Hello again; Its no secret that I believe my personal transformation started by getting in better physical health. First, I was convinced to have a sleep study. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and fitted with a CPAP machine. Later, I was persuaded to consider having gastric surgery. I listened to the information and decided to go ahead with it after finding out that it wasn’t the answer just a tool to help with long term weight loss. I had a successful procedure. Following that up with eating healthier and daily exercise I am now at my ideal weight of 255 pounds for a 6 ft. 4 man with a solid build. As I have gotten healthier I have come to have more energy, creativity, and passion. So, I want to share some of my recent experiences in hopes of encouraging you to also make your health a priority.
Let’s start with a few questions. When was the last time you saw a doctor? Was it in his or her office, or was it at an emergency room? Did you go to have a regular check up or where you there for some sort of condition?
Do you have a regular primary care physician? Do you know them by name? When was the last time you visited them? And when you go do you have a conversation or just listen to their advice and get out of there?
I know going to the doctor is not much fun. I hear it is even less fun for women. And for those who get told this often, going there only to hear you need to quit smoking, drink less, or lose weight isn’t fun either. I used to be that guy. I would go to my doctor every six months but only because I had prescriptions that needed to be approved by a physician before they could be refilled. I would promise to try harder, and she would tell me I better. 🙂
Talking to my doctor
But there finally came a point where I decided to talk to my doctor. At that point it was Dr. Sundaraj from the Sunshine Family Clinic. We discussed what I could do to actually lose weight. She suggested I think about gastric surgery if diet and exercise alone weren’t working. She also prescribe a drug called metformin as a chemical weight loss option. Some of you will recognize it as a diabetes drug. You would be correct because at that point I was boarder line diabetic and would have certainly become diabetic without losing the weight.
She referred me to Texas Laparoscopic Consultants. I went to a seminar that they give on the various types of gastric surgeries. I decided that the gastric sleeve sounded like the best option for me personally. It didn’t seem as drastic as a traditional bypass. And it seemed like less maintenance than the band procedure. However, my insurance provider wouldn’t cover the sleeve. They did offer me a newer procedure called a duodenal switch. They explained how it was two procedures but no more risky than my other options.
I had the surgery in October of 2012. My surgeon Was Dr. Terry Scarborough. He was very friendly and explained everything to me. He told me what would be expected of me before and after the procedure if I wanted it to be a complete success. He also told me that they would continue to monitor me long after the procedure. he said that once I was their patient I would be part of their family for life.
The story will have a happy ending
I mention this as a way of building up to the reason I decided to write this post this week. About six months ago Dr. Scarborough told me that my white blood cell count was elevated. He said I had always been a little high, but now I was outside the normal range. He told me that normal was between three and ten and that my reading was thirteen. He said that this was confusing because all my other test results were excellent. He referred me to a hematologist. The one he recommended wasn’t on my insurance plan, but I did eventually find one.
My new doctor
Thanks to my insurance provider I actually had to find a new primary care physician. It isn’t easy to find a new doctor. Even if they take your plan, that doesn’t mean they are accepting new patients. I was lucky to find Dr. Christina Ho at the Lone Star Family Health Center.
At our first meeting I gave her all my past medical history including a couple of things that weren’t on it. It is critical that you are honest with your physician. You don’t really know what is meaningful and what isn’t. They do. So I mentioned the pain in my right shoulder and lower back. I told her about a rash that I had on my waist and under my right arm. And I asked her about the white blood count. I was hoping she could tell me what could be causing it.
She arranged for me to have x-rays on the shoulder and back. the images showed that I have arthritis but no structural damage. She offered to schedule an MRI if I wanted, but told me she didn’t think it was necessary at this time.
She then asked me what I was taking for the soreness. I told her nothing. She asked me why. I told her that it was a combination of being raised to be a tough kid and a general preference against taking any medicine not absolutely necessary. She said I should get over it. She told me that unless I had previous urinary tract or stomach issues from taking over the counter medicine I should take tylenol or aleve. She also told me I could use a sports cream or sports wrap. She also told me that if it got worse, there were other things she could prescribe to help.
We talked about how my shoulder joints would be under less stress if I built up the muscles around them. I told her I had tried free weights but even three pounds would cause pain after a few days. She gave me an unusual suggestion. She said try taking a couple of tylenol a half hour or so before you exercise. I was skeptical, but I tried it; and it worked. I still don’t care for the weights, but I can use them.
When I told her about having a rash that had been there for a while, she wanted to see it. Neither of the two patches are visible, so I had to disrobe. She took a photo of it and sent it to a dermatologist. She wasn’t happy with the answer, so she did a biopsy of it. The results came back something called seborrheic keratosis. She explained that it wasn’t dangerous and never becomes cancerous but can be an indicator of an underlying condition.
She said that considering that I am almost 50 and the fact that the larger area of the stuff was on my waist; she said a colonoscopy would be the next best step. She said it would help rule out a lot of the possibilities and it was part of good health maintenance anyway. So she referred me to a gastroenterologist named Dr. Behara at Regional Digestive Consultants to schedule that procedure.
As for the white blood count she also referred me to Dr. arani an oncologist with Millennium Physicians. He is also a hematologist. It still made me nervous to see someone who is a cancer doctor. He turned out to be a very pleasant and upbeat fellow. I liked him immediately. He took more blood. That latest test showed my white blood count at 18.4 but he wanted to wait on the colonoscopy before deciding on a diagnosis.
Having a colonoscopy
Dr. Behara performed the colonoscopy. I had a very good anesthesiologist and didn’t even feel a thing. It was the best two hours sleep I’ve had in a long time. I didn’t care for having to drink all that nasty liquid or spending all that time in the bathroom; but the procedure itself was painless.
Dr. Behara told me I was in great shape. There were no polyps or lesions of any kind. She told me to keep getting my fiber and come back and see her again in five years.
The results are in
So, all the test were in and I went to see Dr. Arani Thursday to get a diagnosis. He told me that he would tell me what it was before he told me what it was called. This proved to be a good idea and proof that the man knows his business. It also showed me that he agrees with me on the value of having a positive mindset. It turns out I have something called CLL, or Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. I am at stage zero and am in the low risk group. He told me that if you have to have leukemia its the best one to have. He told me I could live a long life without any effects other than the increased white blood cell counts.
He explained that CLL is where there is a mutation in the white blood cells. These cells are intended to die off. However, mine don’t die off on their own so they build up in my system. The increases can be gradual, which mine are; or they can progress much more rapidly. If they build up to sufficient levels, they can crowd out other cells such as red blood cells. So, potential effects could be anemia, swollen lymph nodes, swelling in the abdomen. If at some point treatment is required, there are a lot of options. And my primary care physician backed him up on this saying that many of the newer options have much less drastic side effects.
I will be okay!
The current research has shown no value to trying to treat it in the early stages. At this point the only thing to be done is to monitor my white cell counts. He has scheduled me for testing and follow ups every three months. We were impressed with the level of positivity shown by his patients. I believe I am being treated in a place that agrees with my values and where I will get good advice. So at this point all that is to be done is what I’m already doing. I will continue to live my life, build my businesses, and expect the best out of life. I still plan to travel even though all these doctor’s visits don’t make the idea of scheduling any easier. And I’m still looking for a lady to join me in this adventure.
The lesson here
I wanted to write this post for two reasons. First, I wanted to let people know about the diagnosis. I wanted to be as open as possible, tell as many people at one time, and assure my friends that there really is nothing to worry about. I also wanted to remind people about the value of good health. I want people to be motivated to not only see their doctors but actually communicate with them to make sure they are in the best health possible. Regardless of whether you believe it or not, poor health effects you in all aspects of your life. Just imagine how much better you would be in your profession or at your business if you had the energy that comes from eating a well rounded diet, getting regular exercise, taking time for thoughtful reflection, getting the proper amount of quality sleep and rest, etc.
Sharing is caring
I know I always ask you to share my posts. Its one of those things we all do. But this time, I’m not asking for me. I’m asking for those people you know who need that little push to invest some time and effort in their physical well being. I am fortunate to have gotten good news all along. But the news could have been far worse. Also, by not finding out now I could have left myself fewer options down the road.
I hope you and your friends will read this and decide to do the basic health maintenance at least. What I mean are things like breast exams, pap smears, and mammograms for women as well as colonoscopies and prostate screenings for men. I want us to both be around for a long time to come.
Well, I always love hearing from my readers. If you have any questions about this, or if you want me to be your partner in your own journey; then be sure to send me an email via the contact form. I answer every question and reply to every comment. Also, please don’t forget about my coaching services and my offer to share my inspiring story with your groups. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks and take care out there, Max