World Hemophilia Day 2016

Today is Sunday, April 17, 2016. A day like any other… Or, is it? Today is actually a day for remembrance. A day for advocacy. And, a day to raise awareness. Actually, today is a day like no other… Today is World Hemophilia Day.

World Hemophilia Day is an international observance held annually on April 17th by the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH); which is headquartered in Montreal, Canada. The WFH was established back in 1963 by Frank Schnabel. World Hemophilia Day was started in 1989, and April 17th was chosen in honor of Frank Schnabel’s birthday. WFH has member organizations in 113 countries and also has official recognition from the World Health Organization.

Perhaps I’m putting the cart before the horse… For those of you who don’t know what hemophilia is… Hemophilia, Von Willebrand disease, and other bleeding disorders are inherited or mutated problems that affect our ability to coagulate. In other words, if we (I keep saying ‘we’ because I am a hemophiliac) get an internal injury (bruise, muscle injury, joint damage, or other form of trauma), it is impossible (or nearly so) to stop the bleeding. Essentially there is a missing protein in our blood that prevents it from clotting.

Prior to 1967, when plasma replacement products were introduced, we bled until we died or suffered irreparable injuries. Therefore our life expectancy was incredibly low. Once blood products were available to stop the bleeding we were living longer lives. But… Along with this miraculous cure came blood-borne pathogens and viruses like Hepatitis and HIV. These cursed side-effects nearly killed off all hemophiliacs during the 80s and 90s. However, we overcame this plague era and thrived to carry on for future generations.

It is estimated that 1 in every 10,000 people born in the United States have hemophilia. That said, it is also estimated that 1 in 1,000 people in the world have some form of bleeding disorder.

There are two primary types of hemophilia:

  • Hemophilia A is more common and refers to low levels of clotting factor VIII (eight).
  • Hemophilia B is more rare and refers to low levels of clotting factor IX (nine).
  •  

    There are other clotting factor proteins and other issues that can cause excessive bleeding, but Type A and B make up the disorder we call hemophilia. In addition to the types, scientists and doctors have further broken each type into levels of severity (mild, moderate, and severe).

    Along with injuries, many people with bleeding disorders can experience spontaneous bleeding. Spontaneous bleeds occur as the name implies, without a known reason and randomly.

    The most popular treatment for hemophilia involves injecting the missing clotting factor into the bloodstream via needle and syringe. Hemophiliacs and others living with bleeding disorders in the United States have access to powerful medicines that often eliminate the majority of issues that have long plagued bleeders. Unfortunately, there are many countries in the world that have poor (or no) treatment. Many people around the world are left untreated and suffer horrible bleeding episodes.

    The goal of World Hemophilia Day is to raise awareness, increase the availability of treatments, and eventually (hopefully) lead to a cure. On this day, I ask that you remember people with bleeding disorders. This is a special day designated to raise awareness and help people around the world who suffer from bleeding disorders.

    Along with many of my blood brothers and sisters, I work hard to raise awareness by sharing information and links via social media. All day long I will use the HASHTAG “#WorldHemoDay” as I spread awareness. Please join me and help people suffering with bleeding disorders!!! If you do decide to participate in our social media inundation, please include these awesome organizations: @WFHemophilia, @HemophiliaFed, and @NHF_Hemophilia; which are all national and world organizations help advocate for everyone who lives with a bleeding disorder.

    Here is a sample tweet that you can adjust accordingly:

    Today is #WorldHemoDay PLS remember all easy bleeders and visit these orgs: @wfhemophilia @hemophiliafed @NHF_Hemophilia PLS RT

     

    No matter what you do to spread awareness, consider taking a few peaceful minutes to remember our fallen brothers and sisters. They died so that the rest of us can have better service and treatment. They died so that we have better and safer blood products and medicine available. They died for US.

    Thank you for your love and support!

    Your easy bleeding brother,
    Vaughn

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    Bleeding Painful

    My buddy and blood brother, Jeff, recently recommended that I… Well, let me share his words:

    "If you don't mind, Vaughn, I know that a few members would appreciate hearing a little more about your hip bleed, treatment, recovery, etc. A few of our younger bleeder siblings are going through them right now so insight into recovery and management would be welcome."

    It just so happens that I healed and recovered from a pretty major hip bleed in the same way I have recovered from maybe one hundred bleeds over the last forty-eight years. However, I’ve perfected my technique over the last twenty or so years… This blog article will discuss what I did. Before starting, let me tell you what I mean by bleed… As most of you already know, I’m a type A mild hemophiliac. That means that my body does not produce an adequate amount of the clotting protein, factor eight (written factor VIII). Because of this I get bleeds that normally manifest themselves in my joints after an accident during one of my adventures.

    One other thing…

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    Let’s dive into my latest hemophilia experience and how I dealt with it. On June 14th I had an accident on my skateboard while performing a stunt of sorts on a vert wall (think half-pipe). Before you say it… Yes… I know that hemophiliacs shouldn’t ride skateboards. Today’s post isn’t to figure out what’s wrong or right for a crazy hemophiliac to do. Rather, how I handle the agony of defeat.

    During the wreck, I felt each and every one of my forty-eight years… Suffice it to say that it hurt… Bad. I got up, brushed myself off (after laying there for a few minutes), and promptly read my body. It told me that I was having a bleed. You read that write… I read my body. You see, all of us have an innate ability to communicate directly with our bodies. As a hemophiliac this comes in very handy as I can always determine a bleed before going in to the hospital. This is the first part of today’s lesson. As an easy bleeder (person living with a bleeding disorder), you must learn to listen properly to your body.

    This may sound a little crazy, but I also self medicate with deep solitude and meditation. I spend time controlling my breathing and drawing into myself. I use the power of my brain to help with the healing. Crazy as it sounds, I believe it works.

    Step two was RICEFFU; which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate, and Factor the Eff Up! In other words, I got home, laid on my sofa with ice on my hip and gave myself an intravenous injection of factor VIII. I continued this step for eight days, because this was a major bleed. For lesser bleeds I will only dose four days. Experience has taught me that the bad bleeds will slowly leak if I stop after four days… So, I did eight days of RICEFFU.

    The first two steps (recognition and medication) are the most important and must not be skipped if you really want to utilize the full extent of your recovery and produce the best outcome in the shortest amount of time. After decades of doing this part wrong, I now know how to shut a bleed down quickly and with the least amount of problems.

    Step three is an evaluation and extended rest period. At this point, I stop the factor, and stop the RICE. I take about one week and simply rest… No workouts. During this time I also carefully listen to my body and the joint in question. I assess and determine if I’m ready to move to step four; which is where the active recovery begins.

    By the way, it is imperative that you don’t workout or stretch during the initial healing period. PERIOD.

    With my medicine done, and my bleed completely stopped I move on to step four. This step is gently, but physical. I start gently stretching and getting motion into the joint. After about two days of this, and ensuring that the bleed is absolutely done, I throw in hot Epsom baths. That’s right, each day I fill a tub with hot (pretty dang hot) water and pour in Epsom Salts. Remember to never get into a hot bath if you think you are still having any bleeding, as this will only bring your injury back. Along with the hot bath and gentle stretches I do some soft pinpointed massaging.

    Each week I increase the depth and pressure of the stretches and massage. I also keep up the baths. This continues until I feel my range of motion is returning and the pain from the bleed is going away. Sometimes this step can take two weeks, other times it can last two+ months! This last time was in the two+ months category because of how damaging it was.

    Next comes body weight exercises, continued stretching, and baths. I also add my tai chi workout; which really helps on a mental level too.

    After all of these steps, I am ready to begin my real workouts (weight lifting, swimming, bike riding, and running) again. It is important to start out slowly and allow ample rest time. This will also help eliminate some of the pain that you will surely endure after having so much time off from training. Ramp the level of intensity up over a few weeks. Before you know it, you will be back stronger than ever. And, ready for the next bleed! …just kidding-sort of…

    To prove what I’m talking about, I’m going to race 156 miles in the annual Hemophilia Federation of America’s Gears for Good race; which I’ve done every year since its inception. Checkout my page and consider donating to help my worth cause of helping those with hemophilia: The-Talented-Mr-Ripley-2015

    Cheers,
    Rip (no pun intended)

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    World AIDS Day 2014

    Today is World AIDS Day. Look for folks wearing a red ribbon! Speaking of which… Do you know where the red ribbon for AIDS awareness comes from? Way back in good ole 1991, a creative group (made up of photographers, painters, film makers, and costume designers) of twelve people gathered to discuss a new project; a New York arts organization that raises awareness for HIV. After a short brainstorming session, they came up with an idea that later became one of the most recognized symbols of the time – the red ribbon. It is worn to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV and AIDS.

    Since the red ribbon was popularized for AIDS awareness, literally dozens of other colors have appeared, including: pink for breast cancer, yellow for deployed U.S. military forces, white for lung cancer, and so on and so forth. Technically, the yellow ribbon came out more than a century ago and has appeared in several songs and poems. But, the official ribbon stipulation started with the red AIDS ribbon.

    Please take 90 (or more) seconds out of your day today to reflect and remember the millions and millions of people affected and infected by this horrible virus, disease, and/or syndrome.

    As usual, I like to put things into perspective… So, let’s tackle some numbers first. Did you know?

  • It’s estimated that around 40 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Almost 40 million people have died of AIDS worldwide.
  • Each year, around 2 million people die due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.5+ million are newly infected.
  • Although HIV/AIDS affects all regions of the world, almost 97% of those living with it reside in low to middle-income countries (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa).
  • There are more than 16 million orphans due to losing their parents from AIDS!
  • Last, but not least, around 10,000 of those who lost their lives in this horrendous battle were hemophiliacs.
  •  

    I have been living with HIV for around 30 years. Over the years I have asked myself countless times, Why did I survive and others like me didn’t? I believe that I was spared because I am a strong and comfortable speaker. Seriously! I truly believe that I am still here to be an advocate and activist. It is my duty to stand tall and let the world know what is going on. And, potentially to help inspire those living with and dealing with HIV/AIDS. My message is a simple one… “This is not a death sentence, and you can thrive despite having it!”

    You guys might remember a post from last year called, Dum Spiro Somnium. That is my life motto and it essentially means, While I breathe, I dream. In other words, as long as I breathe I will continue to believe in my dream of a world without AIDS. Join my dream, and together we can defeat AIDS!

    My Dream is a World Without AIDS

    If you want to read my story and the journey that I have struggled through, pick up my book Survivor.

    It is our duty to NEVER FORGET and strive to beat this horrific disease!

    As part of my advocacy and message spreading, I started blogging around six years ago. Back on February 13, 2009, I created HIV Longevity, and tried to send inspirational and thought provoking messages, posts, and articles. Since then, I have posted more than 200 articles. Many of these blog articles have been based around HIV, AIDS, and dealing with the horrible problems associated with them. More recently I hibernated the HIV Longevity blog and switched to the Healthy Wealthy Tribe. Primarily I did this because I wanted to reach a broader audience and talk about things outside of HIV and AIDS.

    Since 1 in 100 people are HIV+, almost all of us are affected by this terrible virus. How are you affected by HIV/AIDS?

    This message of hope was sent with love, from my still beating heart (despite the odds).

    Signed,
    the survivor, the advocate, and the inspirational dreamer.

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    HeartRate Zones

    You’ve probably (hopefully) heard about heart rate training zones. And, if you’re into fitness you already know a bit about it. Today’s article will cover this (a little bit) for those of us who are a bit confused or wanting a little more information.

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    Ahhh… Got that disclaimer out of the way, now we can talk about blowing your heart up! hehe.

    For simplicity, many people use the Haskell and Fox Formula for determining their maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR). This method is commonly believed to be the most accurate. There is also the Karvonen Method; which includes the resting heart rate in the formula.

    The Haskell and Fox Formula is simply: MPHR=220-your_age

    That said, I don’t like to use any formula. Everybody has a different sized heart. And, different sized hearts pump blood at different rates. Everybody is at different levels of fitness. And, everyone is.. um.. different! For this reason, in my humble opinion, there is no “real” standard formula to know your true maximum heart rate (hence throwing “predicted” into the title. According to Haskell and Fox my MPHR is 173 beats per minute (BPM). But I know for a fact that my MPHR is at least 182 BPM, because I’ve hit that several times! If you must know your maximum heart rate, check with a cardiologist doctor who specializes in VO2Max (maximal oxygen uptake/intake) stress testing, or a fitness professional who has the proper equipment to measure this for you. Never try to do it on your own, because you could (and probably will) kill yourself!

    Sidenote: One of my pet peeves is when people think that you can push yourself extra hard and momentarily boost your heart rate over your maximum BPM. Let’s dispel that shit right now… It is called maximum because it is the maximum. There is no going over (even for a second) the maximum rate your heart can pump. Otherwise it would be called close to maximum or something along those lines. If you go over your max heart rate, you have now discovered that your previous number was too low and you can replace it with the new value. PERIOD

    Another note: Your MPHR will go down by approximately one beat per year (similar to Haskell and Fox’s guess). So, if you are 184 BPM this year, you will probably be 183 next year… And so on, and so forth.

    Let’s discuss the “zones” for a minute. This is a common heart rate training zone list:
    Zone 1 – 50-60% – Recovery (aerobic)
    Zone 2 – 60-70% – Endurance (aerobic)
    Zone 3 – 70-80% – Stamina (aerobic)
    Zone 4 – 80-90% – Economy (anaerobic)
    Zone 5 – 90-100% – Speed (anaerobic)

    It is scientifically proven that training in certain zones is more beneficial depending on what you’re trying to achieve. I’m not going into deep detail here, because there are tons of books that contain way more information than I could hope to include in a blog article. This is merely an introduction to get your interest piqued.

    Now let’s draw a quick chart that shows a sample of how those zones are associated with heart rates. Since I know my estimated max, we’ll use my values to create our chart:

    HR Zone
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    % of Max
    50-60%
    60-70%
    70-80%
    80-90%
    90-100%
    Heart Rate (BPM)
    91-109
    110-127
    128-146
    146-164
    165-182

    Now that we have laid this handy-dandy chart out, we need to factor one more important piece in to the equations… Everybody has a muscular failure point in exercise commonly called lactic acid threshold or lactate threshold. Essentially this means that your muscles (and ATP) cannot clear the lactic acid that is building up in your muscles. When this threshold is hit, you have a very short amount of time (sometimes seconds) left before you can no longer continue your activity. I’m sure we’ve all felt this threshold at some point in our life. I feel it at least a few times each week! Suffice it to say (without getting to obfuscated) if you go over this limit, you will not be able to continue working at that level for more than a few seconds.

    This threshold appears to be somewhere right around 91.5% of your MPHR. Mine is at 166 BPM. During cardio, you do not want to go over this threshold (unless you are doing advanced high intensity interval training), because you won’t be able to maintain your state of exercise for more than a few seconds before you fall over and lay panting until your heart rate gets down and your muscles clear themselves of the painful acid. However, we often try to get to this point while doing weight lifting and other forms of anaerobic exercise (as opposed to aerobic exercise).

    For more information on heart rate zones you can look for books by Sally Edwards and Joe Friel (among literally hundreds of other great authorities). My absolute favorite is found in The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel. He breaks it down in much more detail and even breaks the fifth zone into three sections (5a, 5b, and 5c).

    I know this was only a cursory glance at this material, but I sincerely hope you found the article informative!

    Now, figure out your zones, design a plan that includes being in one or more of them, and get out there and hit that zone!!!

    -Rip

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    Mother’s Day 2014

    This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. And, it is a time to be grateful for all that your mother has done for you. Make sure that you not only let her know how much you appreciate everything she’s done for you, but also show it by showering her with love.

    Trinity, Xander, and I are going to bring my soul mate and their mother a special breakfast in bed. The kids are soooo excited, and already planning all kinds of fun stuff. This is a great opportunity for daddy to bond and have fun with the kids as well.

    Today I wanted to take a different approach and hit on a special group of moms. I’d like to dedicate this post to hemophiliac moms. All mothers have a very tough job and they determine the outcome of a child’s beliefs and character. I consider this job one of the most important in the world (and toughest!) That said, there is another breed of moms that take it to a whole new level. Mothers who have children with disabilities are on on a whole new plane. These moms not only have everyday normal things to deal with, but they also do regular trips to the doctors, specialists, hospitals, counselors, and treatment centers (among other places). They do everything that all mothers do, plus have a plate of troubling times that most of us would run screaming from.

    These moms are a special breed. And, today’s special breed is close to my heart, because my mom is one of them. And, my wife is one of them. I can never properly convey the amount of gratitude and appreciation that I have for these AMAZING women! If you are the mother of a child (or children) with a bleeding disorder than I salute you. You, my friend, are a rare individual who is doing more for the planet and human race than I can fathom.

    Thirty years ago, the hemophilia population started dying off… I’m talking about 90% or more getting HIV from tainted blood products… Nearly 100% getting hepatitis C… This was beyond devastating to the community as a whole. Think about it for a moment… Almost the entire hemophilia population died over the twenty years that happened immediately after this disastrous event. As a matter-of-fact, all of my hemophiliac friends that I knew died. ALL OF THEM!

    If you consider this for a moment, you will realize the depth of this tragedy. You might also realize the moms out there who lost their babies… Lost them by the thousands!!! I am crying simply typing this… Imagine (for a moment) their pain. These women have been through more than anyone deserves to endure. They have done so, and continue to do so. They are heroes. The real-deal hero!

    Another point that comes to mind when I think about moms and what is known as the Hemocaust… Many of the community-run organizations were mostly managed and maintained by adult hemophiliac men. Almost all of these men died. Think on that. Literally, in a short period, we not only lost our brothers and sisters… We also almost lost the entire community, because no one was there to run the organizations. This is nearly unimaginable to me, yet it was happening around the country.

    I often think of euphemisms for this occurrence. The one that really comes to mind is passing the torch. Well, I was talking about this with my buddy, Jack, the other day and it hit me… This was not simply passing the torch. It happened too fast and too devastatingly to let anyone pass anything. In an instant people started dropping like flies. No… What really happened was this. Thousands of men died. Thousands of men literally DROPPED their torches without the time or energy to pass them on. During that time, the community and future generations needed someone to act. Someone did act. The moms acted. The moms stepped up, despite their pain and anguish. Selflessly, they wiped away their tears and they picked up the torches from the ground. In some case the torches had gone completely out and needed to be re-lit. Regardless, a generation of moms… A generation of women stronger than most can imagine… A generation of loving and kind souls… Came together and rebuilt a community that nearly died.

    I can tell you that I fell away from the community more than a quarter of a century ago. Heck, I assumed I was dying. But, to my amazement, when I came back four years ago, I found a thriving community… A community of strong people who were dedicated and focused. A community that had fixed itself with band-aids and duct tape through the nineties and into 2000. A community that was not only still standing, but standing tall, strong, and proud.

    Damn! I mean… Damn! I am in awe of what transpired. And, I am eternally grateful to all of the people who came together to save us. Most of all, I am grateful to the moms.

    I believe I speak for everyone, when I say:

    Have a very special Mother’s Day, moms!!!

    With love,
    Vaughn

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    World Hemophilia Day 2014

    Today is April 17, 2014. Today is a day for remembrance. Today is a day of gratitude and thanks. Today is a day like no other… Today is World Hemophilia Day.

    For those of you who don’t know… Hemophilia, Von Willebrands, and other bleeding disorders are inherited or mutated problems that affect our ability to clot. In other words, if we get an internal injury (bruise, muscle injury, joint damage, or other form), it is impossible (or nearly so) to stop the bleeding. Prior to the 1960s we bled until we died or suffered irreparable injuries. Once blood products were available to stop the bleeding we were living longer lives. But… Along with this miraculous cure came blood-borne pathogens and viruses like Hepatitis and HIV. These cursed side-effects nearly killed off all hemophiliacs during the 80s and 90s. However, we overcame this plague era and thrived to carry on for future generations.

    World Hemophilia Day was set aside to think about and remember people with bleeding disorders. This day is a special day designated to raise awareness and care for people who suffer from bleeding disorders.

    Along with many of the bleeding disorder community, I am going to work hard to raise awareness by tweeting throughout the day. I will use the HASHTAG “#WorldHemoDay” and, along with many others, attempt to make this HASHTAG a “trend.” In order to get a HASHTAG to trend, you need thousands of related tweets within the same hour… So, I plan to HASHTAG it all day long, with an emphasis on banging out bunches of tweets during the one hour window of 11 a.m. until 12 p.m. EST. Please join me and help raise awareness!!!

    If you do decide to participate in our tweet-fest, please make sure you include the HASHTAG “#WorldHemoDay” at the very least, and consider including these awesome organizations: @WFHemophilia @HemophiliaFed @NHF_Hemophilia

    Here is a sample tweet that you can adjust accordingly:

    Today is #WorldHemoDay PLS remember all easy bleeders and visit these orgs: @wfhemophilia @hemophiliafed @NHF_Hemophilia PLS RT

     

    Also, @hemophiliafed, @NHF_Hemophilia, and @wfhemophilia are having a discussion on Twitter at 1 p.m. EST. Search for the HASHTAG #HemoChat and chime in!!!

    In addition, please help me with my bid to put a hemophiliac on the cover of Men’s Health magazine for the first time ever. We can make a statement that hemophiliacs and other people with bleeding disorders are capable of being healthy and fit too. And, we can raise a huge amount of awareness with this cover. You can vote here: www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37

    No matter what you do to spread awareness, also remember to take a few peaceful minutes to remember our fallen brothers and sisters. They died so that the rest of us can have better service and treatment. They died so that we have better and safer blood products and medicine available. They died for US.

    God bless the easy bleeders!

    Thank you for your love and support,
    Vaughn “the Easy Bleeder” Ripley

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    Ankle Fitness

    In the past we have done many health and fitness related articles. And, even though some of these discuss good routines for hemophiliacs, none have specialized or been pinpointed at easy bleeders. I recently decided to start a series of articles that are primarily based on people with bleeding disorders. All of these workouts will work for clotters (non-hemophiliacs), but they are a gentler way to strengthen your body, and will focus on specific joints.

    Today we will tackle one of my target joints, and also one of the most popular joints for bleeds. The ankle. Like all joints, the ankle is complicated and consists of several large muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Because this joint is so easy to injure and start a bleed, it is imperative that we strengthen it when its healthy. A strong and flexible ankle is a fantastic foundation to avoid injuries and potential bleeds. That said, hemophiliacs and Von Willebrands sufferers need to strategically exercise these joints to carefully and slowly strengthen them over time.

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    There are three primary muscles that are associated with flexing and securing the ankle joint. Most people think of only one and simply call it the calf muscle. However, the calf muscle is actually made up of two large muscles: Gastrocnemius and Soleus. The gastroc (short for gastrocnemius) is normally the muscle we refer to as the calf, because it is larger and more pronounced. But, the lesser known soleus is very important for ankle flex too. The difference comes mainly from the position (bend angle) of the knee. When the leg is straight (or fairly straight) the gastroc is the muscle that comes into play when standing on your toes. If your knee is bent, then the soleus is the one that flexes the toes (and foot) down.

    You work the gastroc by doing the exercise known as standing calf raises. You work the soleus by doing the exercise known as seated calf raises. Both exercises are very important to strengthen the calf muscles and associated ligaments and tendons.

    If you recall, I said there are three primary muscles… Well, there happens to be a muscle on the front side of the shin called the tibialis anterior; which is important for lifting the foot and toes upward (as opposed to pressing them down). Most people overlook this muscle entirely, because it doesn’t really add much bulk or “look” to the calves. However, hemophiliacs (and anyone interested in a stronger more supportive ankle), should not skip this important muscle. Every muscle in our body has an antagonist muscle or muscles. When we are strengthening a joint, it is important to hit the agonist (primary muscle) and the antagonist (opposite side the flexes the joint in an opposite direction). This is the secret to a health, strong, and supportive joint!

    Since we listed the tib (tibialis anterior), let’s touch base on how to exercise it. The simplest way is to sit on a chair or bench, place some weight (light weight is more than ample for this weak muscle) on your toes and then do reps lifting your toes off the ground. You can (and should) add range of motion by placing something under your heel and lifting it a few inches off the ground.

    Just like other muscles, your calves need rest, so do not exercise them everyday.

    Once your muscles are good and warm from a workout, do some slow, deep stretches that you hold for 22 (or so) seconds. Never bounce or pop into a stretch. Instead you will gradually and carefully deepen a stretch during the 22 seconds. Also, make sure to stretch both calf muscles (gastroc and soleus) by stretching with your leg straight and bent. And, hit your tib by pointing your toes out and away from you as far as they’ll comfortably go.

    One final note. There are generally three agreed upon types of weight training for muscles:
    1. Strength (perform 5 to 8 reps of extra heavy weight failing on the last rep)
    2. Bulk/hypertrophy (perform 8 to 12 reps of moderately heavy weight failing on the last rep)
    3. Endurance (perform more than 12 reps of moderate weight without a real failure rep)

    For hemophiliacs, we are trying to strengthen the joint without injury so I recommend not going to absolute failure. In other words, “leave one in the can.”

    That’s all for today… Look for other joints, and hemophiliac related workouts in the near future.

    Let’s work together and create Healthy Wealthy joints!!!

    Cheers,
    Rip

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    Tall Poppy Syndrome

    I was born in 1967 with a rare bleeding disorder called, hemophilia. All through elementary school I was bullied because of my weakness and difference. Also in junior high, where the bullying became more dangerous. Fortunately, the varsity football team took me under their wing and protected me in high school… For the first time, I was not bullied.

    I thought the bullying was over… Then, in the mid eighties I received a bad batch of blood to cure a bleed. This blood product, called Factor VIII, was tainted with HIV and I was the lucky recipient. Little did I know that the bullying was about to go to a whole new level. Besides the whispering of people whom I called friend, the biggest first thing that happened to me was being asked in front of my entire community at our neighborhood swimming pool, “Do you have AIDS?” I lied and ran crying from this situation.

    Next, the death threats started coming in via anonymous telephone calls (back then there was no caller ID). Someone also threatened to burn our house down if we did not move out. This was a scary time for everyone and the stigma was in full swing. I quickly realized that a safer bet was to hide my HIV status and act as if there was nothing wrong. Well, this was tough because it was becoming more known that most hemophiliacs had it. So, I also hid my hemophilia.

    Within a few, short years, all of my hemophiliac friends were dead. I was literally the last man standing and completely quiet about my affliction. Twenty-three years later, I compiled my life journal into a book and published my memoir, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C. This was my “coming out” party. I mean, it was impossible to hide my status with a published book out there… I felt relief overcome me as I admitted to the world that I was a long-term survivor and thriver. People came out of the woodwork with questions and stories. I was thrown into the limelight and overnight became an inspiration to thousands of hemophiliacs who had dealt with this situation in their own lives.

    There was a down side… The stigma surrounding HIV was lessened, but still in operation. So, I have managed to duck and dodge my way through a few of those situations that brought back horrific memories of the old days. Mostly though, it was all up-side and inspirational things that happened to me.

    Out of the blue, an amazing man, Barry Haarde, approached me as another HIV+ hemophiliac who was also coming out about his status. He was quickly becoming a special man in our easy bleeding community. Barry talked to me, and inspired (more like motivated) me to get back into the bleeding disorder community and not only tell my story, but help raise awareness and battle for other hemophiliacs. I did.

    What does all of this have to do with poppy plants? You ask… hmmm… Well, I wanted to give you a little back-story of where I’ve been before discussing today’s article.

    The Australians have a saying… It’s called tall poppy syndrome. See, if a particular poppy grows taller than the others, it will steal the sun and water from a bunch of other, smaller, poppies. So, they chop the tall one down in a sacrifice to save many others. When this saying translates to people, it has a less positive outlook, and means when some people see you attaining success and growing before their very eyes, they chop you down to keep you down among them. You can see this derogatory version is a little bit disheartening.

    Today’s post was inspired because I find myself trying to promote me, hemophilia, HIV, and fitness to raise awareness in this callous world. I am currently leading a competition (by a long shot) to appear on one of the most popular Men’s magazines in the world, Men’s Health. You can see my entry (and vote for me) here: www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37 (yes… that was a shameless promotion).

    Of course I want to be on the cover! I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite my “issues.” However, I’m not so shallow that this is only to get ME on the cover… I’m doing this for you too. I have found a purpose that is more important than just me. Supporting people with hemophilia, Von Willebrand, other bleeding disorders, and HIV+ or other life-threatening diseases. Also, for anyone who struggles with staying fit and healthy! I am the poster child for all of us!!!

    The rules of the competition state that people can vote once daily. I did not write these rules, but I understand the importance of them. Therefore, I posts a daily plea to my friends to request their vote.

    Can you imagine putting an HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of a popular health magazine (for the first time ever)?? This is an incredible opportunity to raise a huge amount of awareness in an otherwise unknown community of bleeding disorders.

    With this in mind, over the last several days I have received a few messages talking about me spamming the community. Now I must mention that I am receiving thousands of like, votes, and messages saying how inspiring this is. And, hundreds of hemophiliac moms have reached out to me saying how important my message and story is to their children. The good outweighs the bad by the hundreds. However, the bad messages do stand out to me, and hurt my feelings.

    You see, I was asked by many, a few years ago, to please stand up and be heard. To help support the community by sharing my story. And, I answered this calling by doing so. Yet I now find myself occasionally battling people who seem to be trying to bring me down. I know these feelings might be my own internal battles, but I can’t help but wonder if some are merely picking on me and my advocacy simply because they are miserable and want to attack people who they see doing good things in this world. I’m certain that not everyone of these spam name callers feel this way, but I’m also aware of a few who literally are negative and sometimes downright mean.

    Spam? Really?

    Let’s define Spam… Besides being a canned meat product, spam is also defined as a noun that means: Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.

    While I am posting in an environment that has a large number of recipients, I feel that my appeal for awareness is extremely relevant and appropriate. Perhaps I’m nitpicking by defining spam and excluding my posts from it, but I’m making a point. If I’m reaching out to a community to raise awareness and help those who cannot help themselves… How can I possibly be spamming? It is not always easy to raise awareness, be an advocate, and speak out to the world about tough subjects… If it was easy, everyone would do it!

    No one is asking for your money (although I might if the event warrants it). I’m not asking you to do some crazy thing… I’m simply asking you to visit a website and make your voice heard, by voting for me. How do you think I got in first place (by more than double)? Do you think I would have this many (or any) votes if I didn’t post anything? Of course not!

    I’m an honorable man doing honorable things. I stand by a community that all but disappeared when they all died around me. I feel like a phoenix who has risen again and find a whole new generation of young bleeders and their families flocking to me for advice and inspiration. I will continue to tell my story to the ones who want to hear it. If you don’t appreciate my outlook on life, then simply don’t read my posts!

    We recently passed the thirty year mark of discovering AIDS. And, I have been living with it for more than twenty-eight years. It is high-time that we broke this stigma and show that you can be a HIV+ hemophiliac and still be healthy.

    I’m not only standing up for hemophiliacs. Nor only HIV+ people. I’m also standing up for average people in general. Statistics show that more than 65% of Americans are overweight. I fear this number is far higher than advertised. I am using myself as an example of someone who is suffering through much more than the average person and still manages to stay extremely fit and healthy. My message is simple: If I can do it, so can you! This applies to everyone!!!

    Most of you are VERY supportive of me and my platform. Because of you wonderful people, I will not stop my efforts. This is despite (and sometimes to spite) the naysayers who try and beat me down. To quote Chumbawamba, “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”

    You all lift me up and make me feel like a loved person. You also inspire and motivate me to continue my work and voice… Thank you!

    Have you ever run in to “Tall Poppy Syndrome,” or know someone who has? Have any advice or thoughts on the matter?

    Cheers,
    Vaughn

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    The Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search

    A sudden and powerful change happened to me on (or about) March 11, 2014. I was flipping through the pages of Men’s Health magazine and saw an ad titled “Are you fit? Healthy? Driven? Giving? Enter to win the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search.” The ad went on to say that one lucky winner would be featured on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.

    I smiled and thought… I’m extremely fit. I’m very healthy. I’m over-the-top driven. And… I absolutely love giving. My smile eased a little and the gears started grinding in my head. I chuckled… But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized… I was cut out precisely for this competition.

    Then the doubt started creeping in. You know the doubt… The realist inside each of us. It was saying things like, “Dude, you’re 46 years OLD.” “You’re medication over the years has stripped fat from your cheeks and butt and stuck it in funky places!” “Life has put battle scars on you.” “There will be two dozen or more seriously good looking model-ish men competing in this among a field of hundreds of others.” Finally my inner demon said, “What possible chance do you think you have?”

    For a few minutes I nodded my head in agreement with the dark side of my mind. Then, a tipping point happened. I thought of John Belushi saying, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” I laughed again. And something neat happened… A glimmer entered my eye. And, I realized that this was doable. I knew it would be an uphill battle, but honestly what great outcome isn’t tough? I decided then and there that I would enter. The contest started on March 15, 2014 – so I stored this thought in the back of my brain, tore the page out, and got on with life.

    Jump to 3/15/14 – Some of the original negative thoughts started pouring in. I was nervous. Am I being silly? Before these bad feelings could bring me down, I suddenly had another thought… Has a hemophiliac EVER been on the cover of Men’s Health? I don’t know… Maybe..? Has an HIV+ person ever graced the cover of Men’s Health magazine? Again, I didn’t know, but figured probably… (I should know this stuff). Then it hit me – I know… That there has NEVER been an HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, because I know them all! It was settled then and there… I opened the website and started my entry process.

    March is Hemophilia Awareness Month. For goodness sakes, Ronald Wilson Reagan made it so back in 1986!!! And, more than 90% of ALL hemophiliacs born before the mid-1980’s got HIV from a bad blood transfusion. And, almost ALL of them died from AIDS or complications around this horrible disease! It was destiny that I would stumble on this opportunity in March, during Hemophilia Awareness Month!!! I was in head first!

    Honestly, I was simply hoping to be in the top ten, so I could raise awareness for hemophiliacs and HIV+ people. When I entered I sincerely did not think that I would win. The competition would be far too strong and who the heck am I?

    Guess what… On day one, I skyrocketed to first place. And, I’m not talking about a little jump, I was ten times ahead of the second place person! It was incredible.

    By day two, many more men had joined and they were gaining, but I was still at least four times as many votes ahead of everyone else.

    By day three I realized, I could actually win the voting portion of this competition. That was when it happened. You see, in life, nothing (I mean NOTHING) worthwhile is easy. And, there is no reason that this would be different. Realizing that I could win this voting section of the contest, I re-read the rules carefully. There it was glaring at me…

    Upload at least one (1) but up to three (3) digital photographs … taken within thirty (30) days prior to the date of your Entry into the Contest…

    Holy crap! In my rush to enter… With the mindset of “I can’t possibly win this thing…” I had made a vital mistake. I had uploaded older photos of me… You see, I am 46 years old (47 next month) and because of how fit and healthy I stay, my physique really hasn’t changed very much in over a decade. So, I assumed any photo would do, because quite honestly I am in the best shape of my life NOW and even look better than those photos from a year or two ago…

    The sinking feeling of dread overcame me as I realized that I could potentially be disqualified. And, on top of that, I was essentially cheating by not following the rules. My head pounded and my stomach was upset… This couldn’t be happening to me. Moments later, I wrote the editor of Men’s Health and explained my situation looking for a resolution. Well, fortunately for me, the editor was very cool and said simply “you are also permitted to enter once per day per email address throughout the entry period. So, you are welcome to submit another entry with current photos…”

    Well… That settled it… I had to ditch my first place entry that had more than 2,200 votes already and start a new entry with current photos. So, I worked with my Aunt, Patty Abrams, to quickly take a few “today” photos of me. These photos were nowhere near as cool as my previous entry (me posing in a triathlon suit looking all heroic, me on Mount Rainier in -40 degree temperatures, and me on a 185 mile bicycle ride on the C&O canal towpath), but they are legit and follow the rules.

    My new entry, was sitting there with zero votes in 113th place… Wow! Talk about a buzz kill. To add insult to injury, my original entry is still sitting there on top of the pack all pretty and perfectly happy. DANG!

    Time to eat some humble pie… I spent a few minutes typing up a quick status update for my social media friends that had all helped escalate me to the top of the heap. I had to explain that our 2,200+ votes weren’t going to count toward this newest entry. I laughed at myself. Cheered them for their support. And then asked for their continued support. I wasn’t sure how folks would respond. I mean, I’ve already been SPAMing them with numerous requests to vote for me as a cover model… yada. I thought they might rebel. *insert upbeat music here* Something very special happened. They all stood behind me, and picked me up. From the nadir of this event, my friends and their friends all wiped the dirt off my face, picked me up, brushed the tears from my eyes, and gathered as a community to support me… Their brother.

    After adding my second entry, folks got behind me and stormed the contest pouring in massive votes. Within one day I had gone from 113th place to 3rd place and had a solid 600 votes! Just when I thought all was cool, Men’s Health reached out again and said that they need to remove my second entry. So, they offered to put one of my new photos in the original entry and delete my second entry into the contest. Unfortunately they were not able to migrate my votes over. However, I still had the healthy amount of votes and a solid lead. Stuff happens, and I’m usually one that rolls with the punches. Besides, I can’t really complain considering my sizable lead.

    You guys have all given me so much support during this entire process, and I am eternally grateful!

    This is what it’s all about. I now know why I’ve entered this competition. It’s not some vain attempt to plaster myself on a magazine… It’s not about me. It is about us. It is about hemophiliacs. It is about HIV+ people, it is about average Joes who are beaten down ever day of their lives and continue picking themselves up and reporting for duty despite the odds stacked against them.

    I have survived for more than 28 years as an HIV+ human being. I believe there is a reason why God spared me. I honestly believe that it is my duty to spread awareness and advocate for people who struggle to have their voices heard. Well… I am here. And, I felt you help pick me up. I feel your love. I feel your support and caring. I feel you. And, I love you. I will fight for this and every other opportunity that we have to scream at the world.

    Together, you and I can and will put the first ever HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of one of the most popular men’s magazines on the planet.

    Please help support this cause by sharing my link, voting (you can vote daily), and spreading the word.
    www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37/

    I’m currently standing with a strong lead in first place…

    Love to you all,
    Vaughn Ripley

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    Hemophilia Advocacy

    It has been nine days since my last article… I try to get a blog post in every other day or so… However, this skipped time was warranted, because I was spending time preparing for the exciting meetings that I had in Annapolis with the rest of the Hemophilia Foundation of Maryland (HFM) peeps. It was our goal to meet with many of the Maryland House Delegates and Senators to discuss the “Health Insurance – Specialty Drugs” bill (House Bill 761 and Senate Bill 874), inform them of the bill and how it will be beneficial to the hemophilia community (and rare chronic disease communities in general), and to ask each of our representatives to please vote “yes” on the upcoming bill.

    I was recently elected to the HFM board of directors as one of the advocacy chairs. These meetings with state and federal representatives is just one piece of my role as a hemophilia advocate. And, like everything else in my life, I dove in head first!

    This is how my two day march on Annapolis Maryland went:

    Monday, February 17, 2014 – My wife Kristine and I piled our children (Trinity and Xander) into our car and drove the 90(ish) minutes to Annapolis. We arrived and checked in at the Historic Maryland Inn of Annapolis on Main Street. This is a gorgeous hotel that throws back (literally) to the 17th and 18th centuries. The elegance and ambiance is immediately heart warming and downright awesome! Our room was spacious and beautiful. After dropping our bag in the room, we headed downstairs for lunch with our fellow easy bleeders (hemophiliacs) to discuss politics and our plan of action.

    HFM and a few important sponsors did a fantastic job of supplying us with information packets (for ourselves and the representatives we would visit), providing food and fun, giving us some role-playing examples of how our meetings would go, and covering any additional questions we had. Let the nerves start to tingle and the sweaty hands begin! After the informative meeting, we broke for a few and then went for a fantastic dinner at Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs (an Annapolis staple). Along the trek to Buddy’s, we passed an alley that had a perfect (and serene) view of the Maryland State House… Trinity and Xander were kind enough to pause and pose with this historic monument and achievement.

    After dinner, we waddled back up the little hill and entertained ourselves by reading over the materials that HFM provided. Before long, our lights were out and we were sleeping soundly… Until… 1:17 a.m. when Xander suddenly kicked out (he was upside-down in his bed) and knocked the phone off the bedside table. I put it back up, hung the receiver up, spun Xander upright, and climbed back into bed. Just before sleep hit me again, Xander suddenly kicked the phone off again… How the heck did he get spun upside-down again?? Deja vu all over again and then back to sleep. The next morning, Xander told Mommy and me that he had a great dream about Ninjas attacking our family and he protected us by kicking them in their “parts.” Ahhhh… I see… The phone was a ninja’s parts. Now it all makes sense. Xander is five by the way. HA!

    Lest this long night be over, Kristine and I were both awakened at 3:09 a.m. to the beeping of a truck in reverse. WTH? I decided to drain myself of last nights iced teas and waters and take a peek out the window. Low and behold, it was snowing… There was a snow plow out there, moving back and forth and beeping along the way… Great. hehe. It honestly felt like that truck stayed below our window and stuck in reverse for two hours.

    Perhaps there is a little bit of irony in this story as I think about icy cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks that were recently covered with snowfall. Now picture a handful of hemophiliacs walking said streets and sidewalks. HA! The things we will do to get a vote!

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014 – Waking bright and early, we joyfully bounced around the room preparing and packing. A quick shower, shave, and so on and so forth… Soon, I had on my fancy-dancie blue suit (complete with U.S. flag lapel pin) and we were off running. Downstairs we enjoyed a brief breakfast, and then made our way to our first meeting at the Senate building.

    Kristine, Trinity, Xander, and I started our day by meeting the Honorable Senator Ronald Young. Firstly, I honestly was expecting to only meet aides… And, it started out looking like we would. The Senator’s aides greeted us, and explained that he was about to leave for the Caucus assembly and he would not have time to see us. However, he overheard us chatting and came out with a smile on his face. Senator Young was very polite and personable. He listened to our story intently. and when we finished he said, “I will absolutely vote yes on this bill.” YAY!

    I should note that we were ten minutes early to our meeting with Senator Young and I firmly believe this is why we even had a chance to talk with him. He gladly posed with us (see the “featured” photo at the top) and then took a picture with Trinity and Xander…

    Next, we crossed Bladen Street and entered the House of Delegates. We were early, so we dropped off three information folders for delegates that we didn’t have appointments with. One of these aides we met with previously worked with a congressman (I think from Minnesota or Michigan) who had three hemophiliac boys. She was very helpful and said she would not only hand off the folder, but also push our point with the delegate. Another win!

    Our final face-to-face was with the Honorable Delegate Michael Hough. It turns out that he is our neighbor, and my wife is actually friends with his wife, Jo. When we first arrived, his aide said that Hough was in session and not available for a meeting. He was kind, sat with us, and said he would pass the info packet on to Delegate Hough. Just before we left the meeting, my wife said, “Mike lives in our neighborhood, and I’m friends with his wife.” This had a very big impact on the aide, and he immediately texted Hough. Moments later, he announced, “Delegate Hough is going to be out of his session with a few minutes to spare before the Caucus and he would very much like to meet your family.” WOW??!!

    Delegate Hough was truly awesome and kind as he not only met with Kristine and me (and our kids), but he took time out of his busy schedule to walk us over to the State House and give us a guided tour! He actually walked us through some of the history of the building and told us stories about Washington, Hamilton, and Franklin while walking us into various rooms. We literally got the behind the scenes tour filled with neat tidbit of history.

    He took us into the original House of Delegates room; which was recently renovated. In here he took another fun photo with the kids. By now, they were really enjoying themselves and learning so much about our country and the way the government works.

    Delegate Hough also showed us the resignation letter of George Washington with a twinkle in his eye. It was incredible awe inspiring and very positive! As we parted ways, he explained to us how we could go up above the Senatorial and Delegate meetings and view them from a balcony. I never knew that we (the public) had so much access, but I learned just how high these representatives hold us, their constituents.

    This is Kristine and the kids watching the Delegate session starting up:

    All-in-all I would call this trip a huge success. And, an incredibly strong learning session to boot! We met a Delegate and a Senator. We met dozens of aides. We told our story and the story of H.B. 761. We asked for a “yes” vote from everyone. We passed out five information packets. And, I gave away three signed copies of my book, Survivor.

    Takeaways

  • Always be completely prepared for meetings with representatives. Study their CV, know the names of their aides, and plan some alternate conversation points, should there be contention. Know what your point of contact looks like, in case you run into them in the hall, rather than their office.
  • Arrive early! The only reason that Senator Young had a few minutes for us, was because we were ten minutes early and caught him on the way out the door.
  • Be confident and well-read. Leave them feeling as though you are someone who carefully studies the issues and also someone who votes!
  • Don’t be afraid to bring your children (if appropriate). Trinity (nine years old) and Xander (five years old) were a bigger hit than me and Kristine. All of the aides loved them, and the representatives were delighted to take photos with these youngins. On top of that, the learning experience for these children was immeasurable!
  • Enjoy yourself and be stress-free. This one may be tough for some, but it is well worth it to approach these people as peers (and actually employees), because they are. We often put them on a pedestal and think they’re impossible to reach. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone I’ve ever met has been extremely nice and listened and talked openly and in a friendly manner.
  • Before you part ways with your representative(s), ask for their support, and ask for a “yes” vote. You will be surprised how polite and honest these folks are!
  •  

    I hope you dug this article. And, perhaps even gleaned something from it.

    Cheers,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Through My Eyes

    We often hear statements like, “Oh yeah… Well you should try walking in my shoes…” Today, I’d like to offer my shoes and allow you to see through the eyes of a hemophiliac. Let’s start off by explaining what the heck hemophilia is. Hemophilia is a rare bleeding disorder in which your blood does not clot normally or properly. It is carried in the X chromosome, and is called an X-linked genetic disorder. Cutting through all of the obfuscation, it essentially means that I inherited a factor VIII (factor-8) deficiency from my mother, who was a carrier. Dumbing (is that even a word?) it down even further, it means that unlike average boys and girls, if I get bruised or cut, I will not stop bleeding without medical assistance.


    My disclaimer: While I have lived with this confounded disease for 46+ years, I do not claim to be a medical professional nor someone who even knows what the heck he’s talking about. I am a mere mortal who loves sharing information. I am often wrong, and for that I apologize. I try to investigate and ensure that my data/information is correct, but as is always the case, I am bound to be wrong about something. At the least, I probably will have a misinterpretation or two in here. So, seek the advice of a medical professional if you are planning on writing a report on my post. Also, I do not necessarily condone some of the things I did and am not in any way suggesting that hemophiliacs should avoid listening to their parents and doctors. I am merely pointing out that I did some things and got away with them. Carry on!


    About a generation or two ago, science made some huge breakthroughs with the hemophiliacs, and we created products based on blood donations called plasma, cryoprecipitate, and factor VIII that could temporarily turn an “easy bleeder” (my term for a hemophiliac) into a normal clotting person. This technology added years even decades to the longevity of hemophiliac. It also made it possible for us in the bleeding community to participate in more normal activities and sports (to some extent). I should mention that there are different types of bleeding disorders and they do not all use factor VIII to stop the bleeding. But, for simplicity’s sake, I went with what I am (type-A).

    During the early years of this modern medical miracle, hemophiliacs were unfortunately hit with several life-threatening blood-borne pathogens, diseases, and viruses. Among these were HIV and Hepatitis. Because I am the lucky one, I got both of these. You heard me right… I said, “Because I am the lucky one.” I do consider myself lucky, because were it not for the advent of modern medical science I would have died from a bleeding issue years ago. As I’m sure you can imagine, the life expectancy of hemophiliacs was very short prior to the 1950’s (I believed the average death occurred by eleven years old back then). This is one of the reasons that I feel lucky. I also feel lucky in that I am only a mild hemophiliac. Whilst at hemophilia camp back when I was thirteen I had the pleasure of meeting many hemophiliacs that were not as lucky as me. One was in a padded wheelchair because his ankles and knees were so bad off that he would have bleeding episodes from simply walking.

    In addition to the technology and mildness, I also feel lucky because of the awesome support system that is now available to hemophiliacs. Not only do we have the World Federation of Hemophilia, National Hemophilia Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, and state groups (I am a board member for the Hemophilia Foundation of Maryland), we also have hemophilia camps (I went to Bold Eagle), support groups, discussion forums (I’m a huge fan of HFA’s Blood Brotherhood Forum, and online services galore.

    And, as if that wasn’t enough, we easy bleeders are also surrounded and supported by loving family and friends!

    Now you can see why I feel lucky.

    Now that I convinced you that I’m lucky, we can dabble in a few of my unlucky areas. When I was a kid I was regularly picked on and even bullied. A few of the more obstinate bullies even punched me exclaiming, “I wanna see you swell up!” And, they called me names like: homo-feel-ya or something similar. It was often brutal, but it also taught me how to calmly take these attacks and live despite them. So, in some weird way, the bullying also strengthened me.

    “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

      —Friedrich Nietzsche

    I was very sheltered by my mother as I grew up. I fear that some of this may have been the cause for my dramatic outburst as a teenager when I started doing things I shouldn’t have (like playing football with neighborhood kids and skateboarding). However, I know that she was worried about me, and wanted me to be safe. The funny thing about this protection and my adrenaline-based extracurricular events is that I often sustained some serious bleeds while being “safe.” As a matter of fact, the very most damaging and worst bleeds occurred while playing at camp Bold Eagle (with other hemophiliacs-and being safe), getting my wisdom teeth pulled, and, of all things, having my toe lanced to cure an ingrown toenail issue. So, avoiding contact sports and other dangerous habits was not my only nemesis. As a bleeder, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was susceptible to all manner of painful bleeds.

    If I have learned one very important thing, it is something that ALL of us should learn (bleeder or not). That is, our choices have consequences. That statement is so important, that I will repeat it, “Our choices have consequences.” And, it is our responsibility to choose wisely. Actually, I love the word responsible. I prefer to break it down and say it like: response able. In other words, each of us is able to respond. Thinking like that might save lives!

    Now that I’ve put the fear of a slow and painful death by horrible bleeding episodes in you, let me leave you with a parting note… Live life! You heard it from me… As long as you realize (honestly) that there are consequences for your decisions, and you weigh those consequences carefully thinking about the future and how it will affect you, I think you should do whatever you want (please read the above disclaimer). I may not necessarily be the best role model for fellow hemophiliacs, because at some time or another I have rock climbed, raced motorcycles, and skateboarded (among other deadly things *insert dastardly music here*). However, I am still here. I’m still here because I’m lucky… But, I also create some of my luck through careful thought and recognition of what I’m doing. I guess what I am saying is, be response-able with your choices!

    I hope this article touched a nerve. And, I sincerely hope I helped in some way. If you aren’t a hemophiliac, then maybe this opened your eyes a little bit.

    Thanks for listening (reading),
    Vaughn “the easy bleeder” Ripley

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    Hardcore Hiking Training

    It is clearly an important piece of your training if you climb mountains. However, many non-mountaineers skip weighted hiking training even though they like to hike. I’m a firm believer in putting some hiking training into everyone’s fitness regiment. I’ll tell you why… As a hemophiliac, I’m always looking for ways to strengthen and protect my ankles, knees, and hips. Hiking (carefully and safely) gives me a good avenue to accomplish this. There’s already a strong contingent of people who like to walk for the fitness benefits. Imagine adding steeper hills, changing terrain, beautiful views, and even weight on your back to that exercise. That’s what I think of hiking training.

    Today, we’ll discuss how I train for hiking. Sometimes my goals are merely cardiovascular and respiratory benefits and other times it scaling a 14,412 foot glaciated mountain. Regardless, I do the same training. Before we dig in, let’s throw the disclaimer out (I hate doing these, but feel it’s a necessary evil):

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    In addition, when hiking, I recommend staying focused and VERY aware of your surroundings and path. Remember that there are dangerous animals and dangerous people in the wild… That’s why we like it!

    I also recommend getting a sturdy and supportive hiking boot that goes over your ankle and is very comfortable for long hikes. I always carry a small first aid kit with me that includes some essentials in the event of an accident. I also always have a little spare food (protein bars) and extra water. Additional things might be added depending on the time of year and expected weather (e.g. rain gear, layers of warmer clothing, and so on). Lastly, I believe that a compass, GPS, and mobile phone are essential to EVERY hiking trip.

    ok… Let’s dig in!

    Just like running, biking, weight lifting, or any other fitness related exercise, you should always work up to your training weight, altitude increase, and distances. Normally I will increase any one of those by about 10% per week (this number varies depending on the week, but I always think carefully about it). I also try to only increase one of the three from that list at a time (i.e. don’t increase distance in the same week that you add weight to your backpack). That said, I rarely worry about altitude increase because I don’t have crazy tall mountains on the east coast… My main concern is weight and time and I will only adjust one or the other each week.

    Training Backpack, weight vest, or actual event backpack?

    I believe in using my actual mountaineering backpack for all of my training. I know that this will wear it out quicker, but I have several reasons for doing this…

  • First, you save money by only needing one backpack.
  • Just like most other worn accessories, a backpack breaks in to the shape and fit of your body over time.
  • Your body adjusts and gets stronger at certain points for a specific backpack.
  • You can perfect your fit and comfort over training time.
  •  

    Note: for these same reasons, I also use my actual event hiking boot for training sessions.

    Now let’s tackle what today’s article was really put together for. Adding weight to your backpack. Obviously you can easily do this with weights, stuff you would normally carry, or some other form of heavy object. I prefer to carry gallon jugs of water. The main reason for this is because during early to mid levels of my training, I prefer to lower (or even eliminate) my weight carried while traveling back down a training hike/climb. My knees have ALWAYS been an issue for me and I find that it is much more likely for me to hurt or injure them during my downclimb section of my workout. For this reason, I hike up, pour out some or all of the water, and then hike down. Also, you can easily lighten your load at any time during your training. Finally, it also doubles as extra water in case of emergency!

    My personal preference is gallon milk jugs from Kirkland/Costco. These jugs (as you see in the article photo) are rectangular and more cube based than standard one-gallon milk jugs. I dig this, because they fit very nicely in my backpack, and they stack sturdily. When maxed out in my training, I have six jugs of water packed and stacked in my backpack. Yes… I do some training with 60 pounds of water on my back. Want results? Push yourself!

    Almost all jugs I’ve tried will leak a little when tipped on their side or upside down, so I avoid this. Also, I line my backpack with a garbage bag before loading the jugs (this is because a wet backpack is a painful pet peeve of mine).

    Once you decide what to use for weight, you next need to determine how much weight to use. The jugs I use weigh a hair over nine pounds when loaded with water. I count each jug as ten pounds because it’s an even number, and my backpack weighs a few pounds. So, I do my training based on this. Since the jugs sit two wide in my backpack, if I’m only going up ten pounds when increasing weight, I normally will fill two jugs halfway (fill one all the way and pour half into another jug from that filled one if you’re like me and enjoy being precise). This way my backpack always has the weight distributed nicely.

    Also, I use the compressions straps on the sides of the backpack to tighten the whole load up and keep it sturdy, stable, and upright.

    Here is a sample six-month routine that I might use when training to climb Mount Rainier:

    Month One
    Week 1 – Hike 1 hour / 10 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 1 hour / 20 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Hike 1.5 hours / 20 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 2 hours / 20 pound backpack

    Month Two
    Week 1 – Hike 2.5 hours / 20 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 3 hours / 20 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Rest week (No hiking)
    Week 4 – Hike 3 hours / 25 pound backpack

    Month Three
    Week 1 – Hike 3 hours / 30 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 3 hours / 35 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Hike 3 hours / 40 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 3.5 hours / 40 pound backpack

    Month Four
    Week 1 – Hike 4 hours / 40 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Rest week (No hiking)
    Week 3 – Hike 4 hours / 45 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 4 hours / 50 pound backpack

    Month Five
    Week 1 – Hike 4.5 hours / 50 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 4.5 hours / 55 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Hike 4.5 hours / 60 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 5 hours / 60 pound backpack

    Month Six
    Week 1 – Hike 6 hours / 60 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Taper Hike 3 hours / 40 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Taper (no hike during this week)
    Week 4 – Climb week!

    I guarantee results in many areas if you hike with weight on your back! Burn calories like you never believed possible!

    Do you hike, or train by hiking?

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Giveaway for Hemophilia Awareness Month

    Do you want to win a COo.oOL prize?

    I’m giving away a $67 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of my book, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C at the end of March. March is Hemophilia Awareness Month, and I decided to run a contest/giveaway to support Hemophilia Awareness, give back to my friends, and gain blog followers at the same time!

    It’s easy to enter and I will draw one lucky winner from the contestants on Monday, March 31, 2014. In order to qualify you simply need to subscribe to my blog. Subscribing is easy and I never SPAM my followers. Subscription to my blog will simply get you an email anytime a new blog article appears on the Healthy Wealthy Tribe blog! You will find the subscribe entry at the top or right side of this blog. Type in your email address and hit the “subscribe” button.

    That’s really all there is to it! If you are already a subscriber, then you are already entered!

    Previous Years Winners
    2013 – Liselle Easto
    2014 – TBD

    If you dig, please share this with your friends and followers. Also, please drop by my FB pages and like them:
    My author fan page
    Healthy Wealthy Tribe blog page
    Survivor page

    Thank you for your support, friends!

    Note: You must enter by 11:11 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 29, 2014. Also, see the “fine print” below for contest rules.

    Also, please checkout the following sites for more information about hemophiliacs and Hemophilia Awareness Month:
    National Hemophilia Foundation Website
    Hemophilia Federation of America Website

    Good luck!

    Signed, your easy bleeding friend and compatriot,
    Vaughn Ripley


    CONTEST RULES AND LEGAL DISCLAIMER
    Only one (1) winner will be selected for this contest. Vaughn Ripley reserves sole and final judgment as to all matters concerning contests and interpretation of contest rules.

    By entering this contest, you agree to abide by the following terms:

    How To Enter/Eligibility
    No purchase is necessary to enter this contests.
    Contestants must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the USA, Canada, UK, or Australia. Entries must be sent using the format provided above.

    Contest Deadlines
    All entries must be submitted on or before 11:11 p.m. EST on March 29, 2014.

    Winner Selection and Notification
    The winner will be randomly selected on March 31, 2014. The odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. The drawing winner will be notified via Tweet, Facebook message, and through announcement on Vaughn’s fan page. The decisions made by the judge (Vaughn Ripley) regarding this contest are final and binding.

    Winner Disqualification
    If a winner cannot be reached after a reasonable amount of effort has been made to notify the winner of the prize, the winner forfeits his/her rights to the winning prize. If a winner does not get in touch with Vaughn Ripley within 21 days of winning, the winner forfeits his/her prize. Vaughn Ripley assumes no responsibility to ensure winner response.

    General Conditions
    No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. All decisions of Vaughn Ripley are final. By entering, participants warrant and represent that they agree to be bound by these contest rules and the final decisions of Vaughn Ripley. All taxes on any prize won are the sole responsibility of each winner, including, without limitation, any federal, state, or local taxes, which may be deemed applicable in such winner’s jurisdiction of residence. The winner shall be solely responsible for the reporting and payment of all taxes incurred by acceptance and use of the prize(s) (or any portion thereof), if applicable.

    All prizes will be mailed to participants free of charge. Delivery method is at the sole discretion of Vaughn Ripley.

    Vaughn Ripley reserves the right to cancel contests at any time for any reason. Vaughn Ripley reserves the right to modify the dates and/or terms of contests at any time without prior notice.

    Prizes are offered “as is” with no written, express, or implied warranty.

    Vaughn Ripley is not responsible for late, lost, illegible, misdirected, mutilated or incomplete entries.

    Anyone using fraudulent means to participate and/or win the contest will be disqualified. ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT TO UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. VAUGHN RIPLEY RESERVES ALL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO SEEK REMEDIES AND DAMAGES (INCLUDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES) FROM ANY ENTRANT ATTEMPTING TO DO SO TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW, INCLUDING REPORTING SUCH ACTIVITIES TO THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES WHICH MAY RESULT IN OR LEAD TO CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.

    Contestant Releases
    Acceptance of prize constitutes permission to use winners name, city, state, and country for promotional purposes.

    Contestants agree that the sole and final judgment as to all matters concerning contests and interpretation of contest rules are at the sole discretion of Vaughn Ripley.

    Whew! Now that the disclaimer is out of the way… Let the games begin!

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    World AIDS Day 2013

    Today is World AIDS Day. Please take 90 (or more) seconds out of your day today to reflect and remember the millions and millions of people affected and infected by this horrible virus, disease, and/or syndrome.

    I like to put things into perspective… So, let’s tackle some numbers first. Did you know?

  • That as of 2008, there are 33.4 million people currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • More than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide.
  • Each year, around 2 million people die due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.5+ million are newly infected.
  • Although HIV/AIDS affects all regions of the world, almost 97% of those living with it reside in low to middle-income countries (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa).
  • There are more than 16,000,000 orphans due to losing their parents from AIDS!
  • Last, but not least, around 10,000 of those who lost their lives in this horrendous battle were hemophiliacs and are my blood brothers.
  •  

    I have been living with HIV for 28+ years. Over the years I have asked myself more than a thousand times, Why did I survive and others like me didn’t? Now that I’ve survived for nearly three decades, I think I can finally (and honestly) answer that question. I think I was spared because I am a strong and comfortable speaker. Seriously! I truly believe that I am still here to be an advocate and activist. It is my duty to stand tall and let the world know what is going on. And, potentially to help inspire those living with and dealing with HIV/AIDS. My message is a simple one… “This is not a death sentence, and you can thrive despite having it!”

    You guys might remember a post from a few months back called, Dum Spiro Somnium. That is my life motto and it essentially means, While I breathe, I dream. In other words, as long as I breathe I will continue to believe in my dream of a world without AIDS. Join my dream, and together we can defeat AIDS!

    My Dream is a World Without AIDS

    If you want to read my story and the journey that I have struggled through, pick up my book Survivor.

    It is our duty to NEVER FORGET and strive to beat this horrific disease!

    As part of my advocacy and message spreading, I started blogging nearly five years ago. Back on February 13, 2009, I created HIV Longevity, and tried to send inspirational and thought provoking messages, posts, and articles. Since then, I have posted nearly 200 articles. Many of these blog articles have been based around HIV, AIDS, and dealing with the horrible problems associated with them. More recently I hibernated the HIV Longevity blog and switched to the Healthy Wealthy Tribe. Primarily I did this because I wanted to reach a broader audience and talk about things outside of HIV and AIDS.

    Since 1 in 100 people are HIV+, almost all of us are affected by this terrible virus. How are you affected by HIV/AIDS?

    This message of hope was sent with love, from my still beating heart (despite the odds).

    Signed,
    the survivor, the advocate, and the inspirational dreamer

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Gears for Good 2013

    I’m riding (for the third year in a row) 156 miles (from Paw Paw to Washington, D.C.) over three days (September 27-29, 2013). Funds that are raised (last year we raised over $38,000) from this ride are directed to the Helping Hands program to assist families in the bleeding disorder community who are going through financial difficulty. It not only helps these families, but we also raise awareness and build a growing, strong community of friends! Gears for Good is an AWESOME cause!!!

    please donate (no amount is too small) to help support me and hemophiliacs like me by going to this page and clicking “Donate.” www.razoo.com/story/Vaughn-Ripley

    I wrote an article for the Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA) in their quarterly Dateline magazine. You can find my article on page 10 of this issue: hemophiliafed.org/dateline/HFA_Dateline_2013_Q2_Summer. Please checkout my article and let me know what you think!

    In this article I give the Top ten reasons why you might want to join us on the Gears for Good Ride… Here they are:

    Top Ten Reasons to Join Us

    10. Meditative effect and fresh air (instead of being cooped-up in a stinky gym)

    9. Strength and aerobic improvement (plus it builds stamina)

    8. Boost your overall mood and self esteem

    7. Longevity

    6. Burns calories (and most importantly – fat!)

    5. Improves coordination and balance

    4. Low impact exercise

    3. Strengthen joints (knees, ankles, and hips)

    2. Raising money and awareness for an amazing cause

    1. Meet and hang out with some incredible people who are living with a bleeding disorder just like you

    Checkout this COo.oOL HFA video from last year to see a brief clip about our ride, our camaraderie, and our community!

    If you can’t join us, you can at least be there in spirit… And, your donation is going to an incredibly good cause!

    As I said before, please donate (no amount is too small) to help support me and hemophiliacs like me by going to this page and clicking “Donate.” www.razoo.com/story/Vaughn-Ripley

    If you prefer to donate manually (not online) you can write a check to the Hemophilia Federation of America. Please write “donation in support of Vaughn Ripley” in the memo and mail the check to:

    Hemophilia Federation of America
    210 7th SE
    Suite 200B
    Washington, DC 20003

    I will continue to ride this event every year (until I can no longer ride) in support of my blood brothers. Please help me to help others!!

    Let me know what you think in the comments.

    Love you all,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    My Dream is a World Without AIDS

    My claim to fame is being one of the longest surviving HIV+ people in the universe. This isn’t exactly the coolest title to have, but I am proud of the fact that I’ve made it so far. I attribute much of my success and survivability to my family, friends, positive attitude, extreme fitness, medication, self-help authors, meditation, and downright tenacity. Along with these tools, I also have the team at AIDS Research Alliance to thank. Organizations like ARA are putting mad scientist hours into projects to rid the world of AIDS.

    With that said, my dream is a world without AIDS. It is my firm believe that the ARA has the same dream and they are doing something about it! Please donate to the AIDS Research Alliance and help them succeed!

    I personally donate 10% of the proceeds from my book, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C, to the AIDS Research Alliance.

    Watch my brief video here:

    I hope this article not only inspired you, but also has you thinking of ways you can help rid the world of AIDS.

    Thanks for reading, listening, and watching…

    -Vaughn