Shameless attempts for blogging ideas

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Ok, so I obviously haven’t done tons of postings in the recent past. There are many reasons for this… at the beginning of my big break I just became so busy that I didn’t have time to blog. Then it became I was fresh out of ideas, so I never had anything to write about.

I’m going to try to come up with several new posts today that I can spread out for a little bit, but in the meantime, I highly suggest my readers (I can’t believe how many views I got with the last blog I posted, woulda thought everyone forgot about me), send an email to steven-ford@uiowa.edu with topics you want me to discuss….. anything is fair game; no topic is off limits. I promise I’ll work extra hard to make sure I have well thought out and researched things for you.

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Katie Bear Ford

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I’ve been super distracted… sorry.

I want to take a moment to introduce me new puppy, Katie. Katie is a purebred, black and white Siberian Husky. She was born 03/06/2012.

Everyone who has known me for a long time knows that I am a total dog person. It’s killed me to not have a dog for the past several years, so when my roommate, Lance, told me it was ok to get a dog, I got one!

I got Katie 2 week ago, so I’m just starting to get the hang of raising a puppy. Today we are starting obedience school, so hopefully she won’t get us kicked out! From everything I’ve read, sibes are so intelligent that if they don’t get challenged, they get bored. If they get bored, they get destructive and they howl. The simplest solution is to train them — there’s always another trick she can learn!

She has WAY more energy than me. I’ve gotten a little bit of help from the neighborhood kids to fix this. I will take Katie out to play, and when I get tired, I tag team with Cameron (he lives in my building) and his friends from around the neighborhood… they can outlast her energy; somehow.

I’ve found myself constantly Googling information about the breed and about puppies in general now. I know the AKC standards for Sibes and their known history. I’ve read that I’m supposed to give her some fish oil and a whole raw egg several times a day to give her a good coat.

List of things Katie is currently improving on:

  1. Potty Training — she had her 3rd accident ever in her cage last night. No idea what caused it, cause she’s gone that long without an accident every night since I got her.
  2. Biting — she’s teething, so of course she wants to bite. But, she’s starting to learn that it hurts and is annoying, so her biting is decreasing. Can’t wait for her to get totally past this stage!
  3. Shake and Rollover — I know, I know… there’s no point to these tricks, but every dog knows them. She’s pretty slow at picking them up, cause unlike sit and lay down, I don’t functionally use them constantly throughout the day.
  4. Crate training — she has gotten SOOOOO much better at this. The first few days, she spent the whole night howling. Now she doesn’t howl, but she does start whining as soon as she sees me again. She hasn’t quite picked up on “pack permanence” yet; that just because I’m gone doesn’t mean I am never coming back.

I can’t wait to show her off to anyone that likes dogs. If I haven’t shown her off to you yet, let me know! I love to brag about her. By the way, here’s a picture of the two of us when I got her:

And here is a picture of Katie taken a few minutes ago (notice how much bigger she is already!!!)

Life Update — 04/18/2012

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It’s been a while since I’ve updated everyone on my life, or any blog for that matter, so I thought I’d give everyone an update of everything that’s been happening.

Health

I’m getting healthier! I’ve had several doctors appointments since my last update that were able to say conclusively that I do not have GERDS, IBD, or Crone’s disease. I’m also not a “true” Celiac, but I do have some sensitivity to gluten. I’m now being weaned off the antibiotics for the C-Diff. I’ll be glad when I’m finally totally off of them. They are hard to swallow before dissolving, and the taste makes me want to throw up… also, I’ve been on them for nearly 6 months already!

Work and School

It’s been a pretty tough decision to make, but I realized that I no longer want to work in law enforcement. There is a lot of my job that I really like, but there are some parts that have just turned me off to the whole system. Instead, I’ve decided to go back to school. I’m either going to Iowa (already been accepted) or Iowa State (waiting to hear back) for Engineering. I’m really excited to make this change, but I’m pretty scared to start back up.

Home Life

I’m not really used to drama, but it’s kind of popped up. I love all my roommates, but there has been a bit of tension around the house the past few months. Basically, one person has had a lot of personal stuff get revealed that became a “public” issue. Our house is pretty split into 2 sides about how it was and is being handled by him and the church, and I feel like I’ve become very attached to one guy and almost completely disconnected to the other 2. It’s kind of a letdown. I want nothing more than healing for him and to reestablish strong relationships with all my roommates, but as more time passes, I find it less and less likely to happen.

Next Year

I’ve already said I’m going back to school. I’m moving in with 3 new guys into a different townhouse. I’m pretty excited about it, but the 4 of us have very different personalities, and strong opinions… so if nothing else, living with them will always be exciting. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to have a dog again next year 😦 I tried negotiating with the landlord, and they were impossible to negotiate with — no pets.

Still single. Still taking applications. 🙂 Just some end of post humor, but seriously…

Life of a Dying Man

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I’m hoping that my title will be dramatic enough that lots of people want to read this 🙂 but in reality, this is an update on my health.

I went to the doctor again today. I’ve been on an antibiotic that has been helping a little bit — at least symptomatically. The bacteria is still present and strong, but it is working on the defensive.

The doctor told me that since I’ve been sitting on the meds, I’ve gained 5 pounds! This still has me underweight, but it is the most telling sign that my body is absorbing food better. Also, the bleeding within my digestive system has decreased significantly!

However, all news isn’t good. I’ve shown signs of a severely weakened immune system since my body has been working so hard to fix these other issues. There is also further evidence to suggest that there may be more going on in my digestive system than just this bacteria — something that would make it significantly harder for me to fight the bacteria if it’s underlying. So, as many people have suggested, the doctor referred me to the gastroenterologist to run a few additional tests and give a more expert treatment.

I’ve been doing my best to follow a diet that limits what kinds of bacteria and sugars go into my digestive system. Essentially, it means I’m eating WAY healthier than I used to. Who would have thought it would be so tough to eat healthy… apparently fast food isn’t as healthy as everyone thinks! My ability to cook has dramatically increased in the past few weeks. I’ve used the stove more in the past month than I did all throughout college!

Life Update – January 2012

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Yes, I’ve cut down the blogging by A LOT. This update is to explain why.

Starting last August I began feeling an excruciating, centralized pain — enough that I made an emergency doctor’s appointment, fearing cancer. After 3 doctors appointments and 3 months of dealing with the worst pain of my life, they finally discovered what was wrong. I had a problem with a blood vessel that caused blood to flow backwards in the offbeat of my heart in a specific location (trust me, you’d prefer me be a little vague on this). It required surgery to fix — surgery that would require me living with the pain another month pre-surgery and a month post-surgery.

While doing the surgery, the doctor discovered that it wasn’t a problem with a single blood vessel as they originally thought, but the problem had occurred in 13 that all connected blood flow to the same organ (hence it hurting so bad). Post surgery, everything seemed great. The constant pain stopped in only a couple days! It seriously felt like a miracle after so many months of suffering.

Then real problems started. By now, It’s late November. I started noticing that I was losing a little weight and having some digestive issues. I wasn’t concerned at first, because I had taken antibiotics that killed off everything, so I figured they’ll balance out and I’ll be good in a couple days. A couple days later, I believed I might be dying. I felt uncontrollably sick. I couldn’t sleep because I was throwing up and going to bathroom 5+ time an hour. 2 weeks after the surgery, I was down 15 pounds.

I made an emergency appointment at the doctor and described all of my symptoms. They did a test and found out that I had picked up a bug at the hospital that doesn’t die from the antibiotics given post-surgery. They gave me more antibiotics that are known to kill it. After a few days my symptoms went away and after 2 weeks I was out of medicine. Everything seemed good.

Late December I started getting all the symptoms back, but WORSE. My grandpa died at the same time, so the doctor prescribed me another round of antibiotics over the phone because sometimes it’s been known to take a second round to kill.

A week later (the beginning of January) I returned to do more labs at the hospital to ‘test for cure’. The bug was still present and thriving. At this point, it is now confirmed that my bug is drug resistant so they did additional tests and found out that I also have the worst strain known to exist of the bug.

Now, fast forward to last Sunday. I got off work and went to the emergency room. During my shift, it became obvious that the bug was trying to kill me…and winning. I was bleeding internally and the cause was traced back to the bug literally eating through my digestive system. This is a scary thought. They took all sorts of body samples to make sure nothing else had been affected, and started me immediately on a VERY powerful and VERY expensive medicine. It’s prescribed so rarely that all the Hy-Vee’s from IC to Davenport had a combined 2 pills… I need 8 a day. I was able to find a pharmacy with half the pills I needed, the other half they had to fly in for me.

Doing research, I found out that doctors are typically not allowed to prescribe the medicine — they call it a “drug of last resort.” It’s an antibiotic that is mostly still not resisted by bacteria. It is only allowed to be prescribed when all other options have been exhausted to preserve it’s integrity and prevent diseases from gaining resistance to it.

I’m nearing the end of this round of treatment, never missing a dose and even waking up in the middle of sleep to take the medicine on time. To be honest, I’m afraid. My symptoms have certainly receded, but they haven’t gone away. With the first few attempts at killing it, they completely away — if this doesn’t kill the bug I have very options left. For my readers who pray, this is a good thing to pray for.

If this doesn’t work, I am in trouble. I have 3 options. Option 1 is to have my colon and damaged part of my intestines removed as well as my whole system flushed. This is the ABSOLUTE worst case scenario. Option 2 would require me to be an inpatient at the hospital and on an IV with medicine constantly trying to kill it, until they are sure that it’s completely dead and coming back. This could take a while, and those who know me know that I never want a stay in the hospital to last more than 24 hours. Option 3 requires someone healthy making a donation for me. It wouldn’t be painful, but it would be disgusting and uncomfortable for a day or two. This is obviously my preferred method to go from here if  I have to keep fighting it. However, it is likely going to be hard to find a suitable donor who is willing to do it. Like I said, it’s gross…really gross.

So that’s where I’m at. I’ve lost a pretty big chunk of weight and as hard as I try, I cannot eat enough calories to get back to my normal, healthy weight. It’s weird to think that if I were in a 3rd world country, or a country where food and especially water is readily and universally available, I would likely be dead already. God has really provided for me, and I’m praying that he will continue to. In the mean time, I’d really appreciate prayers.

My Loss and Heaven’s Gain

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I haven’t posted anything to my blog in well over a month now. I haven’t forgotten about it, but have had so much stuff going on that I decided it would be best to set it aside. I planned to give a life update and talk about some of my plans for 2012 in the next day or two, but instead I want to talk about one of the most influential men in my life.

My grandpa, Harold Lawrence Ford, passed away yesterday morning. He was 89 years old and the family patriarch. It’s terribly sad for us, but as my brother reminded me, it’s the happiest day in all eternity for both him and my grandma. It’s the first day that they get to spend with both each other and Jesus. He is the most godly man I know, and am blessed that he got to be the father and shepherd of an entire family that loves Jesus.

A few years ago I got the opportunity to sit down and listen to him talk about his life. Until that time, I knew almost nothing about what he had done before I was born. He worked hard his entire life, and took care of his family until the end. In his early life, my grandpa moved jobs very frequently — when he entered the job market it was near the end of the Depression. He did all sorts of manual labor jobs, ending at Caterpillar, a company that makes farm equipment. Along with his normal job, he also became a pastor.

When he retired, he didn’t stop working. He maintained his house, took care of my grandmother until she passed away, maintained the church property he owned, had a garden, watched his grandchildren grow up and even got to watch as his great grandchildren are growing up. When the pastor was no longer able to take care of himself or his wife, my grandpa took up the job and continued to take care of the pastor’s wife after the pastor passed away and even up until a few days ago my grandpa made helped her.

One summer as a young kid — I believe it was the summer before I started 6th grade — my grandpa took me on a road trip with just him and his motor home. I didn’t want to do the summer program stuff and my grandma had died less than a year earlier, so we provided company for each other. It really was a blast. He took me to meet my grandma’s brother and his wife in Oklahoma. I met my dad’s cousins and my second cousins in Texas. We spent a few days with my uncle in Louisiana. The uncle was by marriage to my aunt (grandpa’s daughter) who passed away a few years prior from breast cancer. Grandpa and I made friends with the crazy kooks at campgrounds and went to a dozen different waffle houses around tornado valley. His pop of choice was Mountain Dew and we drank a ton of it. It was one of the most special times of my life, and a reminder that I was special to him; he had 7 grandchildren but only took me. That is a summer that I will remember for the rest of my life.

My grandpa survived multiple heart attacks and we were sure we were going to lose him last year, but by God’s grace we were given another year to spend him. I planned to come home Christmas day this year, but wound up making it home for a few hours on Christmas Eve instead — I’m so thankful that I did. My grandpa had some sort of bug that was very obviously hurting him a lot. My brother brought him over, because standing made him dizzy so he knew he couldn’t drive himself. We thought he should be in the hospital because of other symptoms, but he was insisted he HAD to spend Christmas Eve with his family. When I saw him, I knew Jesus was going to call him home soon, and I think he knew too — which is why he had to see us all — but I expected another few months with him.

Christmas Day, again, the family felt he needed to go to the hospital, but my grandpa absolutely insisted that he needed to go church and be with his family. On the 26th he fell in his bedroom and cut his head open. He was soon moved to the ICU. I knew then that I wouldn’t hear good news. After I got off work yesterday and barely fell asleep I got a phone call my Dad. He was having a hard time talking and I could tell he was crying. The only other two time I can remember seeing my Dad cry was after my grandma died and after my aunt died. I couldn’t understand everything he was saying, but I did know that he said I had to go to the hospital right away; so I knew the news bad.

You can ask any of my roommates, I hate breaking the law, even speed limits; but I definitely caught myself going over 90mph multiple times because I hoped that I could get there in time.  I found out that my brother was at his bedside in minutes, but even he didn’t make it before Grandpa passed. Even though we all wanted to be there for him, I’m sure my grandpa didn’t want us through the pain of watching it. But, I’m thankful that a ICU nurse and a pastor got to be at his side in the final seconds.

I’m thankful for having a blog, because I’m really not the kind of person who can talk about these kind of stories, but so many of the people I care about read my posts so I can still share them. I’m mourning the loss of a great man, a role model, and a hero. But I’m honored and overwhelmingly happy that Grandpa is finally free from sin and death. God has done great things for his kingdom through my Grandpa. I’m excited that one day I will get to join him and the angels in celebration.

A Moment of Humility

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Do you ever get the feeling like you NEED to write something down to process it? Today is a post like that. I’m not even sure it will make sense because it is highly dependent on the private issues of someone else, so in respect of his privacy I’m trying to sensor details as much as I can — but I really do need to write this down. As I’m writing, I feel a deep sense of humility and recognition of my own flaws. I hope that as I continue to process it, it will lead to repentance.

Last night was one of my most difficult nights of work ever. It wasn’t because it was stressful or that there were a lot of calls for me to respond too — actually there was nothing all night. I was on the verge of a panic attack as I went into work, but I don’t feel like I can take a sick day because of a possible surgery that I might have coming up (maybe I’ll write about it later, but it’s gross so you probably don’t want to know). I tried as hard as I could to relax and calm myself down, but by the time I got to the dorms I was shaking and could barely breathe. By what I’m going to call a miracle, two acquaintances (and the only 2 people I saw all night) were in the hall reading the Bible and discussing God. On a couple occasions during the first half of the night I had time to just stand and listen to them talk and calm myself down.

So what would cause me to reach this level of anxiety? Sin. Here’s the kicker: The sin that lead to it was not my own and was not even acted on in recent history. This may even be a little bit of over share, but I’ll risk it, I have two MAJOR areas of sin in my life that played out here: First is that I totally idolize people I love. Second is that I struggle with immense feelings of guilt, even at little things and things that are not about me. In this respect, I compare myself with Martin Luther. He struggled with guilt so badly that he would go to confession several times a day to seek God’s forgiveness for every little thing individually.

Anyways, I had one of those moments last night, when I realized (again) that a guy that I love and consider a brother is not perfect. In a conversation that was so nonchalant and short that he might not even remember it today, he told me about some sin of his past. The “genre” of sin is the same one that I would say he is most passionate about people being repentant and holy in. I’ve always known him to hold that attitude to this genre of sin, but it never connected that his passion for the topic was because of his own struggles with it.

I’ve seen the way he lives his life, and I am 100% convinced that he repented a long time ago (well before I met him), so I don’t know why I would feel guilt and grief about his former life, but I really did, and kind of still do. I feel like there might have even been some envy in there; a feeling like I was missing out, like I gave up my “get out of jail free card” by not indulging myself before now and not giving myself that “opportunity” to repent of it, like him. I don’t even know if that makes sense.

The nice thing about having an unexciting night of work and not seeing much of other people is that it gives me time to think. After thinking all night about it, I’ve come to have much more respect for him because of his past sin. He “tasted the forbidden fruit” in one genre of sin, loved it and indulged in it. But, now he’s repented and really cares that no one even approaches “the line” between sin/not sin and lives a life that models it well. Most people who are strong advocates of holiness in this area seem to be people who never would have done it before in their lives, so I tend to take their word with a grain of salt. But, it’s completely the opposite with him, and I see that now.

It’s kind of like this example: the D.A.R.E. officer can tell me not to do drugs. I can accept that, but it doesn’t mean nearly as much to me as when the heroin addict tells me not to even chew nicotine gum — now that means something.

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