I’ve been away for a while. Sorry I haven’t kept in touch. It’s been a tough summer. I almost died. Twice.
After my gastric bypass surgery, I spent a total of eight weeks in the hospital. I was discharged and re-admitted seven times. I had two other major surgeries – one to take out my gall bladder, and another a day later to staunch severe bleeding. I didn’t even wake up between those two surgeries.
I’ve had more procedures than I care to count – endoscopies, MRIs, barium swallows, CAT scans, and no, they don’t use a real cat, despite what my four-year-old son Ari says. I was in the ICU for more than a week, unconscious, with a breathing tube down my throat, after a hospital-acquired infection took root in my surgical wound, travelled – oddly the docs say – to the salivary glands in my throat and almost closed off my airway. Ignored by the residents and interns caring for me that day, I would have suffocated to death but for a quick-thinking senior physician.
I lost 60 pounds in the hospital, far too quickly. For months, I’ve been poked, prodded and stuck with needles. I’ve had gallons of fluid by IV to keep me hydrated, and I’ve taken more pills (crushed) in the past few months than most people take in a lifetime. I’ve seen dozens of doctors, some fine, but many quite lousy, despite the stellar reputation of Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital.
Like I said, it’s been a rough summer.
I chose to have gastric bypass for all the right reasons. I was fat and getting fatter. Without a radical detour, I would have been dead soon. But it’s frustrating that a positive choice turned so bad.
What’s most upsetting is all the time I’ve lost. I didn’t get to pick up my kids on the last day of school. I didn’t get to take my daughter to sleep-away camp for the first time. My wife Erica, god bless her, had to do it without me. Family and friends visited me in the hospital, and I had no inkling of their presence. The clergy from my Temple – Joel, Jodi and Rachel – visited and prayed with my family, but I was oblivious. My kids cried, and I wasn’t there to console them. And Erica, my amazing Erica, went through the worst crisis of her life at my bedside, and I couldn’t hold her hand.
The good news is that I’m past the crisis. I’m down close to 80 pounds. That’s two-thirds of the way toward my goal of 200. I’m getting my strength back every day, and just last week started exercising again. Slowly, of course, but I’m exercising. I’ve got a huge pile of fat clothes to donate, and I bought some new clothes at Macy’s, instead of the big man store.
I’ve also been amazed at the outpouring of friendship and support from my community. I’ve got great friends, who were there for my family and I every step of the way. Michelle & Joe, Greg & Arlene, Bruce & Melissa, Karen & Mark, Renee & Paul and so many others – you were amazing and I love you all. My sister Andi held my hand in the ICU, where we watched Star Trek late one night. And despite our deep differences, my in-laws were there when it mattered.
I’ve still got some healing to do, but I’m well on my way to a full recovery. I haven’t needed to get rehydrated in the ER for almost three weeks. I’m feeling strong and looking for a personal trainer. I’ve got new sneakers and I’m actually starting to run in them, albeit slowly. That’s what they’re for, right? I’m celebrating my new, slimmer life, and looking forward to dropping my last 45 pounds or so over the next year.
Despite everything, life is good.