Beyond the holidays and the one true reason for the Christmas season, this month has a special meaning for me. December 2, the date I am writing this, is my anniversary date for bariatric weight-loss surgery. This year marks the sixth anniversary of what I consider live-saving surgery, performed by Dr. Douglas Olsen of the Centennial Center for the Treatment of Obesity.
Relatives and long-time friends know my story, but for Vendetta Stone readers and my new social media friends, here’s the gist:
In the summer of 2007, I weighed close to 350 pounds (the Dr.’s chart lists my highest weight at 343 but photographic evidence suggests higher), had Type II Diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and other health-related problems. Then I had an episode that threatened my eyesight. Doctors told me I have brittle eye capillaries, a genetic condition I’d lived with all my life. If they break, I go blind. Simple as that. The docs suggested weight-loss surgery as the best way to reduce blood-pressure effects on my eyes. It was an easy decision, one I have never regretted. I could still lose my eyesight someday, but I’ve done everything I can to prevent it. (About a year later, I was telling a friend this. We were on our way to lunch and how I could still lose my eyesight. “I’ll drive,” he said.)
I went into surgery at 309 pounds; a year later I was at 180. That was my goal weight, but I continued to eat and behave as I had relearned through post-surgery meetings, counseling and behavior modification, and saw my weight drop to 149 over the next three months. This morning (Dec. 2, 2013), I weighed in at 161.
But the reason I’m writing this today is not to talk about me. It’s really all about you. It’s about how you have lived and how you can really live from this day forward if you —like me, having struggled most of your life with your weight—have the guts to lose yours. I know that sounds like I have an attitude and am challenging you. And you’re absolutely correct.
Losing weight permanently is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done—and I don’t use the word “permanently” lightly, but I’ll never go back to the way I once was. There’s nothing about me that’s different from you or your situation, except perhaps my resolve and determination.
If you’ve never battled a food addiction, consider yourself blessed. But you may know someone who does—but feels lost and doesn’t know how to take that first step toward regaining their life.
Let me say right here that while weight-loss surgery worked for me, I am not suggesting it is right for everyone. I have met a number of people who have successfully trimmed their waists and transformed their lives without surgery. One person I have never met, but would like to someday is inspirational former UT Vol and NFL star Antone Davis. He was the season 12 runner-up on the “Biggest Loser” show after losing 202 pounds. Some can go “cold turkey”—a great diet food, by the way— and shed pounds just by their own strength of character and willpower.
On the right side of this page, you will see a link to a short story I wrote in 2009, two years after my surgery. Maybe “A Weight-loss Carol” — my version of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic “A Christmas Carol” — will provide the spark of inspiration needed to help change the direction of your life.
On December 6, I attended the Centennial Center’s annual Holiday Reunion and Fashion Show, signing copies of my debut novel “Vendetta Stone.” I sold five books, and donated $5 from each sale that night to the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC). Weight loss is a cause near and dear to my heart and one that needs your support.
This country needs to get a grip on the obesity problem it is facing and our leaders have recognized that fact. But it is a battle that will only be won one person, one man, one woman, one child, at a time.
I could go on and on about the subject, but that’s enough for me. If you would like to discuss this further, feel free to contact me. I will be signing books Dec. 11 at Miss Daisy’s Kitchen (I know, I know) at the Grassland Market in northern Williamson County and Dec. 14-15 at the Dickens of a Christmas event in downtown Franklin.
Or talk to your doctor. Or a friend. It’s not too late, it’s never too late.
Stepping off the soapbox: This December has been pretty busy, and that’s a good thing! On December 11, I did a book signing at Miss Daisy’s Kitchen at Grassland Market. It went over so well the hostess with the mostest invited me to return throughout the holidays. I will be there on Wednesday the 18th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and possiby on Saturday, Dec. 21 from 9-11 a.m.
This weekend (Dec. 14-15), I will be at Dickens of a Christmas in downtown Franklin. Vendetta Stone would be a great Christmas gift, and there will be 15 other authors with their books as well. I would encourage you to check them out.
Movie time? More than once, I have had a person tell me Vendetta Stone would make a great movie. I think so, too.
And so, I have started working on a screenplay. I am a member of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association and have learned a great deal about the craft since joining in the summer of 2012. I have included a review below from fellow TSA member Stephen Delos Wilson, and also on the Reader Reviews page. (Thanks for the kind words, Steve!)
Writing a screenplay is a completely different from writing a novel, which is also very different from the newspaper career in which I spent 36 years.
I’m not finished writing for newspapers, though.
Thanks for reading,