Thursday, April 30, 2009

That was then; this is now.

Welcome to the inaugural posting of my new new pet endeavor.  As is commonly known in my circles, this (see photo of blob to the left) is what I used to live like.  I was 330 pounds, give or take an "In 'N Out Double-double."

Since having a gastric bypass in December 2006, I have lost a total of 147 pounds, of which 17 I have gained back.  I did this by diligently following my doctor's orders.  Dr. Ludwig, of Chico California, and his amazing staff and cohort at large guided me and has continued an amazing volley of support.  With their constant watch and nurture, I shed, what I lovingly call "a small Asian man."  I ate like a sparrow, had days where I felt like Adonis, and also hard days where my new stomach foamed and rejected any matter thrown at it.  

The enzyme which catalyzed all the dietary matter in my journey was, beyond doubt, my  near manic pursuance of becoming a runner.  The first night after surgery I got out of bed and began walking the halls of Enloe Hospital's third floor wing.  I was walking 45 min by the time I went home a few days later.  I remember being hopped up on pain-killers, and muscle relaxers, wrapping myself in a bathrobe, and wandering around the apartment complex in a foggy haze known only to the likes of Jim Morrison, Jimmy Hendrix, and me.  I remember being frightened by tracer-laden cats, and the most beautiful strands of Christmas lights ever to adorn the mundane world.

Slowly I began walking around the block, steadily pushing myself faster and faster until I reached my first goal in mid-January.  I ran the whole block, which was exactly one mile.  That training ground only deepened as I pushed faster and farther until I truly was a running addict plowing through three to five miles every night.  

Then fate kicked me in the groin.

In late June 2007 I weighed 187 pounds, and was truly enjoying the speed my feet had found.  I was training for a spring-triathlon to be held in September, and had aspirations, and plans to climb Mt. Shasta (14,179 ft elevation, of which the last push is on a glacier).  

After an amazing fishing trip with my best friend, I landed an equally amazing case of Strep Throat.  Being too sick to even drive him to the airport, I rented him a car, and waved goodbye from the couch.  I went to sleep that night hoping that the next day I would feel better, so I could surely call Josiah and let him know I was on the mend.

I woke up early the next morning, alone, a little disoriented, Strep burning in my throat, hoarse from the sickness, and an all-too understood weight on my chest.  I also was numb from my left elbow to the shoulder.  Was I having a heart attack?!?!?  After lucidity set it, I crawled my way upstairs and woke Julie, who drove me to the emergency room.

A week later, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cardiac unit revery, I was released.  I had been poked at, prodded, judged, worried over, prepped for a stent, had dye looked at in my veins, and a camera inserted in my leg, guided through my vascular system, and seen video of my beating heart.  After much scratching of heads trying to figure out exactly what had happened, the powers that be decided I had in fact suffered a heart attack.

Lisinopril.  Lipitor.  Baby Aspirin.  Those are the medications that old men take.  Men who remember when they were young.  Not men who were finally living the prime of their fitness.

The next year was filled with cardiac appointments surrounded by frightningly disabled patients in the waiting room, 12 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation, near-fainting from low blood pressure due to medications, but mosty egregious of all, a new found fear that I would have another heart attack.  A doctor I trusted told me that walking would be ok, but that I wouldn't push it with jogging.  At least not yet.  This came at a time when  long-loved family friend had recently died while jogging.  I stopped.

A year after my diagnosis I finally forced the medical community to look closely at my charts.  It was revealed that I had not had a heart attack.  I was that poor micro-percent of a bastard that pushed the science envelope too far.  The final diagnosis was that my strep infection raging inside my throat had broken free, migrated to, and infected the cardiac tissue of my pericardium.  This small micro-trauma where the vector had taken root caused just enough stress to release Troponin.  This is the hormone used as a marker of cardiac event.  It means damaged cardiac muscle.  They just hadn't seen a year earlier that the stress had come from an outside source, and that my cardiovascular system itself was fine.  Great in fact.  Nearly perfect.  It was actually uncovered in my cardiac catheterization (the camera bit) that the vascular structures of my heart are actually maximized to prevent heart disease.  Where most people have one main coverage system of blood flow to their Left Ventricle, I have two "erie canals", as Dr. Wright put it, branching equally as prolific as the normal person's single system.  And the right?  It was covered in a perfect cloud of arterial tissue.  Sure, she said, being small veined one might block sometime in my life, but that the tissue it fed was covered by multiple other feeds.

Happy days, right?  Not quite yet.  I had known for a year that if I exerted myself too much I would be back in the hospital and really become one of those scary ghosts I had lain next to for the week in the cardiac unit.  The ones with gory tubes coming out of their chests.  The ones vowing never to eat burgers again, repeating over and over on the phone how lucky they were to be alive.  It takes a while to convince the psyche that you don't fit that category after so many people in power had told you you did.

But that was then; this is now.

I'm done.  I'm tired of wishing it all hadn't happened.  I'm sick of seeing all the clothes in my closet that fit back then, and now were just a little too snug.  I'm done.

I saw my doctor two weeks, and seven pounds ago.  I've gained 17 pounds since that fateful day I came down with strep.  I was actually down to about 178 in the hospital, thanks.  That was bad weight loss.

So what's the point of this whole ranting?  I'm moving on.  I'm taking control.  For the past two weeks I've been following Dr. Ludwig's eating plan for me.  10 days of liquid only.  Now I eat lunch and dinner following the Lean and Green philosophy.  High protein, low carb, high health.

I'm slowly regaining my running ability.  It's going to take a while, but I've got a while.  Just tonight I ran / walked on the treadmill for 45 min.

My first goal is to have lost 15 pounds, thus making me 185, by August 11th.  Why then?  It's the start date of my 17 week Marathon Training Clinic.  I'm going to finish the California International Marathon on December 6th in Sacramento.

If you care to read it, I'll be blogging my journey here.  But don't expect a lot of history, because this is now.

1 comment:

  1. Jake- you truly are an inspiration. I am so impressed with your hard work and all you've put into your weight loss and getting healthy. good for you, man. you look amazing! :)