Thursday, August 27, 2015

God's Care in the Air

Preparing to board the airplane my fears run wide,
What danger might some sinister stranger hide?
Am I spiritually prepared to enter eternity today?
For Divine safety and salvation I fervently pray.

I hurriedly eat an overpriced and average meal,
Resting from the strain of walking on my heal.
Shuffling past dozens of empty plane seats,
Wishing I could keep my feet on level streets.

A turbulence is like an earthquake in the air,
And I’m so glad I’m under a loving God’s care.
Flying brings me personally closer to heaven,
With memories today of September eleven.

While my ears hurt during the shaky descent,
I hope my faith in God is as strong as cement.
For as I return quite safely to the good earth,
Before me lies a vision of tremendous worth.

By Alan T. Stokes

November 19, 2001

Note:  Written on my first plane ride after 9/11/01 as I was headed to Orlando, Florida. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cell Phone Usage Safety

Here are two tips for reducing one's exposure to potentially dangerous cell phone radiation.
  1. Use ear buds when talking on the phone instead of holding the phone close to one's ear (Note: The speaker mode works too but that may annoy others and will make the conversation not so private).
  2. Keep the phone at least 3 feet away from your head at night (Note: This helps make it a more effective alarm clock too, if you have to actually get out of bed).
Anyone know of other suggestions. Leave a comment on this post. We will add to it in the future.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Goodbye to Youth

I cannot capture youth again,
My heart for it crys out in vain
But hears no echoing reply,
Old age is here, and youth's gone by.  

By Treva E. Stokes (1912-1980) 

I Promise

I can not promise your own spacious house,
But I promise where we live will be peaceful.

I can not promise you the weather won't be cold,
But I promise the warmth of my heart will always be near.

I can not promise you treasures of the earth,
But I promise to minister with you for treasures in heaven.

I can not promise us constant good health,
But I promise to give you unconditional love.

I can not promise us perfect children,
But I promise to love and accept our children.

I can not promise we will not have our differences,
But I promise to trust in grace for daily reconciliation.

I can not promise we will always have the same interests,
But I promise to be willing to sacrifice my self.

I can not promise to meet all your needs of life,
But I promise to help you develop vital relationships.

I can not promise my emotions will always be at today's high,
But I promise to always love you and communicate with you.

I can not promise you I will always know the answer,
But I promise to listen to God's Word and to pray.

I can not promise you that our life will always be easy,
But I promise that Christ will be our joy and strength.

I can not promise that we won't change as we grow old,
But I promise to let God mature our love over time.

I can not promise we will together for all our tomorrows,
But I promise I will be with you for all our earthly todays.

I can not promise it won't hurt if death makes us part,
But I promise that the God of eternity will help us carry on.

I can not promise you anything that you can touch,
But I promise you a solid foundation that will last forever.
These three--My LORD, My Faith, and My Love.

Alan Thomas Stokes   December 29, 1994 

For Anne Hostetler on her wedding to me. This poem was printed on the back of our wedding service bulletin.

Top Super Bowl Ad of 2012

I think the best Super Bowl advertisement for 2012 was Best Buy's "Phone Innovators" commercial. The advertisement recognizes the contributions of important innovators in the development of mobile phone technology.

Mashable has placed all the Super Bowl commercials from 2012 in a gallery if you wish to see the other commercials.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Top Super Bowl Ad of 2015

I think the best Super Bowl advertisement for 2015 was Dove's "#Real Strength" commercial.  The advertisement underscores the important role of fathers in the lives of their children and families.

To see my vote for best Super Bowl ads of the past see the following links:

Mashable has placed all the Super Bowl commercials from 2015 in a gallery if you wish to see the other commercials.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nissen Fundoplication One Year Later

I am sharing my experience after having Nissen Fundoplication surgery one year ago in hopes it might help someone.  I had my surgery on January 17, 2014, at Sparrow Hospital with Dr. Jeffrey Deppen. I had both acid reflux (GERD) and a hiatal hernia.

Preparation: Dr. Deppen had ordered me to take a swallow test which can only be done in Michigan at the University of Michigan Hospital. The results of that were that I did have a slight restriction on my swallowing analysis so during the surgery they would not be tightening the spinchter valve between my stomach and esophagus as much as they do for the typical person.

Surgery: The surgery went fine and the physician did more work than anticipated because my hiatal hernia was larger than advertised in the preliminary tests. They were able to do the surgery with the laparoscopic method, which is the easiest for recovery.

Recovery: I spent two days at Sparrow Hospital after surgery. After I came home I was off work for a week and then returned for 30 hours (3/4 time) the second week after surgery. One of the hardest things was the limited amount of things I could eat for several weeks. I developed stomach aches when eating soy drinks or milk shakes, so I had to limit those drinks, which I had expected to be an important part of my diet.

Positive Effects: Here are some of the positive effects that I have noticed after one year.
  • Acid-Reflux No More. I have taken zero antacids in the year since my surgery and have absolutely no heart burn ever. I also don't wake up in the middle of the night chocking on reflux.
  • Coughing Disappeared. For decades going back to my teens, I have had unexplained coughing, especially after eating. I have had numerous tests to rule out things like TB, but there never was any answer. What led me to get a endoscopy was more severe dry coughing and gagging in the mornings. After the surgery my chronic coughing ended.  
  • Not Vomiting. Vomiting is much harder to do after this surgery. I think most of the times I had this problem prior to the surgery it was from coughing too much, and that no longer happens.
Negative Effects: Here are some of the less than ideal effects that I have faced after one year.
  • Weight Loss. I have lost about 35 pounds give or take a few pounds. Some people may see this as a positive effect but for me that was 20% of my body weight. After a year it is clear that my weight is not coming back to what it was before surgery, as my weight records over past six months show I'm consistently around 130 pounds, give or take a few pounds. I've started the gradual process of getting a new wardrobe of clothes that are smaller and fit better.  
  • Stomach Aches/Nausea. I find that I'm just not able to eat as much as I did before surgery.  If I do eat too much quantity of food I develop a stomach ache that is more severe than I ever had before the surgery. I also have to watch the amount of dairy, soy, and processed food I eat.
Lifestyle Changes:
  • Diet. I'm trying to keep a modified Paleo Diet of unprocessed food. This is harder than one thinks but really does help. I've found if I avoid soy drinks, dairy, and overeating I get along much better.
  • Zofran. After the type of surgery I had it is more difficult to actually vomit and doing so could put the surgical corrections at risk, so I keep with me at all times an anti-nausea 8mg tablet of Ondansetron (generic for Zofran) to take as needed every 8 hours. I only take once per day at the most and can go several days without having to take one. When I feel a severe stomach ache or nausea I take one of those. The medicine seems to still work for me after a year and does not seem to cause me any problems. My goal is to keep a closer reign on my diet and rarely have to rely on Zofran to feel better.
Cancer Prevention: The above are real effects I can measure and feel but it has been brought to my attention that a silent effect of this surgery could be the reduced risk of esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer can develop when a hiatal hernia turns into Barret's Esophagus. Esophageal cancer is on the rise despite people taking more antacids. Could it be that the antacids cover up symptoms but never eliminate the underlying condition that causes cancer. In fact, when I told my periodontist that I had the Nissen surgery he said, "Well you won't have to worry about esophageal cancer now."

I would recommend this surgery for those with both GERD and a hiatal hernia.  It is not without its effects but a year later it has seemed to be worth it for me.