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!