Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: A year of change.

2015 has been a year of change for me. Unless you were unfortunate enough to be frozen in carbonite by a galactic bounty hunter, it's safe to say, your life changed a bit as well.

I should start with the most apparent change; I have lost over 100 pounds since last January.

I would like to say that it was just a lot of hard work, disciplined dieting, and strenuous exercise that was the catalyst for this change. However, most of you know me too well to buy that story. No, the past several decades of poor eating habits, and a less than active lifestyle, let me put on 5 pounds a year and over that time my health started to decline. Starting to develop diabetes and high blood pressure was the tipping point for me, and I decided I had to do something. Something other than what I had tried in the past.

I elected to have gastric bypass surgery. From the initial consultation with my personal doctor, to the interviews with the Bariatric Surgery staff, all the lab tests, and monitoring, it took about four months to get a date for my surgery. For anyone who has been through this, or is thinking about having bariatric surgery, let me just say, it is not fun. At all.

Having you guts cut open and re-plumed is not for the faint of heart. It hurts like hell for the first week. Gradually, it gets a little better each day, until two weeks has passed and it only feels like you were hit in the belly with square nosed shovel. I won't bore you with the details, but you don't eat a lot, and by that I mean hardly anything at all. It's pretty much an all liquid diet for a few weeks. Slowly you get eat solid foods, like six string beans, or half a scrambled egg.

I am a terrible patient and did not follow the eating guidelines very well.  That will come as a shock to no one, but whenever I crossed the line, I paid a hefty price by throwing it right back up. Anyway, you get the idea; no fun, lots of pain, and some vomiting, kind of like a Nicolas Cage movie.

It has been eleven months since my surgery, and my weight has stabilized around 235. That was my personal goal, but I'm sure my doctors will want me down around 200. That would be fine, and I think I can get there over time. I'm much more active now, I ride my bike downtown four times a week, and my back and knees feel a lot better. My blood sugar is doing great and my blood pressure is just a tick over normal now.

It is strange to me how some pretty drastic changes can happen through a little bit of effort, while some require a herculean undertaking.

I stopped getting drunk 15 or 20 years ago. I just decided to stop. It didn't take a lot of will power to do it, I just made up my mind and stopped drinking more than one (of anything).

I won't say I quit drinking. I still have a occasional beer or a single shot of bourbon every once in a while, to the amazement of some of my friends who didn't know me in the old days. Today, I can have a drink, and don't feel the need to have another. Thank the Lord for that. I know many people who cannot stop at just one. It's better all together if they don't drink at all.

I guess that is how I was with pizza and cheese burgers. I still have those today, but I can only have one slice of pizza or maybe half a cheeseburger. I'm cool with that. I wish I could have just decided to stop eating pizza after one slice, but I couldn't, and if I had done nothing, it probably would have killed me.

Do you need to make a drastic change in your life? In your relationships? In your health? Do you need to take action in a certain area of your life that is slowly destroying you or your family?

I hope it is just as simple as making a decision. I really do.

If it's not, and if it's something you have decided to change many times in the past, only to fail; do something different. Reach out for help. No one will think you're weak because you need help. I certainly won't. I stopped drinking with little difficulty; I had to have to serious surgery to stop eating half a pizza at a sitting.

You can do this. It may take some serious effort, and yes, even some pain, but I can tell you from where I sit right now, it is worth it. Totally worth it.

If someone you care for needs help, support them, but get them help.