It was eighteen years ago and I was working in the health care field, specifically cardiology. I assisted the cardiologists and the physician assistants with their patients by setting them on Holter monitors, or running stress tests. I also called the patient in from the waiting room and took their vital signs, including their weight. One gentleman in particular came back and stepped up on the scale, causing it to creak under his weight. I moved the counter weights back and forth, until the fulcrum balanced perfectly and recorded his weight as 264 lbs. I walked him back to the exam room and explained to him that he doctor would be with him shortly. Before I could turn and close the door, I noticed the man had looked pale and his skin looked very sweaty. “Are you okay?” I asked, but instead of answering me he simply looked at me with a very scared looked in his eyes. Suddenly, his fear was transferred to me and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. Before I could respond the man collapsed and fell to the floor with a resounding thud. I called out for help as I ran over and dropped down to the man’s side. Everything I had learned from CPR was jumbled in my brain and I did my best to focus as I recalled the ABC’s, Airway, Breathing and Circulation. I titled his head back and listened for his breathing. Just then the doctor and two nurses came into the room. “Get a crash cart!” One of the Nurses demanded. I got up and ran into the hall and pulled the crash cart into the room and suddenly the cardiologist and his team started working on the patient. I stayed just outside of the room in case they needed me to get something. After fifteen minutes, the ambulance showed up and the paramedics assisted. There were I.V. bags on the floor and medication tubes strewn about. The doctors and nurses were talking with panic and after another twenty minutes the room was silent. “You have to call it, doc.” One of the paramedics said solemnly.
A short time later, the doctor walked out of the room and placed his hand on my shoulder, taking a breath before he spoke. “Did he have any family in the waiting room?” I froze because I wasn’t sure. When I called his name, I was looking at his chart and didn’t even notice when he stood up. It wasn’t until I looked up from his chart that I noticed him standing next to me. “I honestly don’t know.” I said. The doctor grimaced and walked out towards the waiting room to deliver the worst news anyone could ever expect to get.
As it turned it out, that gentleman was there with his wife and his young son. He was instructed by his primary care physician to see a cardiologist because of some issues with recent EKG tests and chronic complaints of chest pain. He was just 42-years-old and as the doctor described him, “a very unhealthy individual”. He stood no taller than five feet nine inches and weighed two hundred and sixty four pounds. The strain of all that weight was too much for his heart to endure. He smoked, he ate a high fatty diet and he lived a sedentary life style.
At the time, I was just 34-years-old. I was recently discharged from the Navy for a seizure disorder and was taking Depakote to help control my seizures. What I hadn’t known at the time was the nick-name for Depakote was Depa-BLOAT. It causes people to gain weight and over the past six months leading up to that point I had gone from weighing 182 lbs. to 227lbs. I was being told that I snored and I waking up most mornings with an inflamed uvula. That’s that little ball thingy that hangs in the back of our throat. The reason it would get inflamed and swollen was because of the way I was breathing at night. I was snoring so loud and so forcefully that it was irritating the uvula. When that man died on our clinic floor, I remember thinking, “Wow! I hope I never get that fat!”
Eighteen years later, I am 52-years-old and I weigh 257 lbs. I am just seven pounds shy of the weight where that man was when he died. I still smoke. I work behind a desk for eight hours a day and my diet could be better. This has me scared because now, my snoring is full blown sleep apnea. For the past nine years, I have not been able to sleep at night without having a machine strapped to my face; otherwise, I could choke and die in my sleep. I am suffering from THREE (yes, more than two) hernias that are on the verge of popping and they are painful every day. I have a left inguinal hernia which feels like my guts are about to fall into my scrotum. I have an umbilical hernia which I have to cover and push on whenever I feel a sneeze or cough coming on and then I have a hiatal hernia, which shows up whenever I try to sit up or lift something heavier than a grocery bag.
Over the past eighteen years, I have been able to lose weight whenever I noticed I was “getting up there”. Someone would refer to me as “Big Guy” or they’d pat my belly and ask me when I was due and I’d get offended and I’d stop drinking soda or I’d watch what I was eating and after a few weeks, I was down to where I looked and felt good. So I’d keep going and when I couldn’t get the results I was looking for, I’d give up and say, “I’m fine”. But then I’d put the weight back on and then some more. It’s like I’d lose ten and gain back twenty. I’d lose twenty and gain back thirty. It was horrible. Now I’m at the point where I’m afraid to lose this weight because I may gain it all back and even more. I don’t want to be 300 lbs. That scares me so much. I mean – here I am just seven pounds away from where I had hoped I’d never be – does this mean in another 18 years I’ll be 287 lbs.? Perhaps it will be even worse and in 18 years I’ll be 317 lbs.!
My cousin, Darci (God Bless her!) has given me the basic tools to help myself and I’ve been squandering them. She’s given me an app to put on my phone and to help me log my meals, and I was doing that; however, until today, I wasn’t really looking at what I was doing. I’ve been eating my breakfast and eating my lunch and going home and having dinner and also eating my snacks and logging them all on the app to keep track of my calories. I had always thought that if I stayed under my calories, I could lose the weight. I was actually starving myself and telling my body to hold on to my fat. I was forcing my body to keep fat in reserves because it never new when it was going to get food for energy again. I mean, I was eating healthy, right? I was eating broccoli and cucumbers as snacks. I was eating lean meats for protein and having plenty of fruits throughout the day. So why wasn’t I losing weight?! I wasn’t watching how much fruit I was eating. I started breaking down my snacks and meals and realized I was taking in a TON of natural sugars by eating grapes and apples and pears and mangos. So besides starving myself for food, I was loading my body with sugar. I was doing it all wrong and today, I’m staring this blog to share my journey with you.
I’m going to learn how to eat properly. I’ve started seeing a nutritionist and the things we talked about will be shared in this blog. Foods and recipes; and even exercises for those of us who cannot exercise. I look forward to updating you as often as I can. I’m fifty-two years old and I weigh as much as a Pittsburgh Steeler’s Line Backer. I’m hoping that over the course of this blog I can start looking like a line backer and stop looking like a defensive tackle! (Those are the fat guys!) I’m hoping that I can get another fifty-two years of life for this body!.