Thursday, September 26, 2013

Three Months Out

This is a post about weight-loss. My weight-loss. I will not judge your beliefs about size acceptance, weight management, health, etc., if you do not judge mine. And let's go further: if you will not yell & scream at me then I will not yell & scream back at you. In short, if you don't like what I have to say in this post then post your truth on your blog. I am speaking my truth and that is the only justification I need. This is an invitation to not have time-wasting online snipe-fests. Comprenez-vous?
Three months ago this week, I went into OR-5 at Kaiser Richmond for my RNY Gastric Bypass. In the past 3 months I have lost 73 pounds. With the 57 pounds I had lost in the 3 months before surgery by strictly following the bariatric diet, this means that in the last 5 months I have lost 130 pounds. But other than the weight loss itself, has anything changed in my life? Well...
1) My sleep apnea is gone. I have not slept this well in 10 years.
2) My knees do not hurt anymore. My feet no longer throb & swell when I walk long distances. I can walk long distances without feeling like I am having a heart attack! Yay!
3) Just the other day I walked up Berkeley's famous heart-attack hill -- the very long segment of LeConte Avenue up from Hearst Avenue to the intersection with Ridge Road and Scenic Avenue that is so steep that even San Franciscans fear it -- while pulling a 25-pound suitcase behind me!
And now for the best news... my primary-care doctor wanted to see how much my "numbers" have changed 3 months after surgery. Following are some things we learned with the blood tests...
4) My cholesterol has dropped approx 25 points. Most of the drop was in my LDL -- the "bad" cholesterol -- as well as the "super-bad" cholesterol. My cholesterol ratio is the best it has been in 5 years. My cholesterol number is now in the normal range. And note that 6 months ago my cholesterol number was being artificially lowered with a statin drug. I am no longer taking a statin!
5) My triglyceride count has NOSEDIVED. It was 170 just six months ago. It is now 94. That's a 76-point drop. I now have the best triglyceride reading in the last 3 generations of men in my family, all of whom have/had diabetes.
But above all else, there were two results that are just, in a word, miraculous...
6) Six months ago my fasting blood-sugar was 120. This week it was 80.
I am no longer pre-diabetic.
7) I had liver issues. They were the kind of issues caused by anything from Hep-C to cirrhosis, fatty-liver disease, or even the beginning of liver cancer; the suspected cause was severe fatty-liver disease. Six months ago my ALT was 119. As of this week it is 15. That is a 104-point drop. In layman's terms, that means I went from severe-risk pre-diabetic to PERFECTLY NORMAL. My liver has always been a risk-factor for my life; I was born with poor liver function, and it was the first organ to start showing signs of damage from pre-diabetes. But, no more.
My liver is the healthiest it has ever been in my life.
To sum things up:
Gastric Bypass surgery saved me from being in the 3rd-consecutive generation of males in my family to suffer the horrible body-destruction of diabetes. Is the fight over? Of course not. Will I have to keep my newly-acquired eating habits up for the rest of my life in order to keep my success alive? Absolutely. And was it worth the effort?
I am so very blessed: so far I have only had one person reject me because of the choice I made. This person told me that I have complete agency to make my own informed medical decisions -- and then turned right around and told me that the "weight-loss industry" conspires against me. It is a funny and curiously ignorant statement, considering that my bariatric program at Kaiser absolutely hates that same "weight-loss industry" and speaks out against it in the strongest terms possible. That's too bad for that person. I wish that person well, and hope that someday a reasonable data-driven consensus will emerge.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Open Letter to Vladimir Putin


Dear Mister Putin:

I write you to as an American who has read your open letter to the American people.

If you want Americans to listen to you about Syria then start with some truth: I call on you to speak the truth. I call on you to admit that your interest in Syria comes from the billions of rubles that your nation has invested in that nation. Admit that you don't give two shits about the Syrian people. Admit that you care about your rubles in Damascus. Nothing more.

And if you really want Americans to listen to you about Syria, then how about you take a minute to speak out against the violent and vicious anti-LGBT murders that are now happening daily in Russia because of your Satanic new anti-queer law. Maybe then I might consider giving two shits about what you have to say. Regime change begins at home, yes, but Mr Putin you are in no place to talk to Americans about moral values.

Let's talk about what your government has done to women who spoke out against the Russian Orthodox Church recently. And while we're at it, let's talk about what you have done to curtail civil rights for Russian civilians during your current tenure as Russian President. Let's also talk about your hopscotch game between the offices of Prime Minister and President since 1999. And while we're at it, let's talk about the last few sets of federal elections in Russia. More people voted for you than were registered to vote? Yeah. This American knows it. It's called BBC-America.

And while we are at it, let's talk about your energy policies. Let's talk about how your amazing success at lifting Russia out of its economic stagnation in the first decade of this century resulted in an inflation on world oil prices. And let's talk about how your policies toward the energy markets you control in the former Soviet states around Russia have absolutely destroyed their economic vitality. Let's talk about your bellicose rhetoric toward the Afghan people on the topic of a certain natural-gas pipeline. Oh, and just in case you think I've forgotten: let's talk about your history with the KGB.

Oh, but wait there's more! Let's talk about how your government treats Azeris and other ethnic-minority Caucasus-groups living within the borders of the sovereign Russian Federation. And let's talk about Ossetia and Abkhazia. Surely you have heard of them? Those two regions within the Republic of Georgia which you claim to so deeply love that it was perfectly acceptable to you to invade a sovereign nation which has existed for centuries longer than the Russian Federation? Yeah, that place. The place upon which you to this day still occupy by force in direct contravention to UN policies regarding the sacrosanct right of sovereign nations to control their own territory? Now, on that specific example I am not exactly on the Georgians side per se, so I understand your heart-felt conflict. But, Mr Putin, the American government was never talking about invading Syria. Why was it acceptable for you to invade Georgia? And do you know that at least some Americans actually do understand just how perilously close the Republic of Georgia sits to the Russian city SOCHI wherein your nation is hosting the Winter Olympics in early 2014?

Oh, but let's look a bit further to the east now. Let's talk about that Muslim ethnic group known as the Uyghurs. Now, we certainly know that almost all Uyghurs live in China -- oh China, that bastion of human freedom -- but the western bands of the Uyghur tribe live in three formerly Soviet states called Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Three other bastions of human freedom, which you certainly have no problem supporting as they attempt to erase Uyghur identity in the interest of spreading a more "ethnically pure" form of Islam? And, wow, while we're at it let's talk about your attitudes toward Russian Jews. THOSE JEWS ARE PART OF THE BEAUTIFUL DIVERSE TAPESTRY KNOWN AS RUSSIANS. THEY ARE YOUR PEOPLE. HAVE YOU LOVED THEM AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF?

Tovarishch Putin, you are a hypocrite. You do not fool me with your diarrheal flow of lies. My name is Philip Tanner; I am a Jesus-freak Christ-follower. And I am also an American citizen. American citizens are provided with a right in our constitution; we call it freedom of speech. Furthermore, this right is codified in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed by the UN in 1948. You might have heard of it? It was a document passed unanimously because certain governments chose to abstain from voting against it -- governments like the USSR, apartheid South Africa, and Saudi Arabia... more bastions of human freedom!? I hold the freedom of speech dearly close to my heart, and I applaud you for exercising your own freedom of speech -- even if you do not grant such freedoms to your own citizens.

I close my letter to you, Tovarishsch, by exercising my Constitutional freedom to call you on your bullshit. FUCK YOU Mr Putin. FUCK YOU a thousand times. Take your Winter Olympics and FUCK YOURSELF with them.