I had to go to the hospital last week because it was discovered that I had - drum roll please - congestive heart failure. Yes, that's right. CHF at 35. You really have to try hard to get this at my age.
It is a big, bad thing to have happen, but I should make it through Turkey Day. Thank God my mom doesn't even know how to use salt in her cooking. This should allow me to participate in my favorite holiday at least one more time.
I am not on the brink of death as of this moment. After three days of pissing in the hospital, a slew of tests and getting me a CPAP machine to correct my sleep apnea, it was deternined that I have no permanent damage so far, but I definitely need to take steps to correct this condition. I am indeed lucky that I still have the opportunity to correct it. I was or am down to 25 percent cardiac efficiency, the average person works at 60 percent. I had about 12 liters of water (20 pounds in all) around my heart, in my lungs and in my legs. I was short of breath for a couple of weeks and had one misdiagnosis of bronchitis before my regular doc took an X-ray and saw that my heart was enlarged.
I did largely bring this on myself by being hugely overweight. However, one of the primary culprits behind my weight gain, diabetes and now CHF is that damn sleep apnea. I had a sleep study several months ago and never got the results until was in the hospital 7 months later with a condition that the CPAP machine could have prevented. Yes, I'm pissed. I was under the impression that nothing was wrong and that if it was, the nurse would call me to tell me and schedule another session. Turns out that in the nearly 7 hours I 'slept' during the test, I actually slept 4. I stopped breathing 4 times. I woke up every 2 minutes. I had a limb movement every 45 seconds and basically got no quality sleep. This has been going on since I was at least 18, which means that everything taken into account, my heart got tired of carrying the weight of four people (8 midgets) and working even harder when I was asleep than when I was awake.
The CPAP machine keeps my throat open at night so I can reverse the massive damage that snoring does to my heart and lungs. This will improve oxygenation and energy. The difference is already astounding. Hopefully this will give me some good nights of sleep, increased energy and the will to exercise so I can drop some serious poundage and become the sex machine I was always meant to be.
What gets me most of all is how much self loathing seems to have played into all of this. Kurt Vonnegut once said that he smoked because he didn't have the guts to kill himself quickly. I guess that is the way I feel about dairy products. I swear if it has the word cheese in it, I'm all over it. Cream cheese, cottage cheese, E-Z Cheese, bleu, brie, cheddar, muenster etc.
Fast food is also my bane. Tacos, burgers, pizza and fries. Egg McMuffins, breakfast burritos and hash browns. My favorite place to eat is the car.
I was never hot on sweets though and that's a good thing. Now I have to give up salt. You'd be surprised how much salt you actually eat. Fast food, canned veggies, canned soup, dill pickles, chips. It's crazy. A can of clam chowder has 1800 mg of sodium in it. That is about half the sodium a healthy person should eat in a day.
When all is said in done, people tell me I've been lucky to get this warning, a red flag as it were. I don't know, I feel fucked. Good and fucked. I'm looking for loopholes in the diet. I'm dreading exercise, but hope the CPAP will give me a new lease. God knows, I need a new lease.
I lost 20 lbs by using www.dietpower.com. It really works, you plug in everything you eat... and it helps you set goals, its a great visual feedback tool... the weight started melting off once i realized how badly i was eating and cut a lot out of my diet. it also allowed me to eat what i "want" as long as i made adjustments here and there for the treats... ie, if i ate a few pieces of chocolate, just eat a bit less pasta and chicken for the evening. eventually i would reject the fatty treats because i preferred to gorge on my dinner instead of eat something skimpy to make up for it.
its hard to start a diet being severely obese because of the size of your stomach... many obese people have very large stomaches from over-eating. so take it slow, do it with slow changes and it wont feel like that big of a deal, and you will be able to STICK with that lifestyle instead of having such drastic changes that you revert to old habits quickly. try to learn to really listen to your body telling you what it likes, and when its actually hungry. exercise helps but you can't work off thousands of calories per day unless you're a serious athlete... and not so good for the olde heart at the time, too :)
p.s. there's a dietpower crack somewhere on astalavista box sk, check it out. its worth the $50 though, really, i recommend the software. what i did was use it for 2 months very faithfully, took note of where my diet weaknesses were, learned the real caloric and fat content of portions of my favorite foods and regular foods and then made mental notes and kept up with my diet mentally... then went back to diet power after a few months when i noticed a plateau and made more adjustments after recording my diet habits.
it really makes you think twice about stuffing your face with Hersheys Special Dark chocolate when you realize 3 large squares have about 280 calories!!!
pardon the rambling, but i just felt like sharing the one thing that finally helped me gain control of my weight after 3-4 years of being mildly overweight and thinking there was nothing short of extreme measures to lose weight. hope your health holds up and that you do commit to changes to help you recover and feel better :) have a great thanksgiving
by candace at November 26, 2003 10:25 PM
Candace, you must be a cow.
by Eviltom at November 26, 2003 11:26 PM
Out of the hospital and straight to the grocery store, huh.
The veggies are in aisle one.
Good luck and good health.
by Bob at November 26, 2003 11:49 PM
Eff, I really hope this all works out for you. The exercise is good in moderation. But use caution: One of my soccer teammates, age 32, had a heart attack after playing 90 grueling minutes of a match. The captain kept telling him to take a break but he refused.
by anna at November 27, 2003 8:00 AM
Diet changes always seem to be the hardest ones to make. Somehow, they really hit us where we live. My friend's mom got depressed when her doctor told her to either stop eating salt altogether, or drop dead from a heart attack. Logically it's an easy choice, but emotionally it seemed like the end of the world to her. Don't fall for the trap, Eff. We want to see you posting here for a good long time, writing your newspaper column, pissing off the normals and doling out justice to the idiotic. And I hope your sleep apnea gets fixed.
by jean at November 27, 2003 6:21 PM
Ok, Buckaroo time to take control of your life.
I know this is hard to hear but eat right and exercise are the answers. Lifestyle change is in order for you. Change your friends, change your diet, and move if you must... as a nurse anesthetist with extensive cardiac background I can tell you from experience it's a merry go round. Fat = many problems.
Fat = high blood pressureas our overweight bodies make miles and miles more capillaries to feed the fat. The higher pressure needed for the heart to put out blood causes our hearts to enlarge and the Pump (left ventricle or the lower left largest heart chamber) . It only enlarges to a certain point then it can't beat right anymore causing the blood to back up into our lungs. VOILA! Congestive heart failure!
Fat causes reflux or "acid indestion" as our big ole bellies impede the digestive process. Acid reflux can lead to the acids being poured into our lungs causing "a chemical asthma"
Fat impedes our breathing causing "sleep apnea" and elevated CO2.
THe list goes on and on.
Lower Blood Pressure.
No more acid reflux.
No more wheezy breathing.
No more sleep apnea.
It's up to you.. a foodaholic much like an alcoholic must fess up and want help.
do it for you...
by tina at November 28, 2003 9:37 AM
I think I am going to l earn to love oatmeal. I never could stomach it before, but since last week I am suddenly into it. a few golden raisins, some Splenda, a little salt free almond butter. not bad.
everything stems from this damn sleep apnea so hopefully getting that cured will help everythingn else out.
by Eff at November 28, 2003 10:33 AM
well, at this point the apnea might be both a cause and a product of the overweight thing, so curing it, inand of itself, is not a cure. but it will help the other stuff like having the energy to walking a lot more, or getting a gym membership.
i was a chubby kid before i got into sports, and my mom also suffers from being overweight. from my own experience and also through watching hers, one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is the initial embarassment of working out, or visibly taking steps to correct the problem. you always think that all eyes are one you, and that you look pathetic because in the beginning you can hardly do any of the stuff that other people around you are doing. but you realize pretty fast that all eyes aren't on you, and once you accept it, you feel more free to do more active things that make you feel better. plus, it's always nice to keep in mind tha changes occur over months, and not days.
also, my diet was always fucked, and led me to being tired a lot, so i've been adjusting it really carefully for as long as i can remember, just so i can feel better. one of the best things i ever cut out: pasta. get rid of that shit entirely. eat more chicken and fish especially. lower the red meat. don't eat so much bread at restaurants. no soda. less beer. no candy.
next thing you know you'll be slinging cock around like a chicken farmer.
by lajo at November 28, 2003 11:33 AM
You, Lajoie, chubby? You did a good job-- you look like you were born skinny in your little picture!
by jean at November 29, 2003 4:19 AM
slinging more cock than a chicken farmer? OK...
Good advice, of course. Pasta and other high carb foods are a good idea to cut out. I overdid the pasta. I should probably cut out white rice too, but I fucking hate brown rice. I am doing my shopping in three aisles these days, produce, frozen produce and meat (unprocessed meat).
Always did lots of chicken and turkey, more for the expense than anything else so I got off of red meat yons ago. Of course, pork gets a bad rap, but its really not that bad. My concern is more about carbs and sodium any way, my cholesterol is good, great in fact. Stick to lean white pork, don't overcook it and it is quite a treat.
oh, and yogurt. Luckily I really like yogurt. And blanched unsalted peanuts. And dried fruit. make my own "trail mix" as it were. and unsalted nut butters from this health store. it's got fat, but the flavor is so dense that one teaspoon and some golden raisins turn a bowl of oatmeal into gourmet cuisine. Oh, and oatmeal.
that's not so bad. there is a world of fresh veggies out there to be discovered. Flavor them with some chicken, go light on the rice and you've got a meal dammit.
by Eff at November 30, 2003 12:03 AM
Eff, sorry to hear of your troubles man. The great thing is that you have a chance to correct it before you do any permanent damage or drop dead from the big one. I grew up a fat kid and have had to battle my weight my entire life. Just a year and a half ago I let myself go and peaked at 255 on a 6'2" frame. All of the height to weight charts I checked said I should be 190 lbs. Personally I think I look and feel my best at about 205 because I'm pretty broad and have a bit of muscle. What I did to lose 40 lbs is to cut my intake at meals down gradually. My problem is that I would eat until I was stuffed and not stop when I was actually full. I had to train my body to find that point. I started by stopping eating when I was 3/4 done with my plate. Then once my stomach had shrunk to accept that then I cut it to half. That approach and going to the gym three to four times a week did me wonders. I did cut out pasta, rice, and trimmed my dairy intake a bit. You're right about another thing; self loathing plays a huge part in all of this. When you get to a certain weight, getting back in shape seems like such an insurmountable task that you convince yourself that you don't care when you really do. That's when you start hating what you've allowed yourself to become and you hide behind an air of nonchalance and denial about it. You basically convince yourself it's ok to be fat when your body is screaming otherwise. Well Eff, good luck with getting back in shape. Take the weight off gradually and once you start seeing results that will be the only motivation you need to keep going. Stick with it until then and it'll get even easier as you go.
by Ezy at November 30, 2003 1:54 PM
If Carnie Wilson and Al Roker were able to lose all that weight through sheer determination, then I bet you'll have no problem.
I've been blessed with this freakishly weird metabolism. As much as I've tried, I've been unable to gain and maintain weight. But, in the last couple months, I'm beginning to notice a bit of a gut, which is exactly what people have told me to watch out for - that certain age where your body starts to change, stop renewing itself, and begin to slowly die. I think I'm there now.
by mg at December 1, 2003 12:49 PM
I believe Carny had her stomach stapled.
by Bob at December 1, 2003 1:58 PM
So did Roker. Which I bet MG knew that. He's a pretty savvy guy. Actually, i've been thinking about getting the old gastric bypass done.Saw a surgeon and everything. I want to wait now and see if the CPAP machine helps. My energy has already increased with less sleep, about 6 hours a night. That might seem like a gyp, but if you consider that my old sleep was USELESS, that means 6 hours is really six extra hours a night. of course, going to the john at 3 am with a hose sticking out of my face looking like an elephant really helps the old self esteem.
by Eff at December 1, 2003 2:53 PM
I heard that gastric bypasses are pretty nasty in and of themselves. The foods you can eat become severely restricted, and it's possible you'll throw up every time you eat something-- seven or eight times a day, every day, for months, maybe years. This was just one case-- a friend's ex-- but it really stuck in my mind. And, although they're popular, it's still a major operation to have.
by jean at December 2, 2003 4:58 AM
by oz at March 7, 2006 7:01 PM
Yes. That's a representation in writing that symbolizes and communicates a meaning. Hence, liyers is in fact a word. Sod spelling.
How did you come up with it though, the spelling? Lie ... lying... take the li from lie, replace with the y from lying, add ers. Liyers! *claps*
by Ex Crimson Guard NCO at March 8, 2006 2:30 PM
Glad to hear DietPower helped you, but we don't appreciate your advertising a crack on your site. I personally worked 19 years to create this software -- 80-hour weeks, in fact -- and don't look kindly on people who think it's OK to steal it.
DietPower founder and CEO
by Terry Dunkle at July 29, 2007 4:26 PM