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The Red Wristband

(From July 2016 – Edited February 2018)

We’re not supposed to like things. Things are, well, shallow.

But sometimes, things do bring us comfort. It might be a nice car or a beautiful house. Maybe it’s your favorite coffee mug or a pair of jeans. It could be a red wristband.


My bone graft went well – a portion of my jaw known as the alveolar process was getting replaced. It turned out to be more daunting than anticipated. My first bone graft, similar to this in another area, was “quick” to quote my wife. She wasn’t in the chair. But yes, the first one was easier.

This one, taking 90 minutes, not so much. Your head is below your feet pretty much the entire time. For much of the time, I felt as though the roof of my mouth was split in two. I seriously contemplated getting up and leaving, but I thought, “what then?”. The pressure and difficulty breathing normally were quite unexpected. There’s no pain. It’s just weird, uncomfortable.

The procedure ended well. We headed to the local grocery store, Jewel, for drugs. I tried not to focus on how anyone was driving — apparently, I don’t play well with others after surgery, and this was number 5.

The surgeon, gifted, young and smart did a great job.


“The David”, as he is sometimes called, is my incredibly supportive and very athletic personal trainer.

Like the formidable Muay Thai trainers that I get to train with, Chuck Pilcher and Cory Galloway, “The David” doesn’t yell.

I’ve never heard Cory yell. It’s just a calm — “here’s what you need to work on next.” “Good, good.” “Don’t drop your hand. Yeah, that’s it. You know what your problem is. You need to turn your shoulder over. Work on that.” None of it is ever personal; not even “you know what your problem is.” It’s all factual. No sarcasm; no snide comments. Ever.

They are all extraordinarily patient and gifted.

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Cory Fighting

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Cory and Chuck – Not Fighting

With Chuck, it’s the same thing. “Phase 2,” he said to me one day. He began telling my sparring partner Chris and I about Bruce Lee and removing unnecessary motions from our fighting. “It will make you twice as fast with no extra effort.” Chuck was calm and deliberate, and as always enthusiastic to share this information. “You need to do this,” is the simple directive. You get a morsel every time. All of this all goes well beyond fighting and well into the realm of philosophy. “Cut out what’s not necessary.”

It’s as if he has a great secret that he wants to share with anyone interested.

Chuck doesn’t necessarily look like a philosopher. On the street, he probably doesn’t look too much like a Muay Thai fighter. He is both, and then some. This is a great picture, and he looks older here than he is. It shows his passion for helping others.

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With “The David”, there’s no yelling. It’s quiet and confident. “You can push this weight,” or “yeah, we’re going up.” When I start to weaken after many reps, I hear a quiet, confident “you’re strong.” It gives me that little extra juice. So, I push more weight than I think I can handle and he’s there — he has my back. And so, I’ve made more progress than I thought possible. Everyone does with him.

David works with a number of folks. There’s a group he used to meet with before my session on Saturday mornings.  He had a box of wristbands out for class. I haven’t seen those since the 70s. “Would I like one?” asked David. “What color?”

“I’ll take a red one.” I had a red car at one point; I have a red couch; I have a reddish truck now. Red is a thing. It is a good color. He tossed a red wristband my way.

It was a great gift.


I came back from my bone graft beat up. No pain, but I felt like I was in a heck of a fight.

Despite access to some good drugs that I wouldn’t take and did not need (didn’t need since clearly this surgeon is very gifted) — but, I was beaten down. Tired.

I walked into the kitchen with a sack of drugs and sugar-free chocolate pudding; there was the red wristband on the desk in the kitchen. I put it on. Better than drugs. A little “you’re strong” reminder to give me a little extra juice. This thing brought comfort. The memory of work and the goal of getting back to that work was a comfort.

Working hard is a joy, and brings more than just some increased physical strength.

I was back with “The David” a few days after writing this post (in 2016). We pushed some weight. I don’t remember what we did, and it didn’t really matter. I did what I could. And when I did it, I had my red wristband.

Feature Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

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Red Ribbon Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

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