Monday, December 20, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
All of my numbers were up: My FEV1 and FVC were up 3% and 12% respectively. FVC is Forced Vital Capacity and is the volume of air that can forcibly be blown out after full inspiration, measured in liters. FVC is the most basic maneuver in spirometry tests. FEV1 is the Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second and is the most important test that a doctor looks at. My FVC is up from 89% to 101% (which means I'm essentially normal compared to people without CF) and my FEV1 went from 84% to 87% which is the highest it has been in some time. I won't get the cholesterol test results for another week but I ended up only having to get one vial taken this time. My weight went from 197 pounds last time to 184 pounds. The doctors were really thrilled with my progress. Thanks for listening. Have a nice weekend.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
This week is extremely busy. Tuesday I had a one hour speech I had to give to a group of CEOs about my foundation. I think it went pretty well. The reviews were very favorable. I met with George, my therapist, on Wednesday and he said I was doing well. We mostly talked about my depression from losing one of my best friends. He recommended some books for me. Tonight I have a meeting for my emotional issues. I'm looking forward to seeing the guys.
Tomorrow is going to be the toughest though. I have to begin fasting at 11pm tonight and go in for my 3-hour glucose test (16 vials of blood will be taken and I have to drink this awful orange drink that is like a flat version of Sunkist) at 7:30am tomorrow and I have a doctor's appointment at 8:30 along with my Pulmonary Function tests and then I have another vial of blood taken before I can finally eat around 10am. That same night I have my company party (which I look forward to escorting my beautiful wife there) and a birthday party to attend. It's safe to say I'll sleep in on Saturday. At least I'm done with Tobi. I finished Sunday night.
It is so cold right now that my fingers are frost-bitten. The things I hate most about winter are that my health gets worse, the days get shorter and it seems like all of the people I have lost in my life all died around this time (Jon Barkan, my sister Wendy who I didn't get to even meet and now my close friend Rusty Sneiderman).
I've felt a bit depressed lately but I can't put my finger on it. Obviously I know that losing Rusty is a big part of that. I just feel overwhelmed and I don't look forward to tomorrows as much as I seem to during the spring, summer and fall.
There is not that much else going on. I slipped on the ice this morning but no major injuries. I am looking forward to showing the doctors how much weight I've lost and how much better shape I am in. I continue to stay between 182 and 184 pounds. I also continue to increase the weight on my workouts. I decided to show the following 2 pictures on this blog. The bottom picture shows how skinny I was (a result of CF) when I had a picture with Braves players' Dale Murphy and Bruce Benedict and the top picture shows how much I've filled out thanks to new treatments and hard work as I'm with current Brave Chipper Jones (as well as my family).
Andrea and the kids are doing well. Ethan just got over a virus but he's feeling better. Avery talks more like an adult everyday. It seems as she matures, I grow more immature so we should be the same age in about 8 years.
Please check out Raw Denim on Facebook. My sister has done a great job with the story.
I hope everyone is doing ok. Please stay safe this holiday season.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
As far as health goes, I am still working hard. As far as my emotional health goes, I'm feeling pretty well. I still think about Rusty but I have been able to separate it and focus on my own mission to get stronger. I continue to go to meetings, recently reached my first year of full sobriety and will soon be sponsoring my own sponsee.
I continue to maintain my weight between 182 and 185 pounds. I'm currently at 182 pounds which is 15 pounds lighter than my weight back in September. I have enclosed a picture of me at 197 with my beautiful wife at the beach and a picture of me today 15 pounds lighter.
I don't drink sodas anymore except on rare occasions and I've cut my sweets down considerably. It helps also that whenever I eat a Twizzler in front of Ethan, he says "Some?" and I have to give him a Twizzler, usually mine. So I'm not only contributing to my cavities, I have to worry about his teeth too.
I also continue to take fish oils twice a day. I will be taking my glucose test next week to determine if I need to go on cholesterol drugs. The glucose test is the one where I have to starve from about 10pm the night before and can't eat till about noon the following day. Meanwhile the nurses take about 14 vials of my blood to see if I have CF-related diabetes as well as high cholesterol. I'm sorry but if you take 14 vials of my blood and I'm still alive, I should get a standing ovation from the staff.
I think I've done everything I can to improve my health so I'm hoping that my cholesterol is down. I've also increased my weightlifting lately because I feel the need to overachieve right now. I just feel like I really want to push myself. I haven't done that with weights in quite a while. Here are the changes I have made:
CURLS: Instead of lifting 20 pound weights for 3 sets of 20, 16 and 12, I now do the same amount of sets and reps but I do them with 30 pound dumbells.
SHOULDERS AND BACK: Instead of lifting 100 pounds for 3 sets of 20, 16 and 12, I now do the same amount of sets and reps but I lift 160, then 170 and then 180 pounds respectively.
CHEST: Instead of working out primarily on the machine, I'm now using the flat bench. I was lifting 120 pounds on the machine for 3 sets of 20, 16 and 12. Now I'm doing 200 pounds for 20, 16 and 12 reps.
CARDIO: Instead of just running in place and doing jumping jacks or jumping rope, I've now added the punching bag to the mix. I do about 10 to 15 minutes on the bag every other day.
ABS: I haven't changed my ab workout much. I am looking for other exercises if anyone knows some good ones other than crunches and situps.
LEGS: I've gone from lifting 100 pounds with my legs to doubling the weight to 200 pounds. Again, I do 20, 16 and 12.
I have other exercises that I do per body part but those are just examples of my biggest changes.
Every day, I do 5 sets of one body part, 5 sets of another and 3 sets of either cardio or abs or a combination of the two.
I can definitely feel a change in my strength after just a few weeks. I hope to continue to keep off the weight and add some muscle over the next few months.
Add this to about 3 to 4 hours of therapy, a full-time job and two rambuncious kids and it's a pretty busy day.
Only four more days of Tobi so it will be nice to finish that. I call myself the Nebulizer driver as I actually do my TOBI on my way to work which is perfectly legal but I must look like some guy who has taken smoking to a new level.
I hope all of you are well. Never give up.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
First off, thank you to everyone expressing your condolences. I have to admit I feel selfish because I know there are others who hurt more than me because Rusty was a wonderful husband, father, son and brother not to mention a best friend to so many. I can't really compare my feelings to others. I just know it hurts not having Rusty around, but I'm starting to open up a little about it.
I can only encourage those who knew him to send any potentially valid tips or e-mails to the Dunwoody police. I have left them a message recently. I believe it takes about 2 weeks to get a response as they must be receiving a lot of tips.
I think all of us who loved Rusty should call ourselves FOR JUSTICE, an acronym I came up with for Friends Of Rusty Joining Up So That Information Can Emerge. By giving any tips to the police and helping to try to find the perpetrator(s), you are an active member of For Justice. Justice is all I want; Rusty's family deserves that outcome.
With all of the tragedies surrounding me lately, I have really had to lean on my family. Andrea has been there for me and I love her very much. I know this tragedy has been just as difficult on her as she loved Rusty and of course loves his Andrea as do I. The kids, well, they do something new every day. Ethan is talking more than ever. The other day his Uncle Alistair was in town and we went upstairs and Alistair asked him which room was his. Ethan said Avery's room and pointed the other way and then pointed at his floor and said Ethan's room. Whenever he does something wrong now, he says "Sorry, mommy. Sorry, daddy. Sorry, Avery." Then he repeats the wrong but I guess at least he's polite. Avery (picture enclosed), well, here's our funny story from a few weeks ago.
So Avery and I had a daddy-daughter day the other day and I took her bowling. After we played 4 games, we went to the arcade and decided to play the crane game. After I tried to win her a stuffed animal and failed about 10 times, Avery said she wanted to try. "Okay, sweetie," I laughed. The claw was barely even closing and I knew it was set up so no one could win. She tried three times and did not come close and then as if I was Mr. Myagi and she was Daniel LaRusso squeezing the fly with chopsticks, her claw grabbed the pink monkey at the bottom of the pile which should be physically impossible to reach. Apparently the animal's thread got stuck on the claw. The problem is that we couldn't get the animal off the claw. Since no one at the bowling alley was available to help us even after I asked several times, I decided to do it myself. After about 25 shakes and about 10 attempts to tilt the machine, the pink monkey finally fell off the claw and Avery got to take it home. I was so proud of her...until we got home. Here was her exact explanation to mommy as she walked in looking fresh as a daisy and I was sweating profusely after nearly separating a shoulder on the crane machine.
"Mommy, I won the pink monkey by myself and daddy didn't win anything." Not exactly a crowning achievement when your 4 year old can claim victory over her dad. I'm sure it will be one in a million times daddy will be proven wrong by his little girl.
I hope everyone is well. Let's continue to fight "FOR JUSTICE!"
Friday, December 3, 2010
As a speaker, the one comment I never wanted to hear was "You seemed a bit rusty." I heard it a few times during my Toastmasters speeches. They critiqued my grammar and I was fine. They commented on how many times I said "um..." and I could deal with that. They even said they didn't understand the point of my speech and I could handle that, but if I heard, "You seemed a bit rusty," I got really frustrated. To me it meant that people didn't think I wasn't working at my craft and I knew I worked hard when it came to my passion for public speaking.
Lately, my passion for motivational speaking has diminished due to my battle with clinical depression. Through the years, there have been two people who really pushed me to make my speaking more of a priority. One was my father, the other was Russell J. Sneiderman. I, like pretty much all of his friends, called him Rusty.
Andrea and I met Rusty, his wife Andrea and their kids Sophia and Ian at a friend's party. Soon afterward, we went to Gwinnett Braves games together, went to their lake house on several occasions and took in some Atlanta Braves games together. As our couple friendship developed, the Andreas (Rusty and I had to use the terms "My Andrea" or "Your Andrea" to avoid confusion) became even closer as did Rusty and myself.
Rusty and I talked pretty regularly. Sometimes we talked while our wives were with the kids. Rusty once told me that it was nice to be friends with a couple both he and his wife liked individually. Often we had lunch together because we both worked in Duluth. Each time a lunch with Rusty concluded, he'd ask me, "Now how can I help you to be more of a success." I remember the first time he came to dinner and he said he wanted to repay us for making the meal. So what did he do? He went outside and fixed our gutter. That's when I knew I found a one-in-a-million type friend. I also realized if we wanted the pilot light fixed and the leaks in our sky lights sealed up, we better keep providing food for Rusty.
Rusty was a big fan of mine for some reason. He told me that I inspired him and he told my parents that he loved me and would do whatever I wanted to help make Wish for Wendy a success. Those weren't just words. Rusty was a doer. He believed in me and in turn I believed in him. Rusty was always hungry for success. He wanted to make a difference.
Rusty played on the only two foundation teams we've ever had at Wish for Wendy and agreed to take on the heavy responsibility of being our sponsorship chairman this year. He came up with some great ideas and helped us find several new corporate sponsors. He's a big reason why we eclipsed the million dollar mark this year.
Rusty had an amazing personality and sense of humor. He was known for making fun of his athletic activity though he was no slouch as he proved on the softball field. He once bought a Wii FIT and said after he took the fitness test that the Wii told him that his fitness was equal to that of a grossly obese 75 year old. Rusty laughed, "I paid money for a machine to tell me I'm old and fat. No thank you!"
The Wish for Wendy Warriors foundation team in 2010 had a lot of new names but one name stayed the same and that was Rusty Sneiderman. Rusty played softball once a year and this was it. Rusty was always introducing me to people he thought could help further my career and/or my foundation. He got along with every person I introduced him to. My parents really loved him. He and my dad had the same bug about starting a business on their own. They talked frequently. Rusty was looking forward to starting his own business.
Rusty Sneiderman was a brilliant guy. He graduated from Indiana University and later got his MBA from Harvard. He and his wife Andrea, who also graduated from Indiana and got her masters at Harvard, moved down to Atlanta where Rusty worked for JP Morgan.
I'd only known Rusty for two years and I considered him one of my best friends. We talked about growing old and all of the trips we were going to take together. We each had two children, a girl first and then a boy. The kids were almost the same age. We talked about his next business venture and how he was really excited to get started. No matter how much a lunch was full of talking about his business, it always ended with, "Now how I can I help you to be successful."
Rusty wanted to create a plan to help me. The man was starting up a business, was married, was raising two children and had many charitable obligations, yet he always wanted to help me. I wish I'd taken him up on it...at least in the professional sense.
The Thursday prior to Thanksgiving, I was working on a very important chapter for my book, coincidentally another project of mine Rusty frequently asked about. I got a call from my Andrea. She was crying. My first thought was something happened to one of the kids.
"Rusty's been shot," she said. "WHATTTTTT?" I said. "Where, when, how..." Rusty was one of the least violent people I knew; surely this was a mistake. Apparently, a half hour earlier Russell J. Sneiderman walked out of Dunwoody Prep, a preschool in a safe area of Atlanta, after dropping off his son and was shot several times at close range. An hour or so later as I pulled into the hospital's parking lot, I got a called from Andrea. I can only remember the two words that had difficulty leaving her mouth, "He died."
"NO!" I said. No way. Our families were going bowling the following night. Rusty and I had plans for lunch the following week. This couldn't be happening. He and I just talked the other day. I still have a text from him congratulating me on Wish for Wendy which was only about a week and a half earlier. My mom, dad, Andrea and I were at the hospital. Andrea was a real rock for Rusty's Andrea. Many of his Andrea's friends came to support their friend. The prevailing question was "Why? Why would someone do this to such an amazing man?" I can't answer that question. That's the job of the police. I can only say what an honor it was to know Rusty Sneiderman. He wasn't just a friend. He was a best friend. He wasn't just a guy who gave to charity; he contributed to causes to help them to become successful. I'm richer for having known Rusty.
I did a couple of news interviews on Friday with permission from his family. Rusty made everyone around him smile and laugh. He made you feel like you were the center of attention. He made me feel comfortable no matter what the situation. The world is far worse off without Rusty in it.
Rusty always told me that I inspired him. I wish I'd had time to tell him what an amazing friend he was to me. "Rusty, I loved you like a brother. I miss you so much. I will do things in your memory because you believed in me."
It's been a few weeks since Rusty's death and I still can't get him out of my mind. I see his smiling face. I've found videos of him on my phone. I miss his laugh. I miss his humor. I miss him.
On the Sunday following his death I gave the biggest speech in my life. Rusty would have wanted me to do that. The speech was his eulogy. I had to say goodbye to a man that should still be here. I had to say goodbye to a man who will miss out on so many amazing things because of one senseless act. I had to say goodbye to a man who I planned to spend so much time with over the next few decades.
Please pray for Rusty's family and everyone who knew him...we lost an amazing man, father, son, brother, husband and a friend. Rusty, you always had dreams of being a big success and making a difference. Little did you know that you accomplished both missions. You made everyone around you better. That's the greatest success one man can have. I'll miss you, my brother. It was an honor to be friends with you. You were a gift to this world and that gift will never be forgotten. I will honor you, as will many others, till the day we die.
And the next time I give a speech and I get that comment that would once infuriate me, my reaction might be a little different. I can just hear it now.
"Andy, you seemed a bit Rusty."
God, I hope so...I really hope so.
Missing Rusty every moment of everyday,
p.s. I have posted a sketch of Rusty's killer. Please send this to everyone you know. Justice will prevail! Below is a picture of Rusty with my son Ethan. It's not coincidence that my son looks comfortable with him; everyone did.