Monday, January 10, 2011

8 Months Post-Op: Life Anew

So, it is just nearly 8-months post op. I am 197 lbs., 29% body fat and feeling fantastic.

Life has really picked up. I am doing very well at my new job, which isn't new anymore. Nicole and I are hoping to be expecting soon and I am pushing myself to new places that I haven't been able to explore before. Goals and dreams that I have had for years that I couldn't consider seriously before are now potential realities. I cannot express how wonderful it is to think about these goals in real terms, let alone pursue them! Truly rewarding. For certain reasons, I cannot go in to all my plans, but needless to say they are exciting and if they come to fruition, I will definitely share when the time is right.

So, I now wear a 34/36 pant and medium shirts...can you believe it? It is hard to conceptualize.

Anyway, it has been a tremendous journey so far and it has only really just began. I look forward to the continuation of this journey and all of its ups and downs along the way.

Talk soon!

Friday, September 17, 2010

5-Months Post-Op Update

Hi Everyone:

So, I am five months post-op and doing really well.  I am now 215 lbs., my BMI is 32 and I am now a 38 waist (and wearing slim jeans)!  I wear M-L shirts and feel great about it!

Eating has been easier for me, so long as I take my time.  I am able to eat some more things and I haven't had any problems since the procedure back in June (knock on wood).

I am 30 lbs. from my goal weight.  I started running again and I am back up to 1.25 miles every other day.  Laila and I run and she really loves it!

I feel good...I look good and healthy.  Life is great. 

Be good - I'll check in next month!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Four Months Post-Op - and 110 lbs. lighter

Hello Everyone:

It has been a little while since I posted (about two months), but it has been a busy two months!  I became employed with a job that has kept me busy as a bee for 60 hours a week.  Finally off the unemployment roles and back into the workforce.

So, four months in - here's my update.  As of today (August 13, 2010) I am 220 lbs.  I have lost 110 lbs (which is 1/2 of my current weight, 76% of my total weight loss goal and 33.3% of my total body mass).  My BMI is now a 33.4, down from 50.2.  I now wear L shirts (and even got into a M and looked pretty good), which is significantly smaller than the XXXL I was wearing.  My pants size is now a 40 waist down from a 54-56. 

Prior to me starting work at the end of June, I was running 1.25 miles a day and had started P90X.  Unfortunately, my schedule at work has prevented me from continuing the rigorous schedule of P90X, however, I have cut back my hours and will be starting back up again.  I also plan on re-starting my running schedule this Sunday.

I am doing better with eating - I still have to be very careful about what I eat, as I still will vomit if I don't eat the right foods and eat slowly.  However, since I have identified eating out as a major obstacle, we have just eliminated it all together.  Even foods that you would think would be OK to eat just don't sit right...even grilled chicken out doesn't sit well with me.  So, why waste money - I can eat my own food and it is cheaper.

I feel great and really think I look pretty good.  I am still burning through clothes faster than I can replace them since I am still losing weight.  I just got all 42 waist pants a couple of weeks ago and they are already getting too big - the belt only works for so long - then the pants just don't sit right.

So, here is a current picture - it was taken about 2 weeks ago at my mother-in-laws 50th b-day.  You can judge for yourself.

Thanks for reading!  Enjoy life...I know I am!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 68 - Feeling Amazing (and looking pretty good, too)!

Hi Everyone:

So, it is day 68 post-op...I have begun training and I feel great.  I started P90X yesterday with Chest & Back.  Today was Plyometrics (jumping)'s all sorts of squats, jumps and cardio.  It was really hard but you feel so good afterwards.  I then took Laila on a 1-mile run (yeah, I said run).  So, I'm feelin' pretty wiped right now but I feel great at the same time. 

My weight is 248 and I am a 44" waist.  Pre-surgery...330 and a 54"/56" waist.  Oh, and those 44" pants/shorts are starting to get loose.  As I do P90X, they are going to get very loose very quickly.  I don't mind...I don't have a lot of money to replace clothes, but the smaller they are for men, the cheaper they are - so bring it on!

So, all in all, life is great.  Here is a picture I took on Saturday.  There are some positive things happening on the job front as well...let's time we talk I will definitely be in better shape and I may be employed :-D

Thanks for to you next time! 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 10, 2010 - Almost 2 months Post-Op and feeling great!

Well, I can tell you that the procedure seems to have been a success.  Eating is much easier now and I feel fantastic. 

Yesterday, I weighed myself and I was down to 252 lbs.  So, I am down almost 80 lbs. since the the onset and nearly 55 lbs. since the surgery.  I truly feel wonderful.  I am walking 1.5 - 2 miles per day, I am working out in the yard and I am starting PX90 next week.

So, what else is there to say?  I'll post a new picture soon...I want to be in the 240's before I post a picture, which should be next week.  I'll also be taking my pre-PX90 photos for comparison, so I'll find some shots to post. 

Talk to you soon - thanks for your support!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Status Update - June 4, 2010 (My B-Day)

Hi Everyone:

So, let's start with a photo. 

It has been seven weeks and two days since my surgery.  I am down to 260 lbs., which is 70 lbs. lighter than my original weight of 330 lbs. and I am 45 lbs. lighter since the surgery.  My cholesterol (specifically, my triglycerides) are down 120 pts. since my surgery.  I now walk 1.5 miles a day and I am starting a more rigorous exercise routine next week that will include cardio, weight lifting, core training, etc.   I am feeling great and getting past the issues that have plagued me for a few weeks now.  Speaking of which, let me take a moment to go through that.

Since my hospital visit, I was put in contact with a fantastic gastro doctor in Denville (Dr. Emiliani from Morris County Gastro Associates) who ran blood tests and today dilitated my anastamosis.  The anastamosis is the connection between the new stomach and the by-passed intestines.  Due to my severe acid reflux, which didn't totally subside after the surgery, the connection became ulcerated and strictured (constricted) to 1/2 the size it needed to be.  As a result, I couldn't eat solid food as it would immediately come back up because it had no where to go...the hole was too small.  Today, they did an endoscopy and placed a catheter with a balloon down my throat and into my stomach and expanded the anastamosis to the proper size.  It was a procedure that lasted about 15 minutes and I was able to eat by 9:00 AM this morning, which I did with much ease.  The procedure, so far, has proven successful.  There is a possibility that the stricture may return to some extent, but that is normal.  It sometimes take 2 or 3 dilitations before the problem is resolved.  However, for now, I am able to eat and that is a wonderful B-Day present!  I had a slice of pizza tonight...yeah...only 1...but that is all I can eat...however, I was able to actually eat it without throwing up.  Huge success.

I also have diverticulitis, however, for the moment, it has calmed itself.  If I stay hydrated, I am hoping to avoid another flare up until I lose all my weight and they can operate to remove the section of damaged colon. 

So, the process can continue.  I am feeling much better and I have reduced my body weight by over 20% so far.  There have been some bumps, but the process is proving to be a positive change overall.  Nothing comes easy and nothing comes without a price.  However, the health benefits outweigh the risks and so far, nothing too terribly serious has come down the pike.  So, onward and upward.

I will talk to you all soon!  Thanks for the support and enjoy the weather!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Surgery has it's risks - a week in the hospital supported that reality

On Sunday, May 9th, I wasn't feeling all that great in the morning.  I had trouble using the bathroom all morning (from like 4am on) and had stomach pain.  I figured...not enough fiber.  So, Nicole and I were going to take her mother to breakfast for Mother's Day and then out for dinner later that afternoon.  So, I told Nicole to go without me for breakfast and I would go to dinner.  I figured a couple hours in bed would help. 

So, 4:00 PM rolls around and Nicole gets back from hanging out with her Mom and sister, so I get up, get ready and off we go to her mother's favorite place - the Cracker Barrel.  My side hurt, but I pushed was Mother's Day...I wasn't going to ruin that.  Not for a little stomach pain.

So, we get to Cracker Barrel and I feel like crap, but I just try to keep it to myself.  We finally get seated (place was packed - very popular on the holidays and weekends) and I, being on a limited diet anyway, order the children's grilled chicken fingers with some pinto beans. 

So, I eat about 1/2 my food and I tell Nicole quietly, I think I may need to go to the hospital after we finish up stomach is really starting to hurt and it is getting hard to walk.  Of course, everyone heard me...I just dismissed it as no big thing...just enjoy dinner.  So, after dinner, we stopped at Dairy Queen for some ice cream.  I didn't have any, but everyone else enjoyed it.  We left, and since we were driving, we headed back home.

So, once everyone was dropped off, I told Nicole we needed to go to the hospital, but I wanted to go to Monmouth Medical, not the crappy hospitals down here because Monmouth had one of the State's best bariatric surgeons on staff and if something was wrong, I wanted to have access to him.  The hospital I had my surgery was too far away for an ER visit, so this was the best alternative.

So, when I get there, it is about 9:45 PM.  We check in and they see me almost immediately.  They draw blood, run an IV and give me a large dose of morphine for the pain.  That helped some.  Then, about an hour or so later, they have me drink a litre of contrast solution in water (tasted like water...not too bad).  That took about 45 minutes.  I had to then wait another 1.5 hours before they could do the test.  So, they do a CT Scan of my abdomen to see what was wribg,  I thought the whole time my gallbladder was the problem, since gall stones is a huge problem for bariatric patients because of how quickly weight is lost.  An hour later, they come back and tell me that my ascending illium section of the colon by the secum was inflamed.  They hang some antibiotics and want to send me home. 

The morphine brought my pain from a strong 6 to a strong it was manageable.  They also gave me some antinaseau medication that was awesome...took away any naseau within seconds after being administered via the IV.  So, at 5:00 AM (yeah, 7 hours later) the doctor was ready to discharge me.  He drew up all the paperwork, gave me my prescriptions and said have a great night, follow up with your doctor for follow up CT Scans once I finished the antibiotics.  They also said that I had a mass in my abdomen the size of a racquetball, but it wasn't something to be concerned about at the moment - they could check that out when they did the follow-up CT Scan.  So, the nurse came in, removed my IV.  She left, I sat up to get my clothes on and immediately my pain went back up and past the 6 on its way to 8 and I started vomiting profusely (well, it was dry heaving...I hadn't had anything in my stomach for over 12 hours).  The nurse came back and gave me a dose of that anti-naseau medication to put under my tongue, which helped stop the vomiting.  Everyone thought...he still has contrast solution in has a tendency to make you nauseous.  So, as I am leaving, the doctor crosses my path in the hallway, so he asks how I am feeling.  I said, well, my pain is through the roof and I was just vomiting profusely...given the discharge papers say either of those symptoms warrant a return visit to the hospital and I haven't even left yet, I'd say not good.

Needless to say, he agreed and said I need to be admitted.  So, it took another 3 hours to get me a bed.  Finally, I am moved upstairs to a room and that's that.  Over the next week, I saw 30 doctors a day and was stuck more times than a pin cushion at Vera Wang's house.

The initial diagnosis was accute Diverticulitis, which is when a section of the colon develops pockets (like when your tire bubbles when you hit a bad pothole).  This weakens the lining of the colon and also traps food, which then becomes infected.  If not treated, this can lead to a perforation of the bowel and well...let's just say I may not be speaking to you now if that happened.

So, I was getting lots of antibiotics and basically just sitting in my room.  I was NPO (Nils Per Os, or Nothing By Mouth), so I wasn't eating or drinking.  So basically, I watched TV and slept when I could.  They came in to stick me every morning at 4:30 AM, the first doctor showed up at 5:30 AM and every 1/2 hour after that more doctors would stream in. 

On Wednesday, the GI doctor came in and said he was reviewing my CT Scan from the ER and noticed the mass in my abdomen.  He wasn't sure if it was fluid or solid and wanted to investigate to make sure it wasn't something serious.  It was on the remnant stomach (the part of the stomach that is no longer used), so they were almost positive it was fluid, but they didn't want to take any chances.  If they didn't investigate it and it turned out to be cancer, that would be a big problem. 

So, on Friday, they took me in for an Endoscopic Ultrasound.  Basically, this procedure is much like an Endoscopy, where they feed a long tube down your throat with a camera at the end, only this instrument had an ultrasound attachment.  This allows them to ultrasound internal organs not accessible with great ease from the surface.  I was knocked out and was told it was about an 1hr. long procedure.  When I wake up, I look at the clock and not even 1/2 hour went by.  The doctor came out a little later and said they couldn't finish the procedure because the anastimosis (the connection between the new stomach and the by-passed intestines) was about 1/2 the size it was supposed to be and the scope didn't fit.  The whole area was raw and there was stricture.  Coincidentally, this explains why I spent the prior week throwing up my food...apparently it wasn't that I was eating the wrong things, but because of this.  So, the doctor put me on a quadruple dose of Nexium and stated I needed to have a repeat of this procedure in 3 weeks to a month to see what is going on and whether it can be stretched to normal size or if I am going to need more surgery.

This is considered a complication of surgery, so that's why the title of my blog is "Surgery has it's risks - a week in the hospital supported that reality".  The Diverticulosis was not, however,  I apparently had this for at least 2 years, but less than 3 years, since it didn't show up on my colonoscopy in 2007.  It decided to flare up now for who knows what reason. 

So, to cure Diverticulosis, they will need to remove the section of the colon that is diseased.  As for the anastamosis issue, well, time will tell whether another surgery will be needed. 

So, on Friday, after the procedure, I spoke to my doctor (the one overseeing my whole case) and she said I could leave Saturday, since there wasn't much more the hospital could do for me.  I could take antibiotics at home, so there was no reason to stay.  She said I could leave tomorrow (Saturday) and she would be in early to discharge me.  She knew I was singing Saturday and Sunday and that if I could get out of there early enough Saturday, I could make it to NYC. 

So, Saturday comes around and no doctor.  9AM, 10AM, 11AM, 12PM...I start to get a little miffed.  I spoke to my nurse (by the way, every Nurse, PCA and Tech on that floor was amazing all week...such nice people) to try and find out what was going on.  Nicole had come up to pick me up and run me around to get my music, pick up my tux, etc. and when the doctor still wasn't there...she was not happy either.  1PM, 2PM, 3PM no doctor.  She decided not to come to the hospital that day.  So my nurse started hounding her resident to get up there to discharge me.  That finally happened at 4:30 PM.  Now in the meantime, since we saw the time ticking away, Nicole ran home, got my toiletry bag and undergarments, got my music, picked up my tux and came back to the hospital.  I showered at the hospital and walked out in a Tuxedo (that was fun).  I got to NYC at 8:10 PM...they choirs actually rearranged the program to give me time to park. 

So, I performed, but not without cost.  Sunday night I couldn't finish the performance...I ran out of gas during the last movement of the last piece and had to sit it out.  Luckily that was the only problem.  Sunday, I got through the whole performance but nearly blacked out on the subway platform at 68th St. because all the walking drained my energy and my BP tanked.  So, that was a fiasco. 

So, the moral of the story...everything has benefits and risks.  I weighed them and made a I regret it...not yet.  I hope I don't ever.  I am down almost 70lbs.  So, I can't say it isn't working.  However, if these other issues can't be makes the whole process somewhat a wash in the health benefiting department.  If I fix my weight issue but have intestinal issues for the rest of my life...well, that doesn't really make the surgery worth it.  I am hoping that these issues will resolve themselves and I can move on.  I am looking forward to restarting my 2 mile walks, working out and getting in shape.  I can't start until this stuff is resolved, however.

The journey is never easy, the road is never straight and the path is not always clear.  Determination, perserverence and faith will guide you to your destination, whatever it may be.  That's not a quote...that's mine.  I believe this to be true.