And the Mother of the year award goes to….

Oh the things one will over hear at a retail store. I am sure all of you (when I say all of you, that means the 3 readers in the US, you know who you are…and then all of my Ukrainian followers) have seen the websites that post funny pictures of people shopping in Wal-Mart. I wonder what that constitutes a funny picture of people in Wal-Mart in the Ukraine? I know for certain they have Wal-Mart’s there, I did my research, plus where else will the buy their borscht at a super low price? Can’t you see the elderly woman in a hand knitted skirt and sweater wearing a blue vest saying “laskavo prosymo to Wal-Mart” (that means welcome to Wal-Mart in Ukrainian) Any way I am already digressing…I think someone needs to have a website where they post audio clips of stupid things that are overheard in a retail store. For example, last night I am standing in line at my local CVS waiting to check out. In front of me is a mother, and what I ultimately found out through the discourse she had with the cashier, her son. Now I would put her son at around 25 or 26 he was dressed in jeans, flannel shirt, dirty baseball hat, and for lack of better description he had on shit kickers on…oh yeah a spiffy neck tattoo. The mom was dressed rather sloppily in a short sleeve t-shirt and an ugly sort of stretch material pants. The short sleeves she was wearing allowed her to show off her jail house looking tat’s on her forearms. She was either in her mid 40′s or mid 50′s….it was tough to tell, I will be kind here, and just say that the years were not treating her as good as they could. So the cashier has everything rang up and she says “will there be anything else?” and the woman in front of me has this epiphany like moment and says oh wait…you needed a pack of cigarettes didn’t you honey, referring to the man standing next to her.Mother-of-the-Year (again, right now I don’t know that this is her son, but I am quickly coming to that conclusion.) And he grunts something out that resembled “uh yeah” and then these pearls of dialogue started to spew forth. Mom..”Well what kind do you want honey?” Son…” Uh I don’t know maybe Marlboro’s.” Mom..”Now wait they need to be on sale…we can’t get them if they aren’t on sale!” (apparently they will want a discounted coffin when the times comes as well)…Son…”Uh Marlboro blacks are on sale.” Mom to cashier “Okay we will take a pack of Marlboro Blacks.” Cashier turning around and pointing to 6 or 7 different types of packs of Marlboro Black packs..[side rant] First when did Marlboro make a used to be Red and Green and regular or 100′s…now we have Black and apparently different variations?[end side rant] “Which one do you want?” Then the real fun began..the game of…that one, no to the right…now up a row..over…Oh those aren’t 100′s…I wanted 100′s…no not those…over farther…wait those are menthol…no…no those aren’t on sale….up a row…okay yeah I’ll take that one. And then the topper came…Mom says…get this “I just want to make sure my baby boy is happy and is getting what he wants.” I am sorry…but are you fucking kidding me? Really…you want to make sure your baby boy is happy with what pack of cigarettes you are buying for him!… Sweet baby Jesus…if you are that concerned you should be buying him a pack of condoms instead…We sure as hell don’t need this bloodline to procreate anymore than it has. The branch of this family tree needs to stop growing tout de suite!

The dark side of the scale….

darth_vaderWith this whole hurry up an wait process, one’s mind has a lot of opportunity to wander into places it shouldn’t. Most of the time I am very positive and look at before and after pictures others have posted…thinking you know what?…that is going to be me. I look at things that are hard for me to do right now and think…you know what, in 6 months or so I will be able to achieve that. I sit and think a visualize some times about things that I used to do and how badly I want to do them again. And I use the thoughts as motivators to start the healthy process now. Then there is the other places that the mind like to wander to…the dark side of the scale. These are the thoughts that aren’t pleasant and play devil’s advocate with me. First of all it is surgery, and while I am not being laid open it is still pretty damn invasive. Also, not knowing exactly what I will wake up to. The doctor isn’t sure he will be able to the RnY procedure so the fall back is the gastric sleeve. Both of these procedures have after effects that are different on the physiology of the body. And then I think…will I actually wake up from all of this? The bariatric center to the best of my knowledge in the last 10 years has only lost one patient on the table….Obviously I don’t want to be number two. I know that is a morbid thought, but the mind will think what it wants to think. And the thought of not coming home from this is a fear…albeit a very small fear and one that will not keep me from going forward, but it does cross my mind. Will I be happy after the fact that I have made a change to my body that I can’t undo?…this is definitely a bell that can’t be un-rung. What effects will it actually have on me and both mental and physical? When I start losing weight how will it really change my appearance? Will it make me look older?….damn I hope not…I would like to think it will make me look younger…much younger…but who knows what will happen. I have seen before and after photos of people that after such a dramatic loss of weight they just don’t look healthy and it looks like they aged 10 years. It scares me a little about that possibility. I recently told someone that this surgery is about longevity and not vanity, and I do believe this to be the truth, but hey I am also human so I do have some vanity. What will the effects be on my family and my relationship with my spouse? Again, I think this will all be positive, I want them to be positive…but there are no guarantees here. All of these things will not cause me to stop the process I am on…I truly believe for me this is the right thing. I have the support from people that love me. But when my mind goes idle…sometimes these are the things that I think about.

O Customer Service Where Art Thou – Part 2

Arghhh…every time I turn around there is another hurdle I have to clear in this process. Please don’t mistake my frustration of the process and misconceive that I don’t appreciate what everyone does in the office at the Summa Bariatric office. I do truly appreciate all of their efforts and their follow-up. So I finally got my psych clearance earlier this week, which was the last hurdle in all of the pre-testing. Great! Right?…lets go, next stop…a date with a guy in a mask and a knife…But alas no…not quite yet…Yesterday I decided to be just a little proactive and call the finance person Bev, at Summa she is the person that makes sure all the documentation is assembled and handed off for approval to the insurance company and makes sure they are going to get paid. I am sure I am over simplifying Bev’s job exponentially, so Bev if you ever run across this blog post, please take no offense…so I call Bev yesterday and leave her a VM…She returns my phone call first thing this morning (Yay Bev!…Thank you! Some one that actually returns a voicemail) and we go through my “packet” got this..check…got that…check…done this….check…ohhhh wait a second….hmmm….looks like we may need some additional info. So I ask “what other info is needed?” Response: “your weight history from the last 4 years”….arghhhh….Reason being my health care provider doesn’t require a 6 month diet supervised program prior to pre-approval (thankfully), but that just means they want a do-do load of documentation…WTF…Can’t I just take a picture and send it to them?…One look would tell them I am a candidate. Okay as per usual I am getting a little off track here..

csrSo this isn’t horrible, just means a little leg work, a phone call and a roll of the dice that I get a helpful person. So the issue is I have only been seeing my current primary care physician for a little less than a year, those records they have already. So I have to go back to my previous Doc and see if they will send the records over. As luck would have it at least that office was also in the Summa family. So I call the office and get a hold of their first line of defense…the name associated with the first line of defense is Amy…and Amy needs to read my previous blog post about how to make someone happy…Amy’s first response, “oh we can’t do that, the bariatric center will have to send over a request before we can release that information.” My response….Bull shit Amy!…Okay…I was thinking that, I really didn’t say it…but I countered with, Hey Amy, I understand, however I am trying to do the leg work myself and if I could get some one to fax this over to them, or I would even be willing to stop by at lunch to pick it up that would be great.” I am just trying to make it easy. Her response…”Well we don’t have that here we would need to get it from Records”. Bingo…easy peasy …”Great, what is their number?” I will just give them a call and take this off your plate. Apparently the phone systems that Amy was in command of had some rather advanced features and she said, “well I guess I could just connect you to them.” Bingo Amy!…that’s what I am talking about…now we are cooking with customer service! So Amy transfers my call to the mysterious “records” department. As the phone is ringing all I can imagine is Milton from the movie Office Space in the basement with his red Swingline stapler melvinis who I am going to be connected with. Much to my surprise the phone was answered by the cheery voice of Melissa. I again explained the same thing I told Amy to Melissa…lather, rinse, repeat…I was totally ready for the second line of defense…I was prepared to storm the gates…I was not only locked…but I was loaded…instead the response I got was, “do you need the weight from every visit or just any visit in that time period?” It took me a second to respond…What was this mysterious defense she was mounting….I had an overcome objection round already chambered and I certainly wasn’t expecting Melissa to lay down and surrender this easily and comply with my request. I was still a little suspect, but I politely asked if she could pull a random chart with my weight from 2009, 2010, 2011 and fax it over to the Bariatric office sometime today. Again…her response was “sure, not a problem, I will have it over later this morning.” I thanked Melissa, hung up the phone and within a hour I had an email from Bev confirming that Melissa indeed followed up and did what she said she would do. Melissa…I am sure we will never meet, but today you are my Customer Service Hero!

So now according to Bev we have ALL the information that is needed to proceed and submit to my insurance company for approval . So hopefully in 7-10 days I will have the approval that I need and we can move to the next step. Until then, the weight is killing me….

O Customer Service Where Art Thou?


So I know this is designed to be a blog about my weight loss surgery. However, it is my blog, and from time to time I will write about other things that happen to me in my so called life. Let’s take yesterday for example and let me write about a little slice of my life and the events that transpired. So the day started off with the weather being in the single digits…Fahrenheit that is, not Celsius…I know I have a big following from readers in the Ukraine, at least that is what my log files tell me… I know single digits in the Ukraine is a pretty balmy day, but in the Midwest of the good ol’ USA it is classified as down right friggin’ cold! So as I walk out the door to work to get into my truck/SUV (Chevy Avalanche) I notice the front tire is a little low…no biggie I will stop off on my way to work and put some air in… Well as I pulled into the one gas station that is directly on my way to work, there was not one car at the air pump, not two cars, but three waiting in line to put air in their tires. Now in hind sight I should have recognized that omen right then and there and that this day was not going to go well. Now I left for work with enough time to get to the office on time…but stopping for air was going to cut it close and certainly waiting for 3 people to put air in their tires was going to make me way late if I waited for my turn. Instead I decided that it wasn’t that bad and I should just get to the office and I can fill it at lunch time.


Omen #2…the commute…so I get back on the road and jump on the highway to head into Akron…now my commute on the highway is a whopping 12 miles…and on a normal day it takes me somewhere in the neighbor hood of 12-16 minutes to travel that distance…Well yesterday being what it was…it took 30. What was the difference you ask? Well no sooner than getting on the highway I immediately ran into heavy traffic and I was looking at nothing but 2 lanes of solid brake lights that blinked off and on as traffic was in a constant state of stop and go…drive 10 -15 feet then stop again….lather, rinse, repeat… Now the road way was a little slick from an early morning dusting of snow and I thought well somewhere there is an accident ahead. Normally I rock theAdam Carolla Adam Carolla or Penn’s Sunday School podcast during my morning commute so I switched over to terrestrial radio and tried to find a local station that would give me a weather and traffic up date. Nothing on the radio other than DJ dribble… I also track ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) on Twitter and from time to time they will tweet a road closing or accident info…So I checked their feed on my phone and was reminded that I should “click it” or risk getting a ticket. So no help to know what was going on and where it was taking place. So there I sat, creeping along occasionally getting up to the breakneck speed of 15 mph. When I finally saw the red and blue lights I got a little tingle….okay…end is in sight, and I am secretly hoping to see some smoking wreckage of a car that looked like it played the part of a stunt car in Hollywood movie. Instead what I got was a car that was pulled over by not one but two of Barberton, Ohio’s finest police officers. Now all three of the cars, the perp’s (I like to say perp…makes it sound like I know cop talk) car and the cars of the two local yokel’s were well off to the side, and there was nothing really to see or rubberneck over…but being the society we are…we have to slow down and look consequently making me late to work!


So I get to the office…try to put the morning commute behind me, get a cup of coffee and I dig into the day… the rest of the morning goes by with out incident (the calm before the storm) and next up in the day is a business lunch with my boss and a potential client about 20 miles away. I head out the door with my boss in plenty of time and I am going to drive so I can stop and get some air in the tire. We get in…I do a cursory look at the tire, doesn’t look any different than this morning and we head off. Now let me back up and tell you that I park in a parking garage on a daily basis…this is important as this comes into play later in the day. I am parked on the 4th floor of the deck and we start heading down the ramps to go get out…As I make the turn down the ramp to transition for the 3rd floor to the 2nd I notice the steering is a little off. Then I feel it…hard to describe it…but we all know when we have a flat tire….I hear the tell-tale thump…thump…thump… So I limp into the first parking space I can on the second floor and with out hesitation…business comes first…we switch off to my bosses car and we are on our way to the meeting. So all the way there, all I can think about is the problem that faces me when I get back. I am fairly certain my truck will need to be towed…reason being from past experience my spare is frozen in place and won’t crank down from under my truck. Basically I will need a tow to a tire shop.


So fast forward a few hours…lunch meeting went well…though I freaked the waitress out at lunch ….sometimes I get tired of ordering at a restaurant, and I will ask the waitress to just bring me something. This time I did give some parameters and said I would like a soup and sandwich. She freaked a little and pressed me on what I like. I calmly told her that a person of my size doesn’t get that way by being picky on what they eat. I assured her that there wasn’t anything on the menu that I would have a problem with. So lunch that day was a grilled chicken sandwich with a cup of creamy chicken soup. Maybe she over did it on the chicken being it was in both the soup in the sandwich, but overall I was fine with it….sorry I digressed a little there…my ordering idiosyncrasies had nothing to do with the day…So I am back in the office after lunch and I have a busy afternoon, but I figure I will call AAA now and see if I can get my problem logged and set up a time for the tow truck to come. Now I have been a valued member of AAA since 1996, at least that is what my card tells me. So I call in and explain the issue. I tried to be very specific on the phone with the customer service agent and explain to them in great detail exactly what the situation is…flat tire, parked in a deck, spare is unusable, 4 wheel drive vehicle, will need a tow truck to get me out and a flat bed to haul me. They dutifully listen to me and at the end say that you called the Columbus center, let me transfer you to Akron….ARGHHH…I called the number on the back of the membership card ….So once again…new customer service rep and I get to repeat my story to them….lather, rinse, repeat… All of which at the end tell me that they don’t do appointments call back when I am ready to get the tow. Once again…ARRRGGGHHHH don’t these people listen, I implored the customer service rep to please let me talk to the tow company that will be handling the tow. I am sure they would appreciate the advance notice to work around my issue. I could see that I was dealing with a CS rep that only knew how to do one thing, and that was follow the script in front of them. They work and think inside their tiny little box and all they know is what has been force fed to them. Heaven forbid someone have a logical thought about making someone else’s life easier. F’ing myopic thinking idiots…


So lets fast forward a few more hours and it gets to be 4:30PM…at this point my day is at a place that I can concentrate on my transportation problem. So to let you know, my vehicle is parked in an area where literally every car that is exiting the deck has to pass by it…which also means if a tow truck is trying to get me out it will completely bring things to a stand still. So being the nice guy I am, I call the parking deck supervisor and make him aware of the situation, of which he was appreciative and asked if they are going to block the aisle to wait until after 5:30PM. No problemo…I think I can handle that since when I called AAA earlier they said it would take 60-90 minutes to get me…and for you readers in Ukraine…that translates to 60 – 90 minutes. So I hang up from him and give AAA a call… to save everyone’s eyes the call to AAA went exactly the same as above…including the Columbus to Akron transfer, though they do take my cell number and told me they would update the call through text messaging…I thought cool, I am down with that technology…nice to see a company be progressive. So it is roughly 4:45PM and I figure it will be 6:00PM by the time I get a call. WRONG!!!! My cell phone rings a mere 17 minutes later and I am informed the tow truck driver is at the entrance to the garage….Insert expletive here…5:02PM the deck is nothing but a stream of cars leaving for their commute home and now I have a tow truck out there way earlier than expected.


So I hurriedly close up shop at my desk and race out to talk to the tow truck driver…though when I get out to the entrance…there is no tow truck…There is a guy sitting there in a pick-up truck with a little yellow light on top and a AAA sticker in his window. I can feel at that point my blood pressure is starting to climb. They didn’t listen to me…how F’ng difficult is it to listen to what I spelled out for them. This guy was here to simply change my tire, which would be great, but as I told him, the spare is frozen in place underneath the car and won’t come down. He was a trooper and said let me look at it I know a few tricks. I thought hey..have at it. You want to crawl on the ground under my truck, be my guest. Let me save you the gory details…after 20 minutes of banging, grunting and cussing the tire won. And I sat there thinking there is 20 minutes of my life I won’t get back.


So now at this point they are ready to send a tow truck, but I am informed that I have to drive the vehicle out of the parking deck on three tires and the flat of which at this point the rim is actually touching concrete. I call AAA pissed…and when I hung up I was way beyond pissed…their answer is, drive it out or call someone else…not much of a choice huh…So pissed or not it looked like I was going to have to drive it out…All I could think of all the way out of the deck at a blazing 2 miles per hour was that I am looking at a minimum of a $400 bill for a ruined tire and rim. So I get the truck out into an area where the tow truck can get to me and the waiting game begins. By now it is almost 6:00PM and I get caught up on some e-mail…at least what I can do with my phone. Go through and get caught up on Words with Friends with everyone and still no sign of a tow truck…I check for a text message from AAA….nothing. Tried calling the towing company…terminal busy signal… finally the phone rings at 6:30PM and sweet news, tow truck driver is on his way. Which was just a way of buying time… he was on his way..but he was taking the loooong slooow way to get to me. The HOT sign must have been on at Krispy Kreme…30 minutes after I got the call he was on the way he finally arrived. I get out and he barely acknowledges that I am there and starts to get the car up on the lift quickly and efficiently with just a few grunts. He motions me to get in the cab of the truck and we are off…so far he has not uttered a word, only grunts. I decide that I am just going to sit there and keep my mouth shut about what he was doing taking his sweet time to get to me.


It was less than a 20 minute drive to get to where I wanted my truck taken to and as far as I was concerned silence was fine with me. In 20 minutes this tow truck driver who by the end of the journey I nicknamed Shit For Brains had spilled out most of his adult life story and financial woes. Let me see if I can re-cap. This is what I learned in the 16.4 miles it took to get to my destination. He was once married, but wife passed 2 years ago, 3 kids, son was a principal at a school in Los Angeles, wife passed away 2 years ago, 2 daughters one was doing well and pregnant again, other one was living at home and sponging off him, wife passed away 2 years ago, he was in debt to the IRS for $32,000, was currently being audited back to 2006, wife passed away 2 years ago, his truck broke down last week and he had to break the gear shift, wife passed away 2 years ago. Somewhere around the third time he told me his wife passed away I tried to tune him out…The lights of the NTB couldn’t come quick enough for me. So we pull in to NTB at 7:30PM…they close at 8:00, but I called them ahead of time, they know I am coming and they promised me they would do what they could in the time they had. Shit For Brains got the truck off the flat bed and I paid him the $36 dollars (In the Ukraine that is the equivalent of a goat, a pound of butter, and a 2 dozen eggs) I owed him after my first 3 free miles AAA gives me. Okay…Now tis is the point in the story where all the bad stuff ends and the rainbows, lollipops and unicorns come out. Jay and his crew at the Wadsworth, OH NTB (National Tire and Battery) did me a solid that night. In less than 25 minutes they had me fixed up and on my way. Luckily I did not ruin the tire or the rim….they were able to re-seat it and checked it for leaks…it all tested out and they were handing me my keys by 8:00PM. And when I inquired what I owed them…Jay smiled and said looks like you had a bad night, I got this one, stop back and see us again. Okay, to clarify once again for the Ukrainians, they didn’t charge me anything! Free of charge, gratis, complimentary, at no cost. Can you believe it…A truly crappy day was made a little better by someone that understands the true meaning of Customer Service! Jay…you and your team will surely see me again.

Cleared for Take-Off

Woo…hoo…Had my second meeting with the head shrink at Summa, and it appears that from the medical side of the fence I am cleared for take-off. airplane-movie-pic
So the second meeting with the Psychologist went well…I got the feeling right from the get go that it was more formality than checking to see if there are any deep mommy issues that I needed resolved. The questions were basic…How are you doing? Anything change in wanting the surgery? How are you preparing? Do you know what the complications are? Most of these were fairly yes and no questions. No real heavy answers that needed to be given and the Doctor didn’t pry to deep. In fact I think we spent at least 10 minutes of our 30 minute meeting getting sidetracked on how we both hate the “everybody’s a winner” mentality and over zealous coaches in youth sports…the kids are 10 years old…if you are a coach and you get T’d up at a basketball game with 10 year olds playing…you should not be coaching….in fact they should never be allowed to coach, ever…If you have those type of anger control issues this means that you have some much deeper seeded issues that you need to deal with. And I really don’t need you teaching my kid the finer points of the pick and roll. Okay…getting a little off track….Basically I told the Doc I just want to fire up the disco ball and get this party started! The hurry up and wait part of the process is the most frustrating part and just kills me…I understand that there are reasons for all of this, and things just don’t move along at the pace I think that they should. The problem is we live in a here and now world. If I want something I go to and I have it on my doorstep in two days with my Amazon Prime account. Pay a little extra and it is there tomorrow. It doesn’t matter what you want, it seems like it can be hand delivered to your front door in 72 hours or less by someone that drives around in a little brown truck. Anyway I am digressing again…the real point is, I am now cleared for surgery and now a new waiting period begins. So currently all of my paperwork is being compiled and sent to the finance person, once she gets it she calls my insurance provider and gets the final official okey dokey that they will cough up the Benjamin’s when the bills come in. Once they get confirmation that they are going to get paid, then they look at the surgeons schedule and make me a date with the Doc. Now the caveat is this date will be at least 6 weeks in the future as I have to be on a 6 week liquid Optifast diet…in the immortal words of Bart Scott the NY Jets linebacker…Can’t Wait! So in some respects I am not looking forward to the liquid diet, but on the other hand I wish I could get it started tomorrow…at the point I go on the diet I know that I am taxiing down the runway and I am on my way to flying the friendly skies of regaining my health. So best case scenario the way I see it is 10 weeks from today I go under the laparoscopy knife. Which puts me into the beginning of April. This would be absolutely great for me from a timing perspective…which means this will never happen, cause if I remember any thing about Murphy’s Law it is that stuff never goes the way I want it to or something like that. Well now I go back into chill mode and start the count down until I hear back on my final approval and the date I can circle on my calendar. Tick tock goes the countdown clock…

Chocolate Flavored Gym Socks

Quite possibly the worst taste in the world is the taste of an EAS AdvantEDGE shake that has gone bad. So my morning routine is grab a shake on the way out the door in the morning and drink it on my way to work for breakfast. This morning like any other morning I grabbed the shake on my way out the door and headed off down the road. Now let me preface this next part by saying that there seemed to be a fair amount of frost this morning and my power windows were frosted shut and wouldn’t open. My first clue that something was amiss this morning is that the shake box felt a little different. Is was like it was pumped up with air pressure, it felt like I had put it in the freezer and it expanded by 25%. Still this did not quite phase me as I tore the little piece of foil of the top and took a big hit of hit. Right about the time the first “chunk” of shake was hitting my taste buds the smell that was emanating from the box started to hit my nostrils. My reaction I am sure was comical to look at…I am sure my eyes bugged out and my face was contorted to an unrecognizable shape. I was doing everything in my poser not to spew all over my steering wheel. The first thing I did was try to put down the car window….see above why this didn’t work. Let me pause to tell you what the taste and smell was like so that you can get a visual. First the smell, imaging if you would taking a one of the those little re-sealable bottles of milk you get from McDonalds and drink all but about a ½ oz. of it. Let it sit in your car through the month of the hottest August on record and then crack the top and take a whiff. What ever that smells like, multiply the rankness by 10 and you will come close to the smell of this rancid shake. Now the taste, first you have to understand that the consistency of it was like drinking cottage cheese. The actual taste of this had to range somewhere between chocolate flavored ass and chocolate flavored gym socks. Either way the word putrid doesn’t do it justice. With no where to spit this concoction out of my mouth I frantically reached around until I found some left over fast food napkins and spit the remains into that. The worst part is that I had nothing else to wash the taste out of my mouth with the entire way to work. I can tell you that the next shake I drink will get the sniff test before the taste test!

New Year…..big changes ahead

It has been a few weeks since I have put any words on the screen. Thought I would give all my readers (who am I kidding, most of my readers are bots that do spam comment submissions) a short update to what is transpiring. Once again I am in the “wait stage” of the hurry up and wait cycle. I did the last of my testing the day after Christmas. Not sure why I thought 8:00AM on December 26th was a good time for me to do my testing, but none the less I was there and Summa did not dissapoint me in moving me through the system somewhat efficiently. Then again, it wasn’t prime time for people coming in. Next up is my second manadatory meeting with the psychologist which is not schedueld for a few weeks yet. Once this happens then hopefully I will be cleared to get a surgery date scheduled. I have been a little dpressed lately as I did not have a great time with staying away from sweets over the holiday, and I really just want to get on with my journey. Hopefully I will be ringing in 2014 weighing a lot less than what I do today.