Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Weight...don't go! Come back!

Having Crohns Disease and now Colon Cancer has definitely not allowed me to gain weight like a normal human being.

Things started out pretty good...I was a sophomore in high school playing football at 132 lbs (I was 5'4" or 5'5" at that time). I was pretty strong, too. Pound for pound I was the 2nd strongest on the team. Of course, a 215 lbs fullback didn't need too much strength to knock me into tomorrow on a sweep play where I was the cornerback.

During my junior year, I contracted Crohns and dropped to 96 lbs. Football was pretty much over, but the tennis coach convinced me to pick up a racket for the first time ever at the tryout. (I made the team and during the course of the season moved from #20 on the team to #12. I'm a quick learner.) :-)

The doctors put me on steroids to gain weight. That was lovely...I had this phobia about swallowing pills, so I had to crush the steroids in chocolate ice cream. Talk about gag-reflex! But, the steroids worked...somewhat. I graduated high school and started college around 110 lbs. Throughout college I weighed somewhere around 115-120 lbs. I looked like I was a sickly 12 yr old. That's just what the college girls wanted. (Did I mention I only had two dates in college?)

From the time I was 22 until I was 32 I weighed a constant 122-125 lbs. (Need I say that I didn't date a lot then, either?) Then when I was 33, the doctors found "weird cell formations" in my colon. These weird cells could cause cancer, so I had a few inches of my colon removed. The operation caused my Crohns Disease to flare up and I started losing weight again.

Over the next 6 weeks or so, I tried a different medication every week. Nothing worked. Finally, when I had dropped to 108 lbs, we found a miracle drug called Remicade. Remicade is administered via IV infusion. I got better THAT week. Not to be gross...but I went from 12 or so bowel movements a day to one every other day. I was finally able to put on weight.

During the next year, I bulked up to 140+ lbs. My one softball coach told me that some players were asking if I was on human growth hormones. (This came after I hit the fence on a few of my softball hits.) Nope! Just a well-working colon for the first time in 15 years!

Over the next couple of years, I reached a max of 148 lbs. Unfortunately over those years I had two hernia surgeries that caused me to drop weight each time. I could not seem to win!

This past winter, I reached that peak of 148 lbs again, but then the cancer was diagnosed and chemotherapy came. Ugh! I dropped to 128 lbs in seven weeks. Can a guy catch a break???

My chemo nurse, Marion, is a life-saver. She convinced me to try Ensure milk shakes (350 calories in an 8-ounce bottle.) For four weeks leading up to my most-recent surgery, I supplemented my diet with two of those a day. I also lifted weights like crazy. I gained 10 lbs in a month and went into surgery at 138. Three days after surgery I was at 126 lbs. (All together now...UGH!!!)

Anyhoo...today I was at the hospital and got weighed. Its been four weeks since surgery and I have not been allowed to lift weights during my recovery, so I wasn't looking forward to the scale. Drum roll please...136 lbs! Not great, but a good start!

Now if I could just quit having surgeries, I might be able to look normal. Oh...will you look at that...I have a dying, tumor-filled lobe of my liver that needs to be removed in the near future. Isn't that special? :-)


Michelle said...

I'm glad Marion finally convinced you to drink the ensure. I remember your second chemo when she suggested it and your gag reflex kicked in without even trying it! Little did you know....Now you just have to remember to "pay it forward" and bring her a replacement can! :)

Cris said...

Cornerback? I thought you played safety - - this changes everything! Seriously, great job on gaining the 10 lbs back in the past month. Just think how quickly the weight will come when you can lift weights again. As for the "gross" part, I remember when you could have written a book on all the public restrooms around the DC area. Probably not a best-seller.

Crystal said...

take some of my thighs.

Gina said...

I'll check with the NYC mixologists and see what kind of yummy Ensure cocktails they can create. Drink up!



Jimmy P said...

Heck, hang out with me and you'll gain weight. Nothing but the good stuff too, i.e. high-calorie AND high-fat! Apparently I eat like a pig (as my 12-yr old niece told me after I said she eats like a bird).