How a Kitten, Christmas Lights & a Hospital Visit Keep Me Motivated to Lose Weight - Mercy Medical Center

How a Kitten, Christmas Lights & a Hospital Visit Keep Me Motivated to Lose Weight

Posted on: November 27, 2013

Another week of ups and downs! Let’s start with some stunning successes this week.

I was energized after my continued weight loss last week and really wanted to keep up the momentum! I was feeling a little under the weather and so was my trainer, so I didn’t get to do much working out.

Kitten Keeps My Snacking at Bay

As a result, I spent a little more time in my man cave than normal this week. Normally this leads to gaming, and then that leads to having the urge to snack. I mentioned earlier that my family adopted a kitten we found abandoned. His name is Pumpkin, and until he is old enough for a feline leukemia test, he lives in my game room.

One of the things that he loves to do is attack anything that moves in the playful, predatory way of kittens. The other thing he likes to do is escape the room and try to explore the house. This created an added incentive for me not to be tempted to snack. You see, every time I get up to leave the room, he thinks it’s playtime and shoots out to attack my feet. Then, when I open the door to leave, he tries to run. Of course, I have to catch him and return him. You get the idea; it’s kind of a pain.

What I did to combat this is to make sure I had OPTIFAST products sitting on my table. Then, when I am overwhelmed by the need to eat something, I don’t even have to get up to enjoy an OPTIFAST. An added bonus (or frustration): Pumpkin thinks the OPTIFAST box is a toy. Also, the wrappers are shiny and crinkly, so he bats them out of my hand as soon as I remove the bars.

Weight Loss Means I Can Again Decorate for Christmas

In other excellent news, I have another item to add to my “things I couldn’t do before OPTIFAST” list. My wife loves Christmas and almost everything about it. One of her absolute favorite holiday things is to see copious amounts of Christmas lights.

To give you an idea, we get a live tree every year, usually a Frasier Fir. It always ends up taller than our ceiling, so I have to trim it to just fit. Then I have to light the tree. Per my wife’s specifications, I must start at the trunk and wrap the lights around each branch. When I reach the end of the branch, I loop the wire over on itself and wrap back towards the trunk. Then, I jump the wire to the next branch. It usually takes somewhere between 20 to 25 strands of lights to do a tree in this manner. The effect is stunning, and we always get comments that our tree is spectacular. The task, though, usually leaves me hobbling like a character out of a Tolkien book, covered in sap and with hands that are curved into claw shapes.

Because of the issues with my hands, I wasn’t able to trim the tree in the usual manner last year. I don’t know that I can this year either, but I am going to give it my best shot. So, in addition to missing out on the “proper” tree lighting last year, my wife has missed out on decorating the outside of our house, as well.

You see, at the height of my weight, I was unable to get the house decorated. It was a stamina and mobility issue entirely. I would get so out of breath doing something, I needed a five-minute break almost every five minutes. I couldn’t hold my position on a ladder, or in some cases the ladder was in no position to hold me. Basically, the whole process was laborious.

Thanks to my reduced weight, though, and my increased stamina and health from exercising, I was able to surprise my wife over the weekend! She went out for the day with her family, and I immediately set about my chores for the day. After completing all the regular tasks, I piled the kids in the car and we did a major amount of Christmas decoration shopping. Once I got home, I set up a folding table in the driveway to act as my base of operations. This was exactly how I did things years ago, before I got extra big and heavy.

Armed with old decorations and new purchases, I set about decorating our house. I had three inflatables to assemble. Then, they had to be staked down and positioned. There were tons of extension cords to be run. I had to get two ladders out of the garage. Waterproof plastic containers had to be placed and assembled. Of course, I had to remove lots of old staples with pliers and tack down all the new decorations.

I was outside working for at least three hours. I took one break that lasted three minutes. I felt good. I know I haven’t exactly embraced the idea that exercise is good for me, but I felt…good. I felt strong again. I didn’t know how much I was missing until I got a taste of it again. I had an OPTIFAST bar and water during my break, and while I was working, I didn’t feel hungry at all.

My daughter came out to “help” for a while, and I also found the patience to be a good and loving dad. The few times I attempted to put up lights when I was heavier, it ended in me being extremely cranky to everyone around me. But today, I was powering through the task with energy to spare! My wife’s mother and sister were with my wife on their day out. When they pulled into the driveway to drop her off, I could hear my wife screaming in the car, “Christmas Lights!” My in-laws held their ears. I haven’t seen a smile that big on her face in a long time. I got a big hug and a kiss as a reward, which I can easily admit is better than any food reward I could ever have.

An Unexpected Trip to the Emergency Room

I started the week on a high note after my stunning win with the house decorating over the weekend. I was at work, sitting at my desk, and I started having pain in my chest. I felt some shortness of breath and was a little concerned, but not overly so. Unfortunately when you work with your mother, and she catches wind that you have chest pain, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that you are going to get dragged to the urgent care facility near your workplace.

I was seen right away, and I lost count of the number of sticky pads they adhered to my body from my head to my toes. After connecting wires to all the pads they started monitoring my heart. Then, there was the blood draw. It took three tries to get an IV line in me. I missed my Tina! Tina is the person I see at Mercy Weight Management who does the blood draws on me. She gets it done quickly, painlessly and on the first try every time. I am guessing that the hospital I was at didn’t have a Tina, or if they did she was busy drawing blood from a fat man with a beard somewhere else. Even though it didn’t look like a heart attack, or really anything significant, they wanted to admit me to the hospital.

While I was apologizing to the two ambulance drivers who were going to transport me from urgent care to the hospital proper, they offered some uplifting advice. I was saying that I wish this happened further along in my diet so they didn’t have to lift so much weight. They pointed out that the weight I have lost already helped them out, and that I should keep up the good work.

At the hospital, the sticky pads they use are apparently different from the ones at the urgent care facility. So they stuck some more on me. At this point, all I had eaten that day was an OPTIFAST bar at 9 am. It was now 11:30 pm. I wasn’t even able to drink all my water for the day! I was so hungry that when they scrounged up a leftover box lunch, I ate it. If you are interested, it was a turkey sandwich, a muffin, and a banana.

In the middle of the night I was treated to another blood draw (that’s 4 holes in me now for those keeping track). It didn’t really interrupt my sleep because there was no possible way to sleep. It was warm, the bed made me sweat, and I had an IV in my arm. There was a cacophony of beeps, boops and bleeps going on in the hallway outside my room, and I had enough wires and modules on me to build a spacecraft.

The TV didn’t work quite right, so I was left with using my tablet to watch old episodes of Top Gear on Netflix. I don’t know if that show is funny, or it was just the sleep deprived and unstable state I was in, but I found myself giggling. I’m sure a wired-up fat man giggling hysterically in a hospital bed is terrifying to most people, and if you were there, I apologize.

In the morning, I found out that they wanted to schedule a stress test, which wouldn’t happen until 2 pm that afternoon. So this was my view for the next 5 hours:

Eventually I got through the stress test and found that, thanks to the exercise, it was easier than I expected. My blood pressure still got pretty high, but I think that is just a function of a man my size exerting himself, not necessarily the health of my heart. It seems the doctors agreed because they gave me a clean bill of health.

Hospital Visit Makes Me Want to Lose Weight

What did I take from this? Well, a couple years ago I would have said that I wasn’t concerned about my heart. I would have told you that if something happens, we have excellent medical care in this country. I would have said that modern medicine can work miracles with heart issues. While I may have been right, I can admit that the experience of having to go into the hospital is never a pleasant one. Between all the holes in my arms, my gluttony of Top Gear, and the copious amounts of body hair torn out by the roots and replaced with sticky EKG pad residue…I’d had enough.

I do not want to endure this experience again. I will use it to fuel my weight loss and my workouts. While I got a grade “A” bill of health on my heart, I can’t help but wonder if I would have received the same grade a year or two years ago. I am going to turn this unpleasant experience into a positive.

I gained a little over a pound this week, probably from eating regular food for a day and a half and not being able to take in my usual amount of fluids. Lack of workouts didn’t help either. However, I am not going to get hung up on the small gain. I got a clean bill of health on my heart, which paves the way to push myself even harder at achieving my goals. Even if I can’t see it on the outside, I am making my body healthier and stronger every single day.

Now, if I could just get the kitten to stop attacking my feet when I play video games. I am thinking of tying him up with Christmas lights. My wife couldn’t be mad about that, right?

Read Eric Buwala’s complete blog archive here. Are you ready to join our guest blogger in a weight-loss journey? Mercy Weight Management, located in Canton, Ohio, can help. Contact us for more information. 

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