Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Let's talk about Vaping.

Before I start, I am no expert. I have the ability to research objectively, and gather facts.

Quite frankly I am sick of hearing the propaganda from the media about this new technology. I don't use the word propaganda often, and I tend to stay away from media/news in general.

The first and most important thing everyone should understand is that Vaping does NOT put harmful chemicals into your body. Yes, it is debatable that nicotine is a "harmful chemical" if not used responsibly.

In american made juice there are FOUR ingredients. Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG) are the main 2 ingredients. Then you have flavoring, and SOMETIMES nicotene. 0 nic juice is gaining popularity because aside from the replacement of analogue cigarettes, vaping is also actually fun.

Do you know that Propylene Glycol is used in asthma inhalers? It's also FDA approved. Of course you didn't, because you probably heard they use it in Anti-freeze didn't you? Nope, thats ethylene glycol. The only time PG is used in anti-freeze is for "non-toxic" anti-freeze. They leave that part out in the anti vaping agenda.

Vegetable Glycerin - Also FDA Approved and used in Pharmaceuticals such as cough syrup, elixirs andexpectorants, toothpaste, mouthwashes, skin care products, shaving cream, hair care products, soaps and water-based personal lubricants.

Flavorings- Food grade flavorings found pretty much in everything you eat.

Nicotine. This is a chemical. We know it's a addictive, but it is one of the least dangerous chemicals found in "analogues". Some Juices don't even contain it! The ones that do, contain pharmaceutical grade nicotine

Now, I will grant you this. With the exception of PG and nicotene, little research has been done on the affects of inhaling these ingredients. That is a valid argument.

However, extensive research has been done on the affects of inhaling Analogue cigarettes. The fact is...they kill. There are thousands of chemicals in cigarettes.

So, research before you preach what you hear on the TV.

I am tired of being told that vaping is "bad" for me. I smoke EXTREMELY low nicotine levels. I vape the nicotene equivalent of about 1-2 cigarettes per day. Bear in mind, ITS ONLY THE Nicotine. Not all the other crap.

And, It smells nice, and tastes good. AND i spend MAYBE $10-12 per month on juice.

So, if you see me vaping, please don't try to preach to me. I enjoy it. I would enjoy it with no nicotine, but the fact is, I like it. I can do without it, I'm not addicted. It's a great way to unwind, and it's fun to blow clouds.

It's something to do on a boring car ride. It's fun to do after a big meal because you get the treat of a sweet flavor without actually consuming calories.

Let's get the facts straight.

Again, I'm not expert, and I didn't cite any of the information listed here, because it's all a google search away. It's my blog, and I'm too lazy to cite.

I just wanted to get this out there.


To restaurants, bars, and schools. Vaping is NOT a damn tobacco product. Stop lumping it in as such.

If you don't want me to vape in your establishment I won't out of respect. It's your place. If you don't want me vaping in your car or your house, I won't out of respect.

Just don't lump me in with the smokers. I'm not a smoker!

And to all the vapers, show some damn respect. Don't assume you can vape anywhere you want, and then argue with people about your right to vape in public. It makes the rest of us look like douchebags. Instead try to educate people.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Black Friday Blues!

Bill decided to get brave and get 6 of the craziest men together for a black Friday STL Blues game for his birthday. This is an account with very explicit details of this not-so-forgettable trip.

So, Here is the mob that went.

From left to right. Me, Adam, Wes, John, Bill, Evan

We met up at Adam's house in Paragould, and took 2 cars on the trip. The trip up there was completely uneventful. However, once we arrived at the hotel, it was evident that Evan and Adam had decided to start the party a little bit early.

We checked into our rooms and unpacked etc, Before I could even get unpacked, everyone had regrouped and was in Wesley and Adams room having some drinks and planning our next move. We had decided to go to Maurizio's Pizza. It was about 1ish. On the walk over to the pizza joint, you could tell things still weren't quite right in the area. Humvees and soldiers were placed in some parking lots, and street corners. City Hall was still barricaded off. We stepped into the pizza place and there were 2 uniformed soldiers and us. That's pretty much it. We had some drinks and I gotta say, the pizza was pretty damn good. By the time we left there we all had a pretty good buzz and things were going well. There were some adult conversations had in the establishment and a majority of that time was spent discussing our relative feelings on transsexuals I won't go into details on this, but let's just say that the entire conversation had Bill squirming a little bit in his chair.

As we left there was a homeless amputee. He yelled "Can I get a hand up?" EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US thought he said "Can I get a handjob?" That alone would be funny enough, but while we were all trying to figure out if that's what he really said, Wes was already halfway over there! Keep in mind, at this point he still hadn't figured out what he said and the fact that Wes was already over there was kind of disturbing. Wes told the guy he would not be giving him a handjob to which the homeless guy just laughed and said that was a good one. Wes helped him up, but that didn't stop us from making fun of him for being "upset" when he got over to him. Thus #hobohandjob was invented.

We adjourned back to the hotel bar at which point, I probably ordered more drinks than necessary. We had a fantastic bartender. We got a little rowdy and loud in the bar, but I think we were mostly just busy with drinking. I also sat at the end of the bar, so I didn't participate in much of the group conversation. Mostly it was just me and Adam talking.

This is Calvin the bartender. He always treats the guys well when they stay at the Sheraton.

We spent an hour or so at the bar, and went up to the room to get ready for the game. We got dressed, had a couple more drinks, and set out.

Once at the game, I was feeling a little frisky and bet Adam I could get selfies perfect strangers, just by approaching them and starting a conversation. He said I couldn't get more than 3 or 5, I forgot what we settled on, but before and during the game, it was my mission to get as many as possible. At one point the people behind me were telling another couple to get one with me and tapped me on the shoulder. So, Here are all the selfies I got.

So, right at 2nd period of the game, Adam decides to run off to the bathroom, and gets lost. He couldn't find his way back to the seats, and by the time we decided to go find him we realized that he had decided to give up and just leave the game to find a bar. He sent us a message and asked us to grab his jacket when we leave. I looked over and sure enough...his jacket was still in his seat!

After an inner dialogue with myself on whether or not to go get him, I decided it would be best, since it was cold, he was drunk, and wandering around looking for a bar in downtown St. Louis. As I was getting ready to leave the arena, I was stopped by security, who asked if I was leaving for the night. I explained that I had a friend leave in a drunken rage and I was going to look for him. Now keep in mind, that by this point, I was completely sober. The guys explained that the arena was on lock-down due to a shooting, so if I left, I wouldn't be re-admitted. I accepted it, and walked out and headed to the hotel bar (assuming that's where he went) I waded through police barricades back to the hotel bar. Adam wasn't there.

I messaged him and asked him where he was. He said he was at Maggie's, which is an Irish Pub in downtown. I wasn't sure where it was, so I asked the hotel staff. They told me that it was about a 20 minute walk.

I said yea, screw you Adam. I'm staying at the hotel until the guys are out of the game. I went up to the hotel and had a cup of coffee and watched TV until The other 4 came and picked me up. We got ready to go, and I grabbed Adam's jacket. As soon as we stepped into the hall Adam popped around the corner and was just like "Hey guys!" Everyone cussed him. He grabbed his jacket and the 6 of us trekked on to the pub. I couldn't resist this cuddly guy, so we snapped another picture, and continued our 20 minute walk.

We all sat around at the pub and ate and drank. I ordered a drink, because by this time, I was pretty much sober, and wasn't too interested in drinking anymore. Adam on the other hand....He was a different story. Everyone was ready to go, but he made it very clear that he wasn't leaving until the pitcher of beer was gone. So, Bill and I stayed behind to wait for him.

Adam had a terrible case of the hiccups, so I slid my water over to him and told him to drink some water. He yanked the straw out of my glass and drunkenly asked for the butter knife. Confused as hell, I handed it to him. He proceeds to throw it into the glass of water, and threw the glass back WITH the knife in it and started guzzling. Bill and I were both yelling and asking what the HELL he was doing. "That's a knife, not a straw." Adam responded with "Dude, I do this all the time, it works," He then proceeded to attempt to drink from the knife as if it were a straw. Bill and I almost died laughing. Thus #knifewater was born/

We gathered Adam up and left the pub. There was a fairly attractive girl sitting outside the bar. Adam asked her for a cigarette and sat next to her and began to hit on her. Her boyfriend then came around the corner and was talking about something he couldn't find in the car. I was certain that this guy was going to be pissed. Adam talked to them both and at this point Bill remarked "Well, RJ, at some point you just have to realize that Adam is just going to do what he wants, and he's a big boy, so let's just go."

We left and Bill and I talked and walked back to the hotel and left Adam to his own devices. Needless to say the other guys in the group were a little concerned by the fact that we left one of our own out in the wilds of downtown STL. He eventually made it back to the hotel, and by this point everyone was in bed except Adam and Wes. They proceeded down to the hotel bar, and the party continued for them.

The next morning, Wesley and Adam found blood splatters on both of the beds, and neither one of them could tell us where they came from, so I guess that will just remain a mystery for now.

The drive back was quiet and quick. I had Wes and Adam with me. Lets just say that Adam wasn't feeling his best on the trip home.

I realized that not only am I too old for this, but my stomach just doesn't allow for this type of activity anymore. I did have a blast, but I think I'm partied out for a bit.

Monday, November 24, 2014

BFL's Important Life Lessons

So, lets get off the beaten path for a bit. I'm going back to my blogging roots for this one, and make a satirical entry.

Let's talk about some things that I feel like everyone should know, but probably don't.

These items come from my personal experiences and miserable failures in life. So, have a laugh at my misfortunes, and maybe you can learn from them, because I NEVER DO.

Lesson 1: Dating Sites - BAD BAD Idea.

So, you are lonely. You never get out to meet new people. Maybe you think you are fat and ugly. Maybe you are socially awkward. Maybe all the above applies to you. For whatever reason, you are having a hard time meeting someone. There are lots of dating sites. They are convenient, and you can flirt in the nude, and not be a creep, because you are doing it from home. RIGHT? What's not to love about dating sites? EVERYTHING. PLEASE DON'T.

There are several types of people on dating sites. Let's not be too harsh to judge them, because you might be one, or are considering putting yourself on one, and you are perfectly normal, right? Whatever makes you sleep better tonight.

If you are a woman. Here is what you can expect. (I have heard first hand accounts of these situations from female friends)

PENIS. Lots of Penis. You will receive messages asking if you want to see one, you will get random pictures of them. Just...PENIS.

You will receive countless messages about the size of your breasts. Save yourself time...just put your bra size on your profile. Then, the guys will just go straight to asking you for pictures of them.

I know what you're thinking... "I'll just put on my profile that I'm not interested in pictures of penis, blah blah blah".

WON'T WORK. Know why? I'll tell you. The types of guys that are sending you those messages don't read your profile. EVER. They look at pictures, and message you....Another secret. I'm sorry, but just because a guy sends a picture, or asks for one doesn't mean you are actually attractive. It means they want to see tits. In fact, to be brutally honest...the less attractive you are, the more likely he is going to assume you have self esteem issues, and therefore more likely to give attention to someone that tells you that you are attractive.

Now that we've established that. Let's move on.

MEN: I hope you like kids. Because 90% of the women on there have them. Also, it is important to ask pre-emptive questions if you attempt to message a seemingly attractive normal woman without 8 children.


If the answer to either of these questions are ANYTHING but yes, move on. Take my word for it. I have had women ask me to make down payments for cars, give them rides to work, pick up items and bring them to their homes, etc.

Don't fall into that trap. Of course she is attractive. She knows it, and she's using it to her advantage to get things from horny men. You might get lucky, there's always that. I wonder what she did for the guy that brought her to work yesterday? Or the guy that brought her sonic to work on her lunch break. Things to think about.

There are no normal people on dating sites. I only say that because the ratio of normal to freaks on these sites is incredibly low. There are a few unsuspecting normal people on there. You might get lucky and find them.

HOWEVER, be wary of telltale signs that they are hiding something. Profile pictures at weird angles. Chances are that's the only angle that they look normal in. If it's the same pose/angle over and over again, they are hiding something.

If they have very little information on their profile, they are hiding something. Ask lots of probing questions.

Here are some great questions to ask. I am speaking from experience. Each of these questions have merit. I have seen some things

Are you a prostitute? (see HERE for an example)
Are you a midget?
Do you have all your limbs?
Do you currently suffer from mental illness?
Are you actually a female?
How many times have you been married?
Are you currently married?
Is your ex husband crazy?
Do you have Demon Children?

Keeping ALL this in mind. If you have waded through the cesspool of the dating site and emerged with the unicorn that is a suitable person to date, then congratulations.

If you enjoy the search, and are convinced that none of these could possibly apply to you and you are determined to find your next soulmate on a website. I shed a tear for you.

The only hope you have is a paid site like eHarmony or match.com. People that are paying for the service are much more likely to use it for it's intended purpose.

That's all I have on that. I'll see you guys on PoF and OKC.

Lesson 2: Kidney Stones are real.

You could have one right now. I swear. I'm not kidding. You might not even know it. You will eventually know it if you have one of those sneaky bastards hanging out in your kidney.

I have 1. How do I know? Because I HAD 2. It's a great little story.

I was lying in bed a few weeks ago browsing dating sites (see what I did there? Haaaa) No really, I was browsing Reddit at about 1AM on Sunday morning. I had a weird little cramp in my back, so I kinda rolled over and readjusted, thinking I was just laying funny. It eased a little bit. I quickly got back to pictures of kittens and realized that the pain was coming back. I rolled over again. It felt like a spasm. I hadn't had a back spasm since I weighed like 400lbs, so I thought it odd, but I rolled over and started the cat stretch thingie to keep my back from cramping. It wasn't helping. It was at this point that I decided to get up and walk around. The pain starting to migrate and felt like gas pains.

I went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet waiting to relieve pressure, but nothing came. Except pain. It literally felt like the pain was beginning to swell. I got up and went to the living room. At this point, the pain was intense, but not unbearable. It was at this moment that I felt something might be going on with me. The pain felt different. I had the kids so I kind of non nonchalantly called Mom and told her I might need to go to the ER and need her to come over. I told her I'd call her back if it got worse.

IT DID. Within 10 minutes, the pain was so unbearable I could barely speak, and I was sure that I was dying. I called mom and told her to get there now, I needed to go to the ER. After I hung up with her, I called Dad. I literally could not think straight at this point.

There was no position I could get into that would relieve the pain. All I could do was hyperventilate and roll around in the fetal position. My entire right side absolutely killed. It's a pain I'll not soon forget.

By the time I got to the hospital, I couldn't breathe. I was having a panic attack, and my balls felt like they were in a vise. That's not something they really explain well on any website when describing the symptoms of a stone. Trust me. You will feel it in your balls, and it is unrelenting.

By the time I got into triage, my lips, hands, and feet were numb. The nurse kept telling me to calm down and breathe. I was breathing, but just not properly I guess. My mind was literally in a fog of pain. Then I met my friend Dilaudid. Such a sweet kiss she had. Warmth followed by immediate pain relief. This all took place over the course of about 4 hours, about an hour and a half of that was unbearable pain.

The doctor explained that the stone was about 2mm in size and had just passed through the smallest part of my urinary tract, and I had another stone in the other kidney just waiting to drop. So, I get to do it all again. Maybe next week, maybe next year. NOBODY KNOWS. That little bastard is just sitting there in my kidney collecting particles of whatever and growing.

The Dr. sent me home with pain meds and a strainer to pee in. Also gave me medicine that dilates my urinary tract. He explained I still had to pass the stone and to pee into the strainer until I catch it. I was terrified for 2 days straight. If it hurt that bad passing through my upper tract, I could only imagine the pain it could inflict on my mini me.

One day I decided to literally do nothing but drink water all day, and hold my piss in until I felt like i was going to burst. I finally reached the point, and did my business in the strainer. A strange feeling washed over me as I felt my stream go from squirt gun to super soaker. I looked down when I was finished and saw A SPECK. I do mean....a SPECK in my strainer. I put my strainer in the sink and rinsed it out, and literally thought "that must have fallen off my zipper or something. I picked it up and it felt gritty like a piece of sand or dirt. I snapped a pic and sent it to my Dad to ask if it was the stone. He confirmed it was, and I was in shock. It was tiny and unassuming, and caused the single most painful experience of my life.

And I get to do it again sometime in the unknown future.

Here is the source of all the pain....


OK, so there were only 2 lessons.

Mainly, I'm just tired of typing at this point. Maybe this can be a thing. Whenever terrible things happen, I can post them so you won't make the same mistakes!

I hope you enjoyed!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gastric Sleeve 5 months Post Op

Well Hello again!

Here we are, almost right at 5 months after my surgery. As a reminder, before the pre-op diet I weighed in at 400 lbs. I weighed in this morning at 283 lbs. The weight loss has slowed up quite a bit, but, I haven't been exercising as often as I should.

I'm from 52x30 pants to 42x30. 5xl shirt to 2-3xl.

Loose skin is becoming apparent at this point, and it's starting to bother me a little bit. It's mostly my upper arms, thighs, and pelvic region. It's not enough to cause any discomfort, but it is definitely affecting how my clothes fit. I am working on getting some measurements so I can get some compression garments for my mid region. I'm not so sure about compression boxer briefs. I don't really see those being comfy.

Let's talk about food for those of you looking into this surgery, or you're reading out of curiosity.

Food is still a problem for me. The issue is that I still really love food. I have gotten way better about knowing when to stop ahead of time. However, just like before I had the surgery, it still requires the will and ability to just say "OK, that's enough." and put it down. If you are at home, pack it up and put it in the fridge. If you don't, you will find yourself grazing. TRUST ME ON THIS!

The BEST piece of advice I can possibly give you is to watch your portions. Measure it and only give yourself that much food. Eat it, and wait 10 minutes. If you are still hungry, consider having more. I have a TERRIBLE habit of saying "I'll make X amount, and snack on it throughout the night if it's too much"

I do this knowing damn well that it's too much, and I sit and graze and feel like an asshat for doing it.

Also Pork Rinds and Popcorn. They are your friends. They chew down to nothing, and they are very satisfying for when you feel hungry. Keep in mind that BEFORE you snack you need to drink! When I get hungry, I will make myself drink 16 oz of water first. Then, if I'm hungry I'll look for something to eat.

I'm to the point that I don't miss sodas at all. They aren't worth the pain and discomfort. AT ALL. I have gotten to the point that I simply won't drink them. Not even a sip. I drink water, tea, and 5-hour energy. 5 hour energy is very lightly carbonated, but it's small and causes no discomfort. It also doesn't bother my stomach like coffee does.

I haven't suffered from gout since the week after surgery. Allopurinol is your best friend if you are a gout sufferer. Please take my advice, and start taking this as soon BEFORE the surgery as you possibly can. It takes 3-6 weeks to fully benefit you.

Things are going pretty well for me other than that.

I do plan on giving you guys another blog post about a very interesting experience with passing a kidney stone that I had last month. That's content for another less serious post though.

Please please please, if you are considering this surgery and have any questions, send them to my facebook page, or post in the comments. All comments here are moderated, so if you want to send me your email address, I will make sure not to publish it, and I will contact you personally.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 3, 2014

RJ's Fright Night!

Many of my readers know that I suffer from debilitating social anxiety. So the idea that I could host a party was far from my mind.

I was looking for a Halloween party to attend this year when a friend of mine off offhandedly mentioned "Throw one yourself, and I'll come." We both kind of laughed it off as a joke, but a few days later I realized that if I wanted to do something for Halloween I would have to consider throwing my own party.

This is the first time in probably 4-5 years that I was dressing up for Halloween. Losing the weight meant that I had more costume options. My friend suggested that I throw my own party and she would help decorate and co-host the party for me. The next thing I knew...I had a FB event started, and I was planning a party. The amount of anxiety I had over throwing the party was insurmountable. The number of things that were bouncing around in my head that I needed for the party were driving me insane.

First of all, I had no clue what I was doing, how many people to expect, what sort of things would be entertaining to guests. In short I was over thinking it. Time rolled on, and I had like 6 people RSVP, and I was starting to get pretty upset. Living life as a hermit over the last 3 years meant that I lost a lot of friends. So, I was worried that I would only have a couple people show up. Like, my friend and sisters.

Saturday rolled around...

I made about 8 gallons of PGA Punch, bought some hot dogs and marshmallows, built a fire, and before I knew it, the party was going.

I had about 15-17 people show up, which I thought was perfect. We circled around the bonfire in lawn chairs and just talked. I saw my cousin that I hadn't seen in years. Both my sisters came. A close friend/coworker and his girlfriend. My chiropractor and her husband, and even an ex girlfriend and her new better half.

We all laughed, and enjoyed some good music. Overall, I am thrilled that I decided to do it. I hope to have more parties in the future. If I have more of these, and show up to more parties, maybe in the future I can have bigger and better parties. Here are some pictures from the party that you guys might enjoy.

I hope you had a safe and happy Halloween!

Me and my cousin, Brett

Me and my friend

This is Jennifer and her Roommate Britney (Batman and Robin)

Tracy (Girlfriend of a coworker) as a not so scary vampire

Jennifer, Tiffany (my sister), and Britney

Jen and Tiffany

My two sisters. Brittney and Tiffany

The party was great, and I can't wait to do another one!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bungling Belt holes, Batman!!!

In a desperate attempt at being frugal I have taken to stabbing new holes in my belt. My logic behind this is that, as soon as I buy a new belt, I'll be doing it all over again.

I started at a 52" waist. I spent $150 on new work pants a month ago, and now they are falling off. I just ordered new pants with a 40" waist. That's no longer in Big & Tall territory.

So why, for love of fuzzy puppies is my gut still so huge!? I feel like it's in a state of gelatinous limbo.

I weigh less now than I have in 8 years, but I don't feel like it. Obviously, the clothes are shrinking, but when I look in the mirror, I still see a 400lb guy. It's kind of disheartening, but I'm convinced that it's just in my head. I'm down to 302 lbs

I've been "Spinning" 5 miles 3 days a week. Well, I was. I stopped for no apparent reason now that I think about it. I will start back up tonight. Oh yea, I remember why now. Destiny. The soul sucking console game that literally eats time when you play it. I go home and tell myself that I'll play after I exercise and eat. Then I look at my watch and it's midnight. I haven't eaten or exercised, and it's instant guilt. I need someone to do me like when I was a kid. Hide the Xbox Remote until my exercise and dinner is done. Then I can play games. It's a tragedy that a 31 yr old has so little discipline. I blame being a bachelor for 3 years for my bad habits. (Mainly because it's convenient)

Seriously though. I'll start back tonight.

I'm LOVING this weather. It had me out in the yard cleaning it up all day Saturday. My grandmother actually lent me her front end loader, and I *might* have had a little too much fun on it. Total destruction was at my fingertips, but I controlled it well enough to just get my yard cleaned up. No property was damaged, although I had a close call with my fence.

I still need to take down that swing set in the background. That's Tetanus waiting to happen.

I'm trying to do the diet thing, but even when I do fall off the wagon, I can't eat enough to make a huge difference, but it's a lifestyle thing. I need to get rid of those bad habits. Eventually my stomach will grow a little bit, and I need to use that real estate responsibly.

Believe it or not, the weekend before that, I braved the weekend crowd and took the kids to the park. We actually had a great time. It was a little warm, but it was nice. Something to do besides hide in my house all day. I have definitely seen a difference in myself when it comes to doing stuff. By stuff I mean anything besides sitting on my couch when I'm not working. After I get out and do these things, I feel so much more accomplished, and definitely have higher spirits. Staying in takes it's toll on your emotional health.

Update you soon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Gastric Sleeve 3 month Post op

Everything is still going well for me! I have started walking and spinning 20-30 min per day.

I abandoned the keto diet. I just felt too guilty shoving high fat foods in my mouth. I'm just managing the calories that I put into my body, and keeping them in the 800-1000 range. I am still losing at a steady rate. I am down about 93 lbs total (that includes the pre-op diet)

I am continuing to see a change in my face, but I don't see it in my midsection. It's strange, because I'm losing shirt sized, and people are commenting on it, but I just don't see it. Every now and then I will walk past a mirror and my face will actually surprise me. I think what I see is different than what others see. I decided on a whim this morning to yank down a shirt that I got for christmas like 2 years ago (that didn't fit when i got it), and threw it on, and it was actually a little loose. I guess I have looked like an idiot walking around in shirts that were 2 sized to big. The point I'm trying to get across is DON'T DEPEND ON YOURSELF TO BE YOUR OWN JUDGE of how much weight you have lost. It's bad news!

I have begun to regain my confidence, and I have noticed myself being more social.

I dropped to a 46 in waist last month, and I think I should be in a 42 already, but I'm not spending another $100 on work slacks until I have to. I have noticed a saving on my groceries as well, and I have seen an increase in waste which is bothersome. I still haven't quite gotten the hang of managing my portions on my plate.

My hard lumpy wounds have turned a gross looking purple and soft. The scars are definitely noticeable. I am seeing some loose skin on my arms and sides. not so much in the legs and neck yet.

I don't know that I have experienced any "negative" personality changes. One thing I have noticed is I have been looking back on the past few years and seeing a lot of regret. I feel like I felt miserable and was taking it out on people that didn't deserve it. I used my depression, and misery as an excuse to be selfish. It's a shame, because admittedly I have burned some bridges and left some tears in the wake of RJ's self pity tour.

If you are in the process of considering this surgery, or you are just a reader that is struggling with weight, don't let it define you. Get out and do things. Think of other people, because I promise, you have it better than you think you do. Don't take the people that love you for granted.

Here is a face shot from last month compared to this month.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gastric Sleeve - 2 Months Post Op

What an interesting journey this has been. Ups, downs, cramps, headaches, and stalls.

Here I am, 2 months post op. I weighed in at 325 this morning. That's 75 lbs for those who don't want to do the math. Omeprazole is a necessity. The heartburn can get unbearable at times if I miss my pill.

I got to 335, and was stuck there for almost 3 weeks. It was quite frustrating. I think there are two factors. I wasn't drinking enough water, and I was grazing. I was mistaking my thirst for hunger. Those little snacks add up. It's very important to mentally track what you put in your body, instead of mindlessly eating a mouthful here and there.

I can tolerate milk, but cheese tends to hit me hard. It's nothing terrible, but I get some cramping.

Because of the stall, and the fact, I can eat (almost) a normal diet again, I decided to go back to the Keto Diet. Since doing that, I have dropped about 10 lbs in a week. My snacks (when I do snack) is a few dry roasted peanuts. I am trying to stay away from high fat content meats even though Keto allows it, just because I feel guilty if I know I'm putting a large amount of fat into my body. I mainly just eat protiens. A Lot of eggs, chicken, fish. I'm drinking 64 oz of water a day, but it is a STRUGGLE. It's a matter of constantly being aware that I need to drink water, even when I don't want to. I have a 32 oz water bottle on my desk at work, and I try to have it down the hatch before it's time to go home. That means constantly sipping on the water. See it, sip it...all day. There is one problem. Coffee. I have ONE cup of coffee per day. I have read mixed studies on this. It is definitely a diuretic, which means I have to drink some extra water. I honestly function like a zombie without it though. It also curbs my appetite through lunch.

I have dropped from a 52 in waist to a 46 in waist. I feel lighter on my feet, and I can tell a difference when tackling stairs. However, I am struggling with motivation. I have not been exercising like I should be. The fact is I hate to walk. I have an exercise bike that I will pick up this week and begin to get my exercise in. It's a must, or this won't work like it's meant to.

Things have been hectic. Xander moved to Paragould, which means a little less time with him. I was kind of bummed out by it, but he seems happy, so I can't complain. It's about a 25-30 min to see him, so it will really only affect our weeknight visits.

I am very happy that I finally was able to get this surgery. However, for those of you considering it, that just generally like food. It is going to be a struggle for you. Prepare yourself ahead of time. You will need to break off the relationship you have with yummy high fat foods. Especially when you like to eat it in excess for the sake of the food being delicious. If you eat too much after the surgery, you will regret it. I can promise you that.

Just eat 3-5 small meals a day, but be AWARE of your meals. Don't eat high fat/calorie foods for your meals. You need protein, and calories, but use them wisely. Cheeses, fruits, etc. Don't even THINK about drinking carbonation. I tried A SMALL SIP of diet mountain dew. I was in pain for like 30 minutes. Just DON'T.

I guess you probably want some before and after pics? They are the best way to show you!

This journey is JUST beginning. I cant wait to see where it takes me.

Friday, July 4, 2014

My gastric sleeve experience.

Well, the surgery is over and done with. I decided to tell everyone my experience before, during, and after the surgery. All the gritty details that I can muster.

During the weeks leading up to surgery I was very nervous. I knew people that had this done and they all assured me it was easy, but I didn't want to bomb them with questions every time one popped into my head. So this will be a good entry for those of you that are considering the surgery.

Before I get started, please remember that everyone is different! My experience may be different from yours.

First of all, if you are scared, stop it. They aren't kidding when they say it's not painful. Now that I got that out of the way, let's get started.

For 1-3 weeks leading up the surgery, the surgeon will put you on a diet. Every surgeon has a different diet. Some do all liquids, some do a super low calorie diet with shakes, protein bars, and 1 pre packaged "meal" per day, and rarely, the surgeon may not put you on one at all. This is literally the most miserable part of the entire surgery. I'm serious! It is very important that you follow the diet and don't cheat. The diet helps to shrink your liver and makes the surgery easier. Some surgeons will actually cancel the surgery if you don't stick to the diet! You will only be miserable for about 4 days. Then the diet gets easier.

A couple of weeks before the surgery, they will do a host of tests. Bloodwork, EKG, Endoscopy, Chest X-ray, ETC. If anything comes back as "not ok", then the surgery may be postponed so the other items can be treated. For instance, they found 5 ulcers and H. Pylori in my stomach during the endoscopy. Luckily they didn't postpone the surgery. He just gave me a prevpac, and told me to take them. If you have an abnormal EKG, they will make you see a cardiologist to get a release that you're safe for surgery.

Then, typically a few days before your surgery they will do one more blood test to check your blood type. That's it!

So, I rolled into the hospital at 5:30 AM on 6/23/2014. My mom brought me. I went into a room and changed into a gown, and laid there for about 30 minutes before a nurse came in and started my IV and put an anti nausea patch behind my ear. About 30 minutes later, they wheeled me back to some type of triage. My parents were still able to hang out. The anesthesiologist came in and explained to me what type of meds I'd have and asked a few questions. A few minutes later the Dr. came by and said hi, and checked my chart. Then about 15 agonizingly anxiety filled minutes later, the nurse came and wheeled me into a freezing cold OR. Seriously, it must have been 55 degrees. They moved me onto the OR table and strapped my arms and ankles down. My arms were stretched WAY out to my side. The anesthesiologist told me I was going night night. He put the oxygen mask on me, and I suddenly felt not nervous, and then went to sleep.

I came to, and I couldn't breathe. The anesthesiologist was telling me he needed me to breathe, and I suddenly realized that I still had a tube down my throat. I was trying to gasp for air, but I was panicky, and suddenly, I vomited. He sucked it out with a little wand and pulled the tube out of my throat. I still don't understand what happened there, but it was pretty terrifying.

From there, they wheeled me to recovery, which I have ZERO recollection of. From there, I was in my room. I awoke and saw my entire family in the room with me. At this point, the ONLY pain I felt was a sore throat, and an INSANELY dry mouth. I remember the next hour or so in bits and pieces. I was really stoned. When I finally came to, the nurse was giving me 1/2 teaspoon of crushed ice. That's it! I could have 1/2 teaspoon of crushed ice per hour, and it felt like the Sahara desert in my mouth, and all I could have was crushed ice!

It was shortly after this, that I realized I had a catheter in, and I also had a small amount of pain in my side. When I looked, I saw a drain hose sticking out my tummy that led to a bulb. This drain would be the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE for the next 10 days.

I had a pain pump on the side of my bed that only made me sleepy. I had a small amount of pain from the drainsite, but mostly it was my intense thirst that was bothering me. The nurse came around about bedtime, and checked on me. I explained that I wanted my CPAP, and she said I couldn't have one. This was my first surprise. I asked to see the Dr. He came in and told me NO CPAP for 6 weeks. I was instantly pissed, because I need it to sleep, and I wasn't expecting to not be able to use it. Apparently, it promotes the swallowing of air, therefore, had the chance of ripping my stitches.

They kept coming in to do my vitals and complaining of my oxygen saturation. NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Because I can't breathe without my CPAP. They finally put me on oxygen, and sat me up to sleep. I stayed in the hospital for two nights.

Gas pains came to me on the second day. Not the type of gas pains you think. You see, they inflate your abdomen with air for this surgery. Some of this air gets trapped in your body cavity and causes a lot of pain. Mainly when you breathe in. It was manageable pain though. Kind of like when you are out of breath and you have a catch in your side when you breathe in. That's what it felt like. These can last up to a couple weeks. Mine lasted about 5 days.

When I got home, they brought oxygen supplies to my house, since I couldn't have a CPAP. Here is where things get reallllly crappy.

Fun Fact. IF you have gout, as I do, you will have a flare up. I promise. It's common for post op patients, and I promise, it will be INTENSE. After 2 days at home, my gout flared up in BOTH ANKLES at once. I was absolutely completely immobilized. Here's the worst part. They can't treat it. No anti-inflammatories as they eat your stomach lining, no pills yet, No steroids because they prolong the healing period of the surgery. Nothing except for pain meds. For anyone who doesn't know how painful gout is, a female podiatrist said that it is more painful than when she went into labor. So, don't dismiss me. Gout is no laughing matter.

I felt NO pain other than gout pain for the next week. I couldn't even feel my surgery wounds. So, I'm sure it would have been easy without that issue.

Now let's talk about this drain. It sucks. Not because it hurts. It honestly doesn't. Until you are laying on it and try to roll over, or get up and forget it's attached and let it fall to the end of your hose and yank on the suture. Showers sucked too, you have to hold it in your hand or pocket constantly for a week or more depending on your surgeon.

I finally got the release to take colchicine and percocet for my gout. It is still flared up at this moment, and has made my recovery lengthy because I am unable to walk. It's important to be able to walk after surgery to relieve gas pain and promote drainage. I finally got release on Wednesday to work from home next week, but I am still not even released to drive yet. They don't know it, but I was working from home last week as well. Daddy has to pay the bills.

In 10 days, i have lost 35 lbs. That's right. 35 freaking lbs! I weighed in at 349 yesterday.

I'm not that hungry, I feel good (except the gout). The most important thing I can tell you is to SIP WATER. Constantly. Sip all day to stay hydrated. You will be miserable otherwise.

If you guys have questions, post them here. I'll be blogging my progress as it happens!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Truly Scary Part of Bariatric Surgery

Since I announced the surgery, I have had a lot of people ask me if I'm nervous or excited about the surgery. Obviously, it's a mixture of emotions. While the surgery is a large commitment, I am not really nervous about the procedure itself. Dr. Jones does more of these surgeries than I care to think about, and at this point I'm sure he could perform it with his eyes closed (although, I'm not volunteering for that). The hospital where I am getting the procedure is brand new, and high tech. I don't expect any problems.

However, I am scared of what comes after the surgery. I know what to expect in terms of my body and my health. I know what I need to do to ensure a successful surgery and recovery. What is NOT predictable is how the surgery will change me as a person. What do I mean when I say that? Well, I have known several people that have had bariatric surgery done, and it completely changed them. It transformed them into self entitled monsters. Granted, it doesn't affect everyone this way. I haven't noticed any changes in my family member that has had it done. However, out of the 5 people I know that got it done, only 2 of them have remained similar to their old selves.

Let me tell you story of my (former) best friend. He had a Gastric Bypass done. Before the bypass he was truly my brother. I spent every waking moment of my life with him from age 16 until he moved away to Houston. Amanda and I went and visited him about a year or so after his surgery, and he looked fantastic! My initial thought was how confident he was. I could tell he was happy in his skin. The longer I spent there, the quicker I realized that it wasn't only his confidence. He seemed a little different. He spoke of his friends there in Houston, and they were not the type of people we would normally hang out with. These people weren't good people. They dabbled in things and activities that he would NEVER have participated in before. He explained that he had "come out of his shell". He had the confidence now to meet new people and get out of the house. I dismissed it, because after all, he had always been overweight, and maybe it was time for him to sow his wild oats.

Fast forward to about 5 years in the future. I got a phone call one day from him. He was back in town, and wanted to visit. So, without hesitation I invited him over. We had some drinks, and I offered to let him crash at my place.

To cut a long story short, and because it's a little painful to talk about, it ends like this.

He hacked into my PC, he stole my credit card numbers, and he talked ALL night about people that were out to get him. Like some type of weird paranoid tweaker. He said filthy things about my ex wife, and was incredibly vain. Insisting I feel his arms because he was "ripped", and this went on all night.

I later learned that this surgery can change you. It can transform you into a different person. With confidence comes great risks. Especially if you have lived as a fat guy for most of your life. You get attention that you normally would not get. This can result in pretty nasty personality changes.

I am FAR from perfect. I have some issues with being selfish, and I can be a bit of a cynical asshole. However, I pride myself on my manners, and try to have respect for others. I like me. I like my personality. Moreso before I started suffering with depression. However, I remember how I use to be, and I want to be that way again. I am terrified to let this surgery change me into someone that my friends don't like to be around.

I tell myself that the fact that I even acknowledge that this could be an issue may be a good sign. Being aware of my actions and behavior is the first step of  preventing negative personality changes.

I learned from my psych eval, that as much as I would like to avoid it, Anti-depressants are going to be in my near future. With my past struggle with depression and anxiety, I simply can't afford to take any unnecessary risks.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The wait is over. I'm getting the Gastric Sleeve.

After just over 3 years of trying every angle to get approved for weight loss surgery, it has finally come to fruition.

Since gaining employment at CUSI, I was able to pick up health insurance. Luckily my health insurance covers bariatric surgery if certain criteria are met. Such as BMI over 40, co-morbidities (like sleep apnea, high blood pressure, gout, etc). The coverage is still pretty loose as far as insurance goes, and it is definitely going to be a financial undertaking, but at this point, I think it's completely necessary, and my doctor's agree with me.

My health has been getting progressively worse over the last year. The mini-stroke, the gout, my back. I have unfortunately missed a lot of work over my health, and frankly, I'm sick of it. The financial burden now will pay for itself in due time.

I went to the surgeon last night and signed my consent forms and made my first payment. While they weren't able to give me an actual date of the surgery, they estimated it for early July. I still have to undergo a bevy of tests including an endoscopy, bloodwork, and a very strict 2 week liquid diet (right before the surgery), all of which will need to also be paid for. I left the Dr.'s office last night feeling like a bobble head. A bit overwhelmed. It felt like a whirlwind of facts and dates and things I need to do, and money I need to pay.

Meanwhile, I have work on the back of my mind, because I know that this endoscopy, and bloodwork are going to cost me precious work hours. Hours I need to be able to make ends meet financially. Both leading up to, and after the procedure. Not to mention the amount that I have had to miss due to illness already.

It's times like these that I wish I had someone in my life to lean on a little bit. I don't mean family. I have plenty of family support, but the thought of going through this alone is pretty daunting and depressing. On the other hand, I feel like this would be a lot to ask of any woman that I don't know very well.

I am currently sitting and waiting for a phone call this week that will fill my schedule with dates. All of the procedures and testing leading up to the surgery, and then of course, the surgery itself. Once the surgery is complete, video blogging will commence, since I finally feel I will have something to talk about rather than just ramble on about boring daily occurrences.

I'm not particularly nervous about the surgery itself, even though the consent forms I signed yesterday were scary to say the least. I am more concerned about the next month leading up the surgery and making sure there are no snags. I am already invested at this point and would like for this to go well. Hopefully no unexpected costs or medical surprises.

I am very lucky and thankful to have the understanding family and employer that I have, and I can't wait to start this new chapter of my life.

Friday, April 4, 2014

My initial impression of ketosis.

I started the Keto diet on Monday as many of you know.
Monday and Tuesday were just kinda meh, nothing special. I didn't feel like crap, but . didn't feel great either.

Wednesday morning I woke up with a terrible metal/tin taste in my mouth. I also experienced something I never experience. Energy, and hunger. I am always dog tired in the mornings, and I am never hungry. So I whipped up some eggs and sausage and within minutes, I felt like I was shot out of a cannon. Crazy energy levels, great mood all day, lowered cravings. I upped my water intake just in case. I started drinking just over 1 gallon of water per day. I have read that keeping hydrated is a great way to stave off the "Keto Flu".

I rode this high all through the day and all day Thursday. I tested my ketone levels with a keto test strip last night, and my assumption was correct. I am in ketosis.

However, I woke up this morning feel like I have been hit by a truck. I am guessing this is the part where I fell like crap for a week or so. I was really hoping that I avoided this phase since I felt so great Wed and Thur.

My scale will be in early next week. I had to order a livestock scale. I kid....I did have to order a heavy duty scale.

I will post the weight next week. In the meantime to look at my food diary on myfitnesspal.

I am going to *TRY* to cut back on sodium. However, I have read that you don't really have to worry too much about sodium on the keto diet, but I don't like seeing 4000mg of sodium on my diary.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Keto Diet: Day One

Day one went pretty well, but I am already seeing that carbs are sneaky little bastards. They creep into the most innocuous places. I managed to stay under 50 carbs yesterday, but the spaghetti sauce in the keto friendly stuffed peppers I made killed me.

Of course, now that I think about it, it makes sense. Spaghetti sauce is kinda sweet.

I have found that I can have a cup of black coffee with heavy cream instead of breakfast. It gives me the caffeine I need, and curbs my appetite until lunchtime. If I get hungry in the morning, I'll eat a 1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts to hold me over, but so far, so good.

I came down with a head cold, so I am hoping I can kick it in the ass before "Keto Flu" kicks in, or I will be miserable.

The Food diary is up and going, and can be viewed by clicking the Bacon Heart on the right over there.

If you are a member of myfitnesspal.com feel free to add me!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Back to the Drawing Board...

So, a big blow to the morale!

Back in January I got call from Michael at AR Rehab congratulating me for being approved for the Gastric Sleeve through a state program that would pay for my surgery. This came after 2 years of work. Doctors appts, food journals, sleep studies, psych evals, and much much more.

He explained that funds would be available in March, and that I should call him back then to discuss it further. I waited until about the middle of the month to call him, and tried for over a week. He was either out of the office "temporarily" or on the other line, or a myriad of other excuses. Finally last week I received a call back from him and he left me this voicemail. (The name was distorted on purpose)

I was left scratching my head after this voicemail, because it was pretty unclear. "Is he saying that they aren't going to pay for it?" I was unhappy with the voicemail, and so I called him up. I could tell by his tone he was immediately on the defense. I asked him to elaborate what the VM meant.

Michael: "You listened to it didn't you? I said everything in the voicemail"

Me: "Well, yea, but what does it mean that you are re-evaluating spending? Are you saying you are cutting the program."

Michael: "Look Ronnie, I could have just told you no back in January, but I went to bat for you. You are being ungrateful"

Me: "No Sir, I was very grateful when you told me I was approved. I told my entire family, I blogged it, and I have been expecting this surgery ever since. I would have rather you told me no in January than to congratulate me on something that wasn't a done deal."

Michael: "I feel like you are being rude."

Me: "I feel like you lied to me, and my whole family."

Michael: "I can see that this conversation isn't going anywhere, so I am going to let you go and get back to work."

That was all she wrote. I stared at my phone for a minute. I literally felt like I was punched in the gut. My next call was to Blue Cross Blue Shield. I would have to be out of pocket 4 Grand, but I was confident that I would have support to help me get the surgery. I explained that I had a packet put together already with everything they would need to approve me. Doctor's notes, medical records, (about 60 pages of information). The rep said that they would not be able to accept that from me, but instead would have to receive it from each perspective doctor. I explained that it took over 2 years and thousands of dollars to gather this information and I can't afford to go back to the doctors and get the same paperwork I already had. They insisted....

So here I am, back at square one. 400 lbs, and no closer to surgery than I was 2 years ago. So unless I squat and lay a dozen golden eggs, and shell up $16k, I'm starting over. However, I am not going to be stagnant while waiting for this to come together (if it ever does)

The fact is, ever since I learned I was getting the surgery I have let myself go. Red Bulls, fast food, alcohol. All because I thought, what the hell, I'm getting the surgery in 2 months anyhow. NOPE NOPE AND NOPE. I immediately regret that.

Starting tomorrow, I am going to give the Keto Diet a shot. A real shot. It is a little controversial and defies common knowledge of how diets work, but I have seen a lot of success stories revolving around this diet. And, it's gaining popularity among medical community. However, it is expensive. Let face it. Meat, Cheese, and fresh veggies are high. My health is more important though and I need to make sacrifices elsewhere so I can afford it.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Keto Diet, here are some references for you to look at.

Reddit /r/Keto FAQ
Scientific American Article
Obligatory Wikipedia Link

I am also going to start my food diary again. I'll post a link somewhere on the side bar. If I'm grumpy over the next couple of weeks, I apologize in advance. The first 2-3 of the keto diet are pretty miserable.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On the Road

So, I had the opportunity to get out of the state this week for an on-site training in Kansas....

I gotta say, it's nice to be out of the house. Unfortunately, I normally can't find the extra funds for these kinds of trips on my own. So work trips give me a sort of vacation from home. Although, I have to work through the day, I feel it's more than worth it.

I really love Jonesboro, but this is the 2nd time in two months that I have been in the Kansas City Area for work, and I gotta say, it's a great area. There is some decent landscape, and KC is super nice.

Bill invited me to a St. Louis Blues game this weekend as well. I am still considering taking the trip as it will be mostly paid for. Getting out of the house really makes me feel better. Especially, suffering from depression, it's a great thing for you to get out and do something rather than sit at home and watch netflix.

Work is still going very well, and I plan on redesigning the website this weekend. Check back here for Kansas updates through Thur.

For now, I am going to soak in the hot tub.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My blog needs a facelift.

So, I have had this site layout for about 4 years now. I think it's about time to redesign.

I'm looking for ideas on what my readers would like to see, I am also looking for an artist to create a new banner!

Comment, and let me know your ideas.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

It's official. My life is going to change

So, after 2 years of information gathering, and doctors appointments, I finally got the call a couple of days ago that my surgery has been approved and will be 100% paid for. The only caveat is that the funds may not be available until the 2nd quarter of the year (At the latest), but will likely be in March.

After talking with the surgeon and looking over my options I have decided to go with the Sleeve Gastrectomy. It has a very high success rate. While it isn't quite as effective as Gastric Bypass, it is much much safer, with less complications and side affects.

Here is a quick video of the surgery I will be receiving.

The surgeon expect that I will lose around 200lbs, but it will require a change in lifestyle. I feel like it wont be an issue for me to get up and be active once I am able to do things without hip and back pain.

I will continue to blog during the journey the months before and after the procedure, and will of course update with pictures. This will be a life changing procedure for me since I have spent the majority of my life overweight.

I cannot wait to see what kinds of opportunities this will afford me.