Lung Leavin’ Day


Recently I was contacted by a man named Cameron Von St. James. Cameron had read my blog gave me a few nice words and requested that I email him because he had a question for me. This caught my attention. At first I was quite sure it was a scam. The email gave me some info about his wife and her battle with cancer with a link for me to click on. My first instinct was to delete the email but something told me to click the link and so I did.

Before I tell you about Heather I would like to share my story first. My grandfather was one of the hardest working men I have ever known. He was an insulation worker and laid asbestos for many years before anyone knew how harmful asbestos was. When I was a teenager my grandfather was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. This is defined as a rare form of cancer that develops from cells of the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. Mesothelioma is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. My grandfather survived for several years but the disease eventually won the war it waged on his body.

That brings me to Heather Von St. James. Heather was 36yrs old and just had a little girl a few months before she was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Heather’s father was a construction worker and when she was a little girl she liked to wear her fathers jacket. Little did she know but the jacket was covered with asbestos. Heather was given 15 months to live.  Heather was determined not to give up and it paid off. Heather had surgery to remove one of her lungs. Heather’s sister nicknamed her surgery Lung Leavin’ Day. It has been 8yrs since she had her lung removed. To this day Heather and her family celebrate Lung Leavin’ Day as a day about overcoming your fears. Her family and friends get together and write all of their fears on plates and smash them in a fire. Last year more than 75 people celebrated Lung Leavin’ Day and together they raised over $4,500.  Lung Leavin’ Day is February 2, 2014.  The Von St. James family isn’t asking for money. They are asking for your attention so they can raise awareness of this horrible disease. Check out Heather’s story at http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday/.

http://www.mesothelioma.com/lawyer/client-profiles/heather-von-st-james.htm

I would personally like to thank Cameron and Heather for contacting me. Your story is a true inspiration to others. I wish you and your family the best.

It Could Always Get Worse!


Upon my arrival home I was more sore than you could ever imagine your abdomen being, but my spirits were high. Getting in and out of bed was exceedingly difficult so for the first few days I mainly stayed in the bed. My diet for the next two weeks was clear liquids which included sugar-free popsicle and jello. There is only so much broth you can drink before it gets really old and you begin to hate it. So jello and popsicle it was. During the first two weeks I was never hungry and could barely drink the allotted four ounces of liquid I was allowed. At the end of the second week I went to my surgeon for a follow-up and lost 18 lbs. He released me to work as long as I didn’t lift, push, or pull any people and I received a new diet of full liquids with runny oatmeal and instant mashed potatoes.

I stayed on this diet for the next four weeks, but wasn’t bothered too much by it because I was never hungry. That’s not to say I didn’t want food. Most of my hunger and overeating was completely mental. I didn’t have surgery on my brain just my stomach. How am I going to beat this? I knew there was no physical way I could eat anything but that never stopped my brain from reminding me how great the food tasted.  My first day of work was the hardest because I wasn’t used to being that active. I made it through the next few weeks without to much difficulty. My next weigh in at the doctor’s office I lost 17 lbs. Everything is going right and no complications what so ever.

So that brings us to my current diet. I am allowed real potatoes, seafood, beans, crackers,  and cheese. Have you ever ate so much you thought you may vomit. My first “real” meal I felt that way. I was going to have to learn to stop eating when I wasn’t hungry and not when I’m full. This is easier said than done. At this point I think I may be a vegetarian because I can’t tolerate eggs or fish. Just thinking about them makes me want to vomit. I told myself before the surgery I would work out everyday, and of course I lied to myself. However, it’s never to late and I am hitting the gym harder than ever. My goal is to be 215lbs by October. I have officially registered for Tough Mudder and that is my new goal for myself is to lose the weight and complete a Tough Mudder race. As of today I am down 145lbs. I now weigh 340lbs and I can get around better than ever. I can even fit in my pants from my wedding. i barely fit in them on my wedding day. In a few weeks I get my new diet and maybe I’ll be able to tolerate some of the food on it or it will be cheese and crackers forever I guess. It could always get worse!

Surgery


The morning of Surgery I arrived at the hospital at 5:45am. My stomach was in knots, but I was excited about my new life. My wife was at my side the whole time. I was placed in a gown and was give TED hose (tight knee-high panty hose) and SCD’s (Cloth wraps that inflate slightly every few seconds) these were applied to help prevent blood clots. The priest arrived at my bedside to pray with me and I knew it was almost time. No second thought ever crossed my mind just really nervous. The operating room nurse came to get me and took me to the operating room. The last thing I remember is moving from one bed to another and how cold the OR was.

I awoke in the recovery room with the nurse telling me to turn on my side. I remember how impressed she was because I turned so well. It hurt pretty bad to turn in fact it hurt pretty bad not turning. As I laid in recovery my stomach began to spasm. It was one of the top five worst pains I have ever felt. At this point I was in and out of it, but I do remember being pushed to my room and seeing my wife and father at my bedside. I couldn’t believe it was finally done. My life was going to change forever now.

The first thing my nurse did was look at my incisions. There were seven different incisions varying from 1 inch to 3 inches. Gastric Bypass wasn’t the only procedure performed. My doctor also repaired a Hiatal Hernia and an Umbilical Hernia. My incisions were held together with Dermabond (a hospital super glue) and they looked really good. I was so glad I went to nursing school. I can’t imagine not knowing half of the information that was given to me. I definately teach my patients a lot more now. I was told the more you walk the better you will feel because it pushes the air out that they pumped into my abdominal cavity during surgery. It was only 2-3 hours since my operation and I was sitting on the edge of the bed about to take my first step. Sitting up hurt really bad and made a wave of nausea hit me. You don’t realize how much you use your stomach muscles until someone cuts you in seven different places. I stood up and made it to the door and became diaphoretic (really sweaty) and felt like I was going to vomit. I walked back to bed and began to dry heave. I immediately called the nurse and asked for nausea medicine. It’s never good to dry heave after stomach surgery. It really hurts! I decided after my little episode it would be tomorrow before I tried that again. My biggest fear was the catheter but I couldn’t tell it was there.

Day 2 they removed my catheter that morning and gave me 8 hours to urinate (no pressure). First thing I did was walk around the hospital. Everyone was pretty impressed at how well I was getting around (I’m kind of an over achiever). Still no food but I could have ice chips, but I wasn’t even hungry. In fact the thought of food disgusted me. Of course my 8 hours was up and I couldn’t urinate so another catheter was placed. This time I was awake and let me say it is an experience I will never forget, and one I never want again. The morphine I was on kept me pretty wired and I didn’t sleep as much as I wanted to and made me really talkative. I’m pretty sure I got on my wifes nerves.

Day 3 was the day I was supposed to be discharged if I could urinate. So my latest catheter was removed and the 8 hour clock was started. I walked a bunch and napped off and on. It was about 6 hours after the catheter was removed and I finally urinated but not enough. I was able to eat clear liquids an ounce every hour. I had to make myself eat. It was about 7 1/2 hours before I could finally urinate enough to be discharged. I was a very happy man. I was discharged home and in for an all new experience.

28 Hours


I officially have 28 hours before I arrive at the hospital. I am down 75 pounds from my highest weight and I’m not looking back. I’ve been asked by countless people why am I still having the surgery if I have lost so much on my own? Another question I get is “Well you know this wont keep you from gaining the weight back?” First off yes I am still going through with the surgery! Could I lose it on my own? Possibly, but I’m sick of being fat and I am not risking it anymore. Could I gain my weight back? Sure I could, but I will not gain the weight back. It is not an option. If I can get to the weight that I want to be at, that should be motivation enough as well as the forced change in my eating habits. All of this along with my support system (and yes that includes all of my readers) it’s impossible to fail. For the next 23 hours I am on a clear liquid diet and then I wont have anything to eat for about 48 hours after that. This will be my first surgery and I’m a little nervous to be quite honest. I will do my best to put some short post out the day of the surgery, but no promises due to  possible anesthesia side effects. Thank you all for your support and all the continued support it is greatly appreciated.

Mission Impossible


40 Pounds?????? How am I going to lose 40 pounds, and keep it off. It seems pretty unrealistic really. I mean obviously I have very little will power or I wouldn’t be in this predicament. So the real question is, how bad do I want it? I want it so bad I can taste it! So using my nursing knowledge and a little common sense I used the My fitness Pal app for my food journal and my calorie counter and got to work. When initially starting my weight loss app it asked how much I wanted to lose in a week 1 or 2 pounds. What? That will take me forever. I was initially alloted 3800 calories a day for a 2 pound a week weight loss. I decided to decrease my calories to 1200 a day. This is bare minimum for me so my body doesn’t go into starvation mode. My first week was tough but I was down 16 pounds. A lot of that was water weight but some of it was definitely fat. I was already starting to tell a big difference. I knew big numbers the first week meant small numbers for week two so my hopes were not high for week two. On my second week my wife and I began to walk at our neighborhood park. We started with two miles a day and I was down 7 more pounds. I was definitely gonna knock this 40 pounds out! Week three we were up to 5 miles a day and my diet was going great. however my weight completely plateaued. I was stuck at a 23 pound loss. I tried not to be discouraged but who wouldn’t be a little disappointed with zero lost. Week 4 turned out a little better I lost 9 pounds and had only 8 more to go. I went for an official weigh-in and set my surgery date. November 6th will be the first day of the rest of my life. At week 5 I was really busy and the exercise got placed on the back burner. I did however lose another 4 pounds. making a loss of 36 pounds. Week 6 was another week where I didn’t lose any weight, and then it happened on week 7. Somehow I lost 14 pounds and met my goal and plus a little more. That brings us to the present day. I have lost a total of 50 pounds since seeing Dr. Barnes and 70 pounds from my highest weight. From this point unless I have issues come up I will be posting once a week on my progress until my surgery. The trick now will be not sabotaging myself and keeping the weight off until my surgery.

“Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying!” -Andy Dufresne


You’re probably wondering by now when I’m going to get to the weight loss part, right? Well, I told you about my secret but not so secretive addiction. Now it’s time to get to the new chapter in my life. This is the chapter where my extreme transformation begins, and this is the part where I may lose some of you.

On August 27, 2013 I made a huge decision. A decision that would change my life, and my family’s life forever. That Tuesday morning I went to go see Dr. James Barnes a highly ranked and highly recommended bariatric surgeon. I feel like I may disappoint some people with surgery as part of my weight loss journey. I have told a few people and  have had mixed reviews from the people I did tell. Some people are excited for me, while others question my decision. I had people say well “why don’t you just diet and exercise?” Others have asked “Aren’t you afraid of complications?” Before I go any further I want to remind everyone that I am 32 years old and have been fat almost my entire life. For me self-control and discipline when it comes to dieting comes in short spurts. The addict inside me has always shown back up at some point and ruined all my hard work. Well not this time! This time I’m going to stop the addict inside me for good. Am I scared of complications? I know there are risks and complications, but I’m not afraid of them. I am at a huge risk even if I don’t have the surgery. I am over 400 pounds and have a family history of heart disease. The surgery has less risk believe me! I’m a fighter and that’s exactly what I’m going to do, fight. So far I have done great with my diet and exercise, so I’m just looking at surgery like a safety net/back-up plan.

My blog from this point on is weight loss, my day-to-day struggles with food, and my surgery. So far my blog has had almost 1,000 hits and I really haven’t posted a lot. I want to thank everyone for their kind words and their continued support on my journey.In order to be successful at most things in life you need a good support system, and that’s exactly what this is for me. I have a long road ahead of me with over 200 pounds to lose and an addiction to kick so stick around it should be interesting.