Wednesday, December 30, 2009

12/30/09 - Nesquik Banana Milk rocks!


Well it seems that 2009 is coming to a close. I have a year-end visit with my surgeon Dr Richard today, since effective 2010 his practice is ‘out of network’ for my new health insurance carrier Aetna (thanks, LexisNexis!). But on a positive note, Dr. Richard has been asked to head up the new bariatric Surgery program at Gwinnett Medical Center, and while he will not be leaving his practice in Gainesville, this new program in Gwinnett County will be considered ‘in network’ for my Aetna health coverage! So I can continue to see Dr. Richard, albeit via the Gwinnett Medical Center program. When God closes one door, He opens another one.
12/31/2009 will be my nine-week anniversary since the Lap RNY surgery, and I have lost a total of 88 pounds from my initial date with Dr. Richard, and 74 pounds since the surgery date. Absolutely stunning. I am still having a big of a nervous stomach, but I have found that if I can eat it, my new stomach reacts well. No more scary episodes like I experienced Thanksgiving (see prev posts).
I am concerned though about my protein intake – since that episode I have not been able to get the IsoPure protein mix down – and prior to that I actually looked forward to mixing it with my morning coffee. Now I can’t even get that mix to my lips without retching. Just thinking about it makes me queasy. I have been drinking the IsoPure flavored drinks to try to get some protein in me, but I fear that is not enough. I have been feeling weak lately and dizzy, and am having issues with my left hand not wanting to cooperate. This is really affecting the accuracy of my typing, and in my job as a Database Administrator, you have to be accurate.
This morning I was able to mix a scoop of IsoPure protein in with a cup of skim milk and drank it just fine. I am going to try another scoop here in a few minutes with a bottle of Nesquik Banana-flavored milk and if that works, I’ll go with the milk/protein mix for awhile. My hope is that by increasing my protein and better tracking my food intake will help me with this dizziness…I read on Brad Garland’s blog that he experienced dizziness and found that his protein intake was too low. Crap. I do however hope that is my problem. I just completed a stressful oncall weekend where I had to review very carefully all of my entries (which I probably ought to be doing anyway), and everything went well. But still, this isn’t how things were just before my t’giving episode. At first I thought it was a head cold causing inner ear issues. I went to the doctor and got a shot for that (he did see some pressure building behind my left eardrum). And I took a z-pack. Then another z-pack. Still no change. I’ve tried Mucinex. Nothing. My doc said that the next step would be to have an MRI done, which I did (yesterday), and the results should be back today. I was fortunate to get that MRI done so quickly, but I pressed hard since my insurance deductibles for 2009 were all met, meaning no out-of-pocket expense for me. I called to check on when I could get in, and the receptionist asked if I could be there in 20 minutes. Oh yeah! I got there, got scanned, and was back home within an hour.
I’ll post the results when I get them.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day 2009


I remember my Christmas mornings from my youth well, but one of the fondest memories was of my parents on those chaotic mornings. With 4 kids it was an energetic time, and generally way before dawn on Christmas day, after a full evening of ‘can’t we open just ONE present on Christmas Eve?” Finally Christmasx morning would come and Mom and Dad would make sure that all four of us were up and somewhat awake (WE were all awake, it was Mom & Dad that were shaking the cobwebs out after a long night of making sure that Santa had everything all taken care of). We would each take a turn opening a gift, first checking with Mom to see if it was OK to tear open the wrapping paper or having to try to ‘save’ the paper for future use. Once all those formalities were worked out we would tear open the gift, squeal with ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahhs’, and then gather all of the paper, tissue paper, connectors, and trash, and hand them to Dad who had a large plastic trash bag at the ready. Then it was my brother or sisters turn. As we worked through this, it was exciting to see who gave out of gifts first. I remember when I got my High School class ring as a gift, while my younger brothers and sisters had many more individual gifts than I did. I ran out of gifts to open early that year, but the ring was a wonderful gift and a sign that I was growing up. Christmas Mornings were orderly, somewhat structured, and made for some wonderful memories. And no mess! After all of the gifts were opened we would reassemble all of the carefully under the tree with the reminder from Mom and Dad that Santa would base NEXT years gifts based on how well we took care of THIS years gifts.
After Courtney and Chris were born and we were with my (ex) wife’s family for Christmas morning one year, I remember how different it was to watch as all of their kids and grandkids opened everything at once – it was crazy! but a tradition in their family and another flavor of how families spend their Christmas mornings This year, with just Laurie and I (empty nesters!), it was our dog Koko that watched with rapt attention as we opened our gifts – I think he was hoping that each brightly wrapped package was somehow a treat for him! And Koko had the most number of gifts, which brought all of this full circle for me. Oh how excited he was to see the new chew toy, and how neutral he acted about the pretty new treat canister (it even says “Stud” in bright blue letters). But when you get to be “my age”, Christmas is so much more than how many gifts, or what gifts, or even gifts, period..…. Both Laurie and I opened out gifts to each other and relished in the thought and love that each represented (socks!), remembering back to our Christmases past (my Dad always said ‘you can never have enough socks’), and looking forward to Christmases future with our kids and grandkids later that day and the next. It’s a celebration that can span several days, as my Mother likes to say “it’s a moveable feast”. And indeed, it is. A feast for the soul, the heart, and the memories. Thank goodness for our digital media so we can save in a visual form so many of those moments!
And right next to me was a large plastic trash bag, ready for the cardboard, Styrofoam popcorn, wire wrappers and such. Now when Courtney brings my two grandsons over today for our Christmas together, I wonder what the protocol will be for opening those gifts? Peirce is more aware of Christmas this year, and my gut tells me that HE will be making the rules :o)
I've loaded all of the pics at my flickr page. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your families. Steve

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wednesday 12/23/2009 - chili and gumbo!


Took my boss to lunch today to celebrate his upcoming birthday. At Pappadeaux! They had a great looking lunch buffet, but I had the gumbo and a sushi roll instead. Yummy!

My wife has been on a Chili kick lately, so I have made two batches of Chili for her along with my corn soufflĂ©. It has tasted exceptionally well, and agreed with my system. We also have booked our trip to Cancun for March 2010 (two weeks) staying at our favorite place, Solymar. Now to figure out how I can get my protein while I am there! The powder is just not agreeing with me – I tried this week again with coffee and just couldn’t even get the first sip down before I was gagging! I have found respite in the IsoPure drinks, but an 80z bottle run about $2 and I need three of them a day to equal what two scoops of the IsoPure powder gives me (50g protein). Iso Pure also sells the 20oz bottles, which I have kept at home – but the sheer weight alone would make transporting them to Cancun prohibitive. Perhaps Amazon can ship me a case of the 80oz bottles without breaking the bank. How else am I to get my necessary protein for the 2 weeks? Yogurt is 7grams, lentil soup is 13. (imagine 4 cans of Lentil soup a day!) Sargento string cheese has 8g in a single cheese serving (you’ve seen those).. How about peanut butter? Anyone have any suggestions? I have till March 03 to figure this out.

And it is just a few days till Christmas, so please, to you and your family and friends – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

the weekend 12/19 & 20 - Chili!


Laurie and I went to a birthday dinner for my nephew Clayton at Kiku's Japanese Steakhouse. The Hibachi dinner was excellent - I even had a small sushi appetizer and with a substntial mix of wasabi and soy sauce, things were very good. I had the scallops and some rice and vegetables. Yummy!
Tonight Laurie really wanted some chili, so I cooked up a pot for her, along with my corn souffle. Both were yummy.
Tomorrrow starts Christmas week. I also go on-call. It will be a fast week. Merry Christmas everyone

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wed -> Fri 12/16,17,18/09 Soups on!

The doc asked me to quit taking my high blood pressure meds – he thinks my dizziness may be due to my BP being too low! IT was 113/78 at my visit. So no more insulin, no more Lisinopril… slowly getting rid of the “co morbidity factors” that come with being obese! But he is also concerned that I might be dehydrated, so I am now concentrating on making sure I get the minimum 64oz of fluids each day.
I’ve been bringing in lunch from home – wonderful soups that Mom and Lisa make, and also have tried he soup of the day selection in my cafeteria to work! A cup of warm soup makes for a great meal. I’m still hovering around 268lbs – and have been for the past week. A plateau maybe? I can wait it out! I still have 50 pounds to go to hit my goal.
The home life is returning to normal – Laurie is back, Koko is happier with a warm body in the house during the day so he doesn’t have to stay in the crate. Life is good!

Wed Thu Fri 12/16,17,18 2009

The doc said to stop taking my high blood pressure medicine - my bp was 113/78 when I visited him. So now I am not on insulin (still on metformin for now), and no more H

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tue 12/16/2009 Seafood tastes better with Hooters Hot Sauce!


Today I cooked seafood - first a meal of about six scallops (big ones) quick-fried them in some olive oil, then tossed in some Hooters sauce (hot, Kroger sells it) and some salt, pepper and garlic. Very tasty and agreed quite nicely with my stomach.
Laurie and her mom returned today from Houston, where they were visiting with Bridgette and baby Jon. They hated to leave them, but sure looked glad to be home.
I am off to see my general Dr. today - I am unusually dizzy and feel disoriented - hoping it is something that can be treated with a shot or a pill :o) Doe't we always hope for that...
Brought in a serving of tilapia (again, cooked with the Hooters sauce) it was almost as yummy as the scallop. I know I need to be getting more fluids in me. Need to work on that! Blood sugar is doing great - at 116 this morning (weight at 268.2)

Monday, December 14, 2009

the weekend and Monday 12/14/2009

the cabin was very nice - it was a cold weekend and it did rain on Saturday night, but that was not a problem. With the tin roof the rain was very soothing. Koko enjoyed the trip, he rode in the passenger seat like he owned the car.
I took the chicken pot pie that I baked at home with us and picked at it most of the weekend. I also bought some chili at Ingles, and I did eat half of it - Koko had the rest and loved it.
Nice and quiet weekend. Laurie returns on Tuesday!

Friday, December 11, 2009

12/09-12/11 W/Th/Fr Chicken Pot Pie and off to The Cabin for the weekend


I have been a little under the weather for Wed and Thu (and even today, Fri 12/11). I did swing by my family doc on Tue (12/08) and he said my sinuses are a bit swollen. So I am slugging through things and waiting for “this cold” to be over.
I thought about a quick meal on Thu and decided to cook my Chicken Pot Pie – not all that quick or easy, but always tasty. I cooked up a pack of boneless skinless thighs on the grill and 90 minutes later I had a Pot Pie! I ate exactly one serving (about 2 tablespoons) and Koko got to enjoy the rest. I am taking the other 5/6 of the Pie with us to The Cabin! It gets better over a day or so. My weight continues to drop – today (fri) I was at 268.8 (down 66 lbs). Koko and I are doing w2ell, Laurie and her mom return from Sugarland, TX on Tue 12/15,.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dec 7 and 8, 2009 Mon and Tue - Dr's visit and Working from Home and Chicken-and-Rice!


Monday found a return to work, and boy, did my legs hurt! I guess Ken and I did a lot of walking during the SEC Championship Football game…. I read a Facebook post about cooking Chicken and Rice, and boy, did it sound good. I have a C/R recipe I like, so I stopped at Publix on the way home Monday evening and bought a pack of boneless, skinless thighs, a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom with garlic and spices soup, and a container of Texmati Royal Blend rice (a mix of Basmati, wild rice, and red rice). Instead of water I use chicken broth, 1C of the rice, 1can of soup, 3cans Broth, 1/2stick butter or margarine, all in a rectangular casserole dish, stir well. Lay 4 or 5 of the boneless, skinless thighs on top of this mixture, season to taste, preheat oven to 350, and bake for 90 minutes.

And it sat very well with my new stomach! I was concerned about the effects of the rice, and I was very light on the rice for the first serving – but everything went fine! In fact, I have had leftovers for 2 days. Mmm Mmm Good!

On Tuesday I had 2 doctors’ appointments, with the first being with my Endocrinologist, Dr. Neland Shenoy. My appt was at 9am, I was there at 9am, and the waiting room was already full. Bad Omen. My 2nd appointment was with my Family Physician, Dr. Crooker (well, actually a P.A. at that office, Richard Petit). I was still in Dr. Shenoy’s waiting room at 10:15am and there were now people standing! I decided that if I was still waiting at 10:30am I would leave. And find a new Endocrinologist! There is no excuse to be 90 minutes late at 9am.

And as fate would have it, the nurse called me back right at 10:15. As she was weighing me and recording my vital signs, she realized that I was the wrong “Stephen”! But since I was back in the exam area, she was not going to make me go back out there. Gee, wasn’t that nice. I could tell by the nurses attitude that this was already a very bad day for her, too. My weight on their scale was 277 (271 at my home scale), my BP and O2 were fine, and I was left in an exam room to meet with the doctor. It was now 10:30am.

And in walks…a P.A.! Dr Shenoy now has some help! He was very friendly and spent quality time with me, and we discussed my GBP surgery and overall health. My A1C was unchanged at 8.2, but he said that this measurement runs about 90 days behind the trend. He recommended I start on Metformin ER but not change any other meds (no insulin, no glimiperide, etc) and start blood testing twice a day (Laurie took my sugar monitor to TX with her :o). He then wants me to fax the 4-week readings back to their office so they can decide where to go from here.

I bolted out of there and hit the GPS in Laurie’s Kia Borrego to find the fastest route to Dr. Crooker's office, and I arrived there right at 11:15a.m. I didn’t sit down in the waiting room good and I was being called back by the nurse. After she weighed me and took vitals, she reviewed my drug list and asked one-by-one if I was still on Regicide. Regicide? I’m not on Regicide. Oops! She called back the wrong Stephen, too. But she went ahead and put me in an exam room, and before she even got turned around good, Richard Petit walked in. I told him of my ears “percolating”, and he examined them. No obstruction or excessive wax (very surprising!). He recommended I take Mucinex (otc) to help with the slight pressure he detected behind my eardrum. This office converted to all-digital in the summer 2009, so he was able to transmit the prescription (Z-Pack) to my pharmacy (Publix in Dacula), shook my hand, I whisked by the receptionist, and I was back in my car by 11:30. 15 minutes total! What an odd day.

I returned home and got Koko out of his “enclosure”, and ate some of the Chicken and Rice leftover, drank my IsoPure protein drink, worked from home (it was cold and rainy outside). I went over to Courtney’s for dinner and got to play with Caden (Peirce stayed the night at his grandmothers) and had a nice chat with Courtney. Donley had to work late. When that was over I drifted home, did some school work, chatted with Laurie in Sugarland, TX, and went to bed. It was a very full day!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sat 12/5 and Sun 12/6 - the SEC C/championship Football Game


On Saturday my brother, Ken, and I went to downtown Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game with the Florida Gators vs the Alabama Crimson Tide. We got down there very early, did the ESPN Gameday madness, and were in our seats in time for the kickoff. The game didn't go our way, but it was a great crowd, and afterwards we wandered around a few feet from the hotel looking for somewhere to eat that didn't have an impossible wait. We ended up at a Brazilian Steak House where I had just a bite or two from the salad bar (seafood, asparagus, snow peas). Ken did as well. Then back to the hotel. Got up early this AM and returned home.

tomorrow is another work day, the stomach is feeling OK, but I'm still not up on real solid food. But it hasn't even been 7 weeks since the surgery! I'm down 61 pounds to 273. 60 pounds to go!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thu Dec 03 and Fri Dec 04 - Go Gators!





On Wednesday, I had a errand to run at lunch, so I stopped at a QT (our local quickie mart) I ate the insides of a QT Southwest Chicken wrap for lunch - just the chicken and grated cheese and spices. the label said 320 calories for the entire sandwich - I did not touch the wrap or the lettuce - thought the lettuce looked very good! I am recording 1/2 of the numbers for my record - 160cal, 14g carb..., 7g protein. ONe-half hour later, still feeling fine! In the pic below, you see the wrap and lettuce at the top - and the chicken at the bottom. Yum!

For dinner, I really wanted Hot & Sour soup for dinner. After I left my daughters house I went by our local Chinese buffett.... and the lady said $7.25 for soup. One price for dinner, including soup. I couldn't buy just the soup. OK. I bought the meal and absolutely loaded the foam container with food - and the soup container with... Hot & Sour. Then when I got home I gave the "meal" to the teenagers next door (free food!) and kept the Hot & Sour soup.

The protein is going down so much easier via the IsoPure 20oz bottled drinks. Lots of flavors, kinda pricey, but the negatives of not getting enough protein are pricey, too! Like losing my hair! I have worked very hard to keep the hair I have, no need to rush the balding process.....

Off to the SEC Championship Football game tomorrow to cheer the Florida Gators on as they face the Alabama... well, what is the Alabama mascot? Is it the red elephant? the "crimson tide". And what exactly is a "yammerhammer"? Well, tomorrow they will be pulling out all of the stops to win, but I believe the gators will as well.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wed and Thu Dec 02 and 03, 2009 - I need to get my protein!


Wednesday was a very unsettled day as far as my stomach goes. I am still forcing myself to mix the protein mix in my morning coffee, and yesterday it just wasn’t working. It made me miserable all day, so I have decided to stop ruining my coffee – I’ll get my protein another way for now. And that way is – via bottled IsoPure drinks! One 20oz bottle has 40grams of protein (2scoops of powder is 50g). I bought five bottles on Monday at Dr. Richard’s office, so I will go that route for now. $3.75a bottle, but at least it doesn’t run my entire day. I had some of Lisa’s chicken broth for lunch. I just wasn’t hungry…..

And here I am on Thursday on my 2nd cup of plain old black coffee, and it feels pretty good. Dr. Richard did prescribe Protonix to deal with a suspected acid problem in both my “new” stomach and in the old one – but from what I read it can take up to 6 weeks for Protonix to kick in. I brought miso soup for lunch today, and a gelatin snack, pudding, and two Sargento cheese sticks.

Laurie and Shirley are becoming Sugarland regulars, finding their way around to all of the necessities – Outback steakhouse, Walmart, the regional Mall – and of course the beeline route to that new grandbaby, Jon! They are there for 2 weeks, till 12/15. Lots of great bonding time for everyone involved. Koko and I are settling in with just the 2 of us for that 2-week period. Off to the SEC Championship Football game, Gators vs Alabama, this weekend. Well, I am anyway. Koko is off to the kennel. He gets his latest rounds of shots and the canine flu shots. Hey, better he than me!

I’ve uploaded the latest pics from Laurie of baby Jon to my flickr page here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tue Dec 01 2009 - the girls are off to Sugarland, TX


Laurie and her mom are on their way to Sugarland, TX to see Laurie's daughter Bridgette and her new baby Jon. They are going to be in Sugarland for 2 weeks, which means it is me and the dog (Koko) in the house by ourselves for awhile. Laurie tells me it is cocld and raining in Sugarland, kinda the same weather we have here in Auburn, GA! I drove them to the Atlanta airport this morning - the traffic in Atlanta is as bad as ever. I worked from home the rest of the day.

I did stop at Chick-Fil-A and got a sausage and egg burrito combo, I ate the small hash browns (about 10 pieces) and about 1/2 of the burrito. I had miso soup again for dinner, though my Mother and Lisa have prepared some wonderful soups for me!

And most importantly, today (Dec 01) is the start of Laurie's and my month to place flowers at my son's grave. Chris' mom and I alternate months, and I get December and January each year. I have more pics of Chris' headstone and picture and the December flowers at my flickr page. This will be my sixth Christmas without Chris, my how I miss him! Chris passed away in May 2004.

the other pics are at www.flickr.com/photos/stephenj .

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Nov 30 2009 - 6-week Posts-Op with the surgeon, Dr. Richard


Monday brought another day at work, which is not all bad. My coffee again nauseated me – why oh why did I have to lose my love for coffee? I did manage to choke down enough cups to get 5/6 of my protein down, but it really was unpleasant. I tried missing the protein with Powerade Zero – and that was not going to work either. Oh well, hopefully this change in my palate will not be a permanent thing.
I went to see my surgeon for my 6-week Post-op visit this afternoon. Dr. Richard had been briefed by Dr. Proctor Jr. after my episode at the emergency room on Friday (after thanksgiving) and we had a nice long talk. He said that he was pleased with the results of Friday’s tests and he would not have done anything differently if he had been on-call there. He said that he was concerned with my nausea, and was going to recommend that I start taking Protonix daily to combat an acid situation that most likely exists and is affecting my stomach, gut, taste, and such. He said that in some cases where there might be a bowel obstruction, sometimes the obstruction causes “things” (I’m trying to be sensitive to readers with delicate stomachs) to back up – even into the “old stomach”. But the CT scan showed none of that. He said that occasionally the bowel will act like an accordion and compress and expand as a result of an obstruction, but again there was no evidence of that. He said that my upper bowel was “distended”, but that he believed that was a result of the trauma that my nausea dealt to my stomach pouch and such, and should settle down. He saw no evidence of a blockage or any feces impacted along the lower bowel – in short, everything looked fine. His remaining concern was the possibility that my large stomach (the old one) and my new pouch might be overproducing stomach acid – and that might be the cause of all of this. He wrote a prescription for Protonix, one tablet a day, and wants to see me in a month (Dec 30). He recommended that I start on soft foods as soon as I felt comfortable, then progress to a “regular diet” after that.
We shook hands and that was that! On my way out I noticed that the nurses’ station had some IsoPure beverages in 20oz bottles – and that each bottle contained 40 grams of protein. Could this be my answer to the coffee dilemma? 40 grams is almost the same as 2-scoops of the IsoPure dry mix. I bought five bottles, various flavors. Maybe?
For lunch I had miso soup (I really like Miso Soup!) and for dinner I had a single serving of a broth mixture from sis-in-law Lisa. Tasty! I also had a pudding and a yogurt with dinner, and a pudding and a gelatin with lunch. No pain, no cramps, but just an uneasy feeling of nausea. I hope the Protonix helps!
Laurie and her mom Shirley leave for Sugarland, TX, tomorrow to spend 2 weeks out there with Bridgette and new grandbaby Jon. Safe travels! It’ll be just me and the dog Koko for the 2-week period.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sat and Sun, Nov 28 and 29, 2009


Not much going on these two days - I have been nursing my sore stomach. Probably sore from the vomiting and drama on Friday, but still just a bit unsettled. I did have an egg today (sunday), and I see Dr. Richard tomorrow as part of my 6-week post-op followup.

Coffee is no longer palatable to me. I cannot figure out why. For most of my adult life, I loved coffee! When I started this program, I was mixing my protein powder with my coffee and loving it - it tasted just like a QuikTrip Cappucino. But since I "got sick", just the smell of coffee nauseates me! I am going to have to try mising the protein with my PowerAde Zero and see if I can get the necessary nutrients that way. I hope my taste for coffee returns soon.

I did get to go to The Monkey Barrel, a bar/restaurant in Gainesville, GA to watch the Florida Gators defeat the Florida State Seminoles - Kenneth (my brother) and I will be in Atlanta on 12-5 for the SEC Championship Game (Gators vs Alabama). It was intersting to smell all of the great food that the other Gator fans were eating - pizza, wings, fries, salads, pasta! But I was a good boy and stuck with my water and a serving of chicken broth that sister-in-law Lisa brought me. Thanks Lisa!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day and the day after - all prepped and ready for surgery?


What a day this has been. It all started on Thanksgiving Day, which was spent at Greg and Angie King’s (Laurie’s brother and wife and kids). The dinner was a spread fit for a king – and I was very careful to eat the proper amounts – a spoonful of this, a spoonful of that. But the desserts did me in. I had to have a piece of carrot cake. It was a small piece, but within a few minutes I knew that I had done a bad thing.
As part of the gastric bypass surgery, high sugar and high fat or greasy foods are a no-no. Failure to understand this can bring something called “dumping syndrome”. Well starting about 4pm yesterday, I was miserable. My entire gut ached. To the point that I could not get any rest or even get comfortable. This went on all evening, and about 10:30pm I got sick. That is the first time I have gotten sick since the surgery. Then I got sick again. I self-medicated myself with a painkiller and tried to get some sleep.
About 3am I was awoke again with the abdominal pain. I tried to go to the bathroom (no luck) and my gut was aching so…. I vomited again. Finally at 7:30am, hoping that my surgeon’s office would open at 8am, I called the office and the on-call service paged the surgeon on call – Dr. Charlie Proctor, Jr. My surgeon was Dr. Robert Richard; along with Dr. Charlie Proctor, Sr., those three guys make up Surgical Associates of Gainesville, GA – and are ObesitySolutions.com. (Dr Richard is in the middle, Dr. Charlie Proctor (Jr) is on the left, Dr. Charlie Proctor Sr. is on the right)
Dr. Proctor said for me to try to have a “liquid breakfast” and see if I could keep it down at all and to call him back if I got sick. Two sips of water later and I was back on the phone with him. He said to go ahead and get dressed and head to the ER at the NE GA Medical Hospital in Gainesville, GA – he would call ahead and let them know I was on my way. I awoke Laurie and we hit the road.
When we arrived the ER was deserted! I was immediately checked in, vitals taken, and was escorted to an ER observation room. The ER doctor in charge introduced himself – Dr. Paul Merlis . Dr. Merlis said that Dr. Proctor had called and filled him in on my case and that Dr. Proctor wanted me to have a CT scan of my abdomen to see if there was a blockage, hernia, distention, or stricture. The nurses came in and took my vitals and started an IV and left me with 32oz of orange-flavored contrast which I was to consume over a 90 minute period. This all took place within the first 20 minutes of my arrival at NEGA hospital. What customer service!
The nurse did give me Zofran for nausea, but my stomach still just ached and pulsed. I drank about ½ of the first 16oz of the contrast and asked for some pain killer – they gave me a dose of Dilaudid and boy did that do the trick! The doc said this drug is a morphine extract, and once administered, I was able to complete the entire 32oz of contrast and promptly at 11:30am I was being wheeled into the CT Scan room. The CT scan took 15 minutes and I was back in the ER feeling much better.
I was very surprised when Dr. Merlis reported back to me that the CT scan had shown a blockage of my small bowel. Oh how disheartening! Dr Proctor was also the on-call surgeon for the ER this weekend, and he was currently operating on a stab would victim – but he would be in as soon as that surgery was completed. Dr. Merlis though that I would need to have an NG tube inserted to continually empty my stomach of all contents while I was being treated for the blockage – at least one overnight and possibly surgery meaning even more nights…. And Laurie is leaving for Sugarland, TX to see her daughter and new grandbaby in 3 days! Things were not looking so good for the home team.
But I felt very good – Laurie and I started talking about “what if?”s…. but until we could talk to Dr. Proctor, everything was up in the air. Over the next hour or so several very sick folks came through the ER – a critical infant, and elderly lady who had a heart attack, a hunting accident…. With little time to prepare for this, I had left home without anything to read or occupy my time, and the tiny TV in the ER room was …… not so good. :o)
But the next thing I know, Dr. Proctor is in the room. He asks me to lay back and inspects my abdomen. He notices and comments on the hernia that I had operated on back in the early 1990’s – he recommends I have that “taken care of” again as it seems to have aggravated itself and was in need of some attention. He picked and prodded, but then said that the blood work came back fine, my numbers looked good, and his interpretation of the CT scan was that there was NOT a blockage and that I take it very, very easy for the next few days – and released me! I already had an appointment with Dr. Richard for Monday of next week, and Dr. Proctor said that was excellent, and he recommended that I back up to a liquid diet for a day or so, then go back to soft foods and stay there till I see Dr. Richard on 11/30.
Then we went back into a waiting pattern, as Dr. Merlis was treating the critically sick infant and was unable to sign my release form. About an hour later the nurse came in and removed the IV and released me! It was 4:30pm.
What a bizarre day. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Big Five-Oh! Wed 11/27/2009


Well, friends, five weeks post-op and I am now down 50 lbs! Yup. 284.4. Amazing.

It was a short day at work today, even our corporate CEO announced that all offices would be shutting down at 2pm. Not much else going on, did I mention that I am down 50 pounds? :o)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday and Tuesday 11/23 and 11/24/2009


I learned something new about me today - carbon monoxide, like from car exhaust, nauseates me. It hasn't before, but I noticed today that as I exited a Walmart and walked behind a BloodMobile bus, the exhaust fumes about made me pass out! On the way hoem from WM, I got behind a dump truck, and I had the same reaction. I could smell the exhaust, and just a few seconds later I got swimmy-headed.

This is quite different from pre-surgery. It was an irritating thing to be around, but I never felt like I was going to hurl. Interesting.

Last night I had about 2 tbsp of some homemade chili that my wife, Laurie, made - and it felt good! Prior excursions into ground meat or really any kind of beef brought an uneasy feeling to my stomach - but the chili was good! I see Dr. Richard again on 11/30, for a six-week post-op checkup - maybe I am ready to move to Phase III foods? (regular foods, but still somewhat guarded, stay with the soft foods, progress as I can, etc.)

Tomorrow is the day before Thanksgiving! It is hard to believe that the holidays are already here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Nov 22 200 - I'm home safe and sound from Orlando, FL


Made it home from Orlando just fine. Left at 5am, arrived home around 1pm. on and off rain from the GA state line all the way home. How does FL do it? Their marketing group must be much better than Georgia's, for the rain was at mile marker 2 on the GA side! FL was bright and sunny. Final pics at my flickr page www.flickr.com/photos/stephenj/sets . the trip is broken down into two sets - one set is for the LXA Celebration, the other is for the Nov 20 2009 Orlando trip. Enjoy!

My stomach has been a bit uneasy today - back to the softer foods for a few days. I may have overdone it during this 4-day sojourn. One thing for sure - my stomach will not LET me overdo it. One thing I did notice is that since I have to drink slower and with smaller sips, I cannot even finish a 22oz drink at one sitting. I use a QT plastic cup during the entire trip, and for the 500ish miles to and from Orlando, I only had to stop once during the trip - for gas and for a potty break. Prior to the surgery I would go through huge cups of drinks during the trip and have to stop every 90min to 2hrs. Well, there is another good thing about this new stomach!
on the trip I passed a very bad accident (going the opposite way of me, thank goodness). I found the Ocala News web page which reported on it http://www.ocala.com/article/20091120/ARTICLES/911209980?Title=One-dead-in-multiple-motorcycle-crash-on-I-75 .

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sat Nov 21 2009 - UCF 49 Tulane 0


Today brought the UCF vs Tulane football game. Several of the brothers from last nights celebration were gathering, with their families, and tailgaiting in the parking areas prior to the game. Victor Collazo likes to have a theme for each games tailgaiting party, and since Tulane is from New Orleans, he chose Cajun. He is quite a chef! The weather was perfect, in the 70’s with a light breeze. A very enthusiastic crowd was gathered, everyone around us was in good spirits as well, and since the game didn’t start till 2pm, they all had an extra couple of hours before we all migrated to the field. I still cannot believe that UCF has a football team, but they sure do! It was a very good game, with UCF winning 49-0! The crowd kind of broke up at halftime, so I wandered to a local coffeehouse where the local Gator Club was meeting called Embers. They had a great outside patio area with several big screen TV’s and a projection screen as well. I ordered a chicken-wing appetizer called Screamers – it was five chicken breast portions! I ate part of ONE. I also ordered their Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, and ate about half of that.
I wandered around the campus for a bit and am now back at the room. Exhausted. It has been a great weekend. Plans are to leave first thing tomorrow morning when I wake up (Sunday) and head back up the highway to home. The Weather Channel is calling for a “soaker” for the southeast – wonderful. That should make the trip home just so eventful. The earlier I leave, I figure, the better.

Fri 11/20/2009 at the Univ of Central Florida LXA celebration dinner



Lots of pics on my flickr page: www.flickr.com/photos/stephenj/sets

The Lambda Chi Alpha, Beta Eta Chapter, Centennial Celebration was a magical event. Lambda Chi Alpha is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and the Beta Eta Zeta chapter at the University of Central Florida is celebrating its 38th anniversary. The event celebrating these dates was held at the Fairwinds alumni Center at UCF on Friday, November 20, 2009.
I arrived in Orlando about 2pm on Friday after spending the morning in Gainesville, FL getting my stereo fixed in my truck. I had spent the night in Gainesville, FL, leaving my home on Thursday afternoon after work.
Orlando sure has changed in 30 years! I came in on the Florida Turnpike and from there on things were way different. Alafaya Trail even has its own exit on the East/West Expressway! When I was here in 1979, Alafaya trail was a red light. I found the hotel where I was staying and relaxed a bit before heading off to the Fairwinds Alumni center. Arriving there a bit before 6pm, the first person I saw when I walked in the lobby was Stu Caldwell, one of my brothers from the chapter! Stu and I were part of the same initiating class in 1979, and it was good to get caught up with him again. Other brothers began arriving, and I was thrilled to see so many familiar faces. And of course the current brotherhood classes were there – a good looking bunch of young men, energetic, excited, strong students and a good group to carry the legacy of Lambda Chi Alpha into the 21st century.
As we entered the fellowship hall, along the left wall were old scrapbooks and photo albums, as well as chapter photos for the past 38 years. How melancholy to look through all those photos! Other brothers began to arrive: Steve Simmons with his newly-initiated son John, Randy Crews, Victor Collzono. The “happy Hour” was just that, with lots of catching up to do. Dinner started promptly at 6pm, and after that, the nights program.
As expected, James Blount came in fashionably late. James and I were close during my time at UCF, and roommates for part of that time. James was the Student Body President, the first black ever elected to that position at UCF, and a good politician. I always thought he would have a future in politics. It was so good to see James – I have been looking for James for the past 30 years! Some folks are very hard to find – either by chance, or by choice.
The first event of the evening was the chapter roll call. Each brother stood and said his name and Beta Eta number – I was Beta Eta 227 (out of over 1690), so I was pretty early on, but there were several before me. Next came a presentation by the current High Alpha of Lambda Chi Alpha history, from Warren Cole in the early 1980’s to now. Next, Mike Saunders gave a very moving Chapter History presentation. He has been around so long that he knows where all the skeletons are buried.
Next came a roast of Michael by various brothers. Some older, some younger. Stu Caldwell gave a rousing roast using memories from my time here at Beta Eta, including the Daytona Beach spring break trip. Lots of great times, and great memories.
After the roast were announcements and then a slideshow. The slideshow really took my breath away. The various historians over the years had kept so many pictures and items that many of us would have just overlooked, but it is times like this, during this celebration, that the importance of those historical items comes to light. The pictures in the slideshow were so important – the clothing styles and hair-do’s have changed so, and the glasses people wore! There were brotherhood pictures from beach parties, community events, fund raisers, dinners, and just horsing around. Steve Simmons was in several of the photos, and I could see his son sitting there next to him taking all of this in. It was, and is, quite a legacy. During the slideshow, the soundtrack played several songs that have meaning to the fraternity, with the final song being “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”. As that song started, James rose and when he did, so did the rest of the crowd. We locked arms and sang that song along with the soundtrack at the top of our lungs, culminating with a group hug and celebration of the past, the present and the future.
As I sat down to catch my breath, I realized that this evening is “one of those moments” that you could never repeat. There might be another celebration in a year or two, but the enthusiasm, the love, the brotherhood shown last night were magical – and singular. Mike Saunders, in his closing remarks, said that 2012 will be the Beta Eta Zeta’s 50th anniversary, and we will have a celebration then as well – but he also said there would be others, more frequently than just every 38 years! I know there will be, but I wonder if they can recapture the moment we had last night. It will be, as they say, a tough act to follow.
After the dinner was over and people started to leave, the High Alpha said that some of the current brothers were heading to a local watering hole, Delaney’s, to continue the party. My happy (and old) self was ready for bed! It was almost 10pm…. I walked to my truck and sat on the tailgate for a minute, not really wanting the evening to end. Two of the current brothers walked by and stopped to shake my hand. I told them how proud I was of the way they have “kept the flame alive” of Lambda Chi Alpha at the University of Central Florida, but also challenged them to “do what we just did” – when they have graduated and been away for decades, be able to look back 3o years at what the current brothers here at Beta Eta have done and be able to say “good job”. It is a remarkable legacy, to see these young men starting their lives and wondering what their future holds, but bonding with other like-minded men in the traditions of a Greek organization like Lambda Chi Alpha, carrying on traditions of service, loyalty, ideals, and brotherly love. I don’t think they grasped what I was trying to get across, but one day, they will.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thu 11/19/2009 - off to Orlando


The trip to Orlando started uneventfully. A nice drive towards FL, got as far as Gainesville, FL before I stopped for the night - how convenient, right next to the Univ of Fla! Stayed at the Econo Lodge on University Ave..... clean, convenient, safe(?), heard lots of police sirens and street activity - Laurie said that Econo Lodge is on "Cops" (a TV show) alot... that made me feel so much better! More pics at my flickr page www.flickr.com/photos/stephenj - look for the sets on the right side of the screen.
I brought a supply of SF puddings and gelatin, as well as some of those great soups from Mom and Lisa. And cheese sticks! I am going to stop this morning (fri) and get an egg and a small serving of grits before I head to Sound Depot and Performance to get my truck's radio looked at - it quit on me in Valdosta. Satellite radio worked great, but no radio to play it through! The hotel desk guy (a UF student) said he knows the owner of this audio shop - Omar - and that he could "hook me up". I wondered, "with what?" :o) Free coffee, got my protein in and vitamins..... hope to be in Orlando and at UCF by early afternoon for the Lambda Chi Alpha celebration. Then a UCF vs Tulane football game on Saturday, meeting long lost fraternity brothers (it has been 30 years since I was last at UCF), gonna stay in a nicer place in Orlando :o)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tue and Wed Nov 17 & 18, 2009 - Holiday Treat Eat-n-Meet


Tue and Wed. Well, what has gone on for the past two days? Bridgette and RJ are enjoying their new son and our new grandson, Jon. Jon is currently in the NICU at Sugarland Methodist Hospital in Sugarland, TX as they monitor his bilirubin levels – I remember back 26 years to when Chris and Courtney spent all those weeks in the NICU when they were both 10 wks premature….. not bad memories, just a crazy time for everyone involved. Jon will not be there long, according to the docs and nurses, but watching and listening as Bridgette and RJ go through what I did long ago, it makes my heart ache. Jon is a strong baby, eating well and very vibrant, but the docs want to watch him for a few days. And as young parents, I know how crazy it can be to have your firstborn children not with you. There are pics of Jon at my flickr page www.flickr.com/photos/stephenj (look on the right side of the page for albums).

I went to the WLS support group on Tue night and the theme tfor that night was Holiday Eat-n-Meet. Attendees were to bring a favorite gastric-friendly dish and lots of copies of the recipe. Oh my goodness, the food! A cheesecake make with Splenda. 130-calorie enchiladas. Two cool-whip pies (fat free, sugar free!). pita wedges and hummus dip. I’ll get the recipes typed in next week and post them. Pics of the support group feast are at my flickr page, too – look to the right side for album titles. This was my first meeting “post op”, and it felt good to hear everyone go around the room and introduce themselves – and I got to say “post op 10 weeks, and I’m down 45 pounds”. There were about 35 folks there, plus an additional 8 to 10 who are pre-op (a requirement to be approved for surgery is that you attend the weekly support group at least three times).

Dr. Richard’s surgeon’s group that sponsors this meeting has very far-reaching tentacles – http://www.obesitysolutions.com/ – there were people there from Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and of course Georgia. The leader each week is one of the nurses from the office, and they are a bit self-serving with samples of vitamins, protein supplement, and new drink offerings each intended to help us keep our “numbers up” and weight down. There were several folks there that are 2- and 3-years post op. What amazing stories. On Dec 08 we are having a clothing swap meet, and I will have a bunch of ‘way too big’ clothes to get rid of – I wore a pair of pants to work yesterday and didn’t think about it as I got dressed, but I spent all day yanking them UP. Finally I just undid my belt to see exactly how much too big they were – I bet I could pull the waist of those pants out 8 to 10 inches or more. I shoulda took a picture. I will before I get rid of those pants! I also was able to wear a 2xl shirt that I had in the back of my closet. I really liked that shirt when I bought it years ago, but never thought I could fit into it. Oh yeah I could!

I don’t talk much about my real numbers, but this is big. I am down 44.8 pounds in the 4 weeks since surgery, currently at 298.4. My goal weight is 215-225, though the FDA-approved chart shows that a 6-ft male’s ideal weight is 175. I don’t think I can get to 175, and Dr. Richard said that the low-200’s is more reasonable. I go back on 11/30/09 for a 6-week followup. My blood sugar is right at the normal range, with no insulin or pills since the day before surgery. Blood pressure normal, and my blood gasses are all right where they need to be, along with other necessary measurable enzymes, minerals, vitamins and lipids. I can tell that the pressure on my arthritic left knee is getting better, and my asthma is much better – I can’t think of the last time I needed to use an albuterol inhaler. I did have a flare-up of gout in my left big toe – I hope this weight loss helps with that, too.

I don’t feel hungry, I am experiencing some stomach queasiness but nothing terrible, I’ve experienced NO Nausea, no vomiting or reflux, and I don’t miss Diet Cokes a bit (well, maybe just a bit). I thank God every day for this blessing, and for my continued success.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday 11/16/2009 - more pics of Jon


Today was uneventful, except that I forgot my protein mix. I got to work, got my first cup of coffee, and reached inside my lunchbag for my protein container -- and nothing! I use a baby-formula keeper that my daughter Courtney introduced me to - it is a cylindrical container that has three partitioned areas and the lid spins around. Each section holds just the right amount of formula for a single bottle - or in my case, a single serving of Protein mix. But anyway, I forgot it!


The rest of the day seemed to go downhill as well. But 2:30pm, I was ready to GO. I got home exhausted - I think it was just part of my getting bback into the swing of things with work again.


when I got home I got a call from Courtney and her and the grandsons came by for dinner as donley had to work late. What a great surprise! We enjoyed having them over, and by the time they all left, I really was tired! I was in bed by 8pm....


Bridgette and baby Jon are doing great, Jon seems to have caught on to breast feeding pretty quickly and is getting lots of good nutrients and "face time" with Bridgette and RJ. I have posted the pics I have at my flickr page - www.flickr.com/photos/stephenj .


My tummy has been uneasy today, I had a single soup serving for lunch (thanks, Mom!) and two cheese sticks all day - dinner just didn't work, I ate maybe two bites of chicken and two spoonfulls of coleslaw.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sun 11/15/2009 Jon Royce Hixon is born! Congrats to Bridgette and RJ - and Jon!


Well, the big news today was that Bridgette had her baby! About 3pm Houston time, Jonathan Royce Hixon was born. Bridgette and baby are doing very well. Bridgette called her mom around 8am this morning letting her know that they werre at the hospital in Sugarland and she was in active labor. Things progressed quickly for Bridgette and baby Jon, and Laurie was fortuate to be able to listen to Jon's birth on the phone.

As I was oncall, I have been up since about 2:30AM completing the numerous tasks I had laid out for the database maintenance window. Rather than go back to bed, and with Bridgette's labor and all, I just stuck out the day. Now it is a bit after 7pm and I am ready for BED!

I fixed a cottage cheese and onion pancake today. It was a first for me. I have to get a better handle on the browning property of cottage cheese, but even with a very dark exterior, the pancake was very tasty. For dinner I nibbled on some left over Jamaican Chicken Salad. My blood sugar was normal today, I have lost a total of 38 pounds so far.

Ah Saturday. My first week back was quite busy with being oncall and all. My dieting went well, I was able to reconnect with old friends and received inquisitive looks from people who noticed that "something was different" with me. A good friend says he knows I am at work when he now hears my hand blender humming as I mix my protein mix into the morning coffee. Everyone has been very supportive.


Today Laurie and I tackled the basement - Bridgette and her boyfriend moved out on Labor Day and the basement has been in a state of limbo everr since. Now we aree moving their stuff out (to the curb or to Goodwill) and reclaiming our space! Get the carpets cleaned, paint, upgrade! laurie is also reclaiming what used to be Bridgette's bedroom and going to use the closet space for sure - there never seems to be enough closet space!


Finally about 4pm we took a break and I ran a load of donated goods to Goodwill. Afterwards I went to get us a bite to eat, and it seems that there was either a flooding problem or a water main problem, for most of the restaurants in our little town were closed with notices on the door about this weather-related incident. The Dairy Queen was opn, though, so I ordered for Laurie and then thought about what I could eat. The Firecracker chicken strip wrap looked good, but so did the chili dog - and of course an order of onion rings. There goes the pre-surgery Steve, at it again!


But I ordered and took the food home. I cut the chili dog into small pieces and ended up just eating the hot dog itself. And the Firecracker chicken strip wrap! I took one bite (a small one at that) and ended up pulling the chicken strip out of the wrap (it had been rolled in hot sauce!) and cutting it into very small pieces. And I ate 2 onion rings. But I was satisfied! I still hate to throw away food - or see anyone else throw away food. Maybe that is why I was the way I was! No longer...


Early to bed last night (8:30pm) as I had to rise at 3am to continue my oncall duties. Now (5:30am) on Sunday, those duties are complete - and I might just head back to bed for a short while. Have a great day, all!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fri 11/13/200 - Friday the 13th! Lunch @ Jason's Deli


I went to Jason’s Deli for lunch today with Dave, it was my first real foray into the “real food world”. I love the Spicy Seafood Gumbo there, so got a bowl of that. I thought their chicken salad (with pineapple!) would sit pretty well on my new stomach, so I ordered their special – a Chicken Salad Wrap. With free water, the meal came to $7.12.

I opened the wrap and ate the chicken salad and small tomato slices – bypassing the onion and lettuce. The gumbo was as good as I expected…. It was a great meal, and I came back to my desk “satisfied” – no cramps or discomfort, no guilt, and my friend Dave, who has seen me devour entire restaurants at lunch, was somewhat shocked by my “new attitude” and pace. We had a great lunch, concentrating more on talking and laughing than on shoveling food into our mouths. Even Dave commented that he ate less than he thought he would, and enjoyed it more!

Laurie’s daughter Bridgette had a great OB visit today – the doc said he needed to review the ultrasound results, but if her amniotic fluid levels were low, he would induce labor tonight (11/13/2009!) If not, he would schedule her to have labor induced on 11/20/2009 (next Friday, if she goes that long). He said the baby is already in excess of 7lbs! Bridgette is living in Sugarland, TX with her boyfriend and his extended family. She’s a long way from her Momma, but is doing well and is ready to have this baby (a boy, plans are to name it Jonathan).

Does anyone have any idea as to what to do about Gout! I have suffered from Gout for over 20 years and it comes and goes between my left big toe knuckles to my right big toe knuckle…. I understand that Gout is a buildup of uric acid that crystallizes in the joint… but I cannot completely cut out “dark liquids” (coffee!), though since my RNY gastric bypass I have cut out red meat (for at least three weeks!).. Any remedies or incantations that might help? I take colchicine when the pain starts, but it takes 24-36 hrs to show any benefits. Can anyone help?

Have a great weekend all. It is finally drying out here in NE Georgia, and a beautiful weekend is in store.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thu 11/12/2009 - Great checkup!


Yesterday (Wednesday 11/11/2009) was a unique day. I had a single serving of soup for lunch but also brought in leftovers of the veggie lasagna from the night before. But the soup was enough, so the lasagna was discarded. I had to work hard to ensure that I got my protein for the day, for even at dinnertime I just wasn’t hungry. I also worked to get my minimum fluids in for the day. But I did it! I am oncall ths week and that has added a new dimension to my first week back at work.

I took a picture right before I ate my “cup of gumbo” at lunch. This is where I work! How many items can you identify that I have around my terminal? And for a change it is somewhat picked up! I also got a call from my nurse at Dr. Crookers - my blood sugar is "normal" and my A1C is 2 whole points down - almost "normal", too - with no insulin or pills since the day of the surgery. I do so sincerely hope those diabetic days are behind me now - and forever.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tue 11/10/2009 - work from home day, visit to Dr. Crooker

Today has been a bit funky for me. My stomach has a hungry feeling, but I just don't feel like eating. I did get my protein in via my morning coffee. Laurie and I went for our doctor's visit today - I've been seeing Dr. Christopher Crooker for 20 years, Laurie has been a patient of his since we got married. We schedule appts together and it's like a reunion! Dr. Crooker was pleased with my decision and action and results of the GB surgery. He had bloodwork done on me at my request, I want to make sure my enzyme and mineral levels are doing well. One big change is that I am so cold now. I mean very cold! I sleep under at least 2 blankets, and wear long sweat pants and long-sleeved shirts around the house. Time was when I was the one that wanted to turn a fan on or roll the car windows down. I want to make sure my iron levels are OK, I do take a iron supplement as part of the post-op vitamin protocols.

While Dr. Crooker and Laurie were going over her medical situation, I looked down at a wart I have on my left ankle and it looked a bit odd. I've had this wart for several years and just have never been able to "get to it" because of my weight. But since I am down 38 pounds, I thought I'd try again and sure enough, I was able to bend myself in such a way that I could get to my ankle! That in itself was a real accomplishment. When I ran my thumb over the wart, it crumbled and fell OFF. Dr. Crooker looked at me, then at the wart, and handed me a band-aid. He said that sometimes warts do fall of, but not often. He said it might come back, and to keep an eye on it. The wart was located on the outside of my ankle, right where a shoe-line falls, so it alone kept me from wearing some of my shoes. No more!

My waxy ears were clear, which is another amazing thing. It is a regular request of mine to have the Dr. clear out the wax in my ears - they do it so efficiently. But I didn't need it this trip. I got a flu shot.

For dinner I fixed a single-serve vegetarian lasagna from Trader Joes, but ate only half. (380 calories, 9g protein). I'll take the rest to work on Wed.

Have a great day, all!

A WOW! moment today (11/11/2009)


I had a WOW! moment just now. Sitting at my desk I noticed that my badge kept ketting caught between my gut and the edge of the desk. When I move the least little bit, I felt a tugging at my neck. That was odd, I've not felt THAT before...... I looked down to find out what was tugging at my neck, and there it was! Just a few short weeks ago, my gut was big enough to keep my badge from getting anywhere near the edge of my desk - 38 pounds and 3 weeks later, I have a new irritating "thing" to deal with. I love it! Here is a pic of my badge and the desk edge. hehehehe!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Nov 09 2009 - Back to work! today was a great day.


today was a remarkable day - went back to work for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks, and started OnCall as soon as I got there. Sure enough, there were enough issues crop up today that the day flew by and I really felt good at the end of the day. I took a single serving of Mom's soup, a serving of Garlic Tilapia, some homemade tartar sauce (mayo, chowchow, celery seed, some wasabi) and Sams salsa. I also took a single serving of gelatin, pudding, and yogurt, but ate none of those last three. I took the baby formula powder carrier with 2 protein mix servings and my vitamins, and my hand blender, and had my protein early in the day. I can't believe I actually have missed that "industrial strength" coffee we make in the break room. I meant to get to the cafeteria for a single serving of egg before they closed at 8:30am, but time got away from me.



The next thing I knew, lunchtime was upon us. Several friends asked if I wanted to go to our local "all you can eat Chinese buffet" :o) I said "anytime"! I told them I would love to go, but I wouldn't be eating like they were accustomed to see me eat. I know better! But I encouraged all of them to treat me the same as they always have - I know what I can and cannot do, and I will not deny myself things that I want - I will just be very closely monitoring what I eat and when, and how quickly..... so instead of 12 or 15 wings I might have 2. Instead of two plates at the chinese buffet, I might have a deseert-sized plate with some vegetables and some captain Tso's chicken (a piece or two)... but this is my deal, and I am prepared to deal with it for now and for the rest of my life. I also had several conversations with folks that wanted to "know more about "it"" so I gave them the web page of the surgeons group that I used http://www.obesitysolutions.com/ . I bet word-of-mouth keeps those Doc's business humming.



I took my time and ate my lunch very slowly, all the while answering the phone and responding to pages that were plaguing is today as over 1million extra inquiries hit our production servers (at almost $4/inquiry, that extra income more than covered MY expenses for the day :o) But those extra inquiries really maxed out the mainframe, and it wasn't till about 4pm that everything got caught up. It sure was a nice way to end the day - worked hard, felt like I made a difference, and friends visited all day to see "the new Steve".



When I awoke this morning I hit the scale and found that I have lost a total of 34 pounds! I have over 100 pounds to go, but already I feel great. I noticed several differences today as I wore "dress clothes" for the first time since surgery. First, I could get my socks on much easier. My pants fit better (still in the same pants for now. I have a nice "set" of pants!) My belts are way too big! What used to be a small section after the buckle is now a LONG section that I have to fold and wrap to keep from flapping around. My shirts feel better. and this may be odd, but my truck does not have electric windows, and as I approached the parking deck and got my badge out to "badge in", I found that I was able to roll down my drivers window without knocking my knees together as I manipulated the window handle. Another oddity is how cold I am! Even on the way in, I had the windows rolled up and a bit of heat on. The same is going on at the house. Long sleeved shirts, sweat pants, and I now sleep under several blankets! I am just cold cold cold!



I get to (again) work from home tomorrow, as regularly scheduled, and I go to my family doctor, Dr. Christopher Crooker, for a checkup. I am going to get him to run a bloodwork series just to ensure that my vitamins and such are in line - especially my iron and calcium. I take both those as part of the regieme I am on, but I just wanna be sure. tomorrow at 2pm is a phone conference call with our VP at work - just the DBA group (Alpharetta and Boca Raton, FL) - the good Lord knows what this call is about, but I sure wish I did. with the layoffs last week in the department just across from me, everyone is a bit nervous. I'm not quite there yet, but who knows! That school bus driver opening is looking better and better.... I just wish it paid $125K :o) Yeah, don't we all.



Hurricane Ida is on its way to our area - it missed Cancun barely - I bet Michelle and Peter, our friends there, are feeling prettty good. BTW, they have five or so condos at The Solymar that they personally rent - if you are looking for a great and CHEAP way to see Cancun, give Michelle and peter a holler - http://www.cancunresortcondos.com/ . Laurie and I are looking forward to returning there in 2010 at some point - I want to see how my knee feels in about a year (or less?) before we go back to Cancun. It will also be our 10th anniversary in 2010 and we are trying to think of somewhere different to vacation for that special celebration. Anyone have any good ideas?



G'night all. See you tomorrow!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

sunday Nov 08 2009 - I return to work tomorrow!


Well, the post-op surgery recovery at home comes to a conclusion this evening. I return to my workplace tomorrow after 2-plus weeks away from there. I was able to work from home for the past week, and I am very appreciative to my immediate director, Ed Musgrave, and my three teammates: Bill Shumate, Mo Hazineh, and Chuck Devlin for their flexibility and assistance as I worked from the house. I haven't had to wear a pair of dress pants since the surgery date 10/22/2009, nor hard shoes (or really any shoes!) and just remembering to shave has been an ongoing battle!

The alarm will go off at 5am tomorrow, and that in itself will be a real system shock! Though I do admit that most of the 2--plus weeks have seen me rise between 3:30 and 5am, I guess it is my system fighting back against that life of leisure :o) The two weeks of rest-and-recuperation have been welcomed and muchly needed.

OK. back to business. Yesterday, Saturday, laurie and I went to Trader Joes to get some rations. I have been reading alot about Tader Joes on the Thinnertimes.com gastric bypass site, and the Norcross store did not dissapoint. I found lots of GB-friendly foods there, the store is similar to a Whole Foods or Harris Teeter, but a good bit smaller. Most of the offerings are of the organic variety, with alot of single-serve and pre-prepared items. I bought several seafood offerings like seafood stew and Garlic and pepper Tilapia, vegetarian lasagne, and a Maine crab soup and corn chowder. We enjoyed our excursion and time together - even with our 2-plus weeks of extended togetherness, there have been times where we were in the same house but in different worlds! Lauries daughter Bridgette is ready to deliver her baby at any time, in fact last night (sun AM 3:30) Laurie got a call from Bridgette that she was in labor and on her way to the hospital (she is living in Houston TX with her boyfriend and boyfriends Mom and family - that is another long story). But later today we got a call that Bridgette had been sent "back home" as the labor was not as active as first thought. That alone has kept Laurie on her toes. I'm back in my office "working from home" and the next thing you know is that it is bedtime. And at my age, that means 9pm :oD

Last night I went to Gainesville, GA to meet with the Greater Gainesville Georgia Gator Group to watch the footballgame vs Vanderbilt. Night games are rougher on the Gator Club, as the Monkey Barrel where they normally meet starts the live music around 9pm, so for now the G5 group is meeting at the Elks Lodge for the night games. The Lodge is one nice place! A full bar and very remarkable menu - everything from loaded burgers to steaks and seafood. I had the blackened salmon and a baked potatoe, and ate about 1/2 of each. I left at halftime and made it home in time to watch the last quarter on TV (espn2), but..... fell asleep :o)

The meal was very good, I made sure to mash up the salmon very thoroughly and chew chew chew. Same with the potatoe. Mash Mash Mash, chewe chew chew. Mom sent me home with a dozen new soups for my freezer. Mmmmmm!

Today was a 'clear things up' day, as I prepare to return to work. I had to rebuild my briefcase, making sure I know where my badge is, and make sure that my lunch box is ready. I cooked the Garlic Tilapia on the grill today and the small pack came in three pieces - I cooked all three pieces and ate one for lunch - and dinner. I'm taking another piece to work tomorrow for lunch, along with one of mom's frozen soup.

I found a baby formula divided container that Courtney had evidently left over here, and I am going to use it to take my Protein Mix - along with my Swiss Miss chocolate powder and a single Splenda packet. And my iGo mixer. And a water bottle. I also am taking two small containers - one with a tbsp of mayonaisse and a forkfull of ChowChow (for homemade tartar sauce) and one container with Salsa (from Sams - they have an amazing salsa creation there). I will proabably take a baked potatoe, too, but hope I can buy one in the cafeteria (for $1, a great deal).

I can also have a single serving of egg for breakfast, and maybe a small order of grits. And a 8oz V8 - spicy!

Dr. Richard said to be aware that my energy level will be less than before - I guess time will tell on that one. I have been walking alot, and NOT using the electric cart at Publix during my visits there (like tonight, needed dog food). I am sure I will get some exercise at work, too. My friends are going to be insistent on that.

Well, that is about it. I will post more tomorrow - thanks everyone for reading and for putting up with my rants. Onward!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Back to work! On Monday, 11/9/2009....


Today was my last official day of "working from home" before returning to the office on Monday (11/9). To really add to the misery, there were layoffs at my workplace yesterday, and an entire department was cut. I hope that we are all taking care of ourselves - professionally and personally - and not counting on thngs to stay the same any time in the near future. Take every opportunity you can to better yourself - both for your benefit and your family's. Network, get out and about, go to that educational class you have been thinking about, even if it is at the local rec center! Listen and talk to those around you - especially people that are not your regular social circle. Find out what they think, what they worry about, what their hopes and dreams are - and make them part of what makes you who YOU are. This is one of the reasons I like teaching college so much - I am constantly around motivated people - people who have a dream and are working hard to achieve it. And in my own way, I am doing the same. Am I ready should I lose my job? No, sadly not. But who is? All we can do is react when and if things happen - and that goes for the positive and the negative. Be supportive of those around you, and when and if the time comes, lean on the support of those around you! None of us go through any of this alone.

Fri Nov 06 2009 - the bill arrives!

I got the hospital bill for my gastric bypass surgery yesterday. This is just the hospital bill and does not include any inevitable discounts that the insurance company will apply to the final settlement. I had my surgery at the NE Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, GA, by Dr. Robert Richard of Obesity Solutions. I was very impressed with the hospital, and with Dr. Richard as well. In the documentation I reviewed, they cover expected costs for this surgery if it is "self-paid", meaning no insurance benefits are available.

the estimates were
$15,500 facility fee (Hospital)
1,200 anesthesiologist
8,000 Surgeon
700 Surgical Assistant
---------------------------------
$25,400 total estimate

I have just rec'd the Explanation of Benefits for the hospital. Here is what they billed

$ 1,312.00 Room/Board (2 full days, 2 nights)
4,642.57 Pharmacy
27,547.12 Supplies
1,360.00 Lab
1,276.38 Radiology
231.78 Cardiology
16,928.97 O.R. Services
46.45 Professional
----------------------------------------------
$53,346.19 total patient charges

The insurance company, United Healthcare, applied a "net discount" of -$39,922.04 to the hospital bill, leaving a net of $13,377.70 for the Hospital portion of the procedure.

Dr. Richard charged $9,225.00 for his services, the Surgical Assistant charged $2,244.00. Those charges are "under review" by United Healthcare.

More to come!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thu Nov 05 2009 - two weeks Post-Op!


Well, here I sit two weeks since my Gastric Bypass surgery. I had a good day, enjoying a single serving of Mom's Taco Soup for lunch. After work (still WFH for the rest of this week), Laurie asked if I would like to go with her to hit a few stores, and we left! We stopped at Sonny's BBQ for dinner, I thought I could find something there I could eat. I ordered one of their specials: a half-rack of Baby Back ribs with a baked potato and corn bites. Water to drink. I mashed the baked potato up real well and ate about 1/2 of the potato, no skin. I also ate about 1/2 of the half-rack, peeling the meat from the ribs and very carefully chewing up each bite. I brought the other half of the meal home in a to-go box. I could feel the food on my stomach, and knew when to quit. Looking back, I probably should have just had their soup, but damn, I wanted a taste of the ribs and those corn bites are great, too! The meal was $7.99, and I in effect ate half of it.

Afterwards we roamed Hobby Lobby and toys-R-Us looking for Christmas decorations and presents for the current grandkids and Bridgette's soon-to-be-born baby, our future grandson Jonathan. By the time we finished at T-R-Us it was 7:40pm, and we were just exhausted. Funny how early I hit my limit energy-wise. But that is to be expected.

When I got home I looked up the calorie and protein count for Sonny's BBQ food and found a great site, www.thedailyplate.com . You type in a restaurant name and nutrition data is displayed. The half of a half-rack of ribs came in at 207calories, the corn bites 300calories / 4 protein, and the baked potato 150cal, 4 protein. Lots of calories! I think back to a month ago, where I would have eaten the full rack of ribs, a baked potato and the corn bites, and a serving of bread, too. Over 3000 calories, easy. My oh my.

Tomorrow (fFri) is my last WFH day, and I am looking forward to returning to work.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wed Nov 04 2009 - A Chili Dog?


Today even the cofeee was unpleasant. I did get 2 scoops of protein mix into the coffee pot before the end of the morning, but it just wasn't the same today. Not sure why. I laid low through lunch time and called my Mother around 2:30pm to see when she might be ready to meet me with her Taco Soup! Mom graciously made me single-serving containers of Taco Soup, and it sounded tasty. We met around 3pm and on the way home I thought about a thread on ThinnerTimes that I had read last night about processesd food.

The thread talked about "processed foods" like hotdogs and balogna and how they were actually easier on a "new" stomach like mine, since these meats were already partially processed (pre-digested?). While I was driving home that got me thinking about a hot dog, and there was a Sonic right on my way home..... so I stopped and bought a Sonic Coney Dog and a small tater tots.

I sliced the Coney dog into very thin portions and ate one, with the bun, chili and cheese. It tasted good, but I could tell that the bread was not going to "work". So for the next few bites I gave the bun (with chili and cheese) to Koko - he was in heaven! I did eat the entire hot dog - just the hot dog - with no discomfort. The tater tots were a different story, but when I slowed down and thoroughly chewed each Tater Tot and made each tater tot two bites, things got better.

Mom's Taco Soup will have to wait till tomorrow! And, BTW, I am down 27 pounds!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Grandkids Halloween costumes - a Bat and a Kangaroo!

Caden
Peirce




Peirce is a bat, Caden is a Kangaroo. Granddad is having a ball with all this!

Tue Nov 03 2009. Slow down, I'm moving too fast...


Today was an odd day. I had a uneasy day yesterday with my meals, and today I have just not been hungry. I kept and eye out on my stomach (well, literally) and I just never got hungry. I did get my protein in - 50g of it anyway - with my coffee this morning. It was about 4:30 before I felt like I could eat something, and I had a serving of homemade chicken soup that my sis-in-law Lisa Jones made. It really hit the spot. Afterwards I had 2 fudgesicles (low carb made with Splenda)... but that still is less than 1/2 of the calories I need, and about 2/3 of the protein for the day.


Laurie asked me to fix her a grilled cheese sandwich for her dinner - she says she cannot make a GCV sandwich near as tasty as mine are :o) I wondered the entire time I was cooking it if I would ever be able to have a grilled cheese sandwich again. Any kind of processed bread is not going to go over very well, though I did start to think about maybe a tortilla or some of those smaller bread offerings I've seen in the store recently. I'll hit my web resources and see what options some of them have tried out. And I did all this while closely watching the grilled cheese "grill". My mom can relate to burning bread (hi Mom!) and I still have to smile and laugh when I think of those childhood memories. Most of my grilled cheese sandwiches involve scraping off the over-cooked (burnt?) exterior! I think they taste better like that anyway.....

I enjoyed my day at work (from home) today, though I did have a real scare when reviewing my health insurance choices for next year. I had three plans to choose from and instinctively went with the highest priced one offered. I thought for sure it would have the most flexibility, and with Laurie and My issues, we need flexibility. But a good friend from work called and warned me to be absolutely sure..... so I called my gastric bypass surgeon and sure enough, he is not under the "most expensive" plan! All of Laurie's doctors and our family doc are under the "middle" Aetna plan offered, so I quickly changed my election choice just under the final-select wire as dictated by LexisNexis. Whew! The middle-tier plan has out-of-network benefits while the top-tier plan has none. How odd is that?

That is enough excitement for one day. Now to go get a drink and keep my liquids up. Have a great evening! Steve

November 01 2009. Monday.


Today was "not so good". It started out well, with my egg and a small serving of grits, but for the rest of the day I just felt unsettled. I returned to work today, working from home for a week. That was nice, cleaning up email and taking care of projects new and old. For lunch I had a bit of crab meat with a spoonful of mayonnaise. I did get my calcium and iron in, but fell short on my protein for the day.


At 11am I started on a beef stew recipe that was recommended on ThinnerTimes - puree it of course prior to eating. It was your standard beef stew recipe, with a can of cream of chicken, a dry onion soup packet, 1/4 cup of wine, a onion sliced into rings, and one hour prior to completion add carrots and green beans. It came out excellently, but even before I took the first bite I knew it wasn't going to work for me. I used my hand mixer to get a 1 cup serving to the correct consistency (see pic), and it was indeed tasty, but the moment the first forkful hit my lips, my stomach started feeling funny. I ate about 1/2 a cup and stored the rest.


Listening to the new Barry Manilow Christmas CD. Great music. Olivia Newton John has a new Christmas Cd out, too. It is never too early to get started on Holiday Cheer!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Ah, November first. It is cool outside, and I am cold enough to use a small space heater back in my office. I had every intention of getting out today, but found other things to keep me busy around the house. It was another good food day, with me adding the new Peanut Butter powder to my protein drink mix for my morning coffee.


I swear I am going to get out tomorrow and buy material to make the cottage cheese pancakes and the no-noodle lasagna - tomorrow! But tomorrow I start back to work, though the week will be "working from home". Many thanks to my director, Ed Musgrave, for working with me to make that happen. I will actually be back in the office one week from tomorrow, Nov 09, 2009.


One thing I will miss is being there to participate in the Gator v Bulldog football game talk. Oh well, there is always next year - for the Bulldog faithful :)


I found a fellow RNY post-op patient who has the same blood-pooling bruise scenario I do. His father is a surgery and he said that in some circumstances, blood can seep out after the surgery and it heads towards the lowest point via gravity - and inn my case, that is at the bottom of my abdomen. He said his Dad said it could take up to six months for the bruising to be reabsorbed into our systems. six months!


I've attached a photo of Laurie and I that was taken in Cancun several years ago - my first glance went straight to the plates of food we are holding. The restaurant, La Habichuela, has the best Sunday seafood buffet I have ever seen. Lobster, shrimp, ceviche, all kinds of seafood and pasta.... eating there now would be quite different, but just as tasty!