I am a very lucky man – I’ve got an amazing wife and am the father to three wonderful kids. Lylli was born on Halloween in 2008, Gracie was born November 2010 and although she only lived for 17 months, she will remain as much a part of this family as the rest of us, and Mickey Gray, our first son, was born in June of 2012. I’m not going to say that life has gone exactly as I would have wanted, but it is a good life and I am determined to make the best of it.

This blog is an attempt to document my quest to become a dad that my family can be proud of.

Monday, October 25, 2010

RIP My Sweet Bodey

What a year it’s been – many things have made me question just about everything in this mixed up world.  Friday afternoon, after a long painful decision making process, I held my dog, Bodey, as the vet put him to sleep.  This was very hard.  We lost Buck earlier this year – he was my first dog and for many years, my best friend.  It was very painful to say goodbye to Buck, but he was getting old and his insides were consumed with Cancer.  To hold him while the doctor inserted the needle of pink solution was very hard, but he was already asleep because the cancer was found in the middle of an exploratory surgery.  There was no doubt in his case what needed to be done.  With Bodey, it was far less cut and dry.  At times he seemed happy, which made it easy for us to forget that the rest of the time, he was not.  I watched as his eyes drifted from what looked like confusion to becoming lifeless.  I held him so tight – on my knees - my head to his head and begged him for forgiveness.  I have wavered back and forth ever since,  between feelings of extreme guilt for playing God and having pride that I made the decision out of respect for him.   We thought about what we could do for Bodey to make his life better for a long time, but in the end we realized that nothing could be done.  Many long conversations with my wife and the vet resulted in our decision.  His congenital condition had gotten him to a point where his  quality of life was just not as good as he deserved.  It was my duty as his owner to decide for him  when the time was right and I truly believe it was the right time – but it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.   Friday afternoon, Carrie, Lylli, and Myself spent some time alone with Bodey saying our goodbyes.  I brought him to the vet alone – I told Carrie that there was an 80% chance that I’d make it there – but as I drove,  out of the blue, I got a rush of strength causing me to sit up straighter as I drove - filling me with the feeling that I owed it to Bodey to be strong for him.  After it was done, they left me alone with him for a moment – it killed me that I couldn’t close his eyes – they kept popping open.  After I regained my composure, I looked into his eyes again and saw for the first time that they weren’t spinning – he was so still  – I imagined when he was alive, based on how his eyes constantly spun and darted all over, that his life was spent with that feeling you get  when you get off the merry go round at the park after the neighborhood bully traps you on it and spins you as fast as he can until you lose your lunch.  That’s how Bodey spent his life.  He could no longer move around very well, he often whined , and when he tried to get somewhere, he would inevitably crash into something – the frequency and intensity of those crashes were getting to the point where he was really going to hurt himself soon and I believe often did hit things so hard that it dazed him for a minute or two.  I felt that he spent much of his time embarrassed and wanting to do things that his body would not let him do.  As hard as it was to do, it was time.   
Dear Bodey –
I hope you can forgive me for taking your life in my hands.  I know you are in a better place.  A place where you and Buck are running today side by side.  OK, probably not Buck because you two really couldn’t care less about each other – but for my illustration and to make this a prettier illustration, let’s just say you are together.  Regardless – it’s a place where you are finally on that level playing field for the first time with the others that you are playing with.  You were such a sweet, gentle, innocent, beautiful boy with a wonderful soul – I hope that the time you spent with us was as good for you as it was for us.  I know there were many people that couldn’t understand why we brought you into our lives.  I could see in many of their eyes that they didn’t agree with keeping you alive – they couldn’t see, in you, what we saw.  I whole heartedly disagreed with them until recently.  The vet that assisted in your birth wanted you to be put to sleep right away, but you somehow made it from a concrete cage in Fort Dodge Iowa to our family and home for 4 ½ years.  I want to thank you so much for teaching me everything that you did about seeing life in a different way – quality of life is not measured by how fast you run the 100 yard dash.   In just over 4 weeks, our daughter Gracie will be born – she too will most like measure successes in her life much different than most.  I’ll admit that I’m scared about the many things we will face as a family with Gracie – But I want to thank you, sweet boy, for helping me prepare for them.   I am so sorry for those moments that I lost patience and got angry with you because of things that you could not control – when I reflect back on those times – my anger and frustration were the result of not being able to fix your issues and I’ll admit, I sometimes am not very good at knowing how to deal with things I can’t control.  I know there will be times with Gracie that I won’t be able to fix things, and I will use the experience with you to remember that it’s nobody’s fault and that it does no good to get angry in these situations.  You taught me so much that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and.
Rest in peace, my sweet boy – I will see you again someday    

Monday, October 18, 2010

You can only hope to contain Milo

Milo, our mastiff has a little separation issue.  He’s started breaking through the gates when we attempted to isolate him while we are away.  We recently started seeing  him staring at us through the front window when we got home and to top it off, to show us he wasn’t happy about being locked behind some gates in the basement, he’d inevitably pee somewhere.   I figured I’d show him – He’s never been crated and to find something his size is virtually impossible, so I opted for an outdoor kennel .  I put it together on Sunday and put it in the corner of the basement. The footprint was only 4 x 4, but had over five foot walls. I assumed with a couple of blankets, he’d be very comfortable.   Day one –  got home and he had drug it around the basement with him – he even somehow got an old cowboy hat off of the wall and chewed on that a bit but no pee.  Day 2 – figured I’d put a big trunk in front of it to barricade it in the corner  – got home – pushed the trunk out of the way, with what appeared to be ease,  and drug the kennel around the basement once again – When my wife got home she looked down to see him  standing right at the bottom of the stairs, still in the kennel, tail wagging, staring up at her – Day three – Kennel destroyed.  I won’t bore you with the details, but after several calls to the management of Menards, the Manufacturers rep, as well as the sales rep.  Apparently there is no warranty for this product.  I asked that we discussed the very definition of a kennel – to keep an animal, despite its efforts, contained and safe while the owner is away.  I went with the approach that I would have understood and would not have been back attempting to return it if it only lasted even a month, but three days seemed a little short for me to just write off as all my fault.   They eventually agreed that, “this one time only” they will allow me to bring it back and refund my money.   One funny thing the sales rep did say – “You may want to consider whether you are buying the correct product to contain your mastiff when the box you are buying has a picture of a Jack Russell Terrier on it”.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hospital Tours

We took a tour of Abbott Northwestern Hospital's birth center yesterday followed by a meeting with a neonatologist and a tour of the NICU at The Children's Hospital.  They tell us that we are in the right place for our scenario.  That is about the only thing from yesterday's tour that I can hang my hat on.  Everybody there was extremely nice, but it quickly became very obvious that we are in for a very confusing and scary ride.  Gracie's situation is very serious – She will be delivered in a very institutional like birthing center – a team of 4 people, highly trained in resuscitating  babies,  will be in the attached room next door.  She will then be rushed to the NICU at Children's.  I will go with her.  Unfortunately Carrie is then left by herself until she is moved to her actual hospital room.  I was very upset to find out that she will not have any time to be with Carrie before being moved.  I know this is very important to her and could tell when she heard the news that it was very difficult for her to hear as well.    As soon as Carrie is recovered enough to join me in the NICU at Children's, she will.  Once in the NICU, she will be administered a drug to keep her heart pumping the way it did in utero (the ride side doing the work).   This will give a large team of cardiologists some time to closer examine Gracie and meet as a team to decide what can be done.  Once Gracie is stabilized, Lylli will be given 15 minutes to meet her little sister – it just breaks my heart to know that while Gracie is in the NICU, that 15 minutes is the only time Lylli will get to see her.   I am obviously very concerned about Gracie, but am also very protective and worried about Lylli during this time.   Lylli is my world, and the thought of her missing her mommy or daddy while being shuffled around from relative to relative is too much for me to handle.  Between Gracie in the hospital, time with Lylli, taking care of our dogs, not to mention the fact that I am still a consultant and still need to maintain relatively normal business hours at the office, this time is going to truly test our ability to multitask and manage all of the logistics that come with it.  We are less than 50 days from her due date – I know nobody ever really knows what the future holds, but in this case, we really don't know – all that we can do is remember  that she has already beaten the odds and  pray that she continues to be the fighter that she has been thus far.  If I could trade places with either one of them, Carrie or Gracie, I would.  I'm pretty sure we are very prepared to raise a child with Down syndrome, I just pray that everything works out and we are given that chance. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Done Being the Before Picture

I am one muffin away from weighing 300 pounds. Judging by some recent pics, I'd venture to guess its one of those mini muffins. If I was 8 feet tall, I wouldn't sweat it, but at 5' 9", that's another story. The affliction that me and my ex-college teammates jokingly refer to as PAS (Post Athlete Syndrome) has gotten out of control. I imagine my insides are almost as fragile and on the edge of bursting as the button on my jeans. This past year has really got me thinking about my mortality. I tried to get into shape last year by training for the Twin Cities 10 Mile – I must have upped my food intake, because despite burning a lot more calories, I didn’t hardly lose any weight – On the day of the race I felt terrible. I showed up, easily the heaviest guy there, having next to no sleep the night before, my eye was in so much pain that I pouted and walked a good portion of my run – I’m pretty sure if you turned the results over, out of the thousands of people in the race, I would have been in the top 10. I ran the inaugural Twin Cities 10 mile several years earlier in just under 90 minutes – I know that is never going to break any records, but I would give anything for a 9 minute mile these days. That said, as many of you know, I started the year with a very painful eye issue -- Although the squinty right eye, scraggly beard, and salty attitude would've made it easy to pull off the pirate look -- It was a far cry from the Johnny Depp kind of pirate -- much more like the fat drunken turkey leg eating slob in the background that gets his head chopped off in an early scene instead of walking the plank (probably because they're afraid it'll snap) The side effects of the medicines and lack of activity, due to being miserable, caused me to balloon up (even more than usual). I was honored to walk my sister down the aisle with my dad this last January. They call tuxes monkey suits, but mine was more of a silver back gorilla suit with the 5X shirt they gave me to accomodate my prednisone swollen neck. I looked and felt like 10 lbs of bleep in a 5 lb bag -- That was not the way I would have chosen to celebrate one of the best days of my little sister's life. My eye has since gotten better and I pray that the eye issues are behind me. There were many doctors visits, blood tests, and a lot of pain - Picture the worst eye headache you've had -- that's how I felt from Sept ’09 - April ’10 -- I was miserable and it really got me thinking about how life is precious and short and I would not be giving my wife and children the respect they deserve if I continue to kill myself, one Supersized meal at a time. As my daughter grows older, I find myself having difficulties getting down on the floor to play with her or fitting inside her play house, etc. The internal Rich is a lot more playful and fun than the Rich people see today and I'm afraid a lot of it has to do with my weight issues. I don't want my kids to think that their dad can't do something - I want my girls to know a dad that will jump in the water with them or get inside the playhouse, sit on the floor, and have a tea party if that's what they want me to do. Not too long ago, I had a moment where I watched across the room as my wife and daughter looked at some recent home videos that we recorded on our little flip camera. My daughter kept saying, "I want to see Daddy". As I sat there watching them repeat the part of the video that I was in, I envisioned myself being dead of a heart attack and that video being the only thing that my daughter(s) could look at to see her(their) Daddy. It made me very sad. I recently went to a wedding -- My wife has given me a hard time in the past about how I don't dress up for occassions as I should (my apologies to those that have seen me at their event wearing cargo shorts) - Looking back on it now, I guess its kind of a defense mechanism. It was a wedding for her side of the family, and I do understand her point, so in an attempt to do the right thing, I got a haircut, shaved, and attempted to clean myself up. I wanted to look my best for her. In preparation, I looked through all of my clothes and found that I really have nothing nice to wear that fits me anymore. I went to the same store that I used to get my shirts because my arms,neck, and shoulders were too big -- and the years of squatting made my butt and quads too big to find normal dress pants. This time I had very different issues with the clothes I tried on. I spent a bunch of money to have some very large clothing tailored to fit. The outfit I got was very sharp looking in the store. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed when I actually saw myself in it and spent the night continually trying to keep the dress shirt tucked in that was being untucked by my belly every time I moved. I find myself in many situations these days that are embarassing to me because of my weight and don't want to spend the rest of what would most likely be a short life if I keep this up, not enjoying things like I'd like to because I have gotten to this uncomfortable size. I want to be able to go into any store and buy clothes or at least back the way it was where I'd have to ask the girl working by the fitting rooms if I looked like "that guy" because the arms were too tight on the shirt I was trying on. I'm sick of being afraid of collapsing my neighbors lawn furniture! Not too long ago, I was the big guy, that continued lifting weights well into adult hood - strong as a horse. Somewhere along the way, its changed to where I'm no longer the muscular guy with a gut, but am now just "the fat guy". I don't want to spend my life like this anymore and its truly time that I do something about it.

Over the last several years, I have come up some crazy ideas to try and motivate me to lose weight -- some have worked a little, but most have just resulted in me giving up and feeling even worse than when I started. On Thanksgiving, we are expecting our second daughter, Gracie. There are many obstacles in her way due to the fact that she has some pretty significant heart issues - most likely as a result of her Down syndrome. She will be born at Abbott and rushed to the NICU at Children's Hospital where a team of doctors will check her out and see if there is anything that they can do to fix her. Because of all of the uncertainties involved in her arrival, I often think about how much our life will change. Actually, Our lives have already changed a lot. I hate to even say this, but we are very scared that the doctors will not be able to fix her (And have been told that is a possibility). My wife and I are both extremely fearful of what's to come in our near future - it will most likely be very trying time for both of us. I cannot put into words how much I love my wife. It is selfish and unfair of me to put us in a situation where she has to worry about me too. The pending arrival of Gracie has forced me to rethink a lot of things. I have changed and continue to change, I feel for the better, on the inside because of it -- I want/need to change on the outside too. This time, I am going to do it -- I have to. Ok -- this is the part where I ask for your help. Yes, this is probably another one of Rich's crazy ideas -- but I think I've thought of a good one this time -- Something to keep me very motivated to get healthy and lose the weight and at the same time, raise some money for a wonderful organization.

So here's the idea -- this plan will generate donations for the Down Syndrome association of MN. I vow to weigh 240 or less before my birthday, Sept 14th, 2011 -- that is actually over 50 lbs. I will pay $10 per pound for every lb that I do not lose. That is $500 dollars if I lose nothing, however, I would love to raise a lot more than that. I am asking for people to commit to pledge in one of a few ways:

1. A straight contribution to the Down Syndrome Association of MN

2. A per lb donation for every lb that I lose regardless of whether I reach my goal or not

3. Or a per lb donation made only if I meet my goal - I'm hoping those that choose this option will make a larger donation, because I'm sure you're confident that I won't meet the goal in which case you would be out nothing

Whether you hate me or love me, are impartial, on the fence, or don’t even know me and just want to help raise money for a wonderful organization, I hope that by creating this long note, sharing my insecurities, and offering it to anybody that will read it, that you can see how badly I want to do this. I know that all of the points I have made should be motivation enough, but to help in this journey, I ask that you please consider making a pledge - even a quarter a lb would help greatly (and really, lets be honest, if you know me, you know that I'll probably be asking you to donate to the walk next year anyway ;)). All that I am asking right now is to send an email (to daddythefatty@live.com) telling me what you will pledge and in return I will do my best to meet this goal -- I will not be collecting money until the end of summer 2011 For those of you that saw the site for Team Walking With Grace for the Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk this year - I intend to create another site next year for the walk and use that to gather my pledges from this challenge at that time. Thank you so much to those of you that donated recently to that site – please understand that I am not asking for money until this time next year – I am just asking you to pledge to this journey to be paid next year before the walk. My goal is to try and gather enough pledges to raise $100+ for every pound that I lose.

I am just in the inital stages of planning and I would really like to get the word out there -- I hope to get pledges from family and friends, but would love to also get pledges from corporations, friends of friends, etc -- so I ask that you please pass this along to anyone that may be interested in supporting this organization and/or help motivate this fat dad to get to a healthy weight so I can be there for a long time for my growing family.

I have a blog that I plan to use to document my progress - www.daddythefatty.blogspot.com (if you are reading this, you are most likely on it now) and have created a special email address for people to send what they plan to pledge as well as to send me notes of encouragement, etc. The email address is: daddythefatty@live.com . If anybody has any ideas that may help me meet this goal or an idea on how to get this out to the masses for more pledges, please do not hesitate to let me know.

I will start my end of this deal the moment that I receive my first pledge and not finish until I reach my goal

Thank you so much in advance from myself, my wife, my daughters and the DSAMN

Wish me luck,

Rich Delaney