Oct 15, 2012

8/31/12: Text Message Of Dooooooooom

This is a photo of me at my younger son's bris, weighing somewhere around 285.  Pounds.





















Text Messages You Don’t Want To Get From Your Doctor #427: “Call me NOW.”

Which is the text message I received from my doctor just four days ago, Monday morning, August 27th. I responded as Hellboy would have: “Oh crap.”

Just a few days earlier, Friday, August 24th, I had paid a visit to the aforementioned great and powerful Dr. Nosson Goldfarb complaining of extreme fatigue and general feelings of physical, spiritual, and emotional yuckiness.

In fact, I had felt like absolute garbage for the previous 10 months. Maybe even longer than that. I blamed the fatigue on my younger son, not yet two-and-a-half, who has clubbed feet.

“Hey Dan!” you’re thinking, “How do his clubbed feet make you tired?” It’s the braces. He wears braces on his feet. The braces on his feet get tangled in the blankets of his bed at night and prevent him from turning over.

Do this: tonight when you get into bed, tie your feet to the ends of a broom. Let me know how that goes for you.

Next imagine that you’ve only just toilet-trained. Your parents didn’t make you do it, you decided to do it out of the goodness of your heart (and the swampiness of your cloth diapers). You’re so proud of yourself! You are not yet two-and-a-half and you’re crushing this whole personal development thing. You’re able to warn your Mommy that it’s time to go, you’re able to hold it in until you both sprint to the potty. You go to the toilet with relatively little mess. You are, in short, the man. This isn’t beginner’s luck, this is expertise. You could be a motivational speaker for kids twice your age. Okay, so you can’t speak so well, but man, you’re ripe for the potty.

Your balletically graceful use of the toilet and your inability, at night whilst your braces are on, to independently traverse the garbanzo-bean-carpeted hallway between your bedroom and the bathroom scrape the blackboard like a duet between James Brown and Luciano Pavarotti.

What would your strategy be? If you’re my son, the strategy is to scream until a parent carries you to the bathroom. How many times per night you ask? Enough times. Enough times to make Superman cry for his mama.

That’s how my son’s clubbed feet made me tired. This has been going on since birth, pretty much. As the months and years passed, I would just pound coffee and count the days until Shabbos when I could crash. My several feeble attempts to eat healthily would fall away for lack of motivation. Exercise, you may ask? To which I would answer, “I remember exercise. I also remember when Pearl Jam’s first album came out.”

As one could imagine, not sleeping, ingesting coffee intravenously, and eschewing exercise was less an approach to life than a pastime in the waiting room of death. Until about a month before the Text Message of Doom. About mid-July, I started to think that maybe - maybe - something else was going on. As I stumbled through my thirty-ninth year on this earth, approaching the end of the decade of life when my father’s father had a massive coronary, and approaching the beginning of the one in which my father’s father’s only son had coronary number one, it occurred to me that, given my genetic heritage, I’d rather hear bad news from a doctor than from the Heavenly Court of Judgment.

So I went to my dear friend and doctor, Nosson Goldfarb. The appointment was for Friday afternoon, August 24th, just a few days before the Text Message O’ Doom.

Nosson knows my history. He knows that I stuff every negative emotion either into my shoulders in the form of stress, or straight down into the digestive tract, planting the seeds of future award-winning ulcers.

He knows my challenges are emotional as well as physical. He took my blood and sat me down for some tough love. “Dan, you’ve got to radically change the way you eat, and you have to do it now.” This led to a conversation about all the stress in my life - round-the-clock risk factors, daily invitations to the angioplasty club, or worse. And what have I done to mitigate the stress? See above, in which I admit that I eat like crap and don’t exercise.

I left his office and went about the rest of my afternoon. Shabbos was coming and I still had some shopping to do for the kiddush we were about to make in our new baby daughter’s honor. Are you keeping up? Wife, four children, no pressure, Weiss, no pressure at all. How do you feel about yourself now? You’ve let everyone down by letting yourself get this far gone.

But you’ll change all of that. You’ll get on the right track and all will be well. You’ll get back on your Esselstyn/McDougall hybrid eating plan, you’ll exercise, you’ll win the lottery, you grow to be six-foot-four and lead the Cleveland Browns to their fifteenth Super Bowl title in a row. After Shabbos.

Sunday morning, August 26th, just five days before I wrote this post. My fabulous wife got right on the job, as she has done in the past, to help me eat in the Esselstyn way. You could cut the excitement with a samurai sword, except that there wasn’t any excitement. I was pretty ticked off, actually. Why? Because I’m the kind of person who wants to eat exactly what I want. But I complied. My wife is an excellent cook, so I didn’t really have to suffer.

Monday morning, August 27th. Dr. Goldfarb’s text: “Call me NOW.” The blood lab called Dr. Goldbarb early in the morning. They instructed him to call the patient - me - as soon as possible. My blood glucose level was off-the-charts high. Say it with me now, “Diabetes!”

My blood glucose level was over 500. My A1C was well into the double digits. “No wonder you’ve been feeling awful,” said the doctor. Yeah. For how many months had I ascribed this to clubbed-foot baby fatigue? What had I put in jeopardy by simply not knowing how sick I was?

And that was when the adventure really started. Wake up call? Yeah. This was the first time in my life where the specter of not making it through my forties became visceral. I’m grateful to God that I got this news via a phone call from a panicked lab tech and not from an ambulance driver, emergency room physician, or mortician. This is my opportunity to transform the way I approach life. Because this isn’t just about food. This is about how I deal with life.

This is a physical journey. An emotional journey. A spiritual journey. I’m going hard core plant-based here. I’m going to stalk this food problem, find out where it is hiding, flash-bang it out of its Saddam-like dirt-pit, and pistol whip it in front of anyone who will pay attention.

I hope this blog will be a way to keep me motivated - no, not just motivated, but excited, totally off-the-hook inspired. Because that is what it’s going to take. I’m an over-the-hill Rocky Balboa. This challenge is the much-younger, in-much-better-shape fighter. I’m going to have to use all of my wits and creativity to whup it in the hiney. Won’t you join me?

38 comments:

  1. Dan, I love the writing style. While Diabetes used to not be my thing, it is now, and I look forwrd to your next post, and to the success of your special-ops mission into enemy territory.

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  2. Dan, this was great to read on many levels. Great getting some insight into what's going on with a friend...and i love any story that involves flash bangs and pistol whipping. Looking forward to watching you crush this. Let me know if there is any way i can help.

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    1. Awesome friend support!

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    2. JF, thanks for the high-fives and support. I'm glad that my friends will be along for the ride as I publicly keelhaul this thing.

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  3. Wow. This is pretty scary stuff to say the least. I am psyched that you are pushing for the full, frontal attack on this nastiness. I have seen you 100 lbs lighter and you look great! I look forward to sharing in your progress. Hatzlucha! It should be a year of good health coming from Hashem!

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  4. So, is Rivki posting a companion blog? ;) I'm glad you found out what's been bogging you down. I'm always motivated to follow the data, so seeing those numbers and working towards seeing a better number at the next test can be a great way to stay focused and keep your commitment on track. Michael and I will be following and hope to see your clan happy and healthy here in Ha'Eretz soon! Wishing you *savory* success! ~Yael

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  5. Dan, thanks for that fantastic piece of writing. I went plant-based a few years back ("Eat to Live", Dr. Joel Fuhrman - he's my Esselstyn -- from what I understand they espouse a similar food philosophy) -- it was one of the best things I've ever done. I've been a little lax in my habits for the past few months (some similar stress-ball action rising up in the old day-to-day) and just two days ago I gave myself a mental kick in the keester.... and I am now back on the veg-case.

    So I am with you man. A couple thousand miles away maybe, but right beside you. It may be difficult at first, but it gets much easier as time passes. And you will find that your tastes change... veg food will become increasingly tasty.

    A GREAT website for recipes btw: www.fatfreevegan.com. Checkit out.

    And go man, go... This is a good day.

    Stein

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Jojo. I didn't know you were plant-strong, glad to see we're in the same club. I'll look at fatfreevegan, definitely. Massive high fives from the Cleveland chapter.

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  6. Hi Dan, Thank G-d you caught it without it lingering in your body for long periods of time! Were you diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes? As a type 1 diabetic, I recall the shock... but also the thoughts and reality check that I wish stuck with me. Use the energy of fear and channel it to focus on what really matters most to you. Your goals, ambitions, etc. Not just taking better care of yourself. Life is short (Diabetes or not)... so consider the text message of doom a text message of hope... one which allows you to wake up, smell the coffee, and make the most of the blessed life you've been granted! Call or email if you want to talk about diabetes or anything else. Fondly, Gideon

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    1. Gideon, thanks for your comment. I'm Type 2. Great advice - let's talk soon!

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  7. Dan,

    You are such a wonderful person. It does not surprise me that you are also a wonderful writer. Keep up the good work! I look forward to your next post.

    Sincerely,
    Chrissy

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  9. Hi Dan ,Sorry that we are so infrequently in touch that it took this to get me to email you.WE ARE WITH YOU IN THIS!! ALL THE WAY! You can do it! Hatzlocho Raba!Rav Moish CPOS

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  11. Dear Dan-

    I'm thankful that you are getting a handle on your health now. You have a challenge in front of you BUT I've seen you rise to the occasion many times on deck in Santa Monica and this time you don't have Sensei Barnes screaming at you :) Remember what Hanshi says: "life at best is a struggle".....that's the fun Dan!

    Your friend,
    Edye

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    1. Many thanks, honored training partner.

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  12. Dan,

    You know I'm mad at you and thrilled for you all at the same time. In the end, I'm just glad you have arrived. I'm here for you man!

    Love,
    The Leader

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    1. Mad at me?!!? Oh Leader, let not thine anger persist. Veggies for all!!

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  13. DW,

    Thanks so much for sharing and - true to form - doing so in such a fun, break-the-f'ing'-mold kind of way! You just let me know and I'll have Learning Team Five form like Voltron and help kick some diabetes be-hind. Good luck with the new routine, brotha; I look forward to hearing the updates.

    Viva la revolucion!
    -APM

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  14. Dan,
    I found your blog by way of Wendy; I was introduced to her blog by my Mother-in-law (more on her below). What a nice surprise to see your face - we went to GUCI together (you were my director long ago in Project - Really Rosie. I was Kathy 2!). One more helpful resource (IMHO), my mother-in-law's blog: www.happyhealthylonglife.com - she's plant based and posts lots of great recipes, motivating studies, etc. etch. Good luck on your journey! Wishing you many more - Ad Me'ah V'Esrim.
    Leslie

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    1. Really Rosie! Wow, that was a long time ago. Thanks for reading and commenting. I think I may have seen your MIL's blog once before...now I'll definitely take a peek. I really appreciate your comment and wishes.

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  15. Hi, Dan! I follow Wendy (Healthy Girl) and read her post about you this morning. I have been flirting with diabetes for years, now...feeling like total crap...seeing Pre-Diabetes over and over again on my blood results. My hands and arms are numb...fuzzy vision comes and goes...my back is killing me...and talk about fatigue...I hear you. By 3 pm each day I feel I could lie down and cry. We had a crazy summer, with two moves, and I began drinking Coke again. Coke, for crying out loud. And eating quarter pounders. I'm a member at Fuhrman's website, know the diet inside out. Have done the 6 week plan and felt like a million bucks. Then I regress to THIS. WTH? I haven't been a nice person, I certainly haven't been my higher Self. My husband and two teenaged sons deserve better than I have been able to give them. I deserve better. So...I got up this morning and made my kids a fruit smoothie, then added a whopping coupla handfuls of spinach and kale to the blender....along with some flax. And that was breakfast. Then I took my Fuhrman supplements. Then I came in to read my emails and was led to your blog. Good luck to you. Good luck to me. Let's do this. Love, love, love, Marie

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    1. Marie, thank you for your awesome, honest comment. Spinach and kale - AWESOME! Before you know it, you'll be back - the real you. I totally relate to life getting in the way. But you've taken a huge step by rocking the green/fruit smoothies. You and I have a lot in common, not the least of which is serious permanent health risks. Fuzzy vision, aches, fatigue...all that stuff sticks after a while and then it's too late. Every sip of smoothie you take is another kick in the privates on the disease, another shimmy towards being healthy in every way. YOU CAN DO THIS. You'll hear more about this from me soon, God-willing, but we NEED to be healthy not only to feel good, but also to be strong for when life gets crazy. YOU CAN DO THIS. Together we MUST publicly shame our diabetes! We MUST.

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    2. Dan, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your warm reply. Okay...I'm EXCITED, now! You are lucky to have a wonderful wife to cook for you. My husband's idea of cooking healthy is saying he made the potatoes with chicken stock and olive oil instead of butter. WHAT? But he's amazing and happy to take care of the food for himself and the boys until I can get us ALL switched over to more plant-based. He's pretty set in his ways and we are Midwest stock...meat and potatoes and butter and cream and cheese...all the way ; ) Oh, and then a chocolate sundae with a little caramel on top. I am thrilled and honored to get to take this ride with you, and looking forward to hearing more about your diet and all of the positive effects it will have on your health, your family and your spiritual/emotional life. You are an excellent writer and will make the journey more interesting and fun. I rocked yesterday, by the way...and had the thought that eating right is a way to honor and nurture my Self. I do that in so many other ways, I just need to remember how wonderful it feels when I eat plant-based (and high nutrition)...and then keep it up even when the going gets tough, or ESPECIALLY when the going gets tough. Love, love, love to you and yours. Marie

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    3. Awesome. Great comment - right on, absolutely going to try to remember today that eating well is as much for me as it is for others. And it DOES feel good, doesn't it, to eat well??? And it feels like CRAP to eat CRAP! When the going gets tough, the tough have to KICK BUTT.

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  16. I appreciate your willingness to share your journey. I began Dr. Fuhrman's vegetable & fruit based plan on 10/15.It is nice to find someone else in the same stage to compare notes with!

    Good luck in your progress! I will be thinking healthful thoughts for you.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Bridget. Hopefully I'll be posting soon about plant-strong. Keep in touch - let's compare notes.

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  17. Dan,

    First off, let me say that you are a marvelous writer! I don't know what you do for a living, but you can certainly add "writer" to your resume'.
    I want to say "Mazel Tov" to you and keep at it. Just think of the "911 Text" message as the best thing that ever happened to you. Look at the FAVOR the Doc did by calling you IMMEDIATELY!! 'Let's not waste time here folks, this guy is in trouble!'

    I am behind you and PROUD of you to make this big change in your life. As more time goes by, it will become second nature to eat a plant based diet. And as you said, you have a fantastic wife who makes it all possible. Pretty soon you will be laughing at all those meat eating, oil consuming, dairy wimps who cannot what they put into their mouths!

    I have been eating a plant based diet for about 1 1/2 years. I have lost 25 pounds.
    I feel great!!!!! The good news for me is that I was on TWO cholesterol medications (for 16 years!) and now I am not taking them anymore. I have to be even more diligent to make sure that I don't eat oil EVER and may have to give up my beloved peanut butter, but it will be ok. It's all good. I want to LIVE and G-d willing, I want to live a long time!

    I am so happy for you! Can't wait to hear your progress. Look forward to your postings!

    All my best to you Dan dear! Mazel tov on the birth of your little girl! I sincerely hope your little boy is potty trained tomorrow!
    Sincerely,
    Marsha

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    1. Marsha, thanks for your comment. I'm 100% confident that my wake-up call was a shot across the bow from God. "Hey, Weiss. Wake up. Wake up right now."

      I'm so glad to hear you're off your meds. A little birdie might have mentioned that to me - a really important, fabulous little birdie who has been an amazing friend and who encouraged me to write this blog...and to whom I'm really, really grateful. He must have excellent parents, this little birdie.

      Thanks so much for the wishes - and all the best to you as well! Now we're on this journey together!

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  18. Hi! I found your blog from Healthy Girl's Kitchen and wanted to share our story with you. I cook a plant-based diet at home, but my husband eats out frequently. He started experiencing some "symptoms" that made me think he might have pre-diabetes, so I encouraged him to get things checked out. He reluctantly agreed to see the doctor, only to find out that he had blood sugars in the 350s! He came home, tried the meds for one day and hated them, then hestarted eating vegetables and beans and exercising several times per week and four weeks later his fasting blood sugars are in the 120-130 range.

    He's started eating a little bit of whole grains and low-sugar fruits now that his blood sugars have steadily dropped and he's feeling GREAT! He has tons of energy and is a much more pleasant husband and father to be around. We are so grateful to know about this lifestyle option that apparently works as well (or better) than medications.

    You can do this!

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    1. Traci, I've heard these kind of results over and over again on Dr. Fuhrman's website. It makes me really excited for Dan...to know that this can happen for him, too...simply by changing to a high nutrient plant-based diet. Congratulations to you and your husband.

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    2. Awesome story, Traci. It's so much better when the spouse is on board. In my case, Mrs. Weissology was on board way before I was. I'll be posting soon about progress being plant strong and how the numbers have shaken out. Thanks for the great comment!

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  19. Dan,

    Your writing style reminds me of AJ Jacobs. You should read his books. Laughed my freaking head off. Thanks for that!

    While I'm not diabetic I have sky-high cholesterol (274). I need to lose about 15 lbs. Some of it is genetic, but let's get real here - I need to cut the vegan crap from my diet. I lost 70 lbs. on Weight Watchers before going vegan. I've been flirting with Esselstyn/McDougall/Engine 2/Fuhrman for awhile now (maybe 4 years?) and binging in between. Fuhrman just doesn't work for me. I'm now doing Esselstyn/McDougall/Engine2 and working really hard not to binge. It's a struggle, I have to say, but is starting to get slightly easier day to day. Thank G-d all the Jewish holidays are over with all the endless food. As you know, Thanksgiving food is a joke compared to all the food that gets eaten during the Jewish holidays.

    Mazel tov on the birth of your daughter! Hopefully your son won't have to wear the brace on his feet much longer. Would he go for a potty next to his bed to avoid night time bathroom trips?

    Hang in there Dan! I'm with you. Let's do this.

    Caroline in boiling hot L.A.

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    1. Caroline, thanks for your comment. My cholesterol has also been somewhat of a disaster, or as my friend the electro-cardiologist called them, "Horrific." I've tried Fuhrman in the past, and am also doing kind of a hybrid of some of the other approaches now. I'm also struggling with stress-eating...yeah, the Jewish holidays were tough. Thanksgiving!? Thanksgiving is ONE DAY people! We can do five Thanksgivings in our SLEEP! I'm with you as well - stronger as a team. High fives from the snowy tundra!

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  20. Dan,

    Great post. Good luck with the life-change! Proud of ya.

    Godspeed, friend.

    -Heath

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  21. Dan,
    Your story was both heart-wrenching and heart-warming all at the same time. I suppose that describes many moments of a life fully lived. I'm reminded, that we are what we repeatedly do, so my best wishes to you as you set a new course and look to redefine what and who you are. Please call upon me if I can support this journey in any way.

    All my best,

    Rick Simmons

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    1. Rick, thanks for your comment. "We are what we repeatedly do." So true. I appreciate your support, and look forward to another coffee very soon.

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