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The History of Fatboy – The Formative Years

This entry is part [part not set] of 4 in the series The History of Fatboy

I’ve been “meeting” so many new CFers on Twitter since starting this site and coming to terms after 31 years that I am different. Enough occasions have popped up where 140 characters just doesn’t cut it, nor would 6 tweets strung together into a micro-story. This series is for you, my new readers, new friends, and those who haven’t been around me my whole life. Sit back, relax, and take a walk. This segment isn’t the happiest ever written, nor will the next, but you’ll love the last one – as this one is a great trilogy.

Fatbaby in the incubator after surgeryAny time I’m asked, “do you have any brothers or sisters?” I always take the easy road with a negative answer. While it’s quite true, as you can’t call them up or hang out, it wasn’t always the case. You see, I am the second-born. I was the one with meconium ileus, immediately indicating that something was wrong with me… “better check the first one now” I can only imagine was the thinking of the doctors as it all started to dawn on them around Christmas week 1978 that CF came in a pair.

My sister, Rachel, was born 18 months prior, and was always a thin girl from all accounts and photos. Despite my very, very rough start with my digestion issues, but ended up being quite the porker of a toddler. Not much is said about the end, though I know I spent a LOT of time at my grandparents’ house while she was in and out of the hospital dozens of times in the end, sometimes only being out for a few days at a time. It’s not discussed frankly for several reasons:

  • They say the hardest thing you can do in your life is bury your child. I don’t like making them remember one more time than they have to, so I don’t ask – I only know what I’ve overheard over the years, and that’s how I’ve coped for 31 years. I really can’t afford to go back to my therapist at the moment, so let’s keep it like that.
  • I have only known being an only child in every perceivable aspect of my life other than family photos and a sad mom on St. Patrick’s Day (Rachel’s birthday).
  • I don’t want to think about “the end.” I’ve heard how much suffering she had in her last months, let alone last weeks and days. I simply don’t want to think about that because the way my willpower works over these negative things that can creep into our lives is to deny their existence. Yes, it can happen, but it won’t. It must not happen now.

I have a very unique perspective on life and on death that I have yet to find anyone to understand. Not even my psychologist was able to peel away enough layers of my onion skin to get to any sort of reasoning for it all, but I can try to expand on that after this series, because, face it, it’s the elephant in the room often enough. Man, even having that in here is awkward, but I’ll leave it as a reminder to self to write more later next week.

And then there was one...

I was born in Boulder, Colorado, but we moved to northwest Ohio when I was 9 months old with a job transfer my dad got with his company that put us about 90 minutes from my maternal grandparents and an hour from the Toledo Hospital, which was a CF center. My earliest memory is of my grandpa’s semi truck in our driveway loading up our stuff to move out into the country, and that is where I was from 2 until my 16th birthday. We lived 60 yards from the railroad tracks and 1 mile from my K-12 school on a 1-acre farm. To this day, I can sleep through anything.


I was always the smallest kid in my class, but there was usually one straggler close enough to keep my company, but he was dumb, so I didn’t like him. I had a lot of anger problems as I got older, and I’m not sure we ever figured out why. I was always in trouble with the teachers and getting picked on by the other students, but it just doesn’t make sense looking back on it at this age. I had my friends. I had my enemies.

The only thing that I can think of is that I hated the world; the hand I was dealt. I hated the pills, the gross milk I had to put on my cereal, the endless hours of nebulizers, the countless (and eternally gracious) hours of physical PT when everyone just wanted to go to bed and not be around me. I was tired of the blockages that dragged on for days. I had hate. I know what having a disdain for life is like. Feeling happy still? Okay, let’s move on. Beautiful is already going to be sad reading this, so let’s change the subject.

Once I got out of my funk around the 6th or 7th grade, it seems that this rotten little problem kid was a friggin’ genius. Well, not really, but academics were pushed harder after being proven to be a strong suit. I had always been in the gifted class, but that sure didn’t help any with my image issues. Nerd alert!! From the 6th grade on, I joined and performed full seasons of:

  • football (safety)
  • track (long jump, 100m, 200m, 400m, 4x400m relay… and a mile if I had to)
  • varsity marching/concert/pep band
  • varsity (State-winning) choir
  • varsity (State-bound) golf

Nothing held me back. If I missed school because of IVs, I still got the grades and got back on the links the next week. Thus started the phase of the unstoppable Fatboy. I was finally starting to get popular after being a dork for so many years! Then we moved 1,000 miles to Tampa. The introvert in me exploded. I sat at any table that would have me in the cafeteria and read Grisham, Crichton, or Robin Cook every day. I didn’t care about anyone around me.  There were the rednecks over there, the preps over there, the druggies over there. I didn’t want anything to do with any of them because I didn’t know who I was any more.

I was told early enough in high school that financial arrangements have not been made for me to attend college because I was so darn expensive to have around, but it was still expected of me to get into college on my own. I busted my butt my last 5 semesters of high school (now separated from lifelong friends) and got a fully-paid tuition and books scholarship and acceptance into the Honors Program at the University of South Florida in the Fall of 1997.

To be continued…

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  1. andrea01 says

    There was a whole section where it felt like I told you what to write: the anger section. I also had a kind serious “I hate the world” phase right around the time you did.

  2. Thanks for stopping by. I think there's a significant portion of the CF
    community that never gets over that, but I don't think they last as long as
    those who get over it and make something of themselves.

  3. How old was your sister when she passed? I look forward to hearing more about of your story……

  4. Just over 4yrs. Thanks, Jacky.

  5. How old was your sister when she passed? I look forward to hearing more about of your story……

  6. Just over 4yrs. Thanks, Jacky.