Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the importance or reaffirmation

      Last night I took a couple of friends to the weight loss surgery seminar my doctors give once a month. They both had express interest in learning more about the procedures offer by the office. I am a huge supporter of the office and cannot say enough about them to anyone that will listen. I figured this would be something that both needed to here and learn about. I did not realize however that I was truly needed to hear it all again as well.
      As I drove to the seminar to meet my friends I noticed what a dreary evening it was with fog and rain making the commute nerve racking at times. Despite the weather and a long draining day at work, I was excited to get to the seminar and see the doctors and staff again. I pulled into the all to familiar parking deck and parked and remembered how I felt that night I went to my first seminar back in April of this year. It seems like a hundred years ago. That night I remember walking from the parking deck and having to stop twice because I was out of breath and thought about sitting on the benches outside the entrance of the hospital (which is where the seminar is held) so I could catch my breath. The only reason I didn't was out of plain embarrassment. The people outside saw that i was only walking a matter of yards and could not stop from panting. I figured if I passed out at least I would be in a hospital lol. I smiled to myself as I walked briskly into the hospital and still breathing normally and through my nose, not hyperventilating through my gaping open mouth.
     I found my two friends and we proceeded to enter the auditorium. I introduce them to the surgeons and some of the staff. I also saw that a number of former surgery patients where there. They come to share their success stories with the potential patients. They asked if I was here to speak but no not this time. Just here for moral support. As we listened to the patients speak I started to feel a sense of pride in them and myself. I realized this really is work. The surgery is nothing more than a tool and to get the best result a lifestyle change was in order and I have been doing just that .. right ? RIGHT ??? Well this is where things go south.
     I started to realize that I was letting some of... ok more than a few of my old habits back into my life without even realizing. One of the bad habits they bring up in the seminars is snacking. Now right after the surgery snacking was out of the question. It just was not physically possible. But about 3 months after I was able to have a piece of chocolate or a potato chip without being stuffed. Now i have realized that I have been mindlessly increasing the snacks I have eaten through out the day. I am still losing the weight because my overall consumption of calories is still limited but I have been on this road before and I know its a steep and slippery road.  I also have fallen into one of my other detrimental habits of using every excuse there is not to go to the gym. The two combine is a terrible combination.
     Now one of the things that has changed with me is I am no longer feeling helpless about my choices and I know this is a lifestyle and one bad day or week is not going to throw me into a cyclone of doubt and hopelessness. In fact the seminar and my realization got me re-energized about my decision and my goals. I felt a sense of re-affirmation and I could not wait to get back to the healthy habits that have helped me lose 100 pounds since august 17th of this year. A mear 3 and a half months ago. I think every patient should get a chance to go back and remember where they started from. It will help to see just how far they have come and how far we can still go. This was not my last seminar but next time I will be one of those speaking and telling my story.
 Here is a glimpse at how far I have come .. A pic from May 2011 and December 2 2011.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Three Random Numbers ...

511. There is nothing extraordinary about that number. Just three random numbers placed next to each other. That’s is until you add three random letters after them. LBS. All of sudden those numbers represent something. 511 lbs, that is the weight I was at my largest during my weight loss journey. It represents difficulty breathing, immobility, fatigue, inability to get a restful sleep and it also represents shame. This is the first time I have let anyone other than a medical professional in on my dirty little secret. Of course it was hardly a secret when I look back at the pictures from early in 2011. However I was trying to fool myself and everyone else I knew. Even one of my best friends who joined weight watchers with me didn’t know my exact weight. Every week we go to our meetings and tell each other what we did or didn’t lose but never was my actually starting weight discussed and I wasn’t even over 500 pounds then (but I was very close).  Just three random numbers however when said a loud, they summon gasps and “oh my goodness”. So why now am I coming out of the fat boy closet??  I am no longer embarrassed about where I came from and perhaps it will help someone else in the same place.
Today I had my 3 month doctor visit and here is what the scale has to say: from August 17th to today I have lost 86 pounds. However from June 21st to present I have lost 134 pounds. Those are some impressive numbers. However that is not what has impressed me. What does impress me is fitting into a booth at a restaurant for the first time in 10 years. For quite a long time every time I went out to dinner with friends I would have to remind them to please get a table. Even if I was able to squeeze into a booth my gut would be hanging on the table and I would be in a lot of discomfort both physically and spiritually. But on Saturday I joined a bunch of friends already at dinner and they were sitting in a very large booth and I hesitated for a moment but was able to slide right in. I didn’t say a word to anyone but I had a sense of pride and worth that I have faked on the outside for many years. Another small yet impressive event was buying a watch. Simple, no? well when you have very large wrists sometimes the answer really is no. This time the answer was yes. I walked in, picked out the watch (that looks awesome on me by the way) and walked out with it on, in fact it actually now needs to have a link removed.  I know also do not have to stop to rest when walking into work and actually find myself speeding up to catch the elevator full of people instead of slowing down so they wont see me gasping for air.
I have gained a lot of little wins by these great losses on the scale. I was speaking to Dr, Forrester today at my appointment and he asked me if I was happy. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I had this surgery and I told him I was very happy I choose to have my particular procedure. He told me that it would be terrible to regret choosing to have the surgery. I reminded him that for about one week about a month or so after the surgery I had “buyers remorse”. I was upset that I had lost the ability to enjoy eating. What I really lost was the ability to sit there and gorge myself. I think the philosophy of most overweight people and perhaps any addict is that a little taste good then a lot must taste even better. Thinking back I cant believe I thought that was a loss when what I gained was much greater, Life!
 Stay tuned for more.

Before Surgery 

After Surgery 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Importance of Being Honest.

     Everyone goes through dark periods in there lives, actually we all good through quite a lot of them but there is always a beacon of light. A source that tells us everything will be alright, we will get through it and prevail. Sometimes its faith, a friend, family or even help from a stranger. In my case it was my doctors. As you may have read I was going through a whiny stage last week and was tired of not feeling "incredible". I have read so many other patients comments about how great they are feeling and even though it was only 4 weeks after surgery I wanted that as well. I had some pains and aches that I just didn't understand. So most people would have made sure they asked their physicians all about it. However I was so tired of being examined i actually thought about just telling my doctors everything was fine and dandy and I felt "incredible". YES! I was going to lie, sue me! Today however I realized just how important it was to be honest with your surgeons. I encourage any patient especially the bariatric patients that maybe following me, if you have a question.. ASK IT!
     My doctors happen to read my blog so she knew what I was going through. To say that going to see my doctor lifted my spirits would be an understatement. They are my beacon through my darkness! She was not concerned with the pains I was having especially since I had no pains unless I was breathing deeply or stretching or lying in a wrong position. This should all go away, all I need is patients. Funny, I think I have heard that before. My incisions have healed beautifully, save for one stray stitch that is sticking out. That however should dissolve OR I am cutting it out lol. All this and the fact that I have lost 90 pounds since I started this journey with them is the reason this group has made me feel great. I leave that office every time feeling like I am special to them and they care deeply for my success. Of course I know that they treat every patient the same way and make everyone that goes to them feel like a rock star.
     Dr. Jack also made me feel confident that I am eating correctly. I was a bit paranoid that I was not getting enough nutrients. The amount of food that I actually eat now is so minimal compared to my ravenous appetite before surgery. It was not uncommon for me to be able to eat a whole pizza pie in a night then have a midnight craving for something else. If I didn't polish of the pie that night, you can guess what was for breakfast the next morning. Now I will make scrambled eggs from one egg and an egg white and can't finish. There is no possible way I can be getting everything I need. Again Dr. Jack squashed my fears and said that was exactly where I should be. Now if she could only do something about the cravings for junk food I am having, LOL. Although Dr. Forrester did tell me if I can get through a few weeks of the cravings they will diminish. Fingers crossed.
     What has diminished though has been my clothing sizes. I tried on shirts that had been in my closet for almost two years with the tags still on and not worn because they were too small. They were a size smaller than I was wearing however they are two sizes smaller than what I should have been wearing. I didnt want to ever go up a size so I just wore what I had even if they were getting to small. Those days are joyously behind me. I am looking forward to going shopping at a store with a name that doesn't start with Big and ... stay tuned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Buyers Remorse

     Have you ever wanted something so bad and even though it was very expensive or frivolous you needed it, then afterwords think, did I really need that. Buyers remorse.. I am suffering from that a little right now. I am sure this is a phase and perhaps something others have gone through as well. However right now I have to be honest and say I wish I never had the surgery. I know that sounds shocking to people who know me and know just how big and sick I really was from this but I just don't feel as good as I think I should almost 4 weeks after the surgery. Don't get me wrong I know I look better and am healthier already. My sleep apnea is going away and I can walk longer without losing my breath. There are just some things that I didn't expect.
     One of the problems I am having is sharp pains when I yawn or take a good deep breath. There are two specific spots these occur and they have me a little concerned. One of the pains happens in my lower left side of my back roughly where my kidney would be located. Sometimes I think its getting better and then net thing I know the pain is just as sharp as ever. It almost feels like a kidney punch. I was having problems getting enough water into my system until just recently so of course I automatically start thinking there is a kidney problem happening. The other pain is occurring in my lower chest again on my left side. This feels almost like a bruised rib. It hurts with deep breathes, bends, turns or when getting up from a chair. I know I am still healing but shouldn't this all be getting better by now? Fear not my friends for I do have a doctors appointment coming up this week. That however poses another dilemma. Do I tell the doctors about these issues or not?
     What?, you ask!. How could I not tell them? Well to be honest I am so tired of doctors office and hospitals. I just want to feel normal again. I do not want to be examined, poked, pricked, palpated, x-rayed, cat scanned or anything else for that matter for a long long time. I just dealt with over 3 months of constant testing or preparing for a test etc. I just want to be left alone to heal and get healthier. I know that if I tell them and there is no quick automated response like "oh that happens to a lot of people", more testing will be in my future.  I sometimes think that when I lost the 48 pounds pre surgery that I should have just continued on that path. Continued with the meal replacements and started working out more. Perhaps I would have been successful that time, even though I have made that promise to myself many times in the past.
     Eating is something else that has been getting me down. This use to be something I loved doing. It made me feel better, passed the time away and was just a joy. Now every time I eat I have some form of discomfort. From just a extreme full bloated feeling to real pain and nausea. Now I have never thrown anything up since the surgery, quick someone knock wood for me! There is nothing enjoyable about eating anymore. Perhaps that's a good thing since too much of a good thing is never actually good at all and the reason I am in this mess but I would like to be able to enjoy the tiny amount of food i can eat without the pending discomfort. The feeling only really lasts 10-15 minutes and once I start digesting I am at status quo. I do understand that I need to take more time when I eat and I am trying to get a rhythm down so that I know when I have become full before I eat too much.
     I know that I need to be patient and I hope that everything will be better soon. I want to be able to yawn and not fear what is coming. I want to eat a meal and be comfortably satisfied. I will be patient I mean there is nothing else I can do LOL. I can only look forward now and be strong. I will tell my doctors how I am feeling and deal with what comes after but sometimes you feel like whining a little. So that's what I did.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

almost three weeks down and so is the weight.

     Tomorrow, September 7th will be exactly 3 weeks since my surgery date. I can finally scrub my stomach in the shower and get off these scabs and whats left of the Dermabond (skin glue). The healing is under way and I am really not in any kind of pain. For the most part LOL. I am still a little tender on one of my sides especially when i yawn or breath deeply. It almost feels like i have a bruised rib. Was I beaten while I was under?? My stomach still does not look very pretty a few of the incision sites are black and blue and it looks like i was beaten with soap stuffed in a sock. However it does look much worse than it feels. I am at the "soft food" stage of my diet meaning my meals consist of scrambled eggs and tuna fish. I still have a week to go with this and I am already at the point if I don't see another scrambled egg for a year I will be quite alright. The weight however is definitely coming off. I was able to fit into a shirt that was one sizer smaller than I wear(and two sizes smaller than I should have been wearing). God knows I did not want to believe I had gone up a size back in the spring before this whole thing started. As of this morning I am down 80 pounds from my heaviest, pre-surgery and 32 pounds from the surgery date. Of course I think this is all due to the fact that I now eat like an anorexic bird.

     When I first started eating the soft foods, I thought they must have made a mistake and took out more than 85% of my stomach. My first meal consisted of one egg white and one whole egg, scrambled. I was only able to eat about half of it. REALLY?? Before the surgery that would have been topped with cheese and extra bacon and slid into a bagel. Then I would wash that down with another bacon egg and cheese on a bagel. GOD no wonder I got this way. Why didn't someone tell me to eat a salad LOL? For lunch I decided to try the tuna fish. One 5 ounce can mixed with low fat mayo , some salt , pepper, a dash of hot sauce and we are all good. Except I was only able to eat less than half of that can and was so uncomfortably full I had to sit down and relax or I thought I would be sick. There is just no way I am getting enough protein in my diet this way. Not to mention how painful it is to eat past a certain point. Really goes to show that you must take your time eating and make sure not too eat to much at once. By the third day I was able to just about finish the egg and a half but I am still amazed at how little I can physically eat. Add on the fact that I am usually not hungry and I see great success in my future.
     The only dark spot that worries me is that I do feel hungry when I know I am not. I was always an emotional eater. If I was stressed, depressed, worried or even happy food was there for it. I also eat out of boredom. This is what has been rearing its ugly head lately. I have been out of work now since 06/21/11 and sitting at home there is only so much Maury, paternity testing I can watch. I feel myself wanting, craving something to eat, just to have something to do. I am also concerned as to what will happen when stress comes back into my life and I do not turn to food. On top of all that, although this has not been an issue yet, I have to deal with the fact that I am addicted to food. There have been times when I see chocolate out at work and I say I no its not worth it, but the next thing I know I am walking away with a handful and planning on when I can go back and get more. Almost happens against my will. Looks like I wil have to find a way to strengthen my resolve. One thing that does help me control my cravings and desires is when non scale victories happen and I see that I can do this and what joy losing this weight will finally bring back to my life.
     One such victory happened yesterday. For months I had wanted to go to the zoo in Philly. However after looking at the map and seeing how far some of the parking was from the actual park. I realized I would not be able to physically walk it and then the park. However yesterday Gus and I took my two nephews Georgie and Ryan to the zoo. We parked in one of the furthest lots from the entrance. In a very "special" part of Philly too. I mean I thought I left the hood years ago and hear we were right back in it, with a bum asking us for change for the bus and everything. Now we didn't see the entire park and I was quite wiped out by the time we left but we all had a great time and I got some much needed walking done. It was an excellent day and I was proud of myself, something that hasn't happened very often in the past ten years or so. One of my souvenirs fro the trip was a T shirt Gus bought. It was the largest size they had and of course I knew i could not wear a 3X yet but it was a goal. I tried it on this morning and although I could never wear it out of the house I WAS able to actually get it on. Bring it baby!! I will be wearing it by Thanksgiving.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The First Week After... and then some

      It felt so amazing to be home. Even though I was not all that uncomfortable or in pain, being home just makes everything seem like it is going to be alright. As soon as I walked into the front door I saw the decorations there. Balloons and different colored signs all over the fireplace welcoming me home. It brought a huge smile to face. However all i could think of was how tired walking up those steps made me and God I need to sit down. So I staked my claim on what I knew was going to be my temporary home for the next few days. The recliner! I would be sleeping on that for a few days because it would support my body easier then lying flat on my back and i could not turn onto my side which is how I naturally want to sleep. AH! The recliner feels so comforting and warm. This should be a nice quick easy recovery. Famous last words!!
     The rest of the first afternoon went pretty quietly and quickly. Hunger was not a problem, however getting enough water in was, so I tried as hard as I could to get as much fruit punch flavored crystal light into me. Not a bad start for the first day. It was now time to get ready for bed. I had Gus help get up and to the bathroom. As we were walking back from the first floor bathroom to my recliner, Gus asked what I had on my shirt. To me it looked like I spilled crystal light. No big deal , right? Unfortunately I was wrong and it was blood. One of my incision sites was bleeding and it soaked through my t shirt and onto my shorts. Quickly I sat down and Gus ran to get some napkins. One napkin flooded, another and another. Jesus was this going to stop. We put pressure on the wound and it finally stopped. I knew that the discharge instructions had said if there was bleeding to call the doctor, but there was no way I was going back into the hospital. I knew i would be ok and I could call him in the morning. I settled into my recliner with some gauze and tape covering my incision. Gus settled in on the couch for the night.
      I would love to say that I slept wonderful and woke up to a closed wound and not another problem. Yeah , NO! I did not sleep well. I kept checking the gauze to see if it was bleeding again on and off all night. Plus I was already getting a sore tailbone from sitting in the same position for so long. The only thing that wasn't bothering was hunger. They were right when they said some patients have to remind themselves to eat. That was my case. In the morning I had to tell my self to drink a quarter of my protein shake just because it was breakfast time not because I was hungry. And although I was thirsty I could only take small amounts of water in at a time so getting the 64 ounces they wanted I knew was going to be hard.
     After eating, it was time to hit the bathroom again. Help was not very far away as I sat there and luckily so. It seems sitting up in that position had made my wound bleed again. and the next thing I knew the gauze was completely saturated in a deep claret red color. Again, between Gus, my mom and I, we got the bleeding to stop with pressure and a anew bandage. Well I guess it was time to call the doctor. I left a message for the office and he would be calling back shortly. That was the case, Dr. Forrester called me back and I told him what was going on. He advised that I should just put pressure on the area and it should stop. I told him that was what we did and it seems to be ok now. Perhaps I was just telling him that so I wouldn't have to be seen. Making the doctor think, it was better than it was. The fact of the matter was for the rest of the weekend, every time I walked around or went to the bathroom or sat in a chair other than the recliner, I would bleed and it bled more than I thought it should but it always stopped. Truth was I was getting very nervous and depressed. Why ? Why was this happening to me? Why wouldn't it just stop already. Plus I could see that my mom and Gus were also worried although they tried to hide that from me.
      By the time Monday morning came around I knew I had to call the doctors office. It has bled for too long and I was now getting paranoid about the other symptoms to "look out for" on the discharge papers. I just knew for a fact my legs were swelling and that I MUST have had a fever, despite what the obviously broken thermometer I was using told me. I called the office and they had Dr. Jack give me a call back. She said it would be ok, that I should come into the office and it might just need a little stitch! Sorry, WHAT ?? I have never gotten stitched in my life unless i was under anesthesia. It's true, never cut a cut or anything like that deep enough where I had to get stitched up. Once again, all i could think of was the unknown pain, I did not want this to happen at all. I sat there thinking, "what's wrong with you? You just had major surgery and you're worried over one stitch??" DJ, (Dr. Jack as I call her only to myself in my head) knew I didn't want the stitch and calmed me down telling me she wold use a topical anesthetic first then the needle, then the stitch I wouldn't feel a thing. For some reason I believed her. OK DJ you know what you are doing. I told her I could be at the office after 4 pm.
     3:30 that afternoon, Gus and I were on the road. That is after another bandage change in the car which we brought with us in case they wanted to see just how much blood was coming out. We got there and into the office without any more bleeding and up I was on a table. Dr.'s Jack and Forrester were both there and they took a look. Turns out I developed a hematoma. Which is a collection of blood outside the vessels and just under the skin. It was old blood and needed to come out. I was NOT  bleeding to death. This was good news. Dr. Jack showed us how to press down on the wound to express the trapped blood and I was NOT going to need a stitch. I would have leeped off the bed in joy if Dr. Jack didn't have her entire body weight pressed down on my stomach getting old blood out of me. Of Course while I was at the office I had to asked to be weighed in. I was very excited to see what I lost already especially since I have had nothing but protein shakes and water since Wednesday.  I was never really hungry so this should be good. I took my shoes off, wallet out of my shorts, got on and .... WHAT ???  One fucking pound?? ONE ??? Well the receptionist gave me they well you are probably holding fluids still , etc, etc, etc. Talk about a depressing blow. I was just a school kid at recess when I learned the bleeding was not bad and I was getting a stitch and now this.
     I had no choice but to shake it off and know that there is more to come, I was still healing. SO back home we went. I started moving a little more and walking as I was suppose to. However every time I did there was more blood coming out. This time however instead of stopping it we would push on the area to help it get out. This continued on the rest of the week. As did the forced water drinking and the reminding myself to "eat". I was amazed at how hungry I really wasn't and how too much water at once would make my stomach hurt. Things seemed to be going well, I had no constipation and no vomiting of any kind. Now if this damn hematoma would finally empty and close up. A change was on the horizon and it was coming in the form of Wednesday.
     Wednesday morning came around and I had now transitioned to sleeping in my bed. I woke up and after a bathroom break realized I was bleeding again and had to change the bandage. Every time I did this I would apply pressure and blood would drip out to sometimes pour in a slow stream. I would continue until it was dry. This morning however, we hit the mother load. I applied pressure and a geyser erupted. A steady tiny thin stream not even as thick as an eyelash shot out of the wound. WOW this is new, I hope this is normal! This continued off and on for the next hour or so and really ran free in the shower. It was like a scene from Psycho. Until finally it stopped. I think it best to keep my dr.s appointment I had scheduled for Friday with the new development. I told the office on Monday I would call them to say if I wanted to keep Friday open or not since I had just seen them. I called and told them with the site still bleeding I would like to come in. They asked if I would come in on Thursday morning instead. HELL YEAH I WILL!! All throughout the rest of Wednesday I was waiting for the bandage to show new blood. I sat up, went to the bathroom, sat in different chairs, nothing!! Could this have stopped? I was starting to feel like I was now in the clear. Low and behold the night passed blood free. I was done. However there was another monster about to rear its ugly head. This however is not a complication it was a two pronged villain of cravings and self doubt.
     Thursday morning as I waited to go to the office, I was still not hungry but I wanted food. I wanted to chew, I want to eat. Watching the Food Network all week did not help either. LOL. With this new craving came the fears I had of can I do this? I still am the same person. I still hate vegetables that has not changed. Will I have the resolve I need to try different things until I learn to like them? I don't have a choice do I? I could not have gone through all of this to let myself falter. But I know it is going to be a struggle. Well fighting inner demons was going to have to wait. Its appointment time. Were I would find an ally in my fight.
     We got to the doctors office and I informed them that the bleeding had stopped so this was handled as a regular visit. I got called back, blood pressure taken and OH NO!, weigh in time! Please let me have lost at least another pound or so. Did I just see that number correctly?? Oh Thank God. Eight more pounds since Monday. I lost eight pounds in 4 days. Some quick math in my head and I have lost 57 pounds in total and 9 in one week. Jim meet your new ally against self doubt. Everyone was very excited. Especially me. I had not been this weight in two years and this is just the tip of the ice berg. The story only gets better.
     For the rest of the week right up until this morning things have been great. No bleeding, Losing weight and still not feeling hungry. I am still struggling to get the full gallon of water in they want a day but its getting better. I am really starting to look forward to week two where i can eat soft foods, something substantial. I have all my necessary inventory ready. We bought a bunch of stuff before the surgery just to be ready, Things like crystal light, jello, tuna fish as well as my supplements. One of the things I also got was a scale. Not a big deal right? Everyone has one. The only difference is, I have not been able to weigh myself on a standard bath scale in many many years. the one I found had a higher limit than most, but I was still too big for it. FOR NOW! I would be there soon I knew. SO this morning just for fun since I was close to the limit on Thursday I decided to get on it. With Gus standing beside me we look down. What ? Can that number be right ? Is this thing really working for me? I went down another eight pounds since Thursday afternoon. I have now lost a total of 65 pounds since June 21st and 17 since the surgery a week and a half ago. I just know I AM going to do this!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Surgery

     Well August 17th finally arrived and I have to say I met the morning with a very quiet nervousness mixed with excitement of the future to come. However this was still a major operation I was about to have, so every minute that morning seemed to fly by so quickly. It was a quiet car ride up. My mom in the backseat and Gus driving as I stared out the window taking in the beautiful scenery on route 78. I love that highway, it always looks so pretty to me and I thought this would be an even better ride in the fall with the different color leaves. I guess anything to get my mind off the surgery LOL. We finally get to the hospital and I have to say my nerves started to wind down this was going to happen no matter what and I knew my surgeon was great. First thing I had to do was check in and register which they did very quickly. Then it was off for my blood work. One small pinch, a new vial of blood. OK so far no sweat. Now it was down to the pre-op area. This is were things were going to start happening quickly. Within just a few minutes a nurse called me in the back to have me fill out paperwork, and get weighed. This was it my VERY last weigh in before the surgery. I got on there and realized I had just lost 48 pounds. 48 pounds from 06/21 - 08/17. I jokingly said to the nurse oh i am out of here i don't need any stinking surgery. Unfortunately she was not 100 percent sure I was joking. I had to assure her I was going to go through with it. She took me back to my "bed" wear i got into my gown. Its funny, I know that every patient in there has to do this and stripped down to nothing with just a thin curtain hiding them but i swear i ripped off my shorts and shirts and had that gown on in nano-seconds LOL. Like anyone was going to come peeking through the curtain. The nurse came back and put on my monitors and puti in my iv. I was all set now. I just needed my family and the doctors.

She brought my family back to stay with me and the anesthesiologist came to give me his pep talk. Lucky for me he gave me a little something before we went into surgery so I was already feeling good by the time I was in the operating room. I don't remember much after that. Lets hear it for drugs!!

The Recovery
     The next couple of hours of course to me only took seconds. However for Mom and Gus waiting it was a different story. Overlook Hospital however has a system where you can watch a board and see just where I am in the surgery procedure from Pre-op through to Post-op. It reminds me of being at an airport. See ? 

I am the second blue bar from the top. Meaning I survived the surgery and was resting peacefully in Post-op. At least that's what it was suppose to mean. Nothing, however works out exactly that perfectly for some people. That day I was one of those people. What should have been a two hour wait for me turned out to take over 7 hours for my family. As we know by now, I have sleep apnea and would rather cut off my nose then wear that HORRIBLE c-pap contraption. Well this was affecting my blood oxygen levels in the recovery room. Every time I nodded off my levels would tank. Now this is probably been true for me for the past 20 years but no one was ever monitoring it before. And even though I was feeling fine, I could not go to a normal room in this condition. I was truly feeling fine after the surgery. Of course there was pain but it was more discomfort then horrible pain. In fact anyone who has been in the hospital knows the infamous pain question, "from 1 to 10 whats your pain level"?, I was never higher than a 5. Since the anesthesiologist needed me to be monitored around the clock I had to be sent to the ICU. Yes folks, My first night was spent in the ICU where i was checked on every 15 minutes. I did spike a low fever over night and had to get a Tylenol suppository. The family was allowed to stay with me until later that evening. 
     Now the thing with ICU is you have your own .... no not a room, I would say cubicle. However they are opened to the floor and you can hear lot of things going on. Especially an senile old woman in the next bed who continued to call out for anyone that would listen to her. I literally heard her all night crying out "miss", "nurse" over and over again. The next day she was calling for her nurse, "Nurse Hathoway" now there was no such nurse in the hospital but i think she was reliving E.R. episodes in her head. My favorite outburst had to be "My God help me, my arm is falling off!!" Who knew I was going to get a show with recovery. The best thing about it was how all the nurses just continued to walk around her as if they didn't hear her. In fact if I didn't joke around with them about it I would have thought I was the senile one. I spent most of the next day in the ICU, where it was very warm. I was waiting to go for a test. I would have to drink this solution and have pics taken of my new stomach to make sure there were no leaks. I was not able to drink anything until this test was performed. So now I have not had anything to drink since 10 pm on Tuesday night, It was now Thursday morning, it was hot, i had oxygen being forced in my nose and mouth, everything about my mouth was bone dry, It was almost torture. Finally i begged for some mouth swaps so i could get a little bit of relieve from the dryness. I have to say though I was a bad boy when it came to the swap. For those of you who do not know what it is, basically it is a small sponge on a stick that you did in ice water and you rub that on your parched lips and gums. Every time someone swapped my mouth for me I clenched down on that thing for dear life savoring every tiny but precious drop of liquid heaven. I literally only got a few drops and they absorbed directly into my gums and cheeks so I really was drinking anything. But God it felt good. 
      By early that afternoon, I was going to radiology for my test. THANK GOD. Water was soon to follow. I get into the room and am giving this small paper cup that is halfway full of a yellowish liquid. Of course my first question is "how bad is this going to taste". What followed was a typical hospital fib. "oh, its not really that bad." Later that same woman would say to me," i know it is horrible right?" REALLY?? It was quite a bitter tasting swill with a metallic after taste. Almost like drinking a bad shot of whiskey. Then again I have never had a good shot of whiskey. Brown liquor is bad. LOL. I had to stand in front of the machine while they took the results and I was feeling nauseous from the slop I drank and a little light headed, GOD lets make this fast. Finally the physician assistant from my surgeons office came to the waiting room and said it looked good, no leaks. PLEASE! Can I have some water? There was a fountain just a few feet from me with dixie cups. PLEASE! He was a benevolent PA and he got me my first sip of water in over 40 hours. The cool elixir spilled over my tongue and throat like the first rains in a desert after the dry season. Then came the reality of my new stomach. I have to drink slow small sips when all I want to do is down this cup in one gigantic gulp. But that is just not physically possible anymore. So, I had to take it slow. 
     Unfortunately I was not able to go into a regular room yet because they were not ready for me. So back to ICU I went. I spent a couple of more hours there waiting to be in a normal room and Gus and I were being entertained by grandma nut job across the hall. Finally the PA came in to tell me I would be moving up to the 9th floor and he was going to get me ready. He took of all my monitor wires. I was excited to be busting out of here, until I heard those terrifying words. "Your Foley Catheter". He had to remove it before I was to be moved. His instructions ... take a deep breath in now ........ exhale. As i exhaled he pulled and pulled like he was reeling in a fish. Now I can't say this was painful, but very uncomfortable and felt like pulses of electrical shock running through a very delicate area. But it was all worth getting out of ICU and into my own private room. 
      IN ICU ... 

My first sip of water.
     Finally, I was in my own room. On the 9th floor. At this hospital the surgery rooms, recovery, icu and radiology are all on the 4th floor which is actually below the ground. I finally saw daylight and a nice view from my room. It was like being freed from a dungeon I was not meant to be in for so long, The new digs also came with my first meal. I was very happy to see that coming. However I was not really hungry at all. In fact my first meal consisted of 6 ounces of crystal light and a spoonful of sugar free jello. With that I was too full. Almost sick. Now this is a weird feeling. there were times were i could put a way an entire large pepperoni pie and ask for dessert. Of course that usually came with a side of shame sauteed in self loathing. But I can't physically do that anymore and hopefully emotionally wouldn't let that happen ever again.
     My last night in the hospital was pretty good, I wasn't in much pain at all and in fact did not ask for any pain meds. Of course they are very strict with getting people up and walking right away. So I decided to beat them to the punch and Gus and I strolled the halls of the 9th floor a couple of times. The nurses were very happy to see my initiative. The truth is I just hate having people tell me what I have to do especially when I am feeling sore. This way they will leave me alone.
     The rest of the night was quiet, I had a few family visitors and I was anxious to rest. To my surprised I actually had a some what restful night. My temperature was normal everything was looking good. I could not wait to see my doctor in the morning for him to say I was out of there. Dr. Forrester did not disappoint, he was in my room somewhere around 9 am. Even though he had a big smile on his face and asked how I was feeling I saw a familiar look in his eye. Before he even said it, I knew he was going to bring up my white blood cell count. He said it was a little higher than would make him feel better but I reminded him that that is just my body it runs high and what would make me feel better and ultimately lower my count was to be home. He agreed and said we would be out within the hour. Hmmmm !! more hospital jargon. I can assure you it was no where near an hour. I do know that was not his doing, his part was pretty much all done but we needed the paperwork et., to come through. 
     Well there was nothing much for us to do while we waited, so I just laid in bed. Then a few minutes later Gus and I heard a strange noise. Almost like one of the many alarms that were part of the patients monitoring system. Like when my fluids were empty. However this one was not being checked on. Gus decided to go see what was happening. As he gets to the door of my room a nurse tells him its the fire alarm and we are to stay in the room with the door closed until further notice. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This only happens to people on nighttime medical dram a shows. Next thing they are going to tell me is a shooter is loose in the building. Well there was no smoke to be seen or smelled so i must not have worried because I took a nap. Next thing I knew the sirens had stopped and the door was open. But still no nurse to discharge me. Because I am sure thats all she was worried about during the fire, my discharge!. Turns out one of the other bariatric patients had to be taken back down to surgery during it but of course the elevators were shut down. She did eventually come in and tell me it was time to go, she removed my IV. AHHH that's when you know its official. Gus went to get the car as I got dressed. So i was dressed for a good ten minutes now and waiting, I finally went out into the hall where the hurse saw me and came over. She asked if I was ok to walk down? HUH??? Did she not know 85 percent of my stomach was just removed and the rest stapled and sutured. MMM No i would rather not walk down. Eventually the transport man came for me and took me to my chariot. This part of it was finally over. The new beginning is up next. 


Monday, August 15, 2011

I have the Time

     The time of my surgery that is. I called my physicians office and spoke with my insurance navigator, Shante. I hope that's how she spells her name. I Wanted to make sure that all my clearances came through and that there would be no surprises on Wednesday when I went for surgery. She has been awesome with making appointments for me and letting me know what else I needed for the surgery. With all the hoops i was jumping through, you could say she was the ringmaster of this circus of events. She wanted to let me know that although I was not expecting to hear my time for the surgery until the day before she had them for me. My hope for an early surgery came true, I will be the first case at 8:30 am Wednesday morning. Hopefully this means I will be making an early exit from the hospital and only have to stay until Thursday afternoon.
     I have to say the excitement has been building all weekend long, however as soon as I heard the time was set, the nerves started working. I know I am in excellent hands. Dr. Forrester and Dr. Jack have been awesome and I wouldn't want anyone else but it is surgery and my life is going to change drastically. I have been told this alters all my relationships in life. Relationships with food, eating, and even my personal relationships where my size and food addiction have been a big part of. I am ready to take on what I need to do and I know the office has an incredible support system with peers, therapists, groups etc. So again choosing this group was the right choice. I am a bit jittery about my relationship with food.
     God knows in my large and wonderful family there are some addiction issues, lucking for them its been just drugs and alcohol. LOL !! I am the poor fool addicted to the life sustaining victual. (Now before I get any hate mail, I am just kidding about drugs and alcohol being an easier addiction, but I can not give up food like we can give up alcohol or drugs). Food is what I have turned to when I was depressed, stress, worried or even just bored, The latter being the worst. I mean hey it something to do. Looks like now i will have to beat boredom with a brisk walk. The dogs are going to love this, :-).
     To get my self ready for the next two weeks when all I will be able to consume is liquid pabulum, mostly in the form of a protein shake. I have decided to start early. For the next two days I will be on a totally liquid diet, no snacking, no soda, nothing but protein drinks and water. Plus I cant have any crystal light with red dye in it past 1 pm tomorrow. I guess they want to make sure if they see anything red in there they know its blood and not flavored water. The one part I am going to have a hard time with is from now on, I can not have water with my meals. This will be for life. Half hour before my meal and up to an hour after I can not drink. Evidently the water pushes the food through the stomach and into the intestines faster than it should and you dont feel as full as yu should. Making it easy to overeat. So this a good 35+ year habit I am going to have to break.  Easy peasey right ? CHE RIGHT!! It would be interesting to see how many of you readers can do it and not drink anything with your meal and up to an hour after. MMMM I smell a challenge or is it my gym socks? Well I am going to go with challenge! Let me know how you all do. And be sure to send me some lovin' on Wednesday morning.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Final Countdown

     Well folks, we are approaching the final countdown to the weight loss surgery. Tuesday afternoon I stop eating anything and can only drink water from 1 pm on. Then Wednesday at some point I will be heading to overlook hospital to be admitted. I am hoping for an early surgery time, keep your fingers crossed. Then i am hoping for just a one night stay in the hospital to be home on Thursday afternoon sometime. Again, fingers crossed, maybe even toes!. The last procedure before the surgery was performed on Thursday afternoon. It was the placing of the IVC filter inside of me. As everyone knows I went into the procedure with great trepidation. But ALAS, as the song says at first I was afraid, I was petrified.. I SURVIVED....
     First let me explain what the IVC filter is then you can see why i was not looking forward to this. IVC, stands for Inferior Vena Cava which is the lower part of the main vein that brings blood into the heart from the body. There is a risk at my size that after surgery a blot clot could travel from my legs into my heart or lungs. The IVC filter prevents that. To place the filter they have to put a catheter into my femoral vein, the large vein that runs up the leg to the IVC. They do this at the groin area. YES, they had to put a large needle with a catheter into the vein in my groin, and all down with no sedation. So, I was not looking forward to this. Below Is a picture of the filter and a diagram of how it goes in. Although they went in on my right side not left.
      Pretty scary huh? Well to give credit where it is due, my friend Lisa told me it was not that bad and honestly it was not that bad. The worst part of the entire process was the waiting. Gus and I got there at 10:30 am for a 11 am procedure. I immediately was seen by a nurse who drew my blood.
But then the waiting began. We were told to go to same day surgery where we waited for a good 30 minutes. Finally I was called in, my heart in my throat I walked to the back. Every thing seemed so to be moving so quickly now, and it was bright back there. i sat in a chair and a nurse took my blood pressure and temp and proceeded to ask me different questions that by now i have answered 850 times. No I am not allergic to anything, No I do not smoke, etc. etc. I should have a sheet printed with all the answers and just hand them out. All the same questions over and over EXCEPT for this one. Do you have a living will? I am out of here!! What? The nurse advises its just something they have to ask and i shouldn't worry. Well that ship has already sailed sister! Well she was done, I am now expecting to see the oh so fashion forward and revealing gown. However this is not where i am going to have it done. I say a quick thank god, the last place I wanted to be was someplace called same day surgery when i thought this was like an office procedure. So down to outpatient radiology they sent us. AHH now that sounds more pleasant and benign. I was wrong. However what was pleasant or should I say who was pleasant were the nurses there. I can not say enough about this nurse Kathy who was with me during the procedure. She got me to my bed, gave me my gown and so politely told me to strip down, biut its ok I can leave my socks on !! LOL The place we waited in out patient surgery was darker then same day surgery area and my bed was in a little corner tucked away. Here again we .. you guessed it .. waited. 
     We were told that the doctor was delayed and it would be about a half hour. Unfortunately 10 minutes later I saw my doctor and my heart sunk. My feelings although had changed, at this point I now only wanted this procedure over with and to be on the way home. My nurse came to get me and wheeled me into a large room that resembled an operating room. In fact it was on operating room. I was asked to scoot myself onto the very very narrow table and which point my gown rose above my hips and i was giving Kathy and Muhamed, the tech, quite a show. They were however extremely professional and Kathy assisted me in keeping my modesty and dignity by lowering it every time I moved. Now this is where the waiting actually resembles torture. I was trapped on a tiny table with a tech and nurse working quickly around me, instruments clanking, carts rolling, all preparing for the big moment. All i could do was ask God to please let them start and get this over with. Kathy must have sensed my worry and told me that of all the procedure they preform in radiology this was the fastest and least painful. Now I know she was trying to help but i was hoping to hear NOT painful. 
      The Doctor was finally there and he was speaking to me but all i could do was stare forward and listen as Moe, as we was called by the doctor shaved my nether region. The doctor told me he was going to talk me through every thing he was going to do. All I wanted to say to him was GOD PLEASE DON'T. I dont want to know whats coming, all I want to hear from him is, "OK we're done". As he began, the angelic Kathy stood behind me and rubbed my shoulders telling me this was going to be ok and I would be fine. In fact every time he was about to do something invasive she would repeat this. It was almost mothering and I have to say it was very nice. I didn't notice the local anesthetic being injected and it did not burn as i thought it would. I did however feel when the needle punctured my vein it didnt hurt but it was more like a large pulse through my body and it felt strange but not painful. Then there was some pressure when the catheter was going in and within minutes I heard. OK the filter is in. Everything Kathy told me was true and I was no worse for the wear. Relieved to be be done all I wanted was to get out of there, but I had to go to same day surgery and lay flat for an hour. Another evil waiting game. 
     While I was there a nurse came in every 15 minutes to take my pulse from my feet and I must have asked Gus the time every 5 minutes. 3 pm was my discharge time and although it was noe hour it felt like three. Again, the nurses where more than I could have hoped for with their kind words and encouragement about the up coming surgery on Wednesday. I have to say I could have come this far with out encouragement. Especially from Gus, my mom, my family and my friends, I get cards of encouragement from my friend Kendall's parents that are a source of joy with every word they write. Thanks Brenda and Ken. Well Wednesday is almost here, got to go rest up.


Monday, August 8, 2011

A rollercoaster day

     Well, I was not looking forward to today all weekend. Today was the day my IVC filter was going to be put into me through a vein in my groin. Fear of the unknown was my affliction all weekend. Last night I did not want to go to bed, knowing that sleeping would only make the morning arrive that much faster. Inevitably I laid down to sleep and of course morning was here before I knew it. I was unusually quiet and quite visibly anxious the entire ride to the doctors office. Now due to vacation schedules I had to go all the way up to North Jersey for this procedure and it was about an hour ride. This is quite a long time to have to think about what was going to be happening shortly. As we get closer my heart raced a little faster with every announcement from the ever increasingly annoying voice of the GPS lady. "In one half mile, your destination will be on the right.." Oh boy a wave of nausea hits. Well lets get this over with as soon as I am in the sooner I am out. The building was pleasant looking enough and there was a cute bridge that went over a running stream that produce a very relaxing and peaceful sound. Almost like being in the woods somewhere far away from needles and filters. I am amazed once again at how beautiful this world can be sometimes.
     After stopping for a minute we went into the building and signed in, gave all my paper work and sat down. Just us and an elderly couple who were there before us were waiting. I saw the office was split into two parts. One for the dr's office and the other part were the procedure suites. I assumed I would be seen in the office then move over to the procedure suite to have it put in. I saw a tech or nurse come out in her scrubs but no one called me yet. It is strange how in these circumstances time seems to both fly by and move so slowly simultaneously. I didn't want to be called in yet I wanted it over. With every passing minute i was expecting the door to open and for them to call my name. Minutes flew by and with ever door knob turn so did my stomach. Yet through all this I was still waiting. It was over an hour before a nurse came out and finally called me in. AN HOUR! come one there was only one couple before us and all they needed was to say something to the doctor.
     Well finally in the room and the nurse says we are hear to check your legs right? Well no i am here for a filter, I let her know. Evidently they need to check my legs first. OK. Here they are. Sexy, right? She informed me the doctor would be right with me. I have to say doctors office must have different definitions for some common english words than we do. For instance, "you might feel some pressure" really means this is gonna hurt. "This might hurt a bit" means you're going to need Demerol after this.  And my favorite, " the doctor will be right with you" evidently means 25 minutes later.
     The doctor comes in and goes over my history and tells me he may go in through my groin but he likes going in the through the neck. Wait what ??? Now I am not sure which I hate more but I figure the neck is closer to my lungs then my groin so ok. So now he wants to know what day is good for me? UMMMMMMM WHAT ??? He never planned on doing the procedure today. So I drove an hour, waited an hour in the waiting room, waited 25 minutes in the smaller room and had to drive an hour back home for him to talk to me for 10 minutes! Next time hit me up on my celly doc! I mean this was ridiculous. Gus took off work for nothing and now has to take off Thursday again since that's the procedure day now. I was quite annoyed now i have to be anxious for another 3 days.
      So now its time to get my mind off this and do something fun. We decided on taking my nephews to the movies. I really wanted to see a new movie that came out this weekend however I was nervous. It had been quite a while since I have been in a movie theater. More specifically since I had been in a movie theater SEAT. I shrugged it off, I am down 40 pounds I am going to try it. Well as soon as I sat down i knew i would not be getting up until the end of the movie so bathroom be damned. It was shall we say snug! I was ok with it since Gus was on one side of me and my 8 yo old nephew was on the other side of me. It was only a 4 seater row and we filled it so I knew i wouldn't be embarrassed by people trying to squeeze passed me to get in and out of the row. Just one of the things us big people worry about when we go places. That an of course the side stares and whispers people think I don't see or hear. I however choose to ignore it. As I did this evening when one of the ignorant teenagers behind us threw a popcorn kernel at my back as the movie was letting out and I was still sitting in the seat. Things like that happen but I was not about to let them see me get flustered. Let the ass' think they missed. These are the things I will not miss after the weight loss. So all in all this day had quite its ups and downs. It will be a busy week, so more to come.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

2 weeks away..

     Yes that's right, in exactly 2 weeks from today I will be in the hospital bed recovering from the surgery. You would think with the surgery so close everything I need to do would be all wrapped up. WRONG ! Still a lot to take care of, some of it being loose ends with my surgeons but some with other physicians as well. Dealing with so many doctors in the past few months I have really become amazed. Some, like my surgeons at the bariatric office, like Dr. Jack and Dr. Forrester seem to have it all together. Every i dotted and t crossed. I am sure Dr. Goyal is the same, I just have not dealt with him yet. Plus they have a great staff that backs them up. Some doctors however ?? I can't see how they make it to work everyday.
     Now from my past writing we all know I am too fat to get a stress test done. Now this doesn't mean that I cant perform what I need to, like walk on a treadmill. It means the table I have to lay on to take the pictures of my heart is too small. So yes, the people that need to have stress tests done the most are too heavy to get them done. Which is why they need them done in the first place. Let's hear it for the genius who designed that flaw. So because I could not get the test done at the hospital, I still needed clearance from a cardiologist to have the surgery done. Someone to say, yes his ticker is not going to give out on the table. If it hasn't given out on me trying to walk up 3 flights of stairs at over 500 lbs I dont think its going to have a problem with me lying on a table passed out during surgery. But hey I am no cardiologist. I did however go see one on Monday to get cleared. I saw someone in the same office last year who cleared me for my hernia operation. So I am figuring this is going to be in and out. FAMOUS LAST WORDS. The nurse takes me back takes my blood pressure, 130/82. Excellent. Then performs an ekg. Harmless, painless and quick. Then about 10 minutes later, a small delicate asian doctor probably in his late 50's to early 60's comes in to see me. He looks over my files and says ok no high blood pressure, no pains, no real problems. He then proceeds to look up and says "so you just like to eat to much huh?" Well I didn't get this way from bulimia gone wrong? "Yes" I said to him being as polite as ever. My mom raised me right. he then proceeds to tell me for clearance we need to run some tests. We have to do a stress test.. WHAT ?? I must have heard him wrong. I advised him that I could not because of my size. "OH" he says "then probably can not do other stress test either". I then tried to explain to him that there was a weight limit on the tables. He of course had to go verify this and come back 10 minutes later telling me no tables in the area could be found. Ummmm Yeah Yoda, I already knew that! That is why I am here. I then had to "remind" him that last year I was cleared for surgery without a stress test and they did an echocardiagram. well then lets schedule one and he sends me off. So now I am still not cleared for surgery and have to go back to him at 9 AM on Tuesday for the test. The day after I am getting the IVC filter put in through my groin, YIKES. I am less freaked out about that since a friend advised me ai am going to be pretty sedated for the procedure and wont remember a thing. Sounds a lot like some nights I had in my youth.
     So I still have to be cleared, get blood work done, get the filter put in, and sign my consent forms. Its gonna be a BUSY two weeks. I will keep you all posted.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

21 days to go.

     Well i just did the math and there are only 21 days until i check into the hospital. As i said i was quite nervous when i first was given the date and last some of my fears were put rest. Its not so much the surgery I am concerned about I am I will be sleeping during that who cares ! However Hospital stays suck ! Usually I am way to heavy for the bed support and i wind up feeling the metal bed underneath. Which of course makes for a real peaceful nights sleep!! Then of course there is the question of will I have a roommate? Will that roommate be perky and chatty? If so, please just give me a staph infection and move me to my own room.  I have learned that the doctors I am seeing our actually the Directors of bariatric surgery at Overlook Hospital and evidently, patients of directors get spoiled and treated very very well. So bring it on sunshine !!
     I learned all of this from a consent class we had last night at the doctors office. I had to bring a friend of family so Gus came with me and we got their a little before 5. I was weighed in and lost another 5 pounds on my own. Bringing my post op-surgery loss to 40 pounds. Lets hear it for the treadmill. Most of the information they told us I had already learned about like the 2 weeks before the surgery most patients have to restrict their diet. Well I have been doing that for over a month now so I am way ahead. I was also given the phone number of one last doctor I need to see to get all my tests and procedures done. This one makes me very nervous too.
     This doctor will be performing an IVC filter implant. This is so I won't throw a clot to my lungs and die. OK, I get that. Its important! However I don't like the idea of them entering my body through a vein in my groin and shoving a catheter all the way to my chest. Especially since I do not think I will be under anesthesia. Someone told me its just some drugs to make you dopey well I am already dopey so what if they don't work. I want a board certified anesthesiologist please !! Some nice Jewish doctor, I hear they are the best. At least I am pretty sure that's what Archie told Edith.
     All of things will be happening very quickly in the next 21 days. I have an appointment on Monday to see the cardiologist to hopefully clear me for surgery without ordering any more procedures. Then Tuesday I am taking George to take his driving test. Thursday Toby has a vet appointment and then the following Monday, the 8th I have the IVC procedure. So not only do I have to have this procedure but the doctors office they referred me too has doctors on vacation all month so I have to go all the way to Clifton to get this done. For you non-Jersey people that's like 45 mins to an hour away from me. My nerves are already happening. All I hope with me going through all this is that there is someone out there going to have the surgery as well that this is helping. Let me get all the nervousness out of the way for you so you can see everything is going to be OK.
     I know deep down that everything is going to be great. I can start seeing my future self now and the things that I will do. I will in a roller coaster next year at some point dammit. I have not been able to fit in one for many many years. I can remember when it happened. I was at Great Adventure with my friend Christine. We waited online for a very long time to get on the very first Batman roller coaster they had so you can imagine it was sometime ago. We got up to the front of the line I sat down and an realized nope  they could not close the safety harness. I was asked to get out and wait over on the side. I cant even tell you how embarrassing, no humiliating it was in front of dozens of people not to mention one of my best friends. I have not been to an amusement park since. Not even to go with others as company. I always had an excuse why I couldn't go. Things are going to change and I am doing more stuff already and taking pictures to prove it. I have had a lot of people comment on the picture below I took at 4th of July. They say red is definitely my color. What do you think? Let me know

Friday, July 22, 2011

A picture says a thousand words, 2 pictures are priceless.

     Yesterday I was playing around with my mac and the photo booth app. When I happened to see a picture on there from June when i was wearing the exact same shirt. Well i wanted to see if i could see a difference in myself. I know I lost 35 pounds but when you are as big as me that's a drop in the proverbial bucket. Its a BIG bucket. So I do not necessarily see my changes. I aligned myself up about the same as I was in the previous picture even opened the closet door as was in the other picture(excuse the mess) to make it look as close as possible to the original.The top picture was taken 06/24/11 the second was on 07/21/11.

     Now I know its not a jaw dropping reality weight loss TV show different but it was enough to help validate what I am doing. This also helped me wake up early this morning and head to the gym with Gus. To my readers who hate heading to the gym or think they cant do it or its just too hard. I HEAR YA!! However i do have to say that if you can get through a few days of it and go home load up on over the counter pain relief it starts to get easier. Just this morning we left the cardio room and i was literally almost running out about ready to dance. That is until I got outside (we are having a terrible heat wave in NJ, 100 degree temps UGH). Then I felt my energy get sapped. The point is, they are right! You know who they are the annoyingly peppy workout people who live in the gym and are constantly smiling praising the benefits of working out. Well one thing is very true, you really do (eventually) leave there with more energy then you when you got there. So if your struggling with the exercise portion, you can do it. Just go slow, that's what I had to do and now I am up to 25 minutes on the treadmill and its only been a week or so. Just try it for a couple of times. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Count Down Begins

     Well the date has been set and the count down can now begin. Tuesday I had another doctors appointment and I was given my surgery date. The big day will be August 17th. Now I almost said no to this date because as some of you may know about me family is very important to me and there is a family party on August 20th at my cousin Susan's house. It is always so much fun, she lives right on the lake and we re surrounded by woods couldn't be more beautiful. Come on, tell me this isn't paradise.

However I know that I have to have this done but i have a plan. If i get out of the hospital at that Thursday, I will still go and just sit in a nice comfy chair and heal in nature :-) .
     The next month is not going to be all that quiet either. I still have some hoops to jump through as well as continue to work on my weight loss. Since starting the journey I have lost a total of 35 pounds. 30 of them in the last month. I have started a walking regimen and every day I am at the gym with either George or Gus and sometimes both. I am hoping that will kick the weight loss into a higher gear. It is definitely a change getting up early again to hit the gym but I do not mind it at all. So what else do I have to do you say ?
     As some may remember from my last blog, I am too fat to get a stress test done, so I have to get clearance from a cardiologist. I have an appointment with the group in a couple of weeks. I have to make sure the oncologists fax's my clearance letter from him to the office since they never got it from a couple of months ago (Remember the concert scare?). Plus I have to return to the surgeons office next week with Gus so we can have a class on after care, that should be interesting LOL. I have to then go back one more time for consent signing, so I can't sue them if I die. I also have to go get more blood work done for pre admission testing. I feel like a pin cushion already, geez. I also have to go out and start getting vitamins and supplements. Turns out from my last blood work that i have low iron and vitamin A levels and i need to build them up before surgery. I say if they just would let me eat some red meat I would be OK. Burger anyone? Plus I have to be on vitamin b12 and a multi-vitamin. So after all this is done a new chapter of my Weightloss Diary of a Fat Man will begin.
      I have to sat that once I got the date i became both excited but more so nervous. I mean it is surgery and there are risks but there is more. This is nt like joining Weight Watchers again and saying this time it will be a lifestyle change. This is a permanent surgery and they are removing a large part of my stomach. I have to make sure I follow the plan. I guess I am asking myself can i do this for the rest of my life. Give up the comfort of foods I ran to my entire life. I spoke with one my surgeons about my cravings and he told me that although it is very difficult that some people say if you can resist long enough the cravings go away. But how long is long enough? Thankfully I have a great support system. Everyone has been very supportive, right down to getting me to update the blog. If its been to long my nephew Jonathan is on the phone asking me where the next chapter is? Here it is Jonny, OK get off my back!! LOL. And my friend Kendall called me yesterday asking me why my surgery date wasn't updated on my blog. All the well wishes and support I get from everyone who reads this helps me keep going and to for that I say thank you. Look out for more but for now I have to go walk the dog.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Highs and The Lows

      It amazes me sometimes how we can be so happy with our accomplishments in life then all of a sudden out of the blue something happens to remind us of how far we have yet to go. That happened to me this week. As you may remember i lost 20 lbs in the first week of my super restrictive diet. That was amazing however what was more amazing was how I felt and what I could do now. A month ago I was winded from showering or from getting of the couch or walking up my stairs. The thought of going out and doing anything was daunting. I couldn't walk very far or stand very long without having to sit and rest my back. However the on 4th of July weekend Gus and I decided to go to the aquarium in Camden and I was the one actually pushing to go. The parking lot was a little bit of walk from the entrance and I felt old anxieties but i walked on and you know what? I COULD DO IT!! I walked all the way to the entrance around the corner from the lot and proceeded to go through the entire exhibit with just a couple of few minute breaks. I was having a great time out in the real world for the first time in a long long time. That evening we even went back out to watch the fireworks it was truly and Independence day for me.
      A couple of days after that after that I went to weigh in again now I was not expecting anywhere near my 20 lbs weight loss again but I was hoping for at least 5 lbs. To my surprise I was down 8 more pounds. I just knew that my surgery was going to be scheduled soon with the progress I was having. I figured on July 19th, I would go to the office having completed my last test(the stress test) on the Wednesday before, that they would scheduled it for me hopefully in August. Things were looking great. We even adopted a 4 month old saint bernard puppy named Toby. That would keep me busy and active for the next few weeks that's for sure.
      So now all i had to do was complete the stress test. Now not to be ironic however I was having serious stress over the stress test. I have never had it done before and although my mom was an old pro at them and told me it was no big deal, I still don't like unknown hospital tests. I get to the hospital this morning to take the test, I fasted and didn't have any caffeine (no big deal I an not allowed it on my diet anyway). A very nice nurse or tech comes and gets the lady before me and things seem ok. Then i see a very pensive looking odd guy come in with some paperwork and wouldn't you just know it, he was for me! "Mr. Walters ?" No i want the pleasant friendly woman please I thought to myself. Well off I went anyway and my fears are starting to come true. He stops at this locked door that has a key pad access and on it are warning signs all over saying radioactive material, hazardous!! That's it i am on the first thing moving out of here!! Be brave I tell myself i can do this. He stops in the middle of the doorway looking at my paperwork. This is your weight he says? Really?? Am i getting slack from this guy who looks like he was passed over on the part of Igor in Young Frankenstein. Yes that's correct. Well I am sorry we may not be able to do the test he says to me. there is a weight limit. He goes and checks but before he does he asks me if I can fit in the chair they draw blood in next to the door. Are you serious ??? Yes I can sit in your stupid chair! I hope the legs are strong i think to myself sarcastically. I wouldn't want to fall and go all the way through to China. Well low and be hold it turns out I can not take the test. I am TOO FAT for their machine! Are you kidding me ?? This is the main hospital for the bariatric centers surgery's. They send all there patients here to get the testing done, how could they possibly not have the right equipment. So, what I just leave I asked? yes and he pointed me out. Well thanks for nothing. I left with a half a feeling of relieve and the other half was frustration.
      Now what do I do. This is going to ruin everything. I will not have all my tests done and I am afraid they will not schedule the surgery. I called my dr.'s office right away and they are going to call around and get back to me. Now i am thinking will this affect my date to return to work, will my disability not be extended long enough, how long will this drag on for? I made the appointment for this test over a month ago. Will I have to wait this long again? All these questions and more will be answered on the next episode of SOAP. Sorry rambling and that probably didn't make any sense to my younger readers.  It was a TV show, Google it!
       So I know all journeys have their highs and lows and this is no different. It just that when you are riding really high, when the lows come they are that much more difficult to deal with. Stay Tuned.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

One Hell of A Week

     For those of you following along on my journey, you may have gotten the impression that everything about this has been horrible and I am hating it. Well that's really not true. I have to say i LOVE my doctors and the support staff there. As of right now I am out on disability. Yes for being too fat! Can you believe it? Well it was interfering with my job, falling asleep at my desk, disheveled appearance from sweating on the walk into the office, etc. It was being brought up to me by my supervisors and they didn't want to see me being written up or worse. My doctors agreed and off on disability I went.
    My full time job now has been weight loss. The doctors were extremely concerned about my health. The stress i was living with everyday about worrying about losing my job and being sick was too much and pushed my normally not too bad blood pressure into the HOLY CRAP zone. I went from 140/82 to 185/105 in a few short weeks. Before I left the doctors office they  wanted me to speak to the nutritionist in their office to put me on their pre-op diet. I need to lose a significant amount of weight before they will even schedule the surgery. She was out that day but they made her call me on her day off to get this ball rolling.
     That evening i got a phone call from her and she was going over the new diet for me. I am sorry WHAT ?? I must have heard her wrong. You want me to replace two meals with protein shakes? I can only eat one meal a day and absolutely no starch with it? This was a nightmare for me. She said we needed to be very aggressive with the approach to help safe my life. Well how can I argue with that, I mean I am very important. So hear was how things were going to go. I had to go out and get a high protein low calorie protein shake mix and replace two meals a day with it. The third meal should be large salad and about 5 ounces of lean protein, turkey, chicken or fish(yeah right). No fish for me thank you. No snacks unless i absolutely need them. Well it turns out I absolutely needed them. However they were just that 2 small snacks a day like a handful of nuts or a fiber one bar.
       How was I going to do this? Doesn't she know I am addicted to food? But I had to try this and give it my all. I finally understood that this was my last chance. If i failed this i would slowly become someone  not ambulatory and eventually become bed ridden like the people i couldn't understand just a short time ago. The first couple of days were not that bad at all. I chalk that up to the excitement of trying something new. The shakes are pretty damn tasty too, chocolate of course. Everyone at home made it easier too. My partner Gus was doing it with me and my mom was not cooking and tried not to eat much in front of me. I told them both they did not have to restrict themselves because of me but they insisted. I must say this kind of support is more that anyone could ask for. It turns out what would bother me the most is the craving for food. Not being hungry, but just wanting to eat. I guess after a lifetime of eating whatever you wanted your mind gets use to the idea. I have found that chewing gum helps some. Not much but a little anyway and any tool i can use I will. Little did I know my biggest temptation was to come in the form of something small. My eight year old nephew!!!
      The other day, I was watching my 8 yo nephew and asked if he wanted me to make him lunch. He decided on Mac & Cheese, you know from the famous blue box. I made it for him and thought my God this smells good. I haven't had pasta or cheese in a few days and DAMN IT i want some. I held strong put half of it in his bowl and he had about 3 spoonfuls of it and was done. Now i had the task of throwing everything away and cleaning up. I sat in the chair in the living room afraid to even enter the kitchen. I knew i would lose control and there would be nothing to throw away anymore. I sent a 911 text to Gus, HELP FOOD EMERGENCY ..!! Well after some encouraging words from him i gathered all my strength and went into the kitchen. Now here is where i should tell you i was amazing and threw it all away with strength and poise. Mmmm weeellll thats not exactly how it happened. I knew i could not eat it all but i did want a taste. So I took one spoonful just to taste it and then threw it away. I proved to myself i could eat some and control myself from devouring everything in the kitchen like some sci-fi horror villain.
     So now my first week on the restrictive diet is coming to a close I am feeling a little better and moving more. So i decided to take a drive and get some exercise in my brother and sister in laws pool. My knee's tend to hurt when I to do much so i figured water would be the best place for me. It was a pretty chilly way to start the morning but after a while it was great and got a good workout in.

From here it was off to the weight watchers office. I wanted to weigh in and see how well this diet was working. I was hoping for a good number but preparing myself for a reality check. i was snacking on the nuts and bars throughout the week and i had that spoonful of processed crap in a box. So whatever happens I was going to be prepared. Well i was not prepared to hear that i had lost 20 pounds in one week! 20 pounds !!!!! Are you kidding me? What was I on the Biggest Loser? I was all smiles. This one little piece of news has made the past few weeks all worth it. The nightmare of the sleep study, the cancer scare even the hoops i have to jump through to get the surgery approved. 20 pounds is a small drop in a big big bucket but its a start.
     So all in all it was a great week. lost some weight and took out 4 tests all in one day at the hospital. Actually i was in and out of there in under 3 hours you cant beat that at all. Blood work, urinalysis, chest x-ray and ultrasound of legs all in 3 hours. P.S. legs are fine no blood clots in them at all. Next obstacle, Family Party 4th of July weekend. Yikes!! Stay tuned.