Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Lap Band Reunion Tour Date Confirmed

Starting weight: 328 lbs.
Current weight: 283 lbs.
Amount lost: 45 lbs.

Mark your calendars, boys and girls. The Band is getting back together and is coming to a city near ME! With insurance approval and clearance in hand, I recently visited The Good Doctor again to find out what's in store for Lap Band 2: Beyond Thunderdome.

Good news all around! Bandin' 2: Electric Boogaloo should be much easier in all facets (or should that be .. fat-cets?). Liquid diet for only a few days instead of a week before. Three incisions instead of five, which is good since my scar-heavy belly is running out of uncharted territory. And since the band is already in place, I won't have to take the agonizingly slow stair step progression back to solid foods. Burgers, brats and beer in post-Op for everyone!

But most importantly, I get the Ball of Pain-meds back, along with my concubine and liquid gold BFF ... say it with me ... HY-DRO-CO-DONE ... CLAP! CLAP! CLAP CLAP CLAP!

Procedure should take only about 30 minutes or so and entails actually replacing the port on my left side. A new port on my port side. HA. Nautical shout out!

And about a month after surgery I get going again with another fill. I won't be able to go straight back to the level I was at pre-spleen splatter, but at least I'll finally have some gastric restriction again. And who out there isn't longing for a little gastric restriction, right?

Surgery day will still be a little bit of a whipping. Arrange for someone to take the girls to school. Get up at the butt crack of dawn. Get to the hospital, fill out the paperwork, sit and wait and wait and wait. But last time I was in at 6 a.m. and out by Noon. So in truth, it'll be more of a whipping on The Wife than it will for me. I'll be in La La Land counting rainbows and unicorns all hopped up on goofballs in a constant state of hooby gooby. She'll be the one dealing with it all on top of my stoned ass. Good times, right honey?

So the One-Day, One-City Lap Band Reunion Tour is set for Oct. 20. Which is deliciously ironical or coincidental (take your pick) in that it's almost a year to the exact day of my original surgery date (Oct. 21, 2009). That really doesn't mean a whole helluva lot. I just thought it was kinda neat-o (really? who still says neat-o?).

Honestly, it can't get here soon enough. While I've enjoyed partaking in food and drink that I previously couldn't or didn't partake in (see earlier reference to burgers, brats and beer), I'm ready to get back on the bariatric bandwagon. A colleague of mine recently hit the 100 lbs. down mark after her gastric bypass, and come hell or high water, or really tall trees for that matter, I'm going to hit that mark as well.

Next time out I'll review Lap Band 2: The Spleen Strikes Back while heavily sedated. Good times.

Peace, love and hooby gooby!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Putting the Band Back Together

Starting weight: 328 lbs.
Current weight: 280 lbs.
Total weight loss: 48 lbs.

It's been almost two months since my unfortunate yard diving incident splattered my spleen and rendered my bariatric implant null and void. But boy howdy if it hasn't made for a good story. I mean, I fell out of a tree. That's some funny shit.

Good news is that I'm all healed up and surviving just fine without my purple antibody making little buddy. Bad news is that my underwear is currently providing more restriction than my Lap Band is. So now that my surgeon has given me the green light to get back into my normal routine, it's time to make like Jake and Elwood Blues and put the band back together.

"We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline."
- Donald 'Duck' Dunn, bassist, The Blues Brothers

Now I won't go so far as to say that my Band was that powerful. I mean, I didn't actually TRY to use my Band to turn goat piss into gasoline. So I can't truthfully say that it couldn't. But what it could do was help me lose weight. And ever since my ill conceived and poorly executed turn as Tarzan, Lord of the Apes left me singing the little Billy Joel/Garth Brooks ditty, "I'm Spleenless," a plate of nachos (with cheese) and a heaping pile of jalapenos has done more to help me lose weight in the past two months than my Lap Band has.

My crash landing caused the tube to the port to come loose, and my surgeon had stitched it back into place but couldn't re-attach it. So, last week I went to see The Good Doctor (TGD) to find out what needs to be done to fix my band.

Let me just say up front here that I made a tactical error when scheduling this visit. Best piece of advice I got at the outset of this was to ALWAYS take the earliest appointment possible. Doctors, in general, tend to run long on each patient meeting. The Good Doctor, especially. Multiply that by 10-15 patients, and afternoon appointments become LATE afternoon appointments.

Needless to say, my 3:30 turned into 4:45, and by that time I was, as the kids like to say these days, HAWT!!!! And not in a good way.

For WHATEVER reason, The Good Doctor's minions had flagged me as a new patient, and that only made things worse. So as I not-so-calmly and not-so-politely informed them that what should have been a 15 minute consultation had turned into an hour-and-a-half ass whipping, The Good Doctor magically appeared out of nowhere a la All-American Burger manager Dennis Taylor after Brad Hamilton said, "Mister, if you don't shut up I'm gonna kick 100 percent of your ass."

Just had a few questions. What's involved? How much will it cost? How much pain medication can you legally give me without the AMA taking notice? (hee. I kid!) I was already a little irked by the disclosure I had to sign when I got there stating any "revision" would cost a fat (heh!) $1,100 outside of insurance coverage. So my blood pressure had red-lined from the get-go. Throw in a 90-minute wait and I was Mount Freaking Vesuvius all ready to get my pyroplastic flow on up in here!

OK, I wasn't really that irritated and loud, though I did tell them through clenched teeth that I had to leave and needed to reschedule. But you wouldn't know that by how everyone was scurrying around with ducked heads and tucked tails. I guess they aren't used to us fat people raging against the bariatic machine.

Anywho, just like that The Good Doctor and I tipped off into an empty office for a little chat. I explained to him what happened, and that my surgeon had faxed over the procedure notes so that he'd know exactly what went down at the spleen scene. Ain't no thang says TGD. Fax in a letter of predetermination to get insurance approval (which he seemed to think wouldn't be a problem) and then they'll put me on the schedule. Don't have to pay the $1,100 because this is not considered a "revision." Should only have to pay what the insurance won't cover (which hopefully will be only about 10 percent of it all). Three incisions, half an hour, in and out, done and done.

See. Now was that so hard? Next time out my ass will be waiting out in the hall for them to open the door. Early bird gets the fat worm and all that.

So, while I wait for clearance to fly from the friendly skies of UnitedHealthcare, I have to remain culinarily diligent and keep up with the exercise. Because the bariatric floodgates are open and all I can think of is ... some toasted white bread, four fried chickens and a Coke.

Peace, love and three orange whips.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Spleen Has Fallen and Can't Get Up

Starting Weight: 328 lbs.
Current Weight: 273 lbs.
Amount lost: 55 lbs., minus whatever a spleen weighs

If you are at all familiar with Douglas Adams' mind-blowing, ground-breaking novel, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you know that the answer to the ultimate question is simply this: 42.

And if you are at all familiar with the mind-blowing, earth-shattering events of my life from this past week, I can honestly tell you up front that the answer to your ultimate question is simply this: I have no freaking idea what I was thinking.

Saturday, my youngest and I were playing in the front yard. She's always been curious about climbing trees, so I often prop her up in the crook of one of the ones in the front. She gets the giggles of being up there for about 5 minutes but then wants down because said tree really isn't a good climbing tree, and she can go no further than said crook.

BUT ... for whatever reason, I decided it would be a good idea for me to show my youngest that her Big Bad Voodoo Daddy can make like the monkeys. So up I go, and quite nimbly I might add (thank you Mr. Lap Band). I proudly shouted down to my youngest, who smiled broadly and even got the attention of her sister. They both waved back quizzically as if to say, "Look at that silly Daddy up there in the tree. I hope he doesn't fall and bust his ass." Ah, the wisdom of youth.

So as I started to get down, I honestly thought to myself, "I need to be careful here so I don't fall and bust my ass." I surveyed my options and decided that the quickest, easiest and OBVIOUSLY the safest route would be to swing out on a branch, hang for a few seconds, then drop down. Easy breezy, right?

I must have underestimated my strength, grip, forward momentum, air-speed velocity and the limb's desire to be held onto, because at that moment, Howard Cosell started shouting in my ear.


Eleven and a half feet later, I landed flat on my ribs on the ride side, as well as the right side of my face. After taking a personal inventory to make sure I didn't have a bone and/or stick poking in and/or out of my body, I summoned my youngest, staggered inside and coughed out words rarely heard from a married man's mouth ... "Go tell your mother that Daddy just fell out of a tree."

At first glance, my injuries seemed minor. Ribs weren't in too bad of shape, and the small gash that had opened up in my right eyebrow near the bridge of my nose was only trickling blood.

Nonetheless, I stuffed my macho-ness into my back pocket and had the Wife take me to an Urgent Care facility just to be safe. Once there, the rib x-rays came back clean, and the small cut needed no more than a couple of stitches, mostly for cosmetic reasons.

But then, much like a recalled 2008 Honda Element sitting on a steep incline, I started going downhill ... Q-U-I-C-K-L-Y.

I knew at that point something wasn't right, and while I never miss a chance to don Shakespearean garb, embrace an English accent and shout, "Something's rotten in Denmark," (Hamlet, Act I, Scene IV), I grunted toward the doctor that I didn't feel so swift.

First came the cold sweats, then the nausea and then my systolic and diastolic decided to see how fast they could reach zero. Before long, the paramedics arrived to transport me to the big hospital, and upon arrival, a gaggle of doctors, nurses, technicians and for all I know, a few clowns, descended upon me to suss out the situation.

They did a CT Scan of my belly and watched my blood pressure ride the Shockwave at Six Flags, going up, down, round and round before finally deciding that I would be better served with my spleen on the outside of my body instead of letting it leak blood BP-style into my abdomen.

So ... a short time later I was out of surgery, which at that point had been deemed "emergency surgery," minus one spleen. Scary note: I had bled two pints of blood into my belly, thanks in part to the fact that the impact had caused my spleen to split into THREE PIECES!!!!

I spent the next day and a half in CCU, moved to a private room on Monday afternoon and was discharged late Wednesday night. Rest of the week pretty much consisted of hours and hours of cuddling up in a warm, loving embrace with my sultry mistress hydrocodone.

So what does all this mean going forward? Well, you can obviously live without the spleen. It does some cool stuff, but the amazing human body adapts. The spleen works primarily with your immune system, so I had to get several immunizations before discharge and will have to get yearly vaccinations to protect against particular infections. It also means that I'll need to immediately start taking antibiotics if I start running a fever above 100.4 degrees.

A small price to pay considering the alternative. It's amazing how an instantaneous decision can quickly turn into a life-threatening event. I consider myself very lucky and am very thankful to all the doctors and nurses who took such great care of me. I'm also appreciative to all my co-workers, friends, family and extensions thereof for the prayers, thoughts and well wishes.

Next time out I'll discuss how all of this affects the Lap Band and my weight loss efforts going forward. But for now ... PICTURES!

TOP: Behold ... FRANKENBELLY. 13-inch scar. 21 total staples. GAK!
BOTTOM: An illustration of the offending tree and surrounding area.

Until next time ... peace, love and pints of blood

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Cup Size Runneth Over

Starting weight: 328 lbs.
Current weight: 275 lbs.
Amount lost: 53 lbs.

So where have you guys been? I haven't heard from you in a while.

Yeah, I know. I have been a bit, um, shall we say, delinquent in my updates. I could sit here and give you a million excuses, but you know what the proverbial "they" say: Excuses are like assholes - everybody's got them, and most of the time they are really stinky (OK maybe I added that last part).

Truth is, when I decided to blog about my experience traveling the Bariatric Highway, I knew that putting myself out there warts and all meant that I was accountable to anyone who decided to read along.

So when the losing slowed, stopped and even began to go up and down more times than Linda Lovelace, I simply felt like I was letting myself and you as friends and followers down. And quite honestly, I was embarrassed.

To borrow a turn of phrase from Lost's great Benjamin Freakin' Linus, "Weight loss can be a fickle bitch sometimes."

When all is well, she can boost your confidence, quicken your step and energize your soul. But when all is not, she can leave you curled up in a blubbering heap clinging to an extra large bag of baked Cheetos (chewed slowly and thoroughly, of course).

All this to say that the reasons behind the decrease in weight loss are not highly scientifical or a Mystery of the Universe.

I was intaking more calories than I was extaking (hey look, new word!). I stopped eating right. I stopped working out. I stopped losing weight. Well, duh!!!

But, after a three-week bout of pneumonia that left me moving slower than British Petroleum, I have reversed course, gotten back on the eating right and working out train and am down a total of 53 pounds! More than halfway to my goal. YEAH!

So there you have it. I have confessed my shame and beg your forgiveness. Dramatic much?

Last time out I promised pictures, and here they are in all their shirtless glory. I realize many of you have no desire to see my man boobs, but hey, that's the way I roll! At least I have pants on.

Oh, and there is no truth to the rumor that 5 pounds of my weight loss came from getting a haircut.

BEFORE (top): Taken Oct. 25, 2009, four days after my surgery.
DURING (bottom): Taken June 4, 2010, 7 months and 14 days after my surgery

Until next time ... Peace, love and baked Cheetos.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

50 is the New 40

Starting weight: 328 lbs.
Current weight: 278 lbs.
Amount lost: 50 lbs.

That's right. You read it correctly. 50.

Fifty. One half of the greatest Van Halen album of all time.

Five O ... M ... G!!! And there was much rejoicing.

Since we last spoke (and the phone rings both ways, you know), I have been pounding the revolving rubberized pavement on a regular basis, choosing from the heart healthy section of the menu and generally behaving in proper Lap Bander fashion.

I won't say that things haven't been without incident. I went in for my second fill at the end of January, and I continue to be reminded on a regular basis that I MUST CHEW WELL and SLOW DOWN. I need to be such a superior chewer that I get named the captain of of the United States Chewing Team. I need to be the slowest train in the world.

Chew......... chew ........ chew ........ chew ....... chew. Wait for it. OHHHhhhhhh. I get it now.

I know I'm beginning to sound like the Department of Redundancy Department. Eat slowly. Chew well. Ad nauseum. But unless I hack this thing up and out and earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records with the weirdest loogie ever, it ain't changing anytime soon. So I'm all Don Cornelius here on the SLLOOOOOOOOOOOOW Train.

Another awesome bit of awesomeness to share. I've been walking two miles a day and slowly adding a bit of jogging into my workout. Well the other day I RAN A WHOLE MILE. All at once.

First time since high school. First time I've wanted to since high school. I can't say it's as a big a deal as receiving total consciousness on my deathbed, but the only time my former fat self would have run that much was when there was a B.O.G.O. on all Cheeto products at CVS.

So I got that going for me. Which is nice.

Next time ... Pictures!

"We wish you love, peace ... and SOUL!"

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Big Reach Around

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

Hello all. First, I've held serve since my last post and am still at 40 pounds lost. I go in for my second fill this week, so that should give me and my weight loss a much needed kick in the pants. I'll report back next on how all that is working out.

Secondly, in my last scribbling I threatened to start delving into the more personal benefits I am seeing as I shed the elle-bees.

So consider this your first warning. I'm about to describe in great, gross and stomach-churning detail the SINGLE GREATEST BENEFIT I have seen and will see, even after I lose 70 more pounds.

There is no doubt that what I'm about to go into will put horrendous images in your head that will cause weeks of nightmares and most likely some intensive psychological counseling. That or you will fall on the floor laughing your ass off. Either way, consider this warning No. 2.

As a pre-emptive strike, I sincerely apologize to my wife, mother, mothers-in-law, step mother, sister-in-law, niece and any other female that I know. The following mental pictures are something you should never, ever, ever have to consider about your husband, son, son-in-law, step son, brother-in-law, uncle or friend. If you're a dude, it's gross, but you'll get over it.

This is your third and final warning .....

If you are still with me, then hold on tight. We're about to get all scatological up in here.

Going to the bathroom is something you don't give much thought to, kind of like sleeping, breathing and the dialogue of a Steven Segal movie. So when you've gotten so fat that it affects the shadowy and secretive goings-on behind the brown door, well then, Houston, we have a problem.

Now don't get the wrong idea. I've never actually had a problem, err, producing in the bathroom. I can drop a deuce with the best of them and still will be able to when I'm 100 pounds lighter.

It's the post-bomb cleanup that has been an issue.

As a fat man, I've always carried my weight in my belly and lower back (lots of real estate for a tramp stamp should I ever get drunk enough).

And all that back fat has meant that I couldn't get back there and properly clean what needs to be cleaned without FIRST taking my pants halfway off and hiking a leg up on the side of the commode.

And even then, with my reach improved, I still had to strain and stretch to get to where I needed to be. And EVEN THEN, when I finally got in position to clean the back porch, I often came away with, uh, dirt on my hand. Which then sent me into an explosive convulsion of icky grossness as I put my pants back on one-handed and spent the next 10 minutes scrubbing the offending hand at the sink until the skin comes off.

Now that you are all sufficiently appalled, let me just say what a difference 40 pounds make. My reach around (not that kind!) abilities have vastly improved, I no longer have to do the No. 2 one-legged clean up dance, and when I wash my hands before leaving the room I do so as a matter of routine hygiene and not because I'm trying to recreate the Silkwood shower scene (look it up!).

And I don't care what happens from here on out. The fact that I no longer have to go through all this on a (sometimes twice) daily basis is the single greatest benefit of my weight loss.

Raise your hand if you agree, but only if you've washed it first.

Peace, love and antibacterial soap!