Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Wishing all of you all the best! I have a terrific Christmas present this year...I have lost 101 pounds, and I feel terrific! No more fat, crippled, and helpless...HO, HO, HO!

More details later...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Six-Million Dollar Man...or Maybe Not.

   Remember Steve Austin? Remember the show's opening scenes? "We can rebuild him, we can make him stronger, faster, sexier, cheesier, and he'll smell like chocolate chip cookies!" OK, that wasn't exactly how it went, but close enough. For those who don't remember the show, Steve Austin was a test pilot/astronaut/door gunner on the space shuttle/whatever, who was in a bad crash, and the government decided to rebuild him with bionic implants. If you have never seen the show, rent it or look for it on those cable networks that specialize in 1970's cheese fests, drink several adult beverages, and enjoy the wholesome family goodness of bad sci/fi special effects and predictable, heart-warming plotlines...don't get me wrong - I loved it! Watched every episode at least once, making sound effects right along with the TV!

    Having taken a detour down Nostalgia Lane, I guess I need to come back to the present and talk about my own $6,000,000 project, except it is a lot less high-tech, and a lot more old-fashioned than Colonel Austin's reconstruction (it also wasn't funded with Taxpayer Dollars, dammit). About 4 months ago, I was a fat, waddling, shambling hulk of a miserable man, pathetic and in pain, and generally possessing a rather grumpy disposition. I walked with a cane and was severely limited in my mobility and activities, and popped a lot of pain pills, cuz I needed them. A very skilled doctor drugged the crap outta me and cut out a chunk of my guts; specifically, approximately 80 percent of my thing that ever happened to me, health-wise! I have since lost about 95 pounds, and 10 inches around my waist. My diabetes is gone, my blood pressure has dropped, my sleep apnea has disappeared, I have tossed my cane in a corner, and now I can walk like a normal person...

    A few months ago, every normal, ordinary activity was an exercise in pain, the brute pain of simply moving my large carcass from point A to point B. There were so many things that were simply beyond my physical capacities that life really wasn't worth living any more. The only reason I stuck around was for my family, and because of the vague hope that maybe someday, something would happen to make things better. What eventually happened was so simple in concept, yet so profound in its effects, I only regret not doing it sooner...I lost several years of living to being a wretched fat bastard, and I can never get those years back. I can, however, make up for that lost time by becoming the best man I can be, physically and otherwise. Hence, the "Reconstruction" theme of this rambling dialogue. I am rebuilding myself physically, and the outer change is noticeable, according to friends and family. I also suspect that the inner change is also noticeable to those few who are paying attention. 

    I go to the gym at least 4 times a week, pumping iron and working the aerobic machines, walking on the treadmill, building muscle and endurance, getting stronger, tougher, leaner, harder, and becoming one sexy, awesome beast of a man!...Well, OK, let's not get carried away here. "Stronger, harder, more muscular, leaner" - all true. "Sexy, awesome beast of a man", maybe not, but here is the deep-down truth. I feel like a sexy, awesome beast of a man, even if I don't look like one. The difference in how I look has been described as "great", "incredible", "fantastic", etc, etc, blah, blah, blah (I actually look entirely ordinary and common-place)...I appreciate the kind words, and the outer change is pretty dramatic, but the real change is inside. It's how I feel as a man, a human, a living breathing animal of a being...I have not felt this alive in many years.

       A few days ago, I was at the gym, doing the weight machines and jogging on the treadmill, and I felt so damn good, I just went out the back door, paced off 40 yards in the grass, and started doing wind sprints - 40 yards as fast as my big, hairy self could run! I would dash, walk around in a circle for a few seconds catching my breath, then haul ass back the other way like a scalded chimpanzee. I'm sure I looked absurd, a 51 year old fat man running wind sprints, but I felt what can only be described as an animal joy at just running as fast as I could! I wanted to chase down a mailman and bite his leg, or go tearing off into the woods chasing rabbits and barking at was awesome! And now I'm limping, cuz I am experiencing a very curious physio-medical phenomenon; Too Much Too Soon Syndrome.

    TMTS syndrome happens when someone is suddenly released from a life of significant physical limitations, and finds themselves with a fierce desire to do everything they have been denied for so long, so they try to do it all, right-by-God-now! I want to go trail running, and sky diving, and bike riding, and hiking in the mountains, and...well, you get the idea. I want to do it all! Right now, dammit! But an honest assessment of my abilities tells me that I need to develop one other kind of strength that is in short supply - patience! I need to work up to all of these things a bit more gradually than I am attempting right now, or I may wind up doing myself some damage. The last damn thing I want is to have to dig that cane out of the corner just to walk from the parking lot to the office!

    On the other hand, I will be running in the Long Beach Jingle Bell Jog this coming Saturday, doing the One Mile Fun Run... I'm sure there will be a good deal of walking involved before I get to the finish line, and that'll be just fine with me!

4 months, 258 pounds, down from 351, on my way to 205 or so...

Monday, October 31, 2011

So, Things are settling into the New Normal State of Affairs...

approx 100 days after I got trimmed, 261 pounds, from 351, down 90 pounds, 56 pounds to go...

and things are starting to settle into a new routine. I go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, working on strength training and running (yes, running!), and trying to get some flexibility and strength in my lower back. I have more than doubled my upper body strength, tightened my stomach muscles very nicely (still fat, but I can tell there is a big improvement), and made HUGE strides in my cardio health and endurance. I have all but given up on the elliptical trainer, as it just doesn't challenge me physically, so I have starting walk/jogging. That is basically jogging on a treadmill, with periods of walking thrown in to prevent massive coronary blowouts. Today, I walk/jogged to a small but important milestone - literally, one mile. I ran about 3/4 of it, and walked whenever my heart rate hit 140 or above. I would walk until the pump was doing about 110 BPM, then start running again. I kept a mental tally of how far I was walking, and it came to right at 1/4 mile - the rest was running, you do the math. My short term goal is to run a solid mile, at a steady pace, within 2 weeks, while getting below 250 in that same time frame. I'm not sure I can lose 11 pounds in 14 days, but I'm gonna try.

   My longer term goals involve this room;

(yes, those are bowling balls, but I'm not going bowling....)

and also this field;

That is the landing field at the drop zone in is where all you Whuffos ask, "Drop zone? Chute? You mean, jump out of an AIRPLANE??" Yes, exactly...I have always wanted to, I have been doing some research, it is safer than the drive to the movie theater, and the dropzone in Lumberton happens to be one of the best in the whole world. Check it out, scroll about halfway down, and look for Gold Coast Skydivers...they are tied for first place in the rankings, worldwide. I spoke with them, hung out for a while, played with the dog (I don't think the dog actually jumps), and took a snapshot or 2. They seem like very nice people, very tolerant of stupid questions, and the chief rigger seems to REALLY know his stuff...I will absolutely be going back, as soon as I have shed some more tonnage and saved up some lunch money...I'm shooting for March, when the weather starts warming up.

I'm also shooting alot in this field;

That is the view looking over the top of a very old but still serviceable Soviet bolt-action rifle, looking downrange at the berm in Woolmarket, where I spend whatever spare time I have.

As my midsection gets smaller, my horizons seem to be getting bigger. I have plans now, things I have always wanted to do, but have never been able to pursue until now. Our time on this dirtball is limited, and we can live cautious, careful, safe lives, or we can bite off big chunks of life (and small nibbles of cheeseburgers), and really enjoy our time here...I know which option I prefer!


BTW, the bowling balls are used as weights to hold the parachute pack steady while the rigger packs the chute...packing a parachute isn't really an activity with a whole lot of room for error, so you want to hold it down tight while you take care of business...

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Engine is Coming to Life...

Approximately 3 weeks after my surgery, I started working out in the gym...I was very weak, and had no stamina. I worked with the benchpress machine, pressing about 60 pounds...pretty pathetic! Now, after 6 weeks or so, I have made some pretty significant improvements in my routine...

I can now press more than double what I could press before, ...I can now press 200 pounds! I can *feel* the strength starting to stir, the power starting to flow. I am developing reserves of power that didn't exist before. I used to do 5 minutes on the elliptical trainer - now I hit the 30 minute time limit, so I have started jogging on a treadmill machine. I managed 400 meters today, a quarter mile! Not bad for a 52 year old fat bastard! I doesn't sound like a great distance, but keep in mind 2 things; the last time I ran was in boot camp 30 years ago, and 3 months ago I was walking with a cane ...I am starting to rebuild this wreck of a body and get it back in shape!

Next month, I will run a full mile, bench press 250 pounds, bike 5 miles, etc...always pushing, always growing stronger. I have been dead for far too long, but now, the machine is coming back to life.

The whole point of this post is to show that life after surgery doesn't stop after a loss of so many pounds...Life after surgery is only a beginning! I don't know about anybody else, but I consider my life after surgery to be a gift, and I have no intention of wasting that precious gift... I plan to enjoy life to the fullest!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Before and After...

I promised you guys some before and after pics, so I rounded up some of the rather depressing pics of my former fat self, and got a few pics of my not-so-fat present self, and I'll just toss 'em up here for your amusement.....

Here I am, dwarfing the Space Shuttle...

At a pistol match a few years ago...

a fishing trip a couple summers ago. Luckily, there were no whalers around, or I might have been skewered with a harpoon.
Some fat bastard sat on my reading glasses...oh, wait, it was me!

Mugshot profile.

Mugshot straight view. (Note grumpy look on face.)

 and now a few of the new and improved (work in progress) me...note a somewhat more cheerful attitude. Obviously, I still have a lot of work to do, but the work is actually making a difference - I'm much stronger than I used to be, more flexible, in a lot less pain, able to work longer, lift more, do more, play harder, and actually enjoy life instead of just endure...

From a few weeks ago...
My best pinching please, ladies! Well, OK, go ahead!

Mugshot profile...
Mugshot straight view. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

2 Months, Incredible Changes!

   On July 25th, at approximately 10 AM, a guy I barely knew strapped me down to a table, drugged the crap outta me, and cut out a chunk of my thing that ever happened to me! Over the next few days, I sipped a lot of chicken broth, popped a bunch of pain pills, and dropped a ton of weight. At the time I got trimmed, I was weighing in around 330 or so. In the post-op period, I lost at least 5 pounds a day for about a week. In the weeks that followed, that rate of loss slowed considerably. Nowadays, I am usually losing a couple pounds a week, and that's fine. I am actually stuck at about 276 right now - plateaued is the technical term. I haven't lost any weight for about a week. I am worried about that? No, not really...

   I may not be losing a ton of weight these days, but what IS changing for me is even more important - my capabilities. I can do shit now that I couldn't do before. For several years I was, for all practical purposes, a fat cripple. I was so limited in my mobility that I was simply not capable of doing ordinary things that most folks can do. That situation has changed drastically!

   For those who don't know, there are 2 kinds of pain. When you slam your thumb in the car door, when that Chinese food turns ugly and gut cramps bend you double, when a ricochet hits you in the face and knocks you silly, that is pain type 1. Type 1 pain is the body's signal that there is some fairly serious damage, and you probably should do something about it. I was in constant type 1 pain for several years. It was always there, the only variable was the severity at any one time...but it was always there. My knees, legs in general, lower back, shoulders, pretty much everything hurt, and it hurt more when I tried to exert myself. So I quit doing stuff...logical, right?

   These days, I am experiencing Type 2 pain...the kind of pain that signifies weakness leaving the body. I go to the gym at least 3 times a week, running on the elliptical trainer (easy on the knees), lifting weights, and swimming once a week. The pain I am in right now is muscular soreness from a truly earth-shaking event yesterday; I mowed the lawn. Using a regular walk-behind mower, I mowed our fairly small yards, front, sides, and back. Astonishing, right? I haven't been physically capable of cutting the grass in about 5 years, folks, for me, its a fucking miracle! And now, the pain of weakness leaving my body is in my thigh muscles, my calves, and my upper back muscles - it's GOOD pain, and I welcome it, because it means I am getting stronger and more capable day by day, week by week. Proof? You want proof, bitch? OK! I started doing the bench press machine using about 5 plates with a max of 8 plates, which is pretty goddam pathetic - the plates are only 12 pounds each. Thursday, I did 5 sets of 10 reps, using 9 plates, then worked up to a max of 15 plates...big improvement, even if it is still less than 200 pounds. The whole stack of plates is 250...when I can kill that, I'll move to free weights and progress from there. I used to try to do 5 minutes on the elliptical, and I was so proud when I made it that THAT is pathetic! These days I don't break a sweat for 5 minutes. I had to stop at 21 minutes tuesday - not because I was tired, but because I was running out of time and needed to get back to the lab. I'll be hitting 30 minutes tomorrow to work off the beer and pizza I had over the weekend. Don't go shaking your head - I used to drink 8 or 10 beers on pizza night, and eat at least 8 pieces of one night! This weekend, I think I have had 5 pieces and 5 beers, spread over 3 and pizza is kinda like a workingman's salary. It doesn't matter how much, what matters is how fast. We all get paid the same amount, just some of us get paid a lot faster and more and pizza is like that. Think about it, it'll come to you... Something tells me I have wandered off on a tangent here...

   So to recap...I used to be a fat, shambling, wheezing, pain-wracked cripple - now, I am a super-Adonis, with muscles of granite, beautiful beyond belief, with a stainless steel cock, and I smell like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.... well no, not really, only in my deepest, most Narcissistic moments. In reality, I am becoming...wait for ordinary guy. WOOT! That is actually why I did all this, to become just an ordinary guy, capable of doing ordinary stuff, like cutting the fucking grass.

and every day gets a little bit better.

more before and after pictures coming soon.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dear Diary - Week 7

about 286, 65 pounds down, 81 pounds to go. Down at least 4 inches in the waist. Even my feet are smaller.

OK, so it's been seven weeks since I got trimmed. Let me see if I can answer some of the more common questions I've had...

No, I didn't have gastric bypass, I had a relatively new procedure called a Gastric Sleeve. It takes your large, bag-shaped stomach pouch, and makes it into a tube about the size and shape of a banana.

There is a triple line of titanium staples holding the cut edges of the stomach together. Yes, they are permanent. No, I can't feel them, although if I eat too much, I know immediately, cuz it does hurt a bit. Yes, they removed the other part of the stomach...probably fed it to the dog, I don't know, and I don't care. It woulda made a cool ammo pouch, though, or maybe a hat.

I go to the can about once a week. No big deal, can't say I miss all of the gut cramps, constipation, and the screaming shits that I used to suffer from...there are other places to read a gun magazine.

Regrets? Absolutely none! If I can only munch down a dozen crawfish and one little piece of sausage at the next crawfish boil, I'm pretty sure that'll be just fine...a tiny price to pay for the huge changes in my life. All new wardrobe? Cool, I won't have to shop in the Fat Ass section, I can just buy normal clothes off the rack. The money I spent? Well, I coulda had alot of fun with that money, but I would have been a miserable, pain-wracked, fat bastard while I was having that fun, so maybe it wouldn't have been so much fun after all...($15,000, worth every penny).

Yes, I can still have adult beverages. Beer is kind of wasted on me. I can't handle all the carbonation. You get a big, beery belch, I get pain...that's why I drink Tennessee's finest, or Scotland's finest, or Russia's finest. Oddly enough, I only drink about one third as much as I used to. Less body mass to soak up the ethanol, plus the pipes are straighter, so it goes into the system drink is fine, 2 is plenty, thanks!

Everything is better when you aren't huge. I feel better from the moment I wake up to the time I slide into bed for the night. I walk better, sleep better (no more CPAP!), I'm stronger, more flexible, have less back pain, leg pain, foot pain, etc. I can feel muscles under the skin where before all I could feel was flab. I can actually feel individual ribs, and I have cheekbones. The light has to be at just the right angle, but I can see 'em now.

Hungry? Sure, I still get hungry, several times a day. I usually eat 4 meals a day, sometimes as many as six meals a day, but you need to understand that for me, a meal will fit in the palm of one hand, literally. I had a cheeseburger a couple days ago. I ate half of it for lunch, the other half for first supper. It wasn't some giant 9 dollar burger like some places serve, it was just an ordinary burger, kinda puny, really...and it was 2 full meals. Damn that thing tasted good! Here's a secret I have learned; food is delicious only for the first few bites. The more hungry you are, the better the food tastes. After that, it is still good, but less and less, until you get to the end of the dish. By the time you get to that last bite, you are eating just because it's there. I still enjoy those first few bites, but then I'm full. In effect, I am enjoying my dinner much more than you are enjoying yours.

Exercise? Hell yeah! I am actually enjoying going to the gym, burning calories, pumping iron, swimming, etc. I still don't enjoy the view in the shower room...LOL! There is a huge mirror right in front of the shower stalls, so you see just what you look like when you step out of the shower - it ain't pretty, but it's getting better every week. What did you think I meant, you degenerate? Damn pervert...

My back is still screwed up. The vertebrae are out of alignment at the base of my spine. Losing weight helps a bunch, but those bones are still lined up wrong, and probably always will be. Better, but still screwed up. I still can't go on a 4 hour hike in rough terrain (or any kind of terrain) because I still have pinched nerves back there, but it's still alot easier to get around.

Yes, people notice I have lost a ton, and they seem genuinely pleased for me...and some of my larger friends seem curious in a personal sort of way...yes, I encourage you to look into it, my fat friends, there is no real reason to wait. Being fat sucks, do something about it.

Oh yeah, by the way, being fat is hell on your love life. Losing a ton makes that a bunch better too. (wink, wink, smirk). What are you waiting for?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Worth a Thousand Words

So its been about 5 weeks since my procedure, maybe 7 weeks since I started this's time for a few Before and After pics, don't you think?

Here are a few from before...

This one is from about a week before I got trimmed...

and this one is from several years ago...poor horse! I hope they gave her a day off after this.

This one is from about 3 years ago, at a pistol match. Despite the constant pain, I actually had a good time...but I would have had a better time if there were less of me. Dang, look at that huge, nasty gut...awful!

 Here is a picture of my shooting instructor...lightning fast and a great shot, with a terrific sense of humor to boot. You da MAN, Obi-Wan! (He's not fat at all, is he?)

Here I am on one of our lunchtime rides...large and sloppy, I was probably the biggest guy in the joint at the time.

This is me, the afternoon after the good Doc cut my guts out, holding a teddy bear on my biggest incision and blowing into some sort of lung exerciser..."There's no milkshake in this thing!" Still not sure what that was all about....

and here I am, at work today, walking fine and looking...less fat than I was before! Same shirt, different tonnage.
It may not look like it, but I am WAY happier than I have been in a long damn time...and it's just gonna keep getting better, folks!

I'm at 289, down from 351, with only 84 pounds to go...I would say "Piece of cake!" but that isn't on my diet plan. Honestly, I don't miss that sort of junk food at all. I'm too busy looking forward to all the cool stuff I'm gonna do in the near future...

More soon, so stay tuned!

BTW, here's a pic of the cutest kid in the whole world.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Day in the (New) Life

It seems that every day is boringly normal these days. I wake up thinking, "Shit. I don't wanna go to work...". I don't wake up in pain all over my still-large body like I used to. Sometimes my lower back is stiff, especially if I was sleeping face down. I can sleep face down now, because I use my CPAP mask about half the time, the other half, I don't have that damn thing strapped to my face, so I can sleep in whatever postion I want. Also, my ribs don't hurt when I wake up, whether I used the CPAP or not.
   I peek at the clock, decide that I do actually need to get up, and I just ...get up. No longer do I need to plan a strategy for levering my lard butt outta the sack. I just sit up on the side of the bed, take a blood pressure pill, and stand up. I walk, not lurch, to the bathroom and look at my incisions. The largest one, on the right, is a slightly bumpy pink line about 2 inches long. The others are all pretty small, maybe 3/8th of an inch. They all seem to be healed nicely, not that I really care. I'm not concerned about scars, I'm concerned about function.

   Everything feels pretty good as I scrub the moss off the teeth, etc. I walk to the closet, and try to find some pants that will fit...most of my clothes are too big now, even the stuff that I couldn't squeeze into 6 weeks ago are loose to the point of falling off. More than once recently, I have come embarrassingly close to walking out of my pants. Too loose beats the hell out of too tight any day, but I need to find some comfortable belts. I never bothered with belts before, cuz all of my pants were way too tight to fall down, but that ain't the case anymore. Shirts aren't much of a problem yet. I still have quite a few shirts left over in the too tight category. They are starting to fit very nicely these days, so I might as well wear them now - they will be too loose in a month or so. I pick out pants and shirt, then grab shorts and T shirts for the gym, and grab a towel while I'm at it. Today feels like a weight-lifting day. I'm feeling strong and loose, and I actually swagger a bit as I walk down the hallway to the coffee pot. Despite all of the advice from practically everyone, I still don't eat breakfast, not even a granola bar. I just can't be bothered with food that damn early in the day. I grab all of my pocket stuffers and head out the door.

   At work, people who know me well tell me to keep up the good work, and they can see the difference in the way my face is leaner, and my neck seems to be smaller. Other folks who haven't seen me for a while ask me if I got a haircut, or a new shirt, or if I lost some weight...I just smile and say, "yeah, I've lost a few pounds lately". I decide to be kind and not tell them all the boring details, but on occasion someone will ask, "How did you do it?" I smile even bigger and say, "I paid some guy I barely know to cut my guts out! Worked like a charm..."Sometimes they ask for details, so I just tell 'em all about it. Before the procedure, I was of the opinion that I would keep it to myself, but now, I will cheerfully explain the whole thing with no embarrassment, no holding back. I don't mind at all when people ask some pretty darn personal questions, because this might have been the best decision I ever made. One thing I have noticed, though, people always lower their voice when they ask how often I go to the bathroom, and they always wince when I tell them that it's pretty much once every 5 days. They assume I'm constipated, but I'm not, I just don't have as much stuff sliding through the pipes these days. Too much information, you say? Like I give a rat's ass. Deal with it.
   I don't need a cane anymore. That was the first truly positive effect I noticed. I got up and walked down the hall, realized I had forgotten my cane, turned back to get it, then realized I didn't need it..."Holy Crap! I can walk! It's a murrkul!" Well, no, it's not a miracle, it's just alot less painfull to walk if you can lighten the load by about 40 pounds or so. Don't believe me? Strap on a backpack full of books, as full as you can, and walk around with it for an hour. I'm pretty sure you'll feel the difference - now imagine that the pack actually weighs 145 pounds, and you can't just dump it in the corner. That is what my life used to be like. Right now, that backpack weighs about 85 pounds. I've dropped 60 pounds already, not even halfway to my goal, but the change in my life is remarkable.
   One problem that I have these days, I was NOT expecting. I have no ass. My ass has simply disappeared, and is now totally flat. There are 2 problems associated with NoAssatall Syndrome. The pants-falling-off thing I mentioned earlier would be lessened considerably if I had a perky round ass, and sitting down would be alot less painful. I have no padding on my butt anymore, so I am actually compelled to get up and move around just to get some blood flow to the cheeks. It is a bit unseemly for a middle-aged man to be seen massaging his own butt cheeks, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
   The biggest change in my life these days has been somewhat less obvious, but altogether more profound: I have hopes and plans and goals. To be honest about my attitude, I was basically just hanging around waiting until my time was up. I didn't have goals, I didn't plan trips or activities, or wonder about trying new stuff. I was just waiting to die, and trying to make myself comfortable until my days came to an end. Now, I am making plans. I talked to the owner of a local dive shop a few days ago. I bought a diving mask and some fins, and I'll be hitting the pool as much as I can - cuz I'm getting back into scuba diving! I was a diver 30 years ago, but I was convinced that those days were long gone. I simply was not physically able to even try to go diving. Now? Hell yeah, I'm going diving, as soon as I can get re-certified, which will be sometime in the spring. I am also looking for a cast net, so I can do a little wade fishing for mullet on the front beach. I live half a mile from the beach, and I haven't been wade-fishing in years...thats just a damn shame, and I'm gonna do something about it pretty damn soon. I look at certain things that I used to do, or things that catch my interest, and I no longer dismiss the possibility of trying these things, because my life is no longer over. I had important things in my life before this procedure, don't get me wrong. My family, my long-suffering wife, my kids, all gave me meaning and purpose, but it was a source of pain for me also. I could be with them, I could watch over them, but I couldn't really DO things with them. My youngest daughter asked me to dance with her one time. I had to tell her "no", because I simply wasn't able to dance. My legs hurt too much. I couldn't go fishing with the boys, or build something in the backyard with them, and a day at a football game was a nightmare. Now, all of that is changing. I am no longer stuck on the sidelines. It's time to start living again!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dear Diary - Week 4

DAY 23,
300 pounds, down from 351

   So it’s been 3 weeks since my surgery, and right at one month since I started presurgery preparations...I think it is safe to say that, at this moment in time, the procedure has been a huge success. There are things I can do now, that were very difficult or even impossible just a few weeks ago. A few examples may be in order, to illustrate just how much of a difference this thing has made:

    I can walk. Seriously. I used to hobble and lurch on a typical day, using a cane to help support my tonnage, and always looking for the next place to sit my fat ass down and take a, I just walk. I can walk 200 or 300 yards now, before I get that tingling numbness in my legs, and I need to sit somewhere. My spinal column is still out of alignment, and I don’t expect that to ever be cured, but the severity of the condition will continue to ease as my scale number falls. My left knee still gets a little sore, but not nearly as bad as WIWSF (make a note; that stands for When I Was So Fat).

    Getting out of bed used to be a real trial of pain. Now, I just roll up into a sitting position on the side of the bed, take off that damn CPAP mask, pop a blood pressure pill, and stand up. Perhaps in the near future, I can forget about the Darth Vader, and just sleep like anybody else...maybe even ditch the blood pressure pills! That would be nice!

    I can stand in line for a few minutes, and not be in pain in my legs and lower back, at least not as much as WIWSF. Standing in line still sucks, but at least now, I can do it if I need to. I can also take a stroll down the aisles of our local shopping centers, buying whatever I need instead of buying online all the time. I still buy stuff on line, but now, I can also pop into Lowes and buy some building supplies, or WallyWorld and buy a T-shirt. Oh yeah, speaking of building supplies, I can now stand up long enough to do a little yard work, or build something in my backyard. My oldest son and I were building stuff this weekend out there. It felt good to make some sawdust fly...

    I was at the gym today, gathering my stuff after a decent workout. I dropped my keys in the locker room...and just bent down and picked those suckers up, no problem. A month ago, I would have had to brace my feet nice and wide, grab a wall for support, and ease down to the floor to pick up something. Now, no problem, just bend down and grab it. I can also tie my shoes now. I could do it before, but it took great effort and 3 or 4 tries to get it done. Lot's of straining to reach the laces, and holding my breath. Now, I just tie the damn things like anybody else.

   Other changes; my blood sugar is almost always steady at about 110. My strength is coming back - every time I go to the gym, I'm pumping more iron, moving more, burning more calories. I'm more flexible, more limber, quicker, and have more stamina. And I feel GOOD.

WARNING, the next paragraph may contain Too Much have been warned.

   One more thing I have noticed - personal hygiene is alot easier these days. I used to go for many weeks between toe-nail trimmings. I couldn't reach them to clip them. Now, no problem, just grab the big clippers and have at it. I can scrub my feet, and get between the toes, you know, get all that dead yuck outta there. My heat rash is gone, so my consumption of baby powder has gone way down, and last but not least, taking care of the paperwork is a hell of a lot easier! When your ass is as wide as a doorway, it's difficult to clean up the tailpipe, shall we say, because nobody has arms long enough for the job, and as far as I know, they don't make buttwipers with handles, so unless you have a REALLY good friend, you may have a bit of a hygiene problem there...something tells me I have shared enough for now - just let that image simmer in your head... 

DAY...I dunno, 26? 
297 or so, not weighing myself as often as I used to.

   It just gets better and better, folks! I did about 5 hours of work on the house, mostly on my feet, bending, stretching, lifting, moving...I'm tired, sunburned, and my feet were killing me. How is that a good thing? I would not have been able to do all of that work a few weeks ago. I would have pooped out in about 30 minutes, popped a vicodin, and taken a nap. Instead, I worked like a mule, got a lot done, and I'm still functional. I am well on my way to complete recovery from being an almost-dead, exceedingly fat lump of lard, moving rapidly toward being a dynamic, active, capable human being. It's good to be alive...

more next week.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dear Diary - Week Three

 Week 3, Monday, Day 15
 304, down 47 pounds

   Some weird stuff goin' on! There are some unexpected side effects with any surgical procedure, any medical regime, but honestly, some of the ones I'm experiencing are truly surprising. I have a nice big motorcycle, and I enjoy riding, but now that I've lost almost 50 pounds, I have a bit of a problem; my butt doesn't have as much padding, so I get saddle sore WAY sooner than I used to. I used to crawl off Big Red (painfully) and rub my knees and stretch my back, but now, I rub my butt! All of those little muscle bundles are closer to the surface than they used to be, so I'm now experiencing SBS (Sore Backside Syndrome) after only 20 minutes or so. I expect this side effect to go away as I lose even more weight, because there will be less of me pushing my boney rump into the saddle, but until then, I'm thinking I may need to buy a better seat!
    Another minor side effect, truly trivial, I admit, is the lack of burping power. A really good burp is rude, crude, loud, probably smells bad, and gives such a feeling of deep satisfaction and relief! Unfortunately, my tiny tummy can't hold enough air for even a short blast on the fog horn, just these tiny little mouse burps...very disappointing. This evening for dinner, I actually had a brisket sandwich and french fries. OK, a tiny little brisket sandwich, and about 5 fries, with a dab of barbecue sauce on the side. It was delicious for the hour and 20 minutes it took me to eat it, and it would have been perfect if I could have finished it off with a nice big gut-trumpet - but all I could manage was a nasty little "OCK!" sound...the sandwich was still awesome, though!
   My blood glucose used to average around 150 in the mornings, and fluctuate severely during the day. I would feel weak, light-headed, fatigued and break out in a sweat for no particular reason, and I was always hot. If the room was warmer than 69 F, I was burning up! Now, with the loss of almost 50 pounds of insulation, I'm actually quite comfortable in most weather, and actually sleep under a nice thick blanket. Also, no sweats means no heat rash! I used to suffer horrible heat rash in the funky pits and around the nasty bits, but now, the heat rash is GONE! Hell, that right there is worth having the procedure.
   Went to the gym yesterday, and I kept having to increase the difficulty setting on the elliptical trainer. I set it for the usual Level 7, but it just felt way too light...then I realized that my body is too light for the setting, not the other way around. Nice problem to have, in my opinion...

DAY 19, stuck at 301 pounds, have lost 49.

   Did 20 minutes on the stationary bike, and 2 ten minute sets on the elliptical trainer...that is WAY more than I used to be able to do. I'm getting stronger and healthier every day, even if the pounds aren't just falling off like they were before. At first, I was losing 3 or 4 pounds every day - that is obviously not sustainable, and now it looks like I'll be losing 2 or 3 pounds a week, not every day, so let's see, that's maybe 40 to 60 more pounds by Christmas?  I think I can live with that...

   Helpful hint: I realized something very important tonight. 2 very small pieces of pizza can be just as awesomely tasty as 7 or 8 big pieces used to be, and now my blood sugar isn't going berzerk...Now for a well-deserved couch session with the second episode of Firefly, and rifle practice in Woolmarket tomorrow.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Dear Diary - Week Two

DAY 8 -

311 pounds, down from 351  

Monday...Monday sucks, but it's back to work, back to the grind, back to the salt mines, whatever. I wade through about 147 emails, take care of some paperwork, swing by the gym and weigh myself - 311 pounds, down from 351! It's official, I have lost 40 pounds, and I still feel a bit weak at times, but all-in-all, I feel great.  I no longer lurch about the lab on a cane, I even strut a little - as much as a 311 pound guy can strut! Tomorrow I start back into the gym to get a little exercise, nothing drastic, just burning calories on the stationary bike. I have been digging old clothes out of the closet, and trying them on. It is SO cool to pull on a pair of pants that were WAY too tight just a few months ago, and I have some decent looking shirts I haven't worn for more than a year. A whole new wardrobe awaits, with none of the hassles of shopping! Not to say that this has been easy. Some big changes have been made. Most notable, I know what it feels like to have my esophagus half-full of frozen chocolate-flavored protein shake...not pleasant! I also have to remind myself to eat something on occasion. I would be just as content sipping ice water or drinking Camelbak elixir, sort of a sport drink aimed at the military crowd, it tastes like a cross between watered down Gatorade and saline solution, with vitamins and minerals added. I would much rather have a fine aged single-malt Scotch whiskey, but let's be realistic here. I'm trying to get healthy and tune up my newly improved body, not trash my liver.

   The main thing is, I am adjusting fairly easily to the new realities, and easing back into my old life, with better habits and choices. On the other hand, I would kill for a bacon-cheeseburger right about now - strained soup and protein drinks just don't really cut it. On the other other hand, losing 3 or 4 pounds a day in this initial phase does kinda make up for the lack of dietary choices. ;^)

DAY 10
310, down from 351

   Seem to be stuck at 310 for a couple days now...I'm sure it's just a coincidence. I'll stick to the plan, drink plenty of clear fluids, and get plenty of sleep. I'm sure I can be forgiven for dreaming about bacon cheeseburgers, fried shrimp, and sausage pizza with crispy crust...liquid diets are VERY tedious. Just a few more days until I can start eating semi-solids.

  :^/   meh!

DAY 11
308, down from 351

    Went to the gym today, rode a stationary bike for 2.5 miles, did a few minutes on the elliptical trainer, did 3 light sets of bench felt good to do some physical work. The bruising is almost gone, and I'm eating super soft stuff with no problems. It's a bit disconcerting to consider just how badly I want a bacon cheeseburger, though. I need to wait a week or 2 more before I start eating crunchier stuff, so it'll have to wait. In the meantime, I'm going to concentrate on working off as much lard as possible. I'm averaging about 600 calories a day, maybe a little more. Lot's of protein, as little sugar as possible (basically none), and trying to get some fiber from pureed vegetable soups. I did take a bite of a cream-filled donut, thinking it would be OK if I really chewed the hell out of it...I damn near puked! It was so sickly sweet, I felt like I was drinking pure cane syrup...I spit it out after 3 chews, and I think I'm done with donuts for good. No loss, as far as I can see...

We'll see how things go in week three - I'm completely optimistic!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Post Op Diary - Week One.

Day 2 - Spent all day yesterday getting as much rest as possible...thank you, God, for opiate receptors. Drugs are wonderful in their proper place and time. Today, things are sore all over. My neck hurts, my chest is tight, my belly is still distended and sore, and I'm coughing up all sorts of green goo...and yet, as much as all this hurts, I feel a whole bunch better. Having lunch now, approximately 3 ounces of chocolate Boost, and half a vicodin. I'm taking 2.5 mg of vicodin about every hour. Brushed away 2 days worth of yuck off my teeth...much better, thanks! In a little while, I may get ambitious enough to actually take a shower. Until then Harry Potter and Call of Duty, with several naps thrown in for good measure.

325 pounds, down from 351

   Slept through the night, CPAP is still a pain in the face, but I'm betting I'm stuck with it for another 6 months or so. Belly not as swollen, puncture wounds healing nicely, no drugs today until I really need them. I can tell that things are a little bit easier for me weight-wise. It is easier for me to get out of bed, or up out of a chair. Just wish I could fry up some bacon...everything is better with nice crispy bacon, but that'll have to wait a few weeks.


320 pounds, down from 351

   Slept great, left leg doesn't hurt as much as it used to, fasting Blood Glucose this morning was 104. My diabetes isn't "cured", but I think it is safe to say that it is being successfully managed. I do wish I could scramble some eggs and toss a sausage in the skillet, but that'll have to wait. The holes in my belly have almost all healed, except for the big one on the right, where they did most of the work - it is still a bit tender. All-in-all, I'd have to say that things are going pretty dang well.


319, down from 351

   Doing OK today, thought I would get out of the house for a while. Grabbed a rifle and my range gear and climbed in the truck, decided to go for a drive before I went to the range. I wound up in the Kmart parking lot, wondering if there was anything I needed to get while I was there. I wandered into the sporting goods section, bought some new fishing line and one of those neoprene "waistline reducing belts"...I didn't buy it to lose weight, I bought it on the hope that it will reduce the baggy, loose skin that I expect to be showing in the near future. Maybe having it on will help me to tighten up the excess epidermis that alot of bariatric patients experience.
   Never did make it to the range a bit tired, so I'm taking it a bit easy. Maybe I'll go shoot later.

DAY 6,

315 down from 351

   I'm feeling positively skinny at 315, down from 351...what is that? 36 pounds? 10 percent of body weight, and it makes a world of difference. I can walk, instead of limping and lurching. Clothes that haven't fit for a year are comfortably loose. gonna need a belt for these shorts in a week or so. ;^) I took a nap yesterday, and Darling Bride says I was not snoring at all. I may be saying goodbye to my CPAP machine soon, which will absolutely NOT break my heart. It may have saved my life, but I always hated that f*&^ing thing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It is I can get started

   So I'm up before the crack of dawn, taking a quick shower with some sort of special anti-bacterial solution. I clippered the fur off of my belly as best I could, washed everything, and loaded up for the hospital. We made it there a whole 6 minutes late - nobody seemed to mind. They asked questions, I signed consent forms, again, and I put on one of those stupid hospital gowns. Personally, I would have been just as happy to wander around naked, but I guess its like a ritual or something. They started an IV into the back of my hand. Here's a hint; if you are a hairy person, use your clippers on your hands and arms. They taped the hell out of the fur on my left paw. I said goodbye to everybody, and they took me down the hall to preop prep. They asked more questions, I signed more forms, then they drugged me...alot. I remember scooting from the gurney to the operating table, being strapped down, and that was that.

   I woke up with my mouth completely dry, sore all over, fuzzy brained, and in pain. My belly was distended, blown up like a balloon, with seven punctures covered with little bandages. "Wow, this part sucks." My long-suffering wife feeds me some ice chips, and I drift away for a while.

   I wake up again, get some more ice chips, push the morphine button about a hundred times, get one dose of the stuff, drift away again. People wander in and out, family comes to visit, asking me how I feel..."Stabbed", I say, and they chuckle a little at my weak joke. I hit the morphine button, and drift away...

   They want me to get up and walk around, go to the bathroom on my own, etc...getting out of bed hurts like hell, and it burns like crazy when I pee, all the drugs plus a catheter have irritated things down there. Getting back in bed ain't no picnic...drift away.

   Hours wander by in no particular order. I'm starting to be more cognizant of my surroundings, even through the morphine haze...this part still sucks. I get some sleep, an hour at a time. Dawn, and things start to come to life a little. Nurses and other staff come in, check this, check that, whatever. This movie sucks, I wanna go home. "You did great, and everything is looking good! You will probably go home today." Probably? I might be stuck here another night? Not just "no" but "Hell no". Drift away....

   Dr A comes in, tells me everything was fine, I had some adhesions along the mid-line of my belly, but everything is OK. No unusual tissues, no problems with my liver, no alien probes, all is well. "Great, yank this IV out of my hand, and let me go home, " I say. "Sorry", he says, "I can't stand the sight of blood". In a little while they are getting me ready to ship out. I take the ritual ride in a wheelchair to the wrong exit, and we wait there for my Darling Bride to come get me. Driving home was a ton of fun, with every pot hole on the coast eager to jolt the shit outta me. Finally make it home, pain pills and ice chips, and sleep. The deed is done, now I can get started on the rest of my life...Darling Bride just brought me dinner - half a cup of chicken broth, yum!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

So Here We Go...

    Liquid diets suck ass. I haven't really started on it yet, and it already sucks. There is leftover pizza from Chilly Willy's in the fridge, but I can't have any. When they cut on your gastro-intestinal tract, the last thing they want to see is yesterday's lunch, so they put you on a clear-liquids-only diet, and make you drink some magnesium citrate. For those who don't know, magnesium citrate is pretty much guaranteed to get rid of yesterdays lunch, and anything else in your digestive actually comes with the admonishment, "Stay close to the bathroom". That should tell you all you really need to know.

   I'm also wondering why the hell pharmacies are so dang slow. I went and dropped off a couple of prescriptions. The guy behind the counter said, "let me make sure I've got these", and went to the shelves. a minute and a half later, he plunks them down and says, "OK, it will be at least an hour before I can have these ready..." The fucking things are RIGHT THERE! Hand them to me, I'll give you some money, and we're done! What's the holdup? {sigh} So I'll go back in a little while and pick them up, start drinking my Liquid Plumber for lunch, and stay close to the bathroom. Yay.

   What I'm giving up to do this: Solid food for about 8 weeks, the ability to grab something from a drive through and chomp it down on the run, the pleasure of drinking a cold beer with a hot, tasty pile of fried shrimp (or pizza, or a massive bacon cheeseburger), because you can't eat and drink at the same time, that stuffed feeling you get from a really big meal ...OK, maybe that one really isn't a sacrifice. And one more little thing - $15,000 out of my retirement fund. I won't have much use for it if I'm too dead to retire...still, I could have a lot of fun with that much cash!

   What I hope to gain in exchange; Some of life's minor little pleasures, like being able to walk, not having to pass up fun activities because I can't stand up for more than 5 minutes at a time, being able to wear normal clothes instead of the XXXXL crap that I wear now, taking a trip to Ship Island and going skin diving, wade fishing with rod and reel or cast net, actually doing some work around the house like fixing stuff and building things...the list goes on and on. Think about the normal everyday stuff that you do when you are not sitting down. Just anything you do on your feet, fun, work, or just routine crap...Now imagine that doing those things is a huge struggle, awkward as hell, and seriously painful. We ain't talking about moving boulders or roofing a house, we're talking about ordinary, everyday stuff like going to Walmart to pick up a prescription. THAT is the sort of thing I am doing this for, so I can do ordinary boring crap, and not be in pain while I struggle to get it done...

Walmart just called, my scrips are ready...coulda just given them to me an hour ago...assholes.

   NOTE: you never understand just how huge your belly is, until you try to shave that mountain...DANG! and magnesium citrate tastes fookin terrible.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Our Food Sick Society - Part II

   So here I sit after last night's Final Seafood Platter, slightly hung over, and feeling very sluggish. We went to Dempsey's last night and indulged in a fry fest of fairly epic proportions...fried shrimp, fried fish, fried onion rings, and that uniquely Southern delight, fried dill pickles! As always at Dempsey's, it was awesome! And, as usual at all restaurants these days, the portions were gigantic! Actually, the portions at Dempsey's are even more outrageous than usual, but almost all restaurants serve up huge platters of food, unless they are in the "Snooty Fine Dining" category. At a Snooty Fine Dining Place, you would get a huge platter with a smear of sauce, 3 shrimp, a cherry tomato sliced in half, and a sprig of grass from the parking lot, all huddled in the middle of a plate the size of a hub cap from a Cadillac. We do not tend to frequent such dining establishments. Like most Americans, and almost all Southerners, we want some food on our plate, dammit!  It may go back to the whole caveman thing, where we grabbed as much as we could because we needed to, or maybe we good Southern guys and gals are just gluttons - either way, portions in restaurants are getting ridiculous. 

   I was surfing through the Vast Wasteland the other day (that's Cable TV, of course), and I reached the Food Channel, which is actually not too terrible, although I miss the original Iron Chef show, filmed in Japan and subtitled...THAT show was fucking hilarious! These days, they have a lot of stupid contest shows, where cooks are given some strange ingredients and told to cook a meal with those ingredients, then the meal gets judged by people of questionable sexual orientation, the loser cries, and the winner gets taken backstage and gets molested by the stage crew, or maybe they just give them some cash and off they go. I don't know and I don't care, those shows suck ass. The other kind of show they have is the drive-around, where someone drives around, and eats here and there, and talks about what they eat. The king of the Drive Around is a guy named Guy. Guy is a total douchbag, but he is very photogenic in a Complete Moron sort of way. He wears his sunglasses on the back of his neck, his hair looks like a dead possum is glued to his head, and he spouts out sound bites like, "We're riding the Gravy Train to Flavor Town, Baby!" and "That was OFF the HOOK, Bro!" and then mugs for the camera. He's a total dumbfuck, and his show is enormously popular. Another thing that is enormous is the portions at the dumps he goes to. Nothing is small, all of the dishes are gigantic. Let's say someone is making a corned beef on rye sandwich. The cook shows us how he cures the slab of beef, where it looks like something in Jeffery Dahmer's basement, then he slices up about 2 pounds of meat, slaps it on slices of bread about 3 inches thick, slathers it with a quart of mustard and special sauce, and serves this huge sandwich on a serving platter with a mound of fries and a side of coleslaw...all that food is intended for ONE's enough for 4, but it is served up as a single meal, and all the dishes on the show are equally huge. It's like this show is holding up a standard for all the eateries out there - "You must serve gigantic portions, or you suck and you don't deserve to be on this show!" and other restaurants are taking the hint. It seems like any place you go, if they serve normal size meals instead of fucking huge dishes, they will be out of business soon.

   I can't wait to go to one of these places, order up the Mondo Platter o' Food, eat three shrimp, a half a piece of fish, one bite of slaw, and then smile as I ask for a to-go box. I can just hear the conversation now; "Sir, was everything alright with your meal?" Yes, yes it was fine, thank you. "Well, it doesn't appear that you ate very much, are you sure everything was OK?" "It was fantastic, gonna tell all my friends how awesome it was, thanks." The look of confusion on their faces will be priceless! They may even be dumb enough to ask why I only ate enough for a small child, or perhaps a Scottish Terrier. I think I'll make up a bullshit story for them, just to fuck with them even more - "Well, see, a Taliban submarine shot down my hovercraft over Moscow, and the Chinese medics weren't very well equipped, so they just cut out my stomach, instead of trying to patch it back together. I can only eat 4 bites at a time, and I need to eat 17 meals a day..." The big question is, how many people will have the balls to call bullshit on such a silly story? Or will they even realize how stupid it is? The Taliban doesn't have submarines!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Still Beautiful...and Ready For Liftoff!

So I spent all day, about 2 hours actually, signing paperwork, initialing here, signing there, etc. I did this paperwork shuffle at the surgeon's clinic right after they weighed me - apparently I was able to lose enough weight for the surgeon to perform the weight loss surgery I need to lose weight. I am aware of the fact that I have touched on that subject before, but the ironical symmetry is simply too appealing to pass up. Dr A and I talked for a little while, he informed me of the risks involved, small but very real risks, and he answered any questions I had. I asked him what they did with the section of stomach tissue they took out. He said he examines it, does a little slice and dice to see how healthy the tissue is, and then sends it to the Pathology Lab where they do the same thing, then they burn it. I was hoping I could bring it home, tan it like leather, and make a hat from it - that would just be so fucking cool, to have a hat made out of your own stomach tissue! If anyone ever accused me of having my head jammed in my ass, I could say, "Wrong! Close, but not quite!" {sigh} Oh well....

   I then made the trip to the hospital, another 15 miles east, and did the same thing all over again with the staff. The nurse in charge of the case sat me down, asked medical history questions, gave me some pre-op instructions, and made sure I could find the right wing of the place when I came back early monday morning. VERY early Monday morning. Like 0630 hours Monday morning Why in hell do surgeons always insist on doing surgery at such God-awful, cow-milking hours? I just don't get it. Why not do it at a decent hour, like 10:30 in the morning, instead of this crack-of-dawn crap? Hey, whatever, I'll be asleep anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter, but I'm just not a morning guy.

   So now, I wait, and I plan my last so-called "normal" weekend. (Seafood platter at a local place - I'll try not to over-do it.) I have no doubts, and very few, tiny little regrets, and I am 99% eager to do this...that 1% is screaming, a screechy irritating little voice wa-a-ay back in the back of my mind, "OH MY GOD!!!! They're gonna cut yer fuckin' guts out! AAUGHH!!" Yes, yes they are, and I can't wait to get it over with, and start in on my new life.

   There is actually a list of things I want to do in the next several months. I could put down that I'm going to climb Mount McKinley, go hang-gliding in Hawaii, dive the Great Barrier Reef, run the Boston Marathon - and it would all be utter bullshit. I have no unrealistic expectations. I'm going to walk on the beach, play catch with my daughter, take my son wade fishing (if he'll ever drag his ass back to the Coast), and start getting in shape for Pistol Competition and 3-gun matches. I want to go and do things that normal able-bodied people can do, and stop being a drag on my wife and my family. I know my darling bride plans activities based on whether or not I can walk that far, from the parking lot to the front gate, or similar concerns. She would never sign us up for a walking tour of the Old French Quarter, or a museum exhibit, because she wouldn't want to listen to my pathetic whining about all that walking...maybe in a few months time, she won't need to worry about that. I have no truly drastic plans, I just want to do ordinary stuff that ordinary people do. I haven't been ordinary in a long, long time.

On the other hand, I DO want to do THIS. ......Geronimo!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our Food-Sick Society

part one...

   With our population getting fatter and fatter, with morbid obesity and type II diabetes reportedly in an explosive epidemic state, I can't help but wonder how we came to this sorry state of affairs. Are we Americans really that pathetic? Is there some unique fault in our national character that makes us the butt of ridicule and derision for the rest of the world? Or is it simply a case of, the richest country soon grows to be the fattest country? I suspect that, as usual, the answer is not one answer, but a whole platoon of factors and influences. Maybe we need to step back in time a bit, and get a broader perspective...

   Let's go back, I dunno, maybe 700,000 years. Mankind has finally evolved from our chimp-like first cousins (because God designed it that way, OK?). We have come down out of the trees, learned how to bang the rocks together to make useful tools, sharpened some sticks and poked animals with them, and maybe discovered fire - it's barbecue time! Seriously, this was a very big deal in human history. For our early ancestors, the numero uno problem of the day was finding enough food.  Early humans ate damn near anything they could get their grubby little mitts on, and it was never really enough, generally speaking, because they could never know when their next feast would occur. They might be forced to endure several months of grabbing bugs, digging for edible roots, and snagging the occasional small furry creature, all the while dodging the faster animals with the big teeth and claws. Times were tough for the vast majority of humanity, for almost all of humanity's history.  For several hundred thousand years, the people who survived were the ones who gave up flinging poop at each other and concentrated on finding and eating enough food to make it through the next drought or winter. 

   Skip forward a few millenia. People have organized themselves into tribal units, nation states, religious affiliations, square-dancing clubs (hey, why not?), and other groupings where like-minded, basically similar-looking people congregated and pooled resources...why? Because that was the best bet for ensuring survival during the next drought/winter/plague of locusts/whatever. Civilization arose from a fundamental need of humanity - finding enough food, and keeping those bastards on the other side of the river from stealing it all. When one group was doing well, they grew and prospered, and became fat and happy. If they weren't doing so well, they were said to be going through some lean times where they had to tighten their belts.

   Obviously, I am simplifying things to an absurd degree, but you get the point, right? For almost the entire history of mankind, more food was a good thing, and less food was a bad thing. Not having enough food didn't mean inconvenience or discomfort, it meant your whole tribe died.

   Flash forward a few thousand more years. Some smart-ass figured out how to grow food whenever he wanted to, and some other smart-ass learned how to read and write, so he could tell everybody else how to grow as much food as they wanted...and look at the mess those two bastards have brought about! In these modern times, people don't need to run out and poke some critter  with a stick and toss it on a fire, while dodging razor claws and flashing teeth. Modern man has evolved his society to the point where food can be had without even getting your fat ass out of your Barca-lounger.  Papa John's Delivery, anyone? You can even order food online from your computer, while you are sitting here, reading about ordering food from your computer... Our society is absolutely awash in food, buried under an avalanche of good, safe, nutrient-dense foods of every description, available at all hours, throughout the year...and our bodies are still programmed to tuck away as much food as possible, because ya never know when the next drought is gonna wipe out your whole tribe. Our brains and our evolution are stuck in the way-back-when...

   In effect, our modern, industrialized society is sick, poisoned even, by too much food. We have more food than we have ever had in our entire history, yay! 

- and it is killing us.

more soon....

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Would KILL for a Pizza Right About Now...

   I am in the pre-op prep stage right now. One thing I didn't know was that, to perform laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon needs a little extra room to move around in there. They don't just flay you open and slice away, they poke small holes here and there, and operate through those small holes. Kinda like changing the spark plugs in your car, and going in through the radiator grill, or maybe the wheel well. Another thing I didn't know was that, with really fat folks, like me, the liver is actually fat. When you first start losing weight, the liver is the first part of the body to shed that fat. You need to lose some weight to allow the surgeon to perform the weight loss surgery you need to lose weight, so the liver will shrink a bit, and get out of the way. So here I am, trying to lose about 25 pounds or so, so the good doctor will be able to get my fat liver out of the way so he can chop out most of my stomach...dieting sucks! I'm eating high-protein, low carb, low fat food, as little of it as possible, and working out 3 or 4 times a week. So far I have managed to lose about 15 pounds or so. I'm pretty confident I can lose the rest, about 8 pounds in 10 days, but it ain't easy. No booze, no beer, no pizza, no pasta, absolutely no sweets (no problem, I hate sugary stuff, except chocolate chip cookies), and no pizza. Did I say no pizza? I did, didn't I?

   When I was in college, I worked night shifts at a couple of pizza joints. I waited tables for a while, then moved to the kitchen. I learned a few things working at those pizza joints. One, waiting tables sucks! I was a terrible waiter, hated every minute, and will always treat my waiter/waitress with real respect. It is a tough, thankless, hectic job, AND you are forced to be polite to assholes, lots of assholes. Any problem with any aspect of the meal, the room, even the other diners, and the assholes take it out on the waiter every time...I will NEVER be an asshole to a server in a restaurant. I also learned about cooking production line style. It is hot, hectic, demanding, unrelenting, and by the end of your shift, you are covered in food grease and debris, and your feet are fucking killing you.

   For a few months there, I still liked pizza, but after a while, I got to the point where I couldn't stand a single bite of the stuff. I would eat anything but pizza. I ate a lot of salad, made some unusual pasta dishes, and I was always willing to trade some pizza for some fried fish from the Long John Silvers next door. Anything but pizza! This lasted about 6 months, until one day, someone called in an order, I made the pizza, and he cancelled it as I was taking it out of the oven - like I said, dealing with a fucking asshole! So there I was with a fresh, hot pepperoni and pork sausage pizza, and no customer. I looked at it, tried to give it to the other cooks, tried to give it to a waitress, nobody wanted it. So I said, "what the fuck", and I took a bite. It was delicious! Hot, savory, cheesy, tomatoee (is that a word?), it was awesome! I ate every scrap of the damn thing, and I have loved pizza ever since. We even have Friday nite pizza feast here at the house. I think I will miss chowing down on pizza as much as I will miss anything else. I'll still be able to eat it and enjoy it, just very little of it at any one time. I think it is a small sacrifice to make, but as of right now, with all of my hunger still  intact...well, it's friday nite, and no fucking pizza for my fat ass, no sir! I am determined to make this work, and to shed some serious tonnage over the next year...but I will miss the Friday nite pepperoni fests.

   It'll be worth it, I'm sure.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Random Rant - Are You an Adult?

   So many of our younger generation (and a depressing number of more seasoned "grown-ups") seem to be confused about the true characteristics of an adult. They don't really understand what being an adult means. Ask them what adulthood means to them, and they will inevitably say something about freedom. They will be free to do as they please. They can go where they like, do as they wish, refuse to do that which they would prefer to avoid - they're free! Such sadly misinformed young people - so poorly taught by their elders. What they have never learned, even if it was presented to them over and over, is that freedom is not the main characteristic of being an adult. Indeed, it is so far down the list, it may as well be an after thought.

   The only truly free adult is the adult with no ties to family or friends, no obligations to career or co-workers, no responsibilities to children or aging short, a truly free adult is a person who is utterly alone. True freedom is the freedom to starve in the street, while uncaring strangers step over your failing body. True freedom means that while you owe nobody, and have no responsibilities to anyone, nobody gives a rat's ass about you, either. An adult, a real adult, is a person who meets his obligations, handles her responsibilities, cares about and cares for the people who inhabit their personal world. An adult understands one basic principle that a child, of any age, will never grasp: Take Care of Business! I don't mean business in the career sense, although that is certainly part of the picture, I mean business in the broader sense of the word. Handle the things which need to be handled so that your personal world runs smoothly. Take care of the obligations and responsibilities, the neglect of which will later come back and bite a chunk out of your fat, lazy ass.

You're not sure what I mean? OK, pop quiz!

The situation:

You are in debt to the taxman, your credit card is overdue, you owe a pile of traffic fines, and your best bud rescued your dumb ass a couple weeks ago, cleaning out his savings account to do it. You just got paid, so you can handle the rent, the groceries, the cable bill (you need that late night porn, ya know), and suddenly an uncle you didn't know you had dies and drops a bit of the green in your lap...what do you do? Do you pay Mr IRS, make a payment on the Visa, settle up at the courthouse, buy your best friend a steak and a case of scotch, and pay him back his life savings? That is what an adult would do...

   You, however, decide that you simply must have that fabulous pair of open-toe, sling-back, fuck-me-like-a-dog-and-call-me-Princess stilettos you saw the other day, only 950 bucks, and aren't they adorable!


   You and the old lady have been fighting alot lately, but you don't want to break up with her just yet. She does that thing with her tongue that just drives you crazy, and she doesn't mind your admittedly unusual requests in the sack, and besides, if you break up with her, her sister won't fuck you anymore we're going to Vegas, baby, YEAH!


   You decide to string along Mr IRS, pay the Visa with a new MasterCard, protest the traffic fines just to buy time, and screw the best friend, he was a moron to clean out his account for you - It's time you finally had that boat you always wanted! Besides, you can always get new friends, you charming motherfucker you!

...because you are a self-centered, selfish (not the same thing), thoughtless spoiled fucking child who never learned about those old-fashioned values like honor, commitment, integrity, responsibility, obligation, and loyalty. You are a spoiled brat who shops in the grownup section, but has never learned a truly important lesson in life - how you handle the relationships that make up your personal world defines you as a person, a human being, an adult. Without learning this vital lesson, you will never become anything more than an ignorant, selfish, demanding child, and a burden to all those around you.

Grow the fuck UP!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Barium Milkshakes...YUM!

  Finished the pre-op workup a couple days ago. They took blood samples, chest X-rays, measured and weighed, and then they stuck me in this weird imaging machine. As they took X-ray videos, I would take a sip of a barium drink, and they would be able to "see" how my mouth and esophagus worked from various fat as I am, I would have thought they could safely assume that my swallowing and consuming mechanisms were in excellent condition, but I guess they wanted to be sure. They made me drink the stuff standing up, from about 3 different angles, then they laid the table down flat, and took videos of me drinking flat on my back, one each side, and face down. Usually if I'm face down, I am done drinking for the night, but I didn't tell them that...
   The girl who took my blood had the Gastric Sleeve procedure done a few months ago. She said it was working just great, she has lost about 70 pounds so far, and her biggest problem is that she frequently forgets to eat - a nice problem to have if you are 140 pounds overweight.
   By the way, everyone who has ever had one will tell you that barium milkshakes are absolutely dreadful, awful, horrible, OMG they're terrible! Personally, I thought it was no big deal, just like drinking some chalk. If you can chew a couple of Walmart brand antacid tablets, you can handle a barium milkshake, no problem. A barium enema is a whole different bucket of guts, butt that's for someone else's blog.

UPDATE; consuming barium in any form will almost certainly give you a nasty bout of ugly tummy and a rather painful, gut-cramp potty session, like being constipated and having the runs at the same time. Sounds fun, huh?

here's a pic (shamelessly swiped from Google images) of someone's esophagus during a barium imaging series;

You can see the patient's esophagus clearly. You think it would be a straight and smooth tube, but it isn't. Ain't medicine fun? I'm totally ready to get this over with, and start living first goal is to go wade fishing for an hour or so. It's been damn near 10 years since I caught a speckled trout. That's way too long.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fat-ism... Still A-OK in American Society!

    Fat-ism...probably not a real word, but it'll do. We Americans have a long, proud history of speechifying on equality. For several decades now, the number one unforgivable crime has been the display of intolerance. Criticize, denigrate, joke, or simply comment on race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, even talking about a person wearing glasses or being 3 inches shorter than average, and you are some kind of dirty, no-good bigot. How DARE you, you awful...(racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic, whatever the hell)!
   It's OK though, there is still one acceptable target for nasty comments, crude jokes, snide remarks, and condescending, superior smirks. Just find some fat nasty-lookin' bastard, and fire away! Not only is it acceptable, it's encouraged!
   Fat people are nasty, smelly, stupid, sloppy, undisciplined, weak-willed, probably perverted, and may actually have psychotic tendencies. A fat person is automatically deemed to be inferior in most, if not all, categories. Everybody's first impression of a fat person is always negative, always! I will now tell you a secret; We are so programmed to think poorly of fat people, that we even do it to each other. I admit, I confess, when I see some fat fucker waddling down the street, I always think, "Jeezus, look at this sorry lump of shit! How could he allow himself to get like that? Disgusting motherfucker needs to stop eatin' so many cheeseburgers." Then I look again, and I realize, he ain't as fat as I am! But we are so conditioned to despise the fat guy that it is simply automatic. Pretty sad, huh? The MOST intelligent man I ever knew was about 5 foot 7, weighed at least 375, was bald, and had some DAMN ugly teeth. I came to know the man fairly well, and I realized early on, he was a real-life, no bullshit genius, and I still pass judgement based on looks...because that is the way people are.

Advantages of being really fat;

Unlikely to get kidnapped, easy to spot in a group photo, most days a belt is not needed, less likely to be a victim of sexual harassment...

{crickets chirping}

that's pretty much it, the rest of it just flat out sucks, so go ahead and rag on that fatass, nobody will disapprove, I promise!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cut my guts out... Please!

The surgery I'm having is actually very simple, but to understand why it works, you need to understand how the stomach and the brain interact.  Your stomach is a bag for gathering and processing food. It has special cells in the tissues which can feel if the bag is empty or full. Biology compels you to fill that bag. When the bag is empty, cells release a hormone called Ghrelin which tells the brain, "Hey! We need some food down here!" When the concentration of Ghrelin is high enough, you will eat something, you don't really have any choice, you will eat until other cells, at the top of the bag, start to stretch. When those cells stretch, they release a hormone called PYY, which tells the brain, "OK, we're full down here, you can stop eating!"  So the cells in the main body of the bag say "EAT", and the cells at the top of the bag say "STOP"...
   The procedure is called a gastric sleeve. The surgeon goes in and cuts away most of the body of the bag, leaving a fairly thin tube where a big bag used to be. It looks like a shirt sleeve compared to Grammaw's giant handbag, hence the name. It doesn't just reduce the size of the stomach, it removes most of the cells which release the Ghrelin - in effect, it surgically removes your hunger. You simply are not compelled to eat like you were before. Your eating patterns need to change, as you can no longer sit down to a huge seafood platter and chow down like a beast. You can only eat small meals, chewing thoroughly and eating slowly, but small meals will still stretch the cells at the top of the bag, and those cells will tell the brain, "OK, we're full!" just as they did before. One of the side effects of this procedure is that patients will sometimes simply forget to eat...

   If you are one of those types who eat when you are depressed or lonely or for some other psychological reason, you need to address that particular issue first. Do something else when you are feeling low. It doesn't matter what, just do something else. Take up knitting, build a birdhouse out of tongue depressors, play video games, learn a second language, Я говорю немного па Русски, не очень хорошо...anything other than eat. If your life sucks, getting fatter ain't gonna help.

   Anybody wanna play Call of Duty? I'm gonna go shoot some bad guys. Here's a link that can tell you more about the procedure;


Friday, July 1, 2011

the Medical Situation

Here are a few vital stats and medical conditions, some can be attributed to being a fat bastid, others not so much:

Spondylolisthesis of the L5-S1 vertebral joint, with resulting thecal sac impingement and bilateral sciatica.

Blood pressure average is 170/90.

Blood sugar average (fasting) is 155.

Weight is approximately 350, but fluctuates rapidly.

 sexy, huh?

Height is 5' 10.5"...I used to be 6 feet tall, but my spinal column has compressed over time.

Severe complex obstructive sleep apnea, treated with CPAP therapy at 12.5 psi.

Soft tissue damage to left knee, resulting in need for a walking cane for most situations.

I can only walk for about 50 yards before I must sit down and rest my back. Standing in line is out of the question, and a simple shopping trip to Walmart results in daylong pain in both legs.

I take vicodin for the pain, averaging a mere 10 milligrams per day, but a day trip to watch a football game will require at least 30 milligrams. I must be careful, and balance my need for relief with the danger of becoming hooked on painkillers...

I can no longer go wadefishing, walk on soft surfaces, ride on bumpy roads, or lift anything heavier than about 30 pounds. Walking with a cane has made my wrists susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Plus, I'm not exactly the sexy beast my darling bride deserves...fat, nasty, clumsy, inelegant...pretty Goddam pathetic. Notice, I didn't include my face in that shot. I am not ashamed of much, but I am ashamed of the way my body looks. Just fukkin' nasty!

sounds like a fun, fulfilling life, huh? All of that will change, I hope.....but not soon enough.

Things were not always this way.

Things were not always like this. Once upon a time, many pounds ago, I was young and healthy, strong and not too fat, just "big boned", as they used to say. I was an athlete, a scuba diver, sailor, fisherman, hunter, hiker and swimmer. I played racquetball, Judo, Karate, went for long walks on the beach, cast a net for mullet in the shallow waters along the Gulf Coast. In college my idea of a relaxing day was a 6 hour hike through rough terrain in the hills south of Hattiesburg. I was a guest of the US Army for 6 weeks, attending ROTC Basic Boot Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky. After 6 weeks of running up and down those hills in 90 degree weather, long forced marches with packs and weapons, field maneuvers, bivouacs and map running exercises, I was in outstanding physical condition. The Army said I was still too fat, and needed to lose approximately 17 pounds before I could continue my training. I could run 3 miles in combat boots, march all day with full field gear, and I had one awesome looking 6-pack of ab muscles. I weighed 203 pounds in my boxers - and the US Army said I was fat!   Fuck 'em. Who knows, if I hadn't been "big-boned" maybe I'd be a dang General right now, or maybe I'd be disassembled body parts in some desert somewhere.
   I have always enjoyed an active lifestyle, but I have also enjoyed the dinner table too much. Most of my problems are of my own doing, and I refuse to blame others for my short-comings. On the other hand, I have no patience for those ill-informed, self-righteous assholes who tell me, "if you just make up your mind, and show some will power, you can beat this thing!" That may have been true 15 years ago, I don't know. I do know, from much research, that obesity is NOT a simple matter of will power, whatever that mysterious force may be. There are many factors at play, and my self-discipline, or lack thereof, is actually just a minor factor in the equation by this stage of my life. Well-meaning people who managed to drop 20 pounds once upon a time, will give sage and meaningful advice; "swim", "ride a bike", "you just gotta push away from the table", and my personal favorite, "walking is really the best exercise!" All of that advice is great for otherwise healthy people who need to drop 20 pounds.

   I weigh 351 pounds.