. Mengang. Nothing new to report. Discussed six-month doctor supervised dietary plan. Next appointment as needed.

November 22, 2016. Cancun, Mexico. I flew down with my brother Shawn to visit my son Cory and his wife Marlene. Lately I’ve gotten so wrapped up in my fear of dying that I overlooked the thrill of living. Sitting here on the beach at Cancun, Mexico watching a young couple parasail over me got my adrenaline racing.

Why can’t I do that?

Jet skis race back and forth in front of me with happy laughing couple’s hell bend on living life to the fullest. Minutes later a monster size yacht glides pass. I’m reminded of the dreams I didn’t pursue, of the imagination I failed to grasp. Beautiful women still look at me, but the engaging ‘come get this’ smile is no longer there. Or is it?

November 23, 2016. Cancun. Last night while blissfully filled with alcohol I engaged playful conversation with the most desired women in the Coco Bongo Club. Having secured a seat right next to the stage entrance all the performers had to notice me. I flirted my freaking butt off with the ladies and by gawd if they didn’t flirt back. It was playful, it was innocent, but most important it made me feel alive again and not like I was just existing on a death row sentence. I also got quite a bit of attention from the ‘bad girls. I didn’t count how many young beautiful girls rubbed or let me fondle their breast while they whispered, they wanted to f--k me in my ear. It was exciting and funny at the same time. The surprised hurtful look on their pretty faces when I told them no and they ought to be ashamed. I’m old enough to be their grandfather. One girl tried to explain to me that sex and age didn’t matter. I said of course, it’s all about the money. No money, no sex. I want my sex in a loving relationship and she should experience hers that way. She talked a little while longer before giving up on me. And all this was my first day in beautiful sunny Cancun.

November 24, 2016. Now something weird just happened. I’m sitting here on the beach alone minding my own damn business writing when an attractive blonde undressed down to her tiny bikini in front of me. She then struts over to rent a jet ski. The hunky guy with her is glaring at me like it’s my fault she did what she did. Dude, I’m a writer. I have gray hair. I wear glasses. There are some women who find that erotic. All those muscles and he still acts like a punk. I couldn’t help but notice when they got on the jet skis the beauty queen put his punk ass on the back. She took the wheel.

On the tour boat to Isla Mujeres I met a beautiful young woman from Costa Rico. As fate will have it the only available seat on the upper deck was next to me. As she sat down, I mentioned that I love her 35mm camera and the sparks between us start to fly. She explained how she loves taking pictures, she loves sailing, and she loves to experience new exciting adventures. I told her that I love taking pictures, I spent ten years in the Navy, and I love to travel to new countries and adventures. I mentioned that years ago I owned a camera similar to hers. A 35mm Minolta zoom lens. She shared that her name is Lidia and gave me her camera to show how far technology has advanced since I owned one. Lidia has a Nikon with a zoom wide lens. We continued to talk and Lidia revealed her hustle to make ends meet. She shoots pictures for newspapers and magazines, and she works at an outdoor center selling ATV’s and snorkeling gear. Lidia tried to tell me more but I can’t cross the language barrier. Her native tongue is Spanish and her English is hit and miss. We shared a beautiful moment together. I gave her my business card to friend me on Facebook and to check out my books on Amazon.

Today was a good day.

November 25, 2016. Thanksgiving Day is spent with Shawn and Cory exploring the Temples of Tulum. My god what a beautiful paradise tucked away on a bluff facing the rising sun. A trolley pulled by a tractor carried us to the top and our guide Gabriel led us around explaining the history of the site. The Tulum ruins are the third most visited archaeological site in Mexico. Tulum means ‘wall’. The earliest date found at the site is A. D. 564 an inscription on a stela. Tulum was the primary location for the Maya’s extensive trade network with both maritime and land routes converging there. I took dozens of pictures of the ruins and the breathtaking views of the Caribbean.

I tried not to complain too much about the walking since I have to take a Stress Test at 7:30 Monday morning at Cleveland Regional Medical Center. The sun is pretty hot and we only have one large bottle of water between us. After viewing the site, we walked a little way to catch the trolley that carry us back to the main park. I swear I lost ten pounds.

On the drive back to Cancun we stopped off in the city of Playa del Carmen. This is the city that Cory has moved to. A peaceful and serene Eden by the sea. The atmosphere feels like I’m back in the Mediterranean. There’s even a Belgian Chocolate Waffle Shop. I hadn’t seen one of those since I was in Benidorm, Spain back in the early eighties.

We sat on a balcony overlooking the busy market street below. Our Thanksgiving dinner Italian consisted of suprema pizza, four cheese pizza, garlic bread, and mussels in white wine and garlic. We’re too exhausted to eat but give thanks for the Cowboy-Redskin game being broadcast in the restaurant. Dem boys win.

I’m coming to understand that life is a journey to be experienced live. Reading about it, watching it on television or the Internet doesn’t do life justice.

Nah bitch, I ain’t dead yet.

Dance Above the Clouds

November 28, 2016. Heart Echo Ultrasound and Heart Stress Test at Cleveland Regional Medical Center. Thanks to Shawn and Cory for making me walk all over the place last week in Mexico I’m proud to say I passed. God is so good.

December 7, 2016. Appointment with Dr. Amanda Eckenrode at Shelby Surgical Associates. Arrived not knowing what to expect. After we discussed my breast history, she asked what I wanted. I wanted the same thing I wanted from the beginning. I wanted the issue to be gone. Dr. Eckenrode explained the surgery procedure to me and I accepted the outcome. Surgery is a go for next Monday. Post-Op tomorrow at the hospital so that they can explain everything in detail. Right now, I’m nervous, I’m excited, but I’m sure I’m doing the right thing.

December 8, 2016. Appointment for Pre-Op Cleveland Regional Medical Center. Signed all the paperwork, listened to a ton of instructions, glad they gave me information to take home and read over, and I got my blood work out of the way. Called my insurance company this morning and arranged for short term disability. This gave me my vacation days back at work so I took today and tomorrow off and will sell the remainder back to the company. Came home and lit the fireplace. Waiting on Monday morning.

December 11, 2016. Went to bed Sunday night at 8:30 which was way too early.

December 12, 2016. I awoke at 2:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I got up at 4:00 and prepared for my 7:15 check in. I arrived at 6:15, an hour early, and immediately was taken to a pre-surgery room. I’ve never checked in for surgery and given a room before. All my previous surgeries have been emergency, meaning I broke something on my body and went straight in. Daddy arrived around eight and was soon followed by my sister in law Jackie. Phil waited in the waiting area with their granddaughter. Doctor Amanda Eckenrode came down at 8:30 to warn me I would be later than my scheduled 9:30 time. A more serious patient was ahead of me that would warrant special attention. I was finally taken up to surgery at 10:30. Don’t remember details. My eighty-year-old dad, my brother Phil and his wife Jackie stayed with me until after it was over. I love blessing and doing things for other people but I totally dislike other people lifting a finger to help or bless me. It has really humbled me to see the love of family this afternoon. My brothers and sisters and their families, uncles and aunts, cousins and friends all dropped in to wish me well, and for this my heart owes you much gratitude. The mastectomy was a success. I feel really good just not ready to eat. You reap what you sow, so thankful to feel appreciated.

The closer I got to dying, the easier it was for me to die. I am at peace with my life. No regrets.

December 13, 2016. Doctor Eckenrode arrived just after 11:00 to check me over. Discharge diagnosis: Gynecomastia, male: left breast. Prescribed Oxycodone. My vital signs looked good and the wound leaked fluid down into a tube on my side like it’s supposed to. Dr. Eckenrode cleared me go home as soon as my ride could pick me up. Whew! Hopefully now I will get some sleep. Life is good Amen!

As I type this the soreness is creeping in all over my upper body. I took a pain pill an hour earlier but I can’t tell much of a difference. I will try to sleep it off. Thank you, Phil and Jackie, for bringing me home. Thank you, Daddy and my baby sister Felicia, for dropping off the KFC and homemade pound cake. I will try to eat on it tomorrow. Life is good, Amen!

December 17, 2016. Woke up early, shaved and changed my bandages. Recovery is going smoothly and my attitude is positive. Had to take a deep breath before I addressed seeing the wound. About as much fun as emptying the drainage ball attached to my chest which I have to do four times a day. I think I'm ready to watch the mastectomy video on YouTube today. Working in the hospital and being a patient is worlds apart. My blood is more horrifying to watch than your blood. Let's all Dance Above the Clouds today, Amen!

Two days ago, when I wanted to go to the Post Office my brother Shawn and my dad had to give my car a jump start. Seeing that a winter storm is due tomorrow I decided to charge the battery with my portable charger. Afterward I drove straight to Advance Auto for a new battery. That money could have been used for hospital bills for I ain’t gonna worry about it at this point. Plenty more bills are coming. Just thank God I can pay whatever it is I can. Life happens whether we like it or not. I’m due to see Dr. Eckenrode Monday and I had to be sure I had transportation.

Thank you, Phil and Jackie, for the homemade oyster stew, Deborah and Tyrone for the tuna salad, bananas, and crock pot beef stew, Felecia for the soda, homemade pound cake and KFC, and Uncle Johnny for the Ruffles potato chips. You guys know what I love to eat and I ain’t mad at ya.

December 19, 2016. Follow up Post-Op appointment with Dr. Eckenrode at Shelby Surgical Associates. Chest bandages removed. Drainage tube removed. Bandage to cover wound. The left breast looks to be symmetrical and I’m feeling good about making the decision for surgery. I’m to do no upper body exertion for the next two weeks. Get plenty of lower body exercise. And I will.

I swore I would never spend my hard-earned money on bottled water. And then about seven months ago I purchased a case and put it in an old mini fridge in my rec room. The taste of water is boring therefore I started buying zero calorie flavor packets and now I’m hooked. With the lead poisoning problem in Flint, Michigan and now some other cities around the country, I seldom drink tap water. Sometimes I get a case of Lipton’s Green Tea zero calorie. Every doctor and nutritionist will tell you to not drink your calories. A Coke and other soft drinks have up to 320 calories per bottle, Tropicana Orange Juice 110 calories, and Sprite 120 calories. Water is zero. It just makes good sense. Small changes to the diet pay heavily down the road. I have to keep my eyes on the big picture of a leaner healthier me.

A good rule I follow is “If I don’t bring it home, I can’t eat it.” Driving pass fast food joints and ignoring those mouth craving commercials is hard but necessary work.


January 3, 2017. Appointment with Dr. Eckenrode at Shelby Surgical Associates. Follow up was great. I am to come back in three months just for a look see. Cleared to do upper body exercises at home. I should be able to go back to work in two weeks. Thank you, Father God, for the overcoming of another experience I can be a witness to. Dance Above the Clouds, Amen!

January 9, 2017. Doctor Eckenrode said I can return to work on January 30th which is a Monday. Until then I’ll walk on my treadmill, ride my elliptical bike, work out on the Solar Flex and use the weight bench. I still have the occasional aches and pains. I swallow my pain pills and suffer in silence. Ain’t nobody wanting to hear complains. There are good days, there are bad days, and then there are just days. It’s all good in God’s Kingdom.

Sometimes I wonder if the Hematoma will come back. After all, it was never really determined why it happened to me in the first place. My doctors suspected it came from an injury I inflicted while lifting weights. They believed the weight caused my injury because that’s what I told them. To be honest, I don’t know. It’s hard for me to believe I dropped that ten-pound weight that hard to do that much damage. We can only speculate.

February 2, 2017. I returned to work on Monday, January 30th feeling pretty good about my health. For some reason my appetite has decreased and I’ve gone from 2500 calories a day down to 1500 to 1800. Yesterday I was very busy trying to switch my cell phone service so I didn’t eat until supper. Grand total of 1085. If I can keep this low-calorie count going, I may bypass having the gastric bypass. I read an article yesterday in Men’s Health about a guy from Charlotte named Vinson Smith who used to weigh 505 pounds and now he weighs 220. He lost 285 pounds since 2007 by portion control, eating real food and strength training. He now does yoga three times a week and coach’s high school football to stay active.

The mastectomy surgery and the hospital bills that followed has deterred me from taking on more financial obligations this late in life. I went back to college at fifty so now I have student debt. The average age having bypass surgery is forty-two and 83% female. Not in my favor.

In order to have the gastric bypass my insurance provider requires me to undergo a six-month doctor supervised diet plan. I figured by doing this diet plan I will be able to jump start my determination toward my goal. Too early to decide now one way or the other. Right now, I’m happy, I’m healthy, and I’m alive.

Each day I do a little more, I gain a little less. Like trying to carve a statue of David out of a block of steel.

February 7, 2017. The best reason for going back to work is I’m able to provide for myself in the manner I’ve become accustomed to. Medical leave was 60% of my regular salary. From this all of my standard deductions were subtracted. For the past six weeks I’ve had to survive on a third of what I generally brought home. Great incentive to get off my ass and get back in the hustle. In my case I went right at three weeks without a check because my company switched to a new payroll system and ‘Yours Truly’ wasn’t included. I was told about five or six of us across the country were omitted and had to be manually inputted into the payroll. For many years I’ve donated to those out of work or returning home from the hospital with groceries or spending money. It came as a shock when no one thought to include me when blessing the sick and shut in. Aside from four individuals that I shall not name, my situation was just that, My Situation. I’m wiser now and a heck of a lot more confident that I can do for myself. Last week I infused parts of the Ketogenic Diet into my eating program. I’ve dropped eleven pounds in eight days. At work I’ve begun parking in my old parking space at the far, far bottom of the lot to sneak some walking in my life. I parked in that space for over twenty years and I had the body to prove it. I’m back now, breathing like a stuck pig, but I’m worth it. To God be the glory.

February 17, 2017. I completed the entire week at work. Last Friday I only worked a half a day. I’ve noticed I only work out in my home gym on the weekends, putting in the most effort on Sunday. This tells me I have to concentrate more on my endurance training. Riding my bike and walking on the treadmill will greatly improve my wind. I believe it has helped me by parking at the far end of the parking lot. Coming in the plant is all uphill. Slow and steady gait. Going to my car after work is fun and gives me a sense of satisfaction. I have been sleeping better of late, waking only once or twice a night. There was a time last year when I was waking up every two hours. Mostly to pee or either I just wasn’t sleepy. I go to bed tired now. To get down to my desired weight I have to incorporate more endurance training into my mornings. I don’t want to give up on myself now. Too much self-love invested.

Out of pocket medical expenses total $4500. I will use my Federal Tax Return to pay some of it and arrange to make monthly payments. My chest healed well and my weight is down to three hundred and eighty-five pounds. Give God all the glory.

February 25, 2017. For my birthday, my son Cory and his wife Marlene gave me a Fitbit watch and two outstanding cookbooks. ‘The Shredded Chef’ by Michael Matthews and ‘The skinnytaste’ by Gina Homolka. I seriously don’t know which gifts will be the end of me? The Fitbit is either going to help me or kill me. I’ve worn it only two days and I’m tired all the time. It is like the darn thing is daring me not to move so it can report my butt to the ‘He Really Don’t Want to Lose Weight Police’. Meanwhile the cookbooks are challenging me to eat new foods, many that I can’t even pronounce. I went to the grocery yesterday and bought cumin, kosher salt, Quick Oats, chipotle, cilantro, avocado, Brussel sprouts, and red peppers. I spent over fifty bucks and not one piece of meat to show for it. Oatmeal hamburgers? Really?

I HATE BEANS! The last two days I’ve eaten more chili beans and black beans than I normally consume in a year. Constant trips to the toilet and my stomach seems to always be bloated. On a good note, I drank two Cokes this week. My excuse was the soda calmed my aching stomach.

Pray for me. I’m in desperate need.

March 27, 2017. Yeah, I know, it’s been a hot minute since I last commented on this blog. I didn’t forget, I’ve just been busy. This new Fitbit is kicking my butt, in a good way of course. My first full week was 47,771 steps, then I went up to 49,618 steps, followed by 47,812 steps. This past week I quit playing around and put in a whopping 58,139 steps. I’m here to tell you, it kicked my butt big time. My week runs from Sunday to Saturday, that being said I didn’t do a John Brown thing yesterday but sleep and watch movies on Netflix. Last week daily totals were Sunday 4,469, Monday 11,059, Tuesday 11,262, Wednesday 8,695, Thursday 9,234, Friday 8,381, and Saturday 5,039. Way, way out of my comfort zone. Two of my coworkers have Fitbits, but I haven’t hooked up with them yet. Kyle works on a computer all day and runs his kids to events after work. He stopped wearing his Fitbit because his totals were embarrassing. Daniel competes with his wife and her schoolteacher friends who run after work. He averages over 75,000 steps per week. Daniel took his daughter to Carowinds last Friday night and had to park far away. He finished the week with 110,000 steps. Now both his knees ache. He’s walking at my level now. At this point, I’m good just pushing myself. My diet is going well. I’m preparing almost all of my meals at home which the doctors say is better for me. Speaking of doctors, I cancelled my appointment last week with Dr. Mengang. We were supposed to set up a six-month diet program. The day before my appointment I received notice she is leaving the practice in a few weeks. I didn’t feel like starting something with her that she wasn’t going to be around to finish. I have gone through a ton of doctors in the past 12 months. Enough already. Glad to report I’m feeling years younger than I felt at this time last year. Most people I meet can’t imagine I’m 60 years old. Age ain’t nothing but a number, right? Proper mindset, good eats, yeah, I got this.

May 11, 2017. I arrived at my 11:45 appointment at 11:30, anxious to be seen for my follow up. Thirty minutes later I’m still reading old magazines in the lobby. At 12:10 I get up and inquire at the front desk as to what my hold up would be, as I’m the only one in the waiting room. Two other couples were there for billing reasons and long since left the building. While the receptionist goes to my left to check, a nurse’s aide approaches me from my right to lead me to an exam room. She tells me there is already someone waiting in another exam room who hasn’t been seen yet and I’m going to be awhile. Nay to the Nay. I ask to be rescheduled, I have to go to work in a few and I first have to go home and get ready. Back to the front desk. My new shift starts next week and I will have Fridays off. No Friday openings until late in June. You know what, forget the follow up, if I have any questions I will call. I feel great. I’m training to walk in another 5K. I still have to work on my determination and will power.

May 15, 2017. Total lifestyle change. To get ready for my first day back on first shift I took last Friday off and started to cut back on the time I went to bed. Second shift has no wake up or go to bed boundaries. Sunday, Mother’s Day, I relaxed in the mountains at Lake Lure, North Carolina. It was glorious, peaceful, magnificent. I went to bed that night at nine o’clock. I awoke and got up at 4:15 to be at work at 6:00. I haven’t worked 10 hours in maybe 10 years. Plus, I wore relatively new safety shoes which disagreed with my feet. When I got off at 4:00 I was no good to anybody. I sat on my patio for an hour eating shelled peanuts and listening to the radio on my phone. Last night I went to bed at 9:30. Felt a whole lot better when I got off.

May 16, 2017. Woke up this morning at 3:30. I stayed in bed awake until 4:30 before getting up and working out in my home gym until 5:30. It may take a minute but I will figure it out. Meanwhile, I logged in 10,723 steps on Fitbit yesterday and on par to cross 10,000 again. I had 2000 steps before six o’clock.

June 1, 2017. Some experience the last 12 months have been. If you don’t grow, you die. I have experienced a little of each. I’m still not out in front with my health but I’m gaining ground with a positive attitude. I’ve risen to 60,000 steps per week on my Fitbit compared to 45,000 when I started in March. I do very well Monday through Friday and slack off Saturday and Sunday. This has to change and I’ve concentrated firmly on that effort. As for my general overall health, I suspect I have a prostate problem yet I have yet to see a doctor. I have to pee constantly throughout the day. Sometimes a couple of times during the night. The weight is coming off slowly. I went to a Zumba event last Friday which sadly embarrassed me. Terribly out of condition. I will continue to focus forward with help from God.

July 26, 2017. I was packed and ready to go to Detroit, Michigan, 27th Annual Tory Family Reunion. Shawn was to ride with me. At 10:15 cell phone rings. Shawn tells me that Shawnie called him to say Daddy is in his pickup truck unresponsive. Shawn instructed him to call 911. I hung up, put on my shoes and drove to the hospital. I was standing at the emergency room entrance when the ambulance arrived. As they took Daddy out, I got a sense something was not right. The ventilator pump was at maximum and Daddy’s chest and stomach rose and fell at a rapid unnatural rate. I tried to follow the gurney into surgical room #14 when the doctor ordered me to wait in the public waiting room. Fifteen minutes later the family was told to move into a private waiting area. The doctor and a hospital administrator came in with the news. “We tried everything we could but we could not revive him.” I hugged the doctor. Shouts and screaming all around me. The news will sink in over the following days but for now I have to deal with the moment. We waited for the coroner to come and pronounce daddy dead. Eventually we were led to a viewing room where we said our goodbyes to his body. Now began the difficult challenge of funeral arrangements, writing the obituary, the home going service, and dealing with the estate.

August 3, 2017. Shoal Creek Baptist Church. The family gathered to give Daddy a homegoing service. Family and friends came from all over the states to be with us in our time of grief. The service was very touching and daddy was well remembered. I suffered a lot of remorse when I picked his gravesite, therefore I skipped the burial service and stayed at the repast.

August 4, 2017. Shelby Family Practice. First appointment with my new Nurse Practitioner, Cynthia S. Johnson. I asked Doctor Johnson to check my testosterone level. Results from my exam, sodium level is slightly high at 147. Should be 137-145 range. Total protein is slightly high at 8.3. Should be between 6.3 – 8.2. She asks that I don’t add extra salt to my food and drink plenty of water. This should be an easy treatment plan to follow.

August 8, 2017. Shelby Family Practice called to inform me that my Testosterone is low. Appointment made with Shelby Urology Partners at the end of the month.

August 9, 2017. I thanked all the family members on Facebook from both my mom and dad’s families that traveled from California, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, Ohio and Georgia. Also, I thanked my sisters and brothers who showed up and showed out to make Daddy’s Homecoming endearing for everyone. I’m blessed to be a part of such a blessed family. God fearing, hard-working, dependable in a storm.

August 25, 2017. My first visit to Carolina Urology Partners with Michael Brame, M.D. Here to find out what can be done to increase my Testosterone. Urinalysis Auto w/o Scope. Appearance: Clear. Color: Yellow. Glucose: Neg. Bilirubin: Neg. Ketones: Neg. Specific Gravity: 1.020. Blood: Neg. pH: 6.5. Protein: Neg. Urobilinogen: 0.2. Nitrites: Neg. Leukocyte Esterase: Neg. Testicular hypofunction. For a true Testosterone reading I have to have my blood drawn early in the morning at least two weeks apart. After that the doctor and I can decide the best treatment whether it be exercise, salve cream, injections or ignoring it.

August 30, 2017. Just what is low Testosterone, you might wonder? Testosterone is a hormone. It’s what puts hair on a man’s chest. It’s the force behind his sex drive. According to WebMD, the symptoms include low energy, dwindling sex drive, problems or failure to achieve an erection, and headaches. Treatments available are injections, nasal gels, surgical implanted pellets, or the patient has the option of doing nothing. Treatment depends solely upon the patient’s way of life. Low Testosterone cannot be cured and is caused by injury to the testicles, Testosterone cancer, hormonal disorders, infection, HIV/AIDS, chronic liver or kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

September 8, 2017. Blood Test appointment, Carolina Urology Partners. It’s hard to look at the emergency center across the street and not think about the night daddy died.

September 22, 2017. Blood Test appointment, Carolina Urology Partners. Same thoughts as before. I may not ever get used to coming here and not thinking about the night daddy died.

September 25, 2017. Part of maintaining good health is keeping my mind free of clutter and surrounding myself with positive people and atmosphere. The most important things to me right now is the safety and well-being of my children and their families. After that, getting my books written and published. The family situation taking place in Cherryville is very nerve wracking, physically draining, time consuming and costly. I made the decision to not spent any more money on any property other than my home address. This may upset some, but I’ve been upset for years and I dealt with it. It’s my time to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I’ve been on my job for thirty-three years, lived in my home for thirty-four years. I have a proven track record of doing the right thing. I’m too old to babysit grown people. For now, every day is a good day.

September 29, 2017. Appointment with Dr. Michael Brame, Carolina Urology Partners. Assessment: Testicular hypofunction, decreased libido, male erectile dysfunction, unspecified. Treatment Plan. Testosterone injection 200mg / ml 1 ml IM Q2WK. After a visit to CVS to pick up medicine and syringes I came home to administer my first injection. I watched three YouTube videos to ensure I was doing it right. I filled the syringe, tapped it a few times to release the air bubbles, then I stuck it into my right upper thigh with eyes closed. It really didn’t hurt like I suspected considering the needle was over an inch long. My only mistake was I didn’t fill it to the proper 200mg, but 125mg. I had problems trying to withdrawn medicine from bottle. I will do better next time. I have to inject myself twice a month for three months. I will return to the office December 29th.

October 1, 2017. Oh, hell yeah. From the first day I had more energy and my Fitbit steps increased. Today Moses has re-enlisted in the military and very proud to stand at attention. Kind of like being seventeen again. This might not be good for my nice guy repudiation, but I ain’t complaining.

October 5, 2017. A side effect to the Testosterone treatment is achiness in the joints. Converting a sedentary lifestyle into one of newfound energy and movement, well, something has to give. I’m happy with my increased Fitbit steps, but I can truly say at the end of the day I am one tired hombre. Usually after a couple of hours of rest watching television and playing Spider Solitaire on the computer, I’m able to rise for another hour or two of activity. I must say I go to bed earlier and sleep later. Being that I’m so exhausted, I only wake up once whereas I used to wake two or three times. I’m glad I followed through and went to the doctor. I feel much better as a whole.

November 1, 2017. The BD 3 ML syringe I use to inject myself has a 24 gauge 1 ½” needle. When I first started, I thought there’s no way in hell I’m sticking that in me. But there’s a trick to it I had to learn in order to self-medicate. Find a big muscle that’s easily accessible. My options included the gluteal muscle or butt, the quadricep muscle or calf, and going by the doctor’s office and having a nurse do it. I choose my right quadricep part way between the hip and the knee. I’m always careful to get the air bubbles out of the syringe. There’s just a tiny bit of pain as I first prick the skin. After I pass the capillary nerves the needle slides in all the way to the hilt without feeling. At that point I push in the plunger to dispense the medicine. Last night I clearly wasn’t thinking and pulled back on the plunger withdrawing blood. It took a minute for the bleeding to stop, giving me time to get my act together. I’ll use my mistake as a learning point and move on. Today was a good day, Amen.

November 7, 2017. Got the text today from Vistaprint to verify that my Website is functioning like it’s supposed to. For the past month I have been unable to update my post or make any enhancement changes. No excuse for not writing more than I did. In my defense I am currently working with my editor on finishing up my eleventh book. It’s called Jedidiah Washington. I guess it would be listed as a Mystery Suspense, I don’t know, I just write whatever comes to mind. I don’t aim for a category or genre.

My health today is pretty active. It’s not yet three o’clock and I have over 7,000 Fitbit steps. Lately, I’m averaging around 9,000 steps except on weekends. Weekends just seem like Netflix and me time. Stay true to you.

November 26 – December 2, 2017. 50,080 steps total. Best day November 29th, 10,030 steps. People ask am I losing weight. I don’t know as yet I haven’t gotten anywhere near a scale. I don’t want to know.

December 4, 2017. Started a new job at work in the Lean Department. I doubled my daily Fitbit steps before I got off. I had 11,000 steps by lunch thanks to the fire drill where we had to evacuate the plant and the company Christmas dinner where I had to walk across the plant to the cafeteria. This first week I may come home and crash every afternoon. I ain’t as young as I used to be.

December 8, 2017. Surprisingly it snowed today. Decided to drive across town for nothing in particular. As I pulled out on highway 74 my little Mazda decided to spin around almost in a circle. First exit I came to I turned around and retreated back home.

December 9, 2017. Harvey Jr’s. birthday. I walked 17,069 steps today. Didn’t think it was possible. This new Lean job is challenging me on every level. ABB wants our company to look brand new after 35 years of grease and grime and pure neglect. I’m restoring my body in the process.

December 10, 2017. Absolutely thought I was going to die. My body was so stiff I could hardly move. I took two ibuprofens that morning and two Aleve’s that afternoon. During our Lean meeting after lunch I was so dizzy, I thought I was going to pass out. Left work two hours early and went straight to buy cold medication. As soon as I got home, I went straight to bed and slept a couple of hours. Felt somewhat better afterward but stiff.

December 11, 2017. Finished the week with 70,568 Fitbit steps total. There ain’t a muscle in me that isn’t hurting. To God be The Glory. Thanks ibuprofen.

December 12, 2017. On this date last year, I underwent major surgery. This afternoon right before I got off, I was reassigned a new job in QA. I’m still a member of the ABB Lean Team updating the plant. It is my responsibility to transfer all Reliance Electric and Stratford Motors documents and blueprints into PDF files. I downloaded the PDF author proofread copy of Jedidiah Washington tonight, my eleventh book. This brother be tired.

December 16, 2017. This day has been a long time in coming. Thank all my regular readers for your patience. A quality product is what I’m about and this time is no different. I hope you write me a review. The new job has cut my Fitbit steps back to seven or eight thousand a day. I’m grateful because I really didn’t see myself maintaining sixty to seventy thousand steps a week for an extended period.

December 22, 2017. Appointment Carolina Urology Partners. I went in for my three-month blood work and found out I didn’t follow the instructions. I take my shot on the 15th and 30th each month to have a routine. This time I wasn’t supposed to take my shot on the 15th but wait 48 hours from my appointment so that the doctor would get a high point reading. I had to reschedule my blood work for next Friday and move doctor consultation to January 12th. It worked out okay because the doctor wasn’t going to be in 

December 29th. The office had rescheduled me anyway I found out later when I got home.

December 23, 2017. Around this time last year, I had the drainage tube taken out of my side and the massive bandages removed from my chest. I was able to see the surgical site for the first time since the operation on the 12th. It’s been a long year with high ups and low downs. Daddy is no longer here. My children are still off living separate lives. Just me. Seems like it’s always been just me. All my life. At least I don’t play Santa Claus anymore. Feels like I’ve played that role my whole childhood, putting together toys, going with mama to retrieve hidden gifts. I’m no longer the kid crying over the missing G. I. Joe.

December 29, 2017. Appointment Carolina Urology Partners. It took five nurses over twenty minutes to get blood out of me. I now have three bright pink bandages around my arms and hand. What else is in store for today? At least all the nurses were pretty.


January 12, 2018. Appointment with Dr. Michael Brame, Carolina Urology Partners. Three-month check-up. Extremely disappointed in my weight. Even though I have doubled my Fitbit steps over the past year and eat half as much as I used to, my weight is back up to 412 pounds. I expressed my concerns with Dr. Brame and he took the time to talk with me man to man, on just what I must do. I have to switch to a plant-based diet for at least three months to show any significant improvement. 100% of my health issues are diet based. Start slowly, make minor changes, stick with it, and modify accordingly. I’ve chosen to eat meat once a day. Fruit and vegetables to be my stable. When I return in six months I plan to be greatly improved. The key is tasty meals low in fat.

February 9, 2018. Appointment with Cynthia Johnson, Nurse Practitioner. Anemia (Occurs when your body does not have enough red blood cells. RBCs are parts of blood that carry oxygen throughout your body. A protein called hemoglobin allows your RBCs to absorb and release oxygen. Without enough RBCs or hemoglobin, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen.); BMI 50.0 – 59.9, adult; Hyperglycemia (Too much sodium or salt in the blood. It can be caused by a high salt intake but is more often due to fluid loss. Loss of too much fluid can occur if the kidneys excrete too much urine); Hypernatremia; Need for hepatitis C screening test; Urinary frequency; Well adult exam. My Hemoglobin A1C % POL: 6.1% Normal range between (4.1 and 5.7) Unless I make drastic immediate changes, I’m looking at diabetes. NP Johnson doesn’t want me to turn back the tide with medications. She believes, and so do I, that I can beat this with proper diet and increased physical activity. Again, I’m hearing about a more plant-based diet. Sugar and starches are not my friends. My biggest enemy is Me, Myself, and I.

February 13, 2018. Nurse called from Shelby Family Practice to inform me that my Iron level is extremely low causing Anemia. Without hemoglobin, my body doesn’t get enough oxygen which has been causing me to yawn and be sleepy during the day. I’m instructed to take two Iron supplement tablets per day, once in the morning and again in the evening. I did this for a couple of days and then I started taking one pill per day as the label on the bottle suggested. I will add the proper Iron filled food products to my grocery list. Now I know why I felt so bad in December when I was walking a lot at work and almost passed out.

February 22, 2018. Turning sixty-one was better than I imagined it would be. For starters, Harvey Jr., his wife Ollie, and my grandson Nathan came home from Jacksonville, NC to spend a few days with me. It was family time well shared and God knows I will cherish the memories for years to come. I brought Nathan a belated birthday/Christmas present from Toys-R-Us. A beautiful little black BMW convertible with shiny chrome rims. I was hearth broken when they left and Nathan had to leave his car behind. Their stay motivated me to do better. Eat better, sleep better, live better. Walking around the back yard with little Nate made me think about a lot of things. My future, his future. I want to be around for him, for all of them.

God is good.

March 3, 2018. I completed the job I was doing in Quality Assurance on Monday morning and quickly moved to another job in Lean that requires me to do a lot of walking and standing. My Fitbit steps doubled in daily output. I like what I’m doing and I’m encouraged with proper attention to my diet and following all my doctor’s advice I will get some of this weight off. The iron pills and the Testosterone injections have been good to me. Back in December when I walked a lot of 15,000 plus days, I felt like a man headed to death row. The same daily output now has me tired but not feeling hopeless. I actually feel engaged and looking forward to doing even better the next day. Sundays are still my slow days. I watch movies, write and catch up on reading. Social interaction is something that will boost my spirits. The extra weight discourages me from going out. Last week I went on a tour to a slave plantation, Thursday to a bowling alley, and out to eat breakfast at IHOP on Friday. I used to do quite a bit of writing at IHOP but I haven’t visited there in over a year. Calories are high but I usually break up my meals into two-day plans. I can do this. Walking in faith, Keeping my head up.

March 10, 2018. Finished the week with 83,508 steps averaging 11,930 per day. My previous high was 70,568 steps in December 2017. Monday 17,028. Tuesday 17,561. Thursday 17,611. My goal was to reach 85,000 steps this week but I suffered a couple of down days. Back ache and queasy stomach. Getting back to my belief in Mind Over Body. Today I’m just happy to be happy.

March 16, 2018. I have 66,099 steps toward a goal of 85,000. Two days to succeed. I rented three movies yesterday and started back on my manuscript. Sadly, I may be homebound this weekend. Goal will have to wait another week. I did break my daily goal this week twice as a matter of fact. On Monday I walked 17,000 and Wednesday 19,000. No regrets.

March 30, 2018. Nothing went as planned today. Mowed the front lawn and a rear tire blew out just as I started on the back. I needed to replace the front tire anyway so as I head to the tire shop a woman in front of me turned into an oncoming pickup truck. Spun her car around like a top. Man gets out of pickup and falls to the road. There went my day as I blocked Marion Street with my car so no one could hit him. I won't give details but my blood pressure rose a bit. I couldn't find my car keys later. Thankfully they were in the ignition, I’d left my car engine running all that time. M & M Tire shop wants me to come back in the morning after I purchase an inner tube from Tractor Supply. I left a Boston Butt and a leg of lamb on the smoker. My son just informed me he's going to Virginia tomorrow instead of coming here. He will be here Monday. Oh well, cut everything up and store it in the freezer. The gentleman said he was okay, the three women not so much. I need a stiff drink but I cleaned out my bar. Ice tea will have to do.

March 31, 2018. I got a good night sleep and feel 100% better over yesterday. Got up early and repaired three wheels on the lawnmower. Mowed the lawn and spent most of the day in the yard grilling chicken and cleaning the patio. I have to say I recorded my best Fitbit Saturday ever. 10,078 steps. My second highest weekly total 81,068 steps. Believe it or not I can see and feel improvement in my body. This Lean Job may just get me in the shape I’ve been working for.

April 2, 2018. Shelby Family Practice. I tripped and fell yesterday at work. Although I felt pain in my right shoulder, I opted to stay at work and didn’t fill out an incidence report. Woke up with a stiff shoulder. I couldn’t move my arm. Family Practice refused to see me because the injury was work related and they wanted me to file Workman’s Comp. My company Human Resource Officer, David Drum, drove me to Nextcare Urgent Care for a mandatory drug test. All work-related injuries must be drug tested. After the test he drove me across the highway to CHC Urgent Care Shelby. The NP, Casey Hankins diagnosed me having a right shoulder strain. I was prescribed Flexeril, a muscle relaxer to take before bed and ibuprofen as needed.

April 6, 2018. Carolina Urology appointment for a blood sample. The weather turned chilly overnight. Feels like arthritis has taken over my whole body. Every bone in my body aches. I’ll take a couple of ibuprofens and go back to bed for the afternoon.

April 13, 2018. Carolina Urology appointment with Dr. Michael Brame. Weight down but not as much as I wanted. Dr. and assistant suggest the fat is turning into muscle. I feel so much better than I did just six months ago. Dr. Brame advised I keep doing everything I’m doing. I scheduled an appointment to come back in six months.

April 14, 2018. I passed the 85,000 steps goal. Now I'm aiming for 90,000 in a week. My heart is heavy as my eldest son Harvey Jr. leaves tomorrow to command a convoy to Fort Bragg Army base. After that he will relocate to a job at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Happy birthday to my youngest son Cory, who lives in Mexico. Love you much. It was good meeting my cousins in town today for a funeral. I loved being around Steve and rejoice now that he is home with God, probably laughing and keeping the angels amused. It's been an up and down day. Praying for the world.

April 21, 2018. Finished the week with 87,205 steps. I could have made 90,000 steps but there’s been a lot of rain lately and my joints ached badly. I called it quits and on Saturday I drove up to Bat Cave, Chimney Rock and Lake Lure to write. Walked across the swing bridge at Bat Cave. Seen it for years and never knew it was open to the public. Great experience.

May 1, 2018. Follow up appointment at Urgent Care of Shelby. Chellyn Hamrick, NP. Refer to orthopedic specialist right shoulder strain. Pain is unbearable at night keeping me awake. NP prescribed Ketorolac to help me sleep. Restrictions: No forceful/repetitive use, avoid overhead reaching, avoid heavy or frequent lifting, avoid pulling.

May 3, 2018. Appointment with Dr. Patrick Hayes at OrthoCarolina. ABB assigned me a Nurse Care Manager, Estelle Oakley, RN, BS, CCM of Advantage Rehabilitation Services. She met with me for the doctor’s visit. I was able to sleep Tuesday night but pain again Wednesday night. Doctor prescribed Tramadol. New restrictions include no lifting over one pound above shoulder level, three pounds waist to shoulder, and five pounds floor to waist.

May 6, 2018. Tramadol and Ketorolac together takes away pain and I’m able to get a good night sleep. Side effect, I’m groggy for hours after I awake.

May 10, 2018. I have a few married friends who tell me all the time how they envy my being single, a good job, comfortable home, total independence to come and go as I please. I always give them the side eye – Really? My life ain’t even like that.

My life is built on law and order, structure and symmetry, a place for everything and everything in its place. This morning I decided to skip going in to work and do something spontaneous for a change. I hopped in the car and drove over to Charlotte. I knew my way around town forty years ago when the streets like Independence were narrow and congested. Old houses decorated both sides of the road and the life pace was slow and laid back. Today all that is changed. Fast modern freeways, beautiful high-rise apartments and office spaces, new construction everywhere and the Bank of America Stadium. Who would’ve thought it?

With nothing better to do I just drove up and down the freeways turning off into old neighbors that no longer exist. The car lot where I purchased my Trans Am in 1976 is now a garden center. The area where I used to attend Naval Reserves is high dollar townhouses. The coliseum where I watched funk bands perform – three groups for $8.00 is mostly just sitting there. Bigger new arena’s host professional basketball now. The Charlotte Bobcats. The coliseum where I took my kids to watch Hornets and Sting games is an apartment complex. Back in the day I spent plenty of time on Freedom Drive. It has experienced a horrible death, nothing there now but dusty bones of what used to be. Savannah’s across from Red Lobster had the best mixed drinks and I took all my dates there in 1982-83.

Change – we all must do it, experience it, adapt to it.

Today was a good day.

May 11, 2018. Appointment with Dr. Neal S. Taub, Carolina Montano for EMG. The pain from the electro probes was freaking unbearable. Worst 15 minutes of my life. I wouldn’t wish this procedure on my worst enemy. Electromyography is an electrodiagnostic medicine technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles. Tests for carpal tunnel syndrome, radiculopathy, sciatica, neuropathies, muscle diseases, muscular dystrophy, and myasthenia gravis. Doctor Taub says I have signs of carpal tunnel. He will send his test results to Doctor Hayes. I hope I can be treated without undergoing surgery to my wrist. In any case, it hurts to write, it hurts to drive due to the vibration, and it especially hurts to type so my options are limited if I’m to stay in the writing business.

May 12, 2018. Appointment at Novant Health Imagining for MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging. I was surprised I fit inside the CT scanner. It was a tight squeeze but I endured the claustrophobic conditions. Afterwards I was given a CD with the results to take back to Doctor Hayes. Me being me, I slipped the disc in my computer. Yeah, about that, I couldn’t read it. Just a lot of grey mass and bone. Ever since I fell my right arm is like a limp noodle. It’s a serious challenge getting my life back to normal, but I refuse to give up on repair. To God be the glory.

May 15, 2018. Appointment at OrthoCarolina with Dr. Patrick Hayes. I carried the CD of my CT Scan given to me by the tech at Novant Health Imaging. Dr. Hayes informed me that the EMG showed signs of mild carpal tunnel. The CT Scan showed a severe tear of the rear rotator cuff. The doctor recommended arthroscopic shoulder surgery as soon as possible. After surgery I would be on light duty for six weeks. Followed by six months of physical therapy.

May 18, 2018. A few coworkers have asked, “Are you scared?” Hell yes, I’m scared, but I’m old enough to know that life goes on. The sun will rise again tomorrow, like everything else in my past, I shall have to deal with it. I had been concerned and a bit curious how people wiped their butts after back or arm surgery. I Googled it. A number of toilets assist products popped up. I then went on YouTube and watched several toilet aides demonstrated. I decided to spent a little more for the Bottom Buddy brand. In arrived in the mail today. I’m going to practice, just in case.

May 24, 2018. Called OrthoCarolina and set up an appointment for surgery. Friday June 1st at Kings Mountain Hospital. Post op is scheduled for Tuesday, May 29th at the same hospital. I watched two arthroscopic shoulder surgeries on YouTube. The doctor pulls the torn muscle to a pre-drilled anchor and sutures it in place. After several months of therapy, the healing will be complete. Coworkers warn me that therapy will hurt worse than the surgery. That’s something to think about.

May 26, 2018. Finished the week with a total of 85,146 Fitbit steps. Monday was a high of 19,665 steps. A year ago, I would not have believed this feat to be possible. I moved my C Pac machine into the recreation room next to the easy chair. From all I’ve heard and read about rotator cuff surgery I won’t be able to sleep lying down in bed for one, maybe two months.

May 30, 2018. Pitiful, just pitiful. Got off work with almost 18,000. Showered, made a couple sandwiches, and did the laundry. Still couldn't break my record. When my butt hit the chair, I didn't get back up. Second place is good. I was given Hibidens antiseptic/antimicrobial skin cleanser by the hospital staff three days prior to wash the night before and the morning of surgery to reduce bacteria. Feeling confident I went to bed.

June 1, 2018. I arrived at the Kings Mountain Hospital at 6:15 A. M. for my rotator cuff surgery. My friend, neighbor and coworker John Anthony Mobley drove me to the hospital and waited to transport me home. Before taking me home we stopped at CVS for my Oxycodone.

June 3, 2018. Changed bandages. God blessed me with a couple of true friends. Got my back no matter what. No word from any of my brothers and sisters. Unlike my last operation when they all came to my bedside. Daddy and mama are both gone. I guess they 

have nothing else to prove. This too shall pass. I’m a God Warrior.

June 4, 2018. First day back to work. Only stayed two hours. Insurance purposes. Flip flops, sweat pants, and a pullover tee shirt. I looked a hot mess but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. Can’t accomplish much with one hand.

June 5, 2018. My heart is thrilled by all the love and support shown to me by my Lean Teammates and other coworkers this morning for stopping by the First Aid office to see me. Their visits were encouraging and uplifting.

June 6, 2018. Appointment Ortho Carolina with Dr. Hayes. After a confusing discussion with my caseworker Estelle Oakley over my meds I realize that ain't me. She had my father's medical history mixed in with mine. I’ve never had a triple bypass. My back trouble was 15 years ago and I went to a chiropractor and didn’t take muscle relaxers. I asked if I could take Aleve and ibuprofen which I’d stocked up on. Doctor Hayes told me to use only Tylenol Extra Strength. If possible, I was to use only the Ice Therapy machine. I had to fill it with ice and water and strap it around my shoulder and back with only my left hand. Left hand only to connect to my rotator cuff sling. Ice therapy feels like heaven and It’s not addictive.

June 8, 2018. Harvey Jr. and his family came home tonight for his reserve weekend. I wanted to hire a maid service that morning but opted to clean the house myself. Proud of my Fitbit steps. One arm doesn't make me handicapped. Harvey Jr. was in and out so I barely got a chance to talk but I was grateful for the short time we had.

June 9, 2018. I can’t believe all the love and support shown to me. John Mobley has come over and did all my yard work two weeks in a row. Can't wait to get back to work full-time.

June 10, 2018. Digital Website is finally live. I was given the wrong domain name address to the Nameserver on Thursday morning. Isn't going to work with the wrong IP Address. Writing books and building Websites are a pain. Glad I love torture. A goal worth celebrating if I could drive or drink or leave the house.

June 11, 2018. Positive - tied my safety shoes with one hand. Negative - only able to sleep 3 hours last night. I have to show up four hours this week instead of two.

June 12, 2018. Enjoyed my afternoon hanging out with Manning Allison, one of my Lean Teammates. Manning took me grocery shopping, to Subway for a sandwich, and joy riding to get me out of the house. Haven't laughed this crazy in years.

June 14, 2018. Appointment Orthro Carolina. Doctor Hayes had me remove the abduction pillow from sling. Hallelujah, praise the Lord. Therapy starts tomorrow. Tramadol prescription called in to the pharmacy. And the pain begins.

June 15, 2018.Appointment Cleveland Physical Therapy. First therapy went well with Vonn Ashe. Expect pain. Beginning next week, I go twice weekly for six months or more. Met lots of nice people in the waiting room and on the staff. I’m impressed with the facility. The owner used to be the therapist for many professional ball players. Their jerseys are encased on the walls. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jerry Rice, San Francisco Forty-niners, and Brandon Spikes, New England Patriots, to name a few.

June 16, 2018. I drove to CVS and KFC on Grover Street by myself. Couldn’t lock seatbelts so I held it across my waist to look like it was buckled. Ordered three pair of sweat pants, two pair of overalls, C-Pap cleaner, two button-down shirts, and an arm sling from Amazon Prime. Finally, I was able to sleep two nights in a row. Saturday night I used the Ice Therapy machine. Sunday night I did not. I’m not able to zip up and fasten blue jeans. Right arm was useless when I tried to exercise it tonight.

June 17, 2018. To know me I am fiercely independent. I appreciate the love and support shown to me by John and Manning, my Lean Teammates, but I am my own man. I practiced in the driveway yesterday before driving my car to town to pick up my prescription. Because of the strong pain killers, it's recommended I wait four more weeks before getting behind the wheel so I will only drive in emergencies. If I can tie my shoe strings with one hand, I can operate a car. I didn't take any pain pills 24 hours prior to driving to town. Happy Father's Day to all the men making it happen for their children without making any excuses. Mind, Body, and Soul Forever.

June 20, 2018. Appointment Cleveland Physical Therapy with Vonn Ashe. Arm showing progress so I’m good. Not being able to write and type is the hardest setback to deal with. Can’t work on my novel, can’t work on my journal, can’t do much of anything really but sit in my easy chair for hours on end staring at the television screen and napping. I’m not able to sleep deeply at night. I don’t complain about the naps. I need them.

June 22, 2018. My first independent day since my surgery. Hauled away trash, got a pedicure, gassed up the car, went grocery shopping, and cleaned the house. Still can't mow my lawn but I'm doing my therapy. Three more weeks wearing the sling. Sad but true, I wore the same pair of sweat pants for two weeks straight. I wasn’t at work for more than two hours. I wore a different shirt and I stayed primarily in the First Aid room out of sight. If anyone noticed, I say they had too much time on their hands. Besides that, my other sweat pants were filled with holes and color faded. I cared enough not to care what I looked like.

June 25, 2018. Took a chance and moved back into my bedroom. It was good at first but the pain arrived with a vengeance. Took a couple of Extra Strength Tylenol. Tired of sleeping in the recliner. Praying for a productive week at work.

June 26th. I went in to work but only stayed two hours. I came home to finish reading my book Jedidiah Washington. I fell asleep around twelve and was awaken by my cell phone a little after one o’clock. It was my Worker’s Comp representative named Bill. After a little chit chat, I agreed for him to record me and I explained again how the accident happened. He went on to explain the ins and outs of how Workers Comp works with the employee. Worker’s Comp has separate insurance that I am to use when Dr. Hayes prescribes me medication.

June 28, 2018. Appointment Orthro Carolina. Doctor Hayes is on vacation so I was seen by an assistant. Estelle Oakley is there with us. She has come to all my doctor visits. Estelle is the go between work, the doctor and me. The nursing staff suggested I start weaning off the sling.

June 29, 2018. Didn't wear the sling all afternoon yesterday. Slept all night connected to the Ice Therapy machine. Driving the car to run errands is hurting the crap out of me. Connecting the seat belt is a bitch. Definitely had to pick up more ice before I headed home. No pain no gain right. Easy solution is to take the opioids but then my movements would be restricted. No driving, no working.

July 1, 2018. Drove to Bellacino’s in Gastonia for pizza. Arm hurt for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I've been using computers since 1982 and I have a bachelor's degree in Visual Communication and Graphic Design but tonight is the first time I answered a video phone call. I never trusted the technology before but watching my love ones in real time and them watching me is surreal. Nathan got to see his BMW and his face lit up. Harvey Jr. and Ollie have a luxurious apartment. Proud of them both and can't wait to visit. Sorry they found me in pain but my arm and shoulder have kept me grounded all afternoon and evening. Ice Therapy worked temporarily. Dope up before I go to bed. Hope we can be together soon, love my little family, in Christ – Amen

July 6, 2018. Appointment Carolina Therapy Associates. Therapy was much better today. I took Tylenol Extra Strength in advance. Met my very first neighbor after I moved to Shelby. He was a boxer back 35 years ago. Close to 70 now. Also met my current neighbor having therapy. Small world, smaller town.

July 12, 2018. Weaning myself out of the sling and off painkillers bring about sleepless nights. Two hours total last night. Yet I was able to get into a loss password tablet for a customer tonight. Six weeks since the surgery. Therapy tomorrow morning. Deal with it.

July 15, 2018. Excited to get out and go for a drive yesterday to Cherryville Fairview Baptist Church. Met some nice ladies and enjoyed great tasting hot dogs and a fish sandwich. Driving once a week make me feel 16 again with special privilege. Getting better one day at a time.

July 19, 2018. 2nd Thursday in a row I have to push forward with two hours of sleep. Father God set your heart on my coworkers Curtis Degree and Ronnie Dukes whose mothers are in serious need of Your healing. Restore these women to the purpose of their Earthly assignments and issue a renewed faith in us all. In favor, Amen.

July 22, 2018. Thank the Lord for Amazon Prime and their two-day delivery. Never need to leave the house. Big items take five days. Tomorrow my two-burner propane flat top grill will arrive. Of course, I can't use it as yet, but it will be in my arsenal. Haven't grilled outside all summer. Sitting around making ugly faces when all I can do is watch endless television and wait for my shoulder to heal. Haven't worked on my novel in two months. I am getting better typing with one hand. Thank God for Netflix.

July 23, 2018. After buying John a four-burner flat grill for mowing my grass all summer, I decided I wanted one. I got a two burner. Thank the UPS man for helping me get it inside the door. Rules state he couldn't enter any further. Today is a good day.

July 24, 2018. I took a chance and put the flat griddle together. Got it outside and the propane tank I took off my fish fryer needs an adapter. The tank is over twenty years old and the valve has changed. Gotta love a sense of humor. As I was going back into the house a wasp stung my left wrist next to my Fitbit.

July 25, 2018. Woke up this morning with a swollen left hand. Add this to the useless right shoulder and today might be interesting. In any case, I woke up and therapy at ten o'clock. I’ve come too far by faith, leaning on the Holy Word. Special thanks to my therapist Vonn, for recognizing I was in a bad place mentally and talking me through it. Suffering a bad arm for four months, a wasp sting yesterday, anniversary of my dad's death tomorrow, and being shut in the house all summer, my world had crashed. I'm good now, swelling starting to go down. I kinda joked with Vonn that I have a whole bottle of Oxycodone to play with and cease all troubles. Not a laughing matter. Sometimes life just drags you down mentally to a bad place. You have to will yourself to stand. I'm trying to avoid the Tramadol and Oxycodone and sticking with the Ice Therapy but that doesn't always ease the pain and being hooked up to the machine for five or six hours chews up your day. It opened up my eyes when Vonn connected with what's going on inside me. Thankful we were able to talk about it.

July 26, 2018. Therapy went well this morning. My range of motion is slowly getting better. Still can't lift my arm without assistance or bend behind me. Severe rotator cuff tear will take some time to heal. Didn’t wear the sling all day. Thank all of my friends on Facebook for the words of encouragement, the phone calls, text messages, and personal visits. The swelling in my hand is down 80%. John lit up his griddle I gifted him and brought me a dinner plate. Steak, chicken,

zucchini, Brussels sprouts, bratwurst, peppers and onions. No opioids for me tonight.

July 27, 2018. No medication. Strictly using Ice Therapy Machine and frozen water bottles. In order to grow as a person, I have to step away from negative people, toxic environments, and less than positive situations. I have to redefine my friends, question my faith, and build upon my past successes. In the final analysis, my inner growth is all that matters. Even if I have to come across as a little crazy to be sane.

July 28, 2018. Mama’s birthday. I went outside on the patio and lit the griddle for breakfast. Bacon, liver pudding, and hash potatoes. The Blackstone griddle is everything it’s hyped to be. The meal was delicious. For supper I fired up the griddle again, this time chopped onions, green peppers, smoked shrimp, smoked chicken thighs, brown rice, zucchini, Brussel sprouts and mushrooms. I will never go out for Asian food again. For a brief moment in time I don’t have any troubles to contend with.

July 29, 2018. Harvey Jr. facetimed me from a park in Maryland. It was wonderful to see him, Ollie and Nathan enjoying a warm Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, my arm started to ache something fierce. I can’t wait to see them in person again.

August 2, 2018. Say what you will about Oxycodone, that little white pill has magical powers that I believe in. My arm ached like crazy all day even after I sat two hours under the Ice Therapy unit. I tried my best not to take any medication. I went to bed at ten-thirty and couldn’t sleep for the pain. Finally, I got up at two-thirty and took two Tylenol Extra Strength tablets. No relief. I got out of bed and moved to the recliner. The pain continued. An hour later I went back to bed. At six o’clock I got out of bed and took an Oxycodone and put on the sling. I went back to the recliner and within half an hour there was no pain and I was able to drift off to sleep till nine. I dozed off and on until eleven before getting up. At twelve I drove to Ingles Market for grocery in the rain. I admit I was wrong for doing that. After I returned home, I put away the groceries and went back to sleep for the rest of the afternoon. I was prescribed twenty-eight pills. I have twenty-five left. No abuse here.

August 9, 2018. Appointment at Orthro Carolina. Doctor Hayes released me to drive as long as I ditch the opioids. Dr. Hayes was proud of my range of motion. Said I was healing nicely. Sad to say goodbye to the car service, I really bonded with my drivers Shawn, Sammy and their Uncle. I'm glad to be behind the wheel again. I may even trade cars pretty soon.

I took the bottle of Oxycodone to the Police Station but I didn’t go inside. I sat in the parking lot for fifteen minutes making up my mind. Maybe I would need them later and not be able to get them prescribed. I decided to hold on to them a while longer.

August 11, 2018. Woke up suddenly with my brain screaming "ICE". Rhomboid muscles of the shoulder blades freeze up from constantly wearing the sling. I filled the Ice Therapy machine and stayed there all morning. Undergoing therapy at Cleveland Physical Therapy to loosen that area. I clearly understand the opioids epidemic.

August 13, 2018. Thirty-four years at ABB. First time driving to work in thirteen weeks. Struggling with sleep. Forcing myself to go in and stick it out.

August 17, 2018. Best night of sleep since last Saturday. Took Tylenol PM at nine o’clock but didn’t fall asleep until twelve. Slept until seven. I woke every hour on the hour, but later put two and three hours together for a total of six hours and twenty-five minutes. Wednesday night one hour and fifty-eight minutes. Tuesday night two hours and fifty-nine minutes. Monday night three hours and thirty-seven minutes. Sunday night three hours and thirty-five minutes. Saturday night six hours and thirty-two minutes. I took two Tylenol PM during work week. They didn’t work. I took two Tramadol last night at nine. Didn’t kick in until twelve. Glad I don’t work on Friday. Today was a good day. I got a lot accomplish.

August 18, 2018. Before the Tramadol pills wore off, I tried to put the tent up over the patio. Epic Failure. The tent not my arm. I got it three fourths of the way up before throwing in the towel. Frame is broken or bent in too many places. Smiling because my range of motion is improving, or the Tramadol covered up the pain I'm sure to feel later. Any case, I got 3500 Fitbit steps for my effort. Now just enjoying the calm before the storm as black clouds are approaching from the south.

August 22, 2018. Appointment Physical Therapy Associates. My main therapist Vonn Ashe doubled all my exercise routines. Therapy hurt as usual but I hope to soon get used to it. Muscles not used in a while tend to tighten up or freeze. Working them loose will make a man out of you. No pain, no gain right. Next was my appointment at Cornerstone Dental Associates. I was scheduled for a routine cleaning but the Dental Hygienist found a loose anterior feeling. I was lucky a patient didn’t show as I was able to slide into that slot. It feels good to have a clean healthy mouth.

August 23, 2018. Didn’t get but three hours sleep. Tired of fighting. I texted John Mobley and David Drum that I wasn’t coming in and I rolled back over. Sleep finally came to me. This was the first vacation day I took in three months. As a get out of the rut prize I ordered a SUV off the Carmax Website.

August 27, 2018. Started working six hours today. Arm started hurting because I forgot to take a Tylenol before I left home. I left work an hour early to go to therapy appointment. Therapy went well. Great shoulder massage from my substitute therapist Mike Newton. I felt ten times better went I left than when I came in. Carmax is scheduled to deliver new car today. Super excited. I felt so good I started mowing the lawn for the first time since May. Glad I begin in the back because halfway into it the front right-side wheel fell off. I just got the mower back from being serviced. New blades, wheel alignment, oil change. Oh well, back to the shop.

August 29, 2018. The wheel falling off and the car arriving turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If the car hadn’t come, I was going to weed eat the yard. As it turned out my arm began to ache the next day with a vengeance my medication could not control. Sleep eluded me all night. An hour before I was supposed to get up Wednesday morning, I fell asleep. Slept for one hour and fourteen minutes. Angry at the world in general, I went to work. After work I went to therapy. After therapy I went to my cousin Curtis Degree’s house to give my condolences as his mother had passed.

September 4, 2018. Yesterday was Labor Day so I didn’t have to go to work or to therapy. Today I started working eight hours. Wearing steel toed safety boots for a long amount of time wears the body down. I need to increase my Fitbit steps away from work to strengthen my legs.

September 8, 2018. I love having a touch screen computer in the car, only wish my right arm was more cooperative. Listening to Tom Petty radio on Sirius. I try not to talk about my pain around coworkers and friends unless they have suffered a similar injury and understand completely what I’m going through. I get sick of the jokes about faking it to get out of work. M Fer’s I’m the highest producer on any job I’ve ever been given. I can out work most people, sick as crap and a few hours’ sleep. Miss me with that nonsense. Funny how those remarks generally come from someone who has never carried their own weight, regardless of the situation.

It was wonderful having Harvey Jr home even if it was just a little while. Cooked all day his favorite meals and gave him plenty of leftovers to take back. Played two games of Madden NFL 2019. We each won a game. Packed up Nathan's BMW so he will be delighted. Just hate Jr has to travel all the way to North Carolina for reserve duty. Love my two young men.

September 10, 2018. Therapy went well today, as I was introduced to a multitude of new exercises. This evening was spent connected to the Ice Therapy machine for three hours listening to the rainfall. Peaceful, beautiful atmosphere. Energized for tomorrow.

September 11, 2018. It was good to see children coming home from the coast yesterday on my Facebook time line. Harvey Jr. has been activated to lead his unit to the coast. As soon as he gets here from Laura, Maryland, I will pray with him, hug and kiss him, and then allow God to use him as His will. There will be no PlayStation tonight.

Harvey Jr. arrived around one thirty a. m. and stayed up to pack his gear. He got a few hours’ sleep. By six thirty he was headed to Mooresville for duty.

September 12, 2018. Took me 15 minutes to get the key out of the car ignition this morning. Googled, YouTube, asked around. Finally found the cause - USB cable was tucked behind gearshift not allowing Park to fully engage. Come inside the plant to learn a coworker died Friday and was buried Sunday. Goodbye Mike Bracket. Came back from therapy to find a gas leak near the ceiling where Lean is working. Maintenance attempted to tighten the pipe and it became worse. So now I'm taking a late lunch watching the commotion taking place. One more hour and I can go home. I should have stayed on six hours.

September 16, 2018. Hurricane Florence has arrived. Father God, I ask that you watch after Harvey Jr. and everyone in his unit as they perform their mission on the coast of North Carolina. Keep them safe out of harm’s way. You are in my thoughts always Harvey Jr, I love you son.

September 17, 2018. I believe everyone should help their neighbors in a storm. I practice what I preach. Arm hurt all weekend. Went to therapy today and it hurts worse. Attached the ice therapy machine for three hours. Afterward I helped clean my neighbor’s driveway what I could. He will move the big stuff tomorrow with his tractor.

September 18, 2018. Feeling glorious. Heard from Harvey Jr. and Cory today. Both are doing fine. This doesn’t happen that often. I cherish when it does.

Writing is my stimulus. Whether it be this journal, my current novel, or the song lyric book I’m working on – words call me to action.

September 20, 2018. Appointment Ortho Carolina with Dr. Hayes. Promised myself a nice drive if Doctor visit was positive, and it was. Healing according to plan. Time for some good tasting fish. Going to Dallas to Long Branch Seafood.

As I close for the night, I pray for all the military personnel, first responders, fire and police personnel, city leaders and volunteers who left the comfort of their own homes and are sleeping tonight in high school gymnasiums in the flooded areas across the state. Thank you, Jesus, for the businesses that donate food and water for them to nourish their bodies and take showers. Help them to keep their heads up, and know they are thought about often as they do the impossible without complaining. And Father God, watch over my baby Cory Degree as he makes his way far, far away from my empty nest. Peace in the night, Dancing Above the Clouds, Amen.

September 22, 2018. Book signing at Shiloh Baptist Church. I always show up way too early to confront my nerves. Not a public person. Hopefully my stomach is ready now. Showtime.

Talking with Harvey Jr., couple days ago I mentioned my fear of fear. This is what he forwarded to me. "God placed the best things in life on the other side of fear" - Will Smith. I'm having a ball up in here this morning, selling many books and crying with each signing. It’s painful to write but I don't care. To think I almost didn't show up. My stomach, head, and arm hurt this morning. To God be the glory. Amen.

Book signing this morning was one of my best ever, meeting and greeting new fans of my work. Closing the day with a movie on Netflix.

September 25, 2018. First pain free day in six months. Celebrate the moment at the newly opened Viva Chicken in Gastonia.

Sometimes I think I have an overactive bladder (incontinence) because I always seem to have the urge to urinate. It limits my activity and I’m constantly making sure there is a restroom nearby. I’m not a bed wetter, nor do I have bladder spasms, but I think I may leak urine. The liquids I should stay away from are the drinks I love the most. Coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, and tomato-based products.

September 28, 2018. Rainy morning in the Writing cave. Dunkin donuts Belgium waffle sandwich and caramel flavored coffee. Excited about Harvey Jr. being back with his family. Appreciate the work you all did in North Carolina. Life is good, Amen!

September 29, 2018. Rejoicing in my heart I can put my locs in a ponytail this morning, I can tie my shoes, I can feed myself with my right hand. Can't type as much as I used to, nor can I throw a ball, but I am getting stronger every day. Doctor Hayes thinks I will be ready to work without restrictions in March of next year. Focus on the future. Deal with it one day at a time.

October 1, 2018. Therapy went extremely well, increased my exercise sets. Arm is getting stronger. Give thanks and credit where it's due. Thank you, John Anthony Mobley, for mowing my lawn all summer. I bought John an Echo HC – 152 Hedge Trimmer for mowing my lawn. Now he can shape up my hedges. God is good.

October 8, 2018. Got the chance to work at my old job this morning in Die Maintenance. I miss it. Lean Six Sigma was supposed to be eight months, maybe a year. I predict it will last another six months. Therapy went well, gave me more exercises and increased my reps. ABB purchased the ice therapy machine so I can keep it. Feeling good right now. Happy to be Happy.

October 10, 2018. Have no idea why I can't sleep. Two whole hours last night. NyQuil, Zzzquill, and finally Advil Allergy and Congestion. Suffered through work and physical therapy. Maybe the rain will help me tonight.

October 12, 2018. Appointment Carolina Urology Partners with Dr. Brame. I was disappointed with my weight when I stepped on the scales. All the weight I’d loss, the progress I’d made, was for nothing. I actually gained eight pounds since my last appointment in April. May 30th, I had 20,758 Fitbit steps. The week of May 13th through May 19th, I had 85,146 steps. My overall weekly record April 8th through April 14th, I finished with 85,334 steps. My overall weekly record was 21,039 steps on April 16th. My injury occurred on April 2nd, so my downfall came after my surgery June 1st. I pretty much spent all my time sitting in my recliner with my arm strapped to the ice therapy unit. Dr. Brame cheered me up by reminding me that I was a fighter, a zealot to my cause, and quitting for me wasn’t an option. He informed me that most of his patients wanted a magic pill or a super drink to remove the excess pounds. He reminded me of the Fitbit goals I’d reached and he was confident that I would reach them again. He was right. To start, I elected to cleanse myself over the weekend with soups and broth, applesauce and Sherbet. A liquid diet is a temporary fix but it’s a step in the right direction. The discipline will be needed as I conquer my objective.

I finally confided to the assistant that my urine flow was weak and I had to urinate every hour or two during the day and a couple of times during the night. Enlarged prostate that I’d had for a year. In the past Dr. Smith prescribed me .2 mg of Doxazosin which I still take. Doxazosin is also used to treat enlarged prostate. Dr. Brame said the dosage was too low and better treatments were available. Treatments include medications that relax the bladder or shrink the prostate, surgery, and minimally invasive surgery. He prescribed .4 mg of Tamsulosin.

My confidence is high, I worked my old job last three days. I'm fifty percent there. Start ten hours on Monday. It's been a lot of fun working with Lean, working with the Safety Manager, working with QA, but I am a Die Maintenance Specialist. Still on light duty until at least March. Jack of all trades, master at none. I can do IT also when called upon. Blessed.

October 14, 2018. I sense a sinister pattern here – every time I’m on a roll losing weight and strengthening my body, some ailment comes along out of nowhere and knocks me off track. I end up gaining weight and fighting to put the broken pieces of my spirit back together. While I’m focused on the brokenness, God is looking at my resilience.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, resilience is the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. The ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

Something I saw on Facebook – Just because the process hurts doesn’t mean the results won’t be beautiful. God has prepared the way just as He is preparing me. Maybe I’m not six foot two inches, two hundred pounds like I was at twenty-five, but I’m not in the same mental and emotional state either. Up until I was thirty, I had no idea what my life was about or what I was supposed to do with it. I had no purpose for getting up in the morning, I took no regrets to bed. I merely existed due to the fact, I didn’t know what else to do. Getting married, having children, raising said children, and staking an active interest in the world woke me up to the plan of God. It’s not about me. It never was. To see in me what God sees in me – that’s powerful stuff.

October 15, 2018. Appointment Carolina Therapy Associates. Vonn introduced several new exercises. Counter push-ups, which used to be easy but I had severe difficulty doing ten. Broom stick with a one-pound weight, two sets of ten lifts over my head. The first set eight nine and ten about torn my arm out of socket. I’m supposed to stop at the first sign of pain. After a brief rest I tried the second set. No damn way. Even though I lifted slow and carefully, by the time I got to seven my shoulder blew a fuse. I had to quit. And then there was the sword. Make a cross body motion like you are taking a sword from its sheath and then raise the imaginary sword over your head. There were a couple of other exercises but I’ll save that for a later date. On a positive note the Tamsulosin Dr. Brame prescribed for my enlarged prostate is working. He said it would take about three days and it did. Last night I slept six and a half hours and only got up to pee once. Today at work I hardly ever felt the pressure to have a restroom nearby. In fact, I walked across the plant to get Fitbit steps.

A day for the history book. I was able to do my toilet duty with the Toilet Buddy. Oh, how I have yearned for this day to come. Also, I tied my work apron behind my back. It hurt like hell but I did it. Also, I worked ten hours. A trifecta of overcoming challenges. I also got 11, 939 Fitbit steps. It’s been awhile since I spent this much energy. Brother needs a rest.

October 23, 2018. After shaving I noticed scaly patches and red skin on my forehead, eye brows and cheeks. I explored further and learned it’s called seborrheic dermatitis or extreme dandruff. Treatment suggest a good quality moisturizer or lotion made with zinc pyritinol, selenium sulfide, or tar-based shampoos.

October 30, 2018. I am left numb after a guy I grew up with died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack. David was seven months younger than me and lived two blocks away. The day before a lady named Diane passed away. She lived a block away. Yesterday after leaving therapy, I saw where a third person had gone to be with the Lord. This was three blocks away. So close and unexpected. Guard my heart with prayers.

November 2, 2018. This is taken from a conversation I had on Facebook. Alberta Partlow said, “I can't tell you what to do but I do know that these last few months with surgery, recovery, and rehabilitation plus returning to work a lot of body changes and acceptance. Our bodies and minds don't always gel with each other. A lot of times we push ourselves and we just need to rest and don't do nothing. Hard to do when we been taught to get it, work, and not to relax. What I say is take some real time for yourself doing nothing so your mind and body can catch up with each other. Speaking from experience, any surgery is traumatic to our bodies and we have to heal not the doctor's timetable but our bodies. Think about this my friend.”

To this I replied, “I hear you and I feel like death warmed over this morning. I woke at 5:30 and I've accomplished absolutely nothing. Maybe the weather, I dunno, just took allergy pills and Ibuprofen. I had so much planned for today. Slowly starting to come out of it. I have a week scheduled for Orlando later this month. Too many people younger than me dying lately so I'm trying to ease up. Trouble just seems to find me. I may just call this a writing day and glue myself to the computer. Thanks for being understanding, you speak from experience. Most people I know are full of crap. They pretend to care as long as you keep your problems and pains to yourself. Fake ass church folks. Today is a great day I feel the medication doing its job. Good looking out for your friends, I pray you succeed in your endeavors today.

Alberta continued with more advice. “I know it is a dreary day maybe you just need to relax, no writing. Just do something not your norm. If you are writing I know it is your therapy but you aren't relaxing. Yes, (it’s) hard (,) just don't be on a planned schedule today. Play some music, laugh, and dance a little. It might sound strange but it worked for me. Thank you for your kind words. I know that things look bleak but it will turn around.

Alberta then texted me her cellphone number and asked that I call. I called and she continued to suggest ways to turn my day around. Later, after she hung up, I lit the firepit and sat in the pouring rain watching it burn and reflecting. An hour or so later I walked toward my truck. I saw a funeral notice sign next to my yard. A fourth neighbor had died. Mrs. Thurman lived two houses behind me. Will this death spirit ever move on?

I drove to the cemetery and talked to my dad. This was totally off script. That evening after eating a leftover piece of chicken and red beans and rice from Popeyes Chicken, I went against my dietary rules and picked up a pepperoni pizza from Domino’s. The hell with sticking to a strict plan. Just for a day, I lived as though there was no tomorrow and I loved it. Let’s be real, my body has been transformed by the many operations over the years. I have Frankenstein alterations that I have to accept as the new me. Contorted toes, stapled together ankle, lump on my rectum, protruding belly button, disproportionate breast, surgically attached shoulder, missing fingertip, twisted lips and crooked teeth. I ain’t no perfect angel, not anymore.

November 18, 2018. Orlando, Florida Vacation. My arm is holding up well, or I should say, better than I expected. There have been times when the pain and numbness crept in, but give God the glory, it subdued and eventually went away. I brought the ice therapy machine with me just in case. As yet I haven’t taken it out of the car. Jacksonville was so beautiful when I drove through last night. I can’t believe I moved back to North Carolina.

I tried to walk around the complex today. This place is an exercise enthusiast dream, sidewalks, beautiful flowers and shrubs, and gorgeous weather. I did good but not good enough. Getting this weight off is not a joke.

November 19, 2018. Change. I first started coming to Disney World in Orlando back in April 1976 when I graduated boot camp. The amusement park opened in 1971. From the Navy base we drove miles and miles of empty space, nothing but trees. Disney made a mistake in California in that he didn't buy the land around Disneyland and others did. He couldn't expand. Through anonymous investors he bought up the Kissimmee area. I came back here in 1980 and went to a bank in Kissimmee, the town was small as heck. Since then, every year that I come back I don't recognize it from the last. I recall when Church Street Station had three or four bars. I still have my drink glasses on my baker’s rack at home. Epcot opened when I got out of active duty Navy in 1982. Took my boys there in 2000. Naval Regional Training Center where I went to boot camp is now Orlando Junior College. Change. I used to run these streets, now it's all I can do to drive them. Change.

November 20, 2018. At the sales meeting today my arm started acting up. I understand the sales people have a quota to attain, but I clearly expressed to the young man my situation. My words fell upon deaf ears. The more I complained the more he insisted on doubling my monthly timeshare payment. It became a force of wills. I know my financial game plan and living in luxury once or twice a year, a couple of weeks at most is not going to happen. On the flipside, I did receive $100 cash for showing up and listening to the entire spill. Add that to the $150 in vouchers I already have and this vacation didn’t break the bank.

November 21, 2018. It’s been a good minute since I saw a beautiful young woman in a string bikini. I have to admit she took my breath away. My first thought was she left her room and forgot to dress from the waist down. She had on a short tee shirt that stopped at the waist, covering the top string, so you get my viewpoint. I heard string bikinis were banned on some beaches. Evidently a family friendly resort isn’t one of those places. To quote the rapper DMX, “Yawl gonna make me lose my mind up in here.”

I hooked my arm up today to the ice therapy machine. The soreness couldn’t be avoided. I felt so much better afterward. Today is beautiful. Meeting lots of engaging people. Everybody wants to talk to me. The Voice.

November 22, 2018. Thanksgiving Day. For dinner I purchased a footlong and fries from the poolside café and bar. I also got a Bacardi bucket for me and another for a couple from Wisconsin. I going to take the turkey thighs and trimmings back to North Carolina.

November 23, 2018. On the drive home I had to clench my fingers on at least four occasions to make the carpal tunnel soreness stop. I stopped outside St. Augustine to visit my cousin Aires Armando Leitao Dagraca and his family. Had a great time. All things considered, it was an outstanding Thanksgiving vacation. I was shocked to find the temperature was 39 degrees in North Carolina when I returned home. This aggravated my rotator cuff. Welcome home was not welcomed.

December 14, 2018. Appointment with Dr. Brame, Carolina Urology Partners. Testicular hypofunction. Benign prostatic hyperplasia with lower urinary tract symptoms. Long term use of systemic steroids. Updated treatment – I’m to take (Anastrozole) Flomax 0.4 mg capsule 1 tablet three times a week. Continue Testosterone injection 200 mg /ml twice a month. Even though my weight is up, we didn’t discuss it. Dr. Brame did assure me my chance of colon cancer was low.

December 17, 2018. After watching a thirty-year-old VHS tape of Harvey Juniors birth up to age one and see how in shape I used to be I decided to work out on the Solarflex. I used the elastic bands and the chest bar without weights. Afterward my back was so sore I took two ibuprofens before I went to bed. At two thirty in the morning I woke up to pee and my back hurt like hell walking to the bathroom. I took two Aleve’s.

December 18, 2018. Woke up at four-thirty to go to work and my back was still in extreme pain. I fought my way through it and went to work anyway. My back finally stopped screaming around ten o’clock. Later that afternoon at therapy I was assigned with Jamie. This was my third time being treated by her and I must admit she is good. Part of it may be a man wants to try harder to impress a woman whether she is a doctor, dentist, or teacher. I didn’t complain with her like I do with my male therapists Vonn and Mike.

Later that night my shoulder began to ache. Severe discomfort radiating down to the wrist. I will definitely use the Ice Therapy machine tomorrow.

December 22, 2018. This is something I read today on social media and it is my mindset at therapy. ‘You will never manifest your dreams by complaining your way out of your current reality.’ If I attack my exercise in appreciation, I walk out feeling positive. A better tomorrow awaits me. If I drag my way through the exercises, I walk out depressed. I will be an invalid for life. Bottom line, I must practice feeling better until I feel better for real.

December 31, 2018. Appointment at Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates. Hated seeing it on my schedule yesterday but glad I came. Cold/sickness was dragging me down. Mood Changer. After I left therapy, I stopped by CVS to pick up a prescription and ran into my friend John. He had previously had his prostate checked and his PSA results (Prostate Specific Antigen) (test) was up. His nursing assistant said for him not to worry about it. There is so much I need to learn about the prostate.


January 8, 2019. Appointment with OrthoCarolina. Highly Favored. Dr. Hayes put me on Aggressive Therapy (Work Conditioning). Three times a week for two hours and double the exercises. Getting me in full work mode. Dr. Hayes and my case worker Estelle Oakley were proud of my mobility. My arm does great at times but continues to hurt later. Time and patience will win out.

After my appointment I came to Grover for gasoline and the service man was shutting down the pumps on the cheap gas. He told me I could pump mine while he turned everyone else away. I was totally embarrassed but I pumped it anyway. Hey, sometimes you lose, sometimes you win. I win today.

January 10, 2019. My friend John told me this morning that he has two cancer spots on his prostate. The news rocked my world. He will have surgery in March to have it removed. Surprisingly we have the same Urologist, Dr. Brame, of Cleveland Urology Partners. I trust Doctor Brame and so does John. He will be out of work for six weeks. Two of those weeks he has to wear a catheter bag. I’m praying everything will be okay. Trust in God for healing.

Unexpected Therapy session. As long as it ain't work conditioning I'll play along. Save that mess for next week. I should not have been so worried. Therapy went great. Now I realize the same dedication I gave bringing my arm back from the dead is the commitment I have to give getting this weight under control. Starting by increasing my Fitbit steps.

January 11, 2019. You can pretty much say your diet isn’t working after you run into a drunk man in the grocery store that greets you with, “Harvey, man I ain’t seen you in over thirty years, damn you got big.” He then follows me throughout the store with his sister and brother, both of them I knew or remember. He did say one thing I guess was good, “You ain’t as big as your brother Philbert. You still can move around without help.” Yeah, I guess I’ll accept that. I broke away as soon as I could and concentrated solely on getting more Fitbit steps. After I got home, I watched me walk to the mailbox on my Ring doorbell app. Further embarrassment. I walk like a walrus. Damn, damn, damn.

January 17, 2019. Started feeling sick last night, like a cold coming on. Only therapy appointment is 8:30 this morning. Tough it out but I may call it a week afterwards. Take it to the house.

January 22, 2019. Cleveland Physical Therapy appointment. I wasn’t hurting when I got here but I sure as heck hurting now. Some exercises the weight is increased and the reps decreased. Other exercises are the opposite. Weight is decreased and the reps increased. The cones and the arm blade still remain a challenge. If I didn’t know I know now therapy is painful and slow going. Concentrate on something good as a mood changer.

January 24, 2019. Hurt Tuesday night and all day on Wednesday. Wednesday night I did the ice Therapy three hours and took two Aleve. This morning I took two Ibuprofen before breakfast. Cleveland Physical Therapy appt. Today No Pain. Exercise went well.

Working back after an injury takes a great deal of patience, belief in yourself, and a workable plan. Therapy is slow and designed to cause further pain than you already experience. I’ve watched my arm come back to life along with my self-worth. I seriously believe I can do this weight loss thing.

January 25, 2019. Cleveland Urologic Partners. Dr. Brame’s assistant asked me several times if the Tamsulosin is helping me. Helping me do what? I asked her every time. Really? I don’t remember why I take it. In fact, I take so many pills I don’t have a clue why I even do it. I’m sixty-one, I hurt when I wake up, at some point during the morning it will stop. After that I concentrate on being near a bathroom for, I have to pee every hour on the hour. But I did have a positive moment. Dr. Brame said men with low testosterone usually don’t have prostate problems or cancer. Positive results. Beautiful morning.

January 31, 2019. Cleveland Physical Therapy appt. Both sessions this week proved to be a blessing. Each visit I came in sort of feeling tension in my arm and after working out I left in a positive mood. Very little pain even hours later which is highly unusual. I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I did get a bit of bad news this week. A friend I’ve known for fifty-six years, Billy Ray Giles, phoned me to hook up his Roku device. At some point in our conversation he shared that he had cancer in the liver and was taking treatments. My heart fell to the floor. Just a year and a half ago he’d told me at my father’s funeral that he’d dealt with prostate cancer. Now this. Upon arriving at Bill’s house, I was taken aback at his appearance. Although he had always been tall and slim, he was now skinny. Gone was the athlete I knew. Basketball, football, baseball, and track, he played them all. He even attended Tacoma Falls College on a basketball scholarship. In any case, Bill was in good spirits, happy to see me as I was to see him. Again, I was stunned at his slurred speech and slowed movements. The thing that I’d been so afraid of, cancer, he was fighting for the second time. People say God doesn’t give us no more than we can handle. Where’s the truth? Where’s the proof in that?

February 1, 2019. Out of the blue, with no particular reason, my arm will act up, generating pain into my fingers. And then just like that, it will go away. I don’t take as many pain pills as I once did. I get relief by squeezing my fingers into the palm of my hand for several minutes.

February 10, 2019. Getting back to feeling normal. Severe cold for the last three days. Glad I didn’t sink down to flu symptoms. Still serious business.

Sick two weekends in a row. Yesterday was a complete washout. After breakfast my body began to ache and my stomach cramped. I spent the whole day either sitting in the easy chair watching television or in bed sleeping. I got up early this morning to fight a customer locked out iPad. With help from above I succeeded. Another happy customer. Now back to bed.

It’s easy to feel sorry for myself when I feel like the liquid gold flowing out of me. Therefor I have to concentrate on the positives. I have classmates and coworkers in nursing homes, fighting liver and prostate cancer, getting twin knee replacements, battling strokes and hypertension. I have borderline high blood pressure and cholesterol, but I’m in a position to deal with this with exercise and OTC drugs. I have many faults, but I have many more positives. Contemplating taking the whole week off and rebooting my system. Four days in a row this stomach virus has plagued me. Stomach and intestines, also known as gastrointestinal tract, become inflamed or irritated. This in turn affects the body’s ability to absorb water. This is a different virus from influenza – the flu shot will not help. Symptoms include several trips to the bathroom, vomiting and/or diarrhea – cramping in the abdomen and fever. I don’t have Rotavirus which is E. coli or salmonella or parasite food poison, these are more sudden in its attack. Norovirus tends to occur mostly in children. All the days this week seem to run together so I’m not breaking them into separate identities. I’m still weak and my stomach is liquid. As the saying goes, my getty up done gone and went.

February 21, 2019. The virus seems to have passed. Feeling better than I’ve felt all week. Cancelled my therapy appointment but kept the doctors at OrthoCarolina with Doctor Hayes. He cleared me to return to work without restrictions. I’m pissed because Estelle Oakley and Dr. Hayes informed me there will be no further assistance with my hand. According to them both, David Drum, my safety officer at work feels that the carpal tunnel in my hand comes from a repetitive injury and could not have started with the fall. I said bullshit! My hand didn’t start bothering me until I fell. I even took a test in Charlotte, the EMG, which proved carpal tunnel was there. Estelle asked me not to buck the system being that I’m so close to retirement. Situations like this always make me angry at myself for staying at a job just for a steady paycheck. My dream of being a journalist, self-employed, or even teaching overridden by my own laziness. Trouble don’t last always.

February 22, 2019. My 62nd birthday. Purchased a box of Coricidin HSP today at the grocer. The chest congestion and cough medicine seem to work well. I feel good. Satisfaction comes the end of the day when you did all you could to make your life and all those around you better.

February 24, 2019. Take always from my birthday weekend. Doctor Hayes released me from medical restrictions. I received phone calls from Harvey and Cory. I am now represented in the African American History Museum located in the newly remodeled Loray Mills building in Gastonia. Thankful for the Facebook post, phone calls and texts. I have achieved so much and I am grateful. Life is good. I will forever Dance Above the Clouds.

February 28, 2019. Appointment at Cornerstone Dental Associates with Dr. Sara Hammel Karner, DDS, PA. Its been a long while since I’ve been to the dentist, being that I was dealing with my other issues. This was a big mistake. Now I need to have a root canal and six cavities filled. Total cost is $2,530. Insurance will cover $1,159. My out of pocket is $1,370. Yeah, about that, set me up on a year long payment plan. Please and thank you. Recommended that I see Dr. Fiscus in Gastonia for pre-treatment of root canal.

March 1, 2019. Morganton Eye Physicians – Cleveland Eye Clinic. Dentist yesterday. I’ve needed new Glasses for years. Today is long overdue. Urologists on Monday morning. I’m keeping doctors busy.

Look in your hand. What do you see? What where you expecting? Level up.

March 8, 2019. Cleveland Urologic Surgery. I need to fire my secretary. My home schedule says I have an appointment now. Nurse tells me it's April 26th. I guess I'll just ride around in the sleet listening to Morning Joe. Love my life.

Shelby Family Practice. I have a Urologist, a bone surgeon, a dentist and a therapist. General Practitioners kept quitting on me so I quit on them. In order to get a prescription refilled I have to have a doctor check me over. Damn, I was all in Umbrella Academy on Netflix. Late on arrival. My new doctor is Shannah Leigh Wick, PA-C. The results of my chemistry panel are normal. My blood sugar (glucose), electrolytes (sodium, potassium) kidney function, (BUN, creatinine), and liver function tests (AST, ALT) are all normal. The results of my recent fasting lipid panel are abnormal. Dr. Wick recommended that I lower my total cholesterol, lower my triglyceride, lower my HDL and LDL. Same advice I have been told for years and can’t seem to follow. I should follow a low fat, low cholesterol diet, and get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise 5 days a week. New medicines to take at home are atorvastatin, doxazosin, and lisinopril. I’m so damn sick of popping pills.

I want to share this thought I had today; It is my belief that we should give young people the tools to correct their own mistakes. Empower them to grow. Allow them confidence to achieve. In doing so, we all win.

March 18, 2019. Gaston Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. I wasn’t in Dr. Clifford W. Fiscus office thirty minutes for a root canal treatment and my out of pocket charges were $275. I did dentistry in the Navy with free medical and dental. I should have stayed. When AIDS came out, I got out. This cost is unreal. And it isn’t over.

In general, I think I eat the right foods, I do as much physical activity as my body and strength will allow, and I abstain from smoking and alcohol. The fact that I can do as much as I do is a testimony to my belief in myself and God above. When the opportunity arises, I always find a way to take my game to a higher level. I’m proud or I should be proud of me. Loving on me this morning.

April 1, 2019. Can’t believe I only have one doctors appointment this month and it’s on the 26th with Dr. Brame. No more visits to therapy twice a week with Carolina Therapy Associates, Ortho Carolina with Dr. Hayes, Shelby Family Practice, and Carolina Urology for blood work or physical checks. Now I’m having dental work done with Cornerstone Dental Associates starting next month. I realize my schedule might get crazy again but for now I’m going to enjoy a little freedom.

A coworker went home to the Philippines for three weeks and I was asked to fill in for her. I haven’t operated an automatic notcher in twelve years. Truthfully, I was very angry at first but as the days and weeks passed, I settled in and enjoyed my assignment. For the first time in six months I crossed 68,000 steps in a week. My high was 13,481 steps in a day. I’m starting to feel really good about myself. Believe it or not I have volunteered to work four Fridays in a row. Only five hours overtime a week but it’s better than nothing. Now I can get some of these medical bills paid. Lately it seems our work insurance has turned to garbage. I’m paying more out of pocket than I ever have before.

April 2, 2019. Arm and shoulder ached like a son of a gun all day. Took two Ibuprofens before I left for work. Took a third four hours later. Empty bottle now. Pills weren’t working anyway. An hour before quitting time the temporary safety officer brought papers out for me to look over and sign. It was Form 26A from North Carolina Industrial Commission. Employer’s Admission of Employee’s Right to Permanent Partial Disability (G.S. 97-31). At the time of injury my pay was $1,104.00 per week. This resulted to weekly compensation of $733.40. 21.6 weeks of compensation at rate of $733.40 at 9% disability to right arm equals $15,841.44. I wasn’t expecting more than $15,000 so the 841 is a bonus.

Doctors Impression/Plan. Released to full activities. Rate release as below. It is possible he may progress to recurrent tear and/or cuff tear arthritis. He may down the road require more surgery including even possibly shoulder replacement.

Of course, pain is not negotiable, I guess since it can’t be rightly measured. Doctor Hayes did his job, my shoulder can do all it did before I fell, it just hurts especially when I’m driving and typing at the computer. Sending up prayers that this is a temporary issue. My ankle eventually stopped, and lord knows I bugged the hell out of Doctor Stucky. Time will tell. Until then, I pray for success.

April 7, 2019. Looking around at my coworkers, John Mobley is dealing with pancreatic cancer, Vince Kale had both knees replaced, John Bridges had a hip replacement and Ronnie Dukes has not returned since he suffered a stroke almost two months ago. Ronnie is still having problems with his vision. My weight problem may seem minor compared to their battles, but to me it is just as important. Being overweight affects everything I do and factors into all my daily choices. How I dress, what I eat, climbing in and out of the truck, doing my job, fitting into toilet stalls, being noticed by women I’m interested in, sturdy chairs, chairs high enough to rise out of, bending over or squatting down and finding clothes that fit.

April 12, 2019. A couple of my coworkers ran into problems they didn’t sign up for. An opportunity for me to step up my game and cover for them. Praying they will all return on Monday. Until then, God give me the strength in my arm and shoulder to see the job done. And the energy to come home and tackle my yard. Thanks for the financial benefits I received today. Mercy and Grace. Trusting.

April 14, 2019. I have worked five Fridays in a row. Doug and Marissa are out again this week. Doug is still sick and Marissa is sick after returning from vacation.

April 21, 2019. I’m blessed to write this morning only one doctor appointment this month. No more visits to Carolina Therapy Associates, OrthoCarolina, and Shelby Family Practice. I go to Carolina Urology Partners this Friday and I need to make Cornerstone Dental appointments next month. First time in a year I can sit on my patio fulfilled I can do my own yardwork. There was a time I thought I would never be able to use my right arm again. I may require more surgery including possible shoulder replacement. Yeah, and I could get hit by a truck tomorrow. Cross that bridge when I get to it. Doctor Hayes did his job, my arm works. As for the pain in my shoulder, arm and hand, that's in God's hands. My prayers are with my cousin Marjorie Degree Lamar, who chronicles her journey on Facebook. Her faith is inspiration for every soul she touches. Praying she finds peace and healing in her journey.

April 22, 2019. A check arrived today from Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc. For ABB Holdings Inc. (Baldor) in the amount of $4,400.40. These are updated benefits 12 March 2019 thru 22 April 2019. The letter has information on down loading a free Gallagher Bassett gbgapp for my smart phone. I add the app but found it had way too many glitches. It kept crashing when I tried to enter my banking information and it burned up my battery storage. I removed it. I deposited the entire check into my savings account. My intent is to buy either a zero-turn lawn mower or a good used truck. My neighbor Thamon has a 2004 Ford Exploder that he’s recently restored with a good low mileage engine. If the price is right, I just may buy it. I will put two thirds of this settlement into savings. Retirement isn’t that far off.

April 26, 2019. Cleveland Urology Partners. Great news! I’m down 13 pounds. This is a relief. Going down instead of up. Taking Pop Tarts, apples and oranges to work for breakfast and lunch. Drinking lots of water. Maybe I can see my way forward on this. Focus on listening to music during my lunch break. What you feed the soul is what grows in the spirit. Today I feel healthy, strong and capable. I can do all things in God, who strengthens me. Life is good, with God it’s better.

May 5, 2019. About a month ago I joined Limeade, the Well-Being program that inspires users to take more control of their physical, financial, emotional and work well being. Today I crossed 2,000 points and received a $100 gift coupon from Amazon, my favorite place to shop. Problem is, I don’t need anything right now. The coupon doesn’t have a spend-by date so I’m good. If I get 3,000 points by December 15, I will receive a $250 HSA/HRA contribution. As of today, I have 2,050 points. Enough with the excuses already. Time to move on. It’s only sixteen pounds but I did four repetitions of ten. Arm hurts but it did that anyway.

May 12, 2019. My annual Mother’s Day trek to the mountains was different this year. I’ve been coming up to Chimney Rock, Lake Lure, Bat Cave area all my life and never before today have I journeyed to the top of Chimney Rock State Park. I must admit the twenty-six-story elevator ride to the overlook was an eye opener. It takes 32 seconds to ride up to the Sky Lounge. The tunnel leading to the elevator is 198 feet long and stays a cool 55-65 degrees year-round. Getting to the very top was only for serious walkers. There was a hiking trail with a very high set of steps. My advice to every young person I met, travel and explore the world while you are young and can appreciate it. There is so much I want to do today but my body is no longer capable of doing it.

May 17, 2019. Appointment at Shelby Family Practice with Shannah Leigh Wick, PA. Follow up visit. The very young Physician’s Assistant prescribed for me to take bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave 8 mg-90 mg oral tablet, extended release). We had talked about it on my previous visit but I didn’t follow through with it. After I left the doctor’s office I stopped at the pharmacy. CVS on Grover Street didn’t have Contrave in stock. They faxed the prescription to CVS on Dixon Boulevard. Three days later I went over there and they didn’t have a record of it being requested. For several days I played tag from one store to the next trying to track down my pills. It got to the point I didn’t want them. Without the pills was more money in my pocket.

May 22, 2019. I picked up the Contrave today, $333.99 for 120 tablets, a one-month supply. Two pills in the morning and two pills at bedtime. Shannah Wick instructed me to take one pill at night for a week. The second week take one pill in the morning and one pill at night. The third week take two in the morning and one at night. The fourth week take as recommended. Two pills in the morning and two pills at night. Overall the pills are cheaper than a gastric bypass but they are not covered by my insurance. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this going. I can’t afford doing this without suffering major cost reductions in other areas. The first major cut will be the grocery bill.

May 25, 2019. Along with the weight loss pills I focused on increasing my weekly Fitbit steps this week. I was able to accomplish my goal. I went from 50,033 last week to 55,071 this week. It came with a price. I feel totally drained. Taking the next two days off from extraneous activity. Patio and television. 45,000 steps next week sound about right.

May 27, 2019. With the pills and the Fitbit, I should show positive results by the end of the summer. Already I’m eating less and have less of an appetite. Every day is a good day in the right direction.

May 28, 2019. Shoulder and wrist hurt more than usual today. Coming up on the anniversary of having surgery. After work I purchased a used truck from a coworker. I’ve always wanted another truck. The 1973 Ford F150 and the 1997 Ford Ranger both were very useful around the house. Living in the country there is always something to haul. This truck is a 2001 Ford F150. Something positive and long term.

May 29, 2019. First day taking one Contrave pill in the morning and one pill at night. Energy level is high. I’m able to come home from work and get a lot accomplished around the house other than sitting in front of the computer.

May 31, 2019. Appointment at Cornerstone Dental Associates with Dr. Sara Hammel Karner. Finished the last remaining cavities. I learned something new about dentistry. Amalgam is no longer used in areas visible to the public. Resin, normality used just on the anterior teeth, is now manufactured stronger and able to withstand the punishment the back teeth endure. Although my out of pocket expenses total over $1200 the final product was well worth it. I’m able to open my mouth and not feel shameful of how my teeth look.

After my dental appointment I met up with a few siblings that I haven’t seen or spoke to in ages. Deborah, Lesa, Shawn and Kepton met me at the Red Bowl in Charlotte. We had a great time together talking and laughing, sharing stories of our childhood and our children. We promised to meet every month and not let being busy be our enemy.

June 5, 2019. First day taking two Contrave pills in the morning and one pill at night. Appetite is still down. I’m able to drink a Boost drink for breakfast and a small salad from Aldi’s for lunch. Supper is usually something light like Subway or home prepared meals. I’m committed to moving away from fried foods.

June 6, 2019. Treated myself to breakfast at the Golden Corral. Perplexed at why, after finding a quiet out of the way spot to eat, a dude comes and sits down at the table in front of me. Like I’m a freaking magnet. Can’t believe I ate a huge breakfast yesterday and today. This means no lunch and a very light supper.

June 13, 2019. Last week I graduated to two Contrave pills in the morning and two more at night. I have zero appetite. For the past two weeks I’ve drunk a Boost for breakfast and threw something easy together for supper. Last night was bologna and tomato sandwiches. Since I have more energy than I used to I prepared suppers on the flat surface grill for the rest of the week. Rib eye, filet mignon, beef hot dogs, shrimp, broccoli, squash, zucchini, red and green peppers. The rib eye and filet mignon might be eaten first.

It’s a wonderful feeling not to have an appetite. I don’t think about food and I definably don’t stop at fast food joints unless I absolutely want something to drink.

June 15, 2019. One thing I learned watching my dad. He took care of the young man that helped him. At my age I need help at times and my friend John is always there. My weed eater quit on me yesterday and I asked him to finish. 7:30 this morning my Ring Doorbell informed me that someone was outside. I looked out the window and saw John busy at work. I'm not much into steak so I'm going to share a rib eye and a filet mignon that I ordered from Omaha Steaks. This is surely a Happy Father's Day.

June 20, 2019. I love my old pickup truck but after a few upgrades I love it more. I changed the yellowed headlights with brand new ones, installed a backup camera and this weekend I will plug up the Bluetooth. It operates through the radio just like my SUV and handles phone calls. Now I need an automatic light system that probably doesn’t exist. I have yet to manually use my headlights in the Chevy. Life is good...

June 22, 2019. It’s important to remember that trouble don't last always. Once I didn't have a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out of, now I give freely and share with people I know and people I don't know. I give away my smoked chicken and I give away Viva Chicken. Tonight, I ate chilly dogs although those chicken quarters I smoked today looked and smelled delicious. My point, this time last year my arm and shoulder were useless. My God, look at me now. Two years ago, I had a premonition that my father wouldn't live much longer. He died a month later. I was prepared but it still hurts. Whatever your situation, just believe there is promise awaiting you. Believe in something or someone bigger than yourself. Funny thing is the charcoal costs way more than the chicken. Where lies your focus?

June 24, 2019. Left work two hours early to go home and get some sleep. Instead I went to Lowe's and bought materials for another cinderblock and 4 x 4 bench. After I finished that project I started for bed and UPS delivered my Bluetooth for the truck. I had to take the time to hook it up. Now it's connected I will try again to sleep. Probably ruin me sleeping tonight.

June 28, 2019. I went by CVS to pick up my Contrave and the Pharmacy Assistant informed me it had been changed to Belviq 10 MG tablet. Contrave and Belviq are both $330 to $340 a bottle, yet Blue Cross and Blue Shield covers 80% of Belviq. I only had to pay $50 out of pocket. I wanted to shout and run around the store giving high praise to whomever made the switch. Three months of Contrave would have been $1000. Oh, what a wonderful day this is in the Kingdom of God. Here is what I know about this drug taken from the company Website. Belviq/Belviq XR is an FDA-approved prescription weight-loss medication that, when used with diet and exercise, can help some adults living with extra weight, with a weight-related medical problem, or adults living with obesity, lose weight and keep it off. It is not known if Belviq/Belviq XR taken with other prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal weight-loss products is safe and effective. It is not known if Belviq/Belviq XR changes your risk of heart problems, stroke, or death due to heart problems or stroke. The side effects I can tell morning sickness and low energy. Nah, I ain’t pregnant. I suppose the pills I take before going to bed disagree with my stomach and brain. In any case I’m usually feeling pretty good around midmorning with more energy. This is something I can deal with for now. At this point I’m desperate enough to take my chances.

Found out that when I turn on the video camera on my cell phone the music stops playing on the outdoor speakers. More positive news is I updated the patio today. Build a new cement block and 4 x 4’s bench and painted both benches. Tomorrow project – scrub the concrete pad and plant more flowers.

July 2, 2019. I don't understand doctors and insurance companies. Contrave and Belviq both cost $330 to $340 a bottle for a one-month supply. My insurance pays 85% for Belviq 10. I had to pay $50 out of pocket. Why didn't the doctor put me on Belviq 10 in the first place? Why don't the insurance company supplement Contrave? Still I’m thankful for the change.

July 4, 2019. Thinking about Cory and Marlene enjoying time in Ensenada, Mexico and Harvey Jr., in Washington, DC. I think my best fourth was 1976 in Los Angeles. My dental technician classmates and I visited Knox Berry Farms, Walt Disney Land, China Town, Watts neighborhood, Universal Studios, Rodeo Drive, Soul Train, Capital Records, the mansions of movie stars, and I got the chance to see actor Telly Savales. We explored Sunset Cliffs and just let loose for a weekend. That was then, this is now. I had a great day. Watched TV in bed until twelve. Ate a big lunch and slept all afternoon. Then again, more television. Never left the house. Thanks to my family for all the phone calls and texts. Now if my neighbors would run out of fire-works I'd be happy.

July 8, 2019. Most unproductive vacation time off ever. I didn't sit on my patio, only grilled twice, but I slept and watched movies deep into the night and early morning. It’s almost noon and I’m just getting started today. Going back to work tomorrow morning is going to be very challenging. I don’t know what it is but I’m tired and sleepy all the time now.

July 9, 2019. The struggle was real today. Felt under the weather and fit for a grave. Contractors, coworkers and engineers came at me with questions and more questions. I generally don't do questions. Then an hour before I got off my boss presented me with my 35-year anniversary award. I guess my troubles were worth it. 78 gifts to choose from including a wide screen smart TV, Stephen Curry signed basketball, Sony camcorder, Xterra Rower, 48 bottle wine storage center, Bose wireless music system, Old Town Kayak, Apple iPad, Brother all in one wireless printer, a Firman gas powered generator, Marantz turntable with USB, and a Cuisinart breakfast package that I may choose. The breakfast package includes a Belgian Waffle Maker, 12 cup programmable Coffee Maker, 1000-watt Juice Extractor, an Ultra Blender, and a Griddle. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

July 12, 2019. Now I know why I'm tired all the time and nauseous in the mornings. Dizzy and sometimes feeling a headache coming on. I can't remember the last time my head hurt so this is serious. Belviq has side effects. I had none from Contrave except for the price. Belviq is supposed to be the same thing but I don't think so. I’m barely able to make it through the day. I need to confer with my physician for a possible remedy.

July 18, 2019. Coworker is still out after two weeks. He will possibly not return for a good while. Supervisor is leaving in a few days for a two-week vacation to celebrate his daughter’s wedding. Third coworker on my grade level is on vacation in Knoxville. I can’t continue feeling this bad just getting through a work day. I called Shelby Family Practice and left a message with Dr. Wick that I needed help.

July 19, 2019. Shelby Family Practice called back. Dr. Wick recommended I take ginger root and vitamin B-6. I didn’t waste time going to pick it up. CVS had the B-6. I couldn’t find the ginger root at CVS, Aldi, and Food Lion. I ended up ordering a bottle off Amazon.

July 21, 2019. Still trying to increase Fitbit steps. Low energy, I just want to sleep and remain motionless as possible.

July 22, 2019. Ginger Root arrived today.

July 25, 2019. Athens, Georgia 29th Tory Family Reunion. Athens is the home of two bands that I know of, REM and The B 52’s. Duke Ellington used to play at the 40-Watt Club. Athens is an historic and athletic town. Home of the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Right arm and shoulder were sore all the way. I try not to take more than one Aleve a day. Had a grand time at the meet and greet. Theme: “A link to the past and a bridge to our future.” It’s been two years since I attended a reunion. Anniversary of daddy’s death.

July 26, 2019. Family cookout at Sandy Creek Park. The weather was beautiful. God showed up and showed out. It was wonderful to talk with aunts and uncles and cousins I’ve watched mature over the years. I’ve personally gone from chasing the football, playing softball and basketball, to sitting at the picnic tables chilling and talking. Passages. Time waits for no one. Missing all the ones who wanted to be here. Let’s enjoy the moment.

July 27, 2019. Family Dinner. I danced to the Biker’s Shuffle and I did the Wobble. I’m so badly out of shape it’s a shame. But at least I was one of the few men and boys on the floor. Met a young cousin named Aklan Khali who has an inspirational song titled ‘Hold On’.

August 2, 2019. Picked up my Belviq today and immediately donned two pills in the parking lot. Instead of placing the bottle into my little tote bag I inadvertently put it back in the white pharmacy bag filled with papers. Later in the evening as I was burning fallen limbs and paper trash in the patio firepit, I tossed in the trash bag. The next morning, I could not find my Belviq. I searched my office, the kitchen, the truck, on the ground beneath the truck for the missing bottle. Finally, it became clear that I had thrown away my pills. Fifty dollars down the drain. I debated all day over calling the pharmacy and admitting my mistake or just suffer the lost. After much inner turmoil I decided not to call but to work extra hard at sticking to the proper diet. I can’t believe I threw all that money in the fire just like that.

August 5, 2019. I decided to go to Washington, DC this weekend to visit Harvey Jr. On Thursday he will receive TS-SCI certification at a ceremony held at the Pentagon Building. This means Top Secret – Sensitive Compartmented Information. I don’t want to be in the Pentagon while this is pomp and circumstance was going on. I’ll go Friday and return Sunday.

Bose Soundtouch 30 arrived today and it is everything promised and then some. Retail is $499.99. Thank you, ABB, for valuing my service to you. Sirius just became available on all formats with one membership. I love the change. I have Bluetooth in my SUV and truck. It’s an eight-hour drive to Alexanian, Virginia which I will have to do alone. A few years ago, it was no big deal, but now, we’ll just have to wait and see. I used to drive back and forth from Jacksonville and thought nothing of it. In fact, at one point I was driving to my parent’s house every weekend. My last major distance was the Englewood New Jersey reunion. I think it took nine or ten hours. I do remember it was a mile from New York City.

August 10, 2019. When you hang around a kid half your age. It’s been over a year since I walked 13,297 steps. Finished the week at 58,893 steps. I haven’t performed this well since March when I operated automatic three in the press room.

August 11, 2019. Burnt out from yesterday. Covered this whole city and then some. I would have been perfectly happy to just drive around the tri state area but my eldest wasn’t having it. We ditched the car for a long walk from the parking garage through the mall, down the stairs to the loading dock. The metro train ran from Crystal Station all the way across town to Regan Station. A pretty nice ride. Except, Harvey Jr. had other plans. We got off not even halfway and walked over six blocks to the White House. I admit it was thrilling, but my heart and body screamed their displeasure. The trip back I prayed the world would end. I was that tired. When we finally got back to Harvey’s apartment, I took a couple of Tylenol Extra Strength and went to bed.

August 13, 2019. Thirty-five years at Reliance Electric now ABB. Doing it one day at a time. Retirement is starting to make a cozy home in my mind. I can’t seem to make it go away or decrease its presence. All the day to day bull shit over anything and everything, the same old pettiness and back stabbing. I don’t have the same respect for the product we built anymore. My body can take a few more years of getting up early and walking on cement floors, but my mind no longer wants to deal with the crazy. I may soon go on line and fill out a few job applications. When I leave a company is to be my decision. Coworkers, pay, sense of self-importance, all tickle the fancy, but in the end, I want to be sure when I walk away. The soreness in my body doesn’t ease as quickly as it used to. One pain pill has moved up to two. It’s important I listen to my body.

August 15, 2019. My shoulder arm and hand ached all day. At times it throbbed so bad I thought about calling Doctor Hayes and asking for a do-over. It was an achy-stiffness, with little burst of pain waves. I took two Tylenol extra Strength before I went to work. We had a plant employee staff meeting right when I got to work and it pained the entire time. I put together a couple of big notch dies and a gap die in a big shoe. Using so much physical power did not help my cause. Oh well, keep it to myself because sharing with others make me vulnerable. My daughter in law used the hurt arm as her excuse not to let my grandson ride with me to visit Harvey Jr. last weekend. Yeah that.

September 1, 2019. Listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 for the week of August 28, 1976 and wondered what was I doing. I graduated The Naval School of Dental Assisting and Technology August 6th, in San Diego, California. Spent time in Los Angeles and Anchorage before arriving on the island of Adak, Alaska, August 9th. My first-time standing duty for the Dental Department was Labor Day. The majority of the hospital and all the dental staff except me were attending a cookout when we got the emergency call ‘Man Overboard’. A Coast Guard member had fallen in the water between his ship and the pier. He was an extremely dangerous position and no one was willing to go in the water and rescue him. Finally, a Hospital Corpsman and Vietnam veteran nicknamed Snake dove in and pulled him out. Back at the hospital, short on staff, I was ordered to assist in the operating room. All I knew how to do was hold the suction hose and keep blood out of the surgeon’s work area. The man had a punctured lung, broken teeth, lacerated tongue, and many broken bones. I won’t go into detail but we spent the entire afternoon sweating and working our asses off. When the doctor was finished, I worked with a dentist who had returned from the cookout on the man’s mouth. That evening the injured sailor was medevac to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. I went from a dumbass to a veteran on my first duty. One of God’s many jokes on my life.

Back to the count down. Play That Funky Music #6 Wild Cherry. Shake Your Booty #5 KC & The Sunshine Band. I’d Really Love to See You Again #5 England Dan Seals and John Ford Coley. First time two brothers in different duos made the top 40. Jim Seals and Crofts made it. You’ll Never Find Another #4 Lou Rawls. Let ‘Em In #3 Wings. You Should Be Dancing #2 Bee Gees. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart #1 Elton John and Kiki Dee.

September 6, 2019. I'm 100% that asshole folks told you I was. Coworkers if you call me on Friday to come in to work, I will not answer and block your number. If I need more money, I'll get a better job. If I deem it important on Thursday I will come in and leave when I am ready. Next, if you see a problem around the Cherryville house fix it. Don't complain on Facebook. After working 4 hours I drove to Cherryville and trimmed the adjoining field. Not that hard. Lastly, I don't read Messenger. Delete without opening. As Taylor Swift said, say it in a tweet that's a copout. Say on the street that's a knockout.

September 8, 2019. I watched a short clip about eagles on Facebook. I’ll admit I was scared to death of eagles when I lived in Alaska. They were so big and not scared of anything. The walk from our barracks to the dispensary was not that far but eagles generally stood around on the path. I imagined being picked up and carried away to be eaten like they did salmon. I took dozens of pictures of eagles but I only have a few now. My favorite hangs on my office wall.

September 9, 2019. Can a brother be so tired? Today took me behind the woodshed and beat me silly. Knocked me to the floor, I slept through the eight count, only to get up dragging my big ass behind me.

September 13, 2019. Time to have that talk with the Social Security Office. I’m ready for retirement. My body says keep going but my mind isn’t in it anymore. It’s a struggle to get up and go in that direction. When I get there, I have to fight myself to stay.

September 14, 2019. Harvey Jr. and Nathan stopped by to get some things out of the utility building. I bought the Bose outside and Nathan loved the loud music. Too bad they had to leave before I could cook the low country boil. I wish I could see all my children and grand more, but it is what it is.

The room in my house I spent the least amount of time in is my music room. Every day I look at my drums and keyboards and feel some kind of way. I have to be genuinely depressed to be creative and right now my life is golden. If not golden, I’m happy.

September 17, 2019. I told my supervisor that I’m retiring in four months at the end of the year or six months at my birthday. I'm done. Seems like I've been working all my life. I’ve picked cotton, raked leaves, worked in almost every mill in Cherryville and Shelby and sold that damn Eagle newspaper. Remember the Neighborhood Youth Corps? I did that as well. I got my mind made up.

September 20, 2019. Visited the Veterans Administration to get my affairs in order. Retirement Ready. Now I'm legally in the system. Ready for the next phase. To God be the glory.

I got back home and began interviewing contractors for my patio makeover. My last major project before my disappearing act. Later I drove over to CVS. I need to try and keep up with this bottle of Belviq. Last month I went home and accidentally burnt it in the firepit. $50 up in smoke.

September 21, 2019. I was asked at the last minute to attend an event Shiloh Church and bring my books. Didn't bring any of my usual set up. Book stands, table cloth, business cards and info products. Naked table but the books are selling on their own. After I retire, I’ll take book sales more seriously. I still would love to own a bookstore.

September 26, 2019. I got off at noon with plans of going home and working on my patio. So far all I’ve done is play Spider Solitaire on the computer for two and a half hours. But I did win a gift at work. A shop vac worth $75. Sadly, I have absolutely no use for it.

Weekend starts as soon as I can get off this sofa. I could do three-and-a-half-day work weeks until the end of the year. Final Destination.

September 27, 2019. I wish the two me's would get together and talk. Me in bed can do all things. Me out of bed is lazy as hell. Move Slow.

September 28, 2019. It rained just long enough to remind me what rain felt like. Contractors arrived very early with the skid steer and started my patio makeover. My goal is to enlarge patio and put up a privacy fence. After the man left, I burned fallen limbs and jammed the Bose. I’m thinking about adding an above ground swimming pool.

September 30, 2019. Nix the pool. Coworkers told me the upkeep isn’t worth it. Cleaning the filter, changing the liner, water bill, keeping the pool clean, etc. I got off work early and came home to see the contractors do their thing. Fence is halfway up and I am loving it. Better than I could have imagined. Privacy with a capital P. Can’t wait to put the cement pavers down and plant the grass seed. I can see me relaxing, writing, cooking, sipping on something intoxicating, and just enjoying life on this patio.

October 3, 2019. I wish to thank my cousins Yolande and Lee Roy Johnson and everyone else that stopped by and helped me christen my upgraded patio. We celebrated with a fish fry with fries and hush puppies. We had so much fun we made plans to do it again on Saturday. Bring your favorite music play list.

October 17, 2019. Supervisor called me into his office to ask about my taking FMLA for a medical appointment. He didn’t think I had it but I assured him that I did. The conversation changed to moving me to a manual notcher. I made it very clear I didn’t go to college to go backwards. Then the conversation changed to his and others concern for my arm pain. I couldn’t help but laugh at their phony concern. After my therapy the company blamed my carpal tunnel on outside issues and took no credit for it. I told him the VA would take care of it. Then he mentioned bringing the second shift die man to first shift next week. I took this to mean my services were no longer needed. I decided to take next week off to decide if this is my moment to retire. When I got to the parking lot my car wouldn’t start. It reminded me of the car trouble I had when I got out of the Navy. My engine started knocking as I was driving out of Jacksonville that morning. I spent the entire day in Brunswick, Georgia walking around the town. That evening I caught a Trailways bus home. In the ABB parking lot, I waited almost an hour for a tow truck to arrive. The tow driver was in a horrible mood and took it out on me. I reported him to Triple A later that day. At my doctor’s appointment I was disappointed that my weight is still an issue. Shannon Wick shared valuable insights into other possibilities. I’m going to possibly look at Keto again.

October 18, 2019. Two days in a row I've awaken to unbelievable news. Yesterday I learned Elijah Cummings had passed. I respected him as an honorable man and as a leader in the House of Representative. Now I hear that my friend and best man at my wedding Morris Tate was found dead by his brother Dennis in his home last night. I’ve known Morris since the first grade. He helped me move into my house from the Holy Oak Apartments. He wasn’t aware single people could buy a home before I told him. Immediately he began to search for a house in my neighbor before finding one he liked in Gastonia. After I had kid’s we lost touch. The only time we seemed to catch up was at funerals. Morris, we made some good memories old friend, I'm gonna miss you.

I had taken next week off to think about retiring. After hearing about Morris passing, I've made a decision. I will officially retire from ABB Monday October 28th. It's time I ride off into the sunset. Make the best of the rest of my life. Dancing Above the Clouds. For we live by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7.

October 21, 2019. Curb my enthusiasm. I’ve suffered from a cold for the last four days and now after I started building a bar on the patio, I’ve thrown my back out. Believe it not I’ve taken a total of four Aleve’s today. Still sore and got me walking bend over. Tomorrow I’ll stick to writing and no manual labor.

October 23, 2019. Appointment with Social Security Commission. I wanted to plan receiving my benefits next month. I was told that the arrangements I made earlier online was difficult to undo. It’s in my best interest to start January 1st 2020 and receive my first check around the 20th. By filing for retirement October 28th from ABB my 401 benefits will be available for me to control. Using this with my savings I can support myself until January. In the meantime, my back continues to be bothersome. In a strange way, I feel like its all God’s plan to slow me down. I’m so eager to get a part time job I can’t think straight about anything else. Being in pain has given me an excuse to sit. The cold rainy mornings hamper me from sitting outside on the patio. I did get out in the afternoon and drive around a couple of times today. Put gas in the truck and washed it. Drove the car to Dunkin Donuts for iced coffee and apple fritters. It’s nice to concentrate on reading and writing and nothing else. I’m getting plenty of sleep and following the Impeachment proceedings on MSNBC. It ain’t looking good for the Liar POTUS.

October 24, 2019. First ten minutes after I got up were perfect. Then all hell broke. My back ached worst than it had all week. I took two Aleve tablets and sat down to wait for my hair braid appointment. Relaxation must be the key. At the hair saloon I listened to Sirius radio on my headphones for two hours. Went I left my back didn’t hurt nearly as before. Still ain’t gonna push my luck. No hard labor around the house this weekend.

I used to wonder what I would do if I didn't need to work for money? I’d open a book store and read not worrying about making sales. And then I opened up my AARP magazine and see a story about a truck driver who learned how to use a computer and then he taught himself to create trap music. Looks like I need to spend more time practicing my drums and keyboard. To God be the glory.

October 25, 2019. It's hard for me to put all my trust in God. I must always have Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. Leave nothing to chance. Before my retirement takes effect on Monday, I wanted a part time job already in place. God threw that out the window. This weekend I was in bed with the cold. When I ventured out Monday to build a bar on my patio my back went out. Back in bed. Yesterday I figured it out. I was putting too much pressure on my body. I was stressing myself into a breakdown. I had taken a week off to find out what was best for me and instead I’d worried about what was going on at work without me. For the rest of the weekend I concentrated on what a future without a forty-hour job looked like. No ten-hour shift, no steel toed boots, no ten-minute break and thirty-minute lunch. No drive through biscuits and waiting for an open toilet stall when I really had to go. Yeah, that’s the world I want to be.

October 28, 2019. Retirement Day. I want to thank my coworkers for the beautiful Citizen gold watch and the layer cake given to me for my retirement. I'm sorry that I didn't hang around shaking hands and saying goodbyes. When I got out of the Navy the first time, my coworkers gave me a huge party and I cried all the way from Jacksonville back to Cherryville. So now I don't do goodbyes anymore. 35 years is a long time to stay on a job. Most of us have watched our children born and finished school and into the workforce. A few of those kids are working now beside us. Hopefully I will visit in the future. Surely, we will see each other around town and at ball games. To God be the Glory, stay safe, I love and miss you all.

October 30, 2019. I’m telling you someone should write a book on how to properly retire. Each morning I wake up feeling strange not having to work for a living. I found out today I don’t qualify for Medicare, Medicate, or the VA for medical assistance. They all require age 65 or a specific income or previous reported medical conditions. I did some serious investigation and ended up signing with a company for $326 a month. In the luxury of a job a person is given group rate. Being single is an invitation to be screwed.

October 31, 2019. It’s hard to believe I don't have to get up at 4:30 in the morning anymore. I can go out for a sit-down breakfast and not have to settle for a biscuit drive through. I can go back home and write in peace. I’m learning to love my next chapter.

I connected with and spent the entire afternoon discussing the best insurance policy to fit my lifestyle. By some unknown circumstance my phone number became available to every insurance hawk in the country. I received calls late into the evening from folks trying to sell me a life, health, death, emergency care, or hearing policy.

November 1, 2019. I received my last paycheck from ABB. Not what I expected so I went back and checked what they done. I took the entire week off last week using up most of the vacation days I had left. Since I didn’t finish the year, I hadn’t earned November and December. I was only paid for 30 hours instead of 40. No biggie, you can lose little battles and still win the war. I’m retired, I’m healthy for almost 63, and I sort of gotta plan. Everything else is God’s will and order. On that note my car wouldn’t start again today. Deal with it. I called Triple A again. This time I headed straight to the auto supply store and purchased a new battery. Thankful I had the resources. Thank you, Father God. I’m gonna lean on Jesus a lot going forward.

November 21, 2019. My last day of work was October 17th before I went on vacation. I announced my retirement while on vacation and did so October 28th. The fear I faced at first is no longer with me. My whole life has been about change. Without growth is death. This next chapter is going to be so much fun. Dancing Above the Clouds.

Back started hurting tonight. I have no reason why. I don’t remember doing any heavy lifting.

November 23, 2019. Thankful for the gifts God gave. Printer would not come on this morning. Lost house power last night for a couple seconds. I thought the printer was fried and started making plans for a new one. I gave it another work over tonight and the power came up. An hour later it prints. Lucky me.

My back is making it hard to move around. Bed rest and more sitting in the easy chair than I care for. I only got 2,614 steps today. 23,473 steps for the week. This is my lowest output ever. Blessed are the pure in heart: For they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 KJV

November 27, 2019. Woke up thinking about nothing. Enjoying the peace. I picked up a German chocolate cake tonight that I had 

made. I could barely walk because my back hurt so bad.

November 28, 2019. Thanksgiving Day. Cooked all I'm gonna cook. When the hen is smoked, I'm done. Wishing everyone a safe and loving holiday. Grateful to be in position to retire at 62 in somewhat good health. Thankful for my children not draining me financially or emotionally. Humble to the Father whom all blessings flow. Difficult time getting around but I’m trying to keep my daily routine. Going to the grocery store and pharmacy is a chore. Nonetheless, I carry on. Dancing Above the Clouds.

November 29, 2019. Oh, heck nah. After I returned from Orlando last Thanksgiving, I signed up for Sirius radio. $126 per year. Since then I’ve gotten Pluto TV for free which includes all the music you can ask for. I looked at my bank account this morning and Sirius charged me $264.22 for the upcoming year without notice. Oh, heck nah. I called to cancel my subscription and we came to a new agreement. I pay $126.22 and receive a free Amazon Echo Dot, plus receive a thirty day notice next December before I’m charged anything. $138.00 put back on my credit card in the next four business days. I can live with that. I have 36 presets stations in the car. With Pluto TV I have to stream from my phone and change stations from the phone. Not easy to do while driving. I’m good for now, just no more surprises.

November 30, 2019. I learned Debra ‘Mama Kate’ Haney passed away. We attended church together in Gaffney. This really hurt and I’m still having trouble believing it. She was a beautiful spirit with a blessed voice. When she sang songs to the Lord you knew He was listening. I only got 2,291 steps today. Ended the week with 25,885 steps. I don’t think my steps were this low when I was enduring my torn rotator cuff. ‘Oh, give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endeareth forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 KJV

December 1, 2019. Amazon late evening delivery. Thank you, Harvey Jr. for the retirement insulated mug. Wish you were here to connect the Echo Dot. It took me an hour. It's pretty loud, I can hear it all through the house. I love gadgets. I connected the Bose Soundtouch to the Echo Dot 3. Amazing! I can ask it to play the 6 presets. Also connected to the Ring Doorbell. Playing Christmas music when motion is detected. The possibilities are endless.

December 2, 2019. I love cold winter mornings. Wrap up in a warm blanket, fireplace and coffee, Jessica Fletcher and Perry Mason. Actually, it’s a movie called ‘Please, Murder Me’ starring Angela Lansbury and Raymond Burr. This is a darn good movie.

December 3, 2019. Today was really productive for me as I was able to write good pages. Also spent time learning video recording software. Blessed that my family made it home safe from their cruise. And especially happy my eldest signed on to a dream he has harbored for years. Harvey Jr. ordered his dream car, a Telsa Truck. The tape I labored on all day was his moment of birth. God moves in the most mysterious ways. Dancing Above the Clouds

December 4, 2018. In full creative mode. Woke this morning with my brain popping. No limits, no negative boxes, just the Master Creator flowing through me. I do more before nine o'clock than you do all day.

December 5, 2019. I called my Facebook friend Bessie and talked in person for the first time. No more texting and liking Facebook status. I thought for sure I would have nothing to talk about. Ending up talking forty-five minutes. Go figure. We would’ve talked longer but her daughter needed her attention. I feel positive about our relationship.

December 6, 2019. I drove to Charlotte to visit my friend Billy Ray Giles who has prostate cancer. His daughter had texted me the night before the hospital and room number. As it turned out I went to the wrong branch of Atrium Health. GPS took me to the Tryon Road facility. Should have been Kenilworth Avenue across town. My back still got me walking like the hunchback of Notre Dame so I can’t make another trip. I texted Billy’s daughter and promised to visit him the next day. She texted me back that he will be released from the hospital tomorrow. I plan to visit him on Sunday after he has rested. ‘Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.’ Romans 12:21 KJV

December 7, 2019. Retirement is the best thing to happen for me to catch up on reading and writing. Every day is Saturday. Yet retirement also has a down side. I’m not particularly focused on getting things done. I don’t feel a sense of urgency like I need to do something. Next year I may get a job or a dog.

December 8, 2019. I’ve suffered from back pain most of my life. I remember at age twenty or twenty-one I had to almost crawl from my apartment to my Trans Am. Drove myself to the Naval Hospital and hobbled inside for treatment. Again, years later playing basketball in Gastonia with coworkers. It was a good thing my sister Gaylain and her husband Joe were there because after the game they had to drive me to Cleveland Memorial. I learned it was Sciacca and had to wear a back and leg brace for a couple of weeks. Then again, I was plugging in the printer one Sunday while my wife and kids were at church and couldn’t get up out of the floor for nearly a half hour the pain was so intense. I didn’t go to the hospital, instead I put the leg brace back on. Another time I remember I was filling gift bags for the youth at church to give as Christmas gifts. That hurt for a while but I was home already for the holidays. The leg brace became useful again. Although this back pain is nothing new it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Praise be to God I haven’t suffered from Sciacca in over ten years.

December 9, 2019. Happy birthday to my eldest son Harvey Butaleon Degree, Jr. I love you as much today as the day you were born. Continue to follow your dreams and remain optimistic about life. God has a plan for each of us. What is for you is for you. Love Peace Happiness Dancing Above the Clouds.

December 11, 2019. I woke up thanking God for surrounding me with therapist young enough to be my grandchildren after my rotator cuff surgery. These young people opened my eyes to a much larger life than the poor existence I was living. All those hours and weeks and months listening and talking with them awakened my inner being which had been shut down by aimless repetition. I was introduced to new music, new movies, new books and new world policies. Today I am younger for it. Dancing Above the Clouds.

December 13, 2019. My morning thus far. Editing video of my family in the nineties while listening to music on the Bose. Dunkin Donuts Eggnog is pretty tasty. To help with my back I purchased Clearlax – an osmotic laxative and Natural Calm – a magnesium calcium drink. This is to ensure my colon is not blocked.

December 15, 2019. I’ve fought back trouble since I was twenty-one. Not every year and usually not very long. Starting to feel better. Spend much needed time outdoors today. Grilling for the week. Pork chops. Got my Sirius radio to keep me company.

December 16, 2019. The plan was to work until I was 70. I loved what I was doing and it paid the bills. But the J O B wanted me to work overtime and mandatory Fridays. I don't do overtime. Push comes to shove, bills still getting paid and 62 ain't so bad for quitting. My Life, My Rules. I used to say the more I do, the more I can do. Now I say the less I do, it can wait. I got nothing but time. How is it possible to take a day off work when I don't have a job? Didn’t do anything today except watch movies on Netflix. Back pain is gone. Feels good to feel good. I ordered two new gel filled bed pillows from Amazon.

December 17, 2019. Up early listening to the rain and watching the colored glass fireplace. Thankful I can enjoy and appreciate quiet moments as this. God is good. Dancing Above the Clouds.

New pillows arrived today. That’s good. I suspect the back pain is coming from my bed. Mornings when I get up, I’m usually stiff and achy. Either the mattress or the pillows are the culprit. Process of elimination.

December 20, 2019. I love waking up without a worry in the world. I don't owe no one and no one owes me. No health problems, no financial problems, no in-house problems. All my life I wished for a day like today. Enjoy. Dancing Above the Clouds

December 21, 2019. I cut back heavy on caffeine. Drinking less coffee and tea and more juices and milk. I was able to sleep the entire night last night without going to the bathroom to urinate. My happiness has boosted my confidence that I can manage my health and eventually control my weight. I’m continuing to remind myself that I only have one job now and that is to make a better me. I keep thinking about how well I was doing before I tore my rotator cuff. My waistline was trimming and my upper torso was gaining some definition. My Fitbit steps were up there and my energy level was over the moon. Praise to praise its all glory to God. The insurance settlement has allowed me to retire at 62 without any great worries. I will continue to give thanks that Jesus will order my steps.

December 24, 2019. I don’t feel so merry this Christmas. Too much going on in the world that I’m concerned about. I can’t pray and look the other way knowing hundreds of kids and their parents are detained at the Mexican-US border without proper care. Corruption has taken over the White House and the Senate. Yes, this is supposed to be about my health and it is. My mental health is just as important as my physical health. I put this bible verse on all my holiday messages. Might have pissed off some people. All I got in return was crickets. Amos 5:21-23 (NIV)

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! Christmas 2019

2019 has been very good to me. News of a second grandchild. Purchased an old truck. Installed privacy fence around patio. Retired from ABB. Received insurance settlement. Celebrated 35-year work anniversary. Celebrated 36 years at Elizabeth Avenue. Vacationed in Washington DC.

Build my outdoor kitchen. Stopped taking two prescribed medications. Live Love Laugh - Dancing Above the Clouds

December 25, 2019. I woke up Christmas morning relaxed and stress free. For the first time in my life I didn’t spend a dime on gifts. I usually get very little back and this year was no different. Shawn gave me a retirement present yesterday that could be counted a Christmas present. Today was and is a beautiful day. Dreams into Reality.

December 28, 2019. I dreamed last night of doing floor exercises today. Getting down to the floor, making my limbs move on the floor, and getting up off the floor, not recommended without a medical team on hand.

December 30, 2019. My mind is overloaded with things I want to get done. Change my cell phone service and get life insurance. Consumer Cellular kept me on hold for thirty-five minutes waiting to transfer my phone service. I missed the call with Colonial Life Insurance to enroll in life and burial insurance. My friend Doug checked into the hospital this morning for double knee surgery and I still haven’t received any word on how Billy Ray is doing. Around 7:15 p. m. I went to the CC Website to their Chat feature. I was 115 in line to be serviced and they closed at 5:00 WST. They finally got to me at 7:50. After a few basic questions the Chat went away and I was left without any answers. Now I was really pissed. My mood and my day changed after I received a text from Bessie. In fact, I took my Consumer Cellular sim card out and put the Sprint sim card back in so I could communicate and not feel lost and abandoned. Bessie and I continued to text for the remainder of the evening.

December 31, 2019. If I don’t want to make this my last year among the living, I’m going to have to seriously change my bad habits. Colonial Life informed me that I didn’t qualify for their special low rates because of my weight. According to the specialist, the cut off is 6’ 2” 378 lbs. I’m over 400 lbs. Since I’ve retired my Fitbit steps have been cut in half. I feel better as a whole, but I can sense the weight creeping back up.

Hung out this afternoon with John Mobley, Manning Allison and Steve Whittenburg. Nah, we weren't drinking but you couldn't tell different. We laughed and lied and joked and smoked until our sides hurt. Wonderful to close out the year with members of the LEAN team from my old job. Definitely have to do this more often.

Someone may need to hear this. When my life was at its bottom last year, not one of the friends who helped me is on social media. Know the difference between Real Friends and a social media category. I'll take two for real over 5,000 online any day of the week. Life ain't about collecting likes and hearts. The struggle is real.


January 1, 2020. Visited Doug Crawford for almost two hours at Atrium Health Shelby. My goal for this year is the same as every other year, eat healthier and get more Fitbit steps.

Cory and Marlene called. Great News! Marlene is pregnant and expecting her baby in August. Ollie is also pregnant and her baby is due in April. Two grandchildren in the same year. Give God the Glory and Highest Praise!

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