Tuesday, September 25, 2012

a kinda long story

Jack was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes several years ago. 

He also was diagnosed with GERD--gastric reflux--that had gone on for so long that he was also diagnosed with Barrett's Syndrome, which is when your stomach acid has caused your stomach cells to migrate into your esophagus, putting you at risk of cancer in your throat.

He also was diagnosed with sleep apnea, which increases your risk of stroke and significantly shortens your life span.

And he has arthritis in several joints and in his back.

The diabetes has caused all kinds of other health issues--neuropathy in his feet and fingers, damage to his eyes that affects his vision.

He's tried all sorts of diets, exercise programs, medications--all in an effort to slow the damage caused by the diabetes and other diseases.

But none of them worked for long.

So, two weeks ago, he underwent gastric bypass surgery.

The decision to have surgery didn't come easy.  He thought about it several years ago, shortly after Stu had his colon removed, but I couldn't even discuss it then.  After watching Stu's recovery, I couldn't understand why someone would volunteer to have his belly cut into.

So Jack waited.

Late last year, he started another diet.  And he lost some weight--10 pounds.  And then he said he was seriously ready to talk to a surgeon. 

So we talked to three different surgeons and we chose the one we felt best about.

And our insurance said it would pay for the surgery except for our portion--after he jumped through all kinds of hoops, including a requirement that he lose five percent of his weight while on a six-month medically supervised diet.

So he went to a doctor who monitored his weight loss every month for six months.

And he lost 45 pounds--far more than five percent.

And then he had the surgery.  And he's lost another 20 pounds in the past two weeks.  Lots of protein shakes in the past month.  Then clear liquids for a few days after the surgery and then full liquids--cream soups and puddings and jellos.

And now soft foods--eggs, refried beans, applesauce. In another week, he'll be ready to eat regular food, minus breads, rice, mashed potatoes. Now his meals will be 4-6 ounces, three times a day, protein then complex carbs. 

There was a nasty spell dealing with an infection for several days, and his belly looks kind of like he was shot by a machine gun because the surgery was done using a scope, but he now seems to be healing up.  His blood sugar is almost normal and he's stopped nearly all of the medications he was taking pre-surgery.  The surgery won't reverse the damage done by the diabetes, but for some reason, it seems to normalize blood sugar levels, even before the weight loss begins.

It also stops the gastric reflux because it separate the acid-producing part of the stomach from the esophagus.

Losing weight is the best option for eliminating sleep apnea.  And obviously less weight means less pressure on joints and backs and less pain from arthritis.

Jack told me that when he told people he was having this surgery, the response was some form of either "Why would you do something so drastic?" or "Why are you choosing the easy way out instead of just eating less and exercising?" 

Obviously, this wasn't the easy way out.  And yes, it is drastic, but statistics show that after 14 years, 51% of people who have the surgery will still be at their goal weight.  One to two percent of people who try any other method of maintaining weight loss (diets, pills, exercise) will still be at their goal weight after 14 years.  Jack watched his father slowly die from diabetes-related diseases, losing his vision, ability to walk, drive, read, over a period of 15 years.  The only thing his dad could enjoy at the end of his life was food.  Jack decided he'd give up food in massive quantities in order to try to keep his vision, ability to walk, drive, ride, and enjoy his grandkids for as long as he could.

I've done my best to not cook or create aromas that would make it harder for him, and it's been a couple of weeks of ups and downs.  But he's doing well and moving forward. 

And he was pretty funny on those post-surgery drugs...


Lisa B. said...

Wow, what a journey. I am thinking good thoughts for you both.

Amelia said...

That is intense! Speedy recovery Jack!

Jessie said...

He really is funny on the drugs. :)

I'm glad he's (you've) made a choice to try to better his health. So, so glad.