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/.
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.
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!
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.
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.
- No Guts….No Glory! (jarredj06.wordpress.com)
- Mission Impossible (jarredj06.wordpress.com)
- Surgery Day (mygastricbypasslife.wordpress.com)
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.
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.
My wife and I have been together over 12 years and in November of 2012 I was the heaviest I have ever been, and the heaviest I ever would be. Lets talk about scales and fat people before I reveal my highest weight. Most typical scales go to 350 and some even go to 400. So people my size can’t just say “hey I’m going to weigh today.” I have to find a scale that will weigh me and that’s not as easy as it sounds. Well at some point that month I found one. The addict inside me didn’t want to know and didn’t care. There was another side of me that was fed up and glad I finally saw the devastating number. **Note that I keep putting off telling you the number** So I step on the scale and I see 485lbs. My heart sinks and my mind races. My mortality is realized. The thought of leaving my wife and children without a husband, a father, or a provider almost brought me to my knees. So I start a diet and start losing weight right? Wrong! The twisted addict inside me says “Screw it! Lets eat, you’ll feel better.” so that’s what I do. Shortly after, I come across a new diet drink that promised to help you lose weight and be healthier without diet or exercise. The fat guy inside me gets excited. Lose weight, eat what I want, and no exercise. Sign me up! So I take the magic drink religiously for several months, and I actually start shedding the pounds all the way down to 445lbs. All of a sudden one day the magic drink doesn’t work anymore, and the $200 a month I’m spending isn’t worth it. So I stop, and immediately go back to my old addictive ways and I can feel the pounds slowly start to return. Believe it or not, but to weigh over 400lbs you have to be in decent shape and strong as an ox to still be mobile. Even the easiest of tasks take all the energy you have, and leaves you with nothing left to give to others. My weight had controlled me long enough and it was all starting to fall into place from my depression, to the control it had on my marriage, and to the everyday anger that I exhibited towards others. A change had to take place one way or another.
Let’s back track for a minute. Ever since I was in nursing school I knew I wanted to be an ER nurse at LSU medical center. LSU is a level 1 trauma center that sees all the blood and guts you can handle. An adrenaline junkies dream job! I put my mind to it and shortly after graduation I got my job. The staff at LSU became my extended family and I am proud to say that I love each and every one of them like a brother and sister. Somewhere at the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013 it became clear our state hospital was going to be privatized. Meaning we would be laid off and our years of service and retirement would be no more. So I began actively searching for employment at the VA Medical Center. The day I accepted the position at the VA I knew that I had also made a commitment to make other life changes. I was going to lose my weight and it was going to stay off for good. In case you didn’t know the VA has great benefits, and better yet they have GREAT health insurance. It was Tuesday August 27th, 2013 when I made my life changing decision, and I haven’t looked back yet.
As most of you are aware by now I have been exceedingly open and honest with you (the viewer) in my blog. Some of you I have never met, others I haven’t seen in years, but there are plenty of you that I see on a daily or weekly basis. That makes being so open very difficult, but I feel it is a necessity for my transformation. You could almost call it a form of therapy. I feel I have to be honest with the people I know and even the ones I don’t know in order for me to be honest with myself. My own wife wasn’t aware I was a binge eater until she read my blog. Being fat is a sickness! When I say fat I mean a hundred pounds or greater. I don’t consider someone who is 30 or 40 pounds overweight being fat. Being fat is an addiction just like Crack, Meth, or Heroin. The only difference is my addiction is legal to buy and easily accessible. Of course there are people who will disagree, but those are the people who have never been addicted to something. Merriam-Webster defines addiction as a strong and harmful need to regularly have something. I am a food addict! I’m writing this post as a sort of warning shot. My next post I am going to put myself out in the open like never before. Just realize the next time I see you I may seem rock solid on the surface but on the inside I’m shattered and humiliated.
- No Excuses (jarredj06.wordpress.com)
- Having The Guts (thepandafreak.wordpress.com)
- 5 Myths about Addiction that Undermine Recovery | Psychology Today (liberatingsobriety.wordpress.com)
On January 25, 2002 I married my best friend. I started the marriage off weighing the most I had ever weighed at that point in my life. I was somewhere around 350 pounds, and wore a 4x shirt and a size 54 in pants. We had a small wedding with a few friends and family. I wasn’t really nervous about getting married, I was nervous about standing in front of all those people. Now if you ever met me you would think I was very confident in everything I do. Some people even say I’m intimidating when I first meet them. I can assure you whats on the outside doesn’t reflect whats on the inside. These are strictly defense mechanisms designed to keep people from seeing the real me. After our honeymoon we started off great. We were cooking our meals every night, but by no means were we dieting. I wasn’t binge eating or stress eating as bad as I normally did. Then the new wore off, and that’s when bad went to worse.We eventually got out of the habit of cooking and ate out a lot. We still cooked some nights but why cook when the dollar menu is so much easier. The first four years of our marriage I worked dead-end jobs and we lived paycheck to paycheck adding more children into the mix. The more stress I had the more I ate, and the more empty I felt. I couldn’t see it at the time, but the weight I gained wasn’t just affecting me, it was affecting my family and my marriage. In 2006 I started nursing school and managed to keep gaining weight. Of course through these years I tried every different diet you could name. I wasn’t successful at any of the diets I tried. Once nursing school was completed I found a real job with health insurance, and decided to be checked for sleep apnea. There were nights I would wake up with sharp pains in my side from my wife punching or kicking me just to get me to breathe. I went to speak with the doctor after my test and he informed me that within 4 hours I had 150 apneic events(meaning I stopped breathing).My longest episode was for 1 1/2 minutes and my oxygen saturation was 60%(92-100 is normal and 60=really bad). Since the day I received my C-PAP I have worn it every night and sleep like a baby. My weight had sky rocketed since we got married, and I was miserable. I blamed everyone but myself. It got so bad I even left my wife. I figured I would be happier by myself and I could be my own person. By doing this I hurt my children and most of all the women who I love and has supported me through it all. She didn’t deserve what I put her through and I can’t apologize enough. It was the worst mistake of my life, and no matter what I say or do I can’t erase that pain or memory from my families mind. Continue reading