Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fat? Am I, Really?

I joined the Air Force the first time as a Cadet at the Air Force Academy, Class of 1968, in June, 1964. I weighted 188 pounds the day I joined. After six months of being run ragged, underfed, overworked, and sick, I left the Air Force Academy after a three-week hospital stay at 189 pounds, in December, 1964.

I re-joined the Air Force as an enlisted E-2 in June, 1965. At that time, I'd been working for six months at a valve plant, hauling around boxes of IBM punch cards and other supplies weighing up to 200 pounds. I weighed 214 pounds. By the end of basic training, I weighted 212 pounds, and stayed at that weight until a major illness peeled the weight off of me in 1968, and I ended up barely functioning at 177 pounds. I regained most of the weight, and fluctuated between 200 and 210 pounds for the next several years.

While my weight hardly fluctuated (except with that bout of illness), the Air Force standards did. So did my height - at the Air Force Academy, and again when I enlised, I was 5'11" tall. At that height, my maximum allowable weight, according to Air Force standards, was 225 pounds. By 1975, my height was measured at 5'10", and my maximul allowable weight was 210 pounds.

I didn't have any problems with weight until around 1980, when the Air Force standards - and my height - were recalculated. I'd shrunk to 5'9 1/2", and my maximum allowable weight was calculated at 194 pounds. Uh, Oh! I was still fluctuating, this time between 195 and 205. Both were above the "high end" of my maximum allowable weight, and at the same time, less than my weight when I entered service.

Things didn't really get bad until the mid-1980's, and another change to standards. By now, my height had shrunk to 5'9", and I had been able to keep my weight down to the 190-195 range. Suddenly, however, my maximum allowable weight was reduced to 189 pounds - the same thing I'd weighed on my discharge from the Air Force Academy at 18 years of age, and after spending three weeks in the hospital for a "closed-head injury" that occurred during a boxing match.

I managed to survive long enough to retire and draw my pension, but it was always touch-and-go. I was placed on the "weight control program" time after time, until I lost down to the then-current maximum weight.

I also began having back problems and other problems, beginning about 1975. While diagnostic techniques have increasingly gotten better, my problems eluded most of the Air Force doctors I saw until about 1988, when I was diagnosed with degenerative problems both with the disks of my spine, and also with other joints of my body. This accounted for my continued loss of height - all the pieces were the same, but many of them were thinner, and a spine that used to be ramrod straight (or else!) at the Academy now leaned both side to side, and back and forth. Knees, elbows, shoulders, neck, feet, and ankles all hurt, if not all the time, far too often to keep track.

Today, after almost 30 years of living in constant frustration, the truth comes out - all those weight statistics are a pile of crap, and mean little or nothing. All those thousands of manhours spent keeping "fit", and below weight standards, all those absurd diets and constant struggles, were based on junk science. Yet even now, the government clings to its biggest absurdity, the "one size fits all" absurdity of "standardized" weights and measures.

Each of us is unique. There are no two people on this Earth that are EXACTLY alike - not even "identical" twins. There are over 30,000 variables in human composition, from broad categories such as "skin color" and eye shade to esoteric chemical analysis of blood, enzymes, glandular secretions, and even bacteria that live inside our bodies. Every day, scientists are learning just how unique each of us are. Yet if you're "x" inches high, you should weigh between "X" and "Y" pounds, your body is supposed to act ONLY "this" way to chemicals and compounds it's exposed to, and we're all supposed to have the same response to medications, vaccinations, and other medical procedures.

I'm old enough and wise enough to know the government creates rules to help the government do whatever it decides are its functions, not what is best for individuals governed. The government recently decided Terri Schiavo should be "allowed" to die, whether it was truly her wish to do so at the moment or not. We've since heard stories of how broadly the acceptance of euthenasia is in both the health industry and government. After my 40-year experience with the government's fraudulent weight policies, I don't want to give it any additional control over my medical treatment, or any other major aspect of my life - certainly not the decision of whether I should be "allowed" to continue living or not!


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