Monday, June 20, 2016

Day 27 and Moodiness Abounds (Not to Mention Some Serious Anxiety)

I won't be weighing again until tomorrow, but I felt like I had to write.

I don't know if this is a common experience among bariatric patients, but I'm moody as all get-out.  This has been happening for weeks now, but the past 48 hours have been especially difficult.  I'm not exactly sure why.  I know that I'm frustrated trying to figure out what to eat as I'm back on "human" food.  There is a question about what came directly from the program with my doctor and dietitian and what I may have printed out from other sites.  I really thought I'd only printed info from the program I used, but now I'm questioning myself and it's driving me crazy!  I've been through my hospital's program over and over and can't even find what I know came from them!  I'm losing my mind and getting more frustrated along the way.

I'm anxious about starting on real food, about what my pouch will tolerate and about leaving the house when I'm trying new foods.  I made my final batch of pureed food today; just 2 meals left.  But AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  This is scary.  I haven't had real food since the middle of last month (and then there was only a few weeks prior to that when I did 2 weeks of liquids to prep for the failure).  Can I eat veggies?  Will my pouch allow meat?  What about eating out?  Keith's birthday is this week and we'll be going out to eat.  I'm now supposed to have 3 oz of a high protein food and then 1 oz of veggies.  But what can I eat?  What should I eat?  What will I eat?  Will it be accepted by my sleeve?

I had gone through my bathing suits and found 2 or 3 which currently fit.  I was all mostly ready to go to water aerobics.  Yesterday Keith and I went and checked out the gym so I knew where I was going, etc.  I got halfway there and realized that I didn't have the lock for a locker.  I wasn't about to leave my keys and wallet in an unsecured locker.  Well, I got home and was SO frustrated.  I admit that I was angry, thinking that Keith was the last one to touch it and he must have put it somewhere and that I didn't know where it was.  Please, forgive me Keith.  My anger was unfounded.  I went again to check the bedroom and found the lock tucked in the quilt folds.  I felt like such an idiot.  My anger was for nothing and had I looked closer, I would have found it and been able to start water aerobics.  Wednesday I know I won't be able to go for the class (which is fine; I can always go and walk the pool).  The days I have afternoon appointments will be difficult to do the class, but somehow I have to make it work.  Hey, I'll (probably) be starting at the 4 week mark.  That's not half bad, huh??

That anger has really affected my mood, making it worse than it was already.  I'm so ticked off!  I can't handle going deeper into the darkness.  I have worked so hard to make this surgery successful and I don't know how to separate the two.  I started out with this stupid mental illness.  I know that losing weight wasn't going to make the depression disappear.  I've felt pretty good for the better part of the past several months (minus the week following the failure).  Now I feel like I'm back where I started.

What the heck is going on?  I'm totally unmotivated as far as the exercise is concerned.  I have no interest in even getting on the bike, in spite of having the TV up there and some cool amazon prime streaming shows/movies.  I've said all along, I worked so hard to make this surgery happen.  The doctor visits.  The tests.  The clearances.  The liquid diet - twice.  The pureed diet.  Now, the fear of returning to real food tomorrow.  If my emotional state gets in the way of that, I'm not sure how I'll cope with that.  I so desperately want to go off my meds, especially those which have weight gain as a common side effect.  I NEED to be successful.  This is the final attempt to get this fat off.  I weigh myself tomorrow and have to have lost weight or I think I'll lose my mind (even more)!

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I know I've rambled about this emotion thing.  It's just such a big part of who I am.  I return to my food/eating therapist this week.  We'll see how that goes.....  Thanks again!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

23 Days Post-Op: All in Due Time

For the sake out housekeeping, I know you've been chomping at the bit to find out what breed Casey is.  So, drumroll please..... he's primarily Siberian Husky and somewhat less Chow Chow.  Crazy, right?  Crazy!

Also, I felt like the old blog needed some updating so enjoy the new, fresh look!

Ok, now down to business.

I saw the doctor for the first time yesterday.  I was feeling so discouraged after having lost only 2 lbs between weeks 2 and 3.  I have the LRNP's voice in my head saying "...20 pounds the first month" and while this wasn't a full month, I was super disappointed.  What had I done wrong?  I'd followed the diet to the letter, I'd gotten on the recumbent bike as much as possible, I'd taken my vitamins.  I'd done it all right.  What happened?  The only real change is that I added pureed food into my diet.  But, Jen, everyone does that, yet that number was in my head.  It was eating away at me (no pun intended).  I went into my therapist's office on Tuesday feeling incredibly down and we had a discussion about how each person is an individual and everyone's body is going to react to surgery differently, etc.  I still couldn't get that 20 lbs out of my head.

I went in to the appointment a bit ambivalent, but my doctor is wonderful and put my mind at ease right away.  As always I took my recorder with me.  This is the first appointment I've been to alone, but even when there's someone with me I take it.  With my brain being that of dirt, it's important to make sure I don't remember something incorrectly.  With this, it could make a MAJOR difference, and not in a positive way.

At the downtown office, they have a scale.  In the suburban office, there may be inconsistencies, so he sticks with the weights I give him from my scale here at home.  While I lost only 2 lbs between weeks 2 and 3, he wasn't concerned.  If memory serves (haha), I have lost about 12 lbs since surgery.  I've also lost almost exactly 50 lbs since I first met him on 12/30/15.  He's pleased with my progress.  He also said something that really struck me.  He said that I'm with myself everyday so I don't notice the change, but he can clearly see it.  I expressed my frustration at not being able to wear clothes that I have fit into at this weight in the past.  He essentially said "all in due time," but I wasn't offended.  I guess when the person who monitors your weight says something like that, it doesn't come across as trite.  He really means it.  He knows it for himself through other patients.  All in due time.

There are some areas which have puckered, specifically the two he used to do most of the work.  I wasn't concerned.  I figured that after losing the weight they'd go away anyway.  But he assured me that it's because in those areas which were used the most and suffered the most "trauma" the dissolvable stitches are attached to pretty deep tissue, hence the puckering.  No biggie.  I've had enough surgeries and have enough scars that these things don't bother me.  Heck, if that's the worst that comes from this surgery, I'll be thrilled!

I start "real/people" food next Tuesday.  On the same day, all restrictions will be removed.  The biggies are my lifting restriction and being able to get in the pool.  The lifting: tonight, for example, is going to be pure chaos.  Keith had to take Bert to the vet so they could do a day-long blood sugar monitoring (a bell curve test).  Then, tonight, we have to take both dogs for their annual appointments and to update their vaccinations.  I'm neither allowed to lift Bert nor "walk" either dog; given their sizes and the fact that they pull, there is a danger internally that they could do some damage.  Even after my restrictions are lifted, I am to take it easy as far as walking them is concerned.  Shoot!  I will have the pool and I have my bike, but left to walk by myself I wind up too much in my head and then start to think about the pain or "I've walked 'x' far and will have to walk it back" so I'll go easier.  If I'm walking the dogs, I'm focused on training them not to pull (it's an uphill battle!).

So, food.  I am a bit confused by some of the papers the dietitian sent me.  I am not really supposed to snack - and I get that.  If I start to snack and it becomes a habit, I just set myself up for failure, even if they're healthy snacks.  At the same time, some of what is listed on the paperwork sounds snack-y.  But, I am allowed to do some vegetables now.  3 high-protein meals (with a total protein intake of 60-80 grams, so 20-30 grams each meal).  I can do 3 oz of protein and 1 oz of veggies, which I think is where I'm getting the idea that some of those foods are snacks, because it's things like roasted chick peas or certain veggies with hummus.  For maximum weight loss, they have found that people who continue to do one shake daily have the most success.  It's also an incredibly easy meal!

I saw the EOB (explanation of benefits) from my primary insurance company the other day.  It's absolutely insane!  Granted, they took extra precautions because of the first attempt, plus there are oodles of bags hanging from my IV pole,
(crazy, right?), the 2 nights in the hospital, doctors, a test the day after surgery, blah, blah, blah.  You can imagine how the list goes on and on.  Also, it's a teaching hospital and I'm not sure how that works as far as billing for services of residents - I'm assuming it's ok since they're not interns, although I have no idea if they can bill for interns... all irrelevant.  Let's just say the bill is monstrous!  Praise God that I will have to pay less than $1500 and while that's not chump change, it's a tiny percentage.  Now, my secondary said outright that they do not cover bariatric surgery.  I don't know if that includes everything that goes with the surgery, like the hospital stay.  Whatever happens, Keith and I are SO thankful that insurance is picking up the majority of it.

So, all-in-all a very positive visit with the doctor.  Next week I'll be pushing the exercise as I test out foods and see what my pouch can tolerate.

And the journey continues....

Monday, June 13, 2016

Something Light-Hearted

First let me thank you for the outpouring of support.  I love reading any comments and knowing that there are people praying for me and that I am successful in my journey.  Most days I think you have more confidence in me than I do in myself.  For that, please know that I am so appreciative.

Now for the light-hearted part.  All of my writings have been sooooo serious lately.  I decided it was time for something amusing (at least to Keith and me).

This is Casey (you've already "met" him):

And in case you've forgotten or are new to the blog - and because I like to brag on my furbabies, here are some more, although this one is about Casey specifically:

 Silly Casey

<------ One of my favorite pictures of the big guy.

Sorry the pix are so disjointed.  Blogspot won't let me move them around much to be all even and equal..  Oh well.  C'est la vie.

Anyway, Keith and I decided to do a DNA test for Casey.  Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but everyone who sees him sees something different.  The rescue told us that he was a shepherd mix.  We got the results over the weekend.  If you're not friends with me on Facebook, take a stab at what breed you think he is.  While you're at it, feel free to use the "join this site" opportunity above.  I make no promises that this will always make it to Facebook - I am a bit distracted, if you know what I mean...

THANK YOU again!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Day 17 - in the Depths of Pureed Food

Part of me can't believe it's been 17 days since surgery.  Part of me can't believe it's only been 17 days since surgery.  It has been a rocky road, for sure.

I haven't need any pain meds since my last post - YAY!  I've been able to get on the bike and am up to 11.5 minutes.  It's a slow ride, but I'm moving.  I would love to take Casey for a walk (since Poly remained at daycare this week; with me still unable to bend at the waist we felt like we had no choice, plus she's happy there).  I specifically asked if I could take Casey for a walk.  She asked how big he was (ehem, 90 lbs....) and if he pulls (most definitely).  With those two answers she said it wasn't safe and I could do damage to my sleeve.  I've worked too hard to do anything risky!

So I've been sitting around, mostly avoiding everything that's on my to-do list.  Most of the stuff has basically been copied from one day to the next with little accomplishment.  I've also spent most of the week debating what this post would look like.  Unlike most of my sleeved online friends, I have no picture from the day of surgery.  I also have no pictures from my highest weight.  When you're a hippopotamus you tend to avoid the camera at all costs.  I do have a picture from a cruise last September which gives you a good idea of what I looked like.  I think this is even more than I weighed when Keith and I did the photo shoot.  I have to say, I'm still undecided.  If I'm going to post it, I might as well put the number out there, right?  All or nothing?  I'll avoid that for now and decide as I near the end of this post.

I did pretty well with the liquid diet, although I started to get hungry by the end of the 2 weeks.  I hadn't had anything solid in a long time!  At the same time, I feared the pureed diet more than I can express.  "What am I going to eat?"  "Surely they can't expect me to throw chicken in the blender?"  "I can't bear the thought of eating protein-high baby food!"  As you can imagine, there were many more thoughts along those lines.

I had my post-op appointment and both the nurse and the dietitian were pleased.  The nurse based my weight loss (just a little over a week post-op) on my 1st pre-op weight.  That may or may not be accurate.  Honestly, I have it all recorded in a calendar, I just haven't looked at the numbers.  Based on that she was pleased, but I know that between my pre-op and my 1st attempt, I lost a bunch of weight from the liquid diet.  Then I did my famous emotional eating and gained most of that back.  I worked hard to lose enough so I was, thankfully, not as fat as my 1st pre-op number.

I talked at length with the dietitian with all of my anxieties.  She said it's normal and proceeded to give me a sheet with a bunch of suggestions.  The one I assumed was egg salad (which isn't half bad, even pureed), but she had a number of suggestions.  I was still skeptical, especially given that I have to do this for 2 weeks.  The good news is that one idea is actually pretty good - and high in protein (the main goal - forever).  It's using chicken (I bought Perdue Short Cuts), plain Greek yogurt, and ranch dressing (or I could use mild taco seasoning also).  So, it's a protein drink for breakfast, 4 oz of a high protein meal for lunch and another for dinner, with another protein drink sometime during the day.  I usually save it until nighttime and then make one of the sweet ones from the cookbook I have.  There is apple pie, banana bread and a number of others.  It's pretty scrumptious... at least as far as protein shakes go.

At my first post-op, I met with the dietitian (who gave me the instructions/pureed food ideas) and the LRNP.  Everyone seemed pleased with my progress.  They told me that they anticipate a 20 lb loss in the first month.  I think that I'll be near that, but my 2nd appt, which is supposed to be a month from surgery will only be 3 weeks (so I can see him in the 'burbs).  I'll have a little wiggle room as far as loss is concerned.  I am following the post-op orders to the letter and have increased my exercise daily.

Yes, I overdo it and yes, I pay for it that day and/or the next.  I try to not do too much.  I am also stubborn as all get-out and want to push myself.  I want to find my limit without passing it.  I want to take this opportunity and not screw anything up.  I can't screw it up.  I've worked too hard.  The thing is, for the rottenness of clearances leading up to the surgery and the pretty awful first attempt, this post-op regimen is incredibly difficult.  It's going to kill me to keep away from carbs until I get closer to my goal weight.

Goal weight?  When I asked the LRNP about that, she said what they use as a determination is an antiquated chart.  They anticipate a 55-60% loss of my excess body weight.  The rest is up to me - all me.  It's following the diet - the very strict eating plan - and getting my exercise in.  As soon as I'm cleared by the doctor to do so, I'll be activating my membership at the gym and begin water aerobics.  When I'm strong enough, I am considering working with a personal trainer, but that's not exactly free.  One thing at a time.

It's frustrating when people say that surgery is the "easy way out" because they have NO CLUE!  The prep and clearances were killer, but little did I realize (as much as I read about it) that the real work starts now.  It's HARD.  The "diet" is hard.  The exercise is hard (and can get painful when I do too much).  Meeting weight expectations is hard.  Having regular doctor appointments to follow-up is hard (1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year and then every year thereafter).  So yeah, the real worked started 17 days ago.

I've been writing this on and off all day and think I have decided (if so, you can see above) that I will post the picture.  Yes, it has a number on it, but I will never let myself reach that number again.  I will not screw this up.  I cannot!

As an aside, I saw the EOB for my surgery and including the upper GI test, all the meds, the 2 nights in the hospital, the anesthesia, etc., the total was over $78K!!  I am SO thankful for my primary insurance plan because I won't have to pay anywhere near that amount.  Praise God!  Truly, I left this in His hands and prayed for those 5 months between my initial appointment with the surgeon to the day of surgery.

The "incisions" weren't too big, although one of them, the largest - about 2"-3" - still had steristrips on it yesterday.  They had rolled upwards and downwards and the only part which remained attached I slowly removed.  That area is where they did all the work and the "incision" is about 2-3 inches long and my stomach sort of puckers in there (as well as one other "incision").  Today I felt a lot of pain in that area and my Mom (a nurse) gave a suggestion of how to cover it.

I try to only wear the binding document when I go out or at night.  I haven't taken any Tylenol.  I do the breathing device far less often.  And I continue to write down everything that goes in and out of my body, as well as documenting my temperature twice daily.  I don't know if that's still necessary, but, as you've read - I WILL NOT SCREW THIS UP!

So, you'll see that I posted the picture.  Like I said, all or nothing.  If I'm not going to be honest here, behind a computer, how can I be real in my offline world?

I know this will be a long hard road.  But it's a journey I have to take; that I have to continue.