January 1, 2012.
There are a few new things going on this year. First, I no longer have medical insurance. Once I graduated from FSU, insurance coverage became a thing of the past. I did have one more test done while still insured - more on that in a bit. Second, I am unemployed. That's not really new, but it is more of a problem now that I'm not in school. I've been applying to places like crazy, so something is sure to pan out eventually. Third, that bucket list I've been talking about? Yeah. I'm seriously attacking it.
Back to that medical test. I figured I'd go get one last finger stick to see if my hemoglobin was tracking as it should. Two stabs later (because surely those initial results were not correct!) and it was official. I'm not stabilizing as we'd hoped. If I were, my level should have been at 6 - which is horribly low, but personally acceptable. It's at 5. A full point below expectation. What does this mean? Well, it pretty much confirms the time line we have already been looking at - things going critical in or around March and the possibility of lingering as long as May. Meanwhile, I can expect to be increasingly tired and out of breath and I'll have to be wary of anything that could significantly weaken my already taxed systems.
The nurse wouldn't let me leave until I'd talked to the doctor. She, of course, recommended immediate hospitalization for a round of blood transfusions. I managed to maintain a calm and controlled emotional state (at least on the exterior) while I quietly refused. No more transfusions. We've proven that those don't work for me. She gave the overall issue some thought and then came up with a new plan.
If we can't find a way to increase the hemoglobin, we'll just have to make it easier for the blood to reach everywhere in my body. That means having less body. We did a weigh-in. Last January I topped the scales at a whopping 296. As of this weigh-in, I've dropped to 268. Although a 28 pound loss is cheer-worthy, it isn't enough. Because of the extensive adhesive disease, I am not a candidate for any of the gastric surgeries. Instead, I have to act as though I've had one. I can't even call what I have to do a "diet" because it's more extreme than any plan I've ever seen.
The initial goal is a loss of 50 pounds. The issue is that I need to loose this as rapidly as possible - within two to three months. Now, before any comments about weight loss that fast being hazardous to the health, remember that I'm already pushing a deadline ~literally~ and doing something drastic is my only hope for survival.
Thus, starting today, I'm on a week of liquids only. Two nutrition drinks and the rest water, weak tea and a little broth. Since I have an allergy to artificial sweeteners, I have to simply cut out all sodas by the end of this week... and I'll have to cut out tea within the next 2-3 weeks. In addition, I'm bumping up my activity level with daily walks to and from Mum's house and adding a bit of exercise to that every day.
Next week the real struggle begins. 6 meals a day, each with 4 tablespoons of food. I can eat whatever I want within reason - just tiny, tiny portions of it. That goes on for 6 days a week, followed by one day of somewhat larger portions - to ensure my body doesn't go into starvation mode. Along with longer workouts, this should keep me on track.
The hope is that if I can get the weight off, it will ease the stress on my heart and give me some more time to let my hemoglobin stabilize.
Once I reach the initial goal, the next will be shedding a total of 63 more pounds, bringing me to 155. Although the second stage can be slower, it still needs to happen at an accelerated rate. I'm not going to worry about anything other than the first stage right now, though. Because if I can't do that, it all becomes moot.
Now I have to swallow my pride and ask for your help. I will need encouragement throughout this process. An occasional uplifting comment or just a hug from time to time will go a long way toward keeping me on target. And if you see me out and about and you notice that I'm in danger of slipping off the path, feel free to chastise me. I'm hereby giving each and every one of you a "free pass" to be as politically incorrect and blunt as you see fit -- because I love each and every one of you and would like to continue being a part of your lives for a lot longer than three more months.