Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Big Fill

Starting weight: 328 lbs.
Current weight: 288 lbs.
Amount lost: 40 lbs.

Ah, so much to talk about. But first, my sincerest and most gracious and humble apologies to the global throng of 10, nay 20, loyal followers of this here bloggy thing. I haven't written since Thanksgiving, and I deserve nothing short of a good Singapore caning, followed by a week in the hot box with a case of Ex Lax and a dozen rolls of barbed-wire toilet paper. Truthfully, I just haven't felt like writing. And when a writer doesn't feel like writing, then nothing gets written. And that's all she wrote. Am I right?

Secondly, I'm happy to report that I'm 40 pounds down and feel great. I'm walking 2 miles a day, eating healthy, and with the exception of The Christmas Day Dinner Roll Debacle (which I'll explain in excruciating detail shortly), I've been relatively incident free.

Finally, I went in Dec. 16 for The Big Fill. This is where the Band de Lap takes center stage and shakes its moneymaker. I've included handy dandy visual aids below for reference, but for those of you unlearned in the ways of the bariatric underbelly, here's a the short 4-1-1:

The Lap Band sits around the top of the stomach, just as it meets the esophagus. The inner side of the band is inflatable, like a bicycle inner tube. A tube runs from the band to a port, which is inserted under the skin and muscle and attached to the lower part of the ribcage.

With me so far? Good.

When you get a "fill," a needle is inserted through the skin and into the port, and saline is injected, filling the band's inner tube and squeezing the stomach opening, thus restricting the amount of food that can pass through the stomach at one time.

The tighter the band, the less food it takes to get full, the less food you eat, the more weight you lose. Get it?

And now, handy dandy visual aid No. 1:

Now I know what you are thinking. "Boy, there's a tornado in your belly. Get in the tub pronto and cover up with a mattress!" And yes, that was my initial reaction, too. But while there is often torrents of wind of F5 proportions swirling around in my lower intestines, the dark parts you see above is the yummy shooter of barium that Dr. Fill (heeeee) gave me in order for my insides to show up on the fluoroscope (that's a fancy word for X-ray!).

Here is handy dandy visual aid No. 2:

This is one of those medical model representations you see in the doctor's office. You know the ones that you start playing with but then it falls apart in your hand the exact moment the doctor walks in? Well this one gives you a good idea of what it looks like in my insides, except that my insides are covered with thick layers of vodka and bacon. Mmmmm. Bacon martini.

Anyhow, back to Dr. Fill. After finding the port with a sonogram (insert pregnancy joke here), the actual procedure was fairly painless; just the short prick (heee) of a needle.

The Band 'O Lap holds 10 CCs of saline. My first fill was 3 CCs. The idea is to eventually find that "sweet spot" where you can eat the foods you want and maintain once you reach your goal weight. So I imagine I will have another fill or two before it's all over.

At first I hadn't felt any difference. Like before, as long as you take small bites, eat slowly and chew well, then all remains well in Lap Band Land. However, as the Band get tighter, your margin for error shrinks.

Enter Christmas Day dinner. Like any good Texan, we blew off cooking dinner in favor of ordering takeout from Sonny Bryan's BBQ. And if you've ever eaten at Sonny Bryan's, you know about their dinner rolls. YUUUUMMMMMY! Well, the meal went well. Small portions, small bites, yadda, yadda, yadda. I even ate a dinner roll. So far, so good. But when you continue to sit and talk around a table of food, you tend (at least I do anyway) to nibble. And I nibbled on a second dinner roll.

Not. Very. Smart.

Regardless of whether I chewed well or slow or swallowed it whole, bunches of white flour bread in your belly is a no-no. White bread expands and clumps together into a big wad of WOE, and when your newly sectioned off stomach is the size of a thumb, well, you do the math. And when that newly sectioned off stomach the size of a thumb has an opening the size of a dime for food to pass through, well, do more math.

I quickly broke out in a cold sweat and had to get up and walk around with my hands on my head doing that twisty, turny torso dance that I do so well. For the next 15 minutes, I swallowed, gagged, squirmed and squiggled. Now I'm not going to compare this to childbirth. I am smart enough, having grabbed a leg during the birth of our oldest, to know that the pain involved here is not even a fraction of what you ladies go through.

But I will say this. I now have a new appreciation for the idea of something the size of a watermelon slowly and painfully pushing its way through a hole the size of a peach. It was not a pleasant experience to say the least. Much like the Pecan Pie Incident, consider it lesson learned.

Dinner rolls. Bad.

So I've made it through the Holiday Foodfest Triangle of Death, but not without some internal bumps and bruises. However, I've emerged thinner and smarter and begin the New Year wearing clothes that haven't seen the light of day in years. So yea for me!

I'm starting to see some true benefits of weight loss; things that you take for granted, and I'm re-learning that life is so much better without loads of lard weighing you down.

In the next few posts I'll talk about that. I've been pretty wide open about my experience with this so far, but this will be more out there than ever. So prepare yourselves accordingly.

Peace, love and BBQ!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Pecan Pie Incident

Starting weight: 328 lbs
Current weight: 299
Amount lost: 29 ... uh, oops.

After four days of turkey and dressing ad nauseam, I came away from Part 2 of the three-headed holiday gluttony monster a mere three pounds heavier than I was entering. Now considering the fact that the only exercise I got on the four-day weekend was climbing up a one-rung step ladder to put up my Christmas lights, that's a moral victory if ever there was one.

Now wait a minute, my not-as-rotund-as-you-used-to-be friend, aren't you supposed to be LOSING weight with this Lap Band doodamahickey?

Why yes, yes I am. But I didn't. I'll own that.

I actually did very well at our Thanksgiving feast, loading up my plate with little portions of everything. I took small bites, chewed well and ate slowly, just like the Lap Band Instruction Manual says. But I was stung by something much more venomous than the big bad turkey day meal itself.


You can prepare yourself for the big bird. It's not hard to psyche yourself up, gird up your loins and limit your intake for an hour or so as you sit surrounded by cranberries and corn casserole. In and out. One and done. That wasn't so bad, right?

But leftovers linger. Like a wet, hacking, snotty cough. Like the smell of burnt popcorn. Like a Pancho's buffet gas attack. Leftovers never go away. Hell, I think I threw away some sort of cheesy green bean dish from last Thanksgiving while cleaning out the fridge to make room for this year's leftovers.

In the end, there were more leftovers in my belly than in the fridge. Not that I gorged. I grazed all weekend. Moo. Sweet potatoes here. Pea salad there. Turkey omelets everywhere. Moooooo. So that three pounds is on me ... literally. But I can live with that, because out of it comes a very valuable, yet painful lesson learned.

We ate early on Thursday, as per family tradition, so we'd have plenty of time to clear the table and load up on Rolaids and Prilosec prior to Cowboys-Raiders kickoff. And as you know, Thanksgiving afternoon in front of the TV watching football is PRIME grazing time. So as the game was winding down, I wandered into the kitchen and snatched up a relatively small piece of pecan pie.

Maybe it was the familiar and comforting taste of room temperature gooey sweetness, or maybe I was in a hurry to get back to the game, or maybe I was racked with guilt for eating something I shouldn't and reverted to pre-Lap Band scarf mode so no one would catch me. Whatever the reason, I neither took small bites nor chewed well, and as best I can tell, yonder relatively small piece of pecan pie got relatively wedged into my relatively small stomach opening.

I didn't realize it at first, since it was just a feeling of fullness. Time to stop eating, I thought. The painful part came later after I stupidly drank a glass of water, which only served to drive the pecan pie wedge in tighter.

Now was it kicked in the crotch painful? No. But it was a might uncomfortable and stomach crampy as it radiated angrily into my lower back. I felt like I was getting gut punched by Sugar Ray Leonard and kidney punched by Marvelous Marvin Hagler all at the same time.

Laying down made it worse, so I got back up, recalling the advice of a fellow Lap Bander, and walked around with my hands on my head, doing this sort of twisty turny torso dance in hopes of dislodging the pecan pie blockage so it could move on through.

I finally landed all squirreled up on the couch in a semi-reclined position with hands on head. I looked funny as hell, but at least I didn't hurt. It all passed a while later, and the pain thankful subsided.

So let's recap: small bites, chew well, eat slowly, and when they say don't drink liquids while you are eating ... they mean it. And next Thanksgiving? Pecan Pie Smoothies. Lesson learned.

Peace, love and gooey sweetness.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Who's Bringing the Gummy Worms?

Starting weight as of 10/14: 328 lbs.
Current weight as of 11/22: 296 lbs.
Amount Lost: 32 lbs.

It's fitting that only a few weeks past the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that I, myself, have taken a sledgehammer to my own physical, mental and emotional Iron Curtain.

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I can proudly tell Mr. Gobachev that I have torn down the 300-pound wall, metaphorically speaking. I've lost 32 pounds and currently weigh 296 lbs., which means I'm below 300 lbs. for the first time since, well, I truly can't tell you. It's been that long.

All it took was a bottle of Turbo-lax and a spoonful of intestinal parasites (I kid!).

But not only am I seeing the results on my already well-worn bathroom scale, I'm getting into shirts that I haven't been able to wear in years. And when I miss a workout because of a conflict, I really miss it. I'm starting to crave that feeling of satisfied exhaustion you get from working up a good sweat. I've had that feeling before, but now it's different. Previously I'd only get it from a morning visit to the porcelain throne after a long night at Fogo de Chao, if you know what I mean!

And all of this comes at the perfect time of the year. For me, the holidays, though festive and and full of awesomeness because I get a bunch of free stuff, have always been a time of great consternation and struggle.

I'd enter into the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas triumvirate with the greatest of intentions, vowing to limit the sweets and eat sensibly. But then I'd exit hurriedly through the back door amidst a flurry of Almond Joy wrappers and giblet gravy, only to be found sometime before New Year's Eve in a back alley, slumped against a wall in a tryptophan haze while clinging desperately to a gnawed-clean ham bone and muttering something about The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

But this year I've looked forward to the Holiday Troika more than any other time in my life, or at least since I was a little cheat.

Reason being is that My Friend Lap Band has kindly taken all my consternation and struggle, given it the middle finger and unceremoniously sent it on its merry frickin' way. All that worry and hollow self-promise about eating right has vanished. And just like that, it was gone. Keyser Soze gone.

With My Little Lap Band in place, and a with my heat-seeking, laser-guided, thermonuclear, infrared night-time-vision-goggle focus zeroed in on eating right, overeating is simply not an option.
  • Like the NCAA ever instituting a BCS playoff system
  • Like Rosanne Barr ever singing the national anthem before a baseball game again
  • Like me getting all giddy about going to see New Moon
  • Not ... going ... to ... happen
And if it's not an option, then I just don't have to worry my pretty little head about it. Plain and simple.

Now, I did help myself to a few of the gummy worms in my girls' candy cache. But that was during my soft food phase. And gummy worms are ... soft. And I will have my share of turkey and dressing with all the trimmings. But in small bites and proper portions. And for the first time in recent memory, I will push myself away from the table, full but not miserable, satisfied but not stuffed, and happily say, "I've had enough."

Overeating will not be on the menu this holiday season. Because I've had enough.

It's either that, or I puke all over myself. And I'm saving that for the Christmas Party. Anyone for a chocolate-peppermint martini?

Peace, love and turkey legs

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bacon Good, Patience Bad

Starting weight as of 10/14: 328 lbs.
Current weight as of 11/12: 300 lbs.
Amount Lost: 28 lbs.

Just over three weeks ago, The Good Doctor shaved my belly, waved his magic laproscopic wand and left his calling card in my gut, in the form of a plastic C-clamp with the words "The Good Doctor Was Here" inscribed on it, gently wrapped around the upper part of my stomach.

Today, I stand, er, sit, on the precipice of a milestone that I haven't seen since little Suri Cruise was hatched in a Scientology petri dish. I'm a scant two pounds, technically three, away from being below 300 lbs.

Now that, kittens (BvBB!), may not seem like that big of a deal, but to someone who was mortified to reach the 250 mark, was horribly embarrassed to hit 275, was in denial at hitting 300 and was utterly humiliated and in angry disbelief at passing 325, trust me, it's a BIG ... FREAKING ... DEAL.

But for now I'm in a holding pattern at 28, and to be quite honest, I've been a little frustrated by the fact that I've been circling the tower for just over a week with no additional drop in weight.

Not that I expect it all to fall off in big chunks. I mean, 28 lbs. in 29 days is nothing to jiggle your man boobs at. Extra Large Oprah from a few years ago would sell Stedman for a handful of bacon bits if she could drop weight at that kind of rate.

But for those of you who have never experienced weight loss on a grander scale, and we're not talking 'oh gosh, this dress is too tight, I need to lose 5 lbs. let me barf up my dinner weight loss,' losing weight is like being addicted to crack, heroine, meth and my personal favorite, liquid hydrocodone, all at the same time.

Once you experience it, you have this insatiable, carnal nagging; an intense clawing, gnawing, painful desire for more, more, more, MORE. You can't get enough, and it can't happen fast enough. A least that's how I currently feel. Daddy needs a fix and needs it bad.

So before I panicked (dude, haven't you already?), I took my neck out of the noose and called my doctor, as well as one of my good friends who was banded last year, for some sage advice.

What did they tell me? Patience, young grasshoppa. Patience. Something that is in very short supply around here and seems to be on back order with no ship date in site. Patience. Try telling that to your friendly neighborhood crackhead when he's looking to score some rock.

But, I have since taken sufficient deep breaths, along with a couple deep bong hits (kidding!!!) and calmed myself, realizing that my first week back on solid foods might have something to do with it (again, burying the lead here).

Especially since the first bite of solid foods last week consisted of two words. BA ... CON! Remember what I said in my previous entry about the first bite of soft foods? Take that, turn it up to 11 and set it on fire. That's how good that little piece of pork heaven was.

But after that initial bit of bacon, it's all been by the book. I've eaten right, watched my portions and worked out every day, which means I've worked out more in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years. And I keep reminding myself that this isn't a 100-yard dash I'm running here, it's a marathon.

At least now, thanks to 28 fewer pounds, I can run 100 yards without having to stop halfway for oxygen and medical attention.

Peace, love and BA ... CON! And remember, DON'T PANIC!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Scrambled Eggs and Studio 54

Starting Weight as of 10/14: 328 lbs.
Current Weight as of 10/29: 305 lbs.
Amount Lost: 23 lbs.
So it's been two weeks of liquids, a week on The Band and my ass is 23 pounds lighter. But that's like kicking a couple rocks off of Mount Everest. It's still freakin' huge! Nonetheless, I'm on my way. And to be completely honest, so far it really hasn't been that bad. The pain was dispensed in short order by my good friend Liquid Hydrocodone, who unfortunately is no longer with us. Hell, that's been the hardest thing to handle. I swear I sat and stared at the empty bottle for 20 minutes. I liked it when things were all tingly and a nice shade of cerulean blue.

The soreness has been minimal, but the swelling is still there. And not in a good way. My belly, which is now minus the 14 staples across 5 incisions, is still as tight and bloated as it would be after a happy, pre-Band night at the Super Jumbo Bumbo Chinese Buffet.

But Dr. Follow Up says that will go away in due time. Remember, he said, with every incision on the outside, there's the same size incision on the inside that still has to heal. And that can take a while, especially when you have skin like you do that is as thick and blubbery as a humpback whale's. Maybe he didn't really say that last part.

The good news is, and I think I'm burying the lead here, I'm eating SOFT FOODS! After my visit with Dr. Follow Up the other day, I high-tailed my big tail up to Cafe Brazil and dined on the world-famous culinary pairing of two soft scrambled eggs with salsa and a cup of cream of jalapeno soup.

Think about the best meal you ever had. Add to that the most earth-shaking, teeth-rattling, breath-taking, knee-knocking, toe-curling orgasm you every had. Add to that what it felt like for the 1987-88 Newman Smith Trojans to beat J.J. Pearce on Homecoming (We sucked! It was our first district win other than R.L. Turner in I don't know how many years). Multiply all that by 42 and that only begins to get slightly close to how good those eggs tasted. I mean, they were Eddie Murphy Best Cracker I Every Ate good. The waitress stopped by three times to ask if I was done I was savoring those eggs so long. There truly was a party in my mouth. And we're talking circa-1978, Studio 54, cocaine on the dance floor and sex in the balconies type party here.

Now all the eggs, cottage cheese, fruit smoothies and yogurt I've dined on since then haven't quite set off the same amount of oral fireworks as that initial plate of huevos, but that's OK. It's nice to finally be eating real food again, even if it is soft.

Next week it's on to solid foods. Somewhere out there is an unsuspecting yet very lucky chicken fajita nacho that will soon be attending the next great Mouth Party. And he better bring some hot and slutty friends.

Peace, love and scrambled eggs!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No pain, no gain. Who cares about gain?

Starting weight before liquid diet: 328 lbs.
Weight before today's surgery: 317 lbs.
Weight lifted off my shoulders: Immeasurable

I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamed I was abducted by aliens and they stuck probes in me and implanted a device that gave me unparalleled superpowers. Behold I am ....


Maybe my last dose of pain meds was a bit on the heavy side.

So it's done. I officially have a foreign object locked in around my gullet. Let the small bites and endless mastication begin. And that's mastication. Not that other word.

As far as I can tell, things went about as ducky as could be. In at 5:30 a.m., out by noon. I've gone to dry cleaners and photomats that didn't work that fast.

And I'm feeling just fine, thank you for asking. **PAUSE: It's time for my next dose of pain meds. So if things get a little psychedelic after this, you'll know why. Ah, all better now. Everything's a pretty shade of blue. **

The routine for the next few days is quite strict. I have to drink 1 ounce of something (water, juice, soup, bloody mary, you know, all the standard liquids) every 15 minutes, except when sleeping of course. I was never quite able to master the eat while you sleep technique, so unfortunately I can't apply that to liquids. This is to make sure that I stay hydrated and get all my nutrients. It's also to make sure that I spend a good part of my day in the bathroom.

As for medication, I'm wearing, quite literally, a medicine ball around my neck in a junior-sized fanny pack. This is delivering pain meds directly to the incision sites so I won't be screaming in pain like a little sissy baby.

On top of that, I have a rather large bottle of possibly the greatest invention known to mankind ever: liquid hydrocodone. G-O-L-D! And for anyone of you who has every been on pain meds for any length of time, you know that while I will be spending half my day in the bathroom, it won't be for No. 2. Sorry, TMI.

And if I'm not hooked up to enough stuff already, I have to wear these circulation socks for the next week when I sleep. These contraptions strap to my feet and and periodically inflate/deflate to help with circulation in my legs so I won't throw a clot. Well with your bad knee, Ed, you shouldn't throw anybody. It's true.

So I'm home and feel good. Glad it's over and starting to healing. But now it's time to go. I have to go take a dose so something or other.

Peace, love and pain meds.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Give me a P! Give Me Another P! And another, and another, and another ...

Current Weight: 325 (scale was actually way off yesterday, in a good way for once)
Current Wait: 6 days

Liquid Diet (LD) Day 1 is in the books. That sloshing sound you hear is not the ocean, toilet or washing machine. That's me. I drank so much orange juice yesterday that I now have a MEDIUM PULP sticker affixed to the side of my head.

There is a path worn from the ballroom to the bathroom on the second floor of the Crowne Plaza in Addison. If restrooms gave out frequent flyer miles, I'd be Platinum three times over. I can describe in intricate and exacting detail the pattern and coloring of the granite wall, and truthfully tell you that there is a small chunk missing from said granite wall just above and slightly to the left of the plumbing fixture at the third urinal from the left.

I think you get the point. I visited the facilities 10 times in an 8 hour period. While I'm sure that's not any sort of record, I've known pregnant women who could hold their water better than I could yesterday.

And props to Steve Crescenzo for putting up with my girly bladder. Not only was his Creative Communications seminar amazing, Steve's irreverent style and Chi-Town delivery made for a quite an entertaining day. I was inspired, energized and a tad bit turned on (was that out loud?). Check out his fine work at This dude's got mad skills. And I'm not just saying that because I hope that someday he will mention my blog while plying his fine craft across North America. No really. I'm not.

So as expected, the day was filled with free food at every turn. Pastries and fruit in the morning. Italian buffet for lunch. Caramel popcorn and movie candy in the afternoon.

At lunch I wandered down to the hotel restaurant to see what kind of soup was on the menu. Texas Chili or Beef and Barley. So naturally I took the third option, a second helping of Protein drink. But then I told the catering manager about my situation, and he graciously brought me a piping hot and incredibly tasty cup of beef and barley soup, minus all the chunky beef and barley parts. Thank you Mr. Catering Manager Man. You made my day.

To be honest, LD Day 1 was not as hard as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was (literally) no picnic either. What I quickly learned is how much you can take food for granted. Eating is so ingrained in your life that you just don't realize how automatic and instinctual it is.

As I was taking my girls to school yesterday, The Oldest handed me her apple while she climbed in and buckled up. Without thinking I took a bite, then not-so casually spit it out on the lawn. After school The Youngest gave me her half-eaten package of peanut butter crackers, and I eagerly fished one out, then not-so-eagerly put it right back. Even as I was fixing their dinner, I had to fight the urge to lick the spoon.

It's like the old saying goes, give a Fat Man a burger, and he'll ask you for another. Take the Fat Man's burger away, and he'll curl up in the fetal position on the floor and cry for his Mommy.

I think that's how it goes. I'll figure it out later. Right now I gotta pee.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Day My Girth Stood Still

Current weight: 338 lbs.
Current Wait: 7 days.

On April 27 I published my first entry on The Fat Guy in the Third Row, which one friend suggested I should change to the more humorous, The Fat Guy in the Third AND Fourth Row. I really wish I had thought of that. That's some funny shit right there.

In that first missive I threw my hat into the Weight Loss Surgery octagon and challenged my outer Fat Man to a no-holds-barred, winner-take-all, pinfalls-count-anywhere Texas Lap Band Steel Cage Death Match, with The Good Doctor as the special guest referee.

Along the way I've tried to detail my perilous journey using only my love of the written word and warped sense of humor as my trusted and loyal sherpas. And up until now, it's all been theory, supposition, conjecture, here say, uneducated guessing and a healthy dose of hyperbole. Basically, it's been all talk and no action. All smoke and no fire. All hat and no cattle.

Today, in keeping with the farm animal reference from above, it's time to kick this pig. Today, in similar keeping to the mountain climbing reference also from above, I begin my final, week-long push toward the summit; the apex that is Surgery Day. This final leg is the hardest; a test usually reserved only for hardened criminals, severe IBS cases and people with broken jaws.

Yes. It's what you think it is. The liquid diet.

Liquid Diet? Hey, isn't that what got me into this corpulent conundrum in the first place? Beer. It does a body good, right?

No more, my frothy, cold-filtered friend. Your hops and barley are not longer welcome around here. Instead, this week it's all about broth, fruit juices, protein supplements and drinkable yogurt. Or as my instructions say, "anything that pours without solid food matter." YUMMY! Seems it's needed to help shrink the liver prior to gut cuttin' time. Hell, it's the least I can do. I've kicked the crap out of my liver for a lotta years. 'Bout time it gets a little rest.

So everything I've gone through to this point, all the hoops, all the doctors, all the fat people, and for what? Today, on the first day of my liquid diet, I get to attend a communications seminar, which, of course, features free breakfast, free lunch, and all the free sodas and cookies you can eat during the morning and afternoon breaks. You know, all the things that make attending these kind of seminars almost bearable. Thanks Bossman, your timing is impeccable. You'll be getting some day-old pastries, a boxed lunch and a shirt full of mini-Sprites and oatmeal cookies for your troubles.

But that is not all. Oh, no. That is not all. Since it would be my final bites of anything resembling solid food for the next four weeks, I put a lot of thought into my final meal. Grilled Parmesan prawns with garlic butter, roasted new potatoes and a glass or two of my favorite Merlot.

The Calendar Gods, however, had other plans, choosing to double-book last night's grand finale with National Night Out. So instead of spending a romantic night with The Wife enjoying mouth-watering shrimp, tender rosemary potatoes and a full-bodied red with earthy tones and subtle finish, I spent my might choking down chili dogs, chips and sweet tea while shooting the shit with my neighbors.

How's that for being born under a bad sign. Anyone for shrimp and potato smoothies?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What It's Really All About

Current weight: Not sure. But I feel fatter than normal. But then again, when don't I.

So we're just about two weeks away from the big day, and it can't get here soon enough. Any normal-brained, jolly ol' fat person wouldn't be as excited about surgery day as a 6-year-old waking up at the butt crack of dawn and running into the living room to see what another jolly ol' fat person had dropped off the night before.

But for me it's the middle of December, the tree is up, the lights have been strung and the spiked eggnog is flowing. Because come Oct. 21, I'll be saying hola to one jolly ol' fat man and adi-freakin'-os to another. And as the day draws nigh, I've started to ponder the reasons why I'm willing to put myself and my family through all of this financial, emotional and gastrointestinal rigmarole.

There are obvious reason. Health, family, the ability to buy clothes at any place other than Thornton Mellon's Tall and Fat. You know, the important stuff.

There are other reasons. Reasons that don't seem like much to Mr. and Mrs. I Never Have a Problem Finding My Size. But to Mr. and Mrs. Fat Around the Middle America, these reasons are what it's really all about.

It's about not feeling like your skin is stretched as tight as Roseanne Barr's leopard-print thong.

It's about not having a stain on EVERY nice shirt you own because the food that would normally drop onto the napkin in your lap instead splats onto the big belly that is parked directly between your mouth and said napkin in said lap.

It's about not having to ask for a table after you've first been seated in a booth and found out that you can't sit in the booth without causing internal bleeding.

It's about not having to see the fake-smile, pitiful look on the face of the pretty, still in high school hostess whom you've just asked to re-seat you at a table.

It's about not smiling and patting the sweet little girl on the head after she points at your belly and asks, "Is there a baby in there?"

It's about not sitting in a meeting unaware that the fifth button on your shirt has popped loose because it could no longer withstand the strain its been under.

It's about not standing up in front of a group unaware that your shirt tail has come untucked because there simply isn't enough material to cover your belly AND leave enough shirt tail to stay tucked in.

It's about not getting those icky looks from friends and co-workers when you raise your arms above your head for some reason and they see that the pits of your shirt are soaked through to the point that even a Sham-Wow would have a hard time sopping it all up.

It's about not getting sweaty and out of breath from any of the following: tying your shoes, taking a dump, getting the mail, getting the newspaper, reading the mail, reading the newspaper, sitting down on the ground, getting up off the ground, getting in bed, out of bed or changing the sheets on the bed.

It's about not having to explain to your friends who graciously asked you and your wife over for dinner and drinks that you just broke their toilet seat.

It's about no longer being the guy everyone at work brings the extra brownie, cookie or lunch leftovers to.

It's about not avoiding bending over for any reason whatsoever. Not even if means letting a $20 you dropped flutter away on the lightest of breezes.

It's about not deciding against chasing after the $20 that is fluttering away in the lightest of breezes because there is no way you could catch up to it, despite the fact that it's fluttering away on the lightest of breezes.

It's about not almost giving yourself a hernia because you would rather bust a gut - literally - than ask the flight attendant for the seat belt extender.

It's about not having to wonder if the rickety old wood chair you are sitting on is going to collapse under the weight, since it's happened to you twice before. On the same night.

It's about not having executive leadership take a thinner, better dressed, more put-together person more seriously than the fatter, sloppier, sweatier you.

It's about not walking into a bar and knowing that no chick would give you a second glance or even the time of day if you were to go up and say hello. Not that I would or want to, since the one woman that matters in this world gives me both a second glance and the time of day. But still.

It's about not experiencing the horrible, self loathing feelings the nano-second after realizing that the fifth button popped loose, or that the shirt tail is untucked, or that the pits are soaked through, or that you can't fit into the booth, or that the hot chick at the end of the bar whom you smiled and winked at is not only giggling at you but is now telling her friends next to her that the fat guy who just walked in the door just smiled and winked at her.

Don't take any of this the wrong way. I'm not bitter about all the above. Ok, maybe a little. But I'm the one who drew up the blueprints, built and tirelessly maintained my tool shed. I have no one to blame but myself.

But finally, for once in my fat life, enough is enough. Now I'm not naive. I realize that not all of this will change once I'm a lean, mean Lap Band machine. I mean, who am I kidding? I'm still going to sweat - I have very active glands (Thanks mom!). And I'm still going to get stains on my nice shirts - that's just clumsy ol' me.

But the next time you see a $20 fluttering by on the lightest of breezes, that'll be my skinny ass chasing after it.

Peace, love and leopard-print thongs!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Into the Belly of the Beast

Current weight: 335 (I've kinda let myself go. I'm so ashamed.)
Current wait: 29 days and counting

So I'm a month away from the big day, the day I say FU to F-A-T, and I'm feeling pretty good about myself right about now.

It has nothing to do with the six pieces of bacon I had for breakfast. And no, I have not suddenly had a self realization about my body image issues after spending the entire night standing in front of a mirror naked chanting "I love my fat folds" over and over again.

Why then, my bellyrific buddy are you so giddy, you ask. Is Denny's giving out a free stack of pancakes with every order of Moons Over My-Hammy? Did Ben and Jerry's just come out with a fat-free, calorie-free cheeseburger flavored ice cream called "Cheeseburger in Paradise?" Did Vogue just declare fat, sweaty and out of breath the new black?

No, friends, none of the above. But those are all good guesses.

Last week I spat in the face of the school yard bully. I hurled a rock skyward with my trusty slingshot. I donned my best Rocky Balboa getup and stepped into the ring with Apollo Creed - The Count of Mighty-fisto! Yes, that's right. I dared to question the Insurance Industrial Complex.

What?? You'll get murdered to death! At best you'd be left bleeding profusely while laying in a variety of your own bodily fluids.

Yes, I knew I was taking my life into my own hands a few days ago when I called the AETNA Fat Police to question some recent insurance charges. But guess what? I'm still standing. In fact, I'm standing here victorious, proudly holding high one of the North American Tag Team championship belts.

Dramatics, hysteria and hyperbole aside, lemme 'splain.

I recently got an Explanation of Benefits for my EGD procedure in July. On said EOB, the charges from the facility where I got my gut checked were billed out at 60 percent, meaning the number listed under the Total Patient Responsibility was a whopping $6,300.

W ... T ... F?

After peeling myself off the ceiling and putting my eyeballs back into their sockets, I placed a rapidly frantic call to AETNA to ask what is the BFD? Seems that the facility is out-of-network (thus the 60 and not 90 percent) and nobody bothered to tell this guy.

I entered into this thing with the understanding that The Good Doctor was in-network and all of this was going to be covered at 90 percent up to $1,000 maximum. Meaning, my total out-of-pocket for this here deal would be no more than a cool grand.

But Holy Fat Farm, Batman. Sixty-three hundred dollars? That queers the deal right there. If I'd have known that, I would have been right back to eating rice cakes and lettuce wraps because that particular portion of bodily waste ain't gonna soar gracefully through the air.

Now, this is the same facility where I'm scheduled to have my surgery, so naturally, I asked if the upcoming procedure is only going to be covered at 60 percent. No, the nice lady said, this facility has been approved as "in-network" for this procedure and will bill at 90 percent.

Again, say it with me now, W ... T ... F?

That makes no sense, I argued, that this facility is first out-of-network for a procedure that The Good Doctor ordered, but later approved as in-network for the larger procedure.

Well about 45 minutes and 4 or 5 transfers later, I ended up on the phone with a bigwig at the facility. After calmly (which took a bit of doing on my part) explaining my dilemma, she graciously apologized and said not to worry, that I would not be held responsible for the charges and to let her know if I get any bills stating otherwise. She even gave me her cell phone number.

After this time picking myself up off the floor and snapping my dropped jaw back into place, I thanked her, hung up the phone and stood there dazed for a second. Then I did what a crowd of anxious onlookers would have done had they been listening in for the duration. I gave myself a slow-clap ovation!

Now, regardless (or irregardless) the reason, be it someone made a mistake or the facility decided to eat the costs knowing good and well that on the horizon they were going to get paid, and paid well, for my upcoming procedure (I'm guessing the latter), I still declared myself Supreme Insurance Fighting Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Which is fine until I have to get the championship belt re-sized in about a year.

Peace, Love and Nutter Butters.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Save the Date

Current wait: 48 days.

Oct. 21 is the day.

The countdown has started. The thin man buried under layers of fat globules inside me has just reached over and smacked the snooze button. He's got a little bit longer to sleep, but soon he'll be getting his skinny ass up and getting dressed because it is on like Donkey Kong. The primordial forces have started to stir.

Or maybe that's just the bean burrito I had last night. (Badda Bing!) Either way, my final visit to The Good Doctor this week yielded what I've been working toward for 4 months - the beginning of The Fat Man's Farewell Tour.

John Bender said it best: "There are two kinds of fat people: there's fat people that were born to be fat, and there's fat people that were once thin but became fat ... so when you look at 'em you can sorta see that thin person inside."

If you look at me closely, you can see that thin person, though some people often mistake that for my left leg. (Badda Bing!) And that constant gurgling in my gut that I have for years mistaken as something akin to the Barnett Shale natural gas field is just the Thin Man trying to tell me via some sort of weird gaseous Morse code that he wants the hell out! Patience my skinny little friend, your time is drawing nigh.

As visits go, this one was one of the most pleasant. I first shared space with Dr. Follow Up, appropriately named since he will be the one I meet with going forward after the surgery, hence the name, Dr. Follow Up (clever, I know).

He asked me a few questions, and I laid upon him all the knowledge and learning I had regarding this whole deal, which apparently surprised him. "I wish everyone that came in here had the same attitude and had done as much research and put as much thought into it that you have. You are a breath of fresh air."

Now, anyone that knows me and/or has been around me after a healthy stay at Pancho's knows that the words "fresh air" are hardly, if ever, used to describe me. (Badda Bing again! I'm on a roll!).

But I've done my due diligence on this thing. I've sussed it all out. I've been on it like a school of pissed off piranha on a bucket of fresh chum. My sack is on the line here, so I made sure I dotted and crossed.

Nonetheless, that was nice to hear from Dr. Follow Up. Evidently the patient he saw previously didn't have the same attitude and is madder than hell that she has to have a "revision" on her band. And of course, she is blaming it on Dr. Follow Up for not impressing upon her strong enough the importance of not eating in the same ravenous and voracious manner that she did pre-Lap band. Good luck with all that lady.

After bidding adieu to Dr. Follow Up, I actually, physically, live and in person had an audience with the one and only Good Doctor himself for a short discussion about the procedure, and again what to expect before, during and after. And the best part? There was NO forward attack from the Gastric Bypass infantry. I know ... knock me over with a feather.

So here I am, happy as a little girl. I've circled Oct. 21 on the calendar with a big red marker; counting the days and helping The Fat Man pack his shit so he can carry his large ass down the road for good. So long, big man, and thanks for all the fish.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

That's Not a Firetruck Behind You ... That's Just Me

Current weight: don't know. don't care.

There are times in your life when you reach across the cockpit, flip on the autopilot, unbuckle your seat belt, undo the top button on your pants (OK, maybe that's just me) lean back and just let the trade winds take you where they may.

During these times, you tend to turn your attention away from (read: purposefully ignore) things that you might otherwise normally give more of a crap about.

Now that I have my insurance approval in hand and know that my surgery date is looming in the not-so-distant future, it seems that not only have I kicked my feet up on the dashboard and pulled down the shades, but I have fully engaged the kill switch, turned the heat down to low and moved some things to the back burner to reduce and caramelize into a tasty glaze.

One of those things, which became quite apparent to me when a friend decided to take some "before" pictures of me, is my appearance. As you can see by the split screen above (the picture, not my hair ... more on that in a minute), I just plain LOOK fat.

Wait a minute, you say. Hold the phone there, Chuck. You ARE fat, Mr. Man, so wouldn't it stand to reason that you'd also LOOK fat? Well, yes and no. You can BE fat and still not LOOK fat, and all without the help of smoke, mirrors and SPANX for men.

There are loads of reality shows out there telling you how do it. It's all in the clothes. And while Clinton and Stacy will tell you what not to wear, what they don't tell you is that the clothes that work the fashion slight-of-hand to make you look thin? Well, those cost some serious bank. Why else do they give you 5 grand for your shopping spree?

Point is, thin people can throw on khakis and an untucked knit shirt and look casual. But if us fat folk dare to do the same? We're not casual. We're COMFORTABLE, or "cumpfy" as it's known in Fatland. See picture above. Point proven.

Now stop right there, you say. That hair of your isn't doing you any favors. I mean, what's that on your head? A loaf of Mrs. Bairds buttered split-top bread?

Guilty as charged. At the moment my hair is longer than it's been in probably 15 years. I guess that's all part of the autopilot effect. My cowlicks have developed cowlicks.

But people have been telling me lately that it makes me look younger. And while I've never been hung up on the age thing, I kinda like hearing that. So there [INSERT STICKING MY TONGUE OUT AT YOU SOUND HERE]. I will be keeping my current do, minus some of the cowlicks that my fabulously hot hair stylist will get rid of for me soon.

And yes, it's true, that if I cut my golden locks and worked in a nice pair of slacks, spiffy shoes and a pressed shirt once in a while, then I might clean up pretty good and not look so "comfortable."

At this point, though, my cumpfy days are numbered. I'm ready for that ship to sail. In the meantime, that's not a solar eclipse happening behind you, or one of those big ass space ships from Independence Day moving over you, or a crazy throng of bat wielding, flesh eating zombies creeping up behind you. That's just me. Beep beep.

Peace, love and donut holes!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Results Are In ...

Just got a call from The Good Doctor's office. Seems the AETNA Fat Police have reviewed my record and associated paperwork and are satisfied that I have sufficiently and successfully jumped through, in, around and over all required hoops.

I have been APPROVED for surgery. We are go for launch. Woot!

Up next is a second consult with The Good Doctor on Sept. 1, at which I will actually SEE The Good Doctor live, in person and in high definition. We'll chat about how the procedure will go down, what to expect before, during and after, as well as the current economic, social and political climate (not exactly sure if those last few things will come up, though).

And since I've made the crazy decision to go against the gastric grain and choose the Lap Band, I fully expect The Good Doctor, et al., to make one final last gasp effort to bring me over to the bypass side. But I will be ready for his Gastric Jedi mind tricks!

Target surgery date is the end of September. So let the countdown begin.

SIDE NOTE: And if I don't already have enough reasons to be doing this, a recent study showed that severe sleep apnea raises the risk of dying early by 46 percent. WOW. I've been on a CPAP since 2005 and probably could have used it way before that. Lemme tell you, it's made a WORLD of difference in my life. NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White died at the very young age of 45 from heart disease caused in part by years of untreated sleep apnea. So if you even suspect you might have sleep apnea, please, please, please, for the love of all things chocolaty, sprinkly and donut holey, get it checked out. If you're worried about the stigma of wearing the headgear at night, then swallow your pride, man up, grow a pair, build a bridge and get the hell over it. It'll save your life. Learn more about sleep apnea here. End soapbox rant.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled day. Peace!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Done and Done

You can stick a fork in me, or one of them laproscopic jobbers as it were, cuz I am done. Apologies to Mr. Keeling, my 7th grade English teacher, who used to say "Turkeys are done. People are finished!"

Done, as in, the litany of insurance requirements and hoops have been satisfied and can heretofore and thusly be considered jumped.

The last doctoral hurdle was this week's visit to the Good Doctor's office for my "final nutritional evaluation." That's a tad misleading, since it wasn't really an "evaluation" in the sense nothing was truly evaluated.

I was honestly expecting the thin and pretty nutritionist to take a look at my daily food logs, cackle in amusement, bring in others from the office to look, point and snicker, then turn to me and say as she struggled to keep a straight face, "You really eat all this? No wonder you want weight loss surgery?" before falling over in a final fit of uncontrollable laughter.

Fortunately, that's not how it went down. Miss Thin and Pretty, who in case you were wondering was well tanned from her week-long vacation that delayed my "final nutritional evaluation," simply covered a few more suggestions for behavioral changes in preparation for surgery, as well as what to expect during the week before and the weeks after surgery, which by the way - HOLY CRAP! (more on this in a later post).

SIDE NOTE: It's good that the Good Doctor's food specialist is thin and pretty. Because really, would you trust the nutritional advice from a a lardo who also was in desperate need of lapbanding?

I've heard that the first week is the hardest. Mrs. Thin and Pretty says, "It's just plain gonna suck." And considering that protein supplements are the only thing on the menu, I'm not inclined to disagree.

But I haven't come this far just to give up now. Besides, I gotta see this through, if for no other reason than the fact that for the past five years I've been living in fear of catching a surprise, right out of left field mule-kick to the gonads. Lemme 'splane.

A number of years ago I was hanging out with some high school chums at a small reunion-type get-together. As is the case at these little "relive the memories" shindigs, there were a few there whom we hadn't seen since the halcyon days. One in particular had apparently eaten every small animal within a five state radius because he was L ... A ... R ... G ... E!

I turned to one of my pals, we'll call him Johnny Cocobutter, and said, "Johnny Cocobutter, if I ever get that fat, you have my express permission to walk right up to me on the street and kick me right square in the nuts." That, of course, is not the most sensitive thing a man can say about a friend, but hey, I would never have imaged in my scariest of dreams that I would end up surpassing that big boy by about 25 pounds. Now you know the REAL reason I've been wearing a protective cup for half a decade.

So now we wait. The Good Doctor's ducklings will package up the paperwork and teleport it to the Insurance Industrial Complex. If I dotted all the I's - which I did - and the Good Doctor and crew crossed all the T's - which they did - then the AETNA Fat Police should send back their rubber-stamped approval within two weeks.

Once we get the go-ahead, then it's another consult with the Good Doctor for final flight instructions and we'll be go for launch sometime in late September. Provided I first don't end up in the hospital with blunt-force trauma to the scrotum.

I've got my eye out for you, Johnny.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Getting My Cardio On

Another day, another hoop.

This time, the Cardiac Stress Test hoop.

I've done one of these before. Not so bad. Basically, they hook you up to all the wires and electrodes and monitors and cuffs, then have you walk on a treadmill, increasing the speed and incline every three minutes. The goal is to get to 100 percent of your active heart rate, which for me is 181. Scoreboard! Mine's bigger than yours!

While I often reach that mark when bending down to tie my shoes, I do spend the occasional minute or two on the treadmill, so I wasn't worried about this particular hoop. Piece of cake (mmmm, cake!).

First three minutes ... no problem. Evidently, most "incidents" happen within the first three minutes. Incidents being defined as passing out, dropping dead or anything in between. Would have been a nice piece of information to know beforehand. Nonetheless, I survived the first stage incident-free.

Little more speed, little more incline. Starting to get a little harder. Not because I was running out of gas; but because my calves were shaken from their deep summer slumber and were extremely unhappy about having to perform in such a rigorous manner, especially without proper advance notice. They reacted by dousing themselves in petrol and setting themselves ablaze. No matter ... second stage complete, bring on the next three minutes.

More speed. More incline. More sweat. More labored breathing. Now I was starting to run out of gas. Still, I was determined to make that 100 percent heart rate. I watched the various EKG lines and numbers blinking and jumping and changing on the screen in front of me. 169 ... 171 ... 173 ... must get to 181.

It was was at this point that I think my calves texted my thighs, quads, hips and knees because not only had they all set themselves ablaze, they also were drinking molten lava, spending the summer in Texas and touching the hot burner on the stove while dancing directly on the surface of the sun in their own little lower extremity version of Burning Man. Did I mentioned they were burning?

I was done. Eight minutes, with a top heart rate of 173, which is 93.5 percent of my active rate, without incident. No aortic explosion. No cardiac infarction. No chest pains. Not even a bout of dizziness. I had survived. My cardiac stress had been sufficiently tested.

The Heart Doctor was pleased with the results and declared my heart fit for surgery. I was tired and sweaty, but then again, when am I not.

Cardic Stress Test ... CHECK!

One hoop left ... the final nutritional evaluation hoop next week.

Feel the burn, y'all.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sand in the Vaseline

Last week I visited the Good Doctor's office for the required third time in three months. Mind you, I haven't actually seen the Good Doctor since our initial visit. And a dollar to a donut (mmmm, donuts!) I won't see him again until right before he's poking holes in my tool shed and putting a C-clamp around my gullet.

This visit was a clear example of how a small bit of sand in the Vaseline can bring the Good Doctor's Amazing Gut Busting Machine to a grinding halt, or at least get it as backed up as a starving fat man after a cheese eating contest.

Upon arriving for my 9 a.m. appointment, the palatial lobby was already half-filled with the fat, many of which looked none too pleased. Seems if the the Good Doctor or any of his ducklings are running late, so is the rest of the rotund world.

After weighing in (gained 10 lbs., damn you Bacon Cheesy Potato Burrito!), I spent 45 minutes doing physical therapy. And when I say physical therapy, I mean doing 3 sets of 10 of the lightest weight possible on a circuit of high-tech workout equipment. What this was meant to accomplish I have no earthly idea. I guess it satisfies the "medically supervised physical therapy" portion of the War and Peace-like set of insurance requirements. So ... CHECK!

Back to the lobby, where the cup had now runneth over and spilleth out into the seats in the hall. Someone must of woken up WAY late. Now it was my turn to wait, but I was assured that the nutritionist was almost done with her current consultation and would be with me shortly.

SIDE NOTE: In previous posts I noted that someone in the Good Doctor's office must have a wet spot for Ashton Kutcher, given that Guess Who? and What Happens in Vegas were playing on the waiting room big screen. Mr. Kutcher's stalker must have been off (or the one running late!) for this visit, because instead of another one of Ashton's fine cinematic performances, the masses were treated to both Hotel for Dogs AND Marley and Me. Guess it was the dog lover's turn to pick. As far as I know, Ashton hasn't starred opposite a canine, but he was the voice of Elliot the mule deer in Open Season. Would that count?

So I sat, waited and watched, and here's what I learned: fat people don't like to just sit around, which given my own personal experience as a fat person, is quite the juxtaposition, ya' know? I don't know if packing on the pounds makes you more prone to blow a gasket or throw a clot, but blood was boiling and steam was escaping from ears all around.

Luckily I was called back before getting caught up in any kind of super-sized smackdown. And for what? The nutritionist, who was triple booked because of her looming vacation, didn't actually have time to go over my weekly food logs (which worked out fine for me since I forgot them and would have to fax them in the next day) and asked that I come back for my final nutritional evaluation once she returns from a week at the beach.

I had to wait 35 minutes for that? Hello!??? Mad fat person about to pop a cork here!!!!!

Oh well, as the old saying goes, when you jump through one hoop, another springs up in front of your tired fatass to jump through. Or something like that.

Next up this week: Cardio stress test. Walk on a treadmill and take solace in the fact that there will be trained medical professionals to land on if and when I pass out from exhaustion.

Next up next week: Previously alluded to final nutritional evaluation. She better have some damn bikini pictures to show me from that vacation!

I'm out.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Insane in the Brain ... Or Not

Current weight: 320 lbs.
Current mental status: Perfectly sane, apparently.

I had my final visit with the Good Doctor this week, but I'm still mulling over the funniness in my surgically repaired melon, so more on that later.

However, I did visit the head doctor today (and not in a good way). That is, the psychiatrist, for my psych evaluation. Seems you to have to be of sound mind before having a sound and bariaticly toned body.

Going into this, my friend Marc (name again cleverly disguised to protect his identity) told me, "Stay on script. Don't venture into that nightmare past of yours. Don't tell her any of your after 10 p.m. stories. Stay on topic!"

SIDE NOTE NO.1: I take an annual golf trip with three of my buddies. Through the 10-plus years of our trip, I've regaled them with tales of darkness from my childhood, escapades with the ladies, and general disturbing thoughts and opines. Some of these yarns were told at roulette tables or casino bars after I might have had a few too many watered-down cocktails, but some have been told at restaurants and bars while sitting amongst the fine people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. All of them, though, have been meet with horrified response from those outside of our little quartet. So, the above mentioned Marc instituted the 10 p.m. rule, in that I can't tell any of said stories until well after the sun has gone down and those that might otherwise be offended have already shuffled off to the protective confines of their homes far out of ear's length. SUB-SIDE NOTE: I'm fairly confident, though, that Marc would say that there have been plenty of times that those out and about after 10 p.m. have still been offended.

Anyhoo, back to the head doctor. I did, in fact, stay on script and on topic, wandering astray briefly to touch on my previous, short-lived issues with emotional eating, which I can see might be of concern to a doctor evaluating someone wanting weight loss surgery. Likewise, apparently nothing on the 50 forms I had to fill out asking about my emotional well-being during the past two weeks must have raised any red flags.

And being that I'm writing this and have not been carted off to the loony bin (because I can only assume that they don't allow computer access at the funny farm), I passed with flying colors and have been declared mentally fit to deal with the emotional calisthenics that might accompany massive amounts of weight loss. So long as the co-pay check doesn't bounce. HA!

SIDE NOTE NO. 2: Just got off the phone with Marc, who says he finds the findings suspect and is going to launch an investigation into the credentials of the just visited head doctor. Ah, good times, Marc. Good times.

So the expansive set of hoops carefully but precariously set up before me to jump through have been reduced to a scant few. Only ones remaining are the cardio stress test hoop and the nutritional evaluation hoop, which I will posit on soon.

Word to your mother.

Friday, July 24, 2009

And now for something completely different ...

On Wednesday night, our 5-year old took a flying leap off the back of the couch. Seems she was leaning over trying to grab the kitty's tail, and as she tells it, "kicked my leg over and went BAM!"

It was one of those moments when, since she's FIVE, you think you can turn your back for a few minutes. And of course, she knows better. She's been told on numerous occasions not to stand on the couch. Not to jump over the couch. Not to lean over the couch. But any of us with kids know how much of that stuff goes in one ear and out the other.

So, boom goes the 5 year old, up and over. All I saw was feet. Hardwoods, meet the right side of my daughter's face. The thwack and resulting ear-piercing scream were sickning. You would have thought that The Wiggles just spontaneously combusted right in front of her.

Good thing is, she's fine. BIG goose egg on her forehead. Right AND left eyes are swollen and are icky shades of black-blue-green. Like a bruise rainbow. She's had fun, though, milking it for extra treats and attention.

So why is it that I feel that everyone I encounter at the daycare is giving me the stink eye? You know, head slightly cocked, eyes a narrow slit, lips thin and tight. I tell the story. My daughter offers her take in great detail. Everyone laughs. Kids, they say. That kind of stuff just plain happens.

So again, why is it that I can't shake the feeling in my gut that people are judging me? Secretly wondering if I gave my daughter a swift backhand for spilling her milk. It's not an overwhelming feeling. I'm not franticly looking over each shoulder wondering when Child Protective Services is going to show up on my doorstep. But it gnaws a little. Sort of like when you have an early lunch and know you're aren't going to get to eat until after you get the kids to bed. It gnaws.

Truthfully, I understand that as a childcare worker, you almost have to react this way. I've known these people for more than three years now. They know I'm a good dad, and they know her mom is a good mom. But there are too many tales of good moms and dads gone bad, or teachers ignoring the signs and little ones then later end up even more bruised and beaten.

But what does that say about us as a society that, when it comes to our kids, we must assume guilt before innocence? I guess the answer is the same as above. Too many horrible stories of innocence lost at the hands of, unthinkably, their own mother or father.

But why do I feel that I have to justify, almost defend, what happened? I had a rough childhood and was exposed to domestic abuse, so I'm keenly aware of the impact that has on a child and a family. And I have never, and will never, lay a hand on either one of my girls in anger.

Maybe it's not the world at large judging me. Maybe I'm judging myself. Giving myself the stink eye, if that's possible. I did nothing wrong, save for turning my back for a minute or two. I should have been there. I should have stopped her from taking the big dive. I mean really, she looks like she walked straight into a Hank Aaron home run swing. Bless her little heart.

I know I shouldn't blame myself. But I do. And her angelic smile bracketed by two black eyes is a stark reminder that I won't always be there to protect my precious little girl.

Better to learn that now, I guess.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ride 'em In, Count 'em Out

Current Wait: About 2 hours

Yes, I've been quite. Not much to write about.

And then came Saturday, the latest checkpoint in my quarter-year journey through the crocodile-infested waters of the Bermuda Insurance Triangle on my quest to be the winner of my own version of The Biggest Loser (insert hilarious comment here!).

Although, I actually think the EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy - say that five times fast!) procedure was required by the Good Doctor, not insurance.

Anywho, The Wife and I arrived at Forrest Park Medical Center at 8:30 a.m. after the Good Doctor's office called the night before and told me that my original appointment had been moved up an hour. Seems they were trying something different for this go-round of stomach peekaboos.

Since the procedure itself takes so little time (and they're right about that), they were stacking us hefties up in groups so that when a bed came open, the next available would be ready when called.

So I signed in, noticing that there were 12 names ahead of me that had not already been crossed off in yellow highlighter, and took a seat among the 30 some-odd other folks there for a gut check (hee!).

Just picture a herd of cattle, grazing among the comfy couches in the cold-as-hell granite lobby, one by one being herded into a stall to put our hoof prints on consent forms and such. Moo.

It was just over an hour before I got the prod pointed in my direction. That wasn't so bad, I thought. An hour's wait is better than usual. But then we were herded down the hall into ANOTHER holding pen, where the 30 some-odd people that were there before me were still, in fact, there before me. Moooooo.

Another hour-plus wait ensued. Finally we got the call, and the rest, quite honestly is a blur, except for the part where it took four different people to put an IV in my arm. I look like a dang junkie today with all the bruises and puncture marks. After that, they turned and burned and I was outta there by Noon.

Just got off the phone with the Good Doctor's office. Turns out I have a small hiatal hernia (look it up) that can be fixed at surgery time, as well as a 7 mm gastric ulcer, which barely registers on the gastric ulcer doorjam growth chart (read: small and not that big of a deal). Pathology reports are pending, but nothing out of the ordinary expected (of course, is anything out of the ordinary every really expected?).

So .. gut ... checked. Next up? Cardio stress test and a psyche evaluations (again with the hilarious comments!).

SIDE NOTE: The flat screen in the waiting room was parked on ESPN, which is odd since 90 percent of the herd was female. Not only were we treated to multiple up-to-the-minute reports on The British Open, we also got to enjoy an endless loop of commercials for Taco Bell's new Bacon Cheesy Potato burrito. 30 fat people in a waiting room who hadn't eaten solid food since lunch the day before. You do the math. Udderly cruel (again, hee!).

SIDE NOTE NO. 2: Crispy, flavorful bacon, warm nacho cheese sauce, golden fiesta potatoes and seasoned ground beef, topped off with more crispy, flavorful bacon. This bad boy is deee-lish! Had it for lunch this afternoon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Friend Fat, O How I Will Miss Thee

Current weight: Go measure the amount of water I displaced when I did a cannonball into the pool on Saturday. I think I flooded a few nearby houses.

Current mood: Moderately neat-0

Let me just start by saying I cannot begin to explain how tired I am of being fat. Bill Cosby level sick AND tired.

My skin has filed a grievance with its union stating that if asked to stretch any more, it will have no recourse but to go all Norma Rae on my ass; my man boobs make me feel like I should dress in a tight T-shirt and short-shorts and run onto the closest Major League Baseball field and kiss the starting pitcher; and my ears now officially weigh more than my 3-year-old.

Maybe I exaggerate.

And for those of you about to barf up a nasally and annoying, "Well why don't you do something blah blah blah." Just don't. Just. freaking. don't.

But contrary to what 4 out of 5 doctors say, there are some advantages to being anorexically challenged. Forth with ... things I will miss about being fat.
  • When I'm on a Southwest flight, or any flight that's open enough to allow you to choose your seat, I always seek out a fellow fatty who is sitting in either an aisle or window seat, then plop down in the open aisle or window seat on the same row. Why? No one wants to sit between two fat people. Hand to God, works every single time. The look on the person's face when they realize that the only seat remaining is between me and my fat sidekick ... priceless.
  • The face of every owner of every buffet joint I've ever been to. My man knows he's losing money on that day.
  • When you are a big man like myself, you know, Thornton Melon Tall and Fat, people tend to get the hell out of your way. Maybe it's a survival instinct, maybe it's a fear of getting eaten, or maybe they don't want the giant stain of the day on my shirt rubbing off on them. Whatever the case, people tend to part like the Red Sea when I walk through a crowd. Works well when exiting a concert at say The Palladium or the old Gypsy Tea Room. "Get behind the fat man. He will lead us to freedom!!" And for those in the crowd not paying attention ... "Hey dude, wake up and check out track No. 5 of Dire Strait's 'On Every Street' album from 1991. Which one are you? The windshield or the bug?"
So it's a short list, but these things will always have a place within my giant cow heart.

"Everything can change in the blink of an eye. So let the good times roll before we say goodbye."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Two Down, One to Go

Current weight: 315 (I lost 10 pounds !!! Truthfully, I lose 10 pounds when I exhale really hard.)
Current mental status: Eager and anxious

Appointment No. 2 is in the books. Next and final appointment is set for July 31. Between now and then I got an ass-load (ain't the truth!) of stuff to do. Doctors to see, paperwork to fill out, pizza to eat, beer to drink.

In no particular order:
  • Cardiologist for an exercise stress test - one would say that all I have to do for this is to bend down and tie my shoes and that would be exercise and stress enough. One would be wrong.
  • Psychiatrist for a psych consult - one would also say to make sure said shrink sticks to only the topic at hand and not delve into the darker and more disturbing antechambers of my mind. On would be right on this one.
  • General physician for a 2-year weight history and a letter detailing failed diets and supporting bariatric surgery as medically necessary - one only has to look at my ample backside and long-term alcohol storage unit around my midsection to know this is medically necessary.
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) Procedure, which is an examination of the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and upper duodenum with a small camera (flexible endoscope) which is inserted down the throat. One does NOT need to make any jokes here about things being inserted down my throat.

Other things of note from Appointment No. 2:

  • Met with physical therapist who gave me print outs on how to do ... sit-ups. I kid you not. Detailed, illustrated written instructions on how to ... sit ... up. Appearantly it's really important that I have strong abs prior to surgery. She even asked if I wanted her to demonstrate. I should have made her do it for shits and giggles. I did play a little football back in the day, so I'm familiar with the sit-up. Although a sit up for me today occurs only when I'm laying on the floor and have no other choice but to sit up to reach my food. What? You've never eaten while laying on the floor?
  • Met with the nutritionist, who spelled out more things to work on this month in preparation for surgery and beyond. Small bites. Chew your food well. No eating in front of the television. Really? Good grief. Next thing you know they'll say no eating on the toilet. Sheeesh.
  • Someone at the Good Doctor's office loves them some Ashton Kutcher and is trying to spread the love one fat person at a time by showing his greatest hits on the waiting room big screen. Last appointment? "Guess Who" starring the late great Bernie Mac and one half of Dude Where's My Car. This appointment? "What Happens in Vegas" starring Cameron Diaz and Mr. Demi Moore himself. Next appointment? If they are not showing an all-day marathon of "That '70s Show," I'm gonna be shocked.

That's about it. Shout out to Wayne, a Lap Bander friend of mine who had the surgery in December and has lost 70 lbs. Way to go Wayne. I'm looking forward to the same.

Coming Soon: What I will and won't miss about being fat. And yes, there are a few advantages to being large and in charge.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

First Impressions

Current Weight: 320 with clothes on (HA! Now you have the mental image of me standing on a scale naked!!!)

Weight Lost Since Initial Appointment: 5 lbs.

As I pedal sluggishly through the opening stages of my Tour de Fat, I continue to get my pant leg caught in the chain. And no matter how many times I work myself free, it only takes a few revolutions before I'm caught in the gears again and have ground to a halt.

For you non-sports types who already have a big question mark forming over your tilted head because you have no earthly idea what my somewhat clever but definitely over thought metaphor is referring to, I'll save you the brain cells.

Losing weight is hard work, y'all.

I mean, really hard.

I mean, trying to remember if Bad English had any other hit besides "When I See You Smile" hard.

Of course, if it were easy, we'd all be thin, Jenny Craig would be just some random chick and we'd instinctively know that in fact no, Bad English did not have another hit, unless you want to call "Price of Love" a hit (And if you do, then you are a bigger Bad English fan than I am).

But I already knew and expected all of this. (Cue segue into today's topic in 3 ... 2 ... 1) When I visited the Good Doctor for the first time last month, I had no idea what to expect. Here were my opening thoughts:

As The Wife and I approached the office, we were greeted in the hall by a long empty row of regulation brown wood chairs on either side of the door. Sweet merciful crap, I thought, this guy is all Dr. T and the Women up in here. He stacks 'em high and stacks 'em deep.

But it was early, and the overweight overflow hadn't quite made it into the hallway yet. And even though I had wisely opted for a morning appointment (thanks to whomever suggested that), the spacious and well decorated waiting room was already packed tight with at least 20 women at various stages of their own journey. Oh, and some dragged-along kid who was locked inside his PS3 or Nintendo DS or whatever the kids are playing with these days.

After filling out the ream of paperwork (one of which informed me that it will cost me a cool grand if I decide to cancel within two weeks of my surgery date) I settled in to weight, er, wait. And settle in I did, into a plush, oversized, incredibly comfortable leather recliner.

Not pleather, or vinyl or any facsimile thereof. We're talking Ricardo Montalban/Chrysler Cordoba/soft Corinthian grade leather. And not just my seat - ALL the seats, in either recliner or love seat or sofa form (all oversized, of course), spread across the hardwood floors. Quite obvious the Good Doctor had put some profit back into his practice.

It was a comfy cocoon for fat people; a mother's womb that nurtured and cuddled its fat little babies close in its supple leathery arms while preparing to give birth to a litter of thin people (OK ... again definitely over thought there).

It struck me as odd at first but later it made total sense. Gotta keep the fat, well, happy.

The remaining wait was uneventful, except that we got to watch part of "Guess Who" with Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher (in high definition, of course). SIDE NOTE: Guess Who? Really? Someone actually thought that was a good idea. The mind boggles.

Anyway, it's back to the Good Doctor in a couple of weeks for the next leg of my Tour de Fat. And hopefully one day in the near future, my butt will fit just as well on those hard wooden chairs in the hallway as it does in the comfy cocoon. Ricardo Montalban be damned!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Breakfast at Epiphany's

Current weight: Dunno. But I'm eating a bag of popcorn instead of a bag of chips. Is that good?

Current mood: Buttery and Salty

So after mentally processing all of the requirements necessary to satisfy the AETNA Fat Police and thinking that it's easier to get a divorce in this country than it is to get insurance to pay for anything preventative, my thoughts turned to the gale-force gastric bypass winds that howled forth from the Good Doctor earlier in the day.

Truthfully, it felt like the Wife and I were well within the blast radius of an atomic bomb, minus the skin-peeling radiation and whatnot. Yes. It was THAT bad. No hyperbole here at all.

And we didn't see it coming at all. There we were, all relieved that our lengthy visit was coming to an end and WHAMO, the Good Doctor steps in all ninja-like and slaps us in a gastric bypass front face lock. I'm fairly certain that if it weren't for the 50 other potential gastric bypassers comfortably seated in his waiting room, he would have cinched it in until we tapped out.

I started the day confident in my Lap Band decision, knowing the risks and maintenance involved in having a mechanical device put into my body. Now I was doubting myself and considering the re-routing of my digestive tract as the lesser of the two evils.

Not so long ago, evidently, gastric bypass surgeries were performed with the reckless abandonment reminiscent of the Old West. No standard procedures, no regulation, whiskey used to sterilize big-ass Bowie knives .. (OK, maybe I made that last part up). That's why, said the Good Doctor, you always heard such horror stories about gastric bypass surgery.

But 'round about 2006, things changed. Regulators started regulating, and standard procedures were put in place. Heck, it can even be done laparoscopicly now. Things are so ducky in the gastric bypass world that the Good Doctor has ditched his comfortable Lap Band britches and now proudly hawks the bypass as his weight loss surgery of choice.

To prove his point, he produced a set of numbers showing his increase in bypass surgeries and related decrease in Lap Band surgeries since the Regulators whipped those no good Gastric Bypass boys into shape. To further prove the point, his benefits coordinator offered up that the Good Doctor has performed the bypass on six ... count 'em, SIX ... members of his own family (what that says about the relative health and eating habits of the Good Doctor's family, I'm not sure).

As for the Lap Band, he all but guaranteed that I'd be back to see him within five years to have some sort of procedure to fix, adjust or flat out replace. Why? It's a mechanical device, and by nature, mechanical devices wear out.

The debate dominated the conversation between the Wife and I for the rest of the night and raged on in my head well into the wee hours of the next morning. But when I awoke from my two hours of sleep, I had a moment of clarity. A gut feeling, if you will.

The choice is mine. And my choice is the Lap Band. I can deal with the fixes and adjustments. Hell, I can even have the thing taken out if I want. But I can't have my colon unwired. That shit is permanent. I trust that the Good Doctor will get on board with my decision and drop all that gastric bypass prattle like a hot colostomy bag (colon humor - HA!).

So when my gut talks, I listen. Of course, that's the reason I'm so fat in the first place.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

Whoa. Information Overload.

My head is still spinning from the three hours my wife and I spent at the Good Doctor's office this morning. This thing isn't going to be quite as simple as I thought it was going to be. Why?

One word: Freaking insurance.

I knew there would be hoops. But good grief, there are hoops within hoops that are under hoops that sit on top of three well placed yet precariously balanced hoops.

Long story short ... I'm required to wait 3 months. And within those 3 months, I must complete the following:
  • One doctor and nutritionist visit per month (today's counted as No. 1)
  • Documented weight history for the past two years
  • Letter from my primary care physician supporting surgery that also:

a. lists all diets failed
b. lists the health problems that my weight is now causing
c. indicates that bariatric surgery is medically necessary

  • Psych evaluation
  • Nutritional evaluation
  • A three-month, medically supervised multi-disciplinary diet that must be documented by both the doctor and dietitian
  • Cardiac Stress Test
  • Some sort of gastric procedure where they put me under and snake a camera down my throat and into my stomach to have a look around, AND
  • A bone density scan
Oh, and none of this touches on the evangelistic-like full-court press we got from the benefits coordinator on the advantages of gastric bypass over the lap band. My wife says she's had church experiences that were less pushy and hardcore.

So , now that I've decided to go down this road and thought I had my mind set on the lap band, we get the push from the Good Doctor and his sidekicks that the bypass is the bee's knees and end-all-be all.

But that's discussion for another day. Right now, I must put on my hoop jumping shoes and prepare myself for some hoop jumping.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My First Hunger Pangs

Current weight: 327 lbs.

I have my initial appointment with the Thumb Stomach Doctor on Thursday, May 7. It's then when I truly start my journey.

I'm supposed to meet with a number of folks, including a nutritionist and the insurance coordinator. Since I'm trying to get my insurance to pay for this, there are a certain amount of hoops to jump through and tests to run, presumably to confirm that I am as morbidly obese as I say I am. I guess a good eyeballing is just not enough these days.

ANYwho ... I just got back from Austin where the family and I enjoyed the Old Pecan Street Festival. Music, food, drinks, booths full of art, candles, tire swings that look like horseys, tie-dye, etc. Our girls had a big time at the petting zoo. They had a freaking kangaroo there!

One of our favorite things about the festival on Sixth Street is that you can pretty much get anything you want to eat there ... and on a stick no less. Shrimp, Gator, grilled corn, sausage, vegetables, corn dogs (yes, by definition corn dogs are already on a stick) ... you name it ... you can eat it ... it's on a stick.

And beer. Beer stands filled with cans of cold, frothy goodness as far as the eye could see.

So as I indulged on multiple courses of stick food and visited each beer stand at least once, I did so with a tinge of nostalgia, knowing that from here on out the only beer I'll be drinking is a can that has been sitting open on the counter for two days and the only stick food I'll be eating will be Popsicles.

What a bummer. I need a drink. First round of beer-sicles are on me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Offending the Fatties

The picture at right was changed to protect the identity of the innocent man with the very large roof over his tools.

This was done so at the behest of one of my friends, who suggested that my implication that I sometimes feel as fat as this guy looks might in some way offend said fat man in suspenders

"I just think it's a risk to put down the next guy cause he might be bigger than you," my friend said. "What if he is depressed cause he is big ... and you are saying 'you feel that way sometimes' like he's the worst ever."

At first it really freaking pissed me off. Why should he worry about it? I couldn't really give a crap about offending anyone on this here blog-thingy.

That's the beauty of the Internet. Each page has a little "X" in the top right-hand corner. You don't like what you are seeing, click that sucker and move your ass on down to some other spot on the information highway.

Besides, if you had seen the original, you'd see that our boy with the big belly appeared quite proud of what I'm sure took years and years of beer guzzling to build.

After I calmed down a bit, I decided he was right, and thus the change.

I've been on the receiving end of many judgemental stares and comments from size-ist little waif store clerks who say they don't have it in "YOUR" size and don't even bother looking (I'm talking about YOU, you little fart knockers at Eddie Bauer).

So I offer a sincere and heartfelt apology to you, Mr. Happy Fat Man in Suspenders. May you live a long life filled with stretchy pants, hangovers and dreams of large women.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So why am I doing this?

Obvious reason .... I'm fat. And according to my BMI (Body Mass Index), I'm morbidly obese.

I love that term. Morbidly obese. Wikipedia defines someone who is overweight as pre-obese. So they are fat BEFORE they are really fat.

I prefer to think of myself as large and in charge.

But I digress.

I get out of breath when I tie my shoes ... I don't remember what my feet look like ... I give new definition to the term "fat back" ... My fat rolls have fat rolls ...

Feel free to chime in with your favorite fat joke. I'm sure my buddy Marc (name changed to protect his identity) has hit me with most of them.

Real reason ... I have a beautiful wife and two adorable girls. And I want to be alive and well on this earth as long as possible. And I don't need 100 lbs. of extra fat weighing down my cow heart.

So there you go.

Monday, April 27, 2009

And it begins ...

Current weight: 325 lbs.

So I'm now a blogger. And I've decided to have weight loss surgery. And I'm going to document it all.

I figured, if I'm going to put myself through all this, I might as well share it.

Stay tuned. This ought to be a hoot.