Mark Wentnick

It has been said that television is not good for you. In fact, too much television is not good for you. My story throws this adage away. If it was not for TV I would not have changed my life for the healthier.

I have been overweight since I could remember. The last time I was normal weight I was a fetus. This did not stop me from being active, I played sports regularly. I felt good and wasn’t self-conscience about it. Fast forward to the age of 40 something. My body, to be exact my heart, decided I was having too much fun and decided to throw me a curve. I developed a condition known as, Atrial Fibrillation, or A Fib as it is known in the circle of those who are in the know. Severe shortage of breath and lethargy are the main symptoms. Basically my heart wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Oxygen in my blood wasn’t getting across the lung linings fast enough to supply needed oxygen to the brain. But all my life being relatively healthy I attributed the symptoms to being heavy. Well why not I was pushing north of 385 pounds and figured my age is catching up with me. Being undiagnosed I lived with these symptoms for 6 more years until my heart decided I had enough and added Ventricular tachycardia. V Tach. My heart became a NASCAR engine and instead of beating at 60-75 resting would race at 225+ beats per minute. This in turn caused me to black out no matter where I was. I was diagnosed with an enlarged heart, congestive heart failure, A Fib and V Tach. Lovely! I could hardly walk 10 feet without panting like I was crossing a desert with no water. I was weak and couldn’t support myself.

Once I was diagnosed with these problems and giving the litany of medications to control it I was resigned to a new way of life. My doctor said, old age is not in your future. He also said I was, Digging my grave with my jawbone. How prophetic! This diagnosis was years after my self diagnosis and I’m now in my 50s pushing 430 pounds. An intelligent person would have made a decision to try to do something about it. Something as in changing my eating habits and activity level.

While going through this did I try to get healthy? Curb my caloric intake or my activity level? Sleeping with a machine because of apnea? NO. I just thought “it is what it is.” This is the hand I am dealt and by the way…pass the Twinkies.

I did get lucky and had a defibrillator convert me to regular rhythm. You’ve seen them on TV. They have paddles dramatically yell, “clear” and hit you with electricity. And the patient at the brink is all better roll credits. This was done three times thru my years after diagnosis only to go back into A Fib, but the third was a charm. Something to do with a new med I was taking.

I was a fan of a TLC program, “My 600 LB. Life”. The show revolves around the only doctor that does bypass to high risk obese folks. I watched it because it made me feel better about my self that there are bigger people than me. I was happy in the knowledge I wasn’t the only human the size of a Chevy out there. Most have the surgery and reduce to a fraction of themselves. But this one episode shown Jan. 31st. 2014 had a woman called, Penny. Penny was over 650 lbs. bed bound and only wanted the opportunity to go to her son’s first grade graduation with the rest of the mothers looking and feeling normal.

Penny had the surgery and in one month lost 40 pounds. The second month she lost nothing, the third nothing and by six months had actually gained 25 pounds. The whole time making excuses such as telling the doctor his scales are off or she has been adhering religiously to here caloric intake program and can’t for the life of her explain why she can’t lose. What she hadn’t told the doctor is that she was eating fast food, ice cream and with the help of manipulating her enabling husband every other taboo food she could stuff in her face. Mind you all the while crying that she only wants to go to her son’s graduation. The doctor wasn’t fooled he knew it had to be caloric intake.

So here I am watching Penny try to con the doctor and more importantly herself. I am sitting on the couch yelling at the TV as if through some new form of technology she could hear me, “You stupid cow just stop eating! Get off the bed and make an attempt to move! How pathetic can one person be! How easy is it to do this, OMG!” And as I got louder and louder my brain must have heard my pleading because all at once I stopped. I though, so what’s my problem! Wow, as if shot with a bolt of lighting I saw myself in Penny. I sat back quietly and reviewed what has just happened. I thought about my situation and could only think what was my problem? Was I a Penny? Could people think the same of me? Heck with what people thought, what was my excuse?

That was the day I knew I had to make a change. I controlled my calories and started moving. Joined the YMCA. Walking was the easiest. Baby steps as the say and let me tell you in those first weeks a baby could out walk me! Building endurance and going further. Seeing results in the clothes and scale. Overall feeling better.

Fast forward ten months and I’m swimming one hour, walking 2-3 miles a day, using the elliptical 30-60 minutes a day. I have gone from 427 to 318. And I have Penny to thank. I saw myself in her and vowed not to be a “Penny.”

My blood pressure was 190/110 and now its 110/68, my glucose went from 155 to 90. It is amazing how adaptable the body is. Changes in my numbers started in one week! I haven’t had an episode for a while and I feel 16 again. In fact, I have so much energy I don’t know what to do with myself. I know I have a long way to go but I have tasted the fruit and it is sweet!

So there you have it. Television and an unfortunate soul known as Penny saved my life. Funny the things that motivate you. I can only hope Penny finds hers.

Marc Wentnick

One thought on “Mark Wentnick

  1. Congrats to you. Many of us can relate to your story…we don’t see through our mindset that we are those people who make excuses and accept…this is the way it is. I too am starting this year off in a positive mindset…this is not the way it is…and I will make changes to prove that! Continue in your journey.

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