John N.
Hancock, MI, USA
Post Op - Planning a revision - BMI: 39.1
Surgery Type: RNY
Member ID: N1036903941
Web Site: http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN
Surgeon: Michael Schuhknecht, D.O.


Click here for John's surgery support page
Click here for Before & After pictures page
Click here for the 07/2003 Reunion Page
Click here to print John's cards
(You can print your own cards, and if you're good at it,
you can help print cards for your friends as well!)

Click here to view John’s friends.

********


I am starting this Weight Loss Journey at the following Stats:
Height 5'9"
Weight 495 pounds
BMI 73.1 (Body Mass Index)

Here is a listing of my WLS results .. so you find the info in one place instead of reading each update for this information:

DATE Weight Results BMI
6/5/03 495 73.1
7/16/03 Dr. Consult 489 Down 6 72.2
7/28/03 My Surgery Date
8/7/03 11 days Post Op 477 Down 12 (18) 70.4
8/28/03 One Month Post Op 444 Down 51 65.6
9/12/03 441 Down 54 65.1
9/22/03 8 weeks Post Op 427 Down 68 63.1
9/28/03 2 months Post Op 422 Down 73 62.3 Down 22 inches
10/04/03 10 weeks Post Op 416 down 79 61.4
10/17/03 11 1/2 weeks Post Op 404 down 91 59.7
10/21/03 12 weeks Post Op 402 down 93 59.4
11/03/03 14 weeks Post Op 393 down 102 58.0
12/3/03 4 months Post Op 380 down 115 56.1
12/29/03 5 months Post Op 360 down 135 53.2
1/28/04 6 months Post Op 349 down 146 51.5
2/27/04 7 months Post Op 333 down 162 49.2
3/23/04 8 Months Post Op 323 down 172 47.7 Down 70 inches
4/17/04 8 1/2 Months Post Op 315 down 180 46.5
5/28/04 10 Months Post Op 315 down 180 46.5
6/18/04 10 1/2 Months Post Op 304 down 191 44.9
7/3/04 11 Months Post Op 302 down 193 44.6
7/16/04 11 1/2 Months Post Op 294 down 201
9/3/04 13 Months Post Op 276 Down 219 40.8
10/28/04 14 Months Post Op 265 Down 230

Developed DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis in left leg resutlting in water gain) 1/30/05 335 water gain of 70 pounds in 2 weeks

6/20/05 reoccuring DVT
7/14/05 emergency surgery for egg sized cyst in groin 345


I have the following comorbidities:
Morbid Obesity 3/8/91
Type II Diabetes 3/8/91
Hypertension 12/22/92
Asthma 1/30/96
Peripheral Neuropathy 1/30/96
Diabetic Foot Ulcer 3/3/97
Sleep Apnea 12/8/98
Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome 12/8/98
Cardimegaly 1/11/99
Hypercholesterolemia 1/11/99
Venous Stasis Disease 1/11/99
Edema 1/11/99
Osteoarthritis 1/11/99
Charcot Joints 10/28/99
Heel Spurs 11/5/02
Deep Vein Thrombosis 1/30/05

I have made many attempts to lose weight, including:
Weight Watchers
Overeaters Anonymous
Herbal Life
Atkins diet
Nutritionist consults
MediFast
Redux
Phen-fen


My pics can be viewed at PictureTrail: http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN

**** my current updates begin here ****

Thursday, July 28, 2005

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME

Today I am 2 years post op. YEAH !!!!!!

I wanted to update my profile to let you know how I am doing. I apologize for not keeping this updated on a more regular basis but will attempt to come here more often.

Additionally, for all of my close friends who received a monthly email update, I wanted to let you know the reason for not receiving one for almost a year now is that I have been having some major problems with my computer that stores my email addresses. As soon as I can get the problem corrected I will try to get out those updates again.

When I began my weight loss journey two years ago, I had visions of being at my goal weight by this date. Well due to circumstances beyond my control that has not happened. As you read in later posts to my journal, you notice that in January of this year I developed a blood clot in my left leg and in just 2 weeks gained over 60 pounds of fluid. The doctors explained to me that the lymphatic system shut down with the damage from the blood clot. They also informed me that my body is attempting to reestablish the blood flow through new capillaries around the damaged vein. When the blood flow is restored to normal, the lymphatic system will then "turn back on" to filter the water back out of my leg and abdomen. Even the highest doses of "water pills" has not siphoned any of the water out of my system.

June 30, 2005 while home for a weekend trip I ended up back in the emergency room of the hospital where they discovered some new blood clots in my left leg. This time there was a three inch section just above my knee that was blocked by the clots. I want to make it very clear, these clots are in no way connected to my gastric bypass surgery. (This is a question I am always asked.) The doctors do not know exactly why they have occurred, however due to my extensive driving and sitting at the computer for work these may be contributing factors. One benefit of the surgery, I had a special filter inserted to capture any blood clots to prevent them from reaching my lungs and heart. This was a normal precaution for a person as large as I was and this filter has been doing its job with these blood clots in my legs to keep me alive. Thank the Lord!

Just two weeks ago, I had another surgery. I had noticed a walnut sized lump in my groin. At first I thought it might have been a boil. The next evening when checking it I discovered that it was the size of an egg. Being concerned about the rapid growth in size in just one day, I trekked to the emergency room at 1:30 AM. By 7:00 AM I was in surgery to have it removed. The procedure only took 15 minutes but was left with a deep cavity where the cyst was taken out. They kept me in the hospital to make sure I did not develop any infections and have been home recuperating. I feel fine.

I will be traveling back downstate this coming Sunday to resume work downstate.

Well I have to get running right now. I will attempt to return soon to share more thoughts about my two year journey with you. Thank you again for all of your love and support over these years. If ANYONE has any questions about my surgery and journey, please contact me at any time as I am always glad to help others.

God Bless,
John

****
Monday, April 11, 2005

WOW ... I can not believe that it has been 8 months since I have update my weight loss diary ....

Lots has happened since my last update .... let me try to get you up to date on my progress....

My weight loss has taken a sharp change ... the end of January I developed a blood clot in my left leg and as a result have retained about 60 pounds of fluid in my left leg and lower abdomen. Over the last weekend of January I noticed that my legs seemed to be more swollen than usual ... so for the weekend I decided to spend time in bed with my legs elevated to assist in the swelling to go down. Sunday morning I was shocked to see how swollen my entire left leg was looking.

I got on the scale and could not believe that in 4 days I had gained about 28 pounds .... I knew something was wrong and got dressed and drove to the emergency room ... after explaining my concerns they ran some test and discovered the blood clot below my knee in my left leg.

They admitted me to the hospital and started me on blood thinners to keep me from developing additional clots. I only had to spend the one evening in the hospital since I had a vena cava filter implanted prior to my gastric bypass surgery. With the filter the chance of the blood clot traveling to my lungs and killing me from a pulmonary embolism was reduced because of the filter.

The following week another 25 to 30 pounds of fluid filled my lower abdomen. My leg was so full of fluids that the next place that filled up was my stomach ... it sure limited the clothes I could wear. Just a few weeks prior to the clot, I had purchased a new wardrobe that are too tight to wear now ...

In speaking with a specialist, he informed me that it may take 1 and a half to two years before all of this excess fluid finally is reabsorbed. What a shock to think when I was just 40 pounds from my first goal weight .... now I have 90 pounds to go ....


Even with diuretics the fuild is not coming off ....

I will be fitted for special compression stockings today to help apply pressure on my legs to try to help move the fluid up from my lower legs ...

I will try to get back soon to do more updating to my diary ...

God Bless,
John

****

Thursday, August 12, 2004


One Year Weight Loss Update and Atlanta Update

YES, I am still Alive and Well!!!!!

Allow me to start off by apologizing for not keeping you up to date with my email or posting to my “Journal”. (www.obesityhelp.com?m=121728) I have been keeping extremely busy this past month here in Atlanta, Georgia.

The last time I had an opportunity to step on a scale was July 16 and at 11 ½ months was down 201 pounds to 294. What an accomplishment from the 495 pounds when I had my surgery on July 28, 2003. This past month I know my weight is down because my new clothes are getting loose and I have to cut another notch in my belt to keep my pants up. These are always good signs to know that you are progressing in the right direction. For so many years, I would watch my clothes getting tighter and busting out at the seams until I had to buy larger sizes.

I have shared with you how God directed me to Atlanta Georgia to work with At Risk Youth for a great organization called Celebrate Life International. ( www.CelebrateLife.org or www.TeachOneToLeadOne.org ) Four years ago, I had an opportunity to hear and meet Lori Salierno, the Founder and CEO of CLI. She was the speaker for Fire Up, a Youth For Christ event in Marquette Michigan back in the spring of 2000. It is a great blessing to be working with her and to see her heart and passion for youth. The “culture” of Celebrate Life is so remarkable and is refreshing to see the dedication and commitment of the entire staff. They are truly a family and it feels like I have known them all of my life even though it has just been a few weeks since I have been working alongside of them.

This past Friday, August 6 I received my Facilitator Certification at a very joyous graduation celebration with the staff and my fellow “Facilitator’s in Training”. I learned so much these past three weeks that my brain is just starting to catch up cataloging all the information downloaded from the sessions. I also have been challenged to move out of my comfort areas to try new things.

Wednesday, August 4 the entire staff spent the day together for a Team Building experience. Part of the day included a "Challenge Course" sponsored by the founder of "Chick Fill-A" at a College in the mountains. (By the way, if you ever get an opportunity to eat at a Chick Fill-A restaurant, I would highly recommend eating there. What a unique experience to see how employees at a Chick Fill-A restaurant are there to make sure you have an enjoyable dining experience.)

Getting back to the "Challenge Course" .... the last event of the day was a “high adventure”. Allow me to paint you a picture ....

You start off by climbing into a full body harness and safety helmet ... next they strap you to a hook (Carabineer) on your back. Then they attach you to two guide ropes that are strapped to four "team" members on the ground. These friends are also in a full body harness so they will support your weight if you fall and are "Dangling for your life” .... (hope you have a smile on your face with this picture)

When you are ready to begin your climb .... you start up a 6 foot ladder leaning against a telephone pole that has "U" bolts staggered up the pole for you to step on and hold onto .. as you climb up this Pole.

When you are approximately 15 feet above the ground there is a guide wire attached to your "pole" that moves toward another guide wire that another "Team" member is climbing up (his or her pole) at the same time as you are. At the junction of your guide wire and your partners guide wire there is a rope for you to use to steady yourself ... and then another wire that goes to a third "Pole" where your four team members are attached for balance and support. Keep in mind that your partner also has “four team members” attached to his/her rope to provide balance and support.

When you are climbing up the initial pole, the four team members are moving back away from that third pole to provide support to the wire that is attached to your back. When you finally climb on the first wire and try to move to the center where your partner is waiting for you to help walk the final 20 feet to the third pole, the “four anchor friends” continue to keep tension on the rope attached to your back to give you the support to walk this "tight rope" .... 15 feet off the ground with no net!!!!!!!!

Now you should have a good picture of what I was facing and attempting to do.

At first, I was content to be on the ground and to be the "official Photographer" so we could capture all of the other 13 staff (and family) who were on this outing. One by one all of the others were having fun and completing this challenge ... albeit some had to overcome their fears and some had a few scrapes and bruises too .... the pictures turned out great.

I keep looking at this challenge and thought .... "I wonder if I could really do it?"

For too many years, I have been the person "Safe on the ground" because at 495 pounds ... there was no way that I could physically engage in the activities my friends were doing .... As I have been taking this weight off, I constantly tell people how good it feels to finally be a participant in life instead of just an observer ... or "photographer"

I also thought .... If I don't even try ... how will I know if "I could have done it!"

So I went over to the container with the harnesses and got strapped in for my attempt. With much encouragement from the rest of the "Team” I started up the ladder, they were so excited to see me determined to face this challenge and the fear of failure.

I made it past the top of the ladder and up several of the "U" bolts in the pole .... but began to have difficulty climbing to the wire .... I missed a bolt and swung free of the pole “dangling … but not for my Life (smile) ..

I asked my “Support Team” to give me some slack .. so I could get back to the ladder and try again ...

I started back up and everyone was cheering me on .... I had difficulties trying to pull myself up and gaining my footing on the "U" Bolts and had to stop 3 or 4 times to catch my breath and to figure out a new strategy to make it to the next level (BOLT) ....

When I finally said that .... I have reached my limit .... I felt a great sense of accomplishment even though I never made it to the upper wire to cross .... I had TRIED to do something that I would have never have attempted 201 pounds heavier .... I also did not let the first "Stumble" stop me .. but made a number of additional attempts to see how much further I could make it.

I hope to post some of the pictures from my climb in my Photo Album soon ...(www.picturetrail.com/JohnN ) you will enjoy the picture of me hanging in mid air with a great big smile on my face as I wave .... I was given a copy of this picture at my graduation.

I know I say this all the time ... but I am truly amazed at how great it feels to have my life back .. and to be able to do things that I have never done before .. or to do things that I have not been able to do for so many years .. while I was so overweight .... LIFE IS GREAT !!!!!!!!

The weather has been hot and humid ... but I am doing well … it is a piece of cake .... Last year, I would have been dying .... but I have fun outside and am active. Last week, we hosted a "Golf Outing" to raise money for our program ... I was out on the gold course for 5 hours in the blazing sun and enjoying every minute ... I did get burned .... but with a little moisturizer have a nice tan starting.

Thank you again for all of your prayers and encouragement you have shared with me, especially over this past year with my Weight Loss Journey. Each month I thank you and I hope you do not feel that my thanks are just routine and not sincere. I am very blessed by our friendship and am grateful for your thoughts and prayers.

Without your prayers, I know my journey would have been harder and even during some of the hard times, it was your prayers and words of encouragement that has given me the strength to move forward. God knows how much we need friends in our lives and I thank Him daily for YOU!

I do have one ... ok ... several prayer requests this month:

1. CLI (Celebrate Life International) is still waiting for two High Schools to sign contracts for the Teach One to Lead One program to be offered in their schools. Until these contracts are signed, CLI is not able to extend a contract to me. I was aware of this situation before I even came down to Atlanta for training, but we are all standing in Faith that the schools will be signing them soon.

2. Since I am not on staff with CLI, yet, I do not have any income coming in to cover my expenses to relocate here to Atlanta (Acworth) Georgia and while I have been here for the past four weeks .. until I start in the schools. I have had some funds coming in from previous work that I was doing back in Michigan .. but the expenses to relocate and stay here are greater than the revenue stream .... I know that God is Faithful and has led me here ... and HE will take care of me .. however ... I also know how much prayer helps in the trails and situations we face ... and would appreciate your prayers.

3. I also could use prayer that I find affordable lodging in the area. Right at the moment I am in limbo as I wait for the contracts to be signed before I make plans on an apartment or other living arrangements. I am staying in a motel that has special rates for long-term visitors.

4. Lastly and most importantly, please pray for me that God will equip me with the additional skills needed to effectively work with youth in the schools and juvenile court. As many of you know, for the past 14 years I have worked with Adult Offenders in prison and the community. Even though I have vast experience working with Adults, I have gained insights from their “case history” to understand the struggles they faced in their youth. It is my prayer that this understanding will assist me as I share how the “Universal Principles” of Respect, Integrity, Self-Control, Courage, Excellence, Compassion, Humility, Team Work, Enthusiasm and Honor will provide the youth with the skills necessary to face their challenges as they learn how to become responsible citizens and leaders.

Thank you for prayers ... you are in my prayers daily.

I will attempt to do a better job keeping you updated .... If you would like to give me a call, my cell phone is on and works down here in Atlanta …. 616-634-6314. I would enjoy hearing from you!

With All of my Love,
John

****

August 10 .... Happy Birthday to me ...

Today is my birthday ...

****

****


Tuesday, July 20, 2004 7:00 AM

Yesterday was my first day of Facilitator Training with Celebrate Life International in Acworth, Georgia. If you would like to learn more about Celebrate Life go to their website at www.celebratelife.org. It was a great day and all of the staff was nice and you could see their commitment and passion for youth. I am blessed to be part of such a tremendous ministry and am looking forward to learning more about their ministry and the Teach One to Lead One philosophy that is taught in local schools and juvenile court.

My days during the three week training period will be full of memorization and studying. Last night we had a meeting with parents of youth who will be attending our day camp next week.

Well I need to get running to finish my breakfast before I have to head over to the office. I will give you additional updates real soon.

God Bless y’all,
John


*****
Sunday, July 18, 2004 8:30 PM

Well Hello Everyone ....

I made it to Atlanta safe and sound and in one piece ... I am all checked in to my hotel room where I will be setting up shop for the next three weeks.

I still ask for your prayers .. that the contracts they are waiting to be signed will go through as planned by the end of the month so they can offer me the position.

The weather was 90 and humid today .. but it sure felt good ....

I will update you all as soon as I know more ...

Thanks again for all of your well wishes and notes of encouragement ... I will miss you all but look forward to seeing you all soon.

God Bless,
John


*****
Friday, July 16, 2004

Tears of Joy !!!!!!!

I am sitting here getting ready pack up my things for my trip to Atlanta .. and just stepped on the scale to see if I dropped below the 300 pounds level ....

To my surprise and excitement .. the scale hovered between 294 and 295 ... I am now officially below the 300 pound level .. but also am now a member of the 2 Century Club ... am now down 200 pounds ...... (shouting it from the roof tops ...... )

I just wanted to share my happiness with you ....

Thanks for allowing me to toot my horn ...

With all of my Love,
John


****

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Well here is the update that you have all been waiting for. This past Monday, July 12 I flew to Atlanta to meet with Celebrate Life's founder/CEO, Chief Operating Officer and Program Manager. We had a great meeting and dinner. I also had the opportunity to meet the second facilitator for the open positions. They continued to express their admiration of my background and passion for ministry. I learned how God moved in Lori Salerno's heart to start this ministry after meeting Mother Theresa. In fact Lori had an opportunity to be with Mother Theresa on 5 occasions.

They are still waiting for two contracts to be signed to deliver the Teach One to Lead One program in Atlanta schools and juvenile court. These contracts should be signed by the end of July. When they have the signed contract they will be able offer me the Facilitator Position. The training process for a Facilitator takes three weeks. They have asked me to be in Atlanta to begin training this coming Monday, July 19. I understand that if the contracts are not signed, they will not be able to offer me this position, however, I am standing in Faith with them that the contracts will be signed .... so tomorrow (Friday) I will begin my 20 hour drive to Atlanta.

People keep asking me, why do you want to move away from home to Atlanta. The short answer is .. because God is directing me to go there. When I began to seek God's direction on what He wanted me to do next ... I told Him .. I will do anything you want me to do .. and will go anywhere you have in mind for me ... Just this past weekend .. while reading my Bible .. I was drawn to the passage when God told Abraham to leave his home county and journey to the "promised land". It says that Abraham obeyed God ... even though he did not know where God was leading him ... well I feel like Abraham .. I just need to trust God that He knows exactly what He has planned for me and my life .. and if I want to continue to receive His Blessings ... I need to be obedient and follow the path he is laying out for me.

I am excited about what is ahead .. and for the ministry that he is bringing me too. I know that you have been praying diligently for me and this position. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Please continue to uphold me in your prayers that God will be with me as I travel to Atlanta, and ultimately be offered this position. I would also like to ask you to pray for Celebrate Life, their management and staff for God's blessing on them and the ministry. Please pray for the youth that will be in the program I will be teaching. Also pray for the community volunteers who will be assisting me.

I will keep you updated on the progress of the training and the status of the contracts.

Oh by the way, I enjoyed my flight so much and even had "room" to spare in the restroom on the plane. "So that is what they look like!"

I need to get busy packing and preparing for my relocation. I know that I will not have time to say all the "good byes" that I would have wanted to do .. please know that I do love you and care about you. I will continue to keep you updated on both my weight loss and with Celebrate Life. As soon as I know my permanent address in Atlanta, I will forward this information to you. If you would like to contact me you can still use my bkm@up.net email address or my cell phone 616-634-6314.

God Bless,
John

****

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Hello Family and Friends,

I wanted to get this information posted to keep you informed on my Interview mentioned in my 11 month update posted a few days ago.

My interview with the Chief Operating Officer, Jose went great. Last night I received the phone call I was waiting for ... asking me to fly to Atlanta for another interview. This interview will be with Lori Salerno, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Celebrate Life International, Jose the Chief Operating Officer and Chris the Teach One to Lead One Program Director. I will actually be flying to Atlanta in the early afternoon on Monday, July 12 and they will be picking me up from the airport and taking me out to dinner where we will discuss the ministry and position in Atlanta and how I could fit into the work of their ministry.

I had several phone conversations with Chris to work out the arrangements to fly into and out of Atlanta. One area we discussed was the ministries plans to come to Michigan with their Teach One to Lead One program. When they move to a new area (state) the process takes at least one year. One likely scenario is for me to come to Atlanta as a program facilitator in a local school and with the Juvenile Court to implement their Teach One to Lead One program. I will also begin working with them and using my contacts back in Michigan to develop the contacts necessary to establish the program. It may take one or two years before they are ready for the program to begin in Michigan and I may come back to begin the program as a facilitator (just like I was doing in Atlanta) and also supervise other facilitators hired here in Michigan.

One additional insight ..... This will be my first plane flight since my surgery ..... I am looking forward to flying now ... not like the fear and anxiety I experienced before my surgery ... not from being afraid of flying ... but from people refusing to sit next to me as I took up "two seats" with my 495 pound girt ... and the panic to think .... what would I do ... if I had to go to the bathroom while flying .. I knew that there was absolutely no way that I would ever fit into the small door to the restroom on the plane ...

Who knows ... I may just go to the bathroom ... even if I do not need to go ... just so I can see how I can fit in through the door .. Smile

Please lift me up in prayer that God will be with me and give me His words to share with Lori, Jose and Chris. That our hearts become knit together as we seek God's will for me and Celebrate Life. Also please lift up Celebrate Life that God would bless this ministry and their impact in the lives of youth they reach.

If they offer me this position after our dinner and interview, I will need to be ready to begin training in Atlanta the following Monday, July 19. There will not be much time between flying back to Detroit on Tuesday morning, July 13 traveling back home to Hancock, tying up loose ends to relocate to Atlanta and then drive 20 hours back to Atlanta and find housing over the weekend to begin my training on Monday, July 19. As you can see, this will be a large task .. and I will be moving at Hyper Speed to accomplish all of this.

I will send you a report on my interview and their decision to welcome me to their staff and ministry.

Please know that you are and will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

With all of my Love,
John


****
Friday, July 9, 2004

Tonight 37 Weight Loss Journey friends gathered at Jeni & Andy Allen's home for a BBQ. WOW did we have a great time. Many of those attending have been emailing or talking on the Michigan Message Board here at AMOS / OH and tonight was the first time we had an opportunity to meet each other. There were a number of us that have already know each other and it was good to see our results since our surgery.

If I remember the numbers correct, collectively we have dropped 3,485 pounds .... WOW ....

We had so many great memories from this party and are looking ahead to this being an annual event. Jim and I lightened up the crowd with our good nature attitudes .. when someone turned a request for a song (Karaoke) supposedly from Jim .. and I joined him as the crowd was literally rolling in the isles and ground ... we both decided that it would be best if we keep our day jobs ...

I enjoyed visiting with everyone and continued to deepen friendships with my fellow travelers on this weight loss journey. Several of us commented that the bonds of friendship is so strong .. even with just meeting each other .. because of our experiences while being overweight. What a Great Band of Brother's and Sister's.

John


****
July 3, 2004

Family and Friends,

Happy Fourth of July .....

Here I am again ... with my 11 month update. The plateau that I was experiencing for about 7 weeks has now officially ended and I am dropping weight again ... drum roll please .... I am now 302 pounds which is down 193 pounds from my starting weight of 495 .... WOW ... what a great feeling. I am just at the brink of breaking below the 300 pound level .. plus nearing the 200 pound weight loss. Who would have imagined that in just 11 months I would have taken off 193 pounds ... I am now wearing size 50 pants ... down from 70 ... I have also lost 82 inches ....

I had an interesting experience this past Sunday, I was speaking with a friend at church and my mom told me after the services, that she was looking around during the fellowship time and was wondering who was talking with Gerry ... then all of a sudden noticed that it was me ... she did not recognize me at first ... I have been getting lots of that lately. People who have not seen me since my surgery keep coming up to me saying .... "That is YOU!"

Since my last update, I have moved back home to the UP to wait for God to show me where He wants me with ministry. I would like to ask you for some special prayers. Two weeks ago, I received an email from a ministry in Atlanta, GA that is looking for staff to work with At-Risk youth. For the last few years I have received ministry updates from them and I was excited to see that they have ministry openings. I forwarded them my resume and had my first interview with the Program Director on June 24.

This coming Monday, July 5th I will have an interview with their Chief Operating Officer at 11 AM. I felt my first interview went well, in fact the 20 minute phone interview turned into an hour long interview. I would ask that you pray that if this is where God wants me that He would give me the words to express my heart and passion to help youth develop a strong moral foundation in their lives to keep them from going down the wrong path and ending up in Prison and the Criminal Justice System.

Most of my experience has been within the Adult setting but I have worked on several advisory boards dealing with Juvenile issues and have a desire to see youth grow and develop into responsible citizens. I have related well with youth over the years and look forward to this opportunity to work directly with them. The ministry is called Celebrate Life and their program is called Teach One to Lead One. If you would like to learn more about this ministry check out their website www.CelebrateLife.org or www.TeachOneToLeadOne.org

I will keep you posted on how the interview goes. The current openings they have are in Atlanta however in talking with the program director he was interested with my criminal justice, school and agency contacts here in Michigan and we discussed possibilities of using my experience and networks here in Michigan to expand their ministry to Michigan.

Well I am off to get ready for some 4th of July celebrations and want to thank you again for your continued love, prayers, encouragement and the support you have provided me. I am truly grateful

With all of my Love,
John

personal journal www.obesityhelp.com?m=121728
photo album www.picturetrail.com/JohnN


***


****
Sunday, June 13, 2004

I attended the funeral of a dear friend MOMMA ANGEL. Paula and I have corresponded over the past several years here at Obesity Help / AMOS and I was saddened to hear of her passing on June 10, 2004. There were 2 other AMOS friends who were able to attend her funeral and we were blessed to meet Paula's family and share with them how much Momma Angel meant ... not only to us ... but the many other family here at AMOS. She was truly a loving and compassionate lady.

There were many people from the community that also celebrated her life that afternoon. She will be missed .. but we will never forget her.

John

****

Monday, May 31, 2004
Happy Memorial Day !!!!!!

I wanted to stop by and share some thoughts on my recent plateau. For the past 6 weeks I have maintained 315 pounds. I know all about the possibility of plateaus ... but going through one is interesting.

Our "old tapes or voices" are ever present ... I keep hearing accusations that I am eating too much of the wrong foods, or I am not eating enough ... go figure that one *smile*.

I have got back to a walking program .. hopefully this will kick start the weight loss again. I am also paying closer attention to the foods that I am eating .. just in case there is some truth to the eating wrong foods "voice".

One point of encouragement .... I have stayed exactly at 315 for these past 6 weeks ... have not gained any weight .....

I will keep you posted on my progress ... and would again appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers ...

God Bless,
John

****
Saturday, May 28, 2004
Hello Family and Friends,

It has been a couple months since I sent my last update and wanted to share some exciting news with you. I am now 10 months post op and have taken off 180 pounds and am feeling GREAT!!!!!! I also hit my first plateau .... I have been down 180 pounds for the past month .... weighing in at 315 .... I keep watching for the scales to dip below the 300 pound barrier and just like that preverbal watched pot .... the scales are still at 315 ... but I can feel the inches coming off and the notches in the belt being added to keep my pants from falling down.

On May 10th, while at a Restorative Justice conference near Petoskey, I was doing some shopping at Wal-Mart and discovered that for the first time in 20 years I was able to purchase clothes off the rack in a discount department store ... Imagine the thrill to buy clothes off the rack and not through the King Size catalog or from a Big Men's store ... I had so much fun trying on several different items ... WOW ..... Many of my friends at the conference were so happy for me and they enjoyed my modeling of my new swimming trunks and shirt ....

In some of my earlier updates I mentioned that I was offered a ministry position with the Salvation Army in Jackson, Michigan. The Divisional Office in Grand Rapids were considering my position but we just found out that my friend, Major Dale and Sharon Hale are being transferred to Bismark ND and my position will not be filled at this time. I know that God is in Control and has something in the wings for me ... I want to thank all of you who have been praying for me and this position and would like to ask you to continue to lift me up in your prayers and that God will open up the door that He wants me to step through to serve Him .... Please lift up Dale and Sharon as they undertake new responsibilities in North Dakota and Minnesota.

One of my good long time friends from High School had his Gastric Bypass surgery on May 20 and is doing great. Darrell and I have been on other diets together over the years and I was so glad that he decided to have this surgery so he could take his extra weight off and regain his health and life, like I have. Please keep Darrell in your prayers too! I have several other friends who are in the process of obtaining approvals from their insurance companies to have this surgery. Please pray for Tom, Diane, Carolyn, and Donna.

If you have not stopped by my diary in a while here is the address www.obesityhelp.com?m=121728 and I have some new pictures up in my photo album located at www.picturetrail.com/JohnN


Well I want to thank you again for all of your prayers, words of encouragement and your friendship. I am so thankful that God has allowed our lives to cross and that we are friends. You are in my thoughts and prayers often.

With all of my love!

John

****
Monday, May 17, 2004

WOW ..... where does the time go? It has been 3 weeks since I have posted an update on my diary. Lots has been happening ....

First off .... please pray for my friend Darrell who will be having his weight loss surgery this coming Thursday, May 20 with my surgeon, Dr. Schuhknecht at Harper Hospital in Detroit. Darrell and I went to high school together and have been good friends for many years. We have gone on "diets" together over the years and I am so glad that he decided to have the Gastric Bypass Surgery. He will be having his surgery on the one year anniversary of another friend of our's Mary who has also done real well after her surgery.

With Mary and I encouraging Darrell he will do just great.

This past Monday, while attending a conference downstate, I have an awesome experience. I was able to purchase a bathing suit (jogging shorts) off the rack in a department store for the first time in 20 years .... wooo hooooo .....

I had so much fun trying on 5 or 6 different shorts and shirts .. the attendant at the fitting room must have thought I was crazy .... but hey .... buying clothes in a department store instead of from King Size catalog or Big Men's stores ... was a great feeling ......

I found out this past Friday evening that the ministry position did not come through for me .... For the past 8 weeks I was waiting to hear if I was approved for this position .... I was looking forward to this new challenging ministry opportunity but I know that God is in Control and He has something else for me to do ... all I have to do is wait on Him to open the next door for me ....

Well I will try to come back soon and provide additional updates .....

Thank you again for all of your prayers and words of encouragement and support. I am grateful for you and keep you in my thoughts and prayers ....

God Bless,
John

****

Friday, April 23, 2004

Look Out Mighty Mac .... HERE I COME!

Last evening I went on my first 5 mile walk!!!!! With my desire to walk the Mackinaw Bridge on Labor Day ... I have wanted to start training for the five mile span for the walk. I am a little sore this morning .. but feel so good that I made the five miles. The last mile I was moving pretty slow ... but I MADE IT ... Yeah!!!!

Yesterday, I was also interviewed on WMPL 920 AM in Hancock. This was a follow up interview to share my progress. I felt the interview went well and hope that it provided encouragement to those listening.

A good friend of mine had his Vena Cava Filter implanted yesterday and is doing great. He will have his surgery with Dr. Schuhknecht on May 20 at Harper Hospital in Detroit. I am so happy that Darrell has his date. I still have three other friends still waiting for their insurance approvals to move forward with their surgeries. Please keep Tom, Carolyn and Dianne in your prayers.

See you on the BRIDGE!!!!!!!
John

*****

Saturday, April 17, 2004

"WOW Look at that!" Were the words I whispered this morning when I stepped on the scale. 315 pounds which is down 180 pounds from my 495 starting weight ... and is now 90 pounds to me first goal weight of 225. I should say that when I whispered these words ... the scale actually read 305 ... but when I pulled the scale out further from the wall and got on it again .. it read 315 .... must have done some leaning against the wall to get the 305 reading .... but 315 is still a good number *smile*

I also had another surprise .... I received a gift of a 2 XL denim shirt and guess what? I fit .... just think .. I have gone from a 6XL to a slightly tight 2 XL .... there was a little strain between two buttons .... but the rest of the shirt was fitting pretty well ... I was joking with friends that day ... I know it is slightly tight .. "but hey ... it is a 2 XL!!!!!!"

There were so many compliments at a Leadership Retreat I was attending over this weekend from friends who knew I had the surgery and have seen me dropping the weight .. and there were a number of friends who knew I had the surgery but this was the first time they had an opportunity to see me and were so pleased to see how well I am looking.

Walking is becoming a favorite thing for me. The Leadership Retreat was at a church camp and our meetings were located at various buildings around the camp. There were golf carts transporting people to the different buildings but I did not want to use the carts but walked up and down the little hills between the buildings. Prior to my surgery I would have been waiting for those carts .....

Live is Great!
John

***

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Here it is, my 8 month post op anniversary and I am still taking off the weight ... smile .... This morning I stepped on a home digital scale and it recorded my weight for the first time .... I am now down to 323 pounds which is 172 off since my surgery ...

The scale has a limit of 325 pounds .. so it was great to be "light" enough to be weighed on a regular scale instead of the higher capacity scales in my surgeon's office.

I continue to feel great and am taking the stairs here at the office without thinking when I have to run downstairs for something.

I also noticed the other day that I was leaning down on my knee when I was tying my shoe lace. It dawned on me that I was not having to stretch to tie my shoe lace or not have to tie it at the side of my foot .. but could tie it right in the front of the top of my foot ...

You should see some of the extra folds of skin where it just hangs from all of the fat loss from around my waist, chest and thighs ... I can see why so many people talk about the tummy tucks ....

My pants continue to show signs of my weight loss .. as they are all getting baggy .... time to start digging out more smaller waist pants from my closet.

Thank you all again for your continued prayers and encouragement. I am so grateful for you being there for me. You are in my thoughts and prayers often.

With all of my Love,
John


****

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Time sure flys! It has been three weeks since my last update. I am feeling great and still feel the weight coming off.

This coming Tuesday, my paperwork is being considered for the position with The Salvation Army here in Jackson Michigan. It was last weekend that the position was officially offereed to me and this past Monday all of my paperwork was submitted to the Divisional Headquarters in Grand Rapids. It may take a couple weeks for the final approval and I would appreciate all of your prayers that God's Will be done in my life.

The position will be Director of Adult Ministries. I will be responsible for many areas of ministry here in Jackson. I am looking forward to the many challenges that lay ahead of me and the many lives I will be able to touch and be touched.

I will also be looking forward to my 8 month weigh-in next Friday and will be sure to post an update as quickly as I can.

I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

In His Grip,
John



****

Friday, February 27, 2004

I just got back from my 7 Month Weigh In and I have now taken off 162 pounds in 7 months WOW ... which is 16 pounds down this past month. You will also note .. that I am no longer " Super Super Obese" or "Super Obese" I am just "Extremely Obese". *Smile*

For most people, you may think .. so what? ... you are still "Obese" .. you are correct .. but the excitement at dropping to a lower category of "Obesity" is a BIG DEAL ....

Today, I realized that I am walking stairs more that usual ... this is a good sign that I am thinking healthier and choosing the stair over the elevator is becoming a natural dscision. I still take only one step at a time but look forward to taking the whole stairs in stide ....

Later today, I may hear about my position here with The Salvation Army and will provide you with an update just as soon as I hear something.

Have a Great Day ... I know that I will!!! *smile*

God Bless,
John

****

Monday, February 23, 2004

I am still waiting to hear about the position with The Salvation Army but will update you all as soon as I know.

Today is a big day for me. My Weight Loss Journey will be featured in a three part series on WLUC TV6’s News at 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM in Marquette Michigan tonight. The reporter, Brenda Stidham, did great job with the story and it is my prayer that it will help many others struggling with their weight loss battles and to let people understand the struggles that Morbidly Obese people face.

Tomorrow I will also be interviewed by phone on radio station WMPL 920 on the AM dial at 10:30 AM. Maryann wondered if I would be willing to share my experience with their listening audience. This station is from my hometown in Hancock, Michigan. It will be great to get a chance to talk with her and my friends back home.

Please pray that I will be sensitive to God’s leading as answer the questions from Maryann and from people calling in to the program. I told her that she is free to ask me any questions. There has been considerable promos about both of these interviews so many people have the potential to seeing and hearing these interviews.

Thank you again for your continued love, support and prayers.

With Love and Gratitude.
John

PS. This Friday I will be getting my 7 Month weigh in and will keep you all updated.

****

2/19/04

Ministry Update

For those of you who have been praying for me and the possible ministry position with The Salvation Army in Jackson Michigan .. I wanted to provide you with an update. The original plan was to make the decision this past Tuesday, February 17 … however the decision was put off to gather some additional information and should be made this weekend. I am still in the running so please continue to pray.

I am being considered for a position as an Associate Pastor (Corps Helper) and Initial Social Service Intake worker. I would be responsible to greet people coming to The Salvation Army for assistance and answer questions and provide them with the forms to sign up for the various programs offered. I will also be responsible for ministry and outreach within the community, including ministry duties within the Church at the Corps. I will primarily work with Adult Ministry and the other candidate will work with Children & Youth Ministry.

I have been living in Jackson since this past November. During the Christmas Season, I helped coordinate their “Red Kettle Campaign” for Jackson County. I enjoyed working with the people and staff and would like the challenge and ministry opportunities that would open with this position. I would never have been able to do this prior to my surgery. During the “Kettle” season, I put in 12 to 15 hour days.

As many of you know, I have been involved in Prison Ministry for the past 14 years and I would be able to continue with this ministry outreach with my position at The Salvation Army. In fact, my passion and vision for ReEntry ministry may come to fulfillment through this position.

I will be sure to let you know the results.

God Bless,
John




****

2/13/04

What a Wonderful Life!

I just put on a pair of 56 pants and they fit perfectly. The thought of wearing 56 inch waist pants is so remarkable .. I had been so accustomed to wearing size 70's I thought that I would never wear smaller sized pants ... WOW ...

This morning I was thinking about some of the "small" changes I have been experiencing with weight I have taken off. To most people these "small" items would be so insignificant ... but to me and people who have struggled with morbid obesity realize how "BIG" these things mean to us and me ....

1. I no longer keep bumping the shower door open when I turn around in the shower stall.

2. I do not have to sit down to dry myself off.

3. I don't have to rest my elbows on the sink when I shave or brush my teeth.

4. My stomach is no longer sticking out many inches .. my chest "shelf" is all that I see when I look down. I do not have to suck in my stomach ... and I do not see my stomach. I look forward to the day that I will be able to see my feet. *smile*

5. My pants no longer rub between my thighs .. and they do not show any "wear stress" ..... all of my "fat" pants had patches between my thighs .. in fact several had patches on top of patches ...

6. I have a choice in pants to wear. In the past I would only have two pair of pants to wear ... now I have about 10 pair of pants that I am fitting into and actually have to think what I want to wear .. and what shirt will look good with the pants ... ohhh I have to coordinate my wardrobe .. what I great feeling ...

7. None of my pants have seams busting out ... There is none of the stress of my weight trying to bust out off my pants ... In the past you could see the seams near my pockets separating ... or the inseams of my pants ...

8. Yesterday, I hosted a meeting where I cooked and served a lunch to a group of friends. During the meal, I drank my protein shake ... I had more fun serving lunch and visiting with my friends. In the past I would have made sure I got my fill of food .. and visiting would have been reserved if I had time .... It is so remarkable to see that food is no longer the "Main Focus" of my attention .. but people are .... (I made spaghetti and garlic bread ... and did not even feel "left out" by not eating the meal ... )

Earlier, I had some other items to add to this list ... but right now these are the ones that I can remember. I will have to remember to jot them down .. so I can list the others ones ...

Well I have to get going for the day .. I have a couple meetings.

Have a Great Day! I know that I will! *SMILE*

John



****
2/12/04

Good Morning God ... and Friends!

What a Beautiful Day!

I got back from my trip to the Upper Peninsula yesterday afternoon. What a quick trip. On Tuesday the interview with Brenda Stidham went great. It is my understanding that the three part interview will air the last week of February. I want to thank Brenda for her desire to take on this project to share the feelings of being Morbidly Obese and the reasons for considering Gastric Bypass Surgery and the results.

I know that I keep saying that I hope the interview will help others but I really is my prayer that it will. I keep reflecting on how my life is different after the surgery. There are so many "little" things that I am noticing. Yesterday, I was playing with my seat belt and could not believe how much extra room there was when I was buckled. Before my surgery I had to use two seal belt extenders to buckle up ... now there is "feet" of extra room just with the normal belt, without the extenders. WOW ...

Since I was driving these past two days, I had difficulty driving and eating ... my stomach no longer keeps the steering wheel stabilized ... since there are many inches of space between the wheel and my belly ....

Yesterday, I was smiling when I saw my "old friend" Cadbury Easter Eggs. In the past, I would love this time of year when Cadbury Easter Eggs would show up on store shelves. I would buy eggs by the dozens .. just to make sure I would get my fill of them while they were available .. I did not want to miss out .. because they would be taken off the shelves until the next year .. The exciting realization that I am changing ... was that I did not even feel tempted to purchase any eggs .. I just chuckled inwardly to think of my past "cravings" or I should say "Obsession" for them in the past.

Well I need to get running for the day .. will be back again soon.

God bless,
John


****
2/10/04

I am just about ready to head out the door for my interview with Brenda Stidham, reporter for WLUC TV6 in Marquette Michigan. We will be taping a final segment for part of a three part story that will air later this month. In October we taped some initial footage about the results of my surgery. I am looking forward to sharing my story and hope that it will offer hope to others.

It is exciting to be at this point of my life to feel like I have been reborn and living life fully. WOW ...

I received the full text of the story in The Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton Michigan, from this past Saturday. Friends have informed me that this story was also printed in the Sunday, Ann Arbor New on February 8. If you see this article in other papers, could you please do me a favor and contact me at my email address link above so I know where else this article has been printed. I appreciate your assistance.

Here is the full text:

By Olivia Bartlett
Gazette Writer

HANCOCK - His life was littered with broken chairs, toilet seats and ripped pants. Walking across a room left him short of breath.

Tipping the scales at 500 pounds, the Rev. John Niemela faced daily reminders of his weight problem, including people talking about it behind his back. "One time I went shopping for shoes and as I tried to sit in a seat I had trouble fitting between the two arms and the sales clerk asked me if I needed a shoe horn to fit into the seat," he said. "I stopped buying my shoes in stores and began buying there through catalogs so I would not have to face that level of rude behavior."

But Niemela is again ready to face the world. Six months after a gastric bypass operation, the Hancock man is preparing for what was unthinkable - walking the 5-mile span of the Mackinaw Bridge. "Prior to my surgery, I would have never thought about this or attempted to walk the bridge. ..." Niemela said. "I am so much more active than I could have ever imagined. It's great to have my life back instead of viewing life from the sidelines."

The 48-year-old, who is affiliated with Brother's Keeper Ministries Inc., turned to the stomach-shrinking surgery after countless attempts with Weight Watchers, the Atkin's Diet, Overeaters Anonymous and prescription diet pills. "I've been on diets my entire life," Niemela said. "I'd lose weight, but it always came back."

But, as a result of the procedure, he has lost 146 pounds and is down 12 pant sizes. It wasn't long ago that Niemela feared for his life. He spoke with his doctor, Doug McKenzie, about the operation. "It's a risky, open abdominal surgery," McKenzie said. "And it's a drastic treatment hat's not irreversible."

Niemela understood the risks, but knew it was his last option. His mobility weakened and he was unable to stand for long periods. His legs would go numb from the weight. "If I walked 10 minutes, I'd have to stop and catch my breath," Niemela said. "I realized if I didn't do something, I'd have to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life, and I didn't want to do that." McKenzie tells his overweight patients to try diet and exercise before considering surgery. But Niemela was a special case. "John's life was absolutely at risk, especially in the long term," McKenzie said. "There's no question that this type of surgery is what he needed ... It saved his life and will hopefully give him a quality life."

Last July, Niemela traveled to Harper Hospital in Detroit to get the gastric bypass operation. In the one-hour procedure, doctors split off the top of the stomach, rather than stapling it. This division results in the creation of a half-inch "micropouch" which serves as his stomach. Niemela awoke from anesthesia with an 8-inch stitch below the breast line and new stomach. It was the size of a grape.

At first, Niemela's mother Joan, formerly a registered nurse, was hesitant when her son suggested the surgery. But today, she's ecstatic with the results. "He grew up as a 'chubby kid' and has always battled his weight problem," she said. "I'm really excited that this is going to work ... New opportunities will open up for him at this stage in his life."

Her son's recovery time was three days. "I feel like a million bucks," Niemela wrote in his online journal shortly after the surgery. "Yesterday I went for a walk and could not believe how much I enjoyed it and how far I actually walked. Prior to the surgery ... I would drive around parking lots until one of the handicap parking spaces would be right in front of the store I needed to go into."

The weight began to drop immediately. He lost 51 pounds in the first month. "Before the surgery, I could not sit at booths in restaurants without straining to even squeeze between the table and the seat, or share the top of the table with my stomach ... Now I can sit where ever the hostess seats
me," Niemela said.

Dining out is a whole new experience. Rather than three or four whopping meals, Niemela has six to eight high-protein mini-meals and takes daily vitamins. "I used to always inhale my food ... I was a member of the clean plate club," he said. "Now, because no food is being digested, there's no signal to put more food in. Sometimes, I have to be reminded to eat."

Niemela estimates the surgery causes him to eat 20 times less food a day. And his energy levels are skyrocketing. With every pound lost, Niemela is noticing significant changes in his lifestyle. Before the surgery, he would be winded after 10 minutes of snow shoveling. Now, he says can shovel for more than two hours "with no sweat."

Bus rides also something to be enjoyed, not embarrassed by. Niemela used to squeeze through the aisles, looking for the closest seat. "I was able to walk square down the aisle of the bus and sit in the middle or back of the bus," he said. "What a great feeling to be like a normal person."

Joan Niemela also has seen a huge difference in her son's attitude. "Obviously, he feels better about himself as a person," she said. "John's outlook on life is totally new. He was an observer to life passing by and now he's a participant." Participating, and leading the way.

During the surgery process, Niemela created two weight loss journals – one in photos and one in writing - for friends, family and fellow weight loss surgery patients. And he will return to the bridge which once seemed impossible to cross. Niemela is coordinating a "Labor Day Mackinaw Bridge Walk" for Michigan residents who have had the procedure.

"Emotionally, (the surgery) gave me a new lease on life," he said. "I've become a more outgoing, happy individual."

On the Net:
John Niemela's photo diary, http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN
John Niemela's Weight Loss Journal, http://www.obesityhelp.com?m=121728


****
2/7/04

In the February 7 & 8, 2004 edition of the Daily Mining Gazette was a story of my weight loss surgery and how I am facing life with 146 pounds off following the surgery. The reporter did a nice job with the story.

Here is a portion of the story from their online site:

http://www.mininggazette.com/features.html#topstory

Life gets better with every... Notch on his Belt

Surgery helps Hancock man lose 146 pounds and counting

By Olivia Bartlett
Gazette Writer
HANCOCK — His life was littered with broken chairs, toilet seats and ripped pants. Walking across a room left him short of breath.

Tipping the scales at 500 pounds, the Rev. John Niemela faced daily reminders of his weight problem, including people talking about it behind his back.

“One time I went shopping for shoes and as I tried to sit in a seat I had trouble fitting between the two arms and the sales clerk asked me if I needed a shoe horn to fit into the seat,” he said. “I stopped buying my shoes in stores and began buying there through catalogs so I would not have to face that level of rude behavior.”

But Niemela is again ready to face the world. Six months after a gastric bypass operation, the Hancock man is preparing for what was unthinkable — walking the 5-mile span of the Mackinaw Bridge.
“Prior to my surgery, I would have never thought about this or attempted to walk the bridge. ...” Niemela said. “I am so much more active than I could have ever imagined. It’s great to have my life back instead of viewing life from the sidelines.”

The 48-year-old, who is affiliated with Brother’s Keeper Ministries Inc., turned to the stomach-shrinking surgery after countless attempts with Weight Watchers, the Atkin’s Diet, Overeaters Anonymous and prescription diet pills. “I’ve been on diets my entire life,” Niemela said. “I’d lose weight, but it always came back.” But, as a result of the procedure, he has lost 146 pounds and is down 12 pant sizes.

It wasn’t long ago that Niemela feared for his life. He spoke with his doctor, Doug McKenzie, about the operation. “It’s a risky, open abdominal surgery,” McKenzie said. “And it’s a drastic treatment that’s not irreversible.”

Niemela understood the risks, but knew it was his last option. His mobility weakened and he was unable to stand for long periods. His legs would go numb from the weight. “If I walked 10 minutes, I’d have to stop and catch my breath,” Niemela said. “I realized if I didn’t do something, I’d have to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life, and I didn’t want to do that.”

McKenzie tells his overweight patients to try diet and exercise before considering surgery. But Niemela was a special case. “John’s life was absolutely at risk, especially in the long term,” McKenzie said. “There’s no question that this type of surgery is what he needed ... It saved his life and will hopefully give him a quality life.”

Last July, Niemela traveled to Harper Hospital in Detroit to get the gastric bypass operation. In the one-hour procedure, doctors split off the top of the stomach, rather than stapling it. This division results in the creation of a half-inch “micropouch” which serves as his stomach. Niemela awoke from anesthesia with an 8-inch stitch below the breast line and new stomach. It was the size of a grape.

At first, Niemela’s mother Joan, formerly a registered nurse, was hesitant when her son suggested the surgery. But today, she’s ecstatic with the results.

“He grew up as a ‘chubby kid’ and has always battled his weight problem,” she said. “I’m really excited that this is going to work ... New opportunities will open up for him at this stage in his life.”


— For a complete version of this story, please see the print edition of The Daily Mining Gazette.


Thank you Olivia for sharing my story with dignity and grace. Hopefully my story will help others who are caught in the prison of obesity to know there is help available for them too.

This coming Tuesday, February 10, 2004 I will have another interview with Brenda Stidham, a reporter for WLUC TV6 in Marquette, Michigan. This past October, I spend an hour being interviewed. They are planning a three part series later this month and wanted to get a more recent interview with my current stats.

This past Friday, February 6 I hosted a dinner fellowship for the older adults at The Salvation Army in Jackson. This was the first time I have cooked a meal like this and everyone enjoyed the food and fellowship. There were 11 of us, including myself. Several friends helped with the preparation and cleanup but they all told me that I could cook for them again ... anytime ..

I made meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, biscuits, Carrot Cake and Lemon Squares.

Who knows ... this may be a "new calling" ... *smile* Next Thursday, I will get another chance when I prepare a meal for the people who helped ring bells for The Salvation Army this past Christmas Season. It will be nice to see all of these friends that I worked with over the holidays.

Well I am going to end this update but be back again real soon.

God Bless,
John


****

1/28/04

SIX MONTH RESULTS .......

Today I had my six month check up with Dr. Schuhknecht and I have taken off 146 pounds ..... Yeah .... I have also dropped below the 350 pound barrier and weigh .... 349 .... cheers ...

This is so great ... I do not remember when I was below this weight .. it has been a long time.

I am still living down in Jackson, Michigan. The other evening I spent close to 2 and a half hours outside shoveling the snow off the driveway. Last winter, I would not have lasted 10 minutes, let alone 2 1/2 hours ... and when I got in the house I was not tired or even winded. What a tremendous feeling that was.

Please keep me in your prayers. I have been here in Jackson since this past November. I was working with a great friend of mine at the Salvation Army here in Jackson. The project that I helped with was a seasonal project. I liked working with the people and staff so much, and they liked me ... (go figure ...smile) we are looking into the possibility for me to join them on staff. I will know if this will work out on February 17 ... so please send a few extra prayers up for me .. I would really enjoy this position. Thanks for your prayers!!!

I will keep all posted.

Well I need to get going for now but will come back soon to do more updating.

God Bless,
John


****
1/19/04

Hey Everyone .... I just posted some NEW Pics in my photo diary. Make sure you check them out .... http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN


I am wearing my new clothes that I purchased the day after Christmas for my trip to New Orleans. They sure look great and I feel like a million bucks ...


John
****
1/16/04

WOW ... WOW ... WOW ....

I just arrived back home in Hancock after being away on business for over two months .... it is nice to be back home .. even if this will be a short trip.

This past week, I was in New Orleans, LA for a conference and had a fantastic time. There were so many exciting things that happened to me on the trip that I need to share with you ....

All during the conference, I received so many compliments on how great I am looking after my surgery. For the past three or four years I have been attending these conferences and have many great friends all over the country who also come to this conference. Catching up with good friends is such a blessing. I missed our August 2003 conference as it was just two weeks after my surgery .. so everyone was waiting to see me at this winter conference. It was so much fun seeing people take a double take when they would realize that "I" was "me".

At previous conferences I would always go through the pre-conference materials and pick the workshops that I wanted to attend. However, when I got to the conference center and looked at the Conference Schedule and found which rooms the workshops were being held, I would then switch my workshops based on the location of the meeting rooms. Previously I would choose workshops close to the entrance of the conference center instead of attending the ones I wanted .. if they were located a distance away from the entrance or the location of the previous workshop ... It was fun walking from one side of the conference center to the other without being winded and sweating .....

This was the first conference where I could purchase the polo shirts .... I now fit in the 3 XL shirts ... what a great feeling. All of the 5 or 6 years I have been attending this conference or any other conference, I could never purchase any of the wearables .. because I was too big to fit in the shirts or jackets they had for sale .. but not anymore .. smile

The conference has charter buses to transport us from the conference center to the conference hotels .... I was able to walk "square" down the isle of the bus ... not side ways like all the previous years .... I even sat in the middle and back of the bus .. and not just in the front like years earlier .. because I could fit in the isles of the bus .. what a great feeling to be like a normal person ....

I will share more later ..

God Bless,
John



****
1/4/03

Happy New Year!!!!

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of my friends and family a healthy and prosperous New Year!!!!

I have so many blessings to be thankful for, as 2003 has come to a close and 2004 is opening up before us.

****
12/29/03

Yesterday was my 5 month anniversary and Today I got weighed and am down to 360 pounds which makes me down 135 pounds ... wow ...

This past Friday, day after Christmas, I went shopping for some new clothes. This is my first shopping trip since my surgery. What a great experience. The first pair of pants the salesman gave me to try on for size was a 60 inch waist. There was some room in the pants and at first I told the salesman that these would be just fine. He highly suggested that I may want to try on a smaller size. So he gave me a pair of 58's and they fit perfectly.

My friend, Linda went shopping with me and we laughed at my reluctance to try on a larger size. I realized that I was not sure my size but did not want to try on the 58 waist just in case it was too tight. *SMILE* I did the same thing when I tried on some shirts ... at first I did not want to try a smaller size .. but when I did, they fit so much better.

I hope to get some new pictures in my new clothes so you can see how good I look in good fitting clothes. In the past 5 months I have been wearing my larger sized clothes with suspenders. I did not want to buy any new clothes just to see them become too big in a short time. But I am attending a conference in New Orleans the beginning of January and wanted some good fitting clothes. I did not attend the August Conference because it was just after my July 28th surgery. My friends at the conference all know about my surgery and are looking forward to see me.

Well I pray that your New Year is a great blessing for you!

God Bless You!
John

****
12/21/03

WOW over a month since I have updated my profile. Sorry for not keeping you all updated better.

Let me begin by sending you my Love and Prayers for a Blessed Christmas. May God's Greatest Gift, "Jesus" draw you closer to Him and fill you with His Love and Peace.

I relocated down to Jackson Michigan on November 10 to assist my friend, Major Dale Hale coordinate the Christmas Kettle Campaign for the Jackson Salvation Army. Dale and I have been great friends for close to 10 years as we worked together in Prison Ministry when he was located in Milwaukee Wisconsin and in charge of Prison Ministry for the Salvation Army in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is now the Corps Officer for the Salvation Army in Jackson.

We have maintained our friendship over these many years. The end of October he asked me if I could consider coming down to Jackson and work with him to coordinate their Christmas Kettle Campaign for 6 weeks. It did not take any arm twisting for me to agree to help.

I have been extremely Blessed by this assignment and am so Grateful for God using me in this work. I schedule about 45 kettle workers at 28 sites in Jackson County. My day is filled with lots of travel dropping off the workers at their sites and many times having to return to their sites if their "bells" break or their kettles get full. Then there are times when someone gets sick or was only able to work for part of the day.

I put in long hours and feel great with all of these many hours required to coordinate this project. My longest day was this past Friday, I started my day at 6:45 AM and was finally finished at 11:30 PM. WOW .. I was talking with Dale at lunch on Saturday and told him how much I am enjoying this work and grateful that he asked me to help. I also informed him that prior to my surgery, I would not have been able to keep this kind of schedule. I would never had the energy or stamina to do this work.

We have a great group of workers ringing bells for us and we have a great time each morning when we meet for coffee and donuts and then assign them to their sites for the day. Several of the workers came to church this morning for breakfast and the Christmas Celebration at this morning’s service. I joined the Choir to present a Christmas Concert at today's service. I had a couple solos. It was nice to have the workers come to show their support for me.

On December 3 I got weighed and am now down to 380 so I am now down 115 pounds at 4 months. I will try to get weighed in the next few days for my 5 month totals. I keep seeing more room in my clothes and it feels so great to wearing baggy clothes instead of clothes bursting at the seams ....

I will close this update for now but will do my best to add to this profile real soon.

May you be blessed this Christmas season.

With all of my Love,
John


****
11/15/03

Ohhh Ahhhh Ohhh Ahhhh

This is the sound of me "Purring"
Last evening I removed my pressure dressing on my leg with the Diabetic Ulcers and this morning took a nice looonnggg shower for the first time in a week. And did it ever feel wonderful!!!!

With the pressure dressing on my leg, I have to take sponge baths and wash my hair in the sink while I have the dressing on. So when it is time to change the dressing I take full advantange of my weekly shower.

My leg is looking real good. Praise the Lord! and thank you for all of your prayers! They are working.

After three weeks with the Pressure Dressing, my leg is well on the road to recovery. There is just one remaining ulcer that needs to heal. This is so much better than the 6 or 7 open sores that have been lingering since this past June when my leg opened up after the allergic reaction to the Unna Boot.

Please continue to hold me up in your prayers as we Thank God for His Healing Touch.

Later today I am looking forward to meeting many of my friends in Lansing for Support with our Weight Loss Journey. While I am downstate for the next two months, I am missing several of our local support group meetings however I am keeping in contact with many local friends via email.



****
11/14/03

Today as I was driving along the Interstate I saw an Amusement Park with a mini race course. The thought flashed through me that next summer, I will be small enough to race with friends at the course.

Over the past years whenever I was with my friends and they would stop at places like this course, I would not be able to participate with them because I was too big (fat) to fit in one of the cars. I would put on a "Happy Face" while all of my friends would be having fun racing against each other. When they would get done and then talk about how fun it was or recount the way one of them got the lead ... I would feel left out of their fun .. even though I saw them enjoying themself.

I have mentioned many times to people, one of the greatest things I am looking forward to as a result of my surgery is to become a participant in Life Again. This is just one example of things I would like to do. I also remember being the driver for friends when they would go on a ski trip, I would be in the Ski Chalet watching them on the slopes while I was on the inside looking out.

There is a small voice inside me that is gathering strenght .. and it wants to say at the top if it's voice, "Look Out World .. Here I Come!!!!!!"

****
11/12/03

What a Blessing to be able to visit new friends who just had their Weight Loss Surgery. I spent nearly 4 hours at Harper Hospital today making the rounds of the Bariatric Ward stopping in many rooms to encourage our new travelers and to be encouraged by their hopes and dreams of their new journey. I would highly recommend anyone who has had weight loss surgery to consider going back to visit new patients. They are so excited to see us and hear our stories about our own journey. They have so many questions and for us to let them know what to expect is so helpful. Sure we all got the paperwork and heard from our Surgeons ... but to talk with a real live person who also had the surgery is so reassuring, not only to the patient but to their families.

I would be glad to talk with you in greater detail if you may think you would like to get more involved. Just contact me.


****
11/10/03

I had any amusing incident this morning. Too bad there were no cameras to catch me .... *smile* I had just traveled for about an hour and a half for a meeting. I decided to stop at a gas station to use the restroom before I proceeded to the meeting. I parked at the side of the station. As I was getting out of the van and walking toward the front of the van to the front of the station, I felt a cool breeze and then noticed that my pants were below my stomach and my underwear were showing.

Opps ... the front two clips of my suspenders had come loose and my pants dropped .... *smile* ...



****
11/9/03

I had another great experience as a result of my weight loss. This evening I went out for dinner with my friend Linda. For the first time in so many years I sat in a booth.

This is a great accomplishment for me. There have been so many times when I would enter a restaurant and as I looked through their seating would find they only had booths, I would have to turn around and leave. I needed to sit at a table with chairs. And not just any chairs, but ones that do not have arms.

What a blessing.

****
11/8/03 10:30 PM

I have made it to Munising for the evening and will continue my journey to Jackson in the Morning. I watched an incredible lunar eclipse this evening as I was traveling. The moon was in my windshield most of the three hour trip. WOW ....

While driving through Marquette I was reminded of an laugh I had two weeks ago. When I lived in Wisconsin I grew to love Culver's Custard restuarants. My favorite custard was Carmel Cashew. Each day they would have a special of the day, and I would stop and pick up their list of flavors of the day. I would almost never miss going to Culver's when Carmel Cashew was offered.

About three years ago, Culver's Custard opened up in Marquette which is 100 miles from my home. I have stopped at Culver's many times over the past few years when I was traveling past during my many trips downstate. To my dismay, I never was in Marquette on a day when Carmel Cashew was the flavor of the day.

Two weeks ago I was on my way to the Lower Peninsula and low and behold, Carmel Cashew was the Flavor of the Day .... I started to laugh. All of the times I have driven through Marquette my Carmel Cashew was never on the menu at Culver's Custard .. and now ... after I have had my surgery ... and can not have custard with sugar ..... CARMEL CASHEW CUSTARD was staring me in the face ... To give you an idea how much I LOVED Carmel Cashew .. if Carmel Cashew had been on the menu before my surgery ... I would have stopped at least two times both coming and going. My choice would have been a triple dip in their waffle cone.

The neat thing about this, was I was not even tempted to drive in and buy a single dip in a cup. What a change from before.

The second chuckle was this past Tuesday. During my interview for WLUC TV6 I was sharing some experiences years ago about my love for Cream Filled Long John Donuts. I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit and in December of 1969 my family moved to the Upper Peninsula. We first lived in Calumet Michigan. I was in the ninth grade. My brother and I would walk to school with friends from across the street. Each day we would walk by a local bakery four times - on our way to school, home for lunch, back to school and then home at the end of the day.

Cream Filled Long John donuts back in 1969 were only 25 cents. There were many times when we would stop in the bakery for 4 donuts each time we passed. There were days that we did not stop .. but you can picture that I did not miss too many times.

To still get a better picture, between the 8th and 9th grade I lost about 90 pounds on weight watchers and was at my goal weight. Another example of a weight loss failure. I gained much of this weight back.

Recently that local bakery where I fell in love with Cream Filled Long John Donuts went out of business. When I was being interviewed by the reporter from WLUC TV6, my brother came over to my house to take a few pictures for my picture diary. When he heard me talk about stopping at the local bakery when we moved to the area, he remembered us stopping there .. He was joking with me .. that they went out of business .. because now that I have had the surgery, I no longer buy Cream Filled Long John Donuts from this bakery.

We all laughed ... because it may be true.



****
11/8/03

Well I am off for an extended business trip this afternoon. I will be relocating to Jackson Michigan till after Christmas. Friends of mine run the Salvation Army Corp in Jackson and have asked me if I would come and assist them during the Holidays.

This will be another opportunity to see how well I can follow my food plan away from home. These past couple months I have been on trips up to two and three weeks at a time and have done well with my eating. I know that I will not have any problems. The other day I was telling some friends how good I am feeling and how great it is not to be tempted with the "wrong" foods. Sure I could still try to eat anything that I wanted too .. but I am serious with this weight loss journey and do not want to cause any problems.

While I am away from home, I will still try to do some updating of my profile so you can see how I am doing. I will also be sending out my monthly updates via email. If you would like me to add you to my monthly updates, please send me an email at pma@up.net and I will be glad to add you to the update list.

The telephone number where I can be reached while on this trip is my downstate cell 616.634.6314. I would look forward to hearing from you.

Please keep me in your prayers and know that you are also in mine.

With Love,
John


****
11/5/03

The past couple of days I had some body work done on my van. While it was being repaired I was provided with a loaner car, which was a 1996 Ford Taurus. When I was driving back to the body shop this afternoon I realized that prior to my surgery I would have never fit behind the wheel of the tarus or even get into the car. I did take a little effort to sit down into the car and then to rise up out of the car but I did it. YEAH! It sure was nice to get back behind the wheel of my van.

It is amazing at how much we take for granted when we are loosing all of this excess weight we have carried for so many years. It is my prayer that God will help me to be grateful for all of these small miracles during and through my weight loss journey.






John :-)


****
11/4/03

Official 3 Month Update

Hello Family and Friends,

Please let me start off this update by thanking you again for all of your prayers and words of encouragement. These words are not "Trite" .. but they come from the bottom of my heart. I know without a doubt that God has been answering all of your prayers on my behalf. And for that I am grateful. God is so GOOD! Please keep those prayers coming!

Yesterday, I got weighed and have reached two goals. First I am below 400 pounds ..... 393 and secondly I am now a member of the Century Looser Club at 102 pounds lost.... Can you imagine that, 14 weeks post op and I have lost 102 pounds ... WOW .... let me say that again .... WOW ..... I can hardly believe it, yet I know that the scale is telling me I am now at 393, down from 495 before my surgery .... I have also lost 39.5 inches from the various measurement points around my body. In looking over some of my medical records, between the dates of October of 1997 and March of 2000 my weight fluctuated between 417 and 378 pounds. From March of 1991 and then after March of 2000 my weight has been in the mid to high 400's. I am still amazed at how good I am feeling and am looking forward to loosing even more weight. I have to go way back to 1983 when I had lost 240 pounds on Weight Watchers when I was down to 224 pounds. 224 is my target goal weight ...so I have to loose another 170 pounds to get to that goal ... When I get down to 224 then I will reevaluate and see where I may eventually want to stop. But I am just taking it one day at a time right now and seeing my weight come off as it does.

Two weeks ago, many friends from across the country came to Detroit for a Prison Ministry Aftercare Conference. Many knew I had the surgery and they were all excited to see how great I was looking. When they would congratulate me on such a great job I was doing loosing the weight, I felt like I was not really doing much and the weight was just coming off .... sure I have been following my surgeon's directions on what foods to eat and not eat ... but I have not had any of the previous struggles I've experienced on other diets over the years. Please keep this in your prayers that God continues to give me the desire and strength to continue to make the right choices with my food plan. I was just telling a friend the other day, that for so many years, I could do great on a diet for a month or so, but then would start to crave all kinds of foods that I was not supposed to be eating on that particular diet. I have not been tempted to deviate from my food plan and am so thankful.

So many great things have been happening this past month I don't know where to start. Several times this past month I have been able to go back to Harper Hospital in Detroit, where I had my surgery, to visit new patients following their surgery. There have been several times when I have entered a room and the people were just talking about me and there I show up in their room to visit them. They have mentioned that my profile has been a great inspiration to them as they were waiting for their surgery own surgery date. What a blessing to realize how the details I have written in my profile has been an encouragement to so many others. I know how much help writing down the struggles and great experiences has been a blessing to me as I have shared them in my profile ... but I am so grateful that God is using me to help so many other people.

Today, I spent over an hour being interviewed by a News Reporter from WLUC TV 6 in Marquette Michigan. She is doing a story on Weight Loss Surgery and I will be a major focus of the story. She is actually working on a 2 or 3 day series on the subject. She attended one of our local Weight Loss Surgery Support Group meetings to get some background information on Bariatric Surgery and will be contacting my surgeon for additional information. The news story will be aired the end of November during "Sweeps Week" I pray that the information I shared will help many others struggling with their weight. Please add this to your prayer list too!

God is Opening up many doors for me to be able to Minister and use my Prison Ministry Experience to help make positive changes here in Michigan. The beginning of October I was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Advisory Council to work with the Michigan Department of Corrections to identify barriers that hinder released probationers and parolees in making a successful transition back to the community. There are about 135 members of this Advisory Council with many from the Faith Based Community who are active in the prisons and providing services in the community. To see the commitment from the Governor and the Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections for positive changes taking place within the Department is exciting. And to be part of this major task is a long term project.

I have been traveling often these past couple months. Prior to my surgery, I would have used travel as an excuse to not following a "diet" but I have not had any problems following my eating program and as you can tell I am still loosing weight while traveling. I purchased a 12 volt cooler to keep food cool while I travel so I do not have any excuse to have good food with me to eat.

I have been having some minor but annoying problems with my van. Please keep my van in your prayers that it keeps running smoothly and I do not have any problems with it.

I have new pictures posted in my Photo Diary and if you have not stopped by there recently you may want to check them out. I will be uploading a few new pictures later this evening. Two weeks ago, I got new glasses. They are more stylish than the ones you have seen me in for the past 4 or 5 years. Last week I decided that if I have new glasses, I would try a different hair style. For as long as I remember, I parted my hair on the right side and combed if over to the left. Now I have a part in the middle and swoop my hair back from the part .... each morning when I look in the mirror and work on my hair, I smile at the new look. I like it ....

To check out my Pictures go to http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN

In between my Monthly Updates you can see what I am doing at my Profile at http://www.obesityhelp.com?m=121728

Oh Before I forget .... 2 weeks ago I finally got the new pressure dressings for my ulcers on my right leg. This morning was the third pressure dressing that I have put on my leg and they are looking much better. Hopefully in another few weeks they will be all healed. Thank you again for your prayers for the ulcers to heal and please keep them in your prayers so they finally heal completely. As you may remember, I have been struggling with these ulcers since June when I developed an allergic reaction to the Unna Boot soft cast that I have used for years to treat ulcers, when they would show up. Just a few weeks ago I discovered that my physician's nurse and a pharmacy staff member were trying to get the approvals from the wrong insurance company. That is why I could not get the alternate dressings approved. I am so grateful that they discovered this mistake and I am now getting the proper treatment so the ulcers will heal.

With all of me Love,
John


****
11/03/03

YEAH ... As of this morning, I am now 14 weeks Post Op and have lost 102 pounds. I also broke below the 400 pound mark. When I started this weight loss journey I weighed 495 pounds and today I am down to 393.

Looking back over my medical records, I fluctuated between 417 pounds and 378 between October of 1997 and March of 2000. The records from my current Physician goes back to 1991 when I was around 450 pounds. I am so excited to see these results.

3/20/00 400+
2/21/00 382
1/7/00 378
12/20/99 384
12/1/99 393
10/28/99 386
4/11/99 410
3/3/99 392
12/8/98 394
10/22/98 396
4/27/98 398
2/11/98 412
12/1/97 410
10/23/97 417
10/6/97 415
10/1/97 405

As you can see, between the years of 1998 and 2000 I was in the high 300's. I can hardly remember back to that time when I was as low as 378. Two years was such a short time out of the last 15 plus years when I was in the 400+ category.

I am having some body work done on my van and the courtesy car is a Taurus. Even though getting in and out of the car is still work, I would never been able to function in the Taurus if I was 102 pounds heavier. I am so grateful for the ability to move around with all of this weight loss.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement; you have been a great blessing to me.

John


****
11/01/03

Whew!!!! I just returned home from another week on the road and continue to feel GREAT! I will be getting weighed in the morning and will be sending out my Three Month update. These past three months has sure passed by quickly. This past Wednesday, I had an opportunity to stop at Harper Hospital to visit with some new friends who had their surgery. I am always blessed to be able to get a chance to visit with new patients and encourage them. The last few times have also been rewarding as several people mentioned that they have been reading my profile and it has been an encouragement to them as they were waiting for their surgery date.

This past Wednesday, when my nurse Maria, was brining me to visit two ladies, she said I have a visitor for you and then started to say, John had his surgery just three months ago and one of the ladies said, is that John Niemela? And low and behold, I walked into the room. I had a nice visit.

I also enjoy getting a chance to see the Nurses that took great care of me when I had my surgery. They are so glad to see my progress. They have mentioned that they usually see patients when they are in the hospital for surgery and do not get to watch the progress as we loose our weight. Many of the nurses were looking through my pictures and wondered when they would be in my pics. I promised them that I will be sure to bring a camera when I visit again so I can let you see the best nurses in the world. I will have to make sure I visit the different shifts to get them all.

I will update more on the next few days.

Love,
John

*****
10/27/03

Hello Family and Friends,

I just got back home from a week and a week business trip and have been doing great. On 10/23/03 I had an early 3 month post op check up with Dr. Schuhknecht and he is very pleased with my progress, as I am. Tomorrow 10/28/03 will be my 3 month anniversary. I am just about to head out the door for another business trip back downstate. I will not be able to get weighed in until I return home. So my offical 3 month update will be a week late, hope you understand.

This past weekend I attended a conference and many friends that have not seen me for a year were all excited to see how good I am looking after my surgery. It was a great feeling to have so many friends notice the 93 pounds that I have dropped as of 12 weeks. When the congratulated me on a great job, I thanked them for their well wishes and it seemed strange how little I feel that I have really done to accomplish these results. Please don't get me wrong, I have been able to follow my food plan and eat the "RIGHT" foods. I could eat any of my old favorites but I do choose to eat healthy. The part inside me that causes me to think I have not done much is when I do not have the struggles with food or the binges that used to take "control" of me to eat all the wrong kinds of food.

I still have to stop to remember to eat and that is a new experience. I want to continue to thank you for your prayers. I know that the success that I have experienced is because of God Hearing and Answering the prayers of my friends and mine. Please continue to lift me up in prayer because I want God's continual blessing on me and my weight loss journey. You are also in my thoughts and prayers.

I may not be able to update my profile till next week when I return home.

Love,
John


*****
10/17/03

I'm Back!!! I had a great trip and continue to feel Wonderful. There were several meetings I attended over this past 2 weeks where I had a chance to visit with friends who have not seen me since my surgery. I received so many compliments on how well I am looking. It sure was nice to hear all of these kind words.

I had an opportunity to go back to the Bariatric Surgery Ward at Harper Hospital and visit some patients who just had surgery. It was great to visit with them and to see all of the great nurses who took care of me when I had my surgery. Two of the men I visited with were just talking about me, one of them has been reading my profile and was encouraged to see all the things I have been posting with my weight loss journey and low and behold, here I come walking into their room for a visit. It is so good to network with others who have had the surgery to compare notes and to be encouraged.

One of the major highlights of this last trip was attending my first meeting of the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Advisory Council Meeting with the Department of Corrections. I have been an active volunteer with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) for 13 years with the ministry that I founded, Brother's Keeper Ministries. To be invited by Governor Granholm to be part of this Advisory Council is a great honor. I, along with about 130 council members will be looking at ways to help make the transition from prison to the community more successful. This is a long term commitment for the State and MDOC. I am looking forward to great things coming from the work of the council and my participation.

I went to the hospital first thing this morning to get blood work for my three month post op check up later this month. While at the hospital I stepped on the scale and received a pleasant surprise, I am now down 91 pounds ... at 404. I am getting so close to the century loss mark and breaking below the 400 pound barrier. What a wonderful feeling. I can hardly remember what it is like to be below 400 pounds.

I am still wearing my old clothes with suspenders. It is fun watching people looking at me with my baggy clothes. My waist line is sagging around my waist being held up with my suspenders. I chuckle to myself when I think people must be thinking, why is that guy wearing baggy pants .. instead of the times before my surgery when people must have thought ... why does that guy wear such tight clothes .. or worse yet when I had seams that tore and were opening.

I received some long awaited good news while I was on this last trip. I finally received approval from the Insurance Company for an alternate treatment for my leg ulcers. This coming Tuesday I will be going to my Primary Cary Physician to have a new pressure dressings applied to my right leg. Please keep me and my leg in your prayers so they finally heal after fighting with them and my insurance company since June. If you notice me walking you will see me favoring my right leg with my stride. Even though most of the feeling has gone in my leg due to my diabetic neuropathy, my leg is still extremely painful. It will be a joy again when the ulcers are all healed and I can get back to some serious walking.

This will be another short time at home as this coming Tuesday I head downstate for another 2 weeks of meetings. Will try to do more updating before I leave.

Thank you all again for your prayers and words of encouragement.


*****

10/04/03

In two days I will be 10 weeks post op but I went to get weighed today since I will be heading out of town for a week and a half business trip. I am now down to 416 .. which is 79 pounds down from my starting weight. My BMI is now 61.4

I will try to update my profile while on this coming trip .. but again if you do not see any updates .. I will get more updates when I return.

****

10/03/03

Last week I had a follow up appointment with my Physician and found out that my insurance company denied his request for an alternative pressure dressing for my leg with ulcers. Yes they have not healed yet. I have been struggling with them since the beginning of June .. this is the longest period of time with open ulcers on my legs.

This past Wednesday, I traveled 110 miles to Marquette ... through our First Snow .. I might add .. to have several medical appointments. I began the day at the Eye Doctor to get my eyes checked and to order some new glasses. I picked out a nice new pair of glasses. They will be different from the frames that I have had for 3 or 4 years now. I thought with the weight loss .. I would go for a new look ... you will want to keep checking back to my picture diary at http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN to see my new look. I was told it may take 4 to 6 weeks for them to arrive ...


I then had my ulcers on my leg looked at by a Wound Specialist at the Marquette General Hospital. My local hospital does not have a nurse that specializes in wounds. I saw the same nurse in July when I had the Vena Cava Filter implanted just prior to my surgery. I also visited with several of the Emergency Room nurses that I spoke with during my July visit. They wanted to know how I was doing since my surgery. They were amazed at how good I was looking and enjoyed to look at my picture diary photo book that I made from the pictures on my Website.

Cindy, the wound specialist, placed a pressure wrap on my leg and will be working with my Physician to see if she can help get my insurance company to approve an alternative pressure dressing on my leg. Please pray that they can get my insurance to approve this pressure dressing. As I have mentioned earlier, I have been struggling with these ulcers since June. This has been a long time to have these open ulcers on my legs. Prior to my allergic reaction to the Unna Boots early in June, it normally took 2 to 5 weeks to get an ulcer to heal.

Hair today .... Gone today! The past week I have been loosing hair by the handfuls. I have discovered several causes. The surgery is a major shock to the system and causes our bodies to react to this shock in different ways and Hair Loss is common for those who have major surgery. The Anesthesia has a tendency to affect hair loss. I am not exactly sure how it causes Hair Loss .. but many sources say that it affects our body and is visible by hair loss or other changes to hair. And lastly, I spoke with the owner of our local health food store and she asked me how my "oil" intake is on my new eating plan. I said that I am basically eating high protein and extremely limited carbs and some fats.

She provided me with several papers on "Flax Oil" and gave me a bottle of Flax Oil for me to mix with my yogurt twice daily to help increase the oils in my body and aid in the promotion of healthy hair, skin and nails. I have been taking it now for 3 or 4 days and will see how good this seems to help.

A friend mentioned to have a good WAX and BUFFER ready for my cue ball .... said the Kojack look is still popular. Smile ... you will want to keep watching my pics to see if this happens.

****

9/28/03

WOW .... where has all the time gone? Here I am 2 months Post Op ... I continue to feel GREAT .... drum roll please ..........

As of 2 months I am down 73 pounds ..... cheering .... I now weigh 422 pounds down from the 495 where I began this journey.. plus I am down 22 1/2 inches. I will try to get some new pics up real soon so you can see how good I am looking. I have now had many people mention that they can really see the weight melting off of me ....

I would like to continue to thank you all for your many prayers and words of encouragement. I have been blessed by your love and kindness. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. HUG ...

Please keep those prayers lifted up on my behalf because I still need them. Thanks!

****

9/26/03
Catching up time! WOW ... I was reading back through my posts from this past month and realized there were several things that I did not include in my previous posts that I have wanted to share. So I am going to try to fill you in on what has happened to me of this past month.

In the end of August I was put on a antibiotic for my leg ulcers to see if an antibiotic would help them heal. After my gastric bypass surgery one rule of thumb is I can only take pills that are smaller than an M&M candy. Well the antibiotic my doctor prescribed for me was a large caplet with a protective coating. This required me to crush the caplet and then take it mixed in food. Well the taste of the caplet was horrid. The first dose the crushed caplet was mixed in a 1/4 cup of Applesauce. Yuck! I was gagging with each of the 6 spoonfuls of Applesauce. I had to wash down each mouthful with water. I decided that a smaller amount of food would work best if I were to make it for 14 days of taking this antibiotic. The second day I switched to yogurt to mix the caplet powder. This time we cut down on the amount of yogurt but it still took 3 spoonfuls of yogurt to down the pill. And the taste again almost made me gag as I washed each spoonful with water. Finally on the third day, I found the perfect combination. I made sure that I only mixed the caplet powder with 3/4 of a spoonful of yogurt. At last I only had to tolerate one spoonful of this horrid tasting medication. I made it through the 14 days of this antibiotic but each day did not get any better. My recommendation to anyone who has had or is considering WLS, make sure if you have to crush any medication, use only one spoonful of food to mix with the crushed powder so you do not have to suffer through 3 or 6 spoonfuls. Yeah I made it.

If you look at the top of my profile dialog, you will notice that on my One Month Post Op anniversary on August 28, 2003 I weighed in at 444 which was down 51 pounds from my 495 starting weight. At that time I was also increasing my daily insulin injections to try to get better control of my Blood Glucose Reading. I need to give you some background to understand what I want to share with you. Prior to my surgery, I was taking 600 units of insulin daily (100 units of Novolog [fast acting insulin] after 4 times daily and 100 units of NPH [long lasting insulin] 2 times per day) and my Blood Glucose Readings were all over the dail. I constantly had BG Readings in the High 200's, High 300's and many times in the 400's, even with 600 units of insulin. My compliance with proper food eating was not good as you could probabally tell. But 600 units of insulin is also an astronimical amount of insulin to be taking. I was very resistant to the insulin because of my obesity and poor eating habits.

When I left the Hospital after my surgery I was put on a small sliding scale of insulin use starting at 3 units of Regular Insulin when my BG numbers were 200-250 6 units between 251-300 9 units between 301-350 and 12 units between 351-400.

My BG Numbers were still outside of normal ranges and when I saw my surgery at my first post op appointment I discussed my high BG numbers and he asked me to talk with my Primary Care Physician when I returned home and work out any increases with him since he had be caring for me and monitoring my diabetes since I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.

I saw my PCP a couple days after I returned home and in discussing my BG Readings with him we set out to begin increasing my insulin to try to better control my readings. As a result over several weeks I continually began bumping up my insulin intake and the numbers were still high and kept increasing my insulin and my numbers were still high.

On September 10 I was back downstate, during my three week business trip, and I had an opportunity to attend one of Dr. Sapala's information meetings for the CORI Centers. In his presentation he mentioned how elevated insulin usage will stop weight loss and cause food to be stored and a person could actually gain weight with elevated insulin intake. After the meeting I spoke with Dr. Sapala and discussed my BG Numbers and the fact that I had reached 100 units of insulin intake and was still having high BG Readings. I asked him if this amount of insulin could trigger the weight stoppage and possible weight gain that he had talked about in his presentation and he said that was an excellent possibility. He also stated to me that since I had high BG Readings even when I was taking 600 units of insulin prior to surgery my body was reacting differently to insulin and that if I would continue monitoring my BG Readings without taking insulin I would probably begin to stabilize and over time the high BG Readings would start to lower with increased weight loss.

*********** This information is by now means to be followed without the consent of your surgeon or your primary care physician ***********

On September 11 I discontinued taking my insulin and still maintained my daily log of 4 BG Readings. On September 12 I had a change to stop by the CORI Center offices in Warren and stepped on the scale and found out that between August 28and September 12 I had only lost 3 pounds during that 3 week time. I was 441 or 54 pounds down from my 495 starting point. I was down at the small amount of weight loss during this time. Many friends kept trying to encourage me that I was still down .... but the weight loss planner here on ObesityHelp . Com showed that at my starting weight I should be down 50 pounds both my first and second month after surgery. On September 13 at the CORI Center picnic I had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Sapala about my weight slow down and he confirmed that it was probably a result from my 100 units of insulin that I had been taking for close to 3 weeks.

On September 22 when I returned home from my three week trip I weighed myself back on the hospital scale and in 10 days since discontinuing my insulin I got back on the losing side and had lost 14 pounds in 10 days. I weighed 427 and was now down 68 pounds from my 495 starting weight.

I have been working with my Primary Care Physician and he knows about my desire to limit my insulin intake to allow the weight to continue to come off and he is supports this decision and will closely monitor my progress.

**** I want to again remind you that you should not do this on your own but with the knowledge and support of your surgeon and primary care physician *****

I wanted to share this information with you incase you are in the position of taking insulin then increasing your insulin doses to get better control of your BG Numbers. I wanted you to be aware of what I experience and discovered so you could bring this up to the attention of your doctors if you experience a similar event.


****

9/23/03

Last evening we held our first Weight Loss Surgery Support Group in Hancock. We had a great turnout for the meeting and we had a good time sharing our experiences with each other. One thing that we all said, it was so good to spend time with friends who have experienced some of the same frustrations with our excess weight. We could all relate to each other. There were three people in the process of getting their surgery who also attended the meeting.

****

9/20/03

I went for a one mile walk last evening and had a interesting thing happen to me. As I was walking by one of the downtown store windows, I caught a glimpse of my profile while passing the window. I was shocked to see how good I was looking. This caught me by surprise and made me stop for just a moment to think, I did not realize how slim I was starting to look. Don't take this wrong .. I have not lost all of the weight I will be losing ... but it was nice to see my large stomach disappearing.

****

9/19/03

Well I am finally back home after a three week trip. I am so amazed how good I feel and how well I managed being away from home for three weeks and following my program. My electric cooler was real helpful to carry food with me while I traveled. I also purchased a 120 volt power converter so I could plug in the converter to house current and then plug the cigarette lighter into the converter to power the cooler. Even though I may not have eaten lots of meat when I was eating out of the cooler, I did get my protein from yogurt, cheese and from milk for my protein powder shakes. I also kept protein bars from melting in the hot van by placing them in the cooler.

The cooler also allowed me to keep water cold so I could keep up my liquid intake. If you may have some travel opportunities coming up in the future, I would recommend you find a Truck Stop and look at the coolers they sell and power converters. This is where I found my cooler.

On Monday, September 8th, I had another major accomplishment. This was my 6 week anniversary after my surgery and I went for a 2 mile walk. YES, you read that correctly, I walked for 2 miles and lived to tell about it. *SMILE*

I was staying with some friends in Jackson, Michigan and Cascade Park is right near their home. Cascade Park has a walking and bike path that is one mile around the park. I parked my car and got out and started to walk one direction. When I finished my mile, I took a ten minute break and then turned around and walked my second mile. I saw the park, both coming and going. I knew that I had to finish my second mile because I had to get back to my van. I felt so great after my walk and realized that I was not huffing and puffing (out of breath) like I would have been prior to my surgery.

YEAH .. YEAH .... Life is Great!!!!

****

9/6/03

It has been several days since I have been able to update my profile. My trip is going great and I am not having any problems. I have been so excited with some major accomplishments that I wanted to share. Yesterday I discovered that I no longer need the two seat belt extenders to connect my seat belt. A couple years ago I had gotten stopped by the State Police and received a warning ticket for not having my seat belt connected. I explained to the officer that I was too large to connect the seat belt in my vehicle. He informed me that I would need to get a seat belt extender from the Car Dealer. Well I was amazed to find that car dealers provide the extenders to customers at no charge. When I ordered my extender I found that one was not enough to allow me to get my seat belt connected and had to go back to order a second one. Well, yesterday I noticed that there was some extra room with my belt and tried to remove just one. I then realized that I still had extra belt and took the second extender off and low and behold .... I could snap my seat belt and it was not too tight or restrictive. WOW ....

I will try to get back soon and do more updating. God Bless, John :-)

****

8/30/03

Last evening I had a chance to get some new pictures taken by my brother showing my results of my 51 pounds that I lost this first month since my surgery on July 28th. You will want to check them out ... http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN You will be amazed to see how noticeable the loss of 51 pounds shows up. There are two pictures with me in my pants I wore the day of my surgery and there is lots of room in them now. If I were to leave them go .. they would immediately fall down around my ankles. *SMILE*









I will be heading downstate for a three week business trip. This in itself is remarkable to think that just one month ago, I had major surgery and am going to be away from home for a three week trip. I purchased a 12 volt cooler to take with me in the van to keep food cold while traveling. It will be fun to do some shopping before I leave and while on my trip to keep the cooler full of yogurt, cheese, diet Snapple and other good healthy snacks. My eating habits prior to surgery were lots of junk foods and pop while I traveled. I have a 64 ounce travel cup for my pop ... now that I had this surgery I no longer can drink pop because of the carbonation. When people ask me why, I tell them that my stomach is the size of a grape ... and the carbonation tries to make my stomach into the size of a kumquat *Smile*.

While I am on the road, I take my laptop computer with me. If I do not get to update my diary here as often as I have been while I have been home, it is because of being on the road so please don't get worried that something has happened. If you want to send me an email, I will be glad to respond and let you know how I am doing. My email is pma at up.net ( I use this format to give you my email so web spiders do not scan my email address and add it to all kinds of junk email lists. Just replace the at with the regular @ sign and the email will get to me)

Well I have to get started on my day and will keep you all in my prayers and would appreciate all of your prayers while I am traveling these next three weeks. God Bless! John :-)

****

8/28/03 7:00 PM

Hello Family and Friends,

I am sure many of you have been looking forward to hear from me with information on how I am doing one month after my surgery. I want to thank you again for your many prayers and words of encouragement you keep sending to me. Your love and support means so much to me and I am grateful and I can not thank you enough. God is so Awesome.

Well the results are in .......

I have lost 51 pounds this first month since my surgery. WOW .... I can hardly believe it myself. 51 pounds in just 30 days .....

I started my weight loss journey at 495 pounds .. and this morning am 444. So many people have been telling me that they could see my face getting thinner and my waist and chest have been getting smaller. I will be taking some new pics real soon and will be posting them on my picture diary site at http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN You may want to try checking them out. I have several picture ideas to take to help demonstrate how much I have lost and I know you will also be blessed to see me now.

Over a week ago, I participated with a special ministry program in many of the prisons here in the Upper Peninsula. Prior to my surgery I was wearing 6 XL shirts. The gray picture of me posing in my living room before my surgery are with a 6 XL Shirt. The volunteers working in the prisons for this outreach were to be provided matching t-shirts. I placed a request for a 6 XL Shirt. When I got to the prison, I was informed that the largest t-shirt that they could order was a 3 XL. I was somewhat disappointed and thought that I would be the only volunteer who did not have a Operation Starting Line T-Shirt on for the events. I went into the restroom to try to see how the 3 XL shirt would fit .... and guess what .... it fit perfect. One of my new pictures will be with my 3 XL Operation Starting Line T-Shirt .... WOW .. I can hardly remember when I last wore a 3 XL Shirt.

You will be amazed at how loose my pants have gotten this past month. I have had to cut three new holes in my belt to keep my pants from falling down to my ankles. I need smaller clothes already. Yesterday I began the morning by going through my closet looking for smaller pants. I discovered 30 pairs of pants, several never worn, from a wide range of waist sizes. My largest pair of pants that I wore prior to my surgery were Jeans with a waist size of 72. The range of sizes in my closet go all the way down to a 42, they were the size I wore 20 years ago when I lost almost 240 pounds on the Weight Watchers program. I found a couple pair of 66 and 60 waist pants that I have pulled aside to get ready to wear. I have made two piles of pants. One are for the sizes in the 50's and the other 40's. It will be exciting working my way down these two piles of pants.

Yesterday I also had a major accomplishment. I walked my first official One Mile walk without having to stop for a rest or rests. In papers I received from my surgeon before my surgery, they said that by 6 weeks post op I should find myself walking between one or two miles per day. When I read that I laughed and said there would be no way that I would be walking one to two miles per day, no matter how much I would want to try to walk that distance .... well low and behold .. they knew what they were telling me. I enjoyed hitting that milestone the day before my one month anniversary date ... I have even joined our local Mall Walkers Club sponsored by Portage Health System, our local hospital. For those who know me well ... know that I have not gotten much in the way of exercise in the past decades .. with all of my weight. Sure I have been real active with my work and ministry ... but let's face it .. I sit a lot in my car traveling the 45,000 miles around the state .. or for hours working on my computer .. If you thought that I was on the go before .. you better watch out ... or you will miss me .. I will be that streak zooming by in front of you .... *smile*

People keep asking me if I have had any pain or complications with my surgery or if I am ever hungry. The answer to both of these questions is NO .. I have been feeling so good. This decision to have the Gastric Bypass Surgery was one of the absolute decisions I have ever made. I firmly believe that my surgeon, Dr. Schuhknecht, and his surgical group, the CORI Centers are the best surgeons around. Their Sapala-Wood MicroPouch procedure is the GOLD Standard in Bariatric Surgeries. If you know anyone who is even remotely thinking about this kind of surgery, or if they are over 100 pounds overweight or have some other major health problems, Please, Please, Please have them contact me and I will be glad to share any information about my surgeons with them. Their website can be found at http://www.coricenters.com

Thank you for allowing me to share my life with you. I am so Blessed that God has allowed us to meet to help encourage each other and pray for one another. Remember to stop by my Weight Loss Journey Diary to keep tabs on how I am doing. I try to update my diary several times each week. You will also get a good picture of the small and large things that I have experienced over the years as a person who has been seriously overweight and how things are changing for me now. If you forgot where that diary is located, here is the web address http://www.obesityhelp.com?m=121728

I have to get ready for my surgeon's phone call. His is giving me a call for my one month check up, instead of having to drive the 550 mile trip to his office in Warren, Michigan.

I will probably only send out monthly updates like this one. So if you ever wonder how I am doing between these updates, just drop me an email and I will be glad to respond to your email. You are continually in my thoughts and prayers. I would also appreciate your continued prayers. I know that it is all the prayers helping me do so well. Thanks again.

With All of My Love... God Loves You ... And So Do I !!!

John

****

8/28/03

Time for the Bells, Whistles and Cheering .... And the Results Are:


One Month Post Op .... weight 444 Down 51 Pounds in One Month ....

LIFE IS GREAT !!!!

I was so excited to see the results on the scale this morning. I am feeling so good it is remarkable. Again I want to Thank God for His Love, Care and Provision in my life. I also want to thank everyone who has been praying for me and ask for your continued prayers as I continue my Weight Loss Journey. I know that my great results are directly connected to God and all the prayers being said for me all over the country by my family and friends ... and so many people that I do not even know .. Thanks!!


****

8/27/03

"Help me I'm Shrinking" No I am not melting ... but the weight is falling off of me everyday. I had a fun time going through my closet this morning and getting out all of my "old" pants that were stored away .. to see what I could now fit into ... I found about 30 pairs of pants with all different waist sizes. It will be exciting to work my way down them. The next project is to go through my "old" shirts.


****

8/26/03

2 Days till one month post op check up and weigh in .... I am looking forward to getting on the scale to see the results from my first month after the surgery. Family and Friends keep telling me how good I am looking and that they can see great results already ... I will also be taking new measurements early Thursday morning and will share those results here on my profile as well. Make sure you check out my picture diary after Thursday as I will get new pics taken and posted on my site by the end of the evening. This past Sunday friends at church were so supportive when I loosened my belt and pulled the waist of my pants out to show them how much I have lost .. that will be at least one of the new pics I post.

****

8/22/03

WOW What a Great Week!

I have been doing and feeling so great I am so happy with my decision to have this surgery .... Next week Thursday will be my one month anniversary and I can hardly wait to see how much more weight I have lost. My pants keep falling off me .. I have made two new holes in my belt and need to make another new one.

This past week I have been back inside the prisons with my prison ministry. The men have been so glad to see me and it was great getting back to work. I also participated with a special ministry event called Operation Starting Line. Between August 15 and 25, 2003 teams of volunteers will be going into every state, federal and private prison with a special Gospel Message. On Saturday, August 17 I was at Camp Manistique, Sunday August 18 I held my three regular Chapel Services at the Marquette Branch Prison, Tuesday August 19 I was at Alger Max Correctional Facility and Camp Cusino, I was back at Alger Max on Wednesday August 20 and yesterday August 21 was at Marquette Branch Prison. Tomorrow August 23 I will be going to the Baraga Max Correctional Facility. The services and response by the prisoners has been awesome.

This past week I have also moved to "Real Food" ... what a treat after the clear and full liquids .. and the soft foods. The only food I have had some trouble getting down so far were scrambled eggs with cheese .. but poached eggs have gone down fine. It will be interesting trying different foods ...

If you are thinking about surgery for yourself ... don't put if off .. go for it .. this is the best decision I have made ...

Prior to my surgery the only real concern I had ... would I be a HUNGRY person trapped in a body that can not eat .... Well let me tell you .... I have not had any hunger cravings at all .. in fact .. I have to be reminded that I should be eating ... what a difference from before my surgery ... no one ever had to remind me to eat .. I was always reminded that I am eating toooooo much ... smile


****

8/15/03

WOW Last evening I went out for my walk and I walked a half mile. Before my surgery, I would have never even attempted to go out for a walk let alone a half mile .... I FEEL GREAT !!!!!

In the morning I also took the remainder of my staples out so I am staple free. I even helped to take a few out myself, it was an easy task with the remover that my surgeon gave me at my post op check up.

Yesterday I went out with some friends for lunch and had a great time visiting and sharing with them all about my surgery and recovery. One of my friends is seriously considering to have the weight loss surgery also ..

Well I will end this update for now .. I am going to go for another walk.

****

8/12/03

One thing that completely amazes me is how much I enjoy going for a walk so soon after my surgery. On July 16 when I had my consultation with Dr. Schuhknecht, I laughed at his staff when I read in the paperwork on post op instructions and procedures that at 6 weeks post op, I may be walking between one and two miles daily. I told them .. yeah in my dreams ....

The evening of my surgery my nurses had me up out of bed two times to go for short walks and since that time it seems I have not stopped walking. I am not exactly sure yet how far I am going but it is getting easier to go longer distances without having to stop and take a short break on a bench.

I am also in the process tonight of adding some more pictures to my picture diary at my picture Trail site. If you get a chance please stop by and see some new pics.

http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN

God Bless You all, John :-)

****

8/11/03

I went to a Weight Loss Support group with two other friends who are 5 months post op and 2 months post. The support group was 30 miles from our homes and it was nice visiting during the trip and then with the other ladies attending the meeting. I was the only male with 8 other ladies ... (you won't hear me complaining ... smile) We also went out for a snack after the meeting .... I will be working with a few friends to begin another support group in our local area. We will be networking with two other groups in our local area to encourage each of the groups and network together.

****

8/10/03

Happy Birthday to Me !!!! smile ... well today is my birthday and I had a nice party with my family; Mom, Brother and his family. I am still on soft foods .. and enjoyed some banana cream yogurt while eveyone else had Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake .... I was amazed how I did not crave any cake at all. Prior to my surgery I would have had a LARGE piece and then seconds .... My mom and I went out to eat after church with a couple friends from church. It was a great time as I also ran into many other friends from other local churches who had been praying for me and my surgery. It was so nice to thank each of them for their prayers. I know that it was all of the prayers that has kept me from any pain or problems during my surgery and during my recovery ... God is still in the Prayer Answering business .....

****

8/7/03

Hello Family & Friends!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you .........

I can not thank you all enough for your prayers, encouragement and support you have blessed me with during my surgery and recovery. I got back this evening from my check up with my surgeon and he was so pleased with my progress and has given me the go ahead to start eating soft foods .... yeah .... so for dinner tonight I enjoyed scrambled eggs with cheese and some "legal" peanut butter fudge that my friend Jenny made for me. She had her one year checkup with our surgeon about an hour earlier than my appointment. Boy did it taste heavenly ..... Thanks Jenny, you are truly an Angel !!! Jenny is going great with her weight loss journey ... Since her surgery on July 18 2002 she has now lost 305 pounds in just over one year ..... congrats Jenny.... you are looking great !!!!

I began my weight loss journey at 495 pounds ..... I was down to 489 just ten days prior to surgery and now after 11 days since surgery I have dropped to 477 ... 18 pounds down from my high and 12 pounds since surgery. Dr Schuhknecht said this is a great beginning since I may have actually gained 10 to 15 pounds in the hospital with all of the fluids they gave me through my I V ....

Tomorrow morning, Friday August 8 we will start heading back home to the UP.It has been such a blessing to have my mom and brother come with me for my surgery. We have had a special time together these past 12 days. I am also grateful to my sister-in-law and nephews for their support while we have been gone. They held down the home fort while we were away .... Thanks, Pam, David, Tim and Kevin .... I Love You!!!

There have been so many times this past week when I have been feeling so good that I have to look at the staples in my abdomen to remind myself that I really did have surgery on July 28. I was joking with my surgeon this afternoon that he must have only cut my abdomen and put staples in to make me believe that I have a stomach the size of a grape .... he laughed and said it really is that small now ... and as I begin to move to soft foods and then to a regular diet on August 18 I will discover that it is really that small.

Since we have remained in Detroit following my surgery I have visited other Bariatric Surgery patients here at Harper Hospital. This morning I was able to reassure the wife of a patient who was taking longer for him to get out of surgery. I was earlier talking to a husband waiting to hear that his wife came through her surgery successfully. When I finished visiting with the husband .. the other patients wife approached me to ask me if she over heard our conversation correctly that I just had surgery. She explained her husband was nearing two hours since he went in for his surgery and she understood the surgery only lasted one hour .... and she was getting concerned. It was a blessing that I was able to visit with her and encourage her and she had lots of questions about my surgery. We visited for a while until she got the word she was praying for that her husband was ok ... he did have a few complications but, came through the surgery fine. I am so thankful that God allowed me to be there for her to help her keep her mind from racing and imagining the worse outcome for her husband.

I need to start getting ready for bed so I can get a great night's sleep for our trek north, I will keep you updated from time to time .... but if you ever have any questions about my surgery ... or if you know anyone who is struggling with excess weight and may be considering weight loss surgery ..... please ... please share my contact information with them and tell them I would be glad to share my experience with them ....

Please keep my in your prayers ... they have been really working .... I will continue to hold you up in my prayers.

Just a reminder, if you would like to view my journal about my weight loss journey, please stop by my profile at http://www.obesityhelp.com?m=121728
or you can view my picture diary at http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN

May God Bless you abundantly,
John


****

8/5/03

I had a rough night last night but am doing so much better. Yesterday morning I realized my pain medication was starting to run low so I tried to get a refill but discovered that I would not be able to get it refilled before the pharmacy at the hospital closed. I took my last dose early evening but then during the night started feeling the effect of the surgery. My brother got up early and walked over to the pharmacy as soon as they opened this morning and it did not take long for the pain med to take the edge down. I was soon back to my cheerful pain free self .... oh what a relief that is ..... *smile*

This afternoon I had an enjoyable time with my mom and brother. It has been decades since we have driven through our old neighborhoods where we lived in Inkster and Garden City and by my grandmothers home in Detroit. It was like walking down memory lane seeing our previous homes and schools ... what a great time we had.

This was my first car ride since my release from the hospital last Wednesday. Some of the roads where a little rough and I felt every jolt. I am so glad I have a few more days of recovery before we head back home to the Upper Peninsula this coming Friday morning.

Yesterday I also had an opportunity to visit a friend who just had his surgery. He was in the same room I had just 7 days earlier.

****

8/3/03

I am feeling GREAT!!!!!!! This weekend has been real enjoyable. I have taken several long walks and have had some visitors, which has been a blessing. Many friends have also called to see how I am doing and it sure is nice to talk with all of them. Thank you all again for your prayers and well wishes .... I appreciate you all. You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. John :-)

****

8/1/03

LIFE IS GREAT !!!!!!!
I feel like a million bucks ... and have to keep pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming but am really feeling this great. In some of the papers I received from my surgeon before my surgery, I was chuckling at one of the post op instructions, it said that by 6 weeks post op I should expect to be walking between one and two miles per day. *yeah in your dreams* was my response ... but I am well on my way to those numbers. Yesterday I went for a walk and could not believe how much I enjoyed it and how far I actually walked. Prior to the surgery, I would not walk anymore than was necessary .. I would drive around parking lots until one of the handicap parking spaces would be open right in front of the store I needed to go into ...

I am looking forward to going out for a walk in about an hour .. me saying that I am looking forward to walking ... wow .. what a benefit from the surgery ... I am getting exercise and enjoying it ...

I have mentioned that we are staying at the hospital's Guest Housing just around the corner from where I had my surgery. We will be staying here until next week when I have my first post op examination with my surgeon. Harper Hospital is part of the Detroit Medical Center and there is a walking mall between some of the hospitals and parking ramps. This is where I have been doing my walks. I walk then rest on some of the park benches and then walk some more. At one point yesterday, I was getting ready to sit on one park bench and momentarily I was sitting gently to make sure that my weight was not tooo much for that particular bench ... then I started to chuckle to think .. pretty soon I will not have to worry about that soon ....

I need to get some breakfast before my walk .. and will do more updating later ....

I had a great afternoon. I went for a long walk along the walking mall between the hospital and Guest Housing. I then decided to stop in Harper Hospital to visit with other Surgery Patients. They were all amazed at how good I looked after having surgery this past Monday and released from the Hospital on Wednesday. It sure was nice to visit with them and to also see my nurses who took wonderful care of me during my stay.

****

7/31/03

Hello Everyone, I am now officially on the Other Side ... my surgery was great. I did not have one bit of pain. I was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon and am still feeling good. For my pain management, I elected to have the Epidural block for pain and am so glad. I was up walking twice Monday evening after my surgery. Then all day Tuesday I wore a path in the tile floors with all of the laps around the ward.

Dr. Schuhknecht told me that my surgery was so routine and there were not any problems. I am continually impressed with his care and concern for his patients. I also had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Wood and he was also a very warm and caring surgeon. If anyone were considering any of the CORI surgeons, I would recommend them without hesitation. Dr. Kole is a new surgeon with the group and he assisted Dr. Schuhknecht with my surgery.

I will still be staying in the Detroit area at the Harper Hospital Guest Housing until after my post op check up on August 7. I was so glad that I did not have to endure a 10 hour ride back home to the Upper Peninsula after my discharge yesterday; it would have been a long trip.

Yesterday I began to feel some pressure along my suture line after the Epidural pain block started to wear off. There was no pain just a feeling of the effects of the surgery. I have decided to take the liquid pain medication they ordered for me so there is not any major pain that I will have to deal with later.

I will continue to do more updating to let you know how things are going. I again want to thank everyone for their prayers and words of encouragement. Thanks, John :-)

****

7/30/03

Hello Family and Friends,

I am back at Guest Housing resting great. I was released from the hospital this afternoon and feel so good. They took me off the special pain block in my back first thing this morning and I am now feeling a little bit of pressure on my suture line but still no pain. I took some of the liquid pain medication to keep any pain from building up. I am so glad that I will be staying downstate until my check up on August 7. When I jumped in the back seat of my van to ride the few blocks between the hospital and the lodging, I realized that I would have been real sore if I had to ride the 500 miles back home.

If you are near the Detroit area we would enjoy having you stop by for a visit. Guest Housing is located at 3737 Beaubein St in Detroit MI 48201. Located at the corner of Mack Ave and Beaubein St. The direct phone number here is 313-745-1915 ... or you could also call my cell phone 616.634.6314. We are staying in suite #`215.

I will be drinking clear liquids for the next 7 days and then will move to full liquids when I have my appointment with my surgeon on August 7. Now that I have been released from the hospital, I will be glad to answer everyone directly instead of the group email update. If you have any questions, please feel comfortable asking me any questions you may have about the surgery or my progress.

I do want to share a prayer request with you. Last night I had a great conversation with one of my nurses. She had lots of questions about me and the prison ministry. Finally she came out and wanted to know how to deal with her husband who is not a Christian or open to any thing "Religious" I continued to spend time sharing with her that I would be praying for her and her husband and that God will send someone to her husband who is a Christian to be his "Friend" and would share his faith with her husband to draw him closer to God. Please pray for her and her husband. I know that God sent me to have the surgery to also be there to encourage one of my nurses.


Thank you again for all of your prayers and words of support and encouragement. I am truly blessed to have great friends like you in my life.

I am grateful!
John


**** Here are postings my brother Keith emailed out to family and friends to report on my surgery and recovery *****

**** I want to thank my brother for all of his assistance while I was in the Hospital and during my recovery time in Detroit. I am so grateful that he took time out of his schedule to drive me and our mom down to Detroit for the surgery and to stay downstate until after my first post op check up. Keith, Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

I also appreciate the care and support my mom give me during this time. Her nursing skills are still just as good even though she has not practiced nursing in decades. Maybe being at Harper Hospital, where she graduated from their Nursing School had something to do with it … Mom .. you are a GEM .. Thanks! ****
****

7/30/03 10:37 AM

John is doing very well. Yesterday they took most of the tubes out of him, and he spent some time walking the floor. At one point he was told he should take it easy on the laps around the floor, or he might feel it later. Today they plan to start him on clear liquids, and if he can keep them down, they will release him. So far, so good.

****

7/29/03 10:00 AM edt

John had a good day yesterday. He was moved to a regular room after the normal 3 hour recovery. He rested comfortably without reporting any pain, and even took a walk around the floor a couple of times. Today, he should have some of the tubes that have been connected to him removed, and will be able to eat ice chips and Popsicles. Everyone is looking for him to have a great start on his new life.

Keith Niemela

****

Report from Harper Hospital
7/28/03 10:00 AM, edt

John was up and in good spirits this morning, and arrived at the hospital at 5:00 AM. He went in to prep around 6:00, and was in the operating room just after 8:00. The doctor came to report to the family around 9:15, and said that everything went so well, it was boring. He predicts a good recovery, and John should be out into a regular room sometime after lunch. We'll keep you posted, but we're thankful for the great news so far.

Keith Niemela

****


7/27/03

6:15 PM We made it to Detroit and are checked into Guest Housing at the Hospital. I will be heading to the hospital at 5:00 AM in the morning for my 7:30 AM surgery. I am all ready for tomorrow. See you soon.

****

7/26/03
Good Morning God !!!!!!

and Friends and Family !!!

Well things are getting down to the final stages before my surgery first thing Monday Morning, July 28 at 7:30 AM .... I had a great night's sleep and am prepared for the start of our trip downstate beginning later this afternoon. I have an appointment at one of the prisons that I work with and then we will be heading as far as Munising, Michigan for this evening.

This may be my last update until after my surgery ... so if you don't see anything here for a couple days, please don't become worried.

I want to share with you an important thought. I am completely at peace with this upcoming surgery and have no anxiety, second thoughts, or fears. The reason is, my personal relationship that I have with my creator, God. I know that He is walking with me and has been and will be guiding my surgeon and his staff during the entire pre-op consultations, surgery and my aftercare. I am not expecting any complications but if my time has come, I am ready to meet Him face to face and stand before Him in heaven. However, I still know that there is much more God wants me to do here on earth and I’m looking forward to the renewed strength I will have to do that with the changes that will take place with me following my Weight Loss Surgery.

If you are considering this surgery for yourself and you do not have this sense of peace that I am talking about, I would encourage you to just go to God and ask Him to come to you and deepen your relationship with you ... or help you begin a relationship with you if you have not been walking with Him. I know that He will then come and give you this same peace that He has surrounded me with. I also want to let you know that if you fear that He will not want a relationship with you because the things that you have or are doing are not very good. There is nothing that you could ever do that would cause God to not be willing to forgive you and welcome you back into His family .. all you have to do is ask for forgiveness for the things that you have done wrong and ask Him to show you how to start to have the personal relationship that I am talking about. Then dust off your Bible or go to a Bookstore and buy one and start reading the Gospel of John in the New Testament. Reading this part in the Bible will give you a good understanding just how much God does LOVE us and how He sent Jesus to show is the way to live for God.

If I can be of any help, I would be glad to answer any questions you may have ... just drop me an email and I will be glad to assist you in this part of your own Journey ......

May God be with you and may He bless you with His presence and fill you with His Love. See all of you on the other side ..... both on the weight loss side ... and in Heaven .. when this life will come to an end for all of us .....

I Love You !!!!!!!!!!!! John ....


****


7/25/03

2 days and a wake up .... the thought of finally being at this point is such a blessing. As many of you know, I have been trying to move forward to this point for close to two years. Now to be just 2 + days from my surgery is like a dream. I found out my surgery has been scheduled for 7:30 AM this coming Monday, I am still waiting for someone from Harper Hospital to let me know what time I am supposed to check into the hospital.

My family (mother and brother) and I will be starting the trip downstate tomorrow afternoon and will be in Detroit early Sunday Afternoon. Living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is great, but we are so far away from everyone ... the ten hours of driving to make it downstate gets long sometimes.

I scheduled my post op check up with Dr. Schuhknecht's office all ready, Thursday August 7 in the afternoon.

Well I need to go right now and take care of some last minutes details. I will try to get back later to do some more updating.

Oh I almost forgot, thank you all for your prayers for my diabetic ulcers. Yesterday when I saw my doctor he was so impressed at how good they are healing. It is truly an answer to prayer ...

For other people having surgery, I wanted to make everyone aware of a great web site to help you if you have any medical problems. http://www.medicalert.org is the official site for the Medic Alert Foundation. This is a non-profit organization that maintains medical information on individuals and if you are ever needing medical help and you are not able to speak, the Medical Personnel treating you will find your Medic Alert pendant, bracelet, or card and will know to call their phone number to get your vital information. Dr Schuhknecht suggested to me that I consider this so that if I were ever to need a Nasal Gastric tube medical personnel would not cause any injury to my stomach pouch. Check out their site.

****

7/24/03

Well 3 days and a wake up !!!!! I am so excited and grateful for this upcoming surgery. Yesterday I was busy all day sending email to friends to let them know that I got my surgery date so they could pray for me. And then I spent the rest of the day answering many emails from my friends letting me know that they were praying for me. I am so thankful and blessed to have so many great friends. Thank you Lord !!!

Well I will be heading to my PCP in just a little while for my PreSurgery Testing. There are some lab tests, EKG, X-Rays and physical exam. I am glad that I did not have to stay up all night cramming for the tests and exams! *smile*

For everyone who has been praying for me and the problems with my diabetic ulcers I have great news. I took the pressure dressing off last night and my leg is looking so much better. Even the real large ulcer that was a result of the allergic reaction to the Unna Boot is all healed. There are still just a couple open ulcers but my leg looks 1000 percent better. Thank you all again for your Prayers. God does still answer our Prayers!!!!

Well I need to get running and finish getting ready for my doctor's appointment. I will try to provide another update later this evening. Just think .... 3 more days and a wake up .....


****

7/22/03 At 4:29 PM EDT

I received a call that I have been waiting for, for a long time ...... I HAVE MY DATE ..........
THANK YOU LORD !!!!!!

First thing on Monday morning, July 28, 2003 I will be wheeled in for my surgery. This day has been a long time coming. I am so grateful to God for keeping His hand on my life through these years and for guiding me to this point. I know without a shadow of doubt that He who has begun a new work within me is not finished with me yet. I am looking forward to the new horizons that He will be leading me to from this point forward.

****

7/22/03

Had a check up with my PCP to change the pressure dressing on my leg. WOW did it look great; the ulcers are still there but the leg itself looked so much better. There was no indication of the swelling from the Edema in my leg and my ulcers where no longer weeping like that have been. My PCP was real pleased at how good they looked. My PCP is great. The nurses where busy with some other patients so he did the pressure warp on my leg and I have to admit he did a very good job.

I am still waiting to hear from Dr. Schuhknecht's office to find out my surgery date. Keep checking back it should be any time later this afternoon.

****

7/19/03 I am home .... yeah .....
Yesterday was a full day for me. When I arrived at the Hospital in the morning, I went to the Emergency Room to get processed. The ER Doctor had a "Wound Specialist" come to take an assessment. What they decided to do, instead of admitting me, was to do a special pressure wrap of my leg to bring down the swelling and help force the fluids that accumulate in my legs due to my problems with Edema. My leg now looks like it is 4 sizes bigger than my other leg. Last night was the first time in 2 weeks that I did not have to take any pain pills to get a good night sleep. This is a great sign.

I also talked to a Doctor who implants the special filter and I now have an Inferior Vena Cava filter implanted in me to prevent any blood clots from traveling from my legs to my lungs.

The procedure itself was fairly quick, about 20 minutes. We were waiting for close to 2 hours to get into the operating room for the procedure. It then took another 20 to 30 minutes to get everything set up in the OR and get my neck sterilized. They placed the device down through my jugular vein in my neck. I was awake the whole time and there was just a small quick "prick" when the needle and insertion guide was placed in my neck.

I was sent home with an X-Ray showing the filter inside of me .. don't ask me where it is exactly .. but I can show you the metal in the X-Ray somewhere near my major arteries coming from my legs.

After the procedure, you will rest for 4 hours to make sure you are well on the way to healing and that the veins do not reopen where the filter was implanted. Originally when we planned the surgery, they were going to release me to go home after the 4 hour rest. When they were wheeling me to my room, I mentioned that it would be midnight when I would get home after the rest and asked if I could spend the night. So they said that would be a good idea. Well I had breakfast this morning and got dressed and made it home safe and sound.

I am so grateful for all of the people who have sent me email messages to let me know that they are thinking about me and praying for me. It is such a blessing to have praying friends. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A couple hours ago, Dr. Schuhknecht's team leader, Amanda Rhoades called me to see if I had received any written orders from Dr. S .. to get the Filter implanted. When I told her that I already got it yesterday, she was so excited that I am motivated for the surgery. Well this coming Tuesday, July 22 I will be given my surgery date .... it could be real soon .... Here I Come. .... I will list the date just as soon as I get it ...

****

7/18/03

Off to the Hospital! Earlier I mentioned that I have a Diabetic Ulcer that is being treated. Well I developed an allergic reaction to the material in the Unna Boot that is used to keep pressure on the leg so the ulcer will heal. The reaction caused 6 additional ulcers to open up on my leg. One is the largest ulcer that I have ever had and has been extremely painful. Well after 3 weeks working with my PCP to try other treatments to get it to heal, it is not responding. So tomorrow 7/19/03 I will be hospitalized to try some other treatments with me on complete bed rest. I hope to take my laptop computer with me to keep everyone updated.

This will also be helpful, since Marquette General Hospital is where I will be having the Greenfield Filer implanted so it will be easier to work with the Cardiologist while hospitalized at the same hospital. My WLS will be scheduled as soon as my filter is implanted. It is getting so close .. I am so excited.


Here is a copy of an email message I sent to many family and friends across the country .....

Dear Family & Friends,

I wanted to share some very personal needs of mine and prayer requests with you.

Many of you have been praying for me and my health for many years and I am about to take a giant step of Faith and would desire your continued prayers on my behalf. For all of my life I have struggled with excess weight and over these past eight years I have developed some serious health problems due to this excess weight. It seems like I have lost a ton, losing and regaining the same pounds over and over again. I have finally decided to take some drastic action to put a stop to this vicious merry-go-round.

For the past two years I have been seriously considering Gastric Bypass Surgery to reduce the size of my stomach to help loose weight for the last time and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. Please understand that this has not been a careless whim or desire but much prayer and research has gone into this decision. I just was informed, by my surgeon, that I will be scheduled for surgery at Harper Hospital in Detroit Michigan in just a couple weeks. Harper Hospital holds some special memories for my family. In 1954 my mom received her RN Nursing Degree from the Harper Hospital School of Nursing. On August 10, 1955 my mother gave birth to a beautiful bouncing baby boy, ME! And now I will begin my new life at Harper Hospital. I will first need to have a special device surgically implanted to prevent potential blood clots from traveling from my legs to my lungs (causing death). This surgery will be scheduled in Marquette as soon as possible. When the Greenfield Filter is implanted by the Cardiologist then my weight loss surgery will be scheduled soon after.

Above I mentioned that I have experienced some complications. One major concern for a diabetic is ulcers on their feet and legs and if they do not heal could lead to amputation of the foot or leg. Needless to say, I have always taken any ulcers serious and would go to my doctor to get them treated. The way to treat them is to put a soft cast (Unna Boot) on the leg or foot so pressure and medication is in contact with the ulcer so it will heal. They are replaced each week until it heals. It may take 2 to 4 weeks of the application of the Unna Boot before they heal.

In the beginning of June, I discovered a small ulcer on my right leg and immediately went to my doctor for a boot. Things were going as usual for two weeks when after the application of the third boot, I developed an allergic reaction to the boot and my leg broke out with 5 additional ulcers. One is the biggest one I have ever had. The past three weeks my doctor and I have been attempting to try other treatments to get them to heal. Unfortunately they are getting worse. So tomorrow morning (Friday, July 19) I will be checking into the Marquette General Hospital so they can get my leg to heal. I am not sure how long I will be hospitalized but this will also aid with the implanting of the Greenfield Filer I need for my weight loss surgery.

Dr. Michael Schuhknecht from the CORI center in Warren, Michigan will be performing this surgery. The CORI center has a website that explains the surgery and if you would like to take a look at their site please go to http://www.coricenters.com My new stomach will become the size of a grape holding 1 to 2 cc's of food. My life will forever change with this surgery.

Above I mentioned that I have been seriously pursuing this surgery for the past two years and I found a website that has provided me with a wealth of information on Gastric Bypass Surgery. The site is http://www.obesityhelp.com I have also posted a profile on that site and if you would like to follow my weight loss progress, I would invite you to bookmark my profile and watch my updates, http://www.obesityhelp.com?m=121728 I will also be posting pictures showing the many stages of my weight loss at http://www.picturetrail.com/JohnN Please check my profile and pics from time to time as I to share my Weight Loss Journey. I will also use this profile site to list my surgery dates (both the Greenfield Filter and the MicroPouch). I will also keep you informed on how my ulcers are healing.

Would you please lift up several prayer requests? I would appreciate all the prayers and thoughts on my behalf.
1. That I would continue to honor God with my entire life and be sensitive to His gentle voice directing my steps.
2. That the ulcers will heal.
3. That there will not be any hindrances in my insurance approvals going through so the surgery will take place.
4. That God would guide the hands of the Cardiologist & Dr. Schuhknecht and his medical staff during my surgery and aftercare.
5. That God would provide the lodging and funds for my mom and brother to stay in Detroit while I am in surgery and hospitalized and then for the three of us for a week to ten days post operation until I have my first check up with Dr. Schuhknecht following surgery before heading the 500 + miles back home to the UP.
6. That my post op recovery will go smoothly.
7. That God would guide Dr. McKenzie, my Primary Care Physician, as he monitors my progress after the surgery and that he is given an extra portion of wisdom to be aware of any complications I may face following surgery.
8. That my health improves to allow me to have increased energy to do the work of the Ministry that God has called me to with Brother's Keeper Ministries.
9. That I remain humble at all times so God can get the Glory for the success of the surgery and my health.
10. That the devil be bound from attacking me at any time during this surgery and recovery process and at all times.

You will be in my heart and prayers each day and I am so grateful for your friendship and support you have demonstrated to me and my family over the years. I know that God is on His Throne and always in control but I also want you to know that if anything happens during the surgery, I am ready to see my Lord and Savior face to face and be in God's wonderful presence . I still believe that God has more work for me to do here on the earth and am looking forward to getting a small glimpse what it will feel like to have a "new body" after the recovery from my surgery .... even though our heavenly "new body" will be perfect .... I think you understand what I am trying to say ....

If you have any questions, please feel comfortable contacting me and asking. If anyone will be near the Detroit area at the time of my surgery, please stop by Harper Hospital and say hello. My mom and brother may be contacted on my cell phone 616.634.6314 while we are downstate or if you would like to check on my progress.

May God Bless You Abundantly,
Your Brother and Friend,
John

****

7/17/03

YEAH !!!!!!!!!! My date is just ahead. I had my Psyc Evaluation and Dr. Consult yesterday and all lights are GREEN for surgery. I did not get my date yet but it will be within the next few weeks. I will need to schedule a date with a Cardiologist near my home to have a Greenfield filter implanted to eliminate the risk of a Pulmonary Embolism.

The Greenfield® Filter is permanently implanted in the vena cava where it prevents pulmonary embolism by capturing blood clots (emboli) before they can be transported to the lung. When an embolus enters the cone-shaped Greenfield® Filter, it is directed toward the center of the filter and trapped. The Greenfield® Filter is designed to allow adequate blood flow around the captured clot. Over time, a natural process called clot lysis will dissolve the trapped embolus.

The doctor uses a specially designed system to place the filter. This system is introduced through either a vein in the groin or the neck and then guided to the vena cava. When the doctor releases the filter from the introducer system, the hooks at the base of the legs attach securely to the wall of the vena cava permanently implanting the filter.


For more information on the Greenfield filter you can visit a web site I found with excellent information at http://www.greenfieldfilter.com/faq.html

As soon as my filter is implanted then my WLS surgery will be scheduled. Keep checking back here for more updates, I will keep you posted.

I was pleased to find that I have lost 6 pounds this past month; I weighed in at 489 pounds today.

****

7/14/03

Well here I am preparing to head downstate for both my Psyc Evaluation and my Dr. Consult this coming Wednesday, July 16, 2003. It would be great if I come away from these meetings with my Surgery Date ...... smile .... I have begun to share my plans for surgery with a number of friends and everyone has been so positive and supportative about my plans for this surgery. So many have continued to remind me that they have been praying for me and my weight for many years and are so glad that I am taking these steps to make a change with my life and health. They are also reminding me that I will be in so much better shape to continue with the ministry that I have so I can be around a long time to make a difference in the lives of the people that I reach through the ministry that Lord has me doing with prisoners, victims, criminal justice professional and communities.

I have been keenly aware how my activity level has been decreasing these past few years, as I no longer have the energy level to do all the work that I have done in the past. I am Grateful that God has kept His hand on me to keep me here to see this day and am looking forward to being on the other side ... post op side that is .. and much healthier. Thank you all for your prayers. God Love You ... And So Do I .....

****

7/9/03

I now have both my Psyc Eval and Dr Consult scheduled for next week on July 16. I am hoping to get my date after my consult with Dr. Schuhknecht. I am so excited that I am getting so much closer to my surgery. This has been a long time coming. I have also realized that God is "always in control" and His timing is perfect. With the MicroPouch surgery done by the CORI Surgeon team, I feel this procedure is the best for me and if I have gone through with the other center it would not have been the best. God has a way of wanting the very best for His kids and I am so grateful that He allowed the process to slow down so I could find the CORI Centers and Dr. Schuhknecht and his wonderful staff. I had a great conversation with Chuckie in Dr. Schuhknecht's office. This is a small world .. she attended college across the street from me and even frequented the Ice Cream and Sub Shop my parents and I operated for a couple years.

****

7/2/03

Well I have my Psyc Eval scheduled for 7/16/03 in Warren Michigan and will also be trying to schedule my Doctor Consult at the same time. I live 500 miles from Warren so the CORI Center and the Psychologist are working together to help schedule me for both on the same day. I am getting excited that things are moving forward to my surgery. After standing still for almost two years it is a blessing to get all these things in place.

****

6/30/03

Received results of my H Pylori blood test and has submitted them to the CORI Centers. The only thing I need before they work on my Insurance Approval is my Psyc Evaluation. I have made a couple calls to try to set up an appointment for my evaluation and am waiting for the appointment to be set.

As a Diabetic, I have to watch my legs and feet for diabetic ulcers. I had an ulcer that my doctor has been treating for the past three weeks with a special soft cast (Unna Boot) to keep my leg from swelling so the ulcer can heal. Well last week, I developed an allergic reaction to the boot and now have several additional ulcers that have opened up. It is interesting how trouble sometimes tries to get us down. Here I am so close to making some long-term positive changes in my life and with my weight .. and I am fighting with these ulcers to get them to heal.

****

6/23/03

My PCP informed me this morning that he signed my Letter of Medical Necessity and forward it to Dr. Schuhknecht. I also obtained my Sleep Apnea documentation to send in to the Doctor. While at the Hospital for an appointment with my PCP, I had my blood drawn for one of the needed tests and will have it forwarded by the end of the week. The only last remaining thing needed now is my Psychological Evaluation and then I can work on my Insurance Approval. I am getting more excited each day as I see things moving forward in a positive way.

****

6/21/03

I just returned home from 2 weeks on the road for business. During this time I have completed my Health History and sent it to the Patient Care Representative to work on the Insurance Approvals. I will follow up directly with the Center on Monday. Trying to remember all of the different weight loss attempts that I have tried over the years was an over-whelming task to say the least.

****

6/11/03

I attended an informational meeting sponsored by the CORI Center. Dr. Michael Schuhknecht and his team of Patient Service Representatives conducted this meeting. Dr. Schuhknecht and his staff impressed me. They were very caring and you could feel that they were deeply interested in assisting me and the other people attending this meeting.

I began the process of submitting my medical history to work toward my insurance approval. I will be assigned a Patient Service Representative who will assist me in this process. I will have all of my necessary insurance and psychological approvals in place before I have my first consultation with Dr. Schuhknecht. I am looking forward to this process and having my surgery. They have developed a surgical procedure called the MicroPouch, which is much smaller than the typical RNY surgery. This MicroPouch does not expand allowing weight gain.

****

6/6/03

Spent several hours going through my medical records at my PCP's office to document my weight loss attempts. Should have enough documentation for my insurance carrier to show over 5 years of repeated weight loss attempts to secure approval for surgery. Will attempt to make an informational seminar 6/11/03 with the Surgeon and Center I would like to get my WLS.

****

5/29/03

Had a great appointment with my PCP. He is very supportive of my desire for WLS and will help do what is needed to make referral to center and secure insurance approval.

****

5/28/03

Spoke with a Patient Representative with the MSO Centers for Obesity Related Illness (CORI) with offices in Michigan. Surgery is performed in Harper Hospital in Detroit Michigan. This is an interesting location. My mother received her Nursing Degree from the Harper Hospital College of Nursing and I was born at Harper Hospital back in 1955.

Above I mentioned that I have been having difficulty getting insurance approval at another Michigan Center. They would not give me straight answers on why it was taking so long to get approved. After talking with Kathy at CORI she seemed real helpful and is willing to help with the necessary preapprovals. It feels great that things are beginning to seem more positive as I move closer to my WLS journey.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my Primary Care Physician and begin working with him to get the necessary Medical Documentation ready to provide to CORI to get the insurance approvals.

****

I seriously began my Weight Loss Journey on 6/11/01. Over Memorial Day week I attended a Conference for the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions in Phoenix AZ. One of my fellow Ministry Directors had Gastric ByPass Surgery a year and a half earlier and was looking great. I had many opportunities to sit and visit with Wayne and ask him hundreds of questions about his surgery. For the previous three or four years people have approached me who also had WLS and shared how much weight they have lost since their surgery. I appreciated their kind and respectful way of approaching me but I still did not think that Weight Loss Surgery was for me.

However after having such a long - open discussion with Wayne, all of my fears and concerns were answered and I finally felt that I wanted to have a chance to lose all of this extra weight that I was carrying and to finally have my life back again.

Between June or 2001 and May of 2003 I attempted to get approvals from another Michigan Bariatric Surgery Center and they keep providing me with excuses on why it was taking so long to get approved.

I have been waiting for nearly 2 years to get insurance approval to schedule my first appointment with a doctor to discuss surgery. I have begun the process to look for other centers that will accept or work with my insurance carriers to give approval for surgery.

**** Beginning of my Weight Loss Journey ****

Memorial Card from Momma Angel's Service








******** Loss of an Angel ********

The light in our AMOS family is dimmer ....
but the lights of heaven are shinning brightly .....

A very special Angel has left this earth, on June 10, 2004
for her place with God and the other Angel's.
Paula ...
"Momma Angel" has been a close friend for several years
as I have walked this journey here at AMOS/Obesity Help.
Momma Angel was not able
to have weight loss surgery ...
However she was a woman of great strength and love.

She would spend hours supporting
those of us facing surgery
and make sure our surgery support pages were filled
with words of prayers and encouragement
from other AMOS members.
She usually was the first person to sign our pages.

I never had an opportunity to visit with Momma Angel
in person but we exchanged emails
on a number of occasions over the past couple years.
She will be truly missed.

Paula ....
I know you heard the voice of God welcome you home ...
we will continue to love and support your family
you have left behind.
Enjoy that "new body"
God has given to you
and we will join you soon ....

Your Brother and Friend,

John

Momma Angel's profile page






Photos

495 pounds
This is not my highest weight. At one time I weighed 520 pounds. *Smile* just realized ... the difference would only be 25 pounds ... probably not noticable

349 pound
Here I am five and a half months post op down 146 pounds. I am feeling like a new person.


Hospital Reviews
  • (Detroit, MI) - Harper Hospital (Cori Center)


  • Weight Loss Survey Responses
    Click Here To View


    Member Interests:
  • Business & Career - Exec Director - Restorative Justice Ministry-offenders, victims and communities


  • Click here to see interests of other ObesityHelp members.

    Surgeon Info:
    Surgeon: Michael Schuhknecht, D.O.
    On June 11, 2003 I attended an informational meeting sponsored by the CORI Center in Warren Michigan. Dr. Schuhknecht and his team of patient service representatives were conducting this meeting. I was really impressed by his knowledge on the surgery and his care and concern for the people attending the meeting. He and his staff stayed until every last person had their questions answered. I will be assigned a Patient Service Representative to help me with the process of gaining insurance approvals. In discussing my surgery with the CORI Center Patient Care Representatives(Chuckie), they have assured me that they do accept Medicare/Medicaid Insurance. They say that the only major requirement from Medicare/Medicaid is you have to have a well documented history of 5 years of Physician monitored weight loss with your PCP. I live 500 Miles from Dr. Schuhknecht. His office staff have been extremely helpful to work with me and my travel schedule to coordinate my appointments. I have also selected Dr. Medick who is a Psychologist in Grosse Ile Michigan to conduct my Psyc Eval. Both Dr. Medick and Dr. Schuhknecht have been willing to make some adjustments with their schedules to accommodate me. I am real grateful. On 7/16/03 I had my Consultation with Dr. Schuhknecht and was very pleased with his complete examination of the surgery and the risks involved. He made me feel like he was genuinely concerned about me. I did not feel rushed as he answered all the questions I had. 7/31/03 (3 Days Post Op) Dr. Schuhknecht was great. I continue to be impressed by his knowledge and his patient care. He took time to speak with my family after surgery to let them know I did fine. He also stopped by my room to see how I was feeling. I also spoke with Dr. Wood several times during my stay. He was also very friendly and would answer any questions I may have had. I would recommend any of the CORI Surgeons to anyone considering this surgery. 8/30/03 (1 Month Post Op) I just had my One Month Post Op Follow Up visit with Dr. Schuhknecht and I am so pleased with the level of care and concern that Dr. Schuhknecht and his staff have for their patients. I feel like a part of their family, even though I know I am a patient.
    Insurer Info:
    medicare/medicaid
    I have discovered that the major hold up with Medicare/Medicaid is whether the Surgeon or Center you are working with will accept the reduced payment Medicare/Medicaid will pay for the surgery. If you are not aware, when Doctors/Hospitals submitt their bills to Medicare/Medicaid they (Medicare/Medicaid) only pay a protion of the bill and not reimburse the whole amount charged. As a result, there are many Doctors/Hospitals who do not elect to accept Medicare/Medicaid patients. In discussing my surgery with the CORI Center Patient Care Representatives, they have assured me that they do accept Medicare/Medicaid Insurance. They say that the only major requirement from Medicare/Medicaid is you have to have a well documented history of 5 years of Physician monitored weight loss with your PCP.