MGU 114 | Being A Geek

 

When things that you don’t quite understand are happening, what do you do? In this episode, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen are joined by Chris DT Gordon as they talk about being a geek and how that can help you survive any situation. Chris shares his journey on how a seemingly innocuous scratch turned into a life and death situation battling a flesh-eating bacteria. Get a feel for Chris’s experience as he digs deeper into his emotional state through it all and why he felt nothing but gratitude despite everything that had happened. Tune in as Jason, Whitney, and Chris get their geek on and expound on the wonders of gratitude.

Listen to the podcast here:

Get Your Geek On: How Being A Geek Can Help You Survive with Chris DT Gordon

One thing that I’ve been meditating on a lot lately is the ability of the human spirit to survive a lot of horrific things in life. I think that during this time of COVID, quarantine, and perhaps having a lot of time at home to sit with my own thoughts and also co-host this show with Whitney, we have gone deep into ruminating on a lot of subjects that are super challenging and confronting, hence, the name of this show. We like to get uncomfortable. We like to dive into things that are scary, weird, uncomfortable, and bizarre. Maybe things that we don’t have answers for. Quite often, we don’t have answers for. In this rumination period, this meditation on all the things that we’re able to survive, especially during this incredibly challenging, confusing time with many questions and few answers.

It’s been a wonderful opportunity to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. In that regard, one of the most uncomfortable things we can experience is when things happen to our bodies that we don’t understand. At this moment, I am going through a bizarre health challenge with my foot. I haven’t been able to quite figure it out yet. I’ve been going for X-rays, CT scans, and therapy visits and I haven’t had a clear answer as to what’s happening with my body. I think it’s a good way to open this episode in terms of when things are happening that we don’t quite understand, we want to get answers for, get control over, or have some certainty.

Certainly, I am throwing this your way, Chris. Your story when we were introduced to you and introduced to who you are. I remember when Whitney and I first learned about you, we were like, “We’ve got to get this guy on the show.” We’re grateful to have this deep conversation with you and talk about your experience with dealing with scary and horrific things, specifically things that we can’t control. Your story is wonderful and I want to dive right into it in terms of your story and battling what you’ve battled in your life.

Also, you have a great sense of humor. I laughed out loud when I was reading your bio.

Was it the Coma Man? He transformed into a Coma Man because that was the first giggle I had. Chris was like, “I transformed into Coma Man.”

That might have been that.

A very subtle transformation.

First of all, there was a comment about Legos. Maybe you remember it because it’s on your website somewhere. You made some little side note about Legos that made me laugh. Don’t you remember either?

I have to look it up. I made many stupid comments that it’s hard for me to track them all.

I’ll look it up while we’re chatting to see what I can find. I remember reading it over. I like the silly sense of humor and jokes. They bring me a lot of joy. I’m also excited for you to talk more about Star Wars too because you and Jason have that in common. That’s come up a number of times on our show so we have to weave that into this conversation too.

We will do it. One of the first things that I cracked up out and I suppose this will paint a good picture of Chris as you get into your story and piggybacking that we’re talking about is when you said that you started to look like a mixture of Walter White and the Discount Deadpool. Please tell us a little bit more because I feel like that’s a good jump-off point visually for people.

For the Walter White part, I am bald and I have a goatee. I sometimes have one of those faces that naturally frown.

Was it like what some people call a resting bitch face for guys? Do men use that term as well or just women?

Maybe an RJF or Resting Jerk Face. Sometimes I have that look upon me and when I put my glasses on, that helps, but then I have the pork pie hat. That seals the deal. For Deadpool, I’m thinking that not all of me is scarred. If you know anything about Deadpool is that he is constantly ravaged by cancer and his healing factor is keeping cancer at bay. I only have about 30% of my body that looks like that. Maybe 20% to 30%. I haven’t measured out my exact skin and divided that by the amount that is skin grafts so I can’t be exact on the percentage, but it’s still not 100% so I have to be a discount. That’s where it comes from. Plus, I always try to draw some connection between myself and comics because I am a major geek as you have alluded to.

We love that about you. I think Jason and I each consider ourselves geeks in our own way. Reflecting back, maybe it was an episode of yours that I listened to when you commented Legos because I was trying to find it on your website. It will be a little treasure hunt for the readers if they go to your podcast and hear about all of your interesting stories. I love it when I clicked on your podcast, it’s called Scar Bearers, but it’s written in a Star Wars font.

I looked it up. I will not get sued by Disney because it is free and available on the internet. I saw a bunch of other people using it. Disney is going to have to go after those people first because I am not the trailblazer here. I thought that by using that type of font, it will show people, “This guy is geeky and I can’t avoid it.” Whenever I do my podcasts, behind me is a poster of an old school Iron Man comic book cover coupled with a picture of the Ninja Turtles with Michaelangelo holding hands with Deadpool.

I’m guessing that you like going to Comic-Con as well or is that too much of a stereotype?

You’re right, but I’ve never been to San Diego Comic-Con. However, I have made it to the Salt Lake Comic-Con, which is now called FanX. I’ve been there on two occasions. On the first occasion, I met Stan Lee and I was dressed up as my brother-in-law’s character from his novel series, Failstate. My brother-in-law is a pastor and is also a speculative Christian science fiction writer. He created this character named Failstate who was a teenage superhero. He wears a black hoodie and because his face is figured, he wears black mesh over his face, black and gray camel pants, army boots, and then black gloves. There’s a picture of me holding my thumb up next to Stan Lee.

Send us that photo so we can put that in the show notes for people to see. Is it on your website somewhere?

That one is not. The picture of me dressed as battle scars, Wolverine, sitting next to Mark Hamill is there.

MGU 114 | Being A Geek

Being A Geek: By looking at the small things in life that you can enjoy, you find that you develop a more intimate sense of gratitude.

 

You have some great stories. Jason and I went to Comic-Con one time in San Diego and it was insane, but the other part of it that blew my mind in hindsight is, Jason, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we go under Matt Groening? We went under his company or something. We had to use fake badges to get in, but it was under Matt’s team. Do you remember the details of that?

A quick backstory, I became acquaintances with his girlfriend at the time, who is now his wife, Agustina. I was doing some work with her, health coaching, and stuff like that. She would randomly start to invite me, for instance, the 300th or 500th episode party for The Simpsons. She would randomly invite me to stuff. She was one of the most adorable and she’s like, “Jason, I have these extra passes. Do you want them?” I was like, “Yes, I’ll take the extra passes.” I’m sly, Matt’s wife Agustina would throw me some passes to some cool events sometimes. I think we have different names on our badges. I don’t think it was our names. I think I was someone else completely. I had been to smaller Comic-Cons in the past like Detroit, Chicago, but the number of people, booths, and panels. By the end of the day, we were wiped out. We were eating Mexican food and we’re like, “That was crazy.”

It’s cool because, at the time, the entire city was taken over by this event. It was tons of people. There were all these exhibits set up. I remember they had one for the Walking Dead and they took over a ballpark or something. They had one for Ender’s Game. They had a huge exhibit for Ender’s Game when that came out. I remember it was incredible. I wonder what events like that will be like moving forward. Will we ever have an experience where we’re that close to people again? It feels too far fetched to believe we will never have that experience again, but curious how long it will take us to start to gather with as many people all in one place. What do you guys think?

It will probably be a couple of years, but once science catches up to the issue and we have some kind of vaccine, we will get back to that. It may not be exactly like that, but if you look historically, at the 1918 pandemic, they were able to get back. They’re roaring in the twenties a couple of years later. You always got to let science work and do its course. Hopefully, people will be smart and do what they need to do to let science figure it out and we’ll be good to get our geek on and ask one of these.

I feel like that’s such a wonderful loop back Chris, to the beginning of this conversation. I’m sure some of the readers are probably like, “What’s with the Deadpool conversation and the superhero talk?” I feel like we’ve teased it, but you bring up science, I think is an interesting way to give the readers more background as to what we’re referring to and what we’re teasing them about. You’re the first person, Chris, that I’ve ever had the pleasure of connecting with. I’ve heard of bacterial infections doing major damage on people’s bodies and flesh-eating bacteria, but spoiler alert, you’re the first person that we’ve ever had the chance to talk about who has survived and thrived through this. Obviously, people can go to your website, but necrotizing fasciitis, is that correct? Is that the scientific term for what you experienced?

Yes, that is it.

This was literally flesh-eating bacteria. I’m going to let you take it from here.

In March 2015, I was helping my wife get our three kids into the van so she could take them to their respective places. My oldest son was going to kindergarten and our twins were going to daycare. My wife is a high school teacher here in town. She drops them off and I stay at home and teach online. I am a middle school, a special education teacher for an online school. I was flying my younger son, Seth, to the garage and we’re going back and forth flying as you do with a two-year-old. My right hand got too close to the garage wall and I scraped my hand on the garage wall. I didn’t think anything of it. I put Seth in the car seat. I kissed everyone goodbye. I went inside the house, cleaned up my hand like I usually do and I went about my day. Three days later, I wake up and I have a huge bump on my elbow. It’s about the size of a lacrosse ball. My wife and I discussed it and I said, “I’ll go into the walk-in clinic here in town.” She said, “Okay.”

I went to the walk-in clinic and the attending doctor looked at it and said, “It looks like it could be bursitis. Why don’t you go home and keep an eye on it and let us know if anything happens?” About ten hours later, my right arm had ballooned up to triple the size of my left. The bump had grown to encompass my right arm and forearm. My right upper arm, the shoulder, and it was starting to work into the chest and back. If you can picture it, I looked like the Incredible Hulk in mid-transformation. At this time, my wife said, “We’re taking you to the emergency room.” I said, “I wasn’t feeling good.” She drove me to the emergency room. They admit me. They immediately started freaking out because my blood pressure had gone to use a technical term wonky. They couldn’t get a good blood pressure reading on me because I had gone into sepsis.

What does that mean? What is sepsis?

Sepsis in layman’s terms is an overreaction of your body to an infection. It pumps a chemical into your bloodstream to fight the infection, but it’s almost like it helps you by almost killing you. People die of sepsis. It’s poisoning you but in an effort to kill the infection. I had gone septic and the infection had thrown off my blood pressure. It had me feeling weird, that is the best way to put it. They kept me overnight and in the morning, the attending doctor at that point had come up to me and said, “Mr. Gordon, this is beyond us. We can do nothing more for you.”

How did you feel about that?

What was your reaction when the doctor said that to you?

First, I’m full of confidence and I said, “I’ll take my medical situation to my own hands.” I then said, “Send me to Mayo Clinic.” For those who don’t know, the Mayo Clinic is world-renowned. It is only two hours away from my house. They load me up into an ambulance and take me to the municipal airport and strapped me to the inside of the airplane because I’m in a gurney. They have me latched onto the side of the cabin and they take off and fly me to Rochester. Meanwhile, my wife is loading up the kids and driving on Highway 14, going East, heading to Rochester. There were two reasons why I said the Mayo Clinic was the place I wanted to go. First, it’s the Mayo Clinic. You don’t send yourself anywhere else if you can pick. Secondly, my in-laws live in Rochester. I knew that my family would have a place to stay. I am sure for no more than 2 or 3 days, this would take to resolve. Spoiler alert, it did not take 2 or 3 days to resolve.

As you’re telling this, I’m thinking of all of the times in my life where something seemingly minor happened and I thought, “I’ll wait it out. It’s probably fine.” It reminds me of two things in particular and I feel lucky as you’re telling this story. I’m sure the readers are also reflecting on their medical experiences. For me, what came up was when I was traveling in Greece, I got scratched by a cat. There are a lot of stray cats in Greece. One scratched me and I had this moment, thinking, “Should I go to the hospital for this?” I look it up and I’m trying to find all the details. I made the decision not to go and I was fine, but hearing your story, I’m thinking, “There are bacteria from cat claws, especially when you don’t know, when walking around a foreign country.

I feel lucky that it completely healed and nothing happened. Also, it reminds me of your story, Jason, when we were in New York City a few years ago. You had what turned out to be gout. I remembered at the time, when the pain first started, you were walking on it. I don’t know exactly what you thought, but you didn’t think it was that big of a deal. The next thing you know, you’re going to the hospital and you’re still dealing with it all this time years later.

It was one of those innocuous things that Chris was alluding to scraping or even you, Whitney, a cat scratcher, scraping yourself on the inside of your garage wall. It seems innocuous and innocent enough, I suppose, but the initial foot situation that I’m still dealing with to this day, as I spoke with in the beginning, I thought I had scraped it on the coral. I was going snorkeling in Hawaii and I scraped my foot bad on some coral. Google can be great or Google can feed your fears depending on how you interpret the information. I’m googling bacterial infections from coral and I am like, “People are losing their foot and surfers having to have amputations.” My mind is going to the worst possible scenario. Your situation was the worst possible scenario. By all means, continue the story. You’re at the Mayo Clinic, your family arrives in Rochester with your in-laws, and then what happens when you arrive at the Mayo Clinic?

They admit me to the Mayo Clinic and the doctors quickly diagnosed me with necrotizing fasciitis and decide that they need to operate right away. They get me on the fast track to operation. Before they do, they started giving me pain killers. Do you remember in Dr. Strange where Stephen gets sent on the Magical Mystery Tour by The Ancient One?

It was a psychedelic drug trip.

Imagine being on a crazy acid trip in the convenience of your own wheelchair.

Think of all the small, seemingly insignificant things in your life that you appreciate and be grateful for them. Click To Tweet

That sounds cool.

My head starting to list back and forth and the doctor sat me down. He’s going through this speech, I’m sure he’s given more than once, about what’s going to happen. I’m sure he’s ready for me to start crying to start being scared. I do my best to flip that. Not intentionally, but I am someone who, if you give me the facts, you tell me how it is, I’m going to take it and do my best. With my head listing back and forth, my eyes barely open. I’d say something to the effect of, “Let’s do this.” It’s funny to see a surgeon subtly freak out because his reaction was one of the subtle surprised. He was not used to people reacting that way, but I was thinking subconsciously, if I’m going to die, I have nothing else to do than the surgery. If I want to live, I should be a cheerleader for it. That’s the last thing I remember for five days.

To this day, don’t you even know what happened in those five days?

I was in a coma. They had put me in a coma because they had a number of debriefed surgeries and skin graft, harvesting surgeries. Basically, in a sense, they had to filet me. They had to remove the infected skin and then cover that up. During the second surgery, they had told my wife, Becky, that they would have to remove my right arm. It wasn’t, “We might be able to save the arm.” It was, “We’re taking the arm,” but thankfully, the occupational therapist who was in attendance saw that I still had hand function. She urged them to help me not take the arm, but there was such an infection in my right hand. It had gone deep that had affected some artery. They took a 15 inch by 4-inch flap of skin from my left thigh and placed it on my right forearm and hand. Since I had my thigh on my hand, I call it my thand.

I’m awaiting copyright on that. I am going to copyright pending, but that left me with a huge gaping hole in my left thigh. I’m a runner and runners tend to have rather large thighs because of muscles. The wound was big that it could not close naturally. They had to not only install knobs on either side of the wound and Jacob’s ladder-type formation, like shoelaces inside the wound to tighten it up. They also had to take out my vastus lateralis, which is one of the quad muscles in my left leg. I have a thand on my right arm and tri in my left leg.

To go back quickly though, Chris, before we continue, how is it that they’re able to filet you and through all these procedures, stop the bacteria from spreading throughout other parts of your body? Was it a combination of extremely aggressive antibiotics plus these surgical procedures? How exactly did they stop it from continuing to spread?

They had the antibiotics, but they also use the method of cutting in front of the infection. They treated it like a forest fire. Do you know how they do a control burn for forest fires? They did the same thing for me. They plotted out where the infection was. They went a little further ahead and that’s where they cut. That way, they can ensure that they captured the entire infection.

This is over the course of the whole five days or is this the first day and you were out in a coma the rest of the four days and nothing else was being done? What was the arc of those five days for you? I know you don’t remember, but was it a structured thing where every single day they did a little bit more? Did they knock it all out on the first day and let you be in a coma for the other four days?

They spent 2 or 3 days with the debridement processes. They started the skin graft surgeries for the balance of the coma. I should mention that with the thand, since they were taking a large flap of skin from one part of my body and place it on another, they had to make sure that blood flow was occurring in that thand. They had to hook up a special wound vac to make sure that that was clear and there’s nothing getting in there. They also had to take daily heart rate readings. They had to make sure that I was getting a pulse. They were taking a pulse on my right arm to make sure that there was blood flow and they would do it the same way you would for an ultrasound.

What was your experience waking up from a coma? What was your first thought? What went through your mind when you woke up from that?

“Why was I at the bottom of this water slide and why am I throwing up green liquid?”

What made you think of a water slide?

There was so much green liquid coming out of me because of the CT fluid they used to take pictures that I literally thought I was at the bottom of a water slide. I was covered by this stuff. I’m sure, from the outside observer, it looked like they were filming Exorcist Four, but I had all this stuff coming out of me. I was confused. I was angry because I had no idea what was going on. My brother who had flown in from Muskegon, Michigan almost left because he doesn’t like dealing with me when I’m angry, much less angry waking up from a coma.

Did you feel angry as in confused and angry, uncomfortable anger? What type of anger was it?

When I woke up, I asked, “Why am I throwing up? Why am I in this situation?” It took me a little while to settle down, but eventually, I did. I don’t know if I apologized to that nurse I upset. I don’t remember.

How about your wife? What’s going on for her? What was her experience for that five days of you being in a coma?

I will be spending the rest of my life trying to make up for that because apparently, it was somewhat stressful. I am speaking in a state of an understatement. My brother had flown in from Michigan to help Becky out with the kids and also to prepare for the worst. At one point, I had less than a 30% chance of survival.

Why was that? How did they determine that? How far into that five days were they thinking this?

I don’t exactly remember when they thought it was 30%. I think it was during the first couple of days because the infection had gone basically to the base of my neck. It also was creeping into my chest. They had to take a nipple off.

They had to remove a nipple completely.

MGU 114 | Being A Geek

Being A Geek: Your whole sphere of existence is all about what you like and dislike. If you like more things than you dislike, then you’re doing pretty well.

 

Yes, my chest is constantly blinking. It had gone deep into the middle of my chest, in the middle of my back. I guess not deep in terms of depth inside my body, but if you count the outside of your shoulder, being the outside you move inward, it had gone inward into my body. The right half of my body, I look like a Discount Deadpool. I look like I could be on the Walking Dead. There were some times where it was not looking good. She had moments where she cried. My brother, as well as crying, and they were there at the comfort of each other. Eventually, I was able to make it through and wake up, spewing green liquid.

How long was the recovery period from this? How soon did you get back to running? That is my bigger question because, on your website, you have all these photos of you being active and positive. There’s a photo of you where I think you were running out of the hospital. Was that taken on that same trip or a separate trip?

That was the day I was discharged.

You have this grin on your face and you’re in a running stance right up on your discharge day. That’s incredible. You had this burning desire to kick some butt. You were in a coma for five days. How long were you in the hospital the whole stretch of time?

I was in the hospital for 65 days, just over nine weeks. Before I forget, those running shoes I was wearing, I ordered in the hospital as a motivation to get back to running. After I woke up, I started settling down and there were some more surgeries that I had to go under for. Basically, skin graft, harvesting surgeries and the like, and a couple of dressing surgeries. The first couple of times, they dressed my wounds. They had dressing changes and I had to be put on, but eventually, once my skin graft started to heal, they were doing the dressing changes in my hospital room. Aside from that, they also sent me to another hospital within the Mayo Clinic system for hyperbaric oxygen treatment, which is where they put you in a big room, they pump pure oxygen into the room and also into the helmet they have you put on that makes you look like Mr. Freeze.

What is the purpose of saturating you in that kind of hyper oxygenated environment? What does that do to the healing process for your body?

It exacerbates it. It speeds it up. It accelerates the healing process. What they would do is take me by ambulance from St. Mary’s Hospital, which is the name of the hospital I was in to Methodist Hospital, which is a few blocks away. They’ll wheel me in and they get me checked in. After a few minutes of waiting and taking my name and going through the rigor protocol for safety, they would wheel me into the big room. It was the size of a bus. I had two main sections with a bathroom in the middle. They had La-Z-Boys all throughout the area. It is two 45-minute sessions. Usually, I would take a nap. I’m not sure if you know anything about the healing process, but when you almost die and you have been fileted, it takes a lot out of you. Naps are nice I found out. That’s a great place to nap and slurp down some cranberry juice, which I had a craving for apparently in the hospital. I did that for fifteen sessions.

I’ve never done hyperbaric oxygen. Whitney and I are such fans of wellness, health, and healing. One of the big reasons that we do this show, but in all kinds of alternative healing modalities, Whitney, I’ve never done an oxygen chamber. Have you ever done that before?

Who hasn’t done one, Jason? It has not something that has crossed my mind. I haven’t even done cryotherapy yet. I’m a little behind myself.

Is it something Chris that you were motivated to get a personal oxygen chamber for the house? I knew that they do sell those. There are a couple of acquaintances of ours that have personal pods, hyperbaric oxygen pods. Was that something you at all considered like, “We need to get one for the house,” or was it strictly relegated to that part of your healing process?

During one of my hallucinations, I thought about selling my spleen, but not before dipping in pure gold.

Is that how much the oxygen chambers are?

They are expensive but a solid gold spleen will help get you on your way to having your own oxygen chamber.

There’s a black market on the internet for anything even gold-plated organs, gold-dipped organs. When you’re in your rehab process and when you are able to start moving your body again in your discharge day, what was the process in terms of PT and getting mobility back? I suppose going from a quadriceps to triceps and your leg, what was it like relearning your body? Your body is different. It’s a new body. What was that like for you? Was it frustrating? Was it scary? Were you fully determined? Not just the physical part of that, but what was the emotional part of that for you with the therapy afterward?

I was in physical therapy up until roughly Thanksgiving. What had happened was, after I was discharged, I experienced three more weeks of therapy where a nurse would come to my house. The first ten days, we were at my in-law’s house. My dad drove me back home here to New Ulm. I finished out the balance of the days with my home medical center, but the nurses would clean out with dressing the wounds, and then a PT would come by and run me through some exercises. After three weeks, I would either run, drive or bike to the medical center to finish up PT. As I found out, the more warmed up the skin grafts are, the more pliable they are, the more malleable. They’re easier to work out and get more flexibility out of them once I biked or I ran.

On the last day of my home therapy, I signed off on it. Their nurse left the driveway, and then I ran and grabbed those shoes. I ordered from the hospital. I put them on and I ran out the door. I headed to the office of our insurance agent, where a friend of mine was working. She had gone through some health issues as well while I was in the mail. I went to see her and then I headed back and I remember this as clear as day, my watch informed me that I had around a mile and I said, “Fudge,” but not fudge. I gasped for breath thinking I was going to die. I had forgotten, I had not run a mile in three months. Your body will let you know if you have not run a mile in three months, but luckily, I was only a block-and-a-half away from home. I stumbled back home and even though, I was feeling utter crap, I was thankful to get that first mile under my belt because I needed to do that in order to progress. As I say, “The first one is usually the worst one,” and it wasn’t my case.

What’s going through your emotions at this point? Are you like, “This is part of the process?” Are you feeling frustrated with your body? You’re experiencing something, Chris, that I wouldn’t even know the percentages of the human population that go through something like necrotizing fasciitis, but it’s a lot rarer than other maladies we experience as humans. My question is yet, what’s your emotional state with this? Are you like, “God dang my body. Why aren’t you doing what I want you to do?” Are you feeling maybe a higher level of patience? What’s going through your mind and your heart through all this?

There were exactly two times I cried. Once was in the hospital because of the pain and frustration. I was not being able to sleep because of the pain. The pain meds that I had been taking had been lowered so my body was adjusting to that. The second time I cried was when I was at home. It was a night where I was frustrated with how momentarily hard something was, other than that and some momentary situations where I was feeling a lot of pain. I was growling, but I had nothing but gratitude. It was because while I was in that coma, people from all over had stepped up to help me and my family out. A friend of my wife’s from high school set up a GoFundMe account to help out with expenses. As it turned out, I had run out of sick days at my school. That GoFund Me account offset that loss in wages. My colleagues from my online school had stopped by my in-laws to drop off food and toys for my kids.

I had all of this love and support coming to me and my family. It was almost subconscious that if I were to ever get depressed or sad or woe is me, that I would be slapping the face of everyone who stepped up to help us. While there were some times that were tough and difficult, I never wallowed in it because I had survived. Not only was I surviving, but I was able to get back to doing what I had been able to do before and many others had not. In fact, the person before me who had gone into the hospital with NF at Mayo lost their arm and still died. It was always a conscious and unconscious effort of mine to be grateful for what I had and try to practice that every chance I got.

That’s one of the most beautiful lessons that you could have for yourself and to share with others. I’m grateful for you being that reminder. It’s interesting to me how, in general, we still struggle to be grateful for things. For you, Chris, have you always found yourself a grateful person? Did this experience shape that in a different light for you? Did it make it easier for you to be grateful or harder for you to be grateful? Is it an ongoing reminder for you to be grateful? How has your relationship with gratitude changed through this, if any?

Sometimes, it's the big things that go away a lot faster than the small things do. Click To Tweet

It has urged me to become a professional speaker. In these last several years, I have been improving myself, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually. In the last couple of years, I have been trying to think of ways to share this experience with others because I believe that if I had not adopted the attitude of gratitude that I had, my recovery would not be as successful as it is. I feel I’m still recovering, but it’s a lot more gradual than it was in the first year. Starting in January, I’ve been reaching out to places to speak to people, especially students and other groups about how and the attitude of gratitude can not only be used to improve someone’s own life but in turn, they can use it to improve others.

That reminds me of an upcoming episode with a woman named Keisha who has muscular dystrophy. Her story is also incredibly inspiring. After we finished the interview, Jason was reflecting on how she was reminding him to be grateful. Maybe you can expound on that a little Jason as well. Also, I’m curious too, Jason. You’ve had sleepless nights over pain as well. As Chris was talking about this, I remember that night where your gout got so bad. You literally didn’t sleep. You sat in a chair all night and we were traveling. My heart went out to you, Jason, for spending the whole night suffering and not knowing what to do. I think you were crying a lot too if I recall. It was tough to witness that for you. I would love for you to speak on what that experience taught you and also what you’ve been learning with your challenges with gout again.

I’ve noticed that there’s a tendency for myself and maybe other humans that there’s almost an amnesia of what we have survived and what we’ve been through. With particular health challenges, for me, I suppose the frustration of not being able to figure something out or find a solution and have something that persists for years that you’re like, “I’ve got to figure out this puzzle. I haven’t figured it out yet.” I also feel like the pain is almost like a teacher in a way because, during one of my sleepless nights where my foot was in pain, this was interesting psychologically, there were moments that I noticed my foot didn’t hurt.

It’s 3:00 AM and I’m tossing and turning. The painkillers that I am using aren’t working. I remember there were moments that I couldn’t feel any pain. For some reason, something in my brain said, “Focus on those moments.” I had never been able to do this before psychologically, but I was focusing only on the moments where the pain would recede in my foot and I decided to get present to those moments. That’s been interesting to notice that I’ve been practicing instead of focusing on the pain, focusing on the moments when I’m pain-free. I think that’s a mirror too of what we’re talking about, Chris, when you bring up gratitude especially during this COVID period and this quarantine.

A lot of the challenges that I’m facing Whitney is facing, a lot of our friends and family are facing, I suppose, financial loss, a downturn in our investments, or career challenges. There’s a myriad number of things that people are facing now. I think this gratitude practice is important during this time to not focus on so much of the pain, the fear, or the things that are going wrong, but to focus on the blessings and the people that are here to support us. It sounds like you’ve had training with this gratitude practice. I’m curious for Chris and you, Whitney, how gratitude’s playing a role during this uncertain time of COVID?

It feels hard to answer that because frankly, I am not experiencing a lot of physical challenges like the two of you are describing here. I want to bring that up and be transparent because sometimes we get into this comparison trap like, “My situation is not as bad as yours. Who am I to talk about these things?” Perhaps, the readers are feeling that as well. I wanted to bring this up about how everything is relative to us and that’s something that we need to keep in mind because if we get into this whole mindset of, “My situation is better or worse than somebody else,” I think that can affect our ability to feel grateful. There’s a tendency sometimes to either feel inferior in a way like, “I have it easy. I’m going to pretend that I don’t experience anything, any type of challenges,” but as we know, we explore a lot with this show, physical pain can be just as hard or harder than emotional or mental pain and vice-versa as well. That can be a big struggle.

I want to remind the readers that we can learn so much from our individual experiences, but not to discredit our pain, whatever that means for us because it seems like somebody has it harder. In terms of gratitude, for me, I struggle more on the emotional side of things now in my life. I’ve had a few physical challenges, but I’ve never had a broken bone before. I’ve sprained my ankle, I had surgery a few times and that’s it so far in my life. Who knows what life is going to throw my way over time. When I think about gratitude, it’s helpful in moments where I’m facing anxiety, low feelings, or maybe also catching myself not being tuned into how wonderful it is that we are alive. Your story here, Chris, is a great reminder in that sense that at one point you had a 30% chance of survival.

That’s is crazy to think but what’s so interesting about that is you weren’t even conscious at that time. That must’ve been interesting because here you are, describing how you went into this surgery with a positive mindset so much so that you surprised the surgeon. You were at your closest brushed up against death in a way I imagine, unless you’re leaving out another part of your story. I’m assuming that this is the closest you ever got to death, but you weren’t even conscious to experience that. I’m fascinated by that. I haven’t had any close calls with death myself and just being aware of that helps me feel grateful for that of looking back over my life and recognizing like, “I haven’t struggled that much.”

It’s not a comparison game. It’s more of thinking that I’m grateful to be alive now. I’m grateful to be healthy. I’m grateful to be talking to the two of you. I’m grateful to be learning lessons. Sometimes, simply being aware of our privilege and whatever that means for us in our lives is a way to be more grateful versus taking it for granted. That’s part of my point here too. I don’t take for granted my health. I don’t take for granted the fact that I haven’t had any of these challenges that you two are describing, but I could easily take it for granted if I wasn’t paying close attention to my life. That’s a long answer to share with you that whenever I’m feeling my struggle relative to my life. Simply paying attention to all of the wonderful gifts I’ve had in my state of being and recognizing that similar to what you were saying, Chris, the gift of being alive and not being afraid of death because we can’t control it.

Even if it doesn’t loom over us in the time that it did for you, Chris, where you could have never woken up from that coma and you went in with as little fear as you knew how to keep away from your mindset. I think each of us could be brushed up against death at any moment. There are all sorts of freak accidents that could happen to us. We have no idea, no control, and no timeline. We just have to take each breath and moment as a beautiful thing. Having a conversation with people like you, Chris, is a reminder to keep aware of that. It’s super interesting to listen to your story here.

I appreciate that, Whitney. When I think about my gratitude practice, I think about when I started feeling it in the hospital. It wasn’t that I said while I was laying in my gurney, “I’m going to start being grateful.” I started thinking about all the good things I had. It wasn’t a big thing. It wasn’t just, “I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful for my family, for my job, and my colleagues.” By the tone of my voice, I hope you don’t think I’m discounting any of those. I think when we talk about being grateful, we think about “the big things.” I was thinking about how I enjoyed watching the first season of Daredevil on Netflix. I was thinking about how I enjoyed my first of three protein shakes every morning. At the time, I appreciated them. I made it a practice to think of all the small seemingly insignificant things in my life that I appreciated and I liked. If I liked them, I’m grateful for them. I think about the way that the light would not shine into my eyes as the sun went on its daily travels in the sky.

The way that my bed was maneuvered in my room, there was no time in the day where I’m getting blinded because there are some times I couldn’t move. I’m grateful for the rotations of a nurse I got along with was on and she would come in and we would chat about things. I try to impress upon people, especially people during my speaking engagements that by looking at the small things in life that you can enjoy. You find that you develop a more intimate sense of gratitude than if you try to look for all the big things. Sometimes it’s the big things that go away a lot faster than the small things do. By looking at the little things you have in your life, you find that there are a lot of things I have to be grateful for. They may not be huge, sports car, million-dollar home type of things, but there are still things I like. When it comes to your own life, your whole sphere of existence is all about what you like and dislike. If you like more things than you dislike, then you’re doing well.

It’s such a lovely way to put things into perspective because we are often programmed to want all these big things all the time. Jason and I talk a lot about this mentality of what it means to be successful and what it means to be happy. This whole idea of comparing our lives to one another can be detrimental. Part of your point, Chris is lovely because you were going through and you have been through something incredibly challenging that I’m sure affects your life on a daily basis, but it was the small things, like what shows you liked and what foods you enjoyed that have made a difference in your life.

We can never hear that enough because we’re constantly battling with messages of, “You’re not enough. You don’t have enough. You’re not good enough. You need more.” It’s all about to keep striving and to me, when I hear you talking about that, it’s like, “I’m grateful for the coffee I get to drink every day. I love having my coffee and I look forward to it. It brings me so much joy. I love watching my favorite show.” Those moments of when the movie that you’ve been waiting to see finally come out, like all three of us can geek out over the new Star Wars movie. Hopefully, we get another good one.

I am also grateful for those wonderful memories of seeing one of the Star Wars movies for the first time and the excitement that I felt in those times I shared with someone like Jason, of going to the movie theater and the anticipation. That still lives in my body. I can even be grateful for the things that I’ve experienced in the past. Those things, I feel like don’t often get discussed. We move past those things or we could easily. We experienced it and then it’s over. I enjoy that process of being grateful for those past things as much as I am grateful in the present and grateful for the anticipation of the future. I love it when after something happens a day later, a week later, a year later, whatever it is, I can still look back and say, “Wasn’t that amazing? I’m grateful that I got to do that.”

I’m not sure if you know of Brendon Burchard.

We both love Brendon Burchard.

He had a podcast episode where he talked about the past and how one part of it is, you have acceptance of the past and having satisfaction for the things may not be perfect, but they’re good and you’re satisfied with what you’re doing, but you know you can do better. Also, having nostalgia for the past. Everything was not perfect, but you think fondly of the things that were good. By doing that, you can move forward and have more positivity you’re in your life now. I agree.

Here’s my question for both of you, Chris and Whitney, in terms of the specifics or the mechanics of your gratitude practice, have they evolved over time in the sense of some people like to, perhaps during their prayer or meditation time each day, go over a list in their mind or give thanks verbally for the things they’re grateful for other people? I had a gratitude journal that I kept by the side of my bed and right before I would go to bed each night, I would write down the five things that I was grateful for and then why I was grateful for them. I’m curious how that’s evolved for both of you over time, and at this moment, what is the framework or the techniques that you have in your personal gratitude practices?

For a little while, I was using Brendon Burchard’s High-Performance Planner, which is lovely. It is a nice template that you can use each day. One of the things that Brendon has in there and encourages people to do is to reflect on what went well each day. The planner is helpful. Have you used that, Chris? Do you have one of those planners?

MGU 114 | Being A Geek

Being A Geek: Every yes to one thing is a no to everything else.

 

I do. I started a while ago reusing the pages. I went through the entire planner and then I started using a different writing utensil to reuse the pages.

That’s smart and eco-friendly too.

I made copies of the last couple of pages. If I ever wanted to print them out and make my own, I could. Hopefully, Brendon doesn’t sue me. Yes, I have used it.

In terms of what you guys are doing, do you incorporate meditation, prayer or any kind of verbal gratitude practice? Is it more of a thing that you recite inwardly or is it the journal? Is there anything that’s an addendum to that?

Since I’m constantly looking for speaking engagements and I’m working on my own program based on gratitude, I’m constantly thinking about the concept. Sometimes when I am working on something, especially on the program or my speech, I take a quick assessment, “What do I like around here?” I like how the earbuds that my wife got me quickly connect to my phone and how the little pod they come in, charges them up without me having to plug it in. I routinely take account of all the little things I like at a moment’s notice. My family and I commonly pray at dinner and other special occasions, but it’s more of an ongoing practice throughout the day. It is fluid, but when I do use planners that have prompts like that, I use them and try to fill them up as much as I can.

I find that conversations like this are helpful with me staying aware of things like that because it’s easy to slip into going through life and going through the motions or not taking that moment to pause. I find that yoga is helpful for me too. I see it as a moving meditation and there are many meditative elements of it. It’s all about focusing on yourself for that period of time and working on your physical, emotional, and mental state. Having a regular yoga practice is helpful. Taking walks can also be a moving meditation. I listened to a lot of different audio tracks, whether it’s music, meditation guides, sounds like binaural beats or certain frequent sound frequencies that you can listen to. Those are all put on my headphone when I’m working, reading, meditating or sleeping.

Those helped me as well because they calm my whole body down and allow me to be more present and calm, relaxed. Simply through the process of that. I think it tunes me into that awareness and I can become more present. That helps me do things stay grateful. I also find in moments when I’m feeling tense. If I can breathe through it and use that amazing practice of breathwork, then I’ll feel more joy and positivity. That will often help me shift.

Sometimes it’s the polarizing effect of feeling angry about something, can I shift that into feeling grateful instead? Feeling sad about something, can I shift this into gratitude? Noticing those intense emotions, oftentimes, the opposite or the solution to them is gratitude. I’ve trained myself over time to do my best to get grateful during any moments of struggle. What about you, Jason? I know you certainly have some practices. Do you feel like you struggled with this lately? Is that why you bring it up?

I feel like it’s a combination of both. We talk about the past. I live too much in the past in terms of being punitive or unkind to myself. This is probably still one of the biggest struggles in my life is I tend to beat myself up way too much over things. I’m hard on myself. When I am being hard on myself and I’m living to say in past regret, “I should have saved more money. I should have been better about my finances or planning for a crazy pandemic or disaster.” I’d beat myself up over not being more prepared. It’s hard to find gratitude in those moments. When I try and forecast the future, I think about, “What am I going to do with my house? What happens if my money runs out?” I project too much fear into the future. It’s like, “If I’m living in regrets of the past or fear of the future, I’m not grateful.”

One thing that I’ve been doing to put myself in the present is piggybacking on what you were saying, Chris, about the small things, not the big grandiose things of my house, my car, my family, my relationship, all that, but bathing and clean water. There are times when I’m in the shower and I’ve been practicing this. I think to myself, “I get to bathe in clean water every single day, as many times as I want.” I only take one shower a day. It’s not like I’m in there five times a day, but if I wanted to, I could take five showers a day. That’s an incredible blessing. The fact that I get to have healthy food every day, that I drink clean water, that I have amazing companion animals and my girlfriend and great friends like Whitney and wonderful new friends, like you, Chris, to connect with. Those seemingly innocuous things that I could take for granted and have taken for granted when I’m present to those things like, “I get to shower.”

The regrets of the past or the fears of projection to the future don’t exist in those moments because I’m feeling so much gratitude. There are times where I will cry in the shower, not because I’m upset, but because I’m happy that I get to clean my body every day. Those are the moments that I’ve been practicing more. Those simple things you were talking about, Chris, of like, “I’m in the shower crying because I’m happy I get to bathe myself,” but there is no pain in those moments. There are just absolute joy and thankfulness for the blessings I already have.

To piggyback on what you said, it’s great that you were able to find that joy in something that we could take for granted here in the United States, especially. We think about, “I need to take a shower.” We never think that some other countries may have never even seen a shower or had clean water. Enough clean water to take one shower as you described where you could do it every day or five times a day if that’s how you roll, Jason. I’m not here to judge. Quick though, episode 52, How To Create Happiness from the Brendon Burchard show. It was uploaded on July 21st, 2020.

I can’t wait to listen to that. We aim to make it easy for you to find everything that we discussed. Thanks, Chris.

For me, Chris, to loop it back. I lose my sense of gratitude and that’s one thing that I found difficult. I’m curious, do you have any tips on this as you’re creating a course and some lesson plans as you get out and teach this? I’ve struggled with consistency. I’ll have those moments in the shower, eating a hot meal, or hanging out with my dog, and whatever those moments are of like, while being fully present to the joy in those moments. Lo and behold, I’ll look at the numbers in my bank account or all the projects that were canceled this year. Speaking of speaking, Whitney and I had a lot of speaking appearances lined up at conferences and festivals and things like that this year. I’m curious in terms of consistency if there are any practices to stay the course because I find that I sink into the gratitude and the joy, and then I’ll find evidence in my life and create a story that something’s wrong or it shouldn’t be, then I lose that gratitude and joy. Any tips on staying consistent with it or any practices may be that you want to share with us or the readers on how to do that?

First of all, if you find yourself ruminating on the negative, like for example, those events that were canceled, flip it around. Instead of looking at, “I can’t go to that event now,” think about, “This allows me the opportunity to do X,” “I don’t have to spend that much money on travel. I could go with my girlfriend or boyfriend or whomever and do this instead,” or “I can work on this project that I’ve been rumbling around in my head.” By turning it toward the positive and think about the other opportunities that afford you because every yes to one thing is a no to everything else. You can turn those noes that have been thrust upon you and turn them into yeses for something else. For daily practice, you can create your own journal. You can challenge yourself every day to come up with more things to be grateful for. Let’s say, “I found three things to be grateful for. Let’s see if I can find four different things to be grateful for.”

Something I also like to do is thanking people for things they’ve done for me. I find that if you thank someone and you’re specific in explaining why you’re thanking them, not only will you make that person’s day probably. Especially in retail, but thanking someone for the hard work they’re doing in retail is appreciated, I found that for the most part. Also, it makes you feel better and this may sound selfish, but you’re thinking, ”I made that person feel better. I’m a better person for doing that.” That then gives you something else to be appreciative of like, “I made someone’s day. That’s a good thing.”

I appreciate you sharing those tips. I do want to talk about one topic that Whitney and I have covered here and want to sink into this with you, Chris. To loop back to the origin of this before you contracted the necrotizing fasciitis, have you had to work through any sort of residue of fear? I’m putting myself in your shoes because I’m an empathetic person in that way. I imagine after you scraped yourself on something in your garage, are there any thoughts that, “I have to be extra careful not to scrape my hand on a rusty nail, step on a Thumbtack or a piece of glass in the middle of the road?” What you went through was such a unique, fascinating, and harrowing experience. Is there any fear that you have to work through of like, “I have to be extra careful not to cut myself or hurt myself or step on something?” Has that even been a part of your cosmology or your process of healing from this?

I wouldn’t say fear, but my awareness is raised. The kids know that if they ever get a cut or a scrape, dad is the first person they go to because I’m diligent about cleaning it out and making sure that it’s bandaged up and they’re ready to go. I should mention that the reason why I had contracted NF in the first place from that wound was that there was strep in the area. The exact bacteria I had in my body was called a Group A streptococcus pyogenes or group A strep. I know exactly what had happened. That strep had gone into my cut. Having that knowledge makes it a lot easier for me to handle things than if it were like, “I got a paper cut and my arm blew up.” Having that knowledge dissipates fear. I am not someone prone to anxiety or feeling overly fearful about situations. I was slalom skiing behind my brother’s boat. I’m going to be on a high ropes course with a friend of mine. I consistently take my students rock climbing every year. I am not someone prone to fear. I am a little more aware of cuts when they come by, but I take care of them and I move on.

That’s nice to hear because I was wondering the same thing, Jason. I’m glad that you brought that up and wondering what your relationship was with your kids. Do you get nervous every time that something happens to them? That brings me back to what I was saying towards the beginning about when I got scratched by that cat. I was like, “Was I a little too nonchalant about it?” I certainly was nervous at that moment and I hear your story, Chris. Towards the beginning, I’m thinking, this can make us feel scared. This is relatable with COVID in a way because some people feel afraid to go anywhere or see anybody. It’s like, you could contract COVID at any moment if you happen to touch the wrong thing at the wrong time.

That’s a hard way to live life and hearing your story in the beginning, it feels innocent. It is your own home, you scraped up against something. I’m glad that you gave us that context of what was going on. It’s about finding that balance though as you should be careful, but not too careful. You can’t live your life fearful all the time. Going back to your point about not being afraid of death of that’s what happened to you because it’s not within your control. I’m curious, has any of this impacted your relationship with COVID in terms there’s so much fear around getting sick and all the risks? What have you been thinking about that? How have you been handling it mentally?

If you find yourself ruminating on the negative, flip it around. Click To Tweet

I feel that my experience with NF has set me up for success in dealing with this whole pandemic because I know what it’s like to be quarantined. I know what it’s like to be sectioned off from my family and kept indoors for weeks at a time. That mental toughness has helped me deal with having to put on a mask to go into a store or having to stay home from an event that I wanted to do because there were things I wanted to do when I was recovering in the hospital, but I couldn’t do them. I thought, “I’ll look forward to the next time.” I feel that while I probably wouldn’t want to relive the whole experience of being in the hospital, almost dying and being filleted like a fish, I am happy for the mindset that it has given me going forward.

I love that. All jokes aside, I also feel like you’re the type of guy that’s like, “If I have to go through this again, I have to go through this again.” That’s admirable as well as you seem to be taking life in stride in an inspiring way. It’s no surprise that this is turning into a motivational speaker career for you. I think that you have a helpful message to share as that ongoing reminder for others, using yourself as an example, and helping people understand that they may not go through what you went through, but they can still learn from your lessons and apply them to their lives. Thank you for sharing that with us. It’s been super interesting and I love the way that you speak about it in a fun way.

You make it less scary and that’s important too, especially for anybody with kids. You’re a teacher and a father. I have one more question for you, Chris, I’m curious, did you become a teacher as a result of your childlike wonder that you have? Is it part of being a parent that shaped that? It sounds like you’ve been teaching online for a long time so if you have anything to share about online teaching and your perspective about the school system, I’m curious about that too because it’s a challenging subject matter. A lot of people are struggling to understand how to be a good parent during COVID in tough times like this and deciding what to do and with the school system with online teaching or going back in person to classes. Anything that you want to share about those subject matters. I would love to hear.

I became a teacher because adults suck. When I finally decided that, I was going to be a teacher, I told my old music band teacher that I had in 7th and 8th grade. That’s exactly what she says. She goes, “Chris, you’re going to be a good teacher. Teaching is great because working with the kids is awesome and adults suck.” I always think of that, but I always think that I feel I’ve always had a good way of relating to kids. Being a pop culture geek helps because I use Minecraft in my social skills sessions with my students who have autism and other social skill deficits. I am surrounded by Transformers because my son and I have gotten into Transformers. I’ve always been into Transformers, but we have gotten into it lately. Having that fascination with objects of the imagination makes it easy for me to relate to kids.

Regarding online teaching, I’ve been online teaching for years. I have my twins to thank for that because I had been teaching in a school district that was 50 miles away. At that time, my wife and I had one kid. When we found out that we had twins on the way, I started looking for other jobs. I was sad because I liked where I was teaching. At the same time, I also wanted to live with a happy wife, and being gone two hours a day for the drive alone was not conducive to that. I eventually found a teaching job in the only public and unionized online school in Minnesota, it’s called Minnesota Virtual Academy.

My outlook on online teaching is a little different than what everyone else is seeing because our curriculum is made for online teaching. We may occasionally have books that align with the curriculum, but the curriculum is made for online delivery. We have systems in place that make it optimal for us to teach in this regard. I wish I could help out teachers who are in the traditional setting who have to teach online in terms of curriculum delivery, but I don’t know what their curricula look like. It’s hard for me to offer some concrete support. I will say though, that in order to teach online, you need to be a self-sufficient structured person.

If you’re someone who depends on other people telling you what to do all the time and people keeping you on the straight and narrow, you were going to struggle. Every day is going to be torturous for you because you’re going to have to fight those demons of jumping online to check your social media or doing the laundry or doing dishes. You need to have some self-sufficiency within you and some discipline in order to be a successful online teacher. If you’re someone who struggles with that, I would take this next 3, 4 weeks, depending on what school district you’re in and work on some ways you could start developing some discipline in that area. It was one area and then work from there because it’s tough not having someone to keep an eye on you, keep tabs on you when you’re at home, especially with your kids. Kids are a distraction. If it weren’t for kids, teaching would be easy. They make it worth it though.

It sounds like you were prepared for this work at home, stay at home quarantine period. It reminds me of one of my favorite villains, Bane. Where you’re like, you sell the quarantine like, “I was born in it, molded by it.” It’s wonderful, Chris, because you’re a walking example, an embodiment of resilience, acceptance, faith and accountability. There are many life lessons you shared with us. As Whitney mentioned, you have such a light heart. You have such a joyful nature about you. You’re a grown man who has survived a lot and continues to thrive, but you also have the inner child very much alive in you. That’s a rare thing to go through life and not let life beat the joy and the childlike nature out of your soul. You have that in spades, which is wonderful.

I appreciate that, Jason. I try to exude that every day, even on the days where I don’t feel 100%, whether I got to sign this thing going on, which I feel like I still do. I had one, but I feel that I have been given a purpose, a mission, and a message. It’s my obligation to share it with as many people as I can because I am blessed and I am fortunate. It’s my honor to share that message.

To the readers, if you’ve been with us the entire time, thank you for digging deep with us as we got to know Chris and his story and everything that he has gone through and offering to the world to that end. Chris, we’re deeply grateful for your presence, your joyfulness, your beautiful spirit, and thanks for getting uncomfortable with us here. I don’t know if it was uncomfortable for you. Maybe it was more uncomfortable for us. Maybe you were comfortable the whole time.

I thought of one question we didn’t ask you, which was what does the DT in your name stand for?

I was thinking of coming up with something witty and sardonic. I’ll tell you that it stands for Daniel Thomas because I was doing a Google search for Chris Gordon as I was starting on the speaking journey. I found out that I am not the only Chris Gordon out there. In fact, there are lots of them out there. My parents didn’t want me to become an assassin so instead of giving me three names, they gave me four. I would use the two middle names to differentiate myself from everyone else.

I thought it was going to be like, instead of the Dark Knight, it will be like Chris Dark Trainer Gordon. Some superhero thing, maybe there’s some acronym in there.

Donatello Turtle.

My favorite was Michelangelo because he was the party dude, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael also had their merits.

I am more of a Raph guy because the Turtles are parodies of the X-Men and Daredevil.

I didn’t know that.

I didn’t think Leo was like Cyclops, Raphael is like Wolverine. Mikey is like Ice Man. Donnie is like Beast. Think about from the day from the Daredevil point of view, who is their mentor?

Their mentor is a Splinter.

Daredevil’s mentor was Stick. Daredevil fought The Hand. Who do the Turtles fight?

MGU 114 | Being A Geek

Being A Geek: Having that knowledge dissipates the fear.

 

They fought the Shredder.

What clan?

The Foot. What about April?

I think she was the stand-in for Jean Grey because they’re both redheads, but it was more along the lines that Eastman and Laird saw. This is 1984 and the X-Men and Daredevil were everything. Frank Miller was on his huge Daredevil run and Chris Claremont was having his epic X-Men runs. They decided to capitalize on that by turning it a little bit into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

This is meta deep down the well geekery. I love it, Chris, because I’ve never thought of this before. You’ve given me even more food for thought to munch on.

Speaking of munching, how do you explain their obsession with pizza?

Toys because they drank beer in the original comics. In fact, there’s one scene in the original run where Raph asks for a beer when they visit April’s apartment. They drank beer, but when the cartoon came out, they can’t have Teenage Turtles drinking beer for a cartoon in the eight-year-olds. Not only did they make the pizza because also pizza, but it can also be monetized, like Pizza Hut. They also color-coded the Turtles. In the original comic, which was first black and white, but when they colorized them, all the Turtles’ bandanas were red. It’s only during the cartoon where they decided to give them different colors.

Lastly, how do you feel about the live-action versions? There’s the one from the early ‘90s, which I think we all probably share some nostalgia for that, especially with Vanilla Ice.  

I have cast that away from my memory. I don’t like that. First of all, that song is horrid.

When I was little, I guess it all depends on how old you were at the time, I look back fondly on that song. I’m not saying it was a great song, but it was a fond memory.

If you remember in the second movie, they never used their weapons. Enough parent groups got all upset because they were using swords and sticks that they couldn’t use their weapons in the second movie.

They did a newer version with Megan Fox?

Megan Fox as April O’Neil. I have never watched those. I treat them as the new Transformer movies. I will never watch those.

It’s an unpopular opinion, but I got to say, I’m OG with the Transformers that I have not enjoyed the new Michael Bay series. I’m right there with you on that.

I have heard though that Bumblebee is good and seeing the trailers, not from Bumblebee so much, but they go back for the Generation 1 design for Optimus. I do want to watch that eventually, but I would never forgive myself as a parent if I willingly showed my children those movies.

You’re a good man, Chris.

Thank you.

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About Chris DT Gordon

MGU 114 | Being A GeekChris DT Gordon is a faithful husband, father of three, online middle school special education teacher, runner, Tae Kwon Do student, and pop culture geek. He is also a survivor of necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria) who uses his story and message to inspire others to adopt The Attitude of Gratitude and positively affect their lives.

 

 

 

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