Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Official!

Today, I got the news I've been waiting for all spring and summer.

I've been approved for bariatric surgery. The operation is a go, and the date is December 15 - 3 1/2 months away.

I haven't wanted to blog a lot about this subject because I didn't want to jinx it, but now it's going to become reality, so I'll be a lot more forthcoming in future blog posts. I am committed to following the doctor's instructions fully, and also to put it all in this blog so that I can look back on it in the future. Hopefully, by documenting this process, I'll be helping someone out in the future.

Warning - Depression
First things first - when I committed myself to doing this, the doctor warned that many people get depressed while waiting for approval. He wasn't kidding. This summer has been almost as depressive as my last two years of college, when I had a huge problem with motivation. If it weren't for my experiences with depression before, and the ability to recognize it and deal with it, I'd never have made it through to this point. Being married to a wonderful, loving and supportive person like Bernie was probably the best weapon against depression anyone could have - and I've leaned on her heavily. I haven't come through this completely unscathed, though. My attention span and energy this summer have been a fraction of what I'm used to, with crabby moods and paranoia mixed in.

Things that help
What's really helped, I realize, is the C-PAPS machine that helps me breathe easier while I sleep. I've had it for two weeks, and my mind has gotten much clearer since I started using it. My back pain and neck stiffness have cleared up as well, since I'm no longer sleeping on my stomach with an arched back. I'm still having problems getting out of bed in the morning, but the reasons have changed - I'm doing a lot more dreaming before the alarm goes off. I think that's actually a good sign. I seem to remember that in my psych classes in college that REM sleep (dreaming) only occurs after you exit the deep sleeping stage where your body gets its rest. Dreaming rejuvenates the mind, and you don't get enough of it if you aren't having restful sleep.

Things that hurt
All the appointments and specialists that you have to go to in order to qualify for the surgery really take their toll on you emotionally. Basically, you are having to face the reality that there is something wrong with you and your behavior. The guilt from that realization is what really drives you down in the dumps.

Anyway, that's all over now. I have only three more appointments to keep before surgery - one for blood work, one for the nutritionist to drill the pre and post-surgery diet into my brain again, and one for the surgeon to look me over one last time before operating.

The date I picked is good for several reasons. Firstly, it means that I can have one last Thanksgiving meal before starting the two-week liquid/protein diet. Secondly, it means that I can convalesce over the Christmas holidays and use less sick leave/vacation time. Thirdly, it means that I can start the new year as a new man.

Things that motivate me:
I remember what I looked like when I weighed 220 lbs. I looked like a linebacker. I'm 320 today. I think I can expect to be 220 by the six month mark post-surgery. That'll be June 15, 2009. The surgeon says that I can reasonably expect to get down to 180 before I start leveling off. I haven't been that weight since I graduated high school.

I want to buy clothes off the rack at department stores again. Ones with sizes that don't begin with "X".

I want to be able to walk outside in summer without sweating.

I want to be able to sleep comfortably on my back without a machine - or a fan.

I want to tuck a shirt in without having to blouse it out over my waistline.

I want to be able to tighten a belt and actually see what hole I'm using.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Walked Right Into A Trap

I had an appointment for a EGD yesterday - something I had been told would only take an hour or so. When the appointment nurse tells you that it'll only take an hour or so, you generally start to think that you'll be able to walk in, walk out, and go back to work, right?


Okay, an EGD is an upper gastrointestinal scan. This means they put a tiny little camera down your throat and take movies of your espohagus, stomach, and maybe even a little further down. Wikipedia says that it usually involves them numbing your throat, ramming the little wire down, reeling it back in, and then it's over.

Armed with this information, I of course felt that the pre-printed brochure they sent me in the mail that said "You will be sedated. Bring a family member with you to drive you home" was probably an exaggeration, or a worst-case scenario, or maybe it was for people that were having some other, more unpleasant procedure being done to them.

Of course you know where this is heading. The name of this blog is a dead giveaway.

So, having fasted since midnight, I had a 1pm appointment. This is already not fair. I get checked in and they tell me to put on the little hospital johnny gown. Uh-oh. At least I got to keep my shorts on. At this point, I know my assumptions were dead wrong, and I get on the phone to get Bernie to come so she can drive me home.

Surely enough, they wheel me into a little operating room, shoot me full of knockout juice, and the next thing I remember, I'm sitting up and a nurse is handing me a Coke with a straw. There's no rum in the Coke, but I definitely feel like I'm two drinks past tipsy. I remember them telling me to go home and sleep it off, but that's about all I remember from my appointment.

When my head clears, Bernie shows me the little printout with the pictures of the insides of my digestive tract. It's empty, and having been starved all day, I'm just lucid enough to demand she take me to the nearest Chinese buffet.

That was my Thursday. How was yours?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I really didn't need to get hit with a stomach virus, but it happened anyway. Now I've used 2 sick days that I needed to hoard for surgery (whenever that happens).

I've been excreting black sand and water for 1.5 days. Yuck. Couple that with a mild intermittent nausea, and I think that adds up to a norovirus. Pepto didn't seem to work at all, so I started eating probiotic yogurt this morning, and it seems to be fixing the problem, so I can go to work tomorrow.

I haven't really felt all that bad, but when you gotta go all the time, you can't go to the office.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Travelling Weekend

This weekend, we drove to Wilson, NC to have a reunion with the members of my grandmother's family. Nothing really spectacular to relate - Eastern NC BBQ from Parker's of Wilson is still the reigning champion of pig cuisine.

We stayed overnight in Raleigh with some friends, Phil and Selena, and did some catching up with my friend Bert on Sunday morning, then we headed home.

We did too much eating during this trip. I feel guilty.

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