My beloved spent three days in the hospital, last week. I was with him both nights and most of the rest of the time, too, and, strangely, we really enjoyed our time there. He's a very private person, and I almost fell off the side of my cot when he suggested I write down what happened: figured I'd better hurry up and do so before he changes his mind. I have a feeling you'll be hearing about this from my perspective, too, but, for now, here's Jim:
B: What can you say about your struggle with weight?
J: It sucks. It's like having five extra fingers on each hand: the weight's always in the way. It's like a disability no one wants to talk about. I myself don't want to talk about it, but it's in my thoughts constantly. It affects every aspect of my life.
B: And your struggle has been lifelong?
J: Oh, yeah. I've dealt with it better, at certain times, but I've always dealt with it.
B: When have you dealt with it better?
J: I weighed around 375 pounds going into the spring of 1994 but lost about 125 pounds because I wanted to play [foot]ball at Maryville College. I ate once a day and worked out once or twice a day.
B: That fall is when we met and dated the first time.
B: I thought you looked really good.
J: I gained the weight back. I was back up to 350 pounds by the time we graduated in 1996. I was up to 400 pounds by 1999. My dad got sick and died; I broke my leg; and I lost my job. While I was living at home, in my mom's care, I lost well over a hundred pounds. I got a new job, moved to Nashville, and lost even more weight. I was down to about 265 pounds in September of 2000. Again, I was eating once a day, walking, and lifting. Over time and through various circumstances [work, moves, relationships, etc.], I gained the weight back. I was at my highest weight, 570 pounds, when--in September of 2006--I fell on a ramp on the second day of a seven-day cruise. I ruptured a quad tendon, required surgery, and was in a wheelchair for six months. I lost about 130 pounds, which brings us to the point of our getting back together [Easter 2007]. My lowest weight, since we've been married, has been about 380 pounds.
B: Now you weigh about 480 pounds. But you have hope of losing weight, now, and keeping it off. And why is that?
J: Well, I had gastric bypass surgery on Wednesday. It's not a magic pill; I mean, I have to follow the rules in terms of eating what I'm supposed to eat, drinking the water I'm supposed to drink, taking the pills I'm supposed to take, and finding ways--other than eating--to deal with stress.
B: Why did you wait so long to have surgery?
J: I don't think my insurance has ever covered it before, for one thing, and I had to overcome the fear of surgery I had after the knee surgery in 2006. Now that I have a wife, children, and other responsibilities, I want to be here.
B: There are several different weight-loss-surgery options. Why did you choose gastric bypass, specifically?
J: It's the most routine, effective, and successful of weight-loss surgeries. It works in two ways: by restricting how much one eats, also how much gets absorbed after it's been eaten. It also curbs hunger, in most cases, for at least six months. I'm tired of being hungry.
B: What would you like to say about the surgery?
J: The worst part was waiting an entire year to meet all the requirements for surgery. The surgery itself was better than I ever expected. Starting the night before, I wasn't anxious at all. When I did get anxious--after I'd been separated from you, while I was in pre-op--an anesthesiologist named Jay calmed me down. Another person found a vein in my hand for IV, which was a relief because--after 11 sticks in 2006--my surgery was rescheduled for a later date. I got a PICC line on that later date, which I wore for the nearly 3 weeks I was in the hospital. The first thing I remember seeing after this surgery, my gastric bypass, is you. And Pastor David.
B: And your pain level?
J: I had no pain the first day and didn't even feel like I'd had surgery. After that, I felt some pain in my side, but never more than a 1 or 2 on a scale of 1-10. I'm not taking any pain medicine, today.
B: You're on a liquid diet, right now.
J: Yeah, and everything's going down and coming out ok. No vomiting, yet. I'm getting around great; we went shopping, yesterday, and we went to church, today.
B: So, for a year, you haven't wanted me to write about this at all.
J: I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want people to know about it. I didn't want people to know I had to resort to this.
B: What made you change your mind?
J: (laugh) Well, it's done. People are going to figure it out, eventually; I mean, my nurse thinks I'll lose 100 pounds by the time our baby gets here in three months. But, also, I want to praise God. This has been a wonderful experience, so far. I know people have been praying for us. I could really tell in the hospital because you weren't all crazy. You can get pretty crazy.
B: I love you.
J: I love you, too.