Friday, May 25, 2012

Saturday in Prison

This past Saturday, four of us joined with 175 others and went to the prison units in Bonham, TX, for the Bill Glass Day of Champion at Bonham.

The four of us included:

Gary Anderson

John McManus

Greg Lindsey (on the right)
The morning was absolutely gorgeous with cool temperatures, a nice breeze and several inmates who came out to hear the band NameSake.

The morning crowd.

The afternoon saw even more inmates from the Choice Moore Unit come out to listen to the band and after the band finished were treated to the testimony of Jack Meeks who brought out the Number 18 Interstate Battery NASCAR car that won the Daytona 500.

Jack Meeks
After Jack's testimony, we had the opportunity to share the Gospel message with the inmates who came out.  During this time I personally had the opportunity to talk to an inmate from Russia who was Muslim.  I was polite in our discussion, but was able to hopefully plant a seed that someone else will be able to water.

Afternoon Sharing Time

A couple of the other inmates I was able to speak during the day included a member of the Aryan Nation, and a Roman Catholic.  Speaking with the Aryan Nation member was an interesting experience as I was able to show him exactly in the Bible where Heaven and Hell were not the same place but different places altogether as well as a couple of other misconceptions he held. 

So how did things go?  Well, we (all of us there) ministered to a total of almost 2,100 inmates and saw an incredible 642 life-changing decisions for Christ, with 263 of these being first-time decisions!  This surpassed all of the previous results of the Bonham events by a large margin!

The next event I will be going to will be the DFW Youth Day of Champions where we will have the opportunity to share the gospel to the youth, some as young as 12 who are locked up and away from their families.  Shoot me an email if you would like to join us!

Have a great rest of the day!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Surgery Date : June 19th, 2012

The date for my surgery is now set for June 19th, 2012 with Dr. Nick Nicholson.  I still have a couple of things left to do but I am not worried about them.  I have to have an Upper GI to make sure I have no obstructions so that the surgery can go without a hitch and I have to do a VO2 Max test to ensure I am healthy enough cardiac wise to do this.

If all goes well then the morning of June 19th I will have three quarters of my stomach cut out, a four to six ounce pouch sealed and left to live with until I die.

Radical?  Oh yes, very radical, but I am very tired of being fat.  I am tired of not being able to keep up with my kids when they romp and play and do athletic things.

My lifestyle will radically change when it comes to eating.  No longer will I be able to sit down to a sixteen ounce steak dinner.  After the surgery it will be more of two to four ounces of steak with a couple to a few more ounces of everything else.

Yes, very radical.

Am I ready?  I'm getting ready.  Am I nervous.  Oh heck yes I am nervous, but I am also excited.

You see I need to do this.  I won't say have to, but I need to.  I do this for my wife and kids, but I also do this first and foremost for myself.  And for me, my wife and my girls, I will succeed at this.

Less than a month now to go.

Have a great rest of the day.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Psychological Evaluation

 I'm not crazy.  I'm not a sociopath.  Nor am I schizophrenic, bulimic, anorexic, nor have any other mental issues.  So says the psychologist I saw and the six hundred question psychological profile I took a few weeks back.

This psychological exam was the last item I had to go through to become eligible, according to my insurance company, for my choice of bariatric surgery.

The meeting with the doctor itself wasn't too bad.  She asked the normal questions I would have expected and I answered with the answers that were expected.  It was a quick and painless 15 minutes of my life that I am glad to give up to achieve my weigh loss goal.

The test on the other!  Six hundred questions that took an hour and a half to answer! It was to the point that I was actually getting writer's cramp from filling in the little circles that corresponded with my answers.  The questions themselves were the typical questions I had encountered before.  Questions like:

  • Do you hear voices in your head?
  • Do people lie?
  • Do people steal?
  • Do you believe that if you jumped off a building that you could fly? 
No, I am not kidding about the questions.  These are a representative of some of the questions I encountered.

But the good news is that I am mentally healthy and okay for surgery and the post operation needs.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Learning to Sleep With My C-Pap Machine

As part of my Vertical Sleeve preparation, one of the tests I had to take was a sleep study.  These are normally ordered by the surgeon for a couple of reasons.
  1. If you have sleep apnea, then you'll certainly need to know this for the surgery as you'll go under anesthesia.  It is sort of important for the anesthesiologist to know this fact and prepare for it.
  2. If you have sleep apnea, then this fact helps in the determination of whether or not you will be eligible and have your insurance pay for the surgery.  In other words, the more issues you have due to excess weight, the easier it is to be approved for the bariatric surgery!
What is sleep apnea you ask?  Well, that is a good question.

Here is a the definition of Sleep Apnea, from the WebMD website:
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain -- and the rest of the body -- may not get enough oxygen.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
  • Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center.

The sleep study I took actually turned out to be two different studies.  The first was to see if I tested for and actually had sleep apnea and the second one was to have me use a C-Pap machine to see what machine settings I would need to help overcome sleep apnea.  My surgeon already surmised that I had sleep apnea and had ordered the second test along with the first.

So what does taking a sleep study feel like?   It feels something like this:

Frankensleep's Monster!

So I had the two sleep studies and after waiting four weeks with no word from the sleep study office, I finally called them and asked them what was going on.  After convincing the lady I was talking to that my primary doctor did not have the study results and that the studies were ordered for my upcoming surgery, she finally told me who to call to get the ball rolling to get my C-Pap machine.

Two weeks later....

I went to a second office and finally got my machine.  Here is what I now sleep with every night.  Or at least try to for now.

C-Pap Nasal Mask
C-Pap Machine with Hose


You may wonder why I said "try to" use every night.  To be honest, it's difficult for me to sleep with this on my face.  When you use this, you have a constant pressure of air blowing in your nose which is designed to keep your airwaves open so you don't snore.  The first week of use, I found myself taking the mask off after about four to five hours of use.  One night I actually realized I took it off and put it back on.  Another night the humidifier chamber ran out of water and I had moisture forming inside the tube and mask, dripping into my nose.  That was a night I took off the mask and did not put it back on .

So far I've had one night of continuous use.  I'm hoping to have better results this next week.

I'm also still waiting on the results I've read about.  Results like better sleep, no more tiredness during the day, so on and so forth.  From talking to others it may be a while before these results happen to me.  I am hoping that it's sooner than later!

Anyway, have a blessed rest of your day!


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy -- My Journey Starts

I have battled my weight since I hit puberty.  Once I turned 11, my weight started ballooning until I hit my peak weight in high school of 414 pounds.  I wasn't chunky, nor was I big boned.  I was FAT!  Only one time in my life have I ever been at what might be considered a normal weight and that was back in 1999 when I reached 240.  I looked very different then.

1999 My weight was 240
My Drivers License Picture from '99

So what do I look like now?  Take a look.

Me in 2011 standing next to well, you know who.
Me in 2012 standing next to my Father-in-Law
Currently I am up to 365 or so pounds and depending on the day and time I actually weigh in my weight can range from 362 to 368 pounds.

No, I am not in great shape physically.  

Yes, I do realize it.

I'm not writing this to throw myself a little pity party.  I'm writing this to start blogging about my journey to a healthier lifestyle.  I wouldn't be able to even contemplate starting up this journey had it not been for my wife.  She was the one who opened my eyes to the fact that I was killing myself and was going to deprive my kids and her of the guy who loved them if I did not do something and start doing it soon.  

So to my wife, thank you for your love and toughness in this.  

I actually started this journey (along with her) about a month and a half ago when I went to a weight loss surgery seminar given by a local doctor.  I decided to go ahead and start the process to change my life for good.

So what am I going to do?

It is called a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, or a gastric sleeve surgery.  Basically what it does is to surgically remove two thirds to three-quarter of your stomach and force you to eat small portions of food.  It is a radical surgery, but one that is safe and done thousands of times a day around the world.  If you want to see what they do with this, there's a video to watch at the end of this post.

This is not going to be a miracle cure, nor will this be an overnight magical experience.  There is risk and money involved, but after dozens of failed diets and being sick and tired of being fat, and wanting to have a long life with my wife and daughters, it is a journey I choose to make.  I will blog about the steps and what happens and how things happen as I go along in this journey.  I invite you to journey along with me as I take it.  

For now, I wish each of you well.

Have a great day!


Here's the video I promised.  WARNING!  This video contains graphic footage of an actual surgery and is NOT for those that cannot tolerate the sight of such activities!


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Bill Glass DOC in Bonham

On May 19th, three Christian brothers and I will be heading to Bonham, TX to attend the Bill Glass Day Of Champions, Bonham.  For those who may not understand what that means, the four of us will join with 216 other men to walk into two Texas prison units and minister to the men incarcerated there.

I am asking for your prayers for this event.  Events like this are bastions for spiritual conflict as Satan does not want us in there.  Trust me, on this I know first hand.  So your prayer coverage is coveted!

So at 6:30 in the morning on the 19th, we'll walk in and spend the next eight hours with men who have committed one or more crimes against other people and the state to tell them the Good News of Jesus Christ and to love them.  For most of these men, they have no hope.  None.  We want to give them that hope.

Once again, thank you in advance for your prayers for us and for those we minister to.  I'll post more on how this went afterwards.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Call Me Farmer Eric!

It all started four years ago when my wife wanted a garden for her birthday.  So my Father-in-Law and I obliged her and carved out two locations in my backyard for a 400 square foot garden, complete with fencing and stonework edges.  We had a nice garden that year, and the next two after that, but last year we decided not to garden due to the excessive heat and drought conditions.  Water was simply too scarce in our area!

Fast forward to this year.  My youngest daughter wanted to give her mommy a nice present for her birthday, a couple of months after the fact and asked me and her Papa to "help" her with it.

So my Father-in-Law came over last week and tilled up the garden areas and this past Sunday he came over to the house to help finish up his part in our family garden.  We started with returning the soil back to it's rightful place and placing the stones back into a straight line.

My Father-in-Law is somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to projects, so we used the twine to ensure the stones were straight and done correctly.

After the stones were in place, it was time to call my wife out and ask her "so what exactly do you want to plant anyway?"

I love my wife's deadpanned response.  "The usual."

So my wife and youngest daughter, Morgan, drove off to the nursery and I set off to putting the fencing back up.  I had taken it up and stored it after not planting last year.  It made mowing much easier!

When the fencing was originally put up, my Father-in-Law did it so I wasn't sure how easy it would be.  Turned out it wasn't that bad at all.  Using a three pound sledge and a block of two by four, along with a normal 16 ounce hammer and a pair of pliers, I had the fence up in less than 30 minutes.

 The hard part was keeping my little 20 pound helper out of the way.  Annie, our long haired Dachshund, decided that this was the perfect opportunity to hunt and sniff out anything she could find.  It was lizard and ground snake hunting season!


With the fencing up and ready, all I had to do was wait on my wife and daughter to come home with our plants.  We figured that it would be too late to plant with seeds, so she was looking for healthy plants.

It only looked like she bought out the store.  In reality it wasn't too bad.

We wound up planting the following:
  • Okra
  • Potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Two types of cucumbers
  • Four types of watermelons
  • Two types of strawberries
  • Crook Necked Squash
  • Zucchini

The hard part actually was trying to get Morgan to actually plant anything.  It seems that she found the quartz rocks in the smaller section more interesting than actually planting.  Go figure!

Once it was all said and done, we, well, I had planted all of the plants in the garden and started watering them.  Normally it wouldn't, or shouldn't have taken me three hours to plant everything, but I decided to dig the holes, and fill the holes in with Miracle Grow soil, just to try and get a head start on a decent season.  So it was dig, pull out Miracle Grow soil, fill the hole, plant the plant, cover with good soil topped with normal soil, making sure that I kept everything spaced as well as possible.

Afterwards it was admire the handiwork and water everything well.  Have to give them tender loving care!  Then it was time for a caffeine free Diet Dr. Pepper, Advil, and the Texas Ranger's game on TV.

Morgan admiring the handiwork
The smaller plot along with the potted kitchen herbs

Not just bare dirt!  There's veggies growing under there!

Squash and zucchini oh my!

Two of the FOUR watermelon plantings!  Could not fit them in the garden.

After a hard day's work, watering the result