Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Patience is a Virtue

Today marks two weeks since my sleeve surgery. TWO WEEKS! Time is flying and while I am thrilled to be getting ready to move on to the next food stage (purees) in one more week, I am also kind of freaking out that summer is zipping by a little too quickly.

I want to talk about something very specific today in regards to this whole journey I am on - and that is the topic of patience. I've always considered myself to be a relatively patient person. After all, I teach Kindergarten and when dealing with 5 and 6 years olds all day, it's kind of the one character trait you really need to own. Well, that, and vodka sure helps a lot.

Perhaps it's easy to be patient with those that you know require it. Small children and the elderly. Pets. And let's face it, sometimes your spouse. But how about when it comes to being patient with yourself?

Like any normal weight loss journey, patience with myself is required here. And even though I had 80 - 85% of my stomach cut out, I still need to remember that this process is a more a marathon, not a sprint. The weight does not simply drop off instantaneously, as I once thought it did. It still takes time and when you least expect it, your body can revolt against you and decide it's not in the mood to lose. This is what I am experiencing now.

Last week, on Thursday, I had my 1 week (and a day) post op appointment and was told I had lost 9 pounds since surgery day. I was completely elated to know that I lost more than a pound a day since my procedure, and the nurse seemed equally pleased with my progress. Perhaps there was a little too much joy in the room that day. Perhaps my body just wanted to knock me down a peg or two. But whatever the case,  I've been at a weight loss stall ever since. More or less. I did lose 1/2 pound more 2 days later but that's it.

So now I'm two weeks out and only 9 1/2 pounds down when I really thought I'd be further along. I was warned this would happen - I just didn't expect it so soon. I was mentally ready for the dreaded week 3 stall - not the week two stall. And trust me, I know how neurotic and ridiculous it all sounds - I mean I'm only two weeks in - but this is where my head is right now, so apologies in advance for my idiotic rambling.

I will say that friends on the Bariatric Support page on Facebook have been encouraging. They have shared their own stories of stalls and impatience to get the scale moving in their favor again. It's been helpful to know that this is normal and that its nothing I'm doing to prevent the weight loss. It still doesn't make it fun, or easy to accept. When you go through a major surgery, as I've done,  you want to see the fruits of the surgeon's labor sooner rather than later. During that first week, every morning was like Christmas Day. Seeing the scale go down each day was a gift like no other I've ever received. So its hard to go from the scale being my BFF to sticking it's tongue out at me within a matter of days.

And I do realize its only been a few days. And as far as I know,  the stall could end tomorrow. Or maybe not. Honestly, it could last for a few weeks based on what I've read in the forums. Whatever the length of time it lasts, I know I shouldn't panic. I understand that I just need to just ride it out. But I won't say it's not disappointing.

Logic an reason tell me to simply continue to do what I've been doing. Getting my fluids, getting my protein and getting in exercise each day. I've been cleared for swimming so now I feel like summer can "officially" begin and I can do the activities I love the most. Beyond that, I suppose I need to learn to trust the process. This is a life change. Change does not happen over night. Making the changes I need to keep the weight off long term is what I should be, and am, focusing on at the moment. The weight loss will come. The surgery has not failed me. I just need to be.....patient.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tell All

On June 18th I announced on Facebook that I was having gastric sleeve surgery. I'd been hinting that something different was going on in my life through a few ambiguous posts about drinking protein shakes for a few days. Once I had gotten a few inquiries regarding what the hell was up, I decided it was a good time to spill the beans.

I've always been something of an open book. While I can certainly keep other people's entrusted secrets, I am absolutely flawed when it comes to containing information about myself. Even when I know it might be more advantageous to keep my big fat mouth shut. My thinking behind divulging this somewhat personal choice I was making was simple. My being fat was certainly public. I didn't see any reason why shedding it should be any different.

Although I knew that I didn't want to keep my surgery under wraps,  I did think long and hard about how I would want to present the information that I was having the procedure that would: a) put the emphasis on health, not aesthetics, and, b) did not invite the opinions of others. After all, I'd been preparing for this surgery since November of 2016. There wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that anyone could convince me to back out after all of the prep work I had done.

What I found after making my announcement was an outpouring of love and support from many friends and family members alike. Granted, a number of folks knew before my Facebook announcement anyway, but upon my "surgery outing" still sent me well wishes for a successful journey and encouragement to see this thing through to the end.

This is not to say that I was not met with opposition from some. Not on Facebook, mind you - but in my real face to face interactions with people close to me. I (surprisingly? not surprisingly?) had both friends and family members spew judgements and unsolicited suggestions at me like you wouldn't believe. I was told I had given up. I was told I needed to eat less, and exercise more (Wow - what a stupendously novel idea! I wish I had thought of that). I was told I could absolutely do it on my own (hmmm...not sure why I haven't been able to, though, for the last 25 - 30 years).

I thought I'd be prepared for the comments. I really did. But the truth is, I wasn't. They hurt and they made me feel bad about resorting to this extreme to regain my health.

Look, I get it. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone's got one. But when the opinions of some of those close to you are adamantly against the one thing you firmly believe in, it does something to the relationship you have with those individuals. I should mention that these comments were coming from some people who have no idea what a 100+ pound struggle is even like. It galls me to no end that someone who has never dealt with weight issues would even HAVE an opinion about how I go about losing mine. And yet....

But it didn't stop there. I also had people who DO have weight issues telling me I was crazy for doing it, or offering me the chance to try a different program that they had done and with which they were successful. I'll admit, the more frequently I fielded comments of this nature,  the less worried I became that my responses would insult the commenter themselves. After all, they obviously weren't worried about how their words were affecting me.

Perhaps most surprising of all were the people who came out of the woodwork - friends from my long ago past - that opened up and admitted privately to me that they had also had weight loss surgery. These are people that I am friends with on Facebook and marveled at how all of sudden,  they looked so fit and healthy - and thin. For the longest time, I coveted their willpower, wondering why the hell I couldn't get my shit together and do what they did, not knowing they too, decided enough was enough and chose surgery as a way to get their lives back on track.

The public versus private debate in the bariatric world is a big one. Some people really do not want anyone to know this is the path they have chosen. I understand that to a certain extent. As I said before, being fat is kind of a public issue. You can't hide it - it's out there for the world to see. Just like when you begin to lose weight. It's out there and people will notice, even if you don't draw attention to it. Questions will be asked. Answers will be expected. I simply knew I didn't have the wherewithal to make up something that satisfied inquiring minds about "how I did it."

Some have suggested replies such as "with hard work and dedication" or "I've been blessed." I suppose both of those would work but I also know that people aren't satisfied with answers like that (I know I wouldn't be - I want the real dirt!). They want details. The skinny, so to speak. So instead of being bombarded with inquiries later, I thought it best to get it out in the open. I had surgery to help me. Notice I said HELP. Not do it for me. This is by no means the easy way out. I know I have been given a tool only. Not a magic pill. Not a quick fix. Not a solution that won't require any further work on my part. It simply will help to allow me get to a place where I can feel good about myself again. Where I can be active and energetic and live life the way I have been denying myself living it for years.

Thankfully, even after all of the comments, both positive and not so positive,  I can say that there are no regrets in my decision to either have the surgery or be upfront about it. I fully understood I was opening myself up for both support and criticism, and thankfully there has been far more of the former than the latter. Support is EVERYTHING. And that applies to anything in life. I feel fortunate for those around me who just seem to "get it."

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Summer of ???

Ah, summer.

There's nothing quite like it.

I know I've officially turned myself off of "school" mode when I no longer know what day of the week it is. That happened today and I absolutely loved it.

Of course, this summer is going to be far different than my standard summers of yore. Frankly, I'm kind of curious what a summer looks like when it can't revolve around food and alcohol? I don't know that I've ever had to ponder that question in the 24 years since I turned age 21?

Instead of sipping on tall icy gin and tonics and other refreshing libations, I'm embracing mugs of warm herbal tea and cold frothy protein shakes, 4 oz at a time. Instead of eating juicy flame grilled cheeseburgers on squishy kaiser buns and corn on the cob slathered in butter and salt, I'm "chowing down" on 3 oz cups of Sugar Free Jello and ice pops like they're the best damn thing I've ever tasted.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Come on, it is a little funny, isn't it?

I'm 5 days out from surgery and feeling like the changes I'm making this summer are just the first of many changes that will be a part of this crazy journey. I'm sure I don't even know the half of what's to come but that's really all a part of the excitement of this transformation if you ask me.

This morning I stepped on the scale and saw that I am now 3.6 lbs below the weight I was the day of my surgery. That means I'm no longer trying to lose the weight gain from the IV, gas, etc. but am actually in official "losing mode." Crazier still, when I weighed myself later in the afternoon, I weighed less than I did in the morning. When the hell does that ever happen? NEVER. That's when. It blew my mind and that's when I finally realized, this shit is actually going to work.

Self doubt. It's an ugly thing. And after the scale incident this afternoon, I came to understand it's something that I still had lurking in my subconscious until now. It's incredible to think that I would go through such a surgery and not fully believe 100% in myself that it was going to work for me. But now I do. I get it. The weight is going to come off. It has started The roller coaster has left the home platform. I am buckled in and ready for the ride of my life.

So this summer? Yes, its going to be very, very different. And while I have been steadfastly reluctant to change in the past, I know that I am going to want to welcome this change with wide open and welcoming arms. For the first time in a long time, I don't really have a full grip on the summer "formula".  It's no longer, eat what I want, drink what I want, repeat.  So, what the hell is it, then?

I guess I'll just have to stay fastened in my seat to find out.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

If Peeing Were an Olympic Sport, I'd Win the Gold!

It's amazing what a few days can do.

I'm 4 days out from surgery, and happy to report, feeling pretty damn good. Not sure what I was expecting, but I don't know if I was optimistic enough to think I'd be feeling this "human" after having 2/3 of my stomach cut out. When I think about what I actually had done it still freaks me out a little. Weird.

I'm sitting at my kitchen island sipping a cup of hot tea with lemon and Splenda. You wouldn't imagine how delicious this tastes after having not eaten real food for the last 4 1/2 days. I find I am tolerating most clear liquids, especially if they are warm or hot, which in the world of bariatric surgery, is cause for celebration. The day after surgery I thought I'd never ingest another thing ever again, but it's amazing how quickly your body bounces back after a trauma such as this.

As I mentioned yesterday, staying hydrated is really the name of the game. I am constantly drinking one thing or another, taking time only to pee, shower, pee, sort the mail, pee, type, and pee. It's an exciting time to be alive, folks!

Today, despite the Hades like heat outside, I would like to take a walk around the block. I'm still sore and it doesn't feel "super great" to walk - and I certainly can't do it at any decent pace - however, I know it's an important part of the plan and it's all about making positive changes for my future, no? Since I can't drive for another few days, being homebound is allowing me to focus on liquid intake and taking it easy. Honestly, it's not such a bad gig. This is truly where being a teacher and having summer's off comes in quite handy.

Interestingly enough, people keep asking me if I'm hungry. The answer is a resounding, "No." I don't know the exact full science behind why I suddenly don't give a rat's ass about food when it used to be that I obsessed over it - but honestly? I'm not sure I care. I'm completely ecstatic that I'm not craving my old standbys like pizza and donuts. At this stage, they're not an option anyway so it makes no sense to waste valuable head space even thinking about them. Then again, its only been 4 days - so maybe come talk to me again in a few days. Who knows? I might be ready to chew my right leg off. That's at least 10 meals worth right there.

In addition to not feeling hungry, I find I'm also not so worried about the scale at the moment. Trust me, I know those kind of obsessive days are coming, but right now I'm well aware that the swelling, and gas, and IV fluids are still having their way with my system. So whatever number is on that scale doesn't mean much at this point. Does that mean I'm not weighing myself? Um, hell no. I just had weight loss surgery, after all. Of COURSE I'm curious. Yesterday I was 245.6 which was 5.7 pounds higher than my surgery weight. Today I dropped to 239.3 which means I'm beginning to get rid of some of that hospital-y stuff that infiltrated my body during surgery and the two days following. The real blessing is that for the first time in my life I am not worried about the number because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's going to go down, down, down.... Let me tell you, knowing that fact is fucking liberating as all get out.  It means that I can worry a bit less about the physical end of things and spend more time on the mental side of this journey, which, in my humble opinion, is the going to be the real battle.

That's it for today...stay tuned for more tales from this loser. Amazing how good it feels to be able to call myself that!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Officially on the Loser's Bench

Well, I did it!

Three days ago I had my surgery. No looking back now. This shit just got real, people.

It's a little weird. In some respects I was thinking I'd be feeling "different" about this whole experience. Not quite sure I know what that even means but perhaps I thought there should be some big epiphany going on here that I should be documenting. The most exciting thing I really have to document is that I actually took a poop this morning. Or maybe not so much a poop, but more like a lava flow from my ass. I'm going to consider that progress. TMI??? Sorry but this is real life as I now know it. And when it comes to weight loss surgery, being able to poop so soon after the operation is the freaking holy grail.

After my surgery on Wednesday I was expecting to go home on Thursday afternoon. I was kept in the hospital an additional night because I had horrific nausea and couldn't really take in liquids, or keep them down when I actually tried. It was extremely disheartening, but even as I laid in my hospital bed feeling like shit warmed over, never did I think, "Why did I do this to myself?" If I'm lucky, I won't ever have those thoughts.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling 1000 times better than the previous day. It was like the sun, moon and stars had finally aligned and I could now get on with the healing end of this procedure. I was discharged yesterday early afternoon and came home feeling confident that I could do this. I slept well last night and now this morning I am back at it - sipping like champ and trying to keep what goes in from coming out the other end. Goal for today is simply not to become dehydrated!

I'm happy to not be gagging on my Premier protein shake. I've heard some people really hate what they used to like but so far the chocolate still tastes good to me. Thank God because I have a whole case of the stuff out in my refrigerator!

There are some weird sensations/pain when I seem to swallow too much liquid but other than that, I feel ok. Sure it feels a bit like Mike Tyson went a few rounds on my gut but over all I feel like I should be back to some semblance of normalcy in a week or so.

I haven't weighed myself yet and am wondering if I should just wait until my post-op check in on July 6th. I won't say I'm not curious if I lost anything, but  the reality is I probably haven't. I'm still filled with gas and swollen/bloated from the surgery itself. It takes a bit of time for all that crap to work itself out of your system. I never loved farting so much in my entire life. No lie.

Not much else to report...I'm just a girl sitting around trying to sip, sip, sip. I AM looking forward to showering today. That much I know. I am starting to feel a little homeless, if you know what I mean. But that's it - mini goals for today: hydrate, shower, hydrate, walk, hydrate. All day long, hydrate. It's my new mantra.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Emotional Overload

I cannot believe tomorrow is surgery day.

I have to say, I'm in a little bit of denial. This kind of happened really fast. So much waiting and now - boom - here it is. In my face.

Emotions are running high. When my surgery reminder popped up on my computer's calendar this morning, I felt like I was ready to jump out of my skin. It's like an odd sense of the feeling of stage fright I get anytime I have to speak or perform (flash back to jr high majorette days) in front of a crowd. Frankly, I'd prefer to just sleep all day today so that I don't have to think about what I am about to do tomorrow. Yes - it's normal to have nerves. I know this. If I wasn't nervous, there'd be something seriously wrong with me. I just can't help but think - Am I doing the right thing?

In my heart of hearts, I know I am. You don't go through half a lifetime of being overweight and not think a guaranteed solution to help you lose weight is a good idea. However,  it's still a scary prospect. People have asked me what I am afraid of, and when I think about it - the only thing I worry about is complications. I wish I knew I was going to be ok. To feel ok. To not have that dreaded initial buyers remorse that some talk about.

I confessed to my friend Jane yesterday that I feel there will be no room to complain if I am in pain or nauseous or whatever - BECAUSE I CHOSE to do this to myself. Not that I am looking for sympathy but I feel like when you make a decision to electively have surgery - no matter  what it is - you have to deal with the risks and take the bad with the good, and you do it without complaint. Maybe that's not a realistic view of how things are or should be but it's just part of the whirlwind of thoughts that's whipping through my head at the moment.

I know that all of this anxiety is coming from fear of the unknown. While I may have been in a preparatory program for this surgery since November, I don't think I'll really know what's what until I become an official member of the loser's club. It's kind of like grad school. I spent 2 1/2 years "learning" to be a teacher but nothing could prepare me for the reality of an actual day in the classroom filled with 24 little ones. You gain your true knowledge by being in the trenches and I think this surgery is no different. I have to figure out what's going to work for me. I have to spend serious time navigating this new way of life and figuring out what will make me most successful. It will take work.

Nervousness doesn't have the full monopoly on my feelings today,  though. I'm also pretty damn excited. Even if there are are some issues with surgery that I have to deal with,  I know that long term,  this surgery is going to be a life changer. My life is pretty damn fantastic already, so it's hard to imagine it getting much better. But I do know that the way I look and feel is going to factor greatly on making life easier. And easier is good. Since I've never had a thin stage in my life, this is going to be a whole new world for me. I'm curious to see what the girl that's been living inside the fat suit is going to do with her new found freedom...Freedom of movement. Freedom of shame. Freedom of embarrassment. Freedom of hiding. Freedom of holding back. I hope the world is ready for her.

At the end of the day I couldn't be doing this without the support of my family and friends. Josh is like a rock. I know he's scared but he supports me nonetheless. He knows I have this. He knows I will be successful. He believes in me. He will be here by my side living through it with me and I am forever grateful for his love and willingness to have my back, no matter what.

So tomorrow is coming...the chance at "normalcy" I have been waiting for. Ready or's on its way.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sharing is Caring???

I have a love/hate relationship with the Bariatric Surgery Forums on Facebook.

On one hand, they provide unlimited free information for pre-and post op patients from those who have forged the trail before me. There's encouragement, friendly banter, recipes, and of course the forever-loved before and after pictures showing every side of weight loss surgery you'd ever want to see.

These forums are meant to be a means of positive support and for the most part, they are. It's amazing how much perfect strangers are willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly -  no holds barred. This is the part I love. I'm perfectly ok with people who have been super successful and whose stories are filled with good news. But every now and again, while scrolling through the endless posts,  one jumps out about someone who regrets surgery.

Last night there was a woman who posted a video about her shit turning brick-like and how she ended up in the ER with multiple doctors trying to get the rock in her ass to come out. We're talking multiple enemas and no movement. She said it was her public service announcement so that others don't have to suffer but, damn if it didn't freak me the fuck out just a bit.

Of course I know that with any surgery, complications are a real possibility. I'm thankful to be having my sleeve done at a good hospital with an excellent bariatric program. But there is always the chance that something doesn't go quite right. And it scares me more than I have let on.

The good news is, most of the posts on the forums are from patients with glowing reviews of the surgery and documentation of their amazing progress. Many say that this was the best gift they ever gave themselves and I am hoping that I can add myself to that list of people in the near future.

The pre-op diet has given me serious pause for reflection on my eating habits. While I'm not finding it to be terribly difficult to stick to this pre-op plan (its only for two week after all), I know I still need the actual surgery as a tool to help me be successful. This is all about a mindset change - but I feel that won't happen without knowing I can achieve success. And that's the difference between this time and every other past attempt at weight loss. I'm GOING to get there. I WILL succeed. It will just be up to me to make sure I don't slip backwards once I do.

 There are many people who have shared their weight gain sagas surrounding this surgery. Without full changing your relationship with food and committing to new and different way of life, I can see how easily the tool that once was your friend can turn into your foe. It might be one of the scariest aspect of this surgery - even scarier than brick-like shits.

At the end of the day, I'm nervous and scared, but also elated that I am taking this life-changing step toward better health. I never, ever thought I would. I just can't wait to see what's on the other side of this fat suit.