Friday, April 29, 2011


Joe Estep, the one friend I've had since childhood who I trust with my life, had gastric bypass surgery in March 2007. It has transformed his life in more ways than even he could count, both physically and emotionally. He has lost in the neighborhood of about 200 pounds ... amazing.

I'm proud of him beyond what words could ever truly express.

That's one side of my own weight-loss story. If Joe can do so well with the surgery, maybe, just maybe, I could as well. But here's the flip side. Both of my parents had stomach-stapling surgery in the early 1980s, back when such procedures were still relatively new.

The surgery very nearly killed my mom, because what was left of her stomach opening closed up. She could get no nutrients, none. She went from well over 300 pounds to a virtual skeleton. She eventually had to have the procedure reversed, at which point she gained quite a bit of weight back.

The roller-coaster was not kind to her.

My dad's reactions were not as severe, but to the day he died in 2008, he had problems with eating too much and getting sick. The memories I have of my parents' surgeries are not good ones, not in the slightest, tiniest bit.

Yet on the day of the crushing embarrassment of my run in the Space Shuttle simulator in Houston last June, I called Jeanie very nearly in tears and told her that I was having surgery. I went through the whole process -- counseling, meetings, food diaries -- and had a date set in October for a banding procedure. It was only an insurance issue that kept me from having it.

Normally, that would have been a perfect excuse to quit trying. This time, it did not. I kept going, determined never to let anything like those first few minutes in the Shuttle sim ever happen again. Those belts would, by gosh, fit now ... ALL of them.

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