By Christopher Green
The first time.
Almost fifteen pounds between that 200 lb and me mark. The BMI says I should weigh in at around 170 lbs., but that would leave me with hardly any excess fat.
I had to do something. Dr. Budev told me that they would not consider me a candidate for transplant if my BMI was over 30. I was at 29. It was just six months ago. It is now at 27.1. Still obese, but I am close to being in the normal range.
You see, when I was in the hospital back in 2004; I needed that extra weight to help me through the crisis I fell into. After being admitted with a nasty case of pneumonia, I developed what they call Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
You can check out more information here. Back in 2004, when I was hospitalized, the survival rate was less than 50%.
This pneumonia was so invasive that I do not remember going to the hospital. Every other time I remembered everything. This time, the last thing I remember is lying on the couch, too weak to even make it to the bathroom.
I had gone viral.
Back then, I needed those 40-50 pounds of fat, as one of the medial professionals at the hospital told me, I do not remember which one, to keep me alive. I doubted it back then, but still let it dominate my thinking.
I needed to keep some fat as a storehouse so I wouldn’t die the next time I had to be intubated or have a tube stuffed in me to feed me. And so, I was not that worried about the excess weight. You really should not give someone who LOVES fatty foods and candy carte blanche like that.
And that tube feeding they tried. It failed. Perhaps getting through all that fat to get to my stomach may have been the reason that strategy did nothing more than put a hole in my stomach. (I tell children that it’s a bullet hole.)
An aside here. You may remember me mentioning that I was under so much medication that I was in a semi-comatose state. I remember the tube being inserted and then connected to these bottles of green shit on this shelf next to my bed.
Because I was under the influence of a Morphine and Ativan cocktail, I was convinced I was in Korea and that I was hiding out from the communists and that partisans were keeping me alive by pumping Kimchi into my stomach.
Well, there were drugs involved.
It’s funny, during that time I was in the hospital; it took me a very long time to differentiate between what was an elaborate hallucination and what was really happening. Suffice it to say that I was in Colorado, New York, Columbus, the VA hospital in Cleveland and at a writer’s conference with Paul Newman who was introduced to me by the Sausage King from Shaker Hts.
I was also completely sure that the nurses were stealing my morphine and selling it on the black market in Mexico. I was also dead certain that Drew Carey was the Anti-Christ and that St. Stephan came to talk to me about getting stoned.
I could not talk, so the nurses just came in and talked to me and I could not answer. And that just confused me even more.
It was the 70’s on hyper drive.
Just like the 70’s, it really wasn’t fun at all. But retreating into that world, a world where when I was moved to another room physically I thought I was being transported in a container ship, kept me from focusing on what was really going on.
I do remember a boy with long brown hair watching over me, up in the corner. He had a round metal mouth like the one Woody Allen had in his mouth in the mover Sleeper. He would pop in and out, keeping an eye on me until one day he just wasn’t there. When he left, I was suddenly aware that I was in the hospital.
To this day, I still wonder if that boy was a sign for me, a way to show me that there is that something greater than me is watching over me.
I really digress.
I already mentioned that I went back to my old calendar to see when it was when I last weighed 186 lbs. I was appalled to be reminded that I weighed over 250 lbs during my late 30’s and early 40’s. I was slovenly, gluttonous.
Think about it. I was walking around carrying one of those huge bags of peat moss you see at the Home Depot around with me at all times. No wonder I was having problems breathing.
My poor lungs.
Here is what I look like now.
I think it may have been finding out about the blocked artery and being put on all those heart related drugs that finally made me face reality. Just three short months ago, I weighed over 200 lbs.
It was really a lot simpler than I thought it would be. I stopped eating empty calories. No candy, no pop, no non-alcoholic beer. Of course, I occasionally have a chocolate or potato chip, but for the most part, keep it healthy. A lot of salads, less meat, more veggies and fruits and, probably the most important component, yogurt every morning helped balance my diet.
I have also been exercising. Look for the bullet hole in my stomach.
A few posts ago I was bragging about being able to ride the stationary bike for 20 minutes 4 days in a row. I haven’t been able to break through that 20-minute mark yet, but I am pumping faster and the body is firming up.
It reminds me of when I stopped drinking back in 1984. I was a mess physically and mentally. The AA and going back to school to finish my degree took care of the mental part. Physically, well I embarked on a fitness program and such a strict diet that at one time, I had a 32’ waist and weighed 145 lbs.
I was buff, but I wasn’t happy.
After I met Renee, the girl I dated before I met Laurie, I realized that I was missing large parts of life by denying myself some pleasure. I was miserable.
Renee lived life large and so I embraced that part of her and started to put on the pounds. And of course, after I married Laurie, I started to slip on the exercise as well. I still watched, but not as carefully.
But it wasn’t until 1992, when I was in that car crash that shattered my hip, that I started to balloon.
My appetite was large but I was incapable of exercising. My weight shot right through the 200lb mark and hasn’t come back under, except for a brief time in 2005, until now.
It has been three months under 200.
It has been three months that I have been exercising.
Last night I rode for 20 minutes. The worse my Pulse Ox was at 85/144 at 4.0 liters of oxygen. That means my lungs were processing enough Oxygen to keep me on that bike for 20 minutes without causing my heart to burst out of my chest.
I feel better, I look better and I know that come next Tuesday when I finally take that 6 minute perp walk, I will nail that sucker.
I wonder if that boy with the metal plug in his mouth is still watching over me.