Where to start?
Part of the delay was some pain I'm having. It's all along the left side of my abdomen and the LRNP said that it wasn't pain I should be having at this stage, so I had an unexpected visit downtown. Thankfully hubby was able to take off. She (the LRNP) said that it's unlikely the pain is surgery-related, but they ordered a few tests just to see if they can determine what is causing it. I'm waiting on the results of one; the other required a pre-cert and I didn't get the info to schedule until it was too late, so I'll be calling for that appointment on Monday. I do hope they figure this out! Actually, just today (Saturday), hubby and I were out running some errands and wandering the mall - I haven't been able to walk the mall in years. I realized I could go to Chick-fil-A and get grilled nuggets. I got the 8-piece, but could only finish 5. I'll know to get the children's portion next time. Then I had to wait 30 minutes to drink, which about killed me. On top of that, I had my ongoing clothing frustrations (more about that below) and I was having some arthritis pain (you don't spend much time being morbidly obese before your body rebels!). We left to head to our main destination, and one of my absolute favorite stores - The Container Store!!!!! Unfortunately the abdominal pain increased dramatically, almost out of the blue, so hubby knew something was wrong when I wanted to leave there... and not even stop at Target on the way home. So here I sit, protein shake in next to me, typing away.
Now, I had my first experience at a restaurant. I was super anxious. A few days prior I had a hamburger and it didn't sit well. Dinner was planned for hubby's birthday and my parents were taking us to a steak and seafood restaurant. I called the dietitian in a hurry! She pulled up the menu on her computer and we went through the menu over the phone (did I mention how wonderful she is?). I assumed I'd get the scallop appetizer, but the menu didn't make it as straight-forward as it used to be; I also never paid attention before and it is a sauteed dish, therefore cooked in butter - a big no-no. We worked together to figure out a plan and a few days later, we headed down to my folks'.
The day came and I felt
Major Eating/Lifestyle Changes:
- stop drinking 15 minutes before eating
- take at a minimum, 30 minutes to eat (preferably more with the amount of nausea I've had); because of this, I've gotten used to finishing my meals cold.
- eat 4 oz meals, getting 60-80 oz of protein in daily (historically, people in my specific program have had a higher rate of success with having a protein shake/bar for one meal per day). It may not be logical, but different doctors/programs have different rules - both pre-op and post-op. It's not like removing a gall bladder or fixing a torn ligament.
- as I mentioned before, I am now permitted 1 oz of veggies and 3 oz of protein, but the protein must, must, must come first. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein so a number of the bariatric recipes I have include that as an ingredient, or I'll just have a cup of cherry (or whatever) and it has 12(!!!) grams of protein.
- meals should be between 3-4 hours apart
- do not drink until 30 minutes after eating (this one has been the most difficult, I think... we're all so used to drinking throughout our meals, so to not pick up my glass until 30 minutes after I'm through is an enormous change -- try it... it's HARD!)
- it is absolutely necessary to get in 64 oz - at the very least 50 oz - of water/Crystal Light (something with no caffeine, no sugar and non-carbonated) daily; dehydration is the number one reason for people to be re-admitted following surgery
I had my first session with my food/eating therapist since surgery. She's a real cheerleader for me and my journey and reminds me all the time how far I've come and how much I'm doing to follow the strict rules. I don't take compliments terribly well, so it's a bit like water-off-a-duck's-back, but she knows that. I had the same experience with my psychiatrist earlier this week. I've always been hard on myself, so it's not something new. The only person on my mental health team who has supported me throughout the entire process is my psychologist. (the food therapist is new). The psychiatrists I've seen in the past (especially the one I saw for the longest time - 9 years, I think) would have just set up another appointment and said they'd see me after surgery. All 3 of these people wanted to know as soon as possible how surgery went. My psychiatrist was really happy - surprised even - that hubby emailed her not long after the surgery was over. She thanked me/him for that and I thanked her for caring enough to ask. I haven't even been seeing her a year and she's done everything to encourage me and support this process. When I talked of the financial hardship of seeing a second therapist, she didn't think twice and told me to see her less often if that would help. She's there by email and phone if I need her.
I had an appt at the neurologist's office and talked with her about decreasing doses on some of the meds they have me on for my migraines, because they can also be used for psych purposes. They are older meds and have a greater chance to cause weight gain - working against what I'm working to do! In conjunction with my psychiatrist, I am cutting one of the biggest offenders in half (to start) and the other I take 1200 mg 3x/day and that is being cut to 900 mg 3x/day. I hope to be off my cholesterol med by the Fall, and even though my psychiatrist added back in one med (I went off it due to a variety of screw-ups) I can just pray that she will take me off the one I currently take once I'm up to a therapeutic dose.
Clothes: I'm finally starting to find myself shrinking out of clothes. I was so frustrated being stuck in the same size clothes as 50 lbs ago! But just within the past 1-2 weeks I've noticed that my shirts are sliding down my shoulders and my bra straps are showing. That hasn't been the case in nearly forever! My old body had a fairly basic pound to size ratio. When I was 310 lbs, I wore a 30/32. I'm under 250 - oh right... did I mention that I'm UNDER 250 ???? I don't remember the last time that was the case, so my mind keeps saying that I should be in a 24/26, but that's not totally the case. It wasn't a science before, but now it's all over the place. I did go this afternoon to a Catherine's outlet store. I don't want to spend a ton of money on clothes, since I just don't know what size to buy and I'll say it again - I definitely do NOT want to spend a lot of money! So, I left empty-handed, but have become friendly with one of the employees, so we chatted for a bit and that was nice. The same has been true for all of my shopping escapades of late. It turns into one big frustrating mess! I'm going to wind up naked before I know it - and nobody wants to see that!
I had a appointment in the town where I grew up, so met some friends for lunch afterwards. In talking with one of my friends she asked where I wanted to go. I haven't lived there in over 20 years, so I'm not entirely sure what the options were. In talking with her, I said that breakfast is easy for me, since I can just order eggs. We decided on a place. When I walked in, all I saw were booths. In the past, this was fear-inducing. Will I fit? Will I be able to breathe? Will my belly wind up hanging onto the table? Will people stare? Last week, though - no problem! Plus, inches to spare! For anyone who's struggled with obesity that's a huge accomplishment (no pun intended). Part of me can't wait to go to our local diner. I haven't been there in many months and I'm eager to just sit down and not have to request a table - that's awfully embarrassing... or even more embarrassing is them asking if a booth is ok. This is one check in the "win" box!
Another great thing about that lunch is that I haven't seen these women in over 2 years. It was wonderful catching up in person and not just via Facebook posts and messages or texts. But, while they know this is the path I'm on now, I haven't posted any recent photographs, so I was almost giddy at their reactions. I know, it still falls under the "water-off-a-duck's-back" concept, but it was still really nice to hear. Like my doctor/surgeon says, I'm with me everyday. It's only those who don't see me for a long stretch who will really notice.
I'd been slacking a bit with exercise, but also found myself unhappy with my weight loss numbers. I'm the only one who can change that, so I sucked up the pain (to a certain level - I still have to listen to my body) and hopped back on that bike. With having a TV in that room, I can stream shows and movies through amazon prime and not have to pay for an additional FiOS box. At this point, I'm doing about 7 miles in between 23-26 minutes. I have yet to put on that bathing suit and jump into the pool for water aerobics. With my mood all over the place I am not finding the energy to get up and at 'em in time. Hence my time on the bike (plus I don't have to leave the house - huge bonus some days).
Jewelry is also an issue for larger or obese women. It's not something I'd considered before it became an issue. Necklaces don't fit properly and if they do, they become chokers when they're not meant to be. I also kept having to get a larger and larger band to wear as a wedding ring. One Christmas, hubby got my original rings sized. I cried because it was the best gift. It made me feel normal again (if that makes sense). Now those rings are getting loose. Because of the heat, they aren't in danger of falling off, but I have to keep a eye on them so I don't lose them once the weather cools. Also, out of curiosity I tried on my college ring and wouldn't you know it fit? Such an amazing feeling. I still weigh (probably) 70 lbs more than I did then, but the fact that I could get it on and not have to cut if off was another win! I won't be wearing it anytime soon, but I moved the infinity ring hubs got me for Christmas to another finger so I could get used to it there and be prepared to wear my college ring again! Woo hoo!
This may sound really odd to someone who hasn't had the experience of losing significant weight, particularly when it's rapid, but skin starts to sag. It's not pretty, but it's all part of the journey. Well, I noticed the other day that my arm flab was less taut than it used to be. Yes, that's right, I'm having skin sag! It's hard to explain it, but it's a good feeling. I'm trying not to think about skin surgery so early in my journey, but it's something I may consider down the road, depending on the condition of my body when all's said and done. Insurance doesn't typically pay for it because they see it as cosmetic so it would create a rather sizable financial burden. At the same time, having this skin issue could create other problems, medical problems. One thing at a time, though. It was just exciting that there was some evidence I was able to see!
Now, this last one is still a source of anxiety for me. In a couple of months, we are going on vacation. The dietitian said to cross that hurdle when I come to it, but it's still a big uncertainty. Food is usually a big part of vacation. You get to eat out and have some foods you would otherwise avoid (have you heard of funnel fries -- YUM!). But this year will be vastly different. I don't want the Mr. to miss out on the yummy things they have there. I also treat myself to a drink or two while we're on vacation and that's a big no-no. I'll work around it and the dietitian will coach me before we go so I have ideas for restaurants. I have the protein bars, some of which are actually delicious. I can take stuff down to make protein shakes. I just don't want to be limited to chicken for all of my restaurant meals. I do know of one place with amazing scallops; they just can't be sauteed because of the butter. But I'm sure they will grill or broil, just like the steakhouse for hubby's birthday.
I know this has been a crazy-long post and thank you if you made it all the way through. Please forgive any disjointedness or typos but I've been writing like crazy to not delay this any longer and to make sure I didn't forget anything. I know there have been people who have expressed interest in this blog and how they have found support through it or are considering the surgery and want to read more. I can't tell you how much that means to you. Part of the reason I decided to make this blog public was to help even one person. Please, please, please, ask questions! You can bet I'll be honest. Heck, at this point it's all on the table anyway. Also, don't hesitate to join the site; you'll get an alert when I post in the event that I forget to put in on FB. You can find it in a blue box on the right side, below all of my profile info and right about "followers."
Well, hopefully things will get less eventful, although every day finds something new - a new food my tastebuds like and my body agrees with (or the opposite), or what exercise has been working and what may be causing some unnecessary pain. I'll also try to check in more often so you don't feel like you've just finished reading a bad novel by the time you reach the end.