Grateful for the Doctor that Helped Me Change My Life,
Dr. James Kastelman
(Note: In October of this year I wrote the following as part of my gratitude thread on Facebook. Through my story, I wanted to tell my friends and family how vital it is to have a medical doctor oversee a weight loss transformation, and some of the things a doctor could and should be doing to help us change our lives; and what’s sometimes needed by our medical support teams to wake us the heck up and pop us out of our denial for whatever medical conditions we need to deal with.
Dr. Kastelman just saw a family member and ordered some life saving tests–I am not exaggerating about this. I will write more about this in the next few days. In the meantime, if you didn’t read this on FB, here it is. If you or anyone you love are going to be working on a diet and exercise plan, I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a competent primary care physician to examine you, do all the necessary blood work, tests, exams, to have all the necessary conversations, get all your questions asked and answered, and then for you to follow their instructions. Please note that I said ‘competent primary care physician’. You may have to do some extra research, like I did, in order to find one that fits that standard.)
Five years ago I selected my primary care physician after research through the Kaiser network. I needed more than a doctor to do maintenance doctor visits. I needed one that could supervise me into a healthy weight, as I needed to lose a dramatic amount of weight–without creating greater harm in the process.
For many reasons, I determined Dr. Kastelman was most qualified to help me. He had a strong interest in fitness and nutrition as part of the complete approach to overall health.
Unfortunately, at the time, Dr. Kastelman was filled to capacity with patients. I don’t know how I did it but I sweet talked him into taking a meeting me. I told Dr. K about my desire to get healthy, to lose a lot of weight and that I wanted to get fit through exercise.
With my great intentions and my winning personality, how could he not take me on as his patient? He accepted me. He seemed like one of the smartest, kindest, warmest doctors I’d ever met. Well, until I managed to piss him off.
That’s when Dr. Kastelman woke me up, and changed my life!
I had been Dr. Kastelman’s patient for about six months when I had to see him about a rash. My bestie had been in the hospital with cancer fighting for her life and I couldn’t be at the hospital with any type of contagious rash, or illness. I had been caring for her, cooking for her out of town visitors and taking care of her family. Every night, after leaving the hospital, I managed to unwind with friends and family with an alcoholic beverage (or two), a comforting meal and home made dessert.
By the time I saw Dr. Kastelman for this rash, I was up about ten pounds in weight from when he accepted me as his patient. He didn’t seem that interested in my rash–though he ruled it out as non-contagious–or my excuses. One look at him and I knew the excuses coming out of my mouth for my weight gain were futile. He told me the direction I was going in was destructive and not what he and I had agreed to. He made it perfectly clear he was not happy with me and exactly why.
For the first time in my adult life, I left my clinic visit jolted out of my denial and disconnected existence. Dr. Kastelman’s words and tone impinged upon me for days and weeks. I couldn’t shake them off. I was used to people getting mad at me for the lamest things. This was one of the few times in my life when someone was mad at me for all the right reasons, and I knew it. I didn’t realize then just how much I was affected by his attitude and his refusal to accept my “reasons”. This quick little visit to see Dr. K made such a difference in my life.
I knew I had the option to switch doctors if I wanted–I quick little email, and viola! I didn’t bother to entertain that idea, I knew it was a cop out.
I sucked it up and began to look at my life, my behaviors, and even the people I surrounded myself with.
My bestie died. With the loss of my friend, I probably could have gained another ten pounds but it was not an option for me, to see Dr. K with anything other than being with the program and showing some weight loss. I made sure the next time he saw me I weighed less than when he initially took me on as a patient. After that, I went on to lose and lose and lose.
Dr. Kastelman made sure we did all the blood work necessary to monitor my wellness and he ensured I stayed well. He guided me on staying with a nutritional diet and away from crazy fad diets. He got me to cut back on refined carbs and drastically cut down on sugar–probably the greatest impact on my weight loss. Most importantly, he kept me from becoming a diabetic. Other than the few pounds I oscillate in, I’ve managed to keep all my weight loss progress.
Since the beginning, Dr. Kastelman and I have discussed my exercise plans. He’s advised me on how to approach exercise, how to listen to my body, and what to look for. In the past five years I’ve walked, ran, rowed, done TRX, lifted weights, yoga classes, etc., and I’ve never had an injury. Not one.
I’ve fallen in love with exercise and I crave it.
In spite of being booked with patients, Dr. K has been quick to answer emails, return calls, and been very willing to take an appointment with me anytime I’ve needed it.
About a year ago in a visit, I reminded Dr. Kastelman of the time he got mad at me, and how much it meant to me. He looked up our conversation in his computer notes and smiled. He asked if he should apologize.
I’m in the best health of my entire adult life, and that has contributed to my overall happiness and sense of well-being. I think that speaks best to what Dr. Kastelman has meant to me.
I am eternally grateful for this smart, lovely, caring doctor that also knows when to call bull shit.