Prepared, but Moving Forward

Today is my 40th Birthday.  I’ve been typing in the blog for quite some time now.

I stand today on this 40-year-old proverbial hill.  If I look back, I see a life without regrets.  Sure, I made mistakes, or chose the wrong paths at times.  While I see the path behind me as winded, long, and often time circular.   I have no regrets.  My life is a success and I’m grateful to all who have helped me along that path.

My Daily Prayer – Sailboat

Lord in heaven.

How awesome is your name?

My heart is weak and my faith needs Godly strength.

Forgive my eyes, as my vision is tainted by the currents of consequence.

Thank you for your unending love and grace.  Thank you for my blessed family and friends.

 Sustain me Lord.

Allow me heavenly wisdom, which exceeds the value of earthly acceptance.

Today, I open my sails and wait for your wind.

–Matt Weaver

Active Participant in your own Recovery

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Kaelyn is top row, left side.

“You have to be an active participant in your own recovery,” bellowed through the Padgett Pavilion as Ginger Lingenfelter tutored my daughter in the ways of volleyball.  As I sat in the balcony and listened to Ginger train my child.  I realized,  it was more important than volleyball.  Ginger was preaching life lessons!

Some wonder why parents pour so many resources on our children’s sports at such a young age.   Kaelyn has been active in volleyball since she was nine years old.  If I would’ve saved the money I’ve spent on her vollyeball training, I could send her to any college in the country.  So why do it then?

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Kaelyn (left) & Chloe (right)

Truth is, it’s not about college, nor is it about a career.  It’s about life.  It’s about lessons that build character.  I’ve watched my young princess bud and blossom into a successful young adult.  She’s had plenty of setbacks.  She’s had unjust coaches.  One summer we spent countless hours; and dollars, to watch her set the bench the whole time, but she didn’t give up.  She worked harder. It pushed her more, and I’m proud to announce this year she’s been asked to be the captain of her peers.  Five years ago we switched to Wave Volleyball Club in Muncie, and Matt Curts and Misti Stevens have poured their hearts into my child.  They’ve equipped her for what she needs on the volleyball court, but more importantly they taught her to be successful.

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Competing Cousins: Kaelyn(left) and Micah (right)

Thank you to all of the coaches that have helped my daughter succeed.  And yes, even Kelly Marchello (Munciana coach).  For it was you that might’ve taught her the best lesson of all, when she was twelve.  Life isn’t fair, but when you get beat down, or make a mistake; it’s your choice what to do next.  I’m so proud of my baby girl.  She didn’t give up and she’s come so far!

10/2/2016 Sunday Fitness Update

Welcome to my first week of updates on my blog.  I have temporarily turned off my Facebook account.  If you found me here, I appreciate your encouragement.  I’ve been at this for five months now!   How awesome is that???

My goal was to ride my bike five days this week, and I rode four.  I am feeling good about it though.  I had some late nights, due to work and they included a lot of walking.  So, I’ll take it.

On Friday I got caught in a cold downpour and Devon came and saved me in her Durango.  Upon arriving at home, I brought my bike into my bedroom and mounted it on my internal trainer.  I then found an awesome service online!  A guy video tapes his bike rides in exotic places (e.g., Cayman Islands, Hawaii, Alps) and then creates a first person video with high tempo music.  I threw the video onto my 52″ TV using Goggle Chromecast(tm) and I finished my ride in the virtual Grand Cayman Islands.  It was amazing!

Next Weeks Goal: 5 Days of biking
Diet Goal: Track my food intake & drink 8 cups of water

#BigTallSlimDown
#MaxiumEffort

Switching to Ting Cellular Service – A Bad Mistake that Get’s worse –

My wife and I recently decided to try to trim some expenses because we were upset about the new $30 upgrade charge with Verizon Wireless.  In hindsight, I would now be glad to pay $500 to undo my decision.

We found a company called Ting and their website looked attractive. It was sales focused and I kinda felt like a “hippy” signing up for their services.  When you first call, you get an upbeat message claiming that they are “Really” sorry they put you on hold and confess to not meeting your expectations… I know “hippy” right.  Well, I got a good feeling and we switched.

First off, I had to purchase my phones from Ting at a premium.  I paid $280 for my first phone (iPhone 5c), and $320 for my daughter’s phone (iPhone 5c).  I got the phones in the mail and my first phone wouldn’t activate so I had to send it back (I wish I’d of seen the writing on the wall right there)… But it gets worse…. much worse!!!

So I finally get my phone a couple weeks later and they couldn’t port my number…  So I settled for a new Ting number…  I think it would be good to add that now I have called their support four times and every time I get the same message that they are not meeting my expectation.  However the average hold time was over 35 minutes for each call!!  (Way worse than Verizon Wireless).

After the first month I looked at the site and I was floored by the charges.  I was going to be paying more than I did at Verizon!  So I underestimated my daughter’s dependency on text messages (this I can take blame for)…   We then developed a texting strategy and I was able to throttle her messages via the online control panel for the devices (this is the only thing good I can say about Ting).

The next few months were a period of high bills and trying to develop a strategy to combat the usage charges.  This coupled with the fact that I live in Jay County, Indiana and the Ting coverage is weak.  So I had to go out on my front porch to take calls.

So after months of this, I decided to go back to Verizon… I know simple right??  Not!!!!

The phone I purchased (directly from Ting) was locked by Sprint!  Don’t ask me how Sprint came into the picture..  Still trying to figure that one out myself.  So bascially the money ($500+) that I spent on them was a waste.  I still have the phones by the way, if anybody is interested?  However I would recommend saving your money and steering clear of Ting…  So I’m going to have eat that cost.

I wish it stopped there, but it doesn’t….  In order for me to keep the numbers from Ting and transfer them to Verizon, it took 12 support calls (between Verizon and Ting).  This is probably at least 3.5 hours of phone calls to get this done.  Then Ting ported the wrong number!  I feel sorry for the customer that lost their service, because they ported one of their customers but not ours.  This shows how unprofessional and unorganized they are.

I wish I could tell you this was the end….. but it’s not.  We cancelled our service through the support system on the phone, but failed to….  So today we got dinged for another charge (automatically) when we cancelled our service a month ago.  When we called them (and yes same message and yes we waited 20-30 mins) they said it can take awhile for the towers to process data and messaging usage so they had to extend our service dates, and they were unwilling to refund the money.

So to summarize.  I tried to switch from Verizon Wireless to Ting and ended up paying more than $750 more than I would paid if I would’ve just stayed with Verizon.  The customer service was lousy, and they cellular reception service was terrible.

Avoid at your peril.

Hawt Chic 2015 Lineup

Avatar AVATAR

Avatar has an arrow on her head, and is a much lighter colored than the other chicks.

DJ DAVY JONES (DJ)

DJ and Sparrow (see below) are both marked on the heads with pirate figures, so we have deemed them both pirates.  We intend to put a sign on the chicken coop titled “Davy Jones’s Locker”.

Ling Ling Dung LING-LING DUNG

Ling-Ling is notorious for having a gastro-intestinal intervention every time she is in a social encounter with the human species.  But don’t let her shameful odoriferous actions fool you.  She is very pretty and a formidable part of our lineup.

Pip PIP

Pip is coined from the book “Great Expectations” due to the fact that she is very pretty and very strong.  We expect great things from her.

Plankton PLANKTON

Plankton has an ugly name, but she makes up for it, with her modeling presence.

Her name came from the fact that she had black spots on her beak where her breathe holes are, and her ‘nose wasn’t clean’.  This lead to us saying that Plankton (Spongebob Character) looks like a booger!

Sparrow

SPARROW

Sparrow is also a ‘pirate’ character due to the marking on her head.  She is named after the infamous Cap’n Jack Sparrow, and is expected to be colorful and is an overall favorite in our family.  I feel her presence will be hard to match.

Marfan’s Syndrome and me

Looking back now it all seems to fall in place naturally.  Hell it’s been 15 years now!  November of 1999, I remember swimming in the nice hotel that the hospital put us up in the day before surgery.  I had a beautiful wife (still hanging on to her), 2 daughters (one of which was just born in July).  I was to be admitted the following day for open heart surgery at age 21 and I was scared!

My father worked at the local glass factory in Dunkirk Indiana and to this day I don’t think there is a blade of grass that hasn’t had my footprint on it in that town of about 1000.  I remember riding my bike on the other side of the church on Jay street to avoid the long traffic light.  Thankfully they removed it, leaving us with 1 lone traffic light in the middle of town.

I delivered the newspaper, mowed yards, played baseball and basketball.  I never stopped moving and I was as thin as a rail.  I was never fast though.  It always took a lot of energy to get my long, lanky body working in unison.  It’s hard to believe that regardless of my frame I actually was almost adequate at playing baseball.

As I moved into high school my lung volume became weaker and I ran out of breath much more frequently.  I become less and less adequate at sports although I felt that I tried harder than most of my peers.

After high school I bounced around from job to job even working a stint at the old glass factory that captivated my father’s daytime for 30+ years.  I ended up working at the local parts store for a great small business owner named Kent Garringer.  You know it’s funny how smart we think we are when we’re 20!  You spend your entire life trying to be independent and when you’re 20 you just think that you’ve learned all you need and then you just ‘go’.

One week at Carquest I had gotten sick and I was struggling to catch my breath so I went to the local clinic.  One of the local doctor’s looked a bit like Einstein and he seemed to be have a lot of energy all time.  While in the visit he gave me a subscription for my wheezing but begged me to get an echo-cardiogram because he was concerned about the length of my arms, and how flexible my fingers were.  This made absolutely no sense to me… and don’t forget I was the smartest guy on the planet since I was 20… 🙂

Two weeks later I had told my boss that “I think my doctor is high but he wants me to get a test taken”, and to my surprise Kent was very adamant about me having that test taken.  So I went, and the day off was great!

About three days later I came home and checked the messages on my answering machine and Dr. Potts left a message and he seemed to be a little more hyper than normal, if that were possible.  He told me not to drink any coffee or do any physical activity and to come see him right away!

This is when I found out that I was not immortal…  I had Marfan’s Syndrome and I was suffering from a life threatening situation.  It seemed that I was high risk for an aneurysm of the ascending aorta!

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So the next few months passed as I wore a monitor to record my heart rate and aortic root size.  I had multiple panic attacks prior to my surgery and was scared to death for my life.  I was not insured, I was poor, but I wasn’t alone.  My wife was my anchor through all of this (and she still is).

I now have a constant tick in my chest (St. Jude valve) but I’m alive and ticking (literally).   It took me about 10 years but I have paid off nearly every penny I owe to the hospital (not one bankruptcy).  I’ve had more than a few visits to the hospital for lung issues related to Marfan’s syndrome and these trips get costly.  The medicine that I have to take and the constant blood tests are also a bit of a nuisance.  But when I start letting that stuff bother me, I simply realize that I’m still here…. In this beautiful little fading town… with my beautiful wife, and my beautiful family of 5 and I’m only a hop, skip, and a jump away from my mom and dad.  All of which I love with every tick of my enlarged heart… 🙂

I sometimes look back at my life and wonder when I would’ve died had it not been for the grace of God, the wisdom of Dr. Potts, and the leadership of Kent Garringer.  I write this in hopes that you can understand a little more about what makes me tick (ok, i get it! That pun is overused).  I also would hope to grow awareness for Marfan’s syndrome so maybe one day it is you that will understand and save a life.  If you want to learn more please click here.