Friday, July 24, 2009

A pound a day

We interrupt our normally scheduled Yikealo blog for a brief update on Yikealo's dad's health...

It's really Susan's fault. How am I supposed to know the difference between a 9X13 and a jelly roll pan? Get real! So when I call and ask for Peanut Butter bars to take to work, of course I pick the larger of the two. What self-respecting male wouldn't?

I knew I was in trouble when we picked up the the bars Monday night and they were all tucked sweetly away into a nice disposable tin pan the size of a freezer chest... just as heavy too. What I had imagined to be around five dozen was more like eight dozen.... along with 5 dozen chocolate chip cookies... for the 18 people at our work luncheon... my kinda odds.

These Peanut Butter bars are evil. They feel like sugar on your tongue after the third chew (more on this later). Sheer Peanut Buttery delight, and Peanut Butter is one of my favorite food groups. I have regularly eaten myself sick on these bars and was delighted at the prospect of taking on the PB freezer chest as "prednisone boy trying to gain weight post-op". I really cannot envision a better scenario.

The cool thing about work luncheons is you can count on most of the females in the office not to eat their allotted dozen cookies/bars all at one sitting. The resultant left-overs work to your advantage if you're a shameless snacker like me... I mean... if your surgeon has told you to eat small amounts more often (snicker).

For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume that I ate X bars where X is an integer significantly larger than one.... per day... for four days...

Let's also assume that I now know the ingredients of afore-mentioned evil bars to contain: Peanut Butter, butter butter, Karo, sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar. No wonder they feel like sugar in your mouth! At the slightest mention of saliva or chewing they're simply reverting to a former state like ice melting to water.

Finally I think there is something further at work here. If you're familiar with Ezekiel Bread, you may know that the ingredients, when combined, produce some really cool proteins; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Peanut Butter bars, I suspect, have a similar quality. The weight of the whole, when combined, is about three times that of the sum of the individual ingredients. Thus you can eat one... umm... let's say ounce... of bar and amazingly gain three ounces.

So anyway, I step on the scales this morning and, SURPRISE! I've gained seven and a half pounds this last week. Somewhere the email from my colorectal surgeon stating "it is difficult to gain weight with a stoma" is ringing very false. Maybe I should take the Peanut Butter bar recipe to the Cleveland Clinic as a favor to future patients in my condition.

The good news is that a pound a day isn't all that bad; at least not for one week. I've been trying to put on weight ever since mid-February and really haven't had much success until Suzy's freezer chest full o' calories.

For those of you new to our family, or not necessarily familiar with my medical chart, a brief medical history:

I have both Crohn's Disease and Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). These two conditions fall under the collective family of auto-immune diseases and can be treated, if not controlled, with similar medications. In January 2009 my Crohn's disease started to flare culminating in the removal of my colon on 4/6/09. As a condition of this surgery I needed to stop my auto-immune medication and, subsequently, my AS took the opportunity to go nuts in the absence of any serious medication. This combination of facts has landed me in the ER twice; once before my surgery and once after.

Anyway, I've mostly had a very difficult time recovering: weight loss (about 40 lbs), fevers, night-sweats, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, joint stiffness, stomach pain, hiccoughs, and a general lack of appetite have hindered my progress and threatened my ability to travel to Ethiopia to bring home Yikealo. This all started changing the last week of May at which point I made two decisions:
  1. Give up my "right" to be healthy. I surrendered this to God and instead of praying for health I prayed for the grace to be the best 131 lb weakling Christian that I can be
  2. Focus on the adoption trip and postpone my next surgery (to reverse my ileostomy) until some later date

I am convinced that decision one is the key here because as soon as I changed my prayers I started getting healthier. It is true that I also started taking steroids at the same time and this no doubt has played some role, but all the other medications I had tried had been essentially useless up until the end of May so it seems unlikely that a new one made all the difference.

If you know anything about prednisone, you'll know the situation I face: keep your current symptoms or take the drug and change the old symptoms in for some new symptoms. To paraphrase my physician "prednisone is one of the few drugs where they leave 'may' out of the phrase 'this medication may cause side-effects' -- it is not a matter of if but when they occur". That said, we made the switch in hopes of being healthy enough to travel to Ethiopia, and God blessed the meds so that my appetite increased and my joint pain decreased.

Since returning home, I've started a new medication -- Enbrel -- with the intent of getting off of prednisone ASAP. I've been on Enbrel before with good results and so far so good this time 'round: my joint pain is essentially gone, my strength is coming back. Oh yeah... and I gained seven lbs this week.

Well, that's enough about me. As they say in Amharic: chow.

Okay, we interrupt this interruption to take you back to Yikealo for today's funny stories. Also under the heading of "Suzy's fault" and "David's newly acquired fat rolls" we had an appointment with a stoma nurse today at the Cleveland Clinic. Larisa told Yikealo that they were going to go with Ababa in the mekina, and that he should go get his shoes. After rustling around in his closet and hers, he emerged like this:

That's right...carrying one of Larisa's purses and wearing the dreadful Holstein wellies that he got guessed it...Aunt Suz. On the wrong feet, no less. And no, Larisa did not let him wear them.

Tonight we're telling him to "brush teeth" and he's repeating it like "butt cheek?". Being mature adults in our mid thirties, this didn't amuse us in the least and we did not -- no matter what you may hear via other channels -- hoot with laughter and roll on the floor. Nor did we have him continue repeating this by saying "brush teeth" to him.


  1. Oh my word, this post was definately a ROFL for me!! First, it is not my fault David gained 7lbs this week--I think he secretly knew "how big" a jelly roll pan was, he just wanted to see how many of them he could possibly eat in a week! Secondly the picture of Yikealo in the boots is just hilarious! I cannot believe that you did not let him go into public looking like that?! Surely after all what kind of self respecting interior designer WOULD NOT let their child do that????!!!!!

  2. What a HOOT!!! Great post, David. Now I am craving me some delicious peanut butter bars from Susan... :-)