This story is about me and my struggle to survive. I hope that my story will encourage others to pick up their lives as well.
Before we start
For those not interested in this story, please leave this page and never come back.
For those that get offended while reading, please leave and never come back.
For those who make jokes with everybody's misery please leave and never come back.
For those who read the story to the end, thank you and have a nice life.
During this story you will see that I will get emotional from time to time, sometimes angry and sometimes I will swear. For those who are offended by this type of writing, please leave and only come back if you are ready to handle it.
English is not my native language, so for those who are only looking for language errors, this website is not about grammatical perfection so pleace (“c”) don’t.
Here is my story...
You know the expression where you “see the light at the end of the tunnel”. I have been in that tunnel for over 10 years, but the end was never in sight. I lost all hope and was preparing for the end.
What was going on..
It all started about 10 years ago (2006) with some pain in the lower back (must have picked up something the wrong way), pain in the stomach (must have eaten something wrong). Nothing to be worried about. Than it happened again, and again, sometimes worse, sometimes less, no big deal. While you are getting older, you start to think that this is normal. So you go to doctors and they give you pills and the pain goes away.
But the pain always returned, the interval kept getting shorter, the pain kept getting worse. Back to the doctors who gave me more pills. Because the pain seemed to be related to my guts, that was what doctors were focusing on. So I got some ultrasounds and the result were always the same: “we can't see anything wrong but your liver has some fat issues”. Still, nobody treated me for these problems, just got more pills.
…..fast forward...somewhere in 2014.
What was my life like in 2014? Each morning, I wondered if it would hurt getting out of bed. When I got out of bed, I wondered if the pain would stay away for the day. If it did, I had had a good day. And this every single day. On a bad day, I could only keep standing if I took painkillers (lots of them) which I got from the many doctors visits. 4 different pills that I had to take together with every meal and 1 pill to protect me from the other pills.
You should think that after that many doctor visits, someone would have discovered what was wrong with me. It took me 10 years to figure out that the doctors were wrong for all those years, but even every time I told them, they would ignore me (what the hell could this guy “me” know about medicine!) Well … this is my body. And while I was listening to my body, they were NOT listening to me. Even when the symptoms were getting worse, they would still give me more pills. I kept asking for them to examine my pain - there must be a device that can figure out what was wrong with me - they kept ignoring me.
This is a typical doctor's behavior in Belgium, where the government instruct doctors to limit the amount of medical examinations so we can keep healthcare affordable. So even if you pay all those years to get medical assistance, you are screwed if there is something wrong with you.
MY LIFE WAS A LIVING HELL - A NIGHTMARE THAT WOULD NOT STOP.
I'm guessing that your body gets use to the medicines after a while, so they gave me other medication. I was already taking painkillers, anti-inflammatories, acid regurgitation medication every single day. Worst case scenario … the extra pills were wrong and I almost had to go to the hospital because of a stomach malfunction. My stomach just stopped working.
So I’m getting wrong medication, I’m getting too much medication and I’m not getting any better. I was losing all hope.
How come that it was so hard to diagnose what was wrong with me? I kept asking that question over and over again.
I was suffering from...
- Pain in the lower back,knees and feet. This kept me from moving. On a bad day, I couldn’t even walk straight and had to crawl my way around the house.
- Pain in the stomach and intestines. Every time I drove my car, I literally felt my intestines pushing against my ribs, and that hurt a lot.
- Acid regurgitation all day long. Even when I was sleeping, I could only lie on one side, I couldn't sleep.
- I was tired all the time.
- I was hungry all the time. So I ate all day long.
You do not have to be a doctor to figure out what was wrong with me. Sure, it’s easy to say afterwards, but still...
THIS WAS NOT ALL - THE WORST PART HAS STILL TO COME
I have this wonderful daughter (as of this writing is 10 years old) and my miserable life has been no fun for her. So I have to apologize to her big time: I am so sorry for all the years that you had to be a grownup because I could not take proper care of you. I am so sorry that I couldn't have been a better father when you needed me the most. I am so sorry that I could not take you in my arms when you were in pain and needed someone to pick you up. I am so sorry for all the lost years - I cannot turn back time….
Then there were the others...
My life has been a rollercoaster of events. Many times people told me that I should write my memoirs, and maybe someday I will. But for this story I stick to the past 10 years. In my life I have always been very active and had a specific speed that I got things done. These past 10 years were different in the way that I could not do any of the things that I wanted because of the pain. Most of the time felt like I was losing grip of my life. Time was not on my side and as time passes, many ideas and plans came to a standstill. For a person who had an active life so far, this was a major setback and that made me frustrated and angry. And I used that anger towards everybody that got in sight.
My life has always been about others, helping others, doing stuff for others, taking my time and money for others. And while that didn't bother me at the time, I had gained a new enemy these past 10 years - I call it the predators.
These so called predators which were part of my friends, colleagues and customers/suppliers. What comes to mind while i’m writing my story is: “kick him when he is down”, “knife in his back”, “he can’t defend himself”.
So many times someone kicked me in the back and still I kept holding my hand above these peoples misbehavior. There are people whose main goal is to benefit from others who are trying to survive. Even when they know that the person is in pain, they will still try the benefit from the situation. And this is very easy because you just don’t have the power to defend yourself. The only thing I had to defend myself was my voice, so I yelled at everybody and was constantly angry. It’s sad but it is reality. Most of the time they are to ignorant to even realize it themselves, but that does not justify what they do.
It is the nature of the beast to eliminate your opponents. Survival of the fittest. I know that this is common behavior for animals, but sadly this is also common with people.
In the initial draft of my story, this part was written much more aggressive. I have adjusted it on request from friends and family. Nevertheless it will always stay in my memory and may eventually end up in my memories. This behavior should never be tolerated by anyone and should be dealt with. I know I will!!
Preparing for the end
Doctors were not helping me, predators were making things worse. My life was at a point that I did not have under control. To many setbacks and no light at the end of the tunnel. That was the moment that my mind started to think that it would be better for me to make an end to my life. I even started to lookup all possibilities regarding euthanasia. I was convinced that euthanasia was the only cure for me. I just couldn’t stand the pain anymore...At this point I started to say goodbye to my family. Preparing for the end wasn't that hard. But his has a downside. Once you come in terms with yourself that you are about to die, life will never be the same. It will continue to haunt you.
I was fedup
But then I realized, there is still a reason for living. And I got angry, very angry. How is it possible that nobody can tell what is wrong with me. We are living in the 21th century, not?
In order for me to live, I had to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. So I went back to the doctor. This time I chose a different doctor. I made myself very clear of my intentions, I even got very angry at her (even though she had nothing to do with what went on for all these years). At the end of the conversation she got the message and wrote me every medical examination that could lead to finding out what was wrong.
The following 2 months I had several medical examinations such as an NMR, CT, colonoscopy, ultrasounds (again), examinations on throat and blood.
Hurray there is something wrong with me
It is so sad that nobody helped me years ago, my life would be so different. If only they used the correct tools, or listen to me and my symptoms, I wouldn't be in this mess.
This is what was found:
- I had disc bulging on L1-2-3-4 and 5 which is very painful.
- I had a stomach rupture which caused the acid regurgitation
- My throat was heavily irritated by the acid.
- Just like previous examinations, they discovered fat liver at a dangerous level.
- I had starting obesity, my body was 33% fat (especially belly fat)
- I had starting sugar disease Type 2
For all these years of taking pills, so many years of wasted time and money on doctors bills. You cannot believe how I felt: relief, anger, sadness. That was my life that they were messing with and there is not a damn thing that you can do about it. There is no money back if you are dissatisfied. That was the moment that I lost all faith in doctors. And I made a promise to myself, never will they mess with my life again. From now on they will do what I tell them. There should be a law against these charlatans, but I realize, if I would want this to change than I will have to move to another country (Belgium sucks big time when it comes to health care)
There you have it, I finally knew what was wrong with me. But how do you fix this. I would still need painkillers and other medicine to keep me going. Because I lost all faith in doctors, I was on my own again. The only thing I could do myself is lose weight and reduce fat and we will see what happens. So that’s what I did… (start date, februari 2016)
I found my reason for living. I had a new project: myself. I did not want to disappoint my daughter and my wife. In the process of getting better, I made pictures of myself and my project. You can see the result on Youtube.
My goals was losing weight so I wanted to do what I loved when I was young, running. I wasn't really motivated in the beginning because of the pain in the back, knees and feet. The doctor that did help me, told me that I should not focus on running because there is the possibility that with all of my problems, it would be impossible for me to ever run at all. But that did not keep me from trying. Only my real friends know that if I put my mind to something, I will make it possible even if I die trying...and "deadmanrunning" was born.
Maybe most important
It was good to know what was wrong with me, but how did it come this far. You know, when getting older, people say it’s normal that you gain weight and your belly is a little bigger than it used to be. “That's living the good life”. I’m not so sure anymore.
One of my problems was that I thought I was doing alright. I wasn’t eating that much (but in my mind I was referring to the main meal of the day and I forgot all the other meals during the day) and worst, my scale was giving me wrong information thinking that it was not that big of a deal anyway. The scale was about 6kg off, so I bought a new scale and it knocked me of my feet. I weighed 73.5 kg (162 lbs) and for a person of 160 cm (63 inch) that's not normal. So I went further than that and had myself checked out for fat percentage and other parameters and I scored very bad. Now that I had the equipment I could measure myself so I could see if there is progress along the way.
Reasons for getting fat
You do not get fat overnight that’s for sure. So how did this happen to me without me realizing it? So I went on a quest for answers and found everybody giving me their opinion good or wrong. People say that you do not have to believe everything you read on the internet, and that is true. But now and then you stumble on that particular info that will save your life, it could be information or a person that knows exactly how to help you. I got lucky, I found both.
During me getting better, I came across several people who are so called specialists in the field of dietician and health care, and often I heard them say the complete opposite of what my coach told me. If I had listened to them, I probably would not have reached my goal. It is so important that you are surrounded by the correct people, because there are so many health care wannabees in this world who are only after your money - I did not spend any dime on coaching, only on health care such as food, clothes and other stuff.
I can only give you the information that I used in the hope it can help you with your health, I am not a coach but just a guy who has found a way to get better. Searching the web I came across several people who made a difference in their lives as well. The only difference is that they stopped their story somewhere in the middle and if you want to read more, then you have to buy some kind of book. No book here, no money asked, just my story, no strings attached.
But I’m wandering off, this topic is about the reason why I was getting fat and how I handled this.
Reason 1: STRESS
“Stress will kill you!”. This is common knowledge, but what does it have to do with me getting fat? - Everything.
I am convinced that myself not being able to function normally, has lead to extra stress. Once someone told me: in order to lose the stress, you have to identify and minimize the factors that you experience as being stressful. That made me thinking, and at that point, I had plenty of time to think because most of the time the only thing I could do was lie down due to the pain. I made some very radical decisions and believe me if I tell that once I make a decision I will never turn back. Eliminating stress was, and still is, one of my main goals. In my mind stress comes from everything that has a negative influence in my life, so why not eliminate all negative things - so be it.
It’s not up to me to tell others what they should do with their life and I’m not going to. Everybody experiences stress in a different way. So how did I handle this? It’s really very simple but don’t be scared to take drastic measurements.
Sometimes people were the stress factor. If I find someone to have a negative influence in my life, I ignore and if possible erase them from my life. They need me more than I need them (correction: I do not need them at all). A while ago, I got this question regarding people being a stress factor: “What if these persons are colleges from work?” You can not just erase them. The same persons will probably cause others to be stressed as well. These so called “rotten apples” should be removed from a company. Talk to people about it or be drastic and find another job!
I cleaned up my social network. I took the word “friends” in “Facebook friends” literally and removed everybody who is not a real friend. I defined what I think a “Facebook friend“ should be doing in my network and acted on it. It’s is better to have 100 active social friends than a 1000 so called friends who or nothing more than a name or number xx in your list.
TIP: Put yourself in the first place, do things for yourself and not only for others. Never again do things for people who are the cause of your stress but only for those with a positive attitude who have a meaning in your life. You will come across people who will be offended by this and they will try to make you life miserable. Be strong about this and ignore them - you do not need them in your life!
While reading this story some people will probably think: “omg this guy’s mental health is a complete screw up”, but the fact is, that i don’t really care what “people” think or say any more. I will only listen to myself and those who have a positive influence in my life. All others are… (fill in yourself). It’s because of those people that I got in this mess in the first place.
Many of my symptoms can be related to stress (belly fat, acid regurgitation).
All other Reasons for me getting fat:
For a long time, I thought that I was eating in a healthy way. I was so wrong. I thought ketchup was better than mayonnaise, I thought honey was better than sugar, I thought so called healthy drinks were better than cola or other sparkling drinks, and I can go on. Maybe some of them are not worse than the other, but they are still not healthy at all. I changed the way I consumed sugar in all my meals. I DID NOT USE ANY DIET! I ate Nutella every day, ate fries and other so called junk food every week, and still lost a lot of weight. I know...you are thinking...is this guy for real? I had a lot of people laughing at me when I told them that eating fat does not make you fat. Realize that sugar makes you fat.
I slept about 4-5 hours average every day and was tired almost every day. I discovered that in order to lose my belly fat, I had to sleep over 8 hours a day so that was a challenge. The acid regurgitation was preventing me from sleeping at all.
Short answer - In the past I did absolutely no sport what so ever. Sitting on a chair for the most part of the day. If I walked 500 steps a day that would be plenty. (and that was on a good day)
Without sport I would not be where I am today. But it was not easy. I could barely walk 100 meters in the beginning. And while doctors told me that I would probably never run, I managed to work my way from walking to running. There was nothing that was gonna stop me from running, even if I would die trying - I called myself the “dead man running”.
How my live changed in 20 weeks
Hope you saw the short movie I made - if not, please do. It would make my daughter very proud because she helped me with the movie.
In 20 weeks I lost -12kg (-26,5lbs) , -20cm (-7,8inch) waist contour and -10% fat.
I have never taken a pill anymore since I started to lose weight.
All my pain has gone and I keep training so it stays that way. I have to be cautious because this kind of injury will never completely disappears.
Today I’m still running several times a week. I love to run 20 km and further and my new goals in 2020 is to run my first Ultra.
I was not alone
Did I do this on my own? No I got help - not from men, but from women...
If I look back, it were always the men who were responsible for all the misery in my life. I never thought that I would be rescued by all these lovely women. Therefore all my thanks and gratitude go to my daughter, wife, coach, colleges and friends who were and still are my fans and helpers in my struggle to survive.
“Men tried to kill me, women saved me”. Long live women, if it wasn’t for them, I would be dead. Who is the strong sex? I am a guy and I admit, here and now that women are the strongest among us. And realize “men”, they do not need us, but we need them!
The moral of the story
Why did I wrote this story? So I would never forget how it all began. That I will never forget what was the cause of my misery. It will keep me focused for the rest of my life. And I hope that it will inspire others who are in need, to pick up their lives and get back on track!
Am I a different person now? You bet. Last time I felt this strong I was 20 years old. I can take on the world again. So watch out, there is no stopping him now! All my projects are back on the drawing board. It feels good to be alive!
What about the predators? What about them! They will always be there looking for the weak. I hope for all predators, that they will not cross my path again - and let me warn them - I will hunt them and destroy them for my name is Edwin Stas and I will not be pushed anymore….