Tuesday, July 11, 2017

59 weeks on 7/11/17

Wow, is it seriously Summer??  And how did I go so long between posts?

Ok, well I can answer the second one...sort of.

I found myself in the hospital for 3 weeks, late January through mid-February, totally unrelated to surgery.  So, what is nutrition like when you're inpatient and you have to educate the nutritionist on what a bariatric diet looks like?  I'll tell you, it's not easy.  I had taken protein shakes and bars with me, as well as a few things for snacks - thankfully!  The nutritionist couldn't really meet my needs, but agreed to send up 2 hard-boiled eggs three times a week.  I know it's a bit debatable right now, but I didn't want to risk my cholesterol by having eggs every day and/or multiple times a day.

So there I was.  Stuck in the hospital.  Limited to shakes and bars, plus a few cheese sticks, carrots, and hummus.  Oh, and since water makes me nauseous, I had taken an insulated cup with me along with a pitcher and a ton of powdered drink mix.  Good thing or I would have been dehydrated in no time!  But I survived.  I was able to speak with the dietitian at my surgeon's office and get some tips before admission.  My hospital's nutritionist had little interest in talking with my dietitian.  Again, it was a good thing I did some advanced planning or I would have been in bad shape!

Back up until the beginning of January and I joined and gym and was meeting with a trainer twice a week.  Then the hospital hit, but after I got out, it was back to twice a week with SL (the trainer).

Plugging along, I get to March and start having problems with my right (and dominant) hand.  Alas, I have an EMG and find out that the carpal tunnel has gotten worse in that hand (I had surgery a few years back when the left one was the worst of the two).  A couple of visits later and I'm scheduling surgery.  More surgery, but this time it was going to impact my ability to function since I couldn't type or really do any chores at all.  It would seriously interfere with my training.  After getting the stitches out, I started back with the trainer, but hate to admit that it's been sporadic the past couple of months.

Some junk has come up, which I won't go into, but it's taken most of my time and all of my energy.  Ugh!  I feel like there's something at every turn really impeding my ability to be successful here.  I'm not making excuses, but this has been my reality.  Because of it, and surgery, I haven't been able to workout with my trainer much.  I had some consistency there, but that's gone, along with much of my motivation.  I need to get back there...or at least start walking (the dogs would love it if we took them!) or riding my exercise bike here at home.  Oh, one development is that we learned of a place where they refurb donated bikes and sell them for cheap.  We went there a week-and-a-half ago and ordered some bikes.  They had yet to be refurbed so we're waiting on them, but hopefully that'll get us moving, too!  This past weekend I did a bunch of yard work.  Especially when it's 90 degrees out, that's a workout, for sure!  It's something, right?

Ok, I had my ONE YEAR surgiversary appointment the end of May.  He seemed pleased and I was glad to be losing, albeit slowly at this point.

If you'll indulge me, I'm going to jump around a bit more here...

When I was in the hospital, it was like I was at a nursing home.  Breakfast was at 7, lunch at 11:30 and dinner at 4 (or was it 4:30?).  By nighttime I was famished!  Everyone around me was snacking and I had only no-sugar-added dried cranberries.  Blah.  There is only so much of one food a person can have.  At least with protein bars, there are oodles of flavors, so that didn't get dull.  Sometimes I had bars for breakfast since I didn't take my sugar-free coffee syrups to add to the shakes.  I had to mix it up.  Anyway, while everyone was snacking on cookies and chips at night, I sat there, ravenous.  And then it happened, I discovered sugar-free cookies.  It was a dangerous discovery and one which haunted me for months.  Just recently, however, on a call with my dietitian, we discussed the added calories these cookies are adding to my diet.  It took a bit, but I've given them up.  I keep fruit on hand to satisfy that sweet craving, but it's so much better than those cookies!

My cousin was married a couple of weeks ago and hubby and I went to the wedding.  Since I'm able to shop in actual stores and not limited to online, I got a great deal on a dress to wear just for the wedding (see picture).  I guess it's sort of funny, but I forgot my dress sandals and was forced to wear the ones you see in the picture.  Guys may not understand this, but most women will - there is something about heels that gives some level of confidence.  For me, I'm just excited that I can wear them and not (basically) know that I'm bound to fall.  But I forgot them...grrrr!  At least I had my non-dress sandals and wasn't forced to wear sneakers ;)

It's a funny thing.  When I was 326 lbs, I'd lose 20 lbs and nobody would notice.  Now, I've been stuck, losing only 20 lbs all year and people seemed shocked at how "great" I look.  It's a percentage game, I guess, but I feel like I've gotten nowhere and that's not what people see.  I think of how I lost 40-45 lbs before my wedding and went from 180 to 135/140 and the man at the bridal salon's jaw dropped when he saw me.  But at 300 lbs, 40 lbs feels like it doesn't even make a dent.  I find myself questioning if people feel like they have to say I look good because they know I had surgery and want to be encouraging.  Man, between that and the body dysmorphia, my head is messing with me - big time!  At the wedding last month, I definitely chalk it up to a good "gut-sucker-inner" - aka fake Spanx.

The guy that has operated on both hands now came up in a database of surgeons who also do skin removal surgery.  He has known me for several years and has seen the transformation so when I saw him yesterday, I said that I'd like to talk skin removal surgery at my next appointment.  My bariatric surgeon wanted me to wait until I was closer to my goal.  I'm praying that will happen by November when I see him.  Having my belly skin removed should be covered for medical reasons (rash), but I'd love to have my super gross thighs, arms, and chin done, plus (sorry guys), I'd kill for a boob lift!  Gravity is not a middle-aged woman's friend, let alone one who has lost a person in weight.  Since we can't afford to private-pay, I'll take what I can get.  Maybe for my birthday in January, I'll have this dang belly skin removed!

Vacation... we're going to Disney World!!  This isn't new for us and if you've read any of my blog, or know me in real life, you know that hubby and I are fanatical!  We're first doing a quick Disney cruise and then staying at WDW for several days.  Food is going to be very different from past trips.  In the past, food was a huge part of our trips there.  So many options, so many yummy options!  This year, I went through the menus available online and we chose places where I knew there'd be something I could enjoy and which (hopefully) wouldn't make me sick.  It'll be in the Fall but I'll still have to put on a bathing suit!  GASP!  What?  Yes, a bathing suit.  I did get a catalog which shows bathing suit bottoms which are capri pants (yee haw!), although I may go the longer shorts route.  I'll still have to display the bat wings, but I'm trying to keep a good attitude and say that they're war wounds.

I'm on a super supportive bariatric site.  I've been frustrated seeing people lose more weight than I have in over a year, when they're maybe only 6 mos out.  I admit, it's upsetting.  Someone wrote the other day that we each have our own journey and one person's isn't anothers.  It was something I needed to hear.  Heck, I'm on psych meds which slow my metabolism; I'm a woman and we have slower metabolism than med (super unfair, right?), and I'm in my mid-40s.  None of these things add up to quick weight-loss.  I've also been inconsistent with my workouts.  I have to keep my eye on the prize and know that I'm still down a lot of pounds and it's my journey and nobody elses.  Easier said than done, but I am so thankful to the woman who wrote that, just when I needed to hear it!  It's still part of the self-hatred, though....  Hey, what can I do but work on it?

Ok, well I'm going to try to keep this from getting any longer.  I'll also try to post more often.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Surviving the Holidays After Bariatric Surgery

Yeah, this is a difficult one.  I've held off on writing it, unsure how to really convey this experience to anyone outside of the bariatric world.

This was probably the easiest of them all.  My sleeve handles turkey.  I made a special cranberry sauce using low-sugar Craisins, as well as a pumpkin pie.  The sauce was pretty yummy.  I am not a fan of cranberry sauce, especially since I grew up with cranberry mousse (aka: the pink stuff), which is one of the most delicious things on Earth.  But I put this over my turkey and, while I still had to have the "pink stuff" pass by me, I held off.  This got me through Thanksgiving mostly unscathed.

1) This was a different story.  We did Christmas three (!!) times.  We went to my in-laws' before Christmas.  It was somewhat simple again because of having turkey.  But then came the cookies.  Ohh, the cookies.  I had to leave the room.  They were simply too difficult to resist.  I mean Christmas cookie?  Who doesn't love them?
2) Dinner at my parents' was ... far more difficult.  One of my favorite things was prime rib, not just because it's yummy, but because it meant one thing: Yorkshire pudding (a recipe from my Grandfather who was French and lived in England -- our crepe recipe is from him, too, but I digress...).  Yorkshire pudding is indescribable.  I've had it other places, but it's different.  You know how it is; once you have a specific recipe made by a specific person, nothing ever compares.  There was also the pink stuff.  Since my sleeve doesn't tolerate beef well (even filet), I brought chicken salad made with Greek yogurt, to which I added those low-sugar Craisins leftover from Thanksgiving, and something called Protein Birthday Bites in lieu of cookies.  But the cookie tray still passed...and those around me enjoyed every bite.  My Mom has made countless batches of cookies each year.  She stopped for a number of years, but started again this year and went full-force.  Some of those which made me drool were Bon-Bons, Chocolate Crinkles, Candy Canes, Snickerdoodles.... I have to stop.  Now, my Mom's theory has always been that Christmas cookies are ONLY for Christmas, so never made any other time of the year (except sometimes I would get them for my birthday if I was extra good).  This makes them extra-special.  That makes me extra-upset at missing them.  The good news is that I was able to see my brother and nephews who have spent much of their lives living out of the country and it's always great to see them!
3) Brunch/Lunch ... when coming up with a menu, my Mom asked what I could have, as she was getting sandwiches.  She made me egg salad (from 2 eggs and with light mayo) and I had some veggies and hummus.  Again the cookies came out.  Again I found myself passing around incredibly tempting foods.  Again I held firm.

This may not be the best motivation to keep that "willpower" (I don't really like that word, but that's another story) but I don't want to puke.  I know that if I eat the wrong thing or eat too much, that is always a chance.  I have already gotten nauseated and was certain I was going to vomit, but thankfully did not, from various and sundry foods.  The latest is water.  I used to LOVE water.  Seriously - it was all I drank.  To mix it up, I've been doing Crystal Light and when I tried water this past weekend, I couldn't stomach it.  One sip and I knew.  That's it for water - at least until I'm brave enough to try it again.

One of my favorite dinners of late is turkey burgers.  My Aunt made these when we visited in September and they're extraordinary.  I'm sure you're thinking something to the effect of "YUCK, BLAH, turkey burgers!"  But seriously, I don't think we've done beef since!  We get the high grade (98%?) organic ground turkey, throw in a teensy bit of bread crumbs (just to hold it together), locatelli cheese, a few spices, and the extra special ingredient - FRESH basil.  These burgers are extraordinary!  Hubby adds some deli cheese and grills them a little longer, but I don't like cheeseburgers, so that's never been an option.  Now that it's cold out, we throw them on the Foreman Grill and they are just as tasty!

I have been super lax with my exercise.  The bike became complicated because of Poly (our difficult child) and I haven't had the energy to walk the pups, so I've not been doing much of anything in that area.  But, my friend Janet keeps her own blog and her most recent entry kicked my rear into gear!  That said, I've already tried the Y and gave up.  I also tried LA Fitness and gave up - once I wasn't doing the water aerobics anymore, I was out.  A huge room filled with machines spikes my anxiety through to roof and I'm super intimidated.  So, after reading Janet's blog, I took the bull by the horns joined a small gym.  With that came 2 sessions with a trainer.  Needless to say I scheduled the first one immediately.  The guy is nice!  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.  He wasn't some gym-rat, arrogant, steroid-pumped guy.  So I scheduled my second session.  Of course I got a migraine, but I actually rescheduled and went back.  And then I went for a third time and I'm going again on Monday!  I need the accountability.  Being a small gym, there aren't a ton of people there at once - at least at the hour I go.  The people that are there are also into their music or what's on the TV at their machine.  That said, I can't make any kind of agreement to meet someone there.  Also, since I'm on disability, I also don't run into a lot of middle-agers late morning/early afternoon.  While the people there seem very nice, they seem to want to get in, do their thing, and get out.  I know that I need the accountability.  I also can't afford to get injured and fear that I'll wind up screwing something up, use a machine wrong and wind up needing a zillion surgeries with only a slim hope of ever walking again.  Ok, ok, yes I'm aware that I'm exaggerating - to the extreme - but I can't get hurt if it's preventable.  The poor guy has tried to help me up from one of the machines that has me almost sitting on the ground (and pressing up with my legs).  I finally told him "I'm stubborn" when I didn't take his help for the umpteenth time.  He replied "I'm chivalrous."  Truth be told, I realized that I'm not used to my body.  I'm used to it taking 2 men to help me get up when I fall.  The next time I was on that machine after having that epiphany, I told him.  It's another one of those weird phenomena that people who haven't been morbidly obese can't explain.

I want to touch on something quickly.  It's a general  misconception.  Someone dear to us told hubby that he needs to "catch up" (he needs to lose some weight), but that he has to do it the hard way.  She was totally well-meaning and I'm not saying anything against her personally (in case she's reading this)!  The thing is, this IS hard!  It's far more difficult than any other attempts I've made at weight loss.  I can't cheat without serious consequences.  I can't have "just one" Christmas cookie or "just one bite" of pasta.  I'm on a load of vitamins and supplements and will be forever.  It's imperative that I drink 64 oz every.single.day.  I cannot drink that for the 30 minutes after I finish eating.  I have to get 60-80 grams of protein in every day.  That protein has to come first.  Veggies come after protein.  Fruit comes after that.  Even then, with being limited to 800 calories, I can't have much.  I have to take 25-30 minutes to eat.  I am to eat 4 oz (approx 1/4 cup or the size of your palm) over the course of that 30 minute period.  There is nothing easy about this.  It was major surgery, one which nearly killed me at first attempt.  It required months of doctor appointments, tests, and clearances.  And that was the easy part!  This is not a cure for obesity!  This is not a surgery you have and then go back to your old habits.  This is the most life-changing thing I've ever done...EVER!  So, please don't ever tell a bariatric patient that they've taken the easy way out!  Sorry, rant over.

So, progress....

Now, I had hubby take a picture in front of the Christmas tree, but the outfit wasn't terribly flattering, so I decided against using it, but I have earned putting my "One-derland" charm on the chain with my "Loser's Bench" - see?  I'll try to take another picture soon.

I've stalled a little bit and since reaching that goal, I've wavered between about 198 and 195, but I'm still below 200 and I'll take it!!!  I'm sure my workouts will help boost that number down more quickly and hopefully with no stalls!

One of the things my group of friends in the bariatric world focuses on is non-scale victories.  It's not all about the numbers!  I'm sorry if I'm repeating myself from earlier posts but I can cross my legs!  Heck, I cross them all the time, simply because I can!  Shirts I have never been able to wear (I'm thinking specifically of shirts I got in Disney World but they never fit) are now big!  I nearly skipped a jean size and am wearing jeans which nearly fall down right now.  The next size down is still a little snug, though.  I can just about fit a small farm animal between my gut and my steering wheel!  It was snug before (and that's being generous).  I had to have a CT done and put on the "fat gown" (as I've always called it...at least since I had to start wearing it) and it was enormous!  I mean, I wasn't even able to tie it because one end was inside the gown and the other side was outside, so I might as well have been naked since I would have been almost totally exposed.  I also had to have an MRI (unrelated) and I FIT!  It was about 4 years ago when they last tried to put me in an MRI machine.  I've always found an open bore one or used a special facility where you sit "in" the machine so it's on either side of you.  Sure, that was a bit tight, but it was supposed to be so you don't move.  Anyway, they were scanning my knee, so I had to go in sort of far and I made it - they were able to just hit the button and not stand and watch to see if I can go in without getting stuck!

I want to add, for the record, that I wrote the first half of this post right after New Years.  Monday or Tuesday of this week I wrote the rest, hit save, and then it disappeared!  My frustration told me to give up, go to bed, and try again... but then life got crazy so I didn't get to it again until now.  I'm just praying it all posts!!!