This is going to be one of the most personal and detailed posts about me that I will probably every write. I value so many of you as my personal friends and not just someone who reads my random writings. I personally know most of the users registered on this site. I’ve shared a meal with most of you at one time or another and am proud to call you all my friends.
Please indulge me a bit as I start at the beginning of this whole ordeal.
Labor Day 2005, I was injured in a stupid fishing accident. A buddy (Dave) and I had flown up to see my little brother in Colorado. We rented a little cabin on the Frying Pan River. I had never been fly fishing but my brother loves it, so I decided “Why the heck not?”
Part of the attire for fly fishing are waders and wading boots. The boots normally have a thick felt sole. The felt soles are what grab the algae covered stones on the bottom of the river and keep you from falling.
One of the things you should do when fly fishing, is to make sure the felts on your waders are good and wet before you step into the river. That would have been really good information to know ahead of time.
As luck would have it, I fell almost immediately. I landed hard on my tailbone striking a small boulder. It hurt like the dickens and I knew it was broken. But tailbones can’t really be repaired by doctors, etc. So I self medicated (in other words, I got a little tipsy with my friend Jack Daniels) and just laid around the cabin nursing my injury for the next few days. The flight home from Colorado to Texas was excruciating.
Once home I went to my family doctor who confirmed that my tailbone was “shattered” (his words) and there wasn’t much he could do but prescribe pain pills.
The next day I had to be in Atlanta for a business meeting. Again, the flight was insanely painful. Upon landing, I was barely able to walk. I called my doctor and he called in a prescription for some stronger medications at the local CVS pharmacy. My client drove me to that pharmacy and when I stepped out of her SUV, I heard several pops in my back and went straight to the ground. I was paralyzed from just above the waist down. The pops I had heard were 6 vertebrae all breaking at once.
I was taken to a local hospital by ambulance and rushed into surgery. The condition was known as Cauda Equina Syndrome which can be a very life threatening situation. My internal organs were beginning to shut down.
The surgeon was adamant that surgery had to be performed immediately. He said we couldn’t wait long enough for my wife to fly from Fort Worth nor even long enough for the hospital priest to get to me in order to administer the Anointing of The Sick. Surgery had to be done right then or he was certain I was going to die. There was no doubt in this man’s mind and I trusted him. I’m glad I did. I believe he saved my life.
Ranae flew into Atlanta while I was in surgery and my client’s parents met her at the airport. Ranae arrived at to the hospital just as the surgery was ending and she was able to speak to the doctor. He told her that the surgery had been a success but when she asked him if I would ever be able to walk again, he simply answered “I don’t know.” I can’t imagine how that had to have made Ranae feel.
I was bound and determined that I would walk and actually took a few steps the very next day despite what we thought was going to be the case.
Over the next several weeks and months, the scar tissue began to develop as a result of the surgery. The scar tissue and a life long spinal issue called Spinal Stenosis that I have had since birth, began to create all sorts of weird neurological issues by literally pinching my spinal cord and the nerve roots around it. I spent the next three years barely able to walk on most days, and totally paralyzed from my neck down on other days. The surgery also left a spinal fluid leak in my mid back. It gives me troubles from time to time, but for the most part the leak isn’t too much of a problem.
It was a hard three years for me, no doubt, but I am here to tell you, it was much harder on my dear wife. I do believe the woman has earned her angel’s wings when she dies, for she surely has spent her time in hell already!
Around the fall of 2007 things were better. Not perfect, but much better. I had began walking with a walker and eventually graduated to a cane. Since that time I have had a few setbacks and still deal with random episodes of paralysis. They aren’t as common as they once were by any means, but they still happen every once in a while. I still walk with a cane occasionally. I try not to, but some days it is the only way I can walk at all.
Sidenote: My wife could tell you horror stories and funny tales about my paralysis events, but I will spare you the details in this article. Suffice it to say, she has seen it all.
As you might imagine, I have had to become much more sedate in my activities since the injury. I used to be very active… canoe trips; boating; fishing; horseback riding; camping; hiking; etc. But most of that has come to a stop out of either physical incapability or fear of injuring my back further (under advice of multiple doctors, physical therapists, etc).
Therein is the problem…. being inactive but still eating the same way I did before has caused me to gain some 65 pounds since my fall, that awful day in 2004.
The issue of weight is where we pick up the story today. But first, a few other things to note, since I am baring my entire history in this blog. I have had a heart condition since birth. I have been on medicine for it since 1985 when I went into the Army. I even had to get a special waiver to enter the Army because of it. I was also diagnosed with a severe liver problem in 2003 called Nonalcholic Steatohepatitis.
My injury and part of why the surgery was deemed as critical, is because my liver was shutting down that night in Atlanta. The injury to my back had also exacerbated the problems with my already problematic liver.
So… here we are. Last week (August 21, 2014) I went to my doctor to refill some medications and just have an overall checkup. She is very concerned about my weight; my liver and my recent diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. My medications are not controlling my blood sugar levels so she did some further tests. The tests indicate that my liver is in real trouble.
UPDATE: I DO NOT HAVE DIABETES. She diagnosed me incorrectly. I went to a endocrinologist (liver and diabetes specialist) and I am NOT diabetic. Check out these two follow up articles… What is that fat man eating? and Fantastic Medical News
The solution? Lose 85 pounds before Christmas or start taking insulin and other drugs to hopefully save the liver. Even if I lose the weight, there is no guarantee it will solve my problems. But it is a good bet and one that I have no choice but to attempt.
On Thursday, August 21, 2014, I tipped the scales (fully clothed) at the doctor’s office at a staggering 315 pounds. Wow! Yes, I’m 6’5″ tall, but still that’s heavy. That’s way over what I should weigh and talk about embarrassing. Geesh.
It’s clearly time to make some changes in my life. I can’t make changes to much of the physical aspects of my life (like canoeing, exercising vigorously like when I was in the military, etc) but I can make changes in what I eat. So this is the time. Other doctors had told me to lose the weight or die early, but it never really resonated with me. This past Thursday… it finally hit home. So here I go.
I figure the only way I am going to do this is to commit to it publicly. I would be a total loser or weak character if I fail at this now, after putting it out there in public like this. That’s my motivation as much as for myself. I will lose this weight. If I don’t, I will most surely leave this planet way before my time and I can’t do that just yet. I still have much more to accomplish.
I am going to use this blog as a place to tell, anyone interested, about my progress, my trials and my frustrations as well as my goals reached. This is it folks… a total public display without any smoke and mirrors. This is the real Vern and by God I am going to do this!!!
On Friday (August 22, 2014) morning I used my own bathroom scales to weigh myself not clothed. I tipped the scales at 309. The clothes and the difference of the scales makes up that 6 pounds so that doesn’t count. 309 is therefore my starting weight. 235 by Christmas is my goal.
My blood sugar on Friday morning was 155. Again on Saturday it was also 155. On Sunday morning it was 148. And this morning (Monday) it was finally in an acceptable range coming in at 125. Anything above 126 is an indication of diabetes.
One of the tests the doctor ran on Thursday was called an A1C. This test measures your average blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. The high is 7% for most people. Mine came in at 8.9% Which was much higher than a year ago when it was just 7.1%.
In addition, my liver enzymes were “off the charts” according to my doctor. I don’t recall the numbers, but they showed, that my “liver is in great stress and peril. Liver failure is a very real possibility.” as she put it. The weight has to come off!!
So… here is the plan of attack. Since Friday (August 22, 2014) I have been using a modified version of the “No Whites” diet. There are numerous “No Whites” diet plans on the internet, etc. But mine was written by my doctors and it is the plan I will be following.
The diet is based on the exclusion of glucose from your diet. Starches, which convert to glucose, are completely excluded. The rules of this diet plan are pretty simple… exclude sugars (or things that convert directly to sugars) from my intake. All grains, wheat, pasta, cakes, candy, potatoes, dried beans, corn, cereals, sweet potatoes, yams, beets and carrots, etc… are all not allowed.
Basically if it’s white (inside or out), I can’t eat it. The exception to the no white rule is for the following items only… cauliflower, onions, garlic, cucumbers, cabbage and squash. These I can eat as much as I want.
I have to be very careful about table condiments such as ketchup and mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, etc. These are all high in sugar and I can’t have them. Some mustards even have high amounts of sugar. I have to steer clear of these things.
I am allowed to eat as much of the following as I want: nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, fresh fruit (except grapes and raisins which convert directly to sugar), bananas, leafy green vegetables including green beans. There is not a limitation on how much of these things I can have. I am also allowed to have as much meat as I want. It cannot however, be pan fried or deep fried, breaded, etc. It can be pan dry fried, grilled, baked, or broiled, but that’s it.
While I am allowed as much as I want from those things listed in the previous paragraph, I am trying to reduce not only the carbs, but also my overall calorie count, so I try to limit my portion sizes. 6 ounces of meet seems about right.
I have also given up diet soft drinks entirely. There are numerous reasons to do this, that my friend Joyce has been on me about, but for me I believe the biggest problem they pose is that they make me crave sugar. Joyce is right though… they are poison so I haven’t had one in two days. I don’t intend to have another.
I have also given up table salt and Ranae is cooking using a fresh foods, not canned crap which is full of sodium. Living 80 miles from the nearest supermarket is going to make this interesting to say the least, but the ol Ford has 367,000 miles and is still going strong so we will be making a trip or two per week to the supermarket. 😉 Yes… I’m a truck snob, by the way.
In addition to the diet, I am also taking a fair number of dietary supplements. Here is what I am taking on a regular basis:
Equate One Daily Men’s Multivitamin – 1 caplet each morning with breakfast
Spring Valley Lutein (25mg) & Zeaxanthin (5mg) – 1 softgel each morning with breakfast
Equate Fiber Therapy (625mg) – 2 caplets with each meal
Spring Valley Fish Oil (1000mg) – 1 softgel with each meal
Spring Valley Cinnamon plus Chromium (1000mg) – 2 capsules with each meal
Spring Valley Bilberry (1000mg) – 1 softgel with each meal
Spring Valley Odorless Garlic (1000mg) – 2 softgels with each meal
Several people have written me expressing how hard this diet appears to be. But almost the same number of people, if not more, have written and complemented Ranae on how well she is preparing my food. So, I will include some of the things I have eaten as this goes on. Ranae is a fantastic cook (the best I know actually) so hopefully her simple menus will help those of you who are looking for ways to follow this diet.
The photos and menu items follow, but as of today (Monday August 25, 2014)… I have lost 7 pounds. I am down to 302. Stay tuned folks… I’m bring back sexy!! LOL
Here are some of the meals I have eaten so far…