Saturday, September 25, 2010

Please Don't Wait Anymore!!

I am sitting in a hospital room waiting to see if I can get released today. I’m thinking about all that has gone on since the end of August.

• August 19, left for a trip to Massachusetts with my family.

• August 21, got sick all night in the hotel room throwing up.

• August 22, sick all day

• August 23 sick on the plane ride home. Spent just as much time in the airplane bathroom as I did in the 1st class seat that Keith had gotten for me.

• August 24, Ended up going to an urgent care and admitted to the hospital. My heartrate had dropped to 33 beats per minute and I was dehydrated. I got rehydrated and a cardiologist cleared my heart.

• August 26, I was discharged from the hospital. Got sick that night.

• August 27, Was readmitted to the hospital. They figured out my gall bladder was sick.

• August 30, got my gall bladder removed.

• September 1st, got discharged from the hospital.

• September 3rd, got a call that my Grandma had called 911 and had no heartrate when they got there. They resisitated her even though she had a DNR. That night she was removed from life support. My brother and I spent that first night by her side. She hung on for 9 days.

• September 12, my Grammy passed away.

• September 15, my Grammy’s visitation

• September 16, my Grammy’s funeral

• September 17, drove Parker to Chicago to stay at a friends house to spend the night so he could go to his play rehearsal. Spent the night.

• September 18, starting at 6am threw up every hour on the hour and ended up in the ER. I was dehydrated, so they rehydrated me and sent me home. Was resting all day.

• September 20, Threw up in the morning. Called my GI Doc and met with him. He is in the same building as an emergency care center. He sent me down to get a CT Scan cause he wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. I threw up as soon I drank the CT drink. He admitted me to the emergency care center. They were able to help me keep down the drink and get the CT. This time it showed an unhealthy colon and intestine. I was admitted to the hospital AGAIN.

• September 22, Had a colonoscopy and a stomach scope. My stomach was fine, but there were some things wrong in my colon. There were ulcerations and inflammation. Biopsies were taken of everything and I have to wait to see if it is mild Croh’s disease or a bad infection. After the procedure I was told I could eat a restricted diet, so I did. Keith came to visit me and I ended up throwing up the whole time. I was told I had to stay in the hospital longer.

• September 23, back on a liquid diet and the waiting game.

• September 25, finally on soft foods and doing well keeping it down. Still waiting on the biopsies, but probably won’t get them cause it’s the weekend, but I’m keeping down my food and now off my IV. Will probably go home tonight or tomorrow. Wahoooo!!

I looked up at the white eraser board in my room and saw that today’s date is September 25th. Wow. This health issue has taken over a month of my life. How could I have prevented this? What could I have possible done different?

I could have done a lot different. For years I have ignored my stomach issues. Pretty much any time I went out to eat I would have a stomachache. It became a joke (not a haha kind of joke) early on in my marriage with Keith. He always said, “Every time I take you out to a nice restaurant you are in the bathroom before we even leave.” It was true, but I never went to the doctor.

My mom died at the age of 53, obese. She made me promise, on her deathbed, that I would get healthy. She did not want me to go through what she went through. This coming December she will be gone 14 years. It is just 2 years ago in November that I finally got serious about getting healthy.

I started going to the doctor, but not like I should and still ignoring my stomach issues. As most people who are obese you don’t want to go to the doctor and hear about your weight. My mom went to the doctor with some pain and was told it was because she was overweight. The pain was not because of her weight; it was because of her colon being sick. I didn’t want that to happen to me, so as I approached 300 pounds and over I decided not to go to the doctor.

That was the biggest mistake I could have made. Because of putting this issue off for years I have just lost over a month of my life. I have a sick colon and intestine and had to have my gall bladder out. What I was trying to avoid was there in my face? Did I have cancer? Was I going to die young? The good news is there is no cancer and it ends up I am going to be ok, but what if I would have taken care of this sooner? I would have my month back.

I beg you if you have been putting off getting medical attention because of you weight please don’t. What if there would have been cancer in my colon? What if it were worse? I am a mom and a wife. What if me being embarrassed about my weight would have caused my family to lose me? I can’t play the “what if” game, but I can be thankful that the news was not worse.

Please do something about your weight. I can help you. Please do not put off going to the doctor. If you live by me, I can go with you. Don’t wait until it is too late. My mom waited and didn’t get a second opinion and she died at 53. Please learn from my mom and from me and please don’t wait anymore.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ironman thoughts through a volunteers eyes

Ironman: 140.6 miles of determination, dedication, and inspiration. Athletes age 18 to 74, pros, age-groupers, blind, disabled, all shapes and sizes, all walks of life, all with one thing on their mind, the finish line. Each athlete dedicated hours to training, sacrificing time with family and friends. Each athlete full of determination as they approach the swim start, waiting for the canon to go off. Each athlete was inspired in some way to even think of doing an Ironman and now they get to be an inspiration to those spectating on the sideline and to those volunteering. I am one of those volunteers that was inspired.

September 2008 is the first time I ever volunteered at Ironman Wisconsin. I was 300 pounds and already knew that I wanted to do an Ironman in 2013, but really never thought, at that point, that it would ever really happen. The day before the race I worked in Gear Check in. This is where the athletes bring bags with everything they will need for their transition. A transition is the time between each leg. Transition 1 is between the swim and the bike and transition 2 is between the bike and the run.

I got to meet so many athletes that day, hear their stories, and help them get set up for race day. It was amazing. I had two friends doing the race. We had met online, but not in person, so that day I got to meet them both when they brought their gear bags in. It was amazing to finally meet them and be part of their first Ironman experience.

The day of the race I started the morning off body marking the athletes. Body marking is when you mark an athletes arms and legs with their racing number. Here I was 300 pounds marking some of the most fit bodies I had ever seen. I even got to mark a couple pros that day. I was self-conscience, but getting inspired every second, getting more excited about the possibility of being an Ironman someday.

I also volunteered at the finish line and that is what changed my life. I was giving out the medals. As the athlete approaches the finish line they get to hear this,
“Larry Schultz, You Are An Ironman.” I cannot even begin to imagine what that feels like to hear, but I know that hearing that, the first time live, at the finish line, made me so inspired to hear it for myself one day. I got to give medals out to every type of athlete out there. I got to give a medal to my friend Chris on completion of his first Ironman. At that moment I forgot that I was a morbidly obese person, I forgot that I got out of breath walking down a street, and I forgot that I could barely bend over to tie my shoes.

At that moment I pictured myself as an Ironman. I knew that this would be me. It would be a lot of hard work. Instead of thinking that this was impossible, I started believing that I’m possible. That night I worked the finish line until midnight. That is the cutoff for the race. If you are not done by midnight, you get a DNF (did not finish). There was about 30 seconds left and the announcer was saying there was one lady very close and we needed to all cheer her in. It is amazing at the finish line towards the end of the race, so we were all cheering, holding our breath, hoping she would make it. Guess what? She did with 4 seconds to spare. I had the privilege of putting her medal around her neck. I had someone take a picture of me medaling her. That is a moment I will never forget. She crossed the finish line and just laid down. She had spent 17 hours dedicated to, and determined to becoming an Ironman and she did it.

I contacted her after the race, so I could email her the medal picture and we talked a long time. She is a mom and had been on her own weight loss journey and doing and Ironman was what she wanted to do after she hit her goals. She encouraged me so much in my own journey. I knew after talking to her that I was meant to do this. Before it had been that I was going to do an Ironman in 2013. I really meant it, but deep down, I would start self-doubting myself and then start putting myself down.

Now I knew that this dream would become my reality. I knew I had to start getting serious about my workout regime and my eating was a joke. It was time to do something about it. I hired a coach, got back to Weight Watchers and started seeing the results. November 8, 2008 I met with my coach, Matt Petersen of The Fitness Pursuit. Those were some hard sessions. He would knock down my excuses one after another. It was tough. I didn’t like him very much at the time, but I credit him with my turn around. While having Matt as my coach I lost 40 pounds.

In one of our first conversations Matt had asked me what my goals were and at that point I still wanted to do my Ironman in 2013. He asked me why I had it so far off. I remember wanting to laugh when he asked me this. At this point I was 297 pounds. I had lost weight before going to meet with my new coach. (Kind of like when you clean before the cleaning lady comes.) I remember thinking, “Um, yeah, can’t you tell why I’m putting it off so far.” I just never thought I could do it sooner. So, after talking, we moved it up to 2012. I could probably do it sooner, but I really wanted to be the most fit I could be and work up to the distance. I was doing sprint tris at that point (1/2 mile swim, 15 mile bike, 5k run).

Now it is 2010. I just spent this past Sunday, September 12, volunteering for my third time at Ironman Wisconsin. I am 97 ½ pounds lighter and could just tell the difference in my volunteering experience. I was not self- conscience at all, and I could get around town a lot easier.

Once again I was cheering on friends. My first coach Matt Petersen that I mentioned above was competing, doing his 5th Ironman. My friend Chris who did his first Ironman in 2008 was back again to do his second race. I also had 7 other people I knew doing the race all with amazing stories. It was so amazing and inspiring to see each and every one of them on the course.

Again I worked the finish line. I got to medal a lot of the friends I knew doing the race. I got to medal a blind athlete. I medaled old athletes, young athletes, and everything in between. Everyone out there has a story, everyone out there has a reason they need to do an Ironman, me included.

I was 306.2 pounds. I was a doormat that everyone just wiped their feet on. I guess, based on my past results, I was ok with those things because I was not willing to change. Now I am the most confident (but not in a cocky way) I have ever been. I am ok with saying no to people. I am pushing myself a lot harder than I ever have. I love having my picture taken now. I help others in their journeys and am just a very happy person and it feels great.

I am on my Ironman journey. Just like working to get the weight off I am working my way up to the Ironman distance. I have several sprints under my belt, did my first Olympic distance tri under my belt, and will do my first ½ Ironman in 2011. I am very proud of what I have accomplished, but my journey will not be complete without finishing an Ironman.

I have had to dig deep in my life to get through a lot, but during Ironman Wisconsin I will have to dig deeper than ever before. I will go to places I have never gone before mentally and I will have to dig deep to get through. With each step I will become a stronger person physically, mentally, and spiritually. I want to do an Ironman to show myself just how far I have come and just how far I will be able to go. Yes, I cannot wait to become an Ironman, but it is far more than that. When I cross that finish line this is what I will hear, “Melissa Black, you are an Ironman,” but this is what I will know as I cross that finish line. Not only will I have become an Ironman, I will have become a better person, wife, mom, and friend along the way. I will be a different person because of everything I had to overcome to cross that finish line.

All the volunteers at Ironman events have the opportunity to sign up for the race on Monday morning for the following year. Next year, next year (wow, I had to repeat that because it’s finally getting here) when I volunteer I will be in line on Monday morning to sign up for Ironman Wisconsin 2012. I can hardly wait, but know that I have a lot of work still left to do to get there. I respect every single mile of the 140.6 distance and will do everything I need to between now and the starting line to get ready.

Ironman: 140.6 miles of determination, dedication, and inspiration. I will be determined to do whatever my coach (Bob Mitera of Kokua Multisports) tells me to do and will be determined for the next two years to get to that start and finish line. I am dedicated to my training and whatever sacrifices I have to make to get that start and finish line. I have been inspired by so many who have gone before me on their own journeys of weight loss, illnesses to overcome, triathlons, and Ironman and I hope to inspire people to do whatever it is they want to do. I am living proof that there is hope and that you can change.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

This is gonna get really ugly!!

I wrote this blog post on my Massachusetts trip, but never posted it because of getting sick and ending up in the hospital, so this was written around August 19th. Here it goes:

Some people have noticed that I haven't blogged for almost a month. Others have commented that my facebook statuses aren't what they used to be. Some people in my life have told me that they know I would eventually crash and burn, that I would hit a wall. It was as if they wanted me to. That if I crashed and burned it would somehow make them feel better about themselves, but this post is not about the naysayers in my life. This post is a post about me and where I've been for the last month, what's been going on in this noggin' of mine, and where I see myself going from this day forward. I've been told my readers love how honest I am with the good, the bad, and the ugly on my journey. Well, get ready cause this is gonna get real ugly.

July 11th, 2010 is where my downward spiral started. My first, Olympic Distance triathlon was that day. You can read my race report in the previous entry. I went into the race sick and just coming off vacation and it was hot out. As you can read in my report I overcame everything and finished that race. I had the best support crew anyone could have, my friends, family, and coach greeted me at the finish line. I learned a lot about myself out there. I am very proud of everything I did out there that day and it will be something I will never forget.

However, once I got home and the cheering stopped, I had no support crew, and I had time to think, things got bad mentally and to top it off I was diagnosed with sever bronchitis and by doctor's orders I was not allowed to work out for 2 weeks. When I get down and stressed what do I do? I hit the gym and work through it. This time I couldn't and I let it get to me big time. I let my negative thoughts take over.

I decided I wasn't going to do anymore triathlons for this season. I didn't like how I performed at the one in July, so decided that was it. My wonderful coach has told me multiple times that I shouldn't base anything on that race because I was sick, but mentally it did me in. Instead of focusing on how much I had accomplished that day or how much I had accomplished so far on my journey. My mind quickly turned to the dark side. I'm talking Darth Vadar Dark.

My thoughts turned back to my fat girl thoughts. Instead of focusing on the 90+ pounds I have lost and kept off I was and still am a little (since I'm being honest here) focused on how fat I am, how fat I was race day, how much I hate my flabby arms and my huge thighs. I actually started questioning whether or not I should even follow my dream of becoming an Ironman and racing in Kona someday.

These were my thoughts during my two weeks off from working out. I finally got the ok to workout and the same week got news that would change my life drastically (I will let you know what that news is in due time). It was more than I could handle mentally. I retreated into my turtle shell.

I started ignoring and avoiding the very people that are my biggest supporters. My coach, didn't call or email him, quit going to Weight Watchers for a couple weeks (Don't worry I am going this week), barely went to the gym, wasn't blogging or really facebooking. The people I was talking to I really wasn't telling what was really going on. I slowly started turning to food again and was putting some weight back on. I had given up. I was shutting down. I didn't know climb out of the pit I had let myself fall into. I had lost sight of my goals. I had lost my motivation. I needed and still need help.

One person that knew I was having a hard time was my chiropractor, Dr. Kevin O'hara. After a couple weeks of avoiding him I finally went. He looked me in th eye and asked me what was going on. I told him what I was going through, everyone I was avoiding, and why I was avoiding them. I told him I was depressed, not eating right, not working out, and gaing some weight back.

There was no way he was going to put up with this. He's not only my awesome chiropractor, he's also my friend, and one of my biggest cheerleaders. He did a little thing called tough love on me. Dr. Kevin told me he wouldn't let me mess everything I've worked so hard for. He told me to get back to WW, contact my coach, and start working out again.

He really made me think about what road I wanted to go down. The road that continues to my better health or the road back to the unfit, fat me. He said if I didn't get a grip soon or as my friend Andy says, "Suck it up buttercup" that I would end up where I started. That scared me really bad. At this point I had already gained about 6 pounds back (which currently I have lost 5 of. Yay me!) and I had slipped into old, very old eating habits. I knew Dr. Kevin was right. I was already sliding down that slippery slope to the old me and it was going to take all I had to climb back up the slope.

I called my best friend, Dar, and told her everything. I emailed my coach and talked to him. That was very hard because I felt like such a failure. He told me what I needed to hear and challenged all the excuses I had let creep back into my vocabulary. I called my WW leader and told him what was going on and that I had been avoiding meetings. The last time I avoided a few meetings I ended up being gone a long time and gaining all my weight back, so I told him to hold me accountable and make sure I came back to our meetings. He promised me to help me get back. Since our talk I went to a WW meeting. It was in Massachusetts, while out of town, but it was a meeting and I'm glad I went.

These are all things that I needed to do. I feel so much better. Writing this blog post has been therapeutic. I have put myself out there. I have been honest. I am back. I am starting to get back to where I need to be. Please ask me how I am doing, eating, working out, and please help hold me accountable. I never want to go back to where I was and to be honest I got very close. I'm so glad for the love and support I have from so many. Please keep it coming.

So like I said above this was written around August 19, during my Massachusetts trip. I got very sick, came home and ended up in the hospital getting my gall bladder out. I am now recovering, but keeping my spirits up and not allowing myself to go where I was for the last month. Like I said before I refuse to go back to where I was. I am back to losing weight, thinking positive, and will be able to work out in a few weeks. Life is good.