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Who the hell is Frank Allen and why is he writing a blog?

I mean this isn’t the 90’s for goodness sake!

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

— Bob Dylan

I imagine that WordPress on January 1st each year is much like any gym on that date; well-intentioned people trying to improve themselves by starting something new. I also imagine the results are the same; the usual diehard people are the only ones still around in February.

I have started and forgotten about a lot of blogs over the years. Will this attempt be different? It has to be! My life depends on it!

Ok, a little dramatic. I do have some pretty serious problems that I think blogging might help me control and maybe even overcome.

Physically, I have a raging case of Diabetes (Type 2, judge away!). I made great strides in getting it under control in 2019 and, I’m hoping, with the extra day in 2020, I’ll do even better. I went from an A1C of close to 11 to 6.2 at my last blood test and I lost 40 pounds. Over the holidays that just passed I definitely managed to put a few back on but I’m not going to step on the scale till next week after I’ve eaten normally for a few days so that I don’t trigger my other thing….

Mentally, I’m pretty depressed. I wouldn’t say I am “crippled” with depression…although it does feel that way sometimes…but it definitely gets in my way often. At particularly tough periods I’ve had some suicidal thoughts but, honestly, I recognize that my life is pretty good and I don’t want to do that to my wife and kids and anyone else that might be affected by that particular act due to their proximity to me.

I read a lot. The year ending yesterday I completed 69 books (thank you Goodreads for keeping track of such things). Each year for the past couple of years I’ve set a goal of 52 books to read for the year and I haven’t missed it yet.

I do the New York Times crossword everyday. I currently have a streak of 710 days in progress. I’m not particularly smart, there are tricks involved in completing even the hardest puzzle and if you do enough of them you learn those tricks. Free hint; if the clue has something to do with a cookie the answer is most likely OREO.

Frank Allen is not my real name but everything I’ve mentioned in this post is true. I think the pseudonym will allow me to post the truth about myself no matter how icky it might be and I think letting people (even strangers) know my dark side as well as my light side will be beneficial to me. I’m not a serial killer or anything there are just things about me that I don’t or can’t share with people in my life, I’m sure whosoever has read this far understands what I mean…like that suicide thing a couple of paragraphs up…I’ve never expressed that to anyone. Also, I’m starting therapy next week, that should be fun to write about.

See you tomorrow and, hopefully, well into February and beyond!

Concerta and Ritalin

I started on some ADD medications last week. I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my focus. It’s great! I have been much more “present” in meeting and my thinking is more orderly. I’m still on the introductory low-dose, I move to the big leagues on Friday. Hopefully it will just get better.

Work is crazy busy these days. The company is in transition, we’re changing the culture, the focus and we’re bringing on new people. It’s all very exciting and exhausting. It has made it a challenge to get in regular exercise so I’ve been focusing on keeping my carb count low and eating Keto.

I head out to California next week again. Looking forward to seeing the team and getting more work done. Hopefully the weather will improve. I’m going to some really fancy steak house with a vendor. A rib-eye steak goes for 60 bucks! I’ll have to see if it’s really worth it even though I won’t be paying.

Measuring age…

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My baby turns 22 next week (not pictured).

I’m 55 and that seems old enough but when I see my baby all grown-up and approaching a milestone birthday (aren’t they all?) I can’t help but feel even older. I reflect that I may not see many more of his birthdays. Will I live to 78 so I have more ahead of me than behind? I wonder. The diabetes tells me there’s a good chance I won’t but I’m going to give it my best shot. I’m not trying to be maudlin; it comes naturally.

He’s a man now and he’s living his own life and I see him making some of the same mistakes I made. It’s hard to realize, at 22, just how much time you have left and so you make more short term decisions than long term. If I were to point out all the things I regret I’m sure it would fall on deaf ears, he is after all, his own person and I made those mistakes in prehistoric times; surely things are so different now my experience could not be relevant. I’m sure most parents have this same frustration and concern and I do my best not to preach…but it’s hard.

All that being said; he’s doing great! He moved out of the house at 18, just like I did. Unlike me he didn’t get married at 18, he didn’t join the military and he’s way better looking and smarter than I was. We often have to push money on him. I’m happy we can but I worry he struggles more than he has to. He grew up with the stories of my youth and I’m sure it’s not lost on him that I never moved back, never looked for financial support (my parents couldn’t have provided it if I did) and I didn’t go to college. That last one is one of my greatest regrets in life. He’s not a “school” kid though and he hasn’t been since 5th grade. Will he regret that just as I do? Only time will tell.

I’m very proud of him but I do worry about him. He’ll make his own way, make mistakes, have heart-breaks, and pick himself up and move on. Just like I did. It’s just hard to watch. It’s also a joy to watch. Life is complicated.

Happy Birthday, kid. I never knew I could love someone this much.

aaaand It's ADD

My partner and i filled out a behavioral survey designed to evaluated whether or not I had some characteristics of ADD. Big surprise; it turns out I have many characteristics of ADD. Not much hyperactivity so I won’t be getting sent to the principle or anything but I get distracted, i don’t finish things, some impulse control issues, etc.

So, on top of the Diabetes, I’ve got this. I’m looking forward to seeing how the meds affect me. I have about 10 years of working life left and I find myself fizzling out and losing interest. I doubt this will be a silver bullet but I’m willing to give anything a shot.

Flu Season

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As an example for my grown son I took him to the drug store and got a flu shot so he would get his.

So, a few months later, consider my surprise to find myself, miserable, on the couch with a mild case of the flu. I am comforting myself with the knowledge that it would have been MUCH worse had I not gotten my flu shot.

It did allow me to get caught up on the new season of Brockmire. It’s really good.

I hope you’re all doing well.

Music that makes me cry

There are two songs, written by the same gentleman, that bring tears to my eyes every time i hear them. They are both about World War I; The Green Fields of France (or No Man’s Land) and The Band Played Waltzing Mathilda. I spent some time in the military and I appreciate that our military is comprised primarily of young men being sent into harm’s way by old men.

They were both written by a fellow Scotsman named Eric Bogle. Give these each a listen and let me know what you think.

Sunny California!

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I’m out in Northern California on a “business trip”. That sounds so adult!

Anyway, the morning I left the East Coast it was 65 degrees and the first morning I woke up in California it was 39! Here in Google-Land it seems to rain a lot this time of year and it’s cold. I’m here to work though. I do go for my diabetes-walk every morning though and it’s been pretty chilly.

I walk each morning for about an hour and half depending on what I have going on. It’s easy to do here since I never seem to get off Eastern Standard Time so I’m the ghost walking through the empty streets at 4am.

Keeping to good eating patterns is pretty tough when one is living out of a hotel. I’ve

been doing my best but I can’t say I’ve stayed completely low-carb. I’m hoping the walks are making up for my weak will.

One thing I have managed to keep up with is the crossword puzzle.

I’m pretty attached to my streak and I’ve kept myself on it since my mother’s funeral. I don’t mean to be maudlin but it’s true. I was on like around a 90 day streak when my mother passed away then I missed a couple of days…hey, i was upset, and I do actually have feelings, thank you very much 🙂 . Anyway, I’m approaching 2 years straight of not missing a day. I do, now and then, have to look up a clue or two…those puzzle-masters are evil…but over that time I’ve learned a lot of the tricks and I get by pretty well.

I’m in a relatively new job and just learning the team and the work. It’s exciting to say the least and I lose sleep over it but I’m sure it’ll smooth out over time.

Still haven’t heard from the headshrinker on the results of my ADD evaluation.

Currently listening to Recursion and currently reading the 4th book in the Extinction Point series. Recursion was rated one of the best Sci-Fi books of 2019 and Extinction Point is brain candy but you gotta read something light every now and then.

The Beach in January

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Such a beautiful day here in God’s country that we’re heading out for a walk on the beach. I need it. The cold has driven me indoors and into the pantry for the past week!

I’m still intrigued by my late-stage ADD diagnosis. In my mind I see myself getting on these drugs and then attacking all the projects I’ve started over the years and never finished…wishful thinking I’m sure.

I’m an amateur software developer….a professional one too…and I have several “great” ideas for Apps that I’ve worked on and planned out and never finished…could Focalin-XR be my secret weapon? I’m willing to try anything at this point.

These App ideas; all of them are pretty much already available except for one. I suppose I should “focus” on that one first although a couple of the others are more interesting.

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not my phone. I haven’t owned and iPhone in quite some time.

Traveling out to California tomorrow for work. I’m looking forward to it! I will definitely write about my experiences in beautiful San Jose!

ADD? or is it ADHD?

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I had my first session with the therapist and he feels I may have (suffer from?) ADD!? Interesting diagnosis and rings relatively true even though I’m 50 f’ing 5! So anyway, he gave me a take-home test and my wife and I filled it out (she did it for me not for her) and we sent it in to the doc. I’m out of town next week so I will review the results with him next week.

So anyway, he referred to it as ADD. While he was explaining it to me all i could think was “is that different that ADHD?”. “Is this some way to avoid offending adults by not calling them hyperactive?”. So, I looked it up when I got home and it turns out they’re the same thing. I’ll have to spend some time researching it on my trip.

Therapy?

Sheez, and I thought I was just a physical wreck!

cartoon man laying on a therapists couch talking about his problems

Tonight is my first appointment with a therapist. I’ve been having some pretty intense anxiety over the past couple of months. It involves some public humiliation that I don’t want to get into the specifics of…I wasn’t arrested or anything like that. It’s safe to keep reading.

Anyway, I was having a little trouble coping so my wife strongly suggested that a Therapist might be in order.

Finding a therapist is a surprisingly difficult task. It’s a booming business and many that I spoke to are just too busy to take on new patients and if they are taking on new people then the wait can be months. I finally found one and today is the day! I’m dreading it a little as I was raised to make light of things like “anxiety” and “panic” and just about anything serious…jeez, my parents were the worst. Kidding, they did their best.

I don’t know what to expect. Therapy for people my age used to be discussed in hushed tones but people these days are very open about it and I think that’s great. I’ll report what he says in a future entry.

On the metabolic front, I’m back into the full-blown low-carb lifestyle and feeling a lot better. I managed to even get out for a walk and a run yesterday. I need to get some streak of days behind me, I’m back on the west coast next week and hotel living is a major stumbling block.

today’s observation: I do my best proof-reading after I hit “publish”.

The War on Diabetes

Ok, it’s more of personal battle than a war.

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I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes over 10 years ago. I think like many people I ignored this diagnosis and assumed that I didn’t have to make any life changes since I was getting such great drugs for it. I was wrong. My family doctor, after an A1C test of over 10 dumped me. He said, “it’s not me, it’s you” and sent me off to an endocrinologist.

Getting dumped by my doc was a wake-up call to me. I started reading everything I could on the topic of Diabetes. I spent hours on Quora reading about diabetes and related topics. I saw a lot of silly, self-serving, agenda-drive advice but I also found some advice that “sounded” right to me and, when I researched further, found there was science behind those ideas. The people that were off medications and controlling their diabetes were restricting themselves to a severely low-carb diet.

I also discovered Dr. Bernstein! The good doctor is a character and I suggest that anyone with Diabetes read everything online about him. I ordered his book, and while it was helpful, it wasn’t really necessary; Dr. B shares everything in the book and more on his website but the guy has done a great service to the Diabetic community, throw him a bone and buy his book.

The other habit that helped and that I originally thought was stupid and a waste of time was consistently measuring my Blood Sugar. I was of the opinion that measuring did nothing for me but, coupled with taking notes on my feelings and behaviors leading up to each measurement, I got an idea of what foods and emotions and exercises affected my sugar levels and how. So measure. Just do it. If you’re only going to measure once a day for whatever reason (sometimes you can’t get prescribed enough test strips) I would measure my fasting blood sugar. There are some articles that say it’s the best predictor of your 3 month A1C value and, I think, that would keep you informed best as to how you’re doing…if you can only test once…but I’m not a doctor…talk to your doctor.

I have also heard a LOT of misinformation about low-carb diets. We were sold a bill of goods on diet in the 70’s and it’s produced a generation of obesity and health problems. The food pyramid is a nightmare, ignore it. Fat is not bad for you, over eating is. Your body generates any carbs you need…too many in my case.

I have lost over 40 pounds in the last year and i wouldn’t credit that weight-loss entirely to the low-carb diet; I just ate less. I know it’s obvious and depressing but the only way to lose weight is to take in fewer calories than you expend, or at least fewer than you have been taking in. For me, aside from being essential for managing my diabetes low-carb is simply a strategy to allow me to eat less. It makes me feel more satisfied and, after a week or so, removes cravings for bad carbs. I also practice intermittent fasting. Again, I have read so much on this as a miracle cure but, for me, it just limits the time I permit myself to eat and as a result I eat less. After a few days the morning hunger goes away. Now I find myself surprised when 5 O’clock comes around and it’s time to eat.