My story is not unique nor am I...
My story is one of a average person, successful and not in several areas of life... work, friends, faith, family but a slave to food and trapped in the prison of my own body at over 450 pounds.
My world shrank... "Let's go to the movies" a friend might ask and my response was NOT "what movie do you want to see?" MY QUESTION was... oh you know... if you are reading this you may have been here too! My QUESTION was, "what theatre?" WHY?? you probably can guess, right? ARMRESTS... do they go up or not? If they don't, I literally could NOT fit at ALL. Sadly by the time I was over 400 pounds it didn't matter about the armrests because I couldn't make the walk from the car inside and back : ( And how many of us got to the size where we feared restaurants ? And WHY? again, you know.... BOOTHS! Many of us have our embarrassing BOOTH stories and so do I : ( While we are talking about FURNITURE, I am sure many of you have broken your share... as I have... and yes, it's emabarrasing and WORSE the look in peoples eyes... the look of pity or disdain or just plain old DISGUST - I have seen them all. On a side note, for me PITY hurt the most.
How desperately I wanted to be FREE of the grip of FOOD, my master, despite my best efforts and countless attempts. For me, my story does include some "SUCCESS" on two occasions I lost 100 lbs (before surgery) and WOW, it felt great BUT....if you have lost that much and gained it back and more (like an additional 200+ pounds more) you know how miserable you feel... a"special kind of FAILURE"
In 2008 I went to my primary care Doc (hated going to Doc's) because my feet and legs were swelling and I was having trouble breathing and found that i couldn't lay down at night to sleep - but had to "sleep"propped up in a chair. The Doc looked at me - did an EKG and sent me immediately to the emergency room (boy was I surprised) with a note on his prescription pad and instructions to give it to them upon entering. I did this and they didn't even have me sit down in lobby or go to the insurance window etc... the person just picked up a walkie talkie and said " we have a code GHF" then immediately brought me "behind the doors" and two people came around the corner with a bed on wheels and I was whisked away! Again... I was surprised... turns out CHF means "Congestive Heart Failure" and I was hospitalized immediately.
I was in the hospital 3 full days - it turned out I diid not have CHF... but some things did happen. First, they had to wheel me down to an MRI type of device to "see behind/in my heart" BUT when I got to the machine - I was sent back... TOO BIG TOO HEAVY, it "only" went up to 400 lbs. THEN possibly one of the most embarrassing things (still not as bad as public chair break) occurred, the Cardiologist came in and said they would have to have me transported to Baltimore (from DC) where they had a machine big enough at the zoo, used on primates, to see behind my heart OR they could just treat me (painful series of shots in the abdomen ... my choice. AGAIN, there it was in this Doc's eyes... the PITY - how I hate that... I actually felt sorry for HIM. Who wants to tell someone that ? I took the shots. While hospitalized I was diagnosed with full blown diabetes, high blood pressure Lung disease (which was the worst because I was told it's irreversible) high cholesterol, sleep apnea. I was "officially" given 2 years (3 at the outside) to live. I was also given my own oxygen machine (you can see in my pics) which I was connected to when home and a roll away tank for outside of apartment.
You might think all of this would give a person the "motivation' to stop eating so much food, right? Well... maybe since you are on this website, YOU know better. It's not like I Lacked motivation or desire to change - I just "couldn't". So, I get released from the hospital and "my master' the food continued to keep me bound and in service... waking up every day just KNOWING that TODAY will be DIFFERENT and TODAY I will "eat right" only to lay my head on my pillow that night a self hating miserable FAILURE. I was the walking dead... I heard someone say once my food behavior was "SUICIDE ON THE LAYAWAY PLAN" - sad but so true.
So WHAT changed ??? Why did I get surgery and WORK diligently to become the healthy person I am today with ALL diseases reversed?
If hospitalization and a death sentence didn't change me WHAT did ?
When I was 16 years old I fell hopelessly in love with a girl and we dated through high school and into college. In college I became entangled in lifestyle of excess "partying" and as a result she chose to "set me free" rather than try to constantly "compete" for my time and attention which grew increasingly focused on "partying". I was devastated. She went on with life and we did not communicate (not out of bitterness or anger but because it was over). I spent the my life single and told friends and family over the years she was the only one for me - I "blew it" and would forever carry that burden and could not love another.
Decades later out of the blue she contacted me via a letter (amazingly it found me, forwarded from a house I shared with a family many years prior). After some letter exchanges she offered to meet for coffee when she was in town next time. Now, the last time she saw me I was in college, 170 pounds (and had hair LOL) ... she, I discovered, after leaving her initial career with the FBI was now, of all things, in the fitness industry... so obviously super fit and basically still 100 lbs - just like college. Imagine, what I was thinking... I am over 450 lbs and this is THE LOVE OF MY LIFE the central figure of "my story" even during the decades she was absent and she is going to see ME at 450 lbs!!! So, of course i said no we cant meet. She persisted and we met.
The eyes of PITY... I was prepared for her and I was ready to NOT show my hurt, when she looked at me with eyes sad and filled with pity at my 450 pound body... barely able to walk. INSTEAD, She LOOKED at me the FIRST time in all the years and she ONLY SAW LEE... just me... just the person she knew I was... not the BODY I was trapped in. ACCEPTANCE of me, just as I was at that moment in time - a walking death sentence trapped in 450 pound body, a slave to the food and filled with self loathing.
So... NOT FEAR - NOT a DEATH sentence NOT puking up blood regularly NOT Ridicule NOT "bathroom issues" NOT being on an Oxygen machine... NONE of it where ENOUGH to get me to the surgeon to embrace and WORK for a changed life - Freedom. IT WAS THE FEELING OF ACCEPTANCE of being loved as I was... "just as I am" Thats what did it.
I would encourage all of us to look to others with love and ACCEPTANCE in our lives. Loving people through the "stuff" of life is the answer : )
The "rest" of my story you know if you looked at my pics and numbers. I have 20 more pounds and I will have lost 300 - I have no diseases and am the healthiest and happiest I have ever been in life. I have been able to see others close to me that are morbidly obese get surgery and follow my plan and lose100's of pounds and live fuller lives.
HOPE IN YOUR FUTURE IS POWER IN YOUR PRESENT!
PS I married the girl in the story this past Oct and we now live at the Beach in Florida where we both work as Certified Personal Trainers and Heath Coaches changing peoples lives : )
Height: 5 feet 8 inches
Starting Weight: 454 lbs
Weight on Day of Surgery:
Current Weight: 175 lbs
Goal Weight: 154 lbs
Weight Lost: 279 lbs
Surgery Status: Post Surgery
First Dr. Visit: 01/01/1970
Surgery Date: 04/09/2009
Hospital Stay: 2 Days
Surgery Funding: Self Paid
Insurance Outcome: n/a
LJCBF's Bariatric Surgeon
Advanced Weight Loss Solutions
1850-A Town Center Parkway
Reston, Maryland 20190