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ED’s RETURN TO PEARL HARBOR pt 2

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Shortly after we arrived at Pearl Harbor, I noticed a table outside the gift shop. The table was filled with books about Pearl Harbor and a special book of the 75th Anniversary Edition. At the table was a gentleman who turned out to be Allan Seiden, the author of the book.  I just had to wheel Ed over to meet the author. I knew they would have a lot to talk about! I introduced Allan to Ed. They had a lovely chat. Both seemed to be happy to meet the other!

Ed’s Guardian,Terri, gifted Ed with a Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary Edition signed by the author who was so pleased to share a few moments with Ed. (Ed has since spent many hours reading the book and studying the pictures!) I also purchased a copy and asked both Allan and Ed to write something in the book for me. This book is now a sweet treasure of a beautiful memory!

Ed received so much attention it was overwhelming yet wonderful at the same time. We moved slowly through the grounds allowing visitors to have their moments with Ed. When it was time for the movie (a fantastic historical documentary), we moved toward the auditorium to wait in line. Survivors do not wait in line! They are escorted to the front of the line. The crowd parted. We could hear the whispers as we passed by those in the line.  Ed was mesmerized by the documentary. I think if they played it again, he would have stayed to watch again and see what he missed the first time. I know I would have!

As the lights came up slowly, there was an announcement. “We have a Pearl Harbor Survivor in the theatre. Please remain seated until he has left the building and is on his way to the tour boat”.  As I wheeled this gracious man toward the exit, the entire audience stood and applauded him! I couldn’t hold back the tears. He choked up a little and waved his hand to acknowledge the attention. As we motored toward the USS Arizona, here was very little conversation from anyone on the boat. And then, it was only in whispers.  Ed was scanning the shoreline in all directions. He later shared with us that he was looking for anything he could remember. He said the entire shoreline was nothing at all like he remembered. “Every inch of it is different.”  A lot can change in 75 years!

When we arrived at the USS Arizona, the mood was somber. Only the occasional whisper was heard. Ed was again escorted through first. In his Pearl Harbor Survivor hat, he commands attention everywhere he goes. Those visitors waiting for the boat to go back to the museum, quickly noticed Ed was special and the cameras were raised. Dozens of photographs were snapped before we had entered the area. I walked as slow as I could. I wanted to allow Ed the time to process what he was seeing. I knew he wasn’t coming back. It also gave visitors to the museum a Survivor to see, think about, pray for, and honor as they experienced this sacred, hallowed, historical site!

14433089_10209371841708700_1681198500092033913_nEd was quiet, but taking in everything. He doesn’t miss much. As we slowly entered the area right above the USS Arizona, bombed and sunken on that dreadful day, Ed caught sight of the small oil slick creeping across the waters… We knew this could be difficult for him. I held his wheelchair right there for just another moment. The oil seeps up from the tanks of the ship. It’s a constant reminder of the lives lost inside that ship and around the harbor. But it was inside the USS Arizona Memorial… facing the wall with the names of all those who perished in the ship that day… that literally took his breath away! The tears flowed. Though he tried several times, he was unable to speak. Visitors were so touched by his reaction they were watching him and wiping their own tears as well. He sobbed as he finally was able to say, “There’s just so many!” (looking at all the names)… long pause… “They never even knew what hit ‘em”…. long thoughtful pause…then he whispered… “We were just kids.” We stayed by his side and said nothing. We held the space for his healing. He asked our guide, Dan, a question about an area of names with more recent dates. Dan explained that those are veterans who were assigned to the USS Arizona who survived the day and requested to have their remains returned to the final resting place of their shipmates. This awareness brought more tears. With his final look at the wall, Ed took a deep breath and said… ”There was no place to go – no place!… Nowhere to run!” He shook his head a few times then he fell silent. He was silent for several minutes. I have no doubt he was praying as he again looked at those names. Then I noticed he was shifting his weight and I asked him what he needed. I could see he was going to stand up. He stood and he saluted! Everyone in sight, men and women alike, broke composure and the tears flowed.

When he was ready, Ed looked at me and I knew it was time to move on. As we headed back toward the boat, we stopped along the railing to see the actual ship through the water below us. Ed struggled to stand up again. He wanted to see everything possible. The visitors were incredibly generous and gracious to Ed. He wanted for nothing! Our Guide never left our side and gave Ed his undivided attention. He let Ed take his time at every view, at every sign, and every display. Ed read everything he saw and he asked dozens of questions of our guide. As the museum began closing, we began moving towards the exit. We weren’t ready. We were hungry and tired…but we weren’t ready to walk away. When we did, it was with the exhilaration of knowing each of us were deeply affected by this life changing day.

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ED’S RETURN TO PEARL HARBOR pt 1

imageRETURN TO PEARL HARBOR Pt 1
I stared at the text… “Do you want to do an Honor Flight to take a Pearl Harbor Survivor back to Pearl Harbor”? I was somewhat confused. Yes, I am an Honor Flight nurse, but we take veterans to Washington D.C. to see their memorials. It’s a VERY long day starting at 3am and ending near midnight and we keep going all day! Pearl Harbor can’t be a day trip. So that would mean an overnight, right?  Hawaii?  Pearl Harbor?  A survivor?  After a few texts for clarification I was all in! The trip was scheduled and we were off to Hawaii. We landed to a surprise celebration in the Honolulu Airport welcoming Ed, a 96 year old survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor. We traveled to Hickem Air Force Base to rest up for the Pearl Harbor tour the next day.

I thought we were ready… Honor Flight Dayton was good prep… The veterans are always treated like celebrities in Washington. But those Honor Flight trips are a huge group of veterans. We were bringing just one! Ed and his Guardian and me, the nurse. We didn’t really know what to expect. We just knew it would be a very emotionally charged and potentially healing experience for him. We also knew, as empathic as we both were, it would be very emotional for us to witness.

Ed had been assigned to the original USS Preble.  It was in dry dock that day.  It wasn’t with the other US ships that were bombed.  Ed remembers it was a Sunday morning.  They were supposed to be able to sleep in that day.  And that’s what he was doing.  He was awakened by the explosions.  He remembers running outside the barracks to see what was happening and then realized the whole of Pearl Harbor was under attack.  He remembers the planes coming in so low you could see the faces of of the pilots.  And he remembers running for cover…. and finding none!  He says, “I’m not sure how any of us survived.  But here I am.”

When we arrived at the parking lot we were greeted by security and given the special parking space. I touched Ed on the arm and pointed up to where the sign was. When Ed saw the sign he said, “OOOH BOY!… (long pause) I don’t know if I can do this… Maybe I should just go back home!” He struggled to maintain his composure so we just sat there for a few moments. When he was ready, we left the vehicle and began a life altering journey.

His Guardian, Terri, had planned the tour for today. But we couldn’t have known to plan for the response of the visitors at the museum today! As soon as we came up the sidewalk toward the entrance, Ed was an instant celebrity. People saw his hat and gasped! They would turn to their family or friends and point to Ed. You could see their emotions in their expressions. Some were honored to shake Ed’s hand and express their gratitude for his history at Pearl Harbor. Others broke into tears and though they tried to express their feelings were often unable to utter a single word. Still others shared their stories of a family member who served during World War II or who witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor.

As visitors approached, I would step back. This was Ed’s moment… it was about him and his history and it was for him and his healing. This was his experience and it was his opportunity to allow hundreds of others to share their respect and honor for something none of us can ever understand and can only imagine.

Ed was incredibly gracious. He always accepted the hand offered and answered questions as asked. And he was confounded by the attention he received saying “I didn’t do anything”. Yet, he nodded in understanding when I explained, “You represent an entire generation. You represent this (pointing to Pearl Harbor) and only a few can do that now. You allow us to honor the people we didn’t get to meet. You allow us to help people heal!”

When visitors heard that there was an actual Pearl Harbor Survivor on the grounds, they sought him out. People of all ages, nationalities, and their families stepped forward to meet him and have their picture taken with him. At times, and without encouragement, children would come up to him and shake his hand! How did they know? What will they remember of this day? Ed was touched by those moments. At times, while he was engaged in conversation, others would ask me questions about him or tell me their story and their connection to Pearl Harbor. One gentleman had a grandfather who went down with the USS Arizona. A man who served post WWII had never been to the museum but had it on his bucket list. This was his lucky day and he was so thrilled to chat with Ed. Two couples from France were on the grounds. They heard a Survivor was there and they looked for him. When the women found him they were overcome with tears. They were trying to express their gratitude for what our soldiers did for them… they were children but they remember vividly!  The women went to find their husbands and the four of them couldn’t get close enough and struggled to express their true feelings. They kept telling other bystanders “You have no idea…!” Though only one of the four spoke some basic English, there was no mistaking her emotions and her desire to share their gratitude.  I was amazed at their level of awe.

Ed received so much attention it was quite overwhelming for him. But it was also incredibly profound for us to witness. Ed was intensely engaged! He was given priority status at every turn. He received applause and sincere gratitude from so many! If ever you wonder if there is still good in this world… yes, there is!    (The rest of the story is in pt 2)

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ARE YOU FULL?

hqdefaultMany people are surprised to learn the human stomach is supposed to be the size of a human fist. Not just any fist, though. That particular human’s fist. Regardless of age, height, or bone structure, the human stomach is designed to be only as large as the size of a gently closed fist.

Ever wonder why a newborn is only able to take in 2 ounces at a time? Gently close up their hand and notice… that is the size of their stomach. They simply cannot hold much volume. Thus, they take in a few ounces at a time and when the body has properly digested and used or stored the calories taken in, the body will signal it’s need for more when its ready. That signal is… hunger. When an infant has taken in more volume than the stomach can hold, the body will expel the excess. It’s simple and it’s logical (and messy).

Are you full?” is a question many parents ask their children before they allow them to leave the dinner table. “Finish your food”, is a statement that teaches them to finish a volume of food regardless if they are satiated or not. The parents are unwittingly teaching the children to eat because it is there and they are expected to clean their plate. But what if they are no longer hungry? Why would we encourage them to eat more than they need or want? Why?? From this moment forward, let them leave food on their plate! Next time, give them smaller portions. And if they want another serving later, make it a half serving! And you serve it up for them  Don’t rely on their ability to judge proper portions.

Let’s talk about… portion size.  A dinner plate for a child should be much smaller than that of an adult. So use a smaller plate for children! Control the portions of the food going on that plate and do not be distracted by their cries for more or their wails of  how unfair you are to them. If they are still hungry, then can have more later. But when we know the size of their stomach, we also know they are not physically hungry after they have eaten – they are deceived by the visual effects of the portions or the sight and scent of the food. It is much easier to give the children a few extra bites later, than it is to take away food once they have been condition to larger portion sizes. When I see parents giving their children plates of food the same size as their adult dinner plate, I am horrified. We are setting these children up for a lifetime of overeating.

I understand some parents become weary of their children have 6-8 mini-meals throughout the day. However, that is exactly how the human body was designed to eat. Only when hungry and only enough to satiate the hunger. Many people do not even know what true hunger signals are anymore because they eat for emotional reasons or because the food is readily available and they are enticed by the sights or smells of the food.  If adults ate frequent small meals like little children, there would be happier, healthier people in our culture.

I also understand there are also children who have learned the pattern of saying, “I’m finished” at the dinner table (because that food doesn’t excite them) only to cry “I’m hungry” an hour later in order to have a favored snack. That pattern is more about parental manipulation by a bright child and less about their physical hunger and need to eat for fuel. I do not encourage big meals and snacking. I do however encourage small meals and snacking, if the snack standard in the household is limited to fruits and vegetables.

When we eat more volume than our stomach can hold, the stomach has to stretch to accommodate the volume. An occasional overeating episode will stretch the stomach and we are temporarily uncomfortable (Thanksgiving Dinner perhaps). However, as the food is digested and moved out of the stomach, the stomach will return to its proper size. This process can be slowed significantly when there is a combination of foods that digest at different rates and in different ways. The slower the process of digesting the food, the longer we are uncomfortable, have heartburn or feel bloated.

Chronic overeating (over-stretching) causes the stomach to remain stretched out – similar to over stretched elastic bands. It takes more volume of food to fill a stretched out stomach. More volume means more calories are taken in than the person can utilize thus the body stores the fuel as fat for the famine that never comes. This is the process of gaining weight and it happens fast! For many in our culture, this process leads to obesity, diabetes, and a whole host of illnesses and dis-ease.

It’s simple. Eat too much volume for several meals, the body will adapt by stretching the stomach to accommodate the additional volume. Eat too much volume over a period of time and that stretch will not easily bounce back. That adaptability by the stomach can actually become a problem for us humans. It would be much easier if our adult body would expel the excess like an infant instead of stretching to adapt.

During an episode of “My 600lb Life”, the gastric surgery showed the size of the person’s stomach. It was larger than a football. Imagine trying to keep up with the volume needed for her to feel “full”. She simply couldn’t eat enough! She ate as much volume in one day that a normal sized stomach would have in a week. After speaking with others who have been morbidly obese and lost weight without bypass surgery, they tell me it takes weeks for the stomach to return to it’s normal size. Weeks of portion control – meaning they returned to eating the volume of their gently closed fist rather than trying to get to “full”. When their body realized they were not starving (no famine here), the body began properly adapting again to their new normal. They lost the excess weight and the discomfort and the chronic health conditions!

What about you?  Do you eat to the point of being “full”. Do you encourage family to “fill up”. Can you leave food on your plate? Have you ever tried having smaller meals more frequently? I’d love to hear your experiences.

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THE TASTE OF THE TONGUE

images-9The human body is designed to digest the foods of the planet and use that energy for fuel. The foods of the planet are easily digested, absorbed, and converted to energy. It is not designed to use the body’s energy to digest processed foods. It’s just that simple! Yet, it is processed foods that tickle the taste buds. It is the sweet. It’s the sweet and salty combined. It’s the hidden sugars that tantalize the tongue and leave us wanting more and more. Whether it’s healthy or not doesn’t seem to matter. What matters is the taste on the tongue!

The human body is designed to use food as fuel. Imagine eating as the input valve for the body’s energy source. (Like the gas tank for a car.) We take in food, covert it to energy for immediate use or store it up for later use. The tongue helps us to move the food in our mouth for more efficient chewing and it aides in the process of swallowing. It also has taste buds that help us to discern the basic nature of the food including salty, sour, bitter, spicy, and sweet. In our culture, the sweet has won us over.

The human body is designed to eat only when hungry and only enough to stop the hunger. We were not designed to eat until we are “full”. We have done ourselves a terrible disservice by teaching ourselves and our children to eat until we are full. Maybe that was a condition of centuries ago when famines were feared. But that is no longer a threat for our culture. The illusion that we must eat until we are full has caused an entire population of people to over eat. Over eating stretches the size of the stomach and we have to intake more food quantity to reach “full”. The cycle continues until we have a morbidly obese human with a stomach organ the size of a football instead of the size it was designed to be – the size of our fist. Regardless of your age, height, or bone structure, the size of your stomach is supposed to remain the approximate size of your closed fist.

The human body is designed to eat the foods of the planet. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds all have enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are far more complex than we can fully understand. They work in synchronicity with each other in such a way we cannot duplicate with scientific measures. The foods of the planet were created/designed to fuel the body with energy for activities and to sustain life. Although scientists try to fractionate the elements out of the whole foods to design specialty vitamins or try to genetically alter natures bounty in order to make it “better” – there is nothing better than the whole foods… as nature intended for us.

The human body is designed to digest minimal amounts of meat. Fresh meat that was caught or killed and shared with others… fresh off the bones. If cooked, it was added to vegetables for a stew like meal or eaten by itself in small amounts. The human body was designed to eat more foods from plants and less food from animals. Meat as the main event in our meals does more harm to our bodies than good. We were not designed to handle the processing of meats (or any foods) like we eat today. And it’s literally killing us. Our culture has more dis-ease and chronic illness than any other. The dietary intake of our culture is the primary culprit.

When I think of how our body is designed to eat healthy foods of the planet, I am continually amazed at how often we choose to eat based on taste and taste alone. We live by the taste on the tongue! We will eat with no hunger noted but anticipating the taste of the food in front of us. We have become so addicted to sweet and the need for sugar on our tongue that we are as addicted as any cocaine, heroin, or meth user! The research has shown sugar to be that addictive! And, we allow it to be the front runner in our dietary choices. From coffee based sugary beverages and so-called sports drinks to breakfast cereals and other highly processed products we call “food”… sugar is added! I believe if sugar were discovered today it would be FDA regulated. We know it is a primary factor in deteriorating health conditions like diabetes and all inflammatory diseases. Sugar feeds bacteria, viruses, fungus and cancer cells. Yet, we still choose high sugar foods admitting, “it tastes soooooo good!” It is literally the taste on the tongue… a muscle in the body less than 2x4in.

Take a look at your own food choices. Does the taste of the tongue guide your food choices? Do you follow the SAD diet (Standard American Diet)? Do you seek healthier food choices? Do you recognize food is fuel not just a tantalizing treat for the tongue? Or are you way too fond of the sugary, sweet desserts and snacks? Do you think you might be addicted to sugar? Ponder your food choices this week and then revisit this blog and comment below!

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