Thursday, January 28, 2010

Technical question?

I am pretty solid on a computer but I can't figure this one out at all? I am trying to list myself as a follower on many of the blogs that I come across, mostly here on blogspot. (especially now that my list is growing)

But when I click on Follow on someone's blog, it is like my profile is deferred to a Yahoo user profile, not my blogger profile. My picture isn't there - nothing.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who do I think I am?

Well, I had a few reasons to withold my name. But as each day passes, I can't seem to continue to validate those reasons.

It seems that many people I have discussed this with always seem to prefer keeping their weight loss efforts a secret. I read on one of your blogs today of an author planning on a band install and is struggling to explain to their mother what their intent is.

Funny, isn't it? Not to preach here, but I believe that if you are a life-long Fat Bastard you have lost weight on more than one occasion. For myself, I have lost and gained more than 400 pounds in 20 years. I am quite certan that I began each diet by vowing not to tell anyone what I am up to. Why do I do this?

I know what the reason is. If you are (or were) a Fat Bastard, so do you.

You try and justify your vow of silence with a reason like "I'm doing this for me, no one else, so I'll keep it to myself because it is no one else's business.

But in this situation, honesty really sounds like this - "What will they say in a week from now when they see me finishing the fifth slice of an 8-slice large pie with double cheese and sausage? Better keep my mouth shut, just in case."

Then what do we do, after we fail at diet attempt number 104, we find consolation in eating by ourselves. Not just a meal. So much food and at such a fast pace that food doesn't have a taste.

Such is the life of a Fat Bastard.

My name is Jordan, I live in western Pennsylvania. I have a wonderful wife and three children 16, 13 and 11.

Thank you everyone, for reading and leaving comments. Some of your blogs I have not found yet, but please don't be offended, I'm working on it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Taking my ball and going!

Thursday, I committed to another bariatrics office and surgeon.

So, here's the deal. Throughout my months of visiting the dietitian and getting all the tests, the bariatrics office had two surgeons, both of which maintain private practices. Recently, the surgeon I committed with left and went to a larger hospital in larger town about an hour away.

I wanted to go with him then, but I denied myself that because of a battle I have been grappling with. There is only one major provider is in this area that pretty much runs the show. I grew up in South Florida, Miami to the south, Fort Lauderdale to the north. A world's difference in just about every facet of life. When there is more than one provider, competition for my business drives better service. In this neck of the woods - not so much. This region is filled with pocket towns that have one gas station, one diner, one Chinese restaurant, you get the idea. Maybe it is because I didn’t grow up here and don't understand the mindset, but I always seem to feel as though I am bothering the gas station attendant when he has to get up from his stool to run my credit card. The expression "Have a nice day" is rarely said.

So, when I first arrived here I turned my nose up to this area. But I found myself getting too negative. I mean, who the hell am I to tell people to "be nice?" If I am going to be happy here, the round peg and square hole routine is going to have to stop. This mindset is precisely the reason why I did not follow my instinct and go with the first surgeon, who about a month ago left my area hospital to go to the larger hospital about an hour away. I considered staying with him at the smaller, much smaller, hospital, therapeutic to my assimilation effort.

What is the expression about first instincts?

Last Tuesday morning was the last I spoke with the bariatric center where I started, and it was me that called. I can only be told, "We'll call you when we know something" so many times. I mean, wouldn’t it occur to someone that after my surgery has been postponed twice, I might be a bit anxious. I don't want to seem high maintenance, but at least patronize me with a phone call every afternoon and say "The surgeon couldn't call you insurance company yet but he will very soon. Gosh, I know you must be a bundle of nerves."

Already, I see the difference at the larger facility. I called yesterday morning, Thursday. It seems as though the doctor’s files traveled with him. They said they would call me back before Friday afternoon. Maybe I was too negative after my first experiences, but I thought "Sure, I'll call you Monday afternoon and you'll say that you were going to call me last week but you really had not found anything out yet."

Before lunch on the same day, the office manager called me herself. She said that her main responsibility is pre-authorization and the only thing not in my file from the move was my insurance info. So I gave it to her. An hour later, she called again. Mind you, the first office has not called me in four days. the second location, where at this point I had not even committed to yet, has called me twice. Sunshine is starting seep through the clouds.

The good news is, the office manager, not the surgeon, was able to get concrete answers from my insurance company. The bad news is that, yes, my insurance company requires that I attend two post operative support meetings and get a clearance with a cardiologist. The office manager, like the lady at the first location, said that this is the first insurer they knew of to have such a requirement. Then, I had to ask it.

"Had I have initially came to you, is the support meeting requirement something you would have found out ahead of time? The office I have been working through only filed for pre-authorization about 72 hours before my surgery and 10 days into my liquid diet."

Answer- "More than likely we would have caught it, but I can't say for sure. See, we file for pre-authorization before you start your liquid diet, and if your insurance is one that we are not very familiar with, we call them before your first appointment and get a checklist of everything and then review it with you while you are here."

Proactive and transparent. Two qualities I admire. Yes, I am sold.

Now that this post has taken way too long, I'll cut to the chase. I will attend support meetings the first weeks of February and March and then we have a pre-op appointment, two weeks on liquids (again) and then under the knife I go.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is no news good news?

Hard to say.

At this point, my insurance company wants a peer to peer review with my surgeon. On either side, I get answers as firm as bowl of warm of cottage cheese.

From my insurance company, I get very few answers as to what it is they are not satisfied with in my pre-authorization paperwork. Seems to be a different answer every time I call. Customer service is polite, but flimsy. They seem to paint the picture, "Gee, all we want is a call from your surgeon, is that such a problem?"

Apparently, it is. It has been nearly a week and my surgeon has not called. I call both the bariatric office and his private practice (he does general surgery as well). The bariatric office keeps saying that they will call me when he can speak with the insurance company and his private practice seemed annoyed that I am asking questions like "Do you forsee an open 10 minutes on his schedule where he may call?" Remember, it is their office, not the bariatric office, that submits the paperwork to the insurance company.

At this point, I'm starting to see things from the insurance company's standpoint. Yes, a week ago they were the crapbags putting me through this and I certainly don't love their non-transparent ways. But apparently, that is the nature of the insurance business. They are the keeper of the keys and they can't be beaten, so why not play to them? If the Doc would make the call, I would at least know where I stand.

I guess that is why I am so disgusted by the federal government's new health care plan. Personally, I'm a conservative. I believe that competition drives down prices and demands higher quality in any product market. In my opinion, the biggest reason health insurance is so expensive is because only so many companies are allowed to do business in a particular state. As consumers, we can't go to another business when we are not satisfied with the services we are getting.

But, after the 2008 election, I thought "Well, we'll soon see if Canada's or England's plan can work here." Doctors, nurses and everyone in health care will be government employees. Sure, our taxes will double across the board, but the health care debate will be over. Don't get me wrong, I consider this a horrible plan and the complete opposite from allowing competition to work its magic, but at least health care would be available to all. This current plan, does neither except make it illegal to not have health insurance and does little to make it affordable. I don't know from what perspective this seems to be a good fix.

Anyway, I went ahead and started liquid shakes again. It seems so much easier. If I get miserable, I'll eat something. But at this point, it is just so much easier taking that guessing game out of the equation.

Oops, it is getting close to 9 am. I do not blog during working hours, so until next time . . .

Saturday, January 16, 2010

On Hold

Yeah, it happened.

My doctor was in surgery most of the day yesterday and when he was out he could not get a hold of anyone at the insurance company. He hopes to speak with them Monday or Tuesday, depending on that call, the surgery could be the next possible date or may have to wait until I attend two post op support meetings.

Yes, I was most definitely disappointed. I think what sucked the most was working throughout the afternoon yesterday, watching the clock and my cell phone. I knew that the closer 4 pm came and my phone did not ring, the least possible I was going for the install on Monday.

My doctor took me off the protein shakes. He explained that by now, what needed to happen to my liver has happened and so eating low fat foods in sensible qualities and I will be okay, even if the surgery were next Wednesday or Friday. I'm sure I'll still have to be on clear liquids the day before, I think that is pretty standard.

There is a positive side. I have seen one of my strongest overeating triggers in its rawest forms. See, I was in a situation that I couldn't control. I wanted it, I needed it and I crossed every bridge that I had to in order to get it. But now, I can't control it. So, there I was, told to get off protein shakes and what did I want? Well, if I couldn't have my surgery, I wanted a dozen hot wings and a Philly steak hoagie. That, I could control. But yes, reason kicked in, and, you know, for a minute I contemplated staying on the shakes. It would have been safe, but over compensating. The equivalent to mail order nutrisystem or the "you name it diet system." Deemed for failure. In the end, regardless of what I would have consumed last night, I still am not in control over this aspect of my surgery, no matter how frustrating that is.

So what did I eat, I took my sons and my father in law to a local restaurant, had a grilled chicken breast, a ton of vegetables and a cup the best veggie chili I have ever eaten. I actually brought a cup home for a snack this weekend.

Funny, if the core of my insurance issue is post op support, I would love to share the above with the insurance company.

Thank you everyone for your comments, they are of great comfort. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Friday, January 15, 2010

DETOUR ahead?

It is actually painful to type.

It seems as though my insurance company has issued a letter of denial to my surgeon. I went through this before, when I was supposed to have my surgery on Nov. 9. The bariatrics center and I accomplished all the things on the list of that letter for this attempt, but one of the items indicated that I must attend two post-op support meetings. I would have done so but my insurance company never informed of that requirement, despite the fact I called them two or three times and asked if there were any potential problems.

Since November 9 and I found out about the denial, the bariatrics center has not had any post-op meetings, they don't start again until later on this month. They were kind enough to meet with me once more to discuss post-op exercise and also invited me to attend the public information meetings everyone must attend to begin the program, where I was able to meet and ask questions to two lap band patients that have been successful. The bariatrics center documented both meetings and submitted them with the second round of pre-authorization materials.

I spent some time on the phone with customer service from my insurance company, and it seems as though my surgeon must contact their doctor for a "Peer to Peer Review." This all transpired yesterday (Thursday) and my surgery is scheduled for Monday. My surgeon was in the operating room all day yesterday and is returning there again this morning for another procedure. I am told that he will call this afternoon.

What if his morning procedure goes longer than expected? What if all the company doctors he can speak with take the afternoon off? Another northeastern snow storm moves in? His office is invaded by a band of angry termites, the building is evacuated, he remembers he must make the phone call, runs to his car but realizes he left the number on his desk and the extermination team has already begun fumigating with poisonous fumes? OK, the last one leans to the ridiculous side, just a little.

I have been walking around like a child readying for Christmas morning for the past two weeks. How deflating.

However, I am trying to keep things in perspective. After all, my bariatrics center did tell me not to eat any solids, so I suppose there is at least a 50/50 here, right? And although my "Christmas present" may be a little spoiled, in the end, my longevity is really what is at stake. I want to live longer than my parents who both had passed before I was 25 (breast cancer and aneurysm). This is only a tool to achieve weight loss and health, not a cure. So, I have to view this as an obstacle, one that will me stronger for having negotiated it.

However, I must say, my viewpoint was significantly different, as was my demeanor, about 18 hours ago.

Please everyone, hope for me, I need it.

By the Mrs. Amy W., I watched your video last night. Congratulations, I love victory stories.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Calories, calories everywhere . . .

I'll deliver the punch line first. No, I didn't cheat.

But, DAMN!!!!

It started Tuesday night. My daughter is doing homework and has been for the last two hours. She started shortly after dinner, which my wife made, which was a typical frozen bag of pasta, meat and vegetables in a oily, buttery sauce. With three kids, three sports and a high school play to drive to, those meals are sometimes the best available.

So, my daughter, says she is hungry. I was unpacking and hooking up the new TV I got for Channukah/Christmas from a loving wife that knows how much I will enjoy it while being off from work during post op. What kind of father would I be if I allow her to interrupt her homework efforts to prepare something to eat while I'm wrestling with TV cords?

Check the freezer, hmmn, a burger? That would be easy, put it in a pan, continue assembling the 9,000 lb stand where the TV will sit, flip the burger - you get the idea. Perfect, right?

I'm a bit of a hoobbyist chef. I hate cooking the ready to prepare meals, like the one prepped this very night, but I love the labor of food prep. When preparing meats, I'm a medium rare guy. But in my house of 5, I'm the only one. Everyone else , their burgers must resemble the color and consisteny of a hockey puck. When I believe the burger is done, I have to verify there is no pink, so I make a little cut, lift the burger with the spatula and pry the sliver further open with my fingers to verify. It's perfect. I place the patty on the bun and, out of habit, I lift my hand to my mouth to rid my finger tips of the oily burger residue.

Mind you, through the whole cooking process, I smelled the burger as it slowly accepted the salt and pepper I added to it. I listened as it sizzled. And I was a rock of will power, not even tempted.

So here I am with my thumb and forefinger a hair from my mouth. Frozen with fear. I yell some vulgarities and wash my hands with soap and water - twice - just to be sure.

Insult to injury, I food shopped last night!

Thank you to all the commenters, you guys are great.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No disrespect to my new "band" of friends

Hey, everyone. I want to offer my apologies on not posting comments and responding timely. I'm a little new to the blogging world and didn't realize that the e-mail notifications that I have comments waiting for me would go to my SPAM folder. I'm told there is a way to relax the settings on here a bit where comments are uploaded without my having to view them first, which is the way I thought it was from the beginning. As my kids might say "My bad."

On the protein shake front, I'm actually feeling a bit better. Last night, I drank my shake and didn't have a desire for the Jello I've been relying on to fill me up. Strange, I almost feel as if the diet beat me and my body just said "To hell with it, I'm not even going to be hungry anymore."

The issue has been with exercise, which was heavily stressed by the bariatrics office. Within the last 5 months I gradually craeated a 5-day-a-week, one-hour per visit habit. ButI have gone just one tme since starting all liquids. I was on the elliptical for 20 minutes and had less energy than I did when I started 40 pounds ago. I guess that is what you can expect on 600-800 calories a day.

My fear is being back at the drawing board when my suregon clears me to start exercising again. I'll be able to walk on the treadmill without his clearance, but he told me stay off elllipticals and bikes until he says.

Where I could use some help is in getting my protein post surgey for the first one to two weeks that I am on clear liquids. The dietician suggested New Way or Isopure protein supplements. They are not bad, just overly sweet. The New Whey tastes a little like someone did not stir the Kool Aid with enough water. I understand there are a few no flavor whey protein powders, so my thinking I could mix that with some chicken broth. Has anyone tried this?

Again, a big "oops' on the comment thing.

Monday, January 11, 2010

One weekend down, another . . .

With the start of my last work week before my surgery, I have to say that last weekend was not as bad as I thought it would be. Throughout my life, it always seemed that a diet had to start on a Monday, why not live it up until then? Besides there is a wing special going on somewhere. Monday would come, and the diet would start in full force. If the diet lasted through Wednesday night then it showed potential. But then the weekend came. And after 6 months of gorging, I'd be heavier with a six-month old can of Slim Fast.

It got worse with kids. Running too and from sports events and other activities, food is always on the go. Can it be done healthily? Sure. McDonalds sells yogurt and apple slices. The larger mega mall-style gas stations in this region even sell carrot and celery sticks. But the healthiest choices are the least made. And besides, a double quarter pounder tastes too damn good.

But in the last six months, it has been much different. I am much more in tune with my body's wants. Before going on all liquids, my family dined out at least two nights a week. If it was Italian food, it was a grilled chicken salad for me. I would enjoy a slice of pizza after the salad, but was satiated by that one piece and did not end up feeling bloated and needing a nap. A year ago and not in "diet mode" I'd easily eat a half of a pie, take a nap and wake up hungry. Very little protein, no vegetables, no fruit - so the nap was almost a guarantee. Now, I like the way I feel when I'm eating healthy, and I believe this will be why this change will work. I am not dieting, I am changing my methods.

That does not mean I'll never enjoy any of the items that are on the top ten list of foods guaranteed to make you need Rolaids. But they will be few and far between and never in two meals back to back.

But for now, I have six more days of meal replacement shakes, one day of clear liquids and then the big day. I'm feeling good as my body has adjusted to 600-800 calories a day. I am excited about showing up for my "band install." I am looking forward to beginning the new life.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Wow, I have a few followers. It's quite flattering.

It is now Saturday morning, I'm 8 days from surgery and have been on meal replacement shakes for the past 5 days. I have slowly gotten used to it but it hasn't been easy. Hunger came and went, as did bouts with extreme mood issues. You try not to take it out on the ones you love, but emotions can be as much of a bitch to manage as hunger. Yeah, I apologize a lot.

My surgeon and his staff suggests Slim Fast or Carnation Instant Breakfast for meal replacements. Carnation has only 13 grams of protein and really does not hold you off. Slim Fast would work, and I have plenty. I actually have a few cans from the past few "diet" attempts over recent years. You know, the diets that "This time will work." But I found Myoplex Lite at GNC. The taste is a bit more palatable vs. Slim Fast and has 5 more grams of protein. It also thickens quite a bit, making it a little more filling.

I am also allowed sugar free jello, which I haven't really had until last night. I think I'm pretty typical in saying that every attempt to lose weight is normally botched on weekends. It must have something to do with the work week's rigid schedule vs. the loose weekend. Jello will have to see me through.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday a.m.

I have been on meal replacement shakes for three days now. It's strange once your body gets used to it. Day one, I was hungry all day. Day two, a pain here or there, but not too bad, though I was slggish and lethargic. This morning, I had trouble waking up but now I am full of energy, not hungry, and ready for my day. Weird.

The minimal amount of calories is supposed to shrink your liver, making it easier for the surgeon to do what he has to. Which, in the end, I suppose is a good thing for me. The less prying, pulling and shift by him and the less pain I should be in for afterward and the sooner I can get back to work.

I have beeen DVRing a few movies so I can watch them while I'm at home - thinking about what I need to be doing at work.

It's Mr. Fat Bastard to you

You can pick the reason why I am two weeks away from undergoing gastric band surgery.

Love of food? Yes.
A history of failing to moderate any vice-like substance? Sure.
Use of food to accommodate other emotional needs or insecurities? If you insist.

I have always been a fat bastard. The name fits much like Ray Liota’s description of his friends in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. “You know, we always called each other good fellas. Like you said to somebody, you're gonna like this guy. He's all right. He's a good fella.” While in high school, my weight became easier to accept because I played football. If six or seven of us were grazing at a Chinese buffet or chicken wing place, 4,000 calories were easy to justify . . . because we were fat bastards. One guy would steal another guy's chicken wing, and he was a fat bastard. When the wing thief had a handful of fries missing, he'd look up in horror, find a giggling comrade and say "You fat bastard!"

Now, nearing 40 years old and more than 325 pounds, it’s not that funny anymore.

For the past 9 months, I have been going through the surgery process, various medical tests and meeting with a dietitian. I originally started at 361 pounds. I had my pre-op appointment a few days ago, and now I am almost done with the first of two weeks on all liquids and then I'm under the knife.

Generally, the whole process should take 6 months but I had a battle with acid reflux to resolve. I never realized I had a problem, though I sometimes needed an over-the-counter antacid for heartburn, that was when I ate too much, too quick. But, nevertheless, the reflux was picked up during my upper GI test and the surgeon called for an endoscopy to verify there was no damage to esophagus. But, damage there was . . . in the form of ulcers. So after two months on a prescription, the ulcers have healed and now it seems all is clear.

The purpose of this blog is simple. I have taken great comfort in reading about so many other people’s procedures and I feel as though I owe it to the weight loss surgery community to share my story. Maybe my words will be helpful for someone else.

In addition, I am hoping that the phrase said by writer John Dufresne rings true, "We don’t write to be understood, we write to understand." Who knows, maybe an epiphany or two about being a fat bastard will occur.