Bari-Educational TV: Videos To Teach You About You And Your Options

  • 1. The Stages of Digestion
  • 2. Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
  • 3. Gastric Banding
  • 4. Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • 5. Duodenal Switch
"Eat right, exercise regularly, die anyway."

~ Author Unknown

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Special Christmas With Friends

I once lived in the Orlando, Florida area for nearly 7 years.  I have only a few contacts left here but one of them is a true friend that is more like a sister to me.  We don't always keep in touch as much as we should, but nevertheless, we know that the other is always there if we need them.  Christmas is by far my favorite holiday and I wasn't looking forward to spending it alone.  I've done it before but it's just not the same as spending the day with friends and family.  I was so excited that my friend invited me to share Christmas with her and her family.

When we talked a few days ago, she told me all of the things that she was cooking for Christmas dinner and even offered to make some special items for me.  I told her not to worry about me.  I made a meal on my own and took it with me and was just happy to spend the day with friends.  I can remember years ago when we were both single and going out living the single life and looking for dating opportunities.  We both have stories to share that we laugh about today.  A few years ago, she met the man of her dreams and I came back down for the wedding.  I'm so happy for them now as they are expecting their first child within the next few weeks.  I even got to feel the baby move!

Our lives have gone in different directions but yet in many ways we are both having dreams come true.  I couldn't be happier for her, and in seeing my weight loss and how I feel about myself, she couldn't be happier for me.  She was there for the times when I really felt the most insecure about my body and shied away from opportunities for fun because of my self-image.  There's much to be said about having great support along this journey.  I have to say that I've been extremely blessed in having support from nearly everyone around me.  It really makes a difference!

My Christmas gift this year is the gift of connecting with family and friends, seeing positive changes in myself physically and mentally, and knowing that I am loved.  These gifts far outweigh any material gifts that I could receive.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Little Natural Vitamin D

I've finally moved into my apartment in Florida.  Thank you God!!  I left on Saturday for what was a 10 1/2 hour drive from North Carolina so I did it in 2 days.  I never like to drive longer than 8 hours in one day because it's just too tiring for me and stressful for my pets.  As I drove further down into South Carolina, an amazing thing happened....I started to see the sun and almost instantly felt more energized and alive!

Yesterday I was back to work so up bright and early at 4am.  After working a full day, I had to move everything from a hotel into my apartment.  I'm on the 3rd floor and it took me about 10 trips to bring everything from my car upstairs (mind you that's 10 trips up and 10 trips down!).  Of course, once moved in I had to go to the grocery store and get stocked up on everything so there was another full trip!  I'm feeling the burn in my thighs and calves today, that's for sure!!  It was a great workout and I realized that when I want to spice up my workouts,  I can simply run the stairs of all of the buildings in the complex.  This complex is huge so that just might be a great strength training routine.

I finally finished up for the night and landed in bed at 3am.  To my surprise and amazement, my eyes opened on their own around 8:30am, the time I normally begin to stir during the summer.  I have to admit that I took a nice long nap later but wow, it's so nice to feel the warmth of the sun beat down on my face and the natural pick-me-up that it brings.  I've already taken some nice long walks around the complex and feel increasingly motivated to get up and get moving.

I'm down a grand total of about 40 lbs. so far and I'm noticing amazing differences in my clothes.  I've lost weight before but the change in my clothes has never been this drastic so quickly.  Over the last couple of years, I've always worn sizes 2X or 3X scrubs at work.  At times, I've been embarassed as I've had to ask someone to go into the men's locker room to get the larger sizes as the women's locker room wasn't stocked with them.  The worst has been when people have looked at me and sized me up on their own and thought that I only needed and XL and I couldn't even get the pants up to my hips. 

I've been wearing a pair of sweatpants that are a size 16W or 1X but that's still from the plus-sized department.  When I went to work yesterday, I decided to grab an XL and a 2X just to see how the XL would fit.  I expected to be able to get them over my hips this time but just knew that they would feel tight in the thighs and that I'd have to wear the 2X.  To my amazement and glee, not only was I able to fit into the XL, I had room to spare!!!  Not only that.....the only over-the-shoulder boulder holder that I can still fit is the sports bra!  God I love my RNY!!  The big question, is...can the fast change in my clothes be attributed to wearing my Skechers Shape-Ups during my workouts?  Who knows, there may be truth in advertising!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Eeyore Syndrome

The last couple of weeks have flown by and while I've successfully progressed to my soft diet and am feeling even stronger during my workouts, I feel like I've been suffering from what I'm calling "My Eeyore Syndrome".  Eeyore is probably my favorite Winnie the Pooh character because he reminds me so much of myself.

Lately, I've been feeling really exhausted and I'm not sure if it's from my surgery, my normal seasonal depression, a vitamin deficiency, or just being lazy.  I do think that I'm hard on myself because I feel guilty if I'm not working out 5-6 days a week even this early out. There are days when I feel strong and can get in over 12,000 steps on my pedometer, then there are other days when I don't want to get out of bed.  The great news is this...I'm back to work next week and I just received word yesterday that my next assignment is in southwest Florida.  Hallelujah!!  I am definitely a solar powered girl and I know that the sunshine and warmer temperatures will do wonders for me, not to mention the peace of the white sandy beaches.  I look forward to taking long walks with the sun beating down on my face.

Even without working out everyday though, I do feel good in that I am feeling stronger and pushing myself more during the workouts that I have been doing.  I love to do what I call my treadmill aerobics where I add arm exercises to my walking.  Add just the right mix of dance music and I remind myself of my old spinning instructor, full of energy and pep.  Hmm....maybe someday I could create some sort of class utilizing the treadmill with the arm movements.  Walking is great for you and doesn't leave you with "bike butt". 

Overall, I am recovering well and learning through trial and error what foods I can handle and which ones I cannot.  I haven't attempted milk in quite some time.  My initial intolerance even with the light soymilk was enough to give me a healthy fear that I'm not sure that I want to get over.  My high protein staple meal for both the protein and the fiber is fat free refried beans with melted reduced fat cheese and plain greek yogurt on top in place of sour cream.  Four ounces of beans with 2 ounces each of the cheese and yogurt packs a whopping 20g of protein and satisfies my cravings for Mexican food.  I went out for dinner last night and did well with baby back ribs and broccoli.  Barbecue sauce gave me the moisture that I needed for the pork and the steamed broccoli was smooth sailing.

Although tired, I feel good.  I miss being able to eat and drink at the same time and do have some food mourning when I pass what used to be some of my favorite restaurants or when I think of certain foods, but I still have not had one day where I've regretted my decision to have surgery and change my life.  So far I'm down about 39 lbs. from my highest weight, 22 lbs. since surgery.  The weight is coming off somewhat slowly in comparison to others, but I consider that a good thing, and I just keep reassuring myself that the weight is indeed coming off.  I can see it in the mirror and in the smile on my face when I look in the mirror.

I just realized last night that I've already taken all of my summer clothes to Goodwill and bought simple sweats with drawstring waists to get me through the winter.  I thought to myself, "...I shoud have held onto those a little longer since I'm now going to Florida!", but the truth is that they were all too big now anyway!!  So, I'll just have to visit Goodwill again to see if I can find some "new" clothes for the warm weather.  That feels so great to say!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hitting My First Milestone

Just a quick post to document hitting my first weight loss milestone...  Each morning I step onto the scale for my daily weigh-in.  Over this last week, I've been consistently working out and still on my pureed diet but was being teased by my scale as each day it read 201.8...201.6....201.4....201.4 lbs.  I knew that hitting "ONEderland" was only a matter of a couple of days away yet it was kind of funny watching the scale play games with me.  It's as if it has a mind of its own. 

Well, yesterday morning, my waiting game came to an end.  I stepped onto the scale to find a very pleasing 198.8 lbs.  I jumped up and down with excitement and called my mom.  Here's a little of how the conversation went...(ring, ring) "Hello?"


"What, huh?"

"198.8!  Girl, are you playing a game or something?"

"No!!  198.8 POUNDS!!!"

"Ohhh, now I get it (laughing).  That's great! I knew you would get there."

As you can tell, when I get excited I don't necessarily speak in full sentences.  I feel great and I can see some changes as I look in the mirror.  As with most people, the biggest change I see is in my clothes.  I have all of my summer clothes and jeans ready to go over to Goodwill.  I recently bought a few pairs of sweatpants, all with drawstring waists, but even some of those I'm having to pull and tie really tight.  My mom teases me that my butt is no longer a shelf that I can balance things on, but just a ramp now.

Now of course that's not quite the end of the story.....when I got up and got on the scale this morning, in its joking fashion it read 200.0 lbs.  I chuckled at it because I was already mentally prepared for the fact that small fluctuations on the scale are common so I'm not worried.  I had a long workout planned ahead for me today anyway. So, off to the treadmill I went for two full hours! 

I'm training for the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon in Florida on January 9th so I want to make sure that I get some longer walks in to make sure that I'm ready for the distance.  There is a time limit and I have to finish in 3 1/2 hours which is definitely possible because that's a pace of about 16 1/2 minutes per mile.  I know that if not today, and even if not tomorrow, the scale will read in the 100's again and once it does, I will keep working to make sure that it never makes it into the 200's again!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More Random Thoughts and Reflections

Before having my surgery, I was counting down the days.  I was excited about starting a new experience, a new life, but also excited to have some extended time away from work so that I can focus on myself both inside and out.  I've taken a full six weeks off and I'm so very glad that I did.  Physically, my body is still adjusting to the surgical changes and my lower digestive system is being very slow to awaken from its hibernation, and mentally, I'm having the opportunity to establish good habits and see what works for me as far as getting in all of my protein, hydration, and exercise for each day. 

Generally when I'm working, my work days begin very early in the day, sometimes getting me out of bed as early as 4:30am which is tough for me because I'm much more of a night person. I tend to be somewhat sluggish in the mornings sometimes because of not having gone to bed early enough the night before.  One good habit that I've always had (thanks Mom) is eating breakfast.  I make time in my mornings to eat breakfast almost every single day without fail.  Having breakfast gets my metabolism and blood sugar started for the day so I tend to eat the majority of my calories during the day.  I'm not usually a huge late night snacker, but I've always loved having dessert with dinner. 

While I've been off from work, I'm noticing that while I have the luxury of going to bed late and sleeping in, I still maintain the same habits as far as my food consumption.  If I don't get nearly all of my protein and fluids in early in the day, I have a really difficult time trying to finish them in the evening.  I've tried to spread my meals and protein drinks out throughout the day but it just doesn't really work well for me.  I'm also finding that the more I workout, the easier it is to get my 64 ounces of fluids in.  During the evening, I'm just not very hungry and find it hard to drink much at that time too.

Here is what I ate and drank today, along with the supplements that I take:

Breakfast (or shall I just say 1st meal):  HealthWise Protein Drink (obtained from my doctor's office).  It was 30g of protein in 12 ounces of water.  Supplements: 1 multivitamin, 1 calcium, and 1 probiotic

During my treadmill workout:  Synthrax Nectar Fuzzy Navel protein powder (1 scoop = 23g of protein) in 12 ounces of Diet V-8 Splash, then 32 ounces of ice water.  After my workout I was still finishing the water but was able to finish it before the evening started.  

Dinner:  4 ounces of fat free refried beans with 2 ounces of reduced fat cheddar cheese mmmm...  That's 14g of protein altogether.  Supplements:  1 calcium and 1 biotin

At this point, I've now gotten in 67 of my total 70g of protein for the day, and 56 of my 64 ounces of hydration!!  I'll have one small drink before bed but I'm thankful that I don't feel the pressure of not having gotten everything in.  I'll also take my final calcium and multivitamin too.

For exercise, I've set the goal of 5,000-10,000 or more steps per day on my pedometer or 5 miles on the treadmill.  I'm preparing for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon next month and while I know that I won't be the fastest walker out there, I just want to finish and feel good.  I find that each week I'm able to walk a little longer and still feel great afterward.  The 5 miles on the treadmill takes me just under an hour and a half and that's just about the pace that I will need to maintain during the race to keep from getting picked up by the "you're going too slow and we're closing down the finish line" paddywagon.

I must say that I haven't had one thought of regret for having this surgery so far.  Instead, even on the days that I physically feel like crap, I think about the big picture and the fact that I'm doing something really good for myself.  So often, I, like so many others, try to please everyone around me, even at my own expense sometimes.  I've taken the fall for others before simply because it was easier to bring whatever the conflict was to a close.  I feel so good right now just allowing myself to be renewed.  It's possible that the person who returns to my job will not be the same person that left.  I think that I will be happier because I will have more balance in my life, and I also think that I will be able to let stressful situations roll off my back a little easier because I have to focus on my food and drink consumption and exercise and I can't hide away with junk food to get through the stress.

I know that things will by far not be perfect, but I truly believe that how I handle and react to diferent situations will improve as I am a happier me!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I haven't posted much this week as I haven't been feeling all that well.  I think that I've been pushing myself a little more than I should, which has been hard not to do!  The weather has been pretty nice so I've wanted to get out and get moving but I have to remember that my surgery was just a short 3 weeks ago and that my body is truly still healing.  I'm proud of myself for the days that I've hit over 12,000 steps on my pedometer, but I think I might need to scale back just a little.  I'm glad that I've taken a full 6 weeks away from work to allow myself the time that I need.  There are some days when I feel like I can take on the world, then others where I'm reminded of the fragility that's still there.

I've had to scale back on my pureed diet a little as well as my lower digestive system has been hibernating during these last weeks of liquid dieting.  It's taking some effort to wake up my system and that process hasn't been without some pain and discomfort.  To be honest, it's so much easier to get in my proteins and fluids through drinking that I actually prefer sticking with a liquid diet these days anyway!  I never imagined myself preferring a liquid diet to eating but it's nice to have this "honeymoon period" where I'm not fighting cravings.  I know that it will not always be this easy but for now, I'll take it!!

That's all for now, just a little update to let you know that I'm still alive and kicking.  I will hit my first milestone within the next couple of days so I'll be sure to post and let you know what that is!  In the meantime, be healthy, wealthy, and wise, and enjoy this wonderful holiday season for it most certainly is "the most wonderful time of the year"!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why Not Lose Debt While Losing Weight?

Years ago, I worked as a high school chemistry teacher.  I was about 26 years old at the time, still somewhat freshly out of college and had no clue about how to manage my finances.  As we all know, teachers make very little money and it didn't take long before my life of trying to live like my friends clashed with the reality of my lack of money, even working a second job during the school year and a job in the summer.  I lost everything.  I was evicted from my apartment, had a car repossessed, and literally sat in tears calling different friends asking if I could spend the night on their couch or on their floor because I had nowhere to go.  Now don't get upset or feel sorry for me because I am a woman of strong faith and that's the one thing that I never lost in all of this! 

God provided me with wonderful friends and family that bounced me around between them helping me with food, housing, and other things until I was able to find a new career and get back on my own two feet and I will be forever thankful for them.  Believe it or not, I'm also incredibly thankful that I went through the whole experience, in retrospect, because I learned what things in life are luxuries versus what things in life are ones we really can't live without.  The list of items in the luxury category is very long.  You would truly be amazed what things you can live without if you had to.

Fast forward to around 2005....I'd been working in my new career field for about 3 years but was still kind of feeling my way around in the dark.  I finally hired on with my current company, a company that sounded almost too good to be true, but luckily, ended up being true to their word. They offered me the opportunity to do some things that I'd always wanted to do as well as a competitive salary package.  It was at that point that I said, "Lord, since you've been so good to me and allowed me to get back on my feet, I want to do everything I can to learn how to manage my money so that I will hopefully never end up where I was again."

I'd already been a fan of Suze Orman, but I started to follow her even more carefully.  I started to read books and follow her advice.  I pulled my credit report, took a deep breath when I saw all of the negative items on it, and vowed that no matter how long it took, I was going to dig my way out of my debts.  I started working my way through them and started to get excited paying off bills because I felt like I was taking care of my responsibilities in an honorable way.  I made this mess and it was up to me to clean it up. 

About a year ago, a friend gave me a book called, The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  He told me that it would completely change my mindset when it came to money and debt and he got me really excited about reading the book.  I started reading and immediately recognized myself being described in the first few pages.  I learned strategies for really getting out of debt quickly and starting to build my financial future.  The great thing is that there was no get rich quick theme to it.  I didn't have to pay for any plan on CD or DVD, yet I had a concrete easy plan to unburden myself from things like my student loan that has in and of itself added weight to my bathroom scale whenever I allowed myself to stress about it.

I've now become a huge "Dave" fan and I am making huge strides in my finances and will soon be completely debt free.  While sitting in our WLS support group meeting one day, we talked about the fact that we each have to find some way for us to individually flip the switch in our brain when it comes to our weight loss because as the saying goes, "they operate on your stomach, not your brain".  Walking out of that meeting, I figured out how to flip that switch....for me.  I asked myself, after all of the work that I've put into paying off my debts, after becoming debt free, would I then go out and max out a bunch of credit cards and spend money that I didn't have?  The answer to that is easy.....HAAAAAAAAIIIILLLLLLL NO!!

I'm trying to take on the same attitude and intensity with losing my weight.  After I've gone through this long, arduous process to get weight loss surgery, as I go through the process of losing the weight, and all of the special steps that are required to get to a "goal", would it make sense to then go out and binge on Krispy Kremes, Ben & Jerry's and all of my old friends that now sit on my hips?  Again, the answer to that is easy......HAAAAAAAAIIIIIIILLLLLL NO!!

In thinking about my finances, I'm excited about being able to be completely debt free in about the next year or so.  Imagine, with no credit card bills, car payments, student loans, etc. my money will all be my own!  I can save, invest, start a business, take a vacation, whatever I want to do!  Now that I've had surgery the amount of money that I need to budget each month for food is already lower so that's just an increased opportunity to get out of debt sooner!  In order to get to this point, I had to make sacrifices.  I had to make a commitment to myself that yes, I am willing to give up vacationing, purchasing any and everything that I want and learn to simply say, "I can't afford that.", but it's been worth it.  If I could do that with my money, I know that I can do that with my weight.  It's NOT EASY, but it's worth it.

So.....what's the point of all of this?  While you're working to lose your weight, why not also work to lose those pounds of debt too?  How many times have you eaten because of financial stress?  If you could get a "financial weight loss surgery" to help you get a jump start, would you do it if you knew that it had the same likelihood for success as your RNY, Lap-band, gastric sleeve, or duodenal switch? 

No matter what your financial picture looks like today, you too can build a plan toward a more secure future, and Dave Ramsey's book, The Total Money Makeover can help you just like it helped me.  I'm not being paid to say this and I get no kickbacks from Dave or Suze.  I just know that financial stress can be just as deadly to people as our obesity can be.  The Total Money Makeover is available at the above link on sale currently for $10!!!  Buy two, one to keep and one to give!!

** Amazing, as I'm writing this, I'm watching The Suze Orman Show and you simply must watch this coming Tuesday's episode of  The Biggest Loser on NBC at 8pm EST/7pm CST.  Suze gives the contestants some financial lessons related to their obesity.  She showed a clip from Tuesday's episode where the contestants learned that obese employees earn on average $7,000 LESS per year than their non-obese coworkers!

**Suze Orman's TV show airs on CNBC on Saturday nights at 9pm EST and re-airs again at 12am EST.

**Dave Ramsey's TV show airs on digital cable channel FBN (Fox Business News) Monday-Friday at 8pm EST and 11pm EST.  He can also be heard on the radio. 

Click here to find a local radio station, or click here to listen online.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Survived Golden Corral??

For the past week and a half, my mother has been in town to help me with my initial stages of surgery recovery.  It's been a challenge from the very first day that she's been here because I was on my pre-op liquid diet when she arrived, then on to clear liquids, and now my pureed diet while my mom is able to eat whatever her heart desires.  We've been into several restaurants, to the movies, and of course the grocery store and she even brought Bojangle's Fried Chicken into my hospital room, yet I've done really well at dealing with being surrounded by my favorite foods without being able to have them.  I've remained focused on my goal and the fact that I knew that this time would come.

After surviving the movie theatre today being surrounded by the smell of hot, fresh, buttered popcorn, my mom elected to go to Golden Corral for dinner.  For those of you not from the south, Golden Corral is a tasty, home-cooked, buffet restaurant with freshly baked yeast rolls, cookies, cakes, cooked to order steaks, freshly sliced meats, fried chicken, and many other Southern food favorites including sweet iced tea.  I once knew someone who called it "The Trough", which is quite an appropriate name for the place because once inside, you really are tempted to fill up your plate, forgo the silverware, and just go to town coming up for air only between trips to the buffet!

When my mom said that she wanted to go to Golden Corral, I thought about saying that I couldn't handle it, but at the same time, I know that there are going to be situations when I'll have social obligations in the future where I am confronted with my favorite foods and I'll need to adjust. to "The Trough" we go!

To remind you, I'm on my pureed diet now so there are some normal foods that I can have.  What matters most next to nutritional quality of course is the consistency of the food.  I was hungry and figured that there might be a few options for me.  I'm pretty proud of myself.  Before paying and committing to eating, I browsed over the buffet selections to see if there was indeed anything that I could have within reason.  I managed to find some tuna salad that I could pick the celery and onion pieces out of, a tiny bit of mashed potatoes, meatloaf with tomato sauce, and applesauce.  I put a small amount of each on my plate and figured, "go with what you know......start with the protein".  I started with the tuna salad and was able to finish that along with the spoonful of mashed potatoes and about 2 bites of the meatloaf.  I was full and satisfied and ate slowly enough to hopefully give my stomach the opportunity to tolerate everything.

So far so good on the digestion side, but I have to say that mentally that was THE greatest challenge that I've had since doing my pre-op liquid diet and now since surgery.  Just seeing all of the foods that I normally would have not just eaten but devoured!  Watching others come to their tables with plates of my favorites and watching my mom pick over her red velvet cake that I wanted to steal because she ate around the frosting leaving just the icing on the plate.  It was really hard!!  Even now a couple of hours later with my stomach full enough that I couldn't possibly eat a thing, my brain still says, "I want this....I want that!  I wish I could have taken just a bite of this or a spoonful of that!" 

It's so amazing that even though our brains control everything, they can also be so wrong about some things.  Sure, I'd love the taste of almost every one of those foods, but do I really want them?  Hmmm, (all surgery aside) let me think.  Do I want to eat them and feel bloated and overstuffed?  Do I want to feel the anger at myself for being out of control?  Do I want to wake up in the morning feeling famished because my blood sugar has spiked and dropped so low that I can barely move?, I think I'll take the memories of all of the times that I have eaten all of that stuff before and have a sip of a lemonade protein drink.  I think I'll enjoy the way my clothes are feeling and the numbers that I'm seeing on the scale.

I know that the honeymoon period of only being able to eat these small amounts will not last long, yet in a way, because my brain still wants these foods now, there isn't really much of a honeymoon at all.  This is such a scary journey!!  It's somewhat easy to resist now, but will I always be successful at resisting?  The only thing that I know of that I can do, is to work through some of the books that I have that teach different methods of focusing on the true purpose of food and my feelings, and of course, give a gift to a therapist this holiday season......a little gift called JOB SECURITY!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Face Off With The Enemy

I've conquered my first meal and I've lived to tell about it!  So far it seems like my energy is moving in waves each day.  I wake up one day and I feel great with lots of energy, can walk for hours, and am able to get in nearly all of my nutrients for the day.  The next day I feel tired and have to force myself to consume any calories at all.  Yesterday was an energy day.  Today, I slept late but actually felt a mild sense of hunger when I got up and got dressed.  Looking forward to trying out this new pouch to see if it will be able to actually tolerate real food, I pureed some chicken with barbeque sauce to add a little moisture as well as some mixed fruit.  I measured out 2 tbsp of each according to the sample menu in my resource book from my dietician, and voila, here goes lunch!

I sat down with my little baby spoon and remembering "Protein First!" I started with the chicken.  I actually set a timer to go off 2 minutes after each bite to make sure that I wasn't eating too fast, and chew, chew, chewed, well as much as you can chew something that's already the consistency of baby food.  I finished all of the chicken and one bite of the fruit then knew that I could absolutely eat no more!  I felt like I was going to explode!  In the traditional ways of the morbidly obese on holidays, I laid back on the couch and undid my pants to allow my stomach to fully swell to accommodate my feast.

I drifted off to sleep which wasn't my intention, but upon waking decided that it was important for me to still remember to get my fluids and additional protein in for the day.  Now that I can have full liquids again, I made a simple chocolate protein shake with a little PB2.  I made it through about an ounce or two before I started to feel a pain that took me to my knees!  "Oh God, I must be dumping!" I worst fear, but then I started to feel those familiar bubbles rumbling through my intestines and realized that this wasn't my worst fear, it was just gas.  Ha, just gas....  Let's just say, I have a new worst fear and dumping is not it.  There is a new villain in town and its name is Gas.  He is known as the Silent Bomber, the Dark Wind. 

I contorted myself into different positions on the floor on my hands and knees praying to God that He release me from this evil captor.  My salvation finally came in a few forms:  chewable Mylanta anti-gas tablets, my trusty Lortab, a brief walk around the complex outside, and some other natural body defenses.  I started to feel a little more human as the tight grasp on my abdomen dropped its hold.

Lesson learned, even if my resources say that I can eat 2 tbsp (an ounce) or two, always measure a little less as I don't want to fill my pouch to capacity.  Second, no matter how much I feel like I'm going to explode, take a walk after each meal, no matter how long or how short.  It's up to me to make sure that I get the motion started because my body isn't quite able to give it the jumpstart that it once could.  I'm feeling back to normal now and begging my pouch for forgiveness for my grave mistake.  I think that my pouch and I can learn to get along well, as long as I never forget who's in charge.  Mental note.....who's in charge? My pouch, not me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Post-Op Week One: The Week In Review

As I lazed around this morning, taking my time to wake up and get dressed, it occurred to me, wow, I've actually had gastric bypass surgery!  You would think that it would have sunk in by now but I'd been on a liquid diet for two weeks prior to surgery and clear liquids all this week so it really has felt just like an extension of that liquid diet, even though I feel full so much faster.  I've been eating the same individual Jell-O cup for 3 days and it's not even halfway gone!  I'm still dealing with pain but it's getting better and I'm able to go for long walks without feeling weak so are you sure I had surgery?

I think what finally made it real to me is that tomorrow I get to start Phase 2 of my diet: the Pureed Phase.  After a nice hour long walk with my mom and my dog in the park today, we went to the grocery store to shop for the week and I was never so excited to shop for food!!  I can remember being excited about going to buy my favorite junk foods before in the height of some sick binge, but this was different.  I was happy that I get to eat again, but I also brought my resource book from the nutritionist with me because I so want to get off to a good start and follow my new diet to the letter.  At other times when I've started some new diet I've gotten excited about going to the store to buy my healthy foods, but today the real difference was that not only is this a new diet for me, but it's one where I know that I will definitely lose weight and have a really great opportunity to never gain it back again.  There's no guarantee, but I now have the best chance to lose weight and maintain that loss than I've ever had before.  (btw, I couldn't believe how small the total bill was and I look forward to cutting my grocery budget by leaps and bounds!!)

I made a preemptive call to the therapist that I have here and scheduled an appointment because I know that I will always have to work on my food issues.  I've spent the last several months addressing why I eat and how I've gained my weight, but I know that this new change in lifestyle is sure to bring up additional issues that I never thought of.  I cannot ever allow myself to forget the mantra that I've been taught, "...they operate on your stomach, not your head."  Just like anyone else who starts this process, I not only want to meet a goal weight but I want to surpass it.  I once heard that it takes 40 consecutive days of performing a behavior in order for it to become a habit.  I started changing my eating behaviors months ago and healthier eating is now more than a habit, it's a lifestyle.  One thing I've learned from successful post-ops is this, you simply cannot get through this journey successfully if you don't learn to settle the voice inside that cries for food when the heart is broken and the stomach is already satisfied.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My New Life Begins...

Today is my first full day home from the hospital and it feels so good to be back in my own pet-filled bed.  My surgery could not have gone any better.  I was up and walking Monday night and feeling pretty good. The nurses at Carolinas Medical Center Mercy were the absolute best that I could have asked for.  This was my first major surgery and although I wasn't nervous, it was still such an unfamiliar experience being the patient and having to allow others to do things for me. 

While in the hospital, I wasn't able to take my regular medications which was a problem because without them, I have complete insomnia.  On my first night, it didn't matter so much because I was still under the influence of the anesthesia but night 2 was spent wandering the halls, surfing the internet, and laying in bed with my eyes closed wishing that I could sleep even though I was wide awake.  When my doctor came by for morning rounds I begged for my meds just so that I could sleep and I was finally allowed to take them.  I got a few quick naps throughout the day and slept some last night but sleeping is still a challenge.  I typically sleep on my stomach occasionally rolling to my side and while I can sleep on my side now, my stomach is completely off limits.  I've gotten a little rest today but I'll be glad when I am completely pain free so that I can really knock out for a good 8 hours!  After surgery, I was given a pca pump with morphine to help with the pain and was given toradol every 6 hours.  The toradol was awesome!!  The morphine didn't really help very much and neither has the lortab elixir that I was prescribed for use at home.  My pain today at home has been probably among the most difficult that it's been.  I imagine that I'll spend these first few days trying to catch up on sleep but I'm still working to keep up my walking as well.

Today is also the first day without the safety of iv fluids to help me to remain hydrated!  The goal is to try to get in 64 ounces of fluids a day and yeah, that isn't quite happening so far, which is scary for me.  I feel like I've eaten a huge meal and am trying to force myself to continue drinking on top of that and it's hard.  It's so very interesting experiencing this feeling now as a post-op that I'd heard so much about before....just feeling FULL!  I'm trying to consume fluids when I have that same feeling that I used to get when I'd visited one of my favorite restaurants and eaten until I literally couldn't consume one more bite.  My mother made the suggestion of sucking on ice and since I have the super duper Blendtec blender....I put the ice in the blender and made snow out of it and have been able to use that to increase my fluids a little.  I know for a fact though that I haven't come anywhere close to 64 ounces for today.

My hopes for the rest of this week.....that my pain will subside and I will be able to extend my time walking even more.  Hopefully walking more will produce a greater need and desire to drink more and we can get the hydration train a rolling.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful and about 72 degrees this weekend so that sounds like the perfect environment for some outdoor exercise and a great opportunity to celebrate my new life.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Surgery Day

I'm ready to go.  My laparoscopic RNY gastric bypass surgery is to start in only a matter of hours.  I'm still not nervous about the surgery...odd.  The only thing I feel nervous about is forgetting to take something that I might want to have with me, and worrying about my dog's separation anxiety.  I'm so accustomed to having tons of things to do before getting ready for a relocation or a big day at work and now it feels so strange because my overnight bag is packed and there's nothing left for me to "do". 

I've lost about 14 lbs on my pre-op liquid diet; about 23 lbs total from my highest weight of 233 lbs.  I can't believe that I've done it, and what's even better is that I can't believe that it only gets better from here because I actually get to keep the weight off!!

These pictures were taken in July of 2008 in San Diego, CA and I definitely was at my highest weight and worst days of binge eating.  I was away at a conference and had this photo shoot done and was pretty mortified when I looked at the pictures later.  The photographer is a great guy and likes to photograph in natural settings.  He gives you the opportunity to be your own model or bring out your inner "sex kitten" as I like to call it.  I knew when I posed for the pictures that I didn't like how I looked that day.  I knew that I looked fat, that I felt fat, and that my fat was showing.  I was sad and too embarassed by most of the pictures to share them with friends.

It was also at that time that I made a decision.  I had to do something about my weight.  I knew that dieting wasn't going to work because I'd tried it so many times before, but I had to at least give it another shot.  I started eating Lean Cuisines for just about every meal and exercising but my excess pounds looked at me and laughed.  It was then that I started to seriously think about surgery.  Over the next few months I did some investigating to find out if my insurance would cover gastric bypass or not and when I found out that they did, there was no turning back.

Now here I am, November 2009 and my time for surgery is here.

These pictures were taken this morning.  I'm still fat and it still shows, but I've lost almost 23 lbs!  I'm smiling a little more these days.

I wanted to get a picture of me showing my pretend buffness so that when I actually have shoulders and collarbones and muscles that you can see, I can look back to this picture and really be proud of the decision that I've made.

I received a call from my surgeon earlier this evening (yes on a Sunday, is he great or what??) and he's proud of the progress that I've made so far.  I can't wait to see him tomorrow!  I have lots of support and people that are believing in me, but most of all, I believe in me and that's what going to keep me going day after day, but most especially in the difficult days ahead.  Please keep me in your thoughts over these next couple of days.  I still have my invincibility complex that tells me that I'll be updating you on how I'm doing from the hospital.  Sounds crazy, yes, I know, but this whole blogging thing is pretty fun for me and kind of therapeutic too!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Get Set...

I cannot believe that the time is finally drawing near for my big day.  Today is the 12th day of my liquid diet, and my surgery is only 4 days away.  I've lost 10 lbs in these last 12 days. WOW!!  People keep asking me if I'm nervous and maybe I will be when I'm finally laying in the pre-op area or being wheeled into the room but for now, I'm not nervous at all.  Everyone has warned me that I will initially feel like "what the hell did I do??", but my silly sense of invincibility says, "nah, I won't feel like that."  I think that because everyone has told me what to expect I'll know what feelings or second thoughts are normal.  I expect to be in pain but I'm also one who tends to be able to function through pain.....a history of migraines will do that to you.  I've been told that the sooner I get up and get walking the shorter my recovery time will be so I'm already mentally preparing myself to push through the pain.  Are my expectations of myself unrealistic?  Possibly.  I have no idea how I will really feel but I'm trying to be as optimistic as I can be.  It's been a long road up until now and I still have a long road ahead.  So often you hear the saying, "this isn'a a sprint, it's a marathon".  Well, I've run 4 full marathons in my life with lots of training and I can say that these last 11 months have definitely been a training season for the long race ahead.  It's only a mere 4 more days until I stand at that starting line.  When the starting gun goes off the only thing that I can do is take a deep breath, close my eyes, and wake up to a new life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Everything I Ever Needed to Learn Was Definitely Not All Learned In Kindergarten

I'm verklempt!!  In my opinion, my weight loss surgery journey began the moment that I arrived at the informational session for the program and although I haven't even made it into the operating room yet, I am beyond amazed at the changes that I am seeing in my life.  Sure, I've already seen some of the numbers on the scale go down and that's nice.  I'll really be ecstatic about that after surgery when they're going down at record pace!  The changes that I'm seeing that have so far made the most difference, are the things that I've learned about myself and why I eat, and second, the power that this decision has made in my willingness to reach out to others for help and support.

I got a phone call today from my oldest sister.  Throughout all of our years, we have never been close and I mean ever, but she called me today because I'd left her a message on Facebook to check in on me here at the blog.  We talked for probably an hour about weight, about our other goals, and all kinds of things.  I couldn't believe that we were having such a great conversation.  She wanted to make sure that I knew what I was getting myself into, to make sure that I knew that this surgery isn't a quick fix, and to offer her support.  She was really looking out for me and I just can't tell means SO much!! 

Going into this process, I figured that I would have my mom's support but I wasn't sure of the reaction that I would get from the rest of the family.  I think that I expected them to have the opinion that I was taking the "easy way" out so I didn't expect much in the line of support.  Wow, I am so glad that I was wrong!!  Right now, my sister calling me means as much, if not more, than if President Obama were to call me himself.  Now that's powerful because I'd probably pee my pants if he called!! That would just be over the top!!

For me, I know that the head work and the support will be my keys to being successful long term.  I'm a binge eater, but I'm an emotional binge eater.  Sure I have my cravings, but I generally binge due to what I'm feeling emotionally.  Between my support group, my friends, my family, and my twibe-mates, more and more I am being reaffirmed that I CAN DO THIS!!! Oh, and let me not forget that therapy has and always will continue to play its part.

My heart feels so full right now and I know this sounds sappy and stuff but I'm 35 years old and single.  My greatest source of depression over my life has been loneliness and during my adult years, the fact that I'm single and haven't had really successful relationships with men.  Within my family, I've always been the odd duck so I've never really been close with them. Thanks to Facebook, I've been in touch with old friends that are married with kids and I've learned that the grass isn't necessarily greener on the other side of the fence.  I've learned that there are things in life that I can value being single that married people sometimes long for.  I'm learning that you can indeed be surprised by what things in life bring people together and that it doesn't have to be a tragic event, and I'm learning that support comes in many forms and that it is all of these forms working together that make the difference.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Still Going Strong

It's been a very arduous week at work so I haven't had a chance to post but I'm still going strong on the liquid diet.  It took a few days to get the hang of what I CAN have and of course it took my body a few days to get adjusted to things, but overall I'm doing pretty well.  I've lost about 6 lbs. this week so I'm definitely happy with that.  I've lost just about all of my "Last Supper" regain.  I haven't been able to give up watching television this week but I figure I was having an insane moment of mania where I really thought momentarily that I had super powers or something because me giving up television is indeed more difficult to imagine than me giving up food.  I'm living in a hotel right now so I don't have my TIVO set up so not watching tv without having my TIVO to record my shows...yeah, not gonna happen.

Not much to really say.  I told a friend the other day that I was having gastric bypass and met with the first extremely strong voice of opposition that I've gotten so far.  The response was "rearranging your digestive system can't be good for you...", "....all you need to do is get on a treadmill, have you tried that?" as well as asking if anybody knew the long term effects of weight loss surgery.  I'm like, dude, the long term effect is that you live a healthier life!! A longer life!!  Should I ever lose my mind and decide to get pregnant, I could have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby! I can rebel against my family history of high blood pressure and diabetes!!

I think that people don't realize that weight loss surgery is nothing new.  We hear about it more now because more people are having the surgery, because more insurance companies are covering it, but people have been doing this for a very long time.  I'm 5' 3" and at my highest weight was 233 lbs.  Some people look at that number and think that I don't need surgery because I'm not 300, 400, or 500 lbs. or more and my response to that is when I see that the situation is out of control, why wait until it gets worse??  Alot of people look at me and don't think that I'm big enough for surgery which, I guess is meant to be complementary, but in a way tells me that they're okay with me being the fat girl.  They're used to it.  I look forward to seeing the change in people's attitudes toward me once I am smaller.

I was talking to someone today that has a friend that is post-op gastric bypass.  She said that her friend had her surgery in 2008 and that when she looks at her friend now, she can't even remember what she looked like when she was fat.  I want someone to be able to say that about me.  More importantly, I want to be able to say that about myself!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Atonement: Day 3

It's Day 3 of my liquid diet and although this is just as tough as I thought it would be, I'm finding that it is bringing a clarity of mind that I didn't expect.  I'm addicted to tv about as much as I am to food and while laying in bed last night in the peaceful silence of the night, I thought to myself, "Self, maybe this would be a good time to turn off the tv for a few weeks and really work on some of those all important head hunger coping strategies".  There's no better time than the present.

From a physical standpoint, the days on the liquid diet are getting worse before they get better and I expected that.  My stomach is knocking loudly and screaming "Hey!! Did you forget about me??? Where's the beef??".  My bladder is saying "Girlfriend, you've got me workin' overtime!".  I had a headache yesterday and I still have to consciously remind myself not to go and get something to eat.

Mentally, I'm focused on what I'm working toward.  This is a time of atonement for me, a time to let go of all of my old destructive eating habits, and a time to let go of the old me, the fat me, the me that hides in plain sight and directs my eyes to the ground instead of making eye contact with people sometimes.  I have some workbooks (The Beck Diet Solution and The Food And Feelings Workbook) that I think I'm going to delve into and really work through in these next weeks. 

My journey has officially begun.  These are the first days of the rest of my life and I don't ever want to go back to this person that has absolutely no control over food.  I'm sticking with my diet instructions religiously and challenging myself.  I want to lose as much weight during these two weeks as I possibly can, weight in pounds, and weight in burden.  I'm looking forward to having the time off work to focus on myself.  It's so rare in our lives that we have the opportunity to take time away like this and I want to be a new and improved me when my physical healing time is done.  I know the psychological healing will be a lifelong battle but if I equip myself with the tools now and continue to do so on a regular basis, the changes that I make within myself can become a reality and long term.  I've heard that it takes 40 days of doing something consistently in order for it to become a habit. 

I'm taking up a new habit.  It's called caring about myself enough to pay attention to what's going on in my head, in the mirror, and on the scale.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sundays At Mama's House

I woke up today feeling extremely lonely for some reason.  I had decided that I was going to start my liquid diet a day early (today) as it just seems appropriate as it's the first day of the week.  What's interesting is that it seems like I'm being tested.  Because I feel lonely, I want to go ahead and eat today, but I'm going to be strong, do my chores to stay busy, and remember that food is meant for nourishment, not to be my friend.

Growing up, Sunday dinner was always somewhat of a big production.  My mom would start prepping things on Saturday nights and the smells of great tasting food would start wafting their way upstairs even early in the morning.  By the time we came home from church, the only thing we needed to do was heat everything up and throw the freshly raised dinner rolls into the oven to bake.  We'd laugh and talk over the meal just enjoying the time together.  Afterward, we'd all relax in the den and snooze or maybe watch a movie.  I really miss those days sometimes.  It was family time, but family time that was also centered around food.  I think that I am really going to start noticing now exactly how much food is the center of quality time between family and friends.  When I do see my family for visits or holidays it will be a strange time, but I can only hope that I will have their support in a way that considers the differences in my dietary needs and that the focus can shift more from the food to the gift of the family time.  Perhaps the family dinners can now begin to incorporate healthier foods, not so much for my benefit alone, but for the benefit of all of us.

Friday, October 23, 2009

On Your Mark.....

Well, I think I'm pretty prepared for my liquid diet.  I've got more protein powder in my house right now than the amount of protein in my body, my dog's body, and my cat's combined!  That's okay though because I know that part of this is for the next two weeks and the rest will be put to good use after my big day.  I'm trying to get some different varieties to see what I like, but also keeping in mind that my taste buds will likely change after surgery.  I'd purchased some Chike Very Vanilla and Banana Creme but was disappointed when I looked at the labels and found that they each have 11-12g of carbs in them.  I discussed it with my dietician yesterday and she gave me a few options.  I can a) send it back, or b) go ahead and use it but decrease carbohydrates in other areas. I really like the taste of the Chike so I'm still trying to decide what to do.  It's a difficult decision as each has 28g of protein!

I decided to stop by Vitamin Shoppe on the way home just to take a peek and came across a few additional brands that are worthy of giving a try.  I bought Nectar Vanilla Bean Torte and Nectar Caribbean Cooler.  Both carry 23g of protein, 0g of carbs, 0g of sugar, and 0g of fat!  If I like the taste of the Nectar Vanilla, the decision about the Chike will be easily made.  I also picked up 4 bottles of the Isopure glass bottle protein drinks, each with 40g of protein in Mango Peach, Passion Fruit, Grape, and Apple Melon as well as one individual vial of the New Whey Liquid Protein with 42g of protein in 3.4 oz.

Oh gee, did I forget to mention that several weeks ago I'd already ordered 2 tubs each of Unjury Chicken Soup, Unflavored, and Chocolate?  And darn, I also forgot to mention that I picked up an Unjury Strawberry Sorbet and 2 boxes of  Health Wise Pineapple, one of my ultimate favorites.  Wow!! Yeah, I think that I'm definitely ready!!  I'll have to give up my green smoothies for now but will hopefully be able to add those back in later with some protein added in.  Maybe I can really do this!! 

One thing that I've already learned in looking ahead to the post-op days is that I'll need to be creative.  I had one challenge that I wasn't sure how I would overcome.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I work in an operating room.  I'm in a unique position where I very rarely get breaks of any kind.  On many days, I'm doing pretty good if I've had the chance to run to the bathroom during the course of the day...and lunch??  You can't exactly pull out a sandwich and start munching away!  The challenge, how to remain hydrated and find a way to sip on my protein fluids throughout the day.  It took some brainstorming and the only thing that I could think of is a Camelbak (you know, those special backpacks that cyclists wear that hold water?).  Well, I can't exactly walk around the room with a Camelbak attached to my back so I did a little research.  It turns out that Camelbak has a few designs that are lumbar packs that can be worn like fanny packs!  I can wear it as a fanny pack and run the drinking tube through my scrub shirt and keep it at my shoulder.  That way, I can sneak a few sips here and there so that I don't get dehydrated, and it doesn't compromise the sterility of the environment. Ha, the best part is that it has extra pockets that I can use to carry some of my supplies!!

If you'd told me one year ago, that the money that I'd budgeted for groceries would all be going to protein powders and mix-ins, I would have thought you crazy, but now, this is a reality for me.  My protein supplements will be a part of my grocery budget for life and with all of the great recipes that I've come across online, I'm okay with that.  There are so many varieties out there and so many ways to prepare them that it doesn't have to get boring.  I'm starting to see a bit into the future and learning that with some creativity, it is possible to get used to a new life and a way of eating that is completely foreign from anything that I've ever known.

*Health Wise products are only available through a licensed medical professional.  Bariatric Choice offers a different brand called Bari Wise which is available in a variety of flavors including pineapple. 

Time Is Ticking Away...

Yesterday, I drove up to Charlotte, NC for all of my final pre-op appointments.  I met with the bariatric nurse registrar at the hospital and got registered there, saw my dietician to go over my pre-op diet, and saw my surgeon.  Each of them felt that I was well prepared for the surgery and confident that I can be successful which was an awesome feeling.  They were amazed at the amount of research that I've done over these months that I've had, and I have to admit that I've probably spent time reading studies and blogs to obsession, not to mention the time spent in a support group on a regular basis.

My program is currently set up with their support group meeting only once a month with a brief presentation, then break-out sessions for gastric band patients and one for bypass patients.  Although I started my program in North Carolina and will be having my surgery there, I've lived in Albany, New York for the majority of the time that I've been preparing for surgery, so I've been attending the support group there.  The program in Albany has separate groups: one for those beginning the process, interested in more information, and recent bypass and band post-op patients, one group dedicated solely to band patients, and one group dedicated to post-op patients that have a year or more of time under their belts. 

I suggested to everyone that I met with yesterday that the only thing that I would change about our program is the amount of time dedicated to support groups within each month, and truly, that is the only thing that I would change as I've found the program to be outstanding in the information given, the attention and sensitivity given to the patients, and all of the resources available.

Each of the people that I met with suggested that after I go through my surgery and am a ways out, that I should lead a support group of my own because of the amount of research that I've done and knowledge that I've accumulated.  I felt very flattered and comforted in knowing that my questions have been answered and not only do I feel prepared, but those taking care of me have confidence that things will go well and that I can indeed be successful.  I taught high school several years ago and am used to teaching and facilitating within a group setting, so I just might have to take them up on their idea someday!!

I also feel ready to give up my time of bingeing (especially after seeing the 8 lbs. that I've gained back in just one month!).  My last supper time has come to its close, and my liquid diet starts on Monday.  In some strange way, I'm looking forward to it, although I'm sure that in the first few days I will see mirages of food in everything I see, sort of like in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons!

In case you can't tell, I am so very excited!!!  I'm not nervous at all.  I feel confident and comforted, and reassured.  Probably most important of all, I believe in my surgeon, and believe that I have indeed made the right choice in choosing to go through this process and taking control over my life.  

I'm very much looking forward to seeing my mom and sister and feel so blessed to have their support.  Alright, enough of this sappy, mushy talk.  I need to get to work!!  Blessings though to all of you who read this.  May you be encouraged in your journey, wherever you are, and if you're not happy with what the scale says today......just say "Screw it!!" and go eat some protein!!  LOL

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Post-Op Inspiration

Hey there Post-Ops!!  I'd love some inspiration from you as I'm winding down my last 3 weeks before surgery. I'm having laparoscopic RNY.  I want to know from you two things....

  1. What was your most embarassing moment as a morbidly obese person?
  2. In what way has your life changed so that moment would never happen to you today (other than the obvious weight loss)?
If you prefer, you could answer any of these questions in addition or instead....
  1. What were your thoughts going into those last few days or weeks before surgery?
  2. In retrospect, what do you wish that you would have known then that you would change if you had it to do all over again?  (e.g. I would have read more about.... or I would have gone to more support groups, etc.)
  3. What has been your greatest mental or emotional struggle since you had your surgery?
  4. What does your weekly exercise routine consist of?
  5. Did you experience any serious complications and if you're comfortable, would you mind sharing some of your experiences?
  6. And lastly, what's on your Bucket List now that you've lost your excess weight that you wouldn't have been able to do before?
Please tell me how long it has been since you had your surgery.  You can leave your comments here on the blog openly or anonymously, your choice. 

As you can tell from my blog, as well as my presence on Facebook, Twitter, and the Twibe,  I've been researching my upcoming surgery quite extensively since I started the process back in January.  I have my last pre-op appointments with my surgeon and dietician this Thursday 10/22, then will be starting my two week liquid liver reduction diet next Monday, 10/26.  Nothing motivates me more than hearing your stories both good and bad.  I like hearing the truth because I know that medicine is not a perfect science for anyone.

Thanks in advance for sharing and tweeting and for being my fellow twits and tweeples!

Thinking thin,
(aka Ericka)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Interesting Observations

I went to Target yesterday to buy new underwear.  My collection of underwear is constantly shrinking because I have a dog who, even at 7 years old, finds entertainment in chewing them to shreds.  I hate shopping for clothes and I think I buy more underwear than any other clothes item.  The mall was right next door and I know that I could wander into Lane Bryant and probably spend $12 for one pair of panties but I'm much too frugal for that and again, why spend that much when it will most likely turn into a doggie chew toy?  I went for my usual cotton 6 packs and found something interesting.  The larger plus sizes were all picked over and almost gone, while the smaller sizes were hanging there in abundance.  Sure it's possible that if you have a size 5 butt you're not shopping in the granny panty section, but it's also possible that we are indeed living in an age where there are more plus-sized butts than little skinny mini's. 

Sure, the media tells us that in order to be beautiful we have to be a size 0 and their idea of a "plus sized" model is a size 12 (which absolutely disgusts me), but I guess in shopping I'm starting to see more of the obesity epidemic purchasing the truly plus sized items.  We've all seen that someone somewhere that we'd like to pull to the side and say, "honey, just because they make it in your size doesn't mean that you should wear it." but the truth is that there are alot of plus sized women that are in denial of their size and still trying to squeeze into the smaller sizes, no matter if they can breathe in them or not.

Another thing I've noticed while shopping is this....why are you never able to find plus sized workout wear in regular stores?  Since the "acceptable" woman is the smaller one, wouldn't it make sense to have a large section of plus sized workout wear for those of us making an effort to lose weight?  I guess the assumption is that if you are obese, you are automatically choosing to stay that way, and too lazy to workout so there is no comfortable, moisture-wicking, physically supportive workout wear designed for you.  Interesting, I tell you. Interesting.

I generally hate shopping for clothes because it is so difficult to find things to fit me.  I'm only 5' 2" and with my "curves", it's particularly difficult to find pants that fit.  I usually buy cheap clothes from Wal-Mart or clearance sale items from Avenue and wear them until they either have holes or permanent stains in them.  I replace my wardrobe only as necessary and it's a beautiful thing that I get to wear scrubs at work!  I come from a family of well-dressed women and my mother is always trying to help me to build my wardrobe so that I can stop looking homeless.  I'm currently at one of those homeless looking stages and in dire need of some newer items but as I breezed through the store yesterday, I felt the freedom of knowing that it wasn't worth buying anything new right now because within a few short weeks, it will no longer fit! 

I look forward to scouring the racks of the local Goodwill or Salvation Army store for those gently used items in smaller sizes than I wear now.  I don't know that I will ever truly enjoy shopping, but I do look forward to having more options.  I have one sister that is the only one in the family blessed with the mutant skinny gene.  I'm excited to someday shop in her closet when I hit my goal weight because she always dresses with style.  She is three years older and I surpassed her in growth when I hit puberty so we were never able to share clothes.  Somehow I know that my favorite place of all to shop, will be in her closet.

I am incredibly grateful to my sister.  We've never been extremely close but as I've shared with her my preop journey so far, she's been very receptive to learning about weight issues and how the surgery will change my life.  I realized that she doesn't know what it's like to be overweight because she never has been, so she has been a wonderful resource for me for learning how to think like a thin person.  I asked her if she would be willing to fly in and be there for me for my surgery and without a second thought she said yes.  I can't tell you how much that means to me.  I'm so excited and I can't wait to give her a huge hug.  It's quite possible that this dreaded issue of weight may be the key issue that helps us to learn about and understand each other in a way that we never have before.  I've designated her as my diet coach just to help me to stay on track and to help me continually think like a thin person.  Along with ongoing therapy, she may be able to help me conquer some of the mental challenges that the surgery brings.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy NOT having to shop for any clothes.  Heck, when I'm able to transition down to smaller underwear, maybe I'll give my dog my old ones for her to run around the house with like she usually does.  I will enjoy the sight and sound of her ripping those granny panties to shreds!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fat People Deserve Love Too!!

I was FURIOUS!  I work in an operating room.  We see patients from every walk of life...tall patients, short patients, big patients, small ones.  We see all kinds of piercings and tattoos, some offensive and some that just make you wonder what the patient was thinking.  At the heart though, we see people on the most vulnerable days of their lives.  They are in pain, afraid, anxious, and looking to us to care for them as if they were our own, and they have every right to their expectations. 

I was working yesterday when the nurses wheeled in an obese patient.  While she was obese, she was by far NOT the largest patient that any of us have ever seen, far from it actually.  Yes, sometimes caring for an obese patient can present challenges that aren't present when caring for thinner people as equipment is often built for certain weight limits and we sometimes have to do the best we can with what we have to work with.  That was a part of our challenge yesterday, but what infuriated me were all of the comments that flew so loosely about the room about our patient's weight.  She was anesthetized and therefore unable to hear what was going on, and unfortunately, these healthcare workers thought that her inability to hear them gave them license to say whatever they wanted.

fat-girls#4 Pictures, Images and Photos"I bet she has a small husband doesn't she?  He's probably one of those guys that obsesses over the calendars with the pictures of extremely fat women posing in lingerie on them like you see at Spencer's!"
"What good can back surgery possibly do someone like this?  Does she really think that her pain is gonna stop when she's THIS big?? The only thing that's going to help her is a DIET!!"

I wanted to scream "STOP!!" from the top of my lungs.  Unfortunately, my acting out of my passion over things like this have never fared well with my employer so I contained myself, but I did make sure to mention to people that, "Hey, you know no matter what her size, this lady is a human being!" and the fact that she's nowhere near as big as people were making her out to be, not that it even matters.

As I stewed over the situation during the day, I realized that I had an increased sensitivity on behalf of our patient not only because of my obesity, but because of knowing that I'm having surgery soon so there's help available for me.  Things will be changing for me soon.  The opportunity for weight loss surgery is there for many people, but may not be a viable option for everyone possibly because of insurance or other reasons.

I've been working in this field for several years now and I've heard comments made about our patients' weights before, both large and small, many times.  I know, in fact, that there have been times when I've made comments myself.  I'm ashamed to even admit that.  Most often though, when I've heard the comments made about our patients, I think to myself, my God, these people that I'm working with must think that I'm the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man or something!!

I admit that there have been times when I've looked at people and thought to myself, "God, I never want to be THAT big", or watched some of those documentaries on television of the "Half Ton Mom, Dad, or Teen" and thought to myself, surely they could have done SOMETHING before allowing themselves to get to be that size.  I've seen the people on tv with the horrible cases of lymphedema and bed sores and listened to one patient say that she doesn't smell and marvel that she can still do things that other people couldn't do because she could touch her toes while she permanently lay in bed.

I've made judgements against those people, and in truth, yes, there must have been something that they could have done before allowing themselves to get to the sizes that they are/were and even more importantly, the people that enabled their addictions needed as much help as the people themselves.  But, the fact of the matter is that these individuals ARE human beings.  They deserve to be loved and respected like anyone else.  Me making judgements against them is like an alcoholic one-upping themself over a crack addict.  They're both addicts!  The only difference is the drug of choice or method of consumption.

I don't want to be 1,000 lbs., so I am taking steps to get control over my life now, but there is nothing about the level of severity of my obesity that makes me better than anyone else.