Life Altered

This is a follow up to my “Life Altering” post from October, 2017 – BR

You know that saying? That inside every fat person is a thin person screaming to get out?  I used to be able to shut that guy up with a burrito. Or three.

If I live to see June 23 2018, I will turn 52 years old.  I will also be around 100 pounds lighter than I was when I turned 51. I was about 33 pounds North of 300 pounds one year ago.

On November 17, 2017 I had gastric sleeve surgery to remove a good portion of my stomach.

People ask me if I had any regrets about having the surgery.  The answer is yes, I do have one regret following the procedure:  I wish I would have had it done 20 years ago.

I had no idea how bad I was feeling until I felt better. What you don’t really notice while gaining weight is how you are slowly putting yourself, and your family, in a prison.  You limit your options and abilities.  What you can wear, where you can go, where you can fit. It all slowly changes until you have realized you have eaten yourself into a corner and you cannot do things you used to do.

For those who think bariatric surgery is a magic pill for weight loss, let me just say that I have to be more purposeful and attentive to what I consume than ever before. Protein first, then some carbs. Always. Fried foods very rarely cross my plate, and when they do it is very little. I don’t drink while eating.  I eat healthier than I ever have.  My relationship with food has changed. I do my multi-vitamin, my vitamin B, vitamin D and calcium every morning. I have a routine and new habits.

I do want to lose down to about 199 lbs. Actually, around 200 lbs. is fine, but I want to be able to say I am under 200 lbs. When I am finished, I will have lost the equivalent to a horse jockey, a toddler and a small dog combined.

Here is a partial list of things I can do now or that have drastically improved for me since the surgery:

  • Run a 5K. Not fast mind you, but yeah, I am running now. If you saw me running a year ago, I would have told you to run with me, because something big and bad was chasing me.
  • Climb stairs without having to hire a Sherpa and set up base camp for anything over one flight.
  • Buy cloths in the regular sized guy section.
  • What asthma?
  • My blood pressure is controlled without meds.
  • I can sleep without a c-pap and not drive my wife insane from snoring.
  • Tying my shoes or putting on socks is not preceded by a self-pep talk and deep breaths.  “You can do this man…breath deep…and…<<GRUNNNNT>>”
  • I am no longer nervous about the 300 lb. weight limit on my ladder.
  • I will now bend over to pick up a penny off the floor. A year ago, it had to be at least a dime.
  • Restaurant booths no longer cause a mild panic attack. You bigger folks will understand. Nothing like being led to a booth, then having to explain to some skinny little thing that you will need a table because of your size.
  • I can fly without having to worry about having to ask for a seat belt extender.

I don’t know how many days God has given me on this earth. That is not for me to know. I have no idea if my surgery will add one more day to my life.

But I can say without reservation that losing this weight has added life to my days.

Know Your Worth

I don’t actively freelance anymore. But when I did, I did not charge enough. I would undercut myself.

I read something that really struck me on a blog aimed at freelance developers. The writer said he once asked someone he looked up to, “Why should I charge so much for something that is so easy for me to do?” The reply was, “Precisely because they cannot do it.”

Surgery may be easy to a surgeon. My wife can cut, color, and style hair. I can do coding. Real coding from the ground up. Am I the best out there? Nope. I can name some folks out there who can code in their sleep.

But I am competent. I can build a website from the ground up using nothing but a text editor. I won’t these days because I have some really good tools that knock some time off, but I could if needed. I can troubleshoot code because I understand code.

I recently heard from someone who complained that they couldn’t believe what a web developer was quoting them. The number they were quoted was not outrageous for the work they wanted done. They asked if I would consider it. I passed. My time and skills are worth way more than what they were willing to pay.

People who are doing freelance and doing good work should be paid for it. If you think it is too much, go on out and see if you can set up a good site. If Wix, Weebly or Squarespace works for you, fantastic. If you can get what you need from WordPress and can actually figure it out, rock on man. You can use Drupal? I bow to you.

Otherwise, you will probably get what you pay for.


The Great Valentine’s Day Facebook Massacre

I made the following Facebook post on Valentine’s Day:

Some people reacted as if I were against love, romance, and chocolate.

First let us all get something straight and perfectly clear:  I am never against chocolate. Especially chocolate pie.

Mmmm. Pie.

One friend, for some reason, tagged me in the comments on a posted story about a couple who has an enduring tradition involving Valentine’s Day that has continued for 39 years even in the face of the lady of the story having dementia.  (Read the story here).

I think she probably tagged me in good fun, but just in case some people think I am Scrooge-ish on Valentine’s Day, let me give a few bullet points to clarify my view on this “Holiday”.

  • I am very much pro-love all 365 days a year.
  • If you tell me Happy Valentine’s Day, I am not going to give you the stink-eye and growl. I will smile and say thank you.
  • We actually did a photo on Debbie’s page with a Happy Valentine’s Day message! So, we won’t throw rocks at you for celebrating Valentine’s Day.
  • If the day is important to you and your significant other, fantastic! Y’all do your thing! I am glad for you guys!
  • However, do realize that my opinion of Valentine’s Day being turned into a mid-Winter scheme to sell stuff to people who feel pressured to buy stuff because they are INSENSITIVE JERKS if they do not buy stuff still holds true.

My wife and I don’t feel any less connected or in love because we don’t get cut flowers and chocolates or other gifts for each other because of what the ad agencies and retailers want us to do on a particular day.

This is our view. Doesn’t have to be yours. Your mileage may vary.

Let me tell you all a bit about us.

We met very young, married very young and grew-up together without growing apart. We had two special needs children who have become fine young men, but it was a challenge at times when they were growing up. That actually is a bit of an understatement. It was very very hard at times and it put pressures on us. Sometimes we had arguments, hurt feelings, and rough waters in the course of our 31 plus years because we are imperfect people.  But through it all, we have had a good marriage and a commitment to stay together.  We love each other and know we love each other.  Everyday.

So y’all have a great day. Valentine’s or otherwise!

Life Altering

“How you doin’, Butch?”

My standard reply: “Not bad for a middle-aged fat man!”

Well truth be known, I am not doing that great physically these days.

I am 333 pounds.   Yeah, that is a whole lot.

60 of those pounds have come on in the last two years.  I’m a really fat guy now.

If the term ‘fat’ bothers you, use your own synonym that makes you feel better: Plumpstoutoverweightlargechubby,  portlyflabby, paunchy, potbellied, beer-bellied, meaty, of ample proportions, heavyset, obesecorpulentbig-bonedtubbyroly-polywell upholsteredbeefyporky, blubbery, chunky, or pudgy.

All of them mean the same thing: I got a lot of extra Butch to get rid of.

So, sometime in the next month or so I am going in for a procedure called a sleeve gastrectomy or gastric sleeve surgery.  I did not come to this decision lightly.

Lifelong battle

For most of my life, I have had issues with extra weight.

I believe my weight issues are primarily caused by the following:

  • Genetics
  • Food addiction
  • The way I was raised

Genetics – My mom’s side of the family has the genetics that tend to a large body type and extra pounds, as many of my cousins can attest.  Most of my aunts and uncles were big people.

Food addiction – So, along with my genes not wanting me to be skinny, I also have a food addiction. Food is my drug of choice.  I eat when I am not hungry, when I am stressed or just out of habit.

The way I was raised – My parents loved people with food.  Not kale chips or skinless chicken breasts with steamed broccoli. No, it was good ol’ Southern food. Basically deep-fried and covered with gravy. Served with a potato of some sort. Probably fried in a skillet or creamed with extra butter.  Extra helpings were offered and expected to be taken. And the veggies? Probably green beans or purple hull peas cooked in bacon fat.

When I was about 8 years old, the pounds started coming on.  From the age of 8 until 12, I was a chubby kid.  Then, I started swimming on the Hendrix Aqua Kids swim team and started reversing the trend.  I then got involved with athletics from 7th – 9th grades.  Because of my activity level, I was basically a normal sized young man in those days. I was always moving.  I didn’t drive yet and in our neighborhood we were spaced out pretty good between houses.  To see some of my friends, it was a mile or more to walk or ride a bike.

In high school, I started putting on weight again after I got my license, and went on a starvation diet my senior year and graduated at 175 pounds.  From there it has been a cycle of yo-yo dieting.  Sometimes, I would get down to a good weight, but I could never keep it off.

I tried it all.  Shakes, Weight Watchers, Deal-A-Meal, Atkins, South Beach, starving it off, and a doctor prescribing what was basically speed.  All worked to get the weight off, but none was successful long term.  Weight Watchers was the best of these by far, and my favorite.

So… I am. I am 51-years-old.  I have two boys with special needs that really need me to be around as long as I can be. I have a wonderful wife who has loved me, literally, through thin and thick and thin and back again.  She says she likes having me around and I like being around her.

This is why I am doing this surgery where they remove about 90% of my stomach.  It is not about vanity now like it was when I was younger. It is about being there for my wife and boys. It is about being a better husband who can do things like travel, walk, ride all the rides in Disney World, not be embarrassed at the beach, fit in a restaurant booth.  It is about helping my boys in life for as long as I can.  It is about feeling good again.

In the near future, I will probably be asking for prayers as I get ready to have the surgery. Prayers that all goes well before and after. I would sure appreciate them.