Saturday, February 28, 2009

and ... More Drugs

I suggested that we ought to put the lists of medications up here so that, when we come out on the other side of all of this, we will be able to see where we started from. The number of prescription and over the counter medications that are in use in our household is pretty amazing, and I really do expect that our "lists" will get significantly shorter over the next few months.

Here is the list of daily medications that Master is currently taking (those that hopefully will be discontinued as weight loss occurs are listed in red):

Over the counter supplements and medications--
  • daily multiple vitamin
  • aspirin (81 mg/ once daily) for heart health
  • glucosamine (1500 mg/twice daily) for joint health
  • chromium (200 mcg/once daily) to increase glucose tolerance
  • CoQ-10 (50 mg/twice daily) for heart health
  • Saw Palmetto (540 mg/once daily) for prostate health
  • D3 and K2 (1000 IU/once daily) for bone support
  • MagOx (400 mg)/once daily for acid indigestion
  • Zyrtec for allergies related to Bi-PAP use
Prescription medications--
  • actos (30 mg/once daily) diabetes
  • janumet (50 mg/1000 mg/twice daily) diabetes
  • ultram (100 mg/twice daily) arthritis pain
  • celebrex (200 mg/twice daily) arthritis pain
  • zetia (10 mg/ once daily) cholesterol
  • welchol (625 mg/ 6 times daily) cholesterol
  • vesicare (5mg/once daily) prostate health
  • lovaza (1 gm/once daily) chloesterol
  • gabapentin (100 mg/three times daily) meuralgia nerve pain
  • diovan hct (320 /25 mg once daily) high blood pressure
  • furosemide (40 mg/ twice daily) edema
  • potassium cl (10MEQ / twice daily) required with furosemide
  • protonix (40 mg / once daily) GERD
  • folbic (once daily) diabetic neuropathy
  • flonase (once daily) allergies related to use of Bi-PAP
  • Androgel (once daily) hormone replacement
  • Lidoderm patch (once daily) meuralgia nerve pain
That is a significant list; a lot to manage; a huge cost (thank goodness for good health insurance); and an ongoing, daily part of our daily lives. Reducing that list will result in an enormous improvement in the quality of our lives (on many fronts). We really do expect that, in time, we'll eliminate the Bi-PAP, the diabetes medications and testing equipment, the GERD, the high blood pressure and the high cholesterol. Life should get remarkably much simpler.



Now that I have your attention.....

We have been talking about the number of drugs we take presently and what our future drug list MIGHT look like...

I am presently taking:

Norvasc 10mg 1xdaily for High Blood Pressure
Hyzaar 100-25 1xdaily for High Blood Pressure
Zocor 20mg 1xdaily for High Cholesterol
Levothyroxine 150mcg 1xdaily for an under-active thyroid
Metformin 500mg 2xdaily (1 in AM and 2 in PM) for Diabetes
Januvia 100mg 1xdaily for Diabetes
Lovaza 1gr 1xdaily for High Cholesterol (this is a prescription fish oil)
Celebrex 200mg 1xdaily for Arthritis
Ultram ER 100mg 1xdaily for Arthritis
Darvocet 100-650 as needed for Knee Pain
Doxycycline 50mg 1 every other day for Map-Dot-Fingerprint Dystrophy (eye condition)
Amerge 2.5mg as needed for Migraines
Assorted Tylenol, Aleve, Ibuprofen for general aches and pains -- several daily
Multi-vitamin (when I remember it) 1 daily

I take a butt-load of crap, but Tom takes more (and will be posted later). I expect to lose/reduce the Metformin, Januvia, Celebrex, Zocor, Norvasc, Hyzaar, Darvocet, Amerge, Doxycycline, assorted over-the-counter pain meds.

I will need to take for the rest of my life Centrum Silver chewable, a Calcium Citrate chewable, B-12, Actigal (to prevent gall stones).

I need to remove all carbonated, caffeinated, sugary (already done) beverages from my life. I will need to drink 48-64 ounces of liquid daily to maintain good hydration. I will need to consume 60-80 grams of protein daily in 5-6 small (less than a third of a cup) meals without liquid immediately before, during and immediately after. All meats, when reintroduced to my diet, will need to be extremely lean & finely chopped and chewed FOREVER before swallowing.

I look forward to the loss of the medications. I am mourning the loss of my beloved Diet Mountain Dew for my morning drives to work....but consider it a small price to pay for the new and improved ME!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm Freaked Out

I'm going to be open here. I'm always encouraging swan to use our Blog(s) as a vehicle to do the sharing she might do if we had a circle of real time friends with whom she might confide. I am going to do the same thing. I'm afraid. I'm really scared about this surgery.

When we got the word Monday that we were both approved by our health insurance company for the procedure, and we were actually scheduled exactly four weeks to the day from that date, t seemed to feel excited and glad. I felt abject panic. I didn't sleep a lot that night or the next.

Now I know in my head that this is a very good move. I know the many huge health improvements that will result. I know how wonderful it will be to lose all this weight, to take the load off my severely arthritic knees, my hips, and my seriously deteriorated spine. I know I hate how I look and feel and that will improve in huge ways. I know we will be able to get out and about way more than we do now. Most importantly I know this means that I will have many more years with my two spice and that quite frankly the number of those years I will have, without this surgery are likely to be seriously numbered. So right up front I want to assert that I know this is absolutely necessary, and a good thing, otherwise I/we wouldn't be doing it. We have the best surgeon in the area and will be supported by an excellent and experienced multi disciplinary (if only they knew how funny that sounds within the context of our lives:)team. I want to express all this so that you know that I am doing this all very strategically, intentionally, and consensually.

All that having been said, I am absolutely frightened. Three weeks from Monday they are going to cut out 90% of my stomach and reconnect what is left to my g. i. tract so that it will be inefficient at absorbing nutrients. Two hours later they are going to do the same thing to t. She has had such huge health problems and so many previous abdominal surgeries that they may have to modify her surgery to a gastric sleeve and not the same bypass I'll have. These surgeries have a 1% mortality rate. Our surgeon has done literally several hundred of these with a much better rate than this, but people do die from this. t has had so much trouble I fear losing her through this. Of course too, I worry about me too. Much more than this though I fear the future without being able to eat normally. Last night I had a committee meeting in a Panera. I ate more baguette bread than usual. I know that when we meet again I will already be in a liquid protein diet and will not be able to eat. I know too that I have been told that in all likelihood bread will disagree with me. I won't be able to eat bread the rest of my life (except small amounts of toast.) There will be no more Thanksgiving dinners as we have known them (well there can be...I just won't be able to eat them.) In a week or so when we enter our liquid protein diet there will be no alcohol. There will be none for at least 6 months to a year after the surgery, and then if I can tolerate it at all it will be in only minuscule amounts. I love good wine with dinner. I won't be able to drink wine with my food. Hell, I won't be able to drink anything, alcoholic or not, for 15 minutes before, during, or 15 minutes after I eat. How do you eat without any beverage? I could go on and on about the seeming incomprehensible sacrifices to lifestyle this will entail and which leave me feeling grief ridden and just plain terrorized.

Then there is the timing. My 90 year old father is not well. He has just started dialysis. We are frequently called upon to support him. We will be unable to do that for a month or so. My agency's development director has just moved to a wonderful new job opportunity and we need to deal with replacing him. We have just been notified that our longest term funder is going to end their funding relationship with us after 50 years next January. And, of course, like everyone else our investment reserve has lost 50% of its value over the last year. This is a really not good time for the agency's Executive Director to be out of action for a few weeks.

Now let me say again. I need this to survive. I am an extremely tough and determined man. Once this is done I will find a way to make this work and to excel at having a positive outcome for me and will support t to have the best outcome possible for her life. I know that through all this we will be loved and supported by swan. But I am scared, and likely being a melodramatic wimp, but I am truly wigged out. I am managing to function. Thank god for my work that forces me to function because so many depend on me. Thank god for the love and support of my two who know how I feel and who are doing so much to support me as well all work to support each other. All three of us have our fear and catastrophic fantasies as we approach this. Every other time we have had a surgery it has been one of us and the other two have waited together for it to be over and to learn the outcome. I am scared for poor sue who will have to wait alone while the two of us are operated on. I am scared for her too, having to care for both of us after we get home.

What if they should release one of us to come home before the other? I am likely making myself nuts, but I don't know how to stop.

I have a Board meeting tonight and the agency has crises and I have to be leader. Thank god that will fill my mind and make diverting any energy to this impossible once I begin work through this evening.

OK I have this out there. I am not being very brave about this. I want to cry.


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

P. S. I'm moving in that direction, but I can't say that it is necessarily confidently.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

World's Greatest Banker

We have the world's greatest banker. Seriously!

The bank we use for our personal accounts also handles the deposits and accounts for Master's agency. The manager at our local branch has proved to be and excellent and very professional banker, but has also demonstrated what it means to be a human being of remarkable integrity and decency. He routinely goes over and above what might be expected of him in his professional role, and reaches out in ways that are just stunning.

Yesterday, Master was telling him about the impending surgeries and H said, "With both of you having surgery, you will be laid up and not able to get out to do the banking you might need to do. Just call me; there are some young men at the branch who are only too glad to get away for a bit and they would be happy to make a house call and pick up whatever you need taken care of. Or... I'd like to visit you after your surgery, I'll come and take care of it myself."

Wow! Just wow!


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dates with Doctors

We've got dates. Dates on top of dates. Nothing romantic about any of it -- nothing like that. We've got appointments scheduled (with doctors and nurses and nutrition specialists and counselors) all over town for pre-surgical this and that's until it feels like there is not going to be anything accomplished in the next month except visit with nurses, doctors, and nutritionists.

Here's the latest update in an email from T, so you can get a feel for the craziness that has set in here --

"Just got a call from the elusive "V" at Dr. K's office. She wanted to make sure we REALLY wanted to have the surgery on the same day. And I told her "YES". I asked her if it was scheduled and if so, when. It is on Mon. 3/23. We both need to arrive at 5am and will be his First and Second case of the day.

They will give is a packet on 3/2 that will have included the form to have the PCP office exam (for them to fill out and fax back to Dr. K's).

I have called Dr. N's office to schedule the pre-surgical exam -- R has us down for 3/19 with S at 8:30am & 9:15am -- If possible, I would like the 8:30 so I don't have to use too much PTO that week). We need to be fasting and to take the exam form from Dr. K with us.

We will need to go to the hospital and have pre-surgical tests the week before surgery. We will get the info about that from Dr. K's office or a call from the Hospital. (I will just have to do PTO for this appointment, unless they schedule it for Fri 3/20)

I think that is all for this update. Stay tuned for further announcements!"

Somebody keep that calendar up to date -- please!

Oh and while we're making preparations -- we've got a freezer full of meat that has to be consumed before the liquid diet phase begins on 3/9. Barbecue anyone?



Monday, February 23, 2009

And so it begins....

Today, we received our calls. Both of us have been approved for By-Pass surgery. I have requested the packet to get LOA payments and the Insurance company is sending thru' all necessary approvals. We have our "Visit before surgery" scheduled for Mon. Mar. 2nd, where we will learn about the EXTREMELY restrictive diet that goes into effect 2 weeks prior to our surgery date of March 23rd.

Tom keeps saying that today, Feb. 23rd is 2 months before his 60th birthday and our surgeries will be a month before his birthday. I am looking forward to where we both will be on that birthday. I would imagine significantly smaller than we both are today. I am looking forward to being able to wrap my arms around him and to smooch his face without feeling the strain of our excessive girth.

Better days are in our futures. Healthier and, I am sure, happier days. Less physical pain and less medications everyday. Maybe postponing knee replacements for both of us. Relieving the strain on his poor back and hips.

I have always enjoyed cooking. Not necessarily for the sake of the eating, but the planning and the execution of the meal. I enjoy sharing with friends and family, the meals I have created. And now I look forward to working creatively to make the small amounts of food we can eat, enjoyable. I have always enjoyed taking a "Family Favorite" and converting it to fit our low-fat,
no-sugar diet and will be interested in what Sue and I can do in the future.

Tom and I both have about 130 pounds to lose. For me, that is about half of me. I have never been thin. I have always been the "girl with the pretty face and great personality". I am not sure what the new me is going to be like, but am very excited at the prospect of seeing me thin... of walking into a "normal" store and trying on petite clothes (the weight loss is not going to make me any taller!) that are in style and attractive. I want to wear shorts again.

It took me a long time to find Tom and Sue.....I want more years with them and not less. I look forward to growing old with my family, not dying young because I was crippled with health issues that made my life miserably short.

We will be posting pictures along this journey. Starting the day we start the liquid diet 2 weeks before the actual surgery and maybe monthly after the surgery. Follow along with us, won't you?

You ain't seen nuthin' yet!



Today, February 23, 2009, we have received word that both Master and T have been approved for bariatric surgery. That is the beginning of this journey for our family. It is our hope that the surgery will occur in exactly one month, on March 23.

We are all a little breathless, scared, and jittery about this. It is a huge undertaking, physically and emotionally. We have great hopes for the benefits of this path, but it is not likely to be easy for any of us.

I have the easy part. I am the support member. I do not have to actually undergo the surgery or the subsequent recovery. I will retain options to eat in ways that will not be available to the rest of the family. It is my plan to eat right along through all the stages with Master and T, but we'll see how that goes over time.

The picture, that I've selected for this blog is a stylized Egyptian "phoenix." I am struck by how similar it is to our clan totem heron. It seems to me appropriate for this space that we would add to our pantheon of birds, the mythical phoenix -- representing change, transformation, and rebirth.

Here's the myth of the phoenix --

Phoenix (Bennu, Benu)
Appearance: The Bennu bird was a large imaginary bird resembling a heron. It had a two long feathers on the crest of it's head and was often crowned with the disk of the sun.
Meaning: The Bennu was the sacred bird of Heliopolis. Bennu probably derives from the word weben, meaning "rise" or "shine." The Bennu was associated with the sun. As a symbol of the rising and setting sun, the Bennu was also the lord of the royal jubilee.
The Bennu was also associated with the inundation of the Nile and of the creation. Standing alone on isolated rocks of islands of high ground during the floods the heron represented the first life to appear on the primeval mound which rose from the watery chaos at the first creation. This mound was called the ben-ben. It was the Bennu bird's cry at the creation of the world that marked the beginning of time. The bennu thus was the god of time and its divisions -- hours, day, night, weeks and years.
The Bennu was also considered a manifestation of the resurrected Osiris and the bird was often shown pirched in his sacred willow.
The Bennu was known as the legendary phoenix to the Greeks. This Arabian bird however was said to resemble an eagle with brilliant gold and red plumage. Before the phoenix died it built a nest of incense twigs and laid down in it and died. From its body a small worm emerged that the sun's heat transformed into the new phoenix.
Another story says that the phoenix rose again from the burnt and decomposing remains of his old body and took these to Heliopolis, where he burned them.

We'll move through this together, as we do everything, and it is my hope that we'll record the steps along the way here -- so that, when we come to the other side of this, we'll be able to look back and see where we came from.

Wish us luck!