I’ve not stepped on a scale since my last weigh-in for the medical research project, which concluded in January. However, I was not pleased with the weight gain from participating in the study so starting the second week of February I started working out with Stu, my trainer at the BSC South End. After today’s work out I weighed in at 195 lbs with 19% body fat. After a quick check on Active.com where I had to enter my weight as well as several body measurments it calcluated the same body fat percentage as the trainers scale so even though I’m skeptical of both readings, I’m still pleased with the results.
I have to tip my hand to my trainer because after feeling like I had hit a plateau in my work outs, recently I’ve noticed new gains. This week I set a new personal best benching 215 lbs and doing overhand pull-ups with out any help. These are not milestones that really have any meaning for other people but it does make me feel good because when I started I was benching approximately 150 – 160 lbs, and I needed assistance with machines to subtract some of my body weight to do the overhand pull-ups. We’ll see where the next few months get me as I continue to work out with Stu.
In January 2009, I completed a 4mos medical research project, which I wrote a bit about on my blog. The study at MassGeneral Hospital is ongoing and examines the effects testosterone has on bone density. While I found participating in the study fascinating one of the results was I put on an extra 5-10 unwanted pounds.
I’ve never been one to stress about my weight – mostly because I’ve never had to. However, I’ve never really had a great body either and over the years I have became more conscious of my soft midsection and lack of muscle tone. My partner had noticed the change in my body and my frustration with the weight gain and for Christmas surprised me with a few sessions with a trainer at my gym. Yesterday, I had my first session with my trainer, Stu, who appears to be both friendly and sweet. His warm smile, can-do attitude and chiseled body is almost more than I can stand. The first work out passed quickly, was definitely a learning experience and more fun than I expected. I do hope that I can build a relationship with Stu and he can push me so I can drop the weight I’ve gained and possibly help me get into better shape. I have no goal weight – rather I would like to get back to fitting comfortably into my clothes.
I’ll try to write more about my work out routine and do my best not to obsess over Stu who has pecs and biceps the size of Nick Auger (the model in the photo). Aside from being healthier, it would be great to feel better about how I look.
I spent approximately 4 hours today at Mass General Hospital for my final medical visit for the medical research study program I started back in September. In about a month’s time I will receive a full medical report that will describe in detail all the tests that were done and how my body reacted. I look forward to receiving it although I’m unsure how much I will actually understand. I plan on giving it to my doctor to add to my file. Hopefully he’ll understand more of what it says.
I was oddly relieved to learn that I was not part of the control group receiving a placebo. I would have really been frustrated with myself if my side affects had all been manifestations of an overactive imagination and self-induced. As it turns out, my testosterone levels had dropped during the study.
The doctor did explain that the Zolladex pellet last injected into my stomach on Christmas Eve day will continue to suppress my body’s production of testosterone for 3-4 more weeks and without applying testosterone through the Androgel that had been provided for the study, levels will continue to drop.
I have to admit I have no reservations about having participated in the study and really found the entire process very fascinating, but I am equally relieved to be done and look forward to returning to normal. I had no idea how much the loss of testosterone in my body would affect my metabolism, energy level, sex drive, etc…
The morning of Christmas Eve, I had my third of four visits to Mass General Hospital for the medical research project I am participating. My final visit will occur in mid-January and at that point I can find out which group I had been placed for the study. I’ve found the entire process very interesting despite some of the side affects. I would hate to think that the side affects I just alluded to have all been psychologically induced, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that I was receiving the placebo. I will have to wait another 3 weeks to find out for certain.
Boston.com has an interesting pictoral history of Mass General Hospital which initially opened its doors in 1821. The photograph I’ve included is the first image in a series that is shared on the Boston.com site. There are some great black and white photos of patients and nurses as well as some interesting facts about the hospital. For example, MGH held the very first demonstration of the use of anesthesia back in 1846. You can check out the photographs and read more about the storied history of Mass General Hospital by linking here.
For the past few months I have been working diligently on a project that addresses healthcare reform. I most recently wrote about it on my blog in mid-October, “I really like what I do” and before that in September, “Work, work, work”. My latest project occurred today and was broadcast today from Washington, D.C. to 12 other cities and thousands of people via webcast. The event was divided into two segments – a national broadcast and a local panel discussion.
The 45-minute national broadcast was fed via satellite and webcast to several thousand people worldwide to listen to policy experts address the impact and implications of president-elect Obama’s healthcare reform plans. Following the national broadcast, each host hospital held a 1 hour “town hall” forum with a panel of local experts to address the challenges their communities face and the work that needs to happen to provide greater access, affordability and quality.
Boston’s event was held at Children’s Hospital Boston and despite some lingering frustrations with technical glitches in some cities, I’m both pleased with the event and relieved to talk about it in the past tense. This was the first real project I worked on from cradle-to-grave and it was far more work than anyone on my team (including myself) expected. The reward was seeing the program in action and hopefully dividends will be paid in the form of fostering new and stronger relationships with businesses, clients, and communities where this program was held. As I’ve mentioned in my log about my Medical Research Project, I am passionate about healthcare and believe that providing affordable quality care to everyone is a fundamental human right that is both worthwhile and attainable.
As was mentioned at today’s program and has been well documented previously, the U.S. now spends more than $1 Trillion annually in healthcare so the problem is not funding a mandate that seeks to provide universal or near universal care. The challenge is identifying how to redistribute the money already in the system to be more effective and curtail future spending increases to make the system sustainable. The program today was only a first step in a journey that will require a million more no doubt but fostering serious dialog and engaging stake-holders is a good start, and I was proud to be a part of the program.
Today I had another appointment at Mass General Hospital (MGH) for the medical research project I’m participating. These appoinments are now routine. Going there today, I felt like an upperclassman on a college campus. I was fully aware of where I needed to go and what was expected of me. Upon each visit I provide urine and blood samples, fill out a fairly extensive survey (about depression, my sex-drive, and physical changes to my body), and a small pellet is injected into my abdomen to prevent my body from making testosterone. This last part is always the most uncomfortable but it is hardly painful and is over in a matter of minutes.
During today’s visit I also met with the nutritionist. Since the study is evaluating the degenerative affects of bone density in men with low levels of testosterone (typically a problem for the elderly who are more frail) they want to be certain that I’m getting plenty of calcium in my diet. So we spent a few minutes reviewing what I’ve eaten over the past month. Apparently, I’m still not getting enough calcium in my diet but in lieu of taking a supplement, I told her I’ll eat more ice cream and will snack on some of my favorite cheeses. She was fine with my suggestion so I intend to keep up my part of the deal.
Despite my hectic work schedule which has resulted in a more seditary life than even I’m use to I have not really gained any weight. I still stand at 6’1″ and only weigh about 3 or 4 more pounds than when I started the program back in early September (now I’m a solid 186lbs – or my winter weight as I like to refer to it despite the fact that winter is just starting).
Hopefully, my forthcoming trip to Brazil will help motivate me to be more active and when I go back to get weighed and measured at the next meeting I’ll not only see a slight weight loss, but I’ll finally be able to say ‘yes’ to a few more of the activities the nutritionist rattles off to try and determine how often I’m raising my heart rate and working out.
In late September I wrote about participating in a medical research project at Mass General Hospital that studies how low levels of testosterone in men can contribute to diminished bone density. Earlier this week on Wednesday, October 22nd, I had my first follow up visit. Nurses took blood and urine samples, and I was once again injected in the belly with small pellet of Zoladex. I also was given new supplies of the Androgel which I rub each night on my shoulders and the Arimidex which comes in pill form that I take each night. The clinician had me once again fill out a survey to note any potential side affects, but I have not noticed anything different. Perhaps I am receiving a placebo, but it is probably more likely that I’m clueless because I’ve been so absorbed with work.
I did conduct a quick Google search, I was able to find a number of publications addressing this study but the articles are so filled with medical mumbo-jumbo I could not really understand what they were saying so I pretty much gave up trying to find anything I could add to shed more light about this study.
As I mentioned in my initial blog entry, I would encourage everyone to consider signing up for medical studies, because we all rely on research to identify new / better cures and treatments. Most studies – like the one I have volunteered to undertake really only have temporary side affects and do not compromise a person’s health.