My Sister, the junkie whore


Almost no one knows this, but I have a Sister.  I don’t like talking about her, because she’s a junkie whore that ruins everything she touches.

Alright, before my Mom thinks I’ve gone off the deep end, I don’t really have a Sister. I do have something that is a lot like what I imagine having a junkie whore for a Sister would be like. I have depression and anxiety. Is that how you say it? I suffer from depression and anxiety??? I struggle with depression and anxiety…lets go with that one! So let’s call this pretend Sister of mine D/A for short. Whenever she comes to town, things just tend to go to junk.

The worst part of having a Sister that’s a junkie whore, is she shows up randomly in your life for no reason. Well, sometimes there’s a reason, like at the holidays…but most of the time she pops into my life out of the blue. If D/A were a real person, maybe it’d be easier. I could just stop opening the door for her. Stop answering calls. Well, probably not…she’s my Sister right? I’m really lucky though, D/A lives out of town for the most part. There are long stretches of time that I don’t even remember that D/A is part of my life…short of the little pill I take each morning to keep her away.

I’m also blessed that D/A has never made a huge mess of my life. Overall, I have it pretty good. Great by some comparisons. Still, no matter how good we as humans have it, there always seems to be the lingering wish that it were just a little bit better. I wish D/A would move away and stay away forever. I know that in reality, it is doubtful that will ever happen.

So, what’s a guy to do? Well, I think it might be helpful for me to think of D/A as a real junkie whore! If I did have a junkie whore of a Sister, I’d do everything I could to keep her away from my family. Previously, whenever D/A would come to town, I’d sit there and hang out with her…half heartedly waiting for her to leave whenever she saw fit. From now on, I’m packing her a lunch and driving her ass to the bus station. Is it really that easy? No! But there are things that a person can do to help make it easier. My new exercise routine of 6 days a week, 45 minutes a day has been helping. Writing this article has been helping. My medication helps. Talking about it when she is in town helps.

I heard an interesting ad yesterday. It was about mental illness. It was for makeitOK.org. I haven’t finished looking at everything they have on their site, but I love the idea of it. I used to want to hide the fact the D/A was part of my life. Now, I’ve realized that she’s part of who I am. Sometimes she’ll be in town and I’ll be a little bit of a mess, but I’m hoping that driving her ass to the bus station will keep getting easier and easier.

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Before and After – 10 Weeks in the Making


This post is a case of, if you are going to be embarrassed, you might as well be the one to embarrass yourself. I’ve told you how, at the suggestion of my wife, I did a 10 week weight loss challenge at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping in New Hope.  I’ve told you that with her support, the guidance of my trainers and a lot of determination and hard work on my part I won the 10 week challenge. Well, I guess it’s time I show you the before and after pictures. Any day now, my poster will go up at the gym and the images will be posted to Farrell’s website…so might as well steal their thunder right?!?!

Day1-Week10

Well, as you can see, dropping 32 pounds is just a drop in the bucket for me. My face does look slimmer, I have some definition in my shoulders and I’m starting to develop a neck again.  All good things. I’m proud of my progress, while at the same time embarrassed at how out of shape I allowed myself to get. Nothing another year of hard work can’t fix!

A Year Ago Today


On October 2nd 2014, I was at work and noticed it was raining out. I should have been home sick as I was still getting over a case of pneumonia, but instead I was toughing it out at work. Well, with the rain came a complaint from a tenant in our building that one of the gutters on the building was overflowing and splashing right in front of one of their doors. The man I work for also happens to be a partial owner of the building we office out of, so that made me the first line of building maintenance. I went down, cleaned out the gutter and was heading back up to my office on the second floor when I stopped to think. The roof drain on our building had been getting clogged recently. I thought I had better climb up onto the roof of the second floor and check to make sure it was clear.

That was the beginning of what would be the most painful experience of my life. I remember stepping onto the top rung of the ladder on my way back down off of the roof. I remember the ladder getting soft under my foot as it slid away from the building. It’s probably a blessing that I don’t remember anything else until I woke up laying on the deck 14′ below where my feet had just been. Or was it just a moment ago? I don’t know how long I had been there laying on the wet deck. I heard some voices of people I knew. I could feel that my shoes were missing and my socks were wet from the rain. I felt pain. I felt lots of pain! Next thing I know, the paramedic are there loading me onto a gurney. I feel sorry for them, I weighed around 285 pounds at the time of my fall. I was in and out of it as the ambulance raced me to HCMC. I guess they are the best place to go when you’ve had a traumatic brain injury in Minneapolis. Well, that would explain why I didn’t remember what happened.

The E.R. at HCMC is pretty much a blur. I remember a few stupid thoughts, like “Oh no, they’re cutting my favorite sweatshirt off of me”. I also remember, and will probably never forget, the pain of being moved off of the gurney and onto the exam table. I also remember one very kind nurse telling me it was OK to swear. I don’t think I did swear, it seems trite for pain that severe. My wife got there sometime around then. I feel so bad for putting her through that. I can’t imagine getting a call like that…”Joe fell off the roof at work, you’d better come to the hospital”.  At some point they started pumping me full of pain meds. I’m thankful for that, very thankful. They did X-rays, a nero-exam and a full body CT scan. The end result was I had broken six ribs on my left side and had hairline fractures of four vertebrae. I’d also suffered a concussion. Not to mention the scrapes, cuts and bruises.

Six busted ribs

They admitted me that day and I spent the next five days in the hospital trying to get my pain under control. I also needed to get to a point that I could move around a little on my own, because while my wife is incredibly strong in so many ways, there is no way her 5′-2″ frame would be able to carry me around. Did I mention how thankful I was for pain meds? Also, I should mention, if you ever plan on breaking your ribs, wait until you do not have an illness that causes you to cough and hack uncontrollably. OUCH!!!

After I got out of the hospital, I spent another five weeks out of work waiting for things to heal a little. My ribs hurt like crazy and the muscles in my back would seize up into burning knots of white hot pain if I spent more than a few minutes on my feet at a time. I was thankful for my pain meds, did I mention that…but was more thankful that I didn’t have any trouble getting off of them after four weeks.

That was all a year ago. Today is a new day and I’m a new me!  One of the first things that hit me, even when I was still in the hospital, is how blessed I was that I only had some broken bones and a minor concussion. I wasn’t paralyzed! I wasn’t dead! I’ve been given a wake up call! Life is precious, even when things aren’t great, be grateful for your blessings! Don’t get me wrong, I gimped around for months, doing virtually nothing. I gained weight and lost muscle.  I felt lousy. Slowly though, I’ve started to feel better.

In the last three months I’ve made huge progress. I started working out 6 days a week at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping in New Hope. Some of the exercises we do still give me pain. Some of the exercises I’m still weak at. But others, others I’ve turned into a beast at. I’m stronger today than the day I fell. I’m lighter than I was the day I fell. Most importantly, I’m happier and more grateful than I was before I fell.

The Journey Begins


Eleven weeks ago I made a snap decision at the suggestion of my wife and joined a gym.  I’ve been a member of other gyms before, but the experience was never a great one. I’ve now begun my twelfth week at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping in New Hope with perfect attendance.  It is the best gym I’ve ever attended.  Not necessarily because it is the nicest facility…which it is nice…but really it is the people that make it so great!  The first time I walked in I felt welcomed and part of the family.

My first ten weeks were part of a 10 Week challenge that Farrell’s offers as a way to get people used to their training.  There are 3 days a week that we do cardio in the form of heavy bag kickboxing.  There are also 3 days a week that we do strength training in the form of resistance band workouts.  Yes, you did that math right, I’ve been working out 6 days a week for the last 11 weeks.  All the workouts are 45 minutes long.  The results have been staggering.  I started out on 7-11-15 weighing 314.8 pounds and having a body fat percentage of 35.5%.  At the end of the 10 week challenge, I had lost 32.6 pounds and dropped my body fat percentage to 25.8%.  That’s almost a 10% drop in body fat in 10 weeks! The reward for all the hard work has been two fold.

  1. I feel fantastic.  I’m happy, most of the time.  I have energy and enjoy doing things and seeing people.
  2. I won the 10 week challenge and was rewarded with a check for $1,000.

For some people, that would be the end of the story.  For me though, I still weigh 282 pounds, which I feel is way over my ideal weight.  I decided that the best way for me to stay motivated about getting healthy was to join the Farrell’s 1 year $10k challenge.  What that means is I’ve registered for the challenge and have committed myself to continuing on with FXB New Hope for another year.  I’ve also set some goals for myself, as part of the application process.

  1. Reduce my body fat percentage to 12%.
  2. Increase my push-up count to 60 in 60 seconds.
  3. To finally become a licensed Architect.

All three of those are challenging in their own way, but i know with the support of my wife, family and friends they are completely achievable.