160 Down, 20 to Go

Ever meet someone that you know, who looks at you once, twice then three times before they say hello?  I had that situation at ACR in October.  I have known this person for a few years, and like most friends, we communicate occasionally via Facebook or another social media platform.  I could tell when he saw me, he wondered if I was who he thought I was.  I was on my way over to let him off the hook when he decided to take the risk and ask if I was Rick.  I said yes, and we had a good laugh about the near miss of him forgetting who I was.

Of course, I do not blame him I have had those brain farts occasionally and like my friend I feel embarrassed that I do not know who people are for sure.  In this case, I let him off the hook, because in fairness in four years (the last time I saw him in person) I have changed, a lot.

Deliberate change

Some might say that changing is just part of growing older, but my physical change has been deliberate.  In the past four years, I have lost about 160 lbs.  This weight loss was the subject of the patient poster I presented at ACR. 

My poster told the story of my journey, including why I was convinced to lose weight, the options I examined and my eventual use of a modified diet to try to lose the weight.  This highly restrictive diet led to me losing about 100 pounds, then I gained a few, and I started a commercial diet program where I have lost almost 60 pounds. A lifestyle diet I maintain to this day.

I also tell the story of the three goals I have set for myself along the way.  The first was repair of a broken sternum which was performed in 2014.  I followed it up to my desire to skydive something I was finally able to do in 2018.  Then this stage where my reward is riding a donkey to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  The third has been a long-held desire ever since I learned of the ability to do about 20 years ago.  To get to my final reward, I must lose 20 more pounds.

My poster also told the story of the multiple medical specialists that had to collaborate to help me lose weight. It took a team of cardiologists, pulmonologists, endocrinologists, a thoracic surgeon and of course a rheumatologist to get me this far, and it will likely take most of them to get me to finish line.

Sustained what?

My poster was titled “Sustained Weight Loss Managed by Multiple Medical Specialists”.  It showed some before, and during pictures of the dramatic reshaping my body has undergone.  My poster is no longer under embargo, so it is available at this link:

Sustained Weight Loss Managed by Multiple Medical Specialists

I hope you take a minute and drop by to look.  I had such fun presenting and talking about the journey.  I found the professionals who stopped by were genuinely interested in what I had accomplished and the process that I had undertaken.  So much so, in fact, that doing the presentation was fulfilling.

My patient poster was one of 24 presented during the official session, and then these posters remained up for viewing during the duration of the meeting.  While I was, of course, focused on just one, they were all interesting and unique stories of the patient journey. The display was viewed often during the meeting, and I even had some comments about the poster during the remainder of the meeting.

I hope any persons with a rheumatic condition will consider entering next year and if selected take advantage of the opportunity to present your poster at ACR 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.  I promise it will be a wonderful, fulfilling experience.

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