Something Had to Be Done – Starting from Scratch

Comment 1 Standard

Seriously?  Isn’t this where it all began??

I have battled weight my entire life.  I was a chubby baby – some babies look like the Gerber baby.  In pictures I’ve seen, I look like the Michelin tire man.  I was fat through elementary school.  By 8th grade, I was tired of kids making fun of me (Oh yes, dear children, we had bullies back in the day before bullying was big business), and crash dieted myself thinner.  I ate nothing.  No, that’s not a typo.  I skipped breakfast and lunch every day, in favor of sweetened iced tea.  For dinner, I ate as little as possible, and some more iced tea.  Some nights, I ate saltine crackers in place of dinner.  I got thin.  But, of course, that whole eating thing crept back into vogue, and I got heavy again.

My first “get real” diet was with Jim.  Planning to get married, I hoped to be a size 12 instead of a size 18, and he and I both joined NutriSystem.  We lost weight, we felt healthy, and while I was a size 12 in real people clothes, I still had a size 18 wedding gown 🙁  It was discouraging, but we were both in peak shape.

Well, until I got pregnant.

I battled again – after Brighid; after Eilis; and even after Granuaile.  I never got back to the size 12 I wanted to be, but instead got up to a size 26.  Well, I think 26, because I bought only stretchy things – mostly size 3X.  I was bigger than Jim.  With so many people promoting weight loss surgery, I jumped right on the bandwagon.

I have touted weight loss surgery as a great thing for me.  It was.  I’ve had complications, to be sure, but I am so grateful to have lost 150 pounds.  I do not think I will ever see a size 26 again, but I have fallen off the wagon.  I have gone from a low of a size 10 back up to a size 14/16, and it’s scary.

We have gotten into bad habits.  With school work, night classes, and overall busy, pizza seems like a good idea at least a couple of nights a week.  And come on, who eats one slice of pizza?  Even gastrically altered, I can eat at least two.  And if it doesn’t get put away right away, I can go back for a third later on.

I have to get back to the gym, when life settles down in two weeks.  And I am going to.  But my diet needs to improve.  Portion control needs to be a priority again.  Eating to live, not living to eat needs to be the focus.

So here we are, back at the beginning.  I am trying 30 days of NutriSystem to see if it can help get me back to where I belong.

Pray with me.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

This is me today; me at my lowest; and two pictures of me at my highest.

Mother Knows Best – 30 Days of Thanks, Day 3

Comments 6 Standard

When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality.  It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no.  You’re going to get it anyway. – Erma Bombeck

Today, my husband posted a picture of me on Facebook that I hate.  It was taken last Christmas, up 40 pounds from my lowest post gastric bypass weight.  I wore all black, as you do when you’re trying to conceal rolls of flab, and when the pictures came back from the photographer, I realized I discovered what Jabba the Hutt would look like had they bothered to clothe him.

My husband looked for people to tell him how awesome the photo was.  He loves the picture.  But my husband, who spends 23.7 hours of his day thinking of ways to “get lucky”, isn’t the most impartial judge of how good I look.  He’s quite certain – as am I – that telling me I look like a clothed Jabba the Hutt would mean that 23.7 hours of that particular day would have been a complete waste.  But he got several people to say that yes, I did indeed look good in that picture.

Then he asked my mom.  I believe this is her exact quote, “No, it’s not a good picture!  It shows how fat she is again!  I don’t know why you would spend all that money to have surgery only to get fat.  Is it time for birthday cake?”

I kid you not.

So as we enter the 3rd day of thanksgiving, I am thankful for my mom.  What? you ask.  Someone says something like that and you are thankful?  Yeah.  I am.  Because it’s always my mom who will be honest with me.  If I ask her opinion or her advice, I’m going to get it, followed by, “But you’re going to do what you want to do anyway.”  But she is honest, and even if the words sting, they are the words I need to hear.

My mother is also an awesome grandmother.  She is so generous with my kids, she treats them all the same (although I suspect she may have a favorite), and even at their worst, she loves them as if they are at their best.

My mom has bounced back from some awful stuff.  She’s suffered tragic losses and battled life threatening illness.  But she pulls no punches, loves us with everything she is, and honestly, she’s just bad ass.

I am thankful today for my mom.  We were very lucky to get the mom we did.

What Good Came From Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Leave a comment Standard

I’ve posted quite a bit about some of the negatives and side effects resulting from my gastric bypass.  I’ve even mentioned the downside of weight regain – which I struggle with on a minute by minute basis.  But there are benefits that far outweigh – for me, anyway – the risks I undertook.

When I decided to have surgery, I had just watched my father fight – and lose – his last battle with diabetes.  I sat in a room with my dad’s brothers and sisters, who came from various parts of the country to be with us in hospice, and realized that we were all diabetic.  As my dad slept fitfully on one of his last days, his youngest brother by his side, all I could think was that I hope and pray my young cousins never have to sit like this and watch their father die from this horrible disease.

And then it struck me that I never wanted my children to sit and watch me.

After losing the first 50 pounds, my blood sugars became normal.  Not only did I no longer have a need to test seven times daily, I also stopped needing medicine.  My blood pressure, which really was in the medium to high normal range, is now low normal – unless it’s the night before a chemistry exam.

I didn’t know how much the excess weight slowed me down, and honestly, I thought I was a damn mobile big girl.  But when I lost 100 pounds, and realized I could get down on the floor and not have to crawl to the sofa to lean on it to get up, it was an epiphany.  I volunteered more at school, after backing off when Brighid was in elementary school.  I went in one afternoon to read to her class, and one of the boys told her I was the fattest mom ever.  He was an expert, having a pretty enormous mother himself, but it occurred to me I might be an embarassment to my kids, so I didn’t go back to school to volunteer.

I also didn’t put myself out there for things – like applying for the Walt Disney World Moms Panel.  But then I lost weight and found courage.  I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did.

I didn’t know my quality of life was as poor as it was until it got better.  And it did.

So, yep, there have been a lot of pitfalls in my journey through gastric bypass.  But the days when I’m flying high make every small stumble worth it.

What Happens When You Are Gastrically Altered? The Truth About Stuck

Comments 2 Standard

It’s stuck.  When I say that to someone, you have a pretty good idea of what stuck looks like.  Something is lodged somewhere and it won’t come out.  It might even conjure up humorous images.

You may even have an idea of what stuck feels like.  Maybe you’ve had a ring get stuck on a finger.  Or you’ve been washing dishes and momentarily had your hand stuck in a too small glass.  It’s not a comfortable feeling.

Imagine something is stuck on the INSIDE.  You swallow a bite of chicken, a forkful of spaghetti, a spoonful of rice.  You chew it, and it goes down, so it’s not that you’re choking, but then it stops.  It doesn’t feel like it goes into your stomach, it just kind of sits there, right around mid-chest, and makes you feel like freakin’ shit.

I’ve talked a lot about slider foods, and for me, part of the comfort of those slider foods is I know they won’t get stuck.  And for me, stuck is the worst feeling ever.  Part of what’s bad about “stuck” is that I don’t always know it’s going to happen.  I mean, sometimes, I can take a bite of some dry beef and know just by how long it’s taking me to chew it that the outcome is not going to be good.  But I have days where I can eat pasta without giving it a thought, and other days where pasta is my mortal enemy.

Stuck is very much a reality for many gastric bypass patients, but I never knew about it before surgery.  I went merrily along, re-learning how to eat, doing my best to get protein in, and had my first stuck encounter with a piece of chicken.  I didn’t quite know what was going on, and found myself laying on the bathroom floor, cradling the toilet, praying for death or vomit.  I would have happily taken either, but neither came.

I tried drinking water, thinking that whatever was going on, the feeling could be washed away.  Uh-uh.  Because something is stuck, what you end up with is a throat full of foam – and this is gross, so turn your head if you don’t want to read the rest – that gags you and chokes you as it foams up in the back of your throat.

For me, there is only one cure for Stuck.  That’s puke.  And it’s not even an easy puke.  You might think that if something upsets your stomach, you head for the toilet and it comes back up.  But because this doesn’t make it to your stomach, it’s not your stomach that will react to it.  So in you go, armed with something that will make you throw up.  For me, it’s a finger.  And I feel awful doing it, especially after watching numerous episodes of Intervention dealing with eating disorders.  But if I don’t get the food unstuck, I can’t function.

The worst part of stuck for me is that it seems one episode leads not only to pain for a few days, but also a tendency for other things to get stuck over the next few days.  This week alone, for example, we had rice on Wednesday, which got stuck.  Then I had beef on Friday, which also got stuck.  Then I had noodles on Saturday.  Yep, stuck.

You’re starting to see why nothing but chicken soup seemed a good idea to me for some time.

The best way to avoid Stuck is – chew your food slowly and thoroughly.  Don’t swallow pieces that are too big.  If something is dry, it’s not going down.  And be careful with things like rice and noodles.  Because they are easier to chew, we tend to eat them faster and they get stuck.

And if you’re out dining somewhere with someone who’s had gastric bypass surgery and they suddenly turn green and run from the table, don’t think it’s your lackluster conversation.  I’ve run from the table in some of the nicest restaurants and at some of the most inopportune times.  Don’t be offended.  It’s not your cooking, it’s my esophagus!

What Happens When You Are Gastrically Altered? Slider Foods are NOT Your Friend

Leave a comment Standard

So, a while back, I posted about slider foods and how they will make you fat again after you’ve had gastric bypass surgery.  You can revisit that post here – http://beautygirlsmom.com/2008/02/10/slider-foods-will-make-me-fat/

And now you can see that my arse is living proof of how slider foods will cause you to regain and start checking Weight Watcher points and wearing stretch pants.

You can see from the explanation on the previous blog on slider foods that basically what happens with simple carbs is they “slide” right through.  You can eat, eat, and eat without suffering any of the dumping, discomfort, or anxiety over dumping and discomfort.

Here’s the thing – for a lot of us, we really don’t know that full feeling.  We don’t recognize that feeling at the Thanksgiving dinner table when people are pushing their chairs back and saying, “No more, no more – okay, well until dessert.”  I know I certainly didn’t.  I mean, I knew when to back away from the table because everyone else was doing it, and, well, someone had to do the dishes.  But I often stood in the kitchen, snacking on the already carved turkey leftovers or nibbling on the sausage out of the stuffing while I put food away and put dishes in the dishwasher.

Eating slider foods is just like that.  There is no feeling that you’re full.  I can go to a movie theater and get a large popcorn, and even gastrically altered, I can down the whole thing by myself.  I can buy a bag of pretzels for the family to snack on, and before I know it, I’m reaching for the last one before the kids even know the bag is in the house.  The funny thing is when I first realized I could eat pretzels, I would dip them in cream cheese, figuring I’d get a wee bit of extra protein while I was eating them; but after a few pretzels with cream cheese, I’d start to get an uncomfortable feeling and stop eating the cream cheese.  That lets way more pretzels go down!

I think the key to the slider food issue is not to start eating them.  There is virtually no nutritional value to you in pretzels, popcorn, and crackers.  You’re consuming calorie after calorie with none of the risk you have with protein of feeling full.

Slider foods have almost become an addiction.  I keep saying I won’t buy them, but when I’m standing in the grocery store thinking of what I should pick up to snack on (because you are still going to want SOMETHING to snack on), I never think something good for me like Greek yogurt, light cheese, grilled chicken strips.  I always think of something I know won’t give me that uncomfortable feeling.  But THAT’s the feeling I NEED.

There’s a lot of head stuff involved with being gastrically altered.  You think that once the issue of your plumbing is sorted out, you are in the clear, but you’re not.  I think I am a compulsive eater, and while gastric bypass surgery certainly helped make it harder for me to eat to my heart’s content, the objects of my desire have changed so I have the freedom to put more food into my mouth without worrying about uncomfortable consequences.

This is so not the fun part of gastric bypass surgery.

Some of the Ugly – What Happens When You Don’t Follow Orders

Leave a comment Standard

Everyone is different with regard to how things will go for them following gastric bypass surgery.  And today’s post op lesson is all about how you should do what you’re told with regard to your body and the nutrition you require.

I struggled with what to eat, and as an option to conquer the fear of new foods and what they might do to me, I decided to eat only chicken noodle soup.  Yep, that was it.  I got up each morning, had coffee, then for lunch and dinner, I ate a bowl of chicken noodle soup.

If you do the math, the calories amount to something like “Did you live in Ethiopia?” or “You know anorexia is dangerous, right?”  I don’t think I ever had a day where I went over about 400 calories – until I started putting crackers in my soup.

So here’s basically what happens when you don’t do what you’re told.

Your hair is going to fall out.  In big clumps.  It will feel like something is running down your back when you stand in the shower, and your plumber will become your new best friend, as he shows off the new Mercedes your clogged drain has allowed him to buy.

I didn't color my hair for fear I'd be bald afterwards.

Your nails will become brittle.  And by brittle, I mean Sally Hansen will call you and tell you to stop using her Hard As Nails because you are bad advertising for her product.  On the other hand, your nail salon owner will become your new best friend, as she shows off the new Mercedes your frequent trips to the salon have allowed her to buy.

Your skin will become dry and lack color.  People will call you Elvira (for those of you too young to remember her, it’s what vampires looked like before they were all sparkly), and they will tell you to get your pasty white arse to the tanning salon.

Why Yes, Those Are Painfully Small Wrists

You will lack energy.  Monday Night Football will become a distant memory, and the Late Night Movie for you will now be the one that starts at 4 PM.

Eventually, in my case, when my hair was so dry and crunchy you could use it to jump start the fire in your fireplace, my friends held an intervention and made me eat a banana.  At some point in this series, I will tell you where that led to, but at the time, just eating a bite of a banana was horrifying to me.  And the sugar in it made my face hot and flush.  And it was an awful feeling.  But I did it.

So, let’s recap.  Protein – remember that ugly little word?  Yeah, instead of making your plumber and nail salon owner your best friend, make it protein.  Vitamins – you need them.  Remember when I mentioned how little of what your body needs is going to come from your food?  Yeah, that means you need to take vitamins.  And I don’t mean a Flintstone chewable.  Quality food.  Eat good proteins first, veggies second, and skip the slider foods.  We’ll talk more about that next week.

 

Gastric Bypass Surgery – What Happens When You’re Gastrically Altered?

Leave a comment Standard

Yep, that’s me.  It’s July 2006, just one week before my  Roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery.  Yeah, I tipped the scales at over 300 pounds.  I was a big fat ass.  Can you believe I thought I looked good in this photo?  Can you imagine what photos of me that I didn’t like looked like?

But making the decision to alter your body so drastically is only the beginning of the decisions you’re going to have to make.  Let’s hope you’ve done your research, you’ve checked out the doctor and the hospital you are going to work with, and you feel confident – if a little nervous – about your decision to have your surgery.  But what comes next?

I’ll be posting a series of blogs to help you get through some of the post op stuff – the stuff you may not have had a chance to talk about with your surgeon.  We’ll talk protein (blech!), we’ll talk losing your drawers when you sneeze because they’re too big, we’ll talk about adding exercise and how important it is, and we’ll talk about plastic surgery – because, honestly, it’s where a lot of us end up.

So stay tuned.  Once a week, we’ll tour that unknown world of what to do once you’re gastrically altered!

 

Muscle Milk – Lunch of

Leave a comment Standard

Fat asses  Champions!  Yeah, that’s what I meant to say.

So the “I’m getting serious about losing weight” thing a few months ago?  That took a back seat to “Holy Jesus, did I sign up for SEVEN classes this semester?  We’re ordering Chinese. Or Pizza. Or Burgers.”

And here I am, after an initial super job at losing the weight, finding it back again 🙁

Oh, and did I mention, I have a life insurance physical in two weeks?  And when I actually applied, I put the weight that I WANT to be on the application?  You know – it was like going to the DMV, when you put the weight that you were when you got married – but there, the guy taking your picture just snickers and snaps the photo of your triple chins, hoping the cops that pull you over don’t think you are driving with fake ID.  With an insurance physical, the nurse is coming armed with a scale.  And I don’t think I can get naked in front of her, claim it’s water weight, tell her I ate ball bearings for breakfast (maybe if it wasn’t a fasting physical?), and wish for the best.

So, I’m on a SERIOUS serious diet this time.  Breakfast, Muscle Milk protein shake, and something protein-y for dinner.  Yum.

Protein shakes are not my friends.  Post gastric bypass, I was supposed to be living on them, but they’re yucky.  No one wants to live on yucky.  I found one I could tolerate, but only if I doctored it up with instant flavored coffee and fruit and junk.

I bought Muscle Milk Light this afternoon, to use as my midday meal.  I opted for the Vanilla Creme flavor, thinking that if I needed to add stuff to it to make it palatable, more stuff goes with vanilla.

The first thing you notice when you open the container is that it is VERY vanilla.  It’s sweet and pleasant smelling, as opposed to some, which are very chemically smelling.  I mixed two scoops with a little less water than you’re supposed to, but I always do that, so I don’t have to drink as much 🙁  Without tasting it “plain”, I added a spoonful of peanut butter – old habits die hard 😉  Then I filled the cup with ice and made my shake.

The drink, even with the peanut butter is REALLY sweet.  It’s not necessarily a bad sweet, but it’s definitely sweet.  The vanilla is stronger than the peanut butter, so I don’t really taste the one tablespoon full of peanut butter that I added – but adding two will add too many calories.  The two scoops of Muscle Milk are 210 calories, with a generous 25 grams of protein.  With only two grams of sugars, it’s a great option for the gastrically altered who dump on too many sugars – total carbs are only 13.

I think the next time I make it, I might throw in a bit of orange juice instead of the peanut butter, making it more of a creamsicle type of drink.  It will help cut the vanilla sweetness a little, and make it more of a summery drink than the disappearing peanut butter did.

Just in case, I bought the smaller container, but I’d definitely buy this again.  I think I could drink it straight if that was necessary, but I think it will adapt well to other added flavors.

 

The Bat Wing/Back Fat Post Op Update

Leave a comment Standard

You have to love a man who tells you that he knows you will heal as he’s snipping nasty bits off flesh off of your body.  That is, indeed, optimism at it’s finest.

And those of you who went through the surgical journey with me last year might recognize that little piece of machinery pictured above.  It’s a wound VAC, and it may once again become part of my wardrobe essentials.

The one big spot on my back is still a big spot.  The other two little spots on the other side really weren’t little spots  -they were hiding a deeper issue.  If you can envision a pair of sunglasses, with the nose piece holding the two lenses together, that’s kind of what the wound looked like.  Today, we opted (okay, maybe the me part of “we” wasn’t as enthusiastic about this choice) to snip the nose piece section, and a small cavern opened up.  A wound VAC may be what we need to speed healing in those two areas on my back.

We are still not sure what caused my incisions to open.  I may not have been the most compliant patient, but I think there’s something else going on.  My age might have an impact; or perhaps not paying close enough attention to protein in my diet.  I’ve sworn off of Twinkies, so maybe I’m not getting enough preservatives in my diet, either?

Whatever it is, it looks like we are in this for the long haul once again.  Fortunately, I have remained infection free – which is awesome news!  I am armed with all of the most important tools to see this through – faith, trust, pixie dust, a wonderful doctor, and amazing friends and family.

Fasten your seatbelts, my friends.  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

End of Week One In The Land of the Losing!

Comment 1 Standard

Yeah, I did it.  I survived the week on a diet.  No husbands were maimed, no children were injured, no small animals were harmed.

And I lost five pounds.

I know – that sounds like I should be jumping up and down, praising the diet divas (Richard Simmons and Susan Powter); bowing down to the gut busting gurus (the trainers on the Biggest Loser – and Harvey from Celebrity Fit Club); lavishing love on the lard losing dieters who have gone before me, blazing the trail with fad diets and starvation plans.

But I can’t.

If I get excited that I’ve lost five pounds, I might start looking to reward myself.

And you know how fat chicks reward themselves?  It’s how we got fat in the first place.  Food.

This is one of the hurdles in the diet challenge for me – learning to be proud of my weight loss and reward myself without using food.

In the past, if I lost five pounds in one week, I’d start thinking “Hmmmm, if I ate X number of calories this week and lost five pound, then next week, I can eat 200 calories more each day and STILL lose weight!”  It’s a vicious cycle for me; another way I sabotage myself.

The good thing this time around is I am recognizing the things I’ve glazed over in the past (oooh – she said “glaze” – how far is the Krispy Kreme from here?).  I don’t have to be three quarters of the way through a Quarter Pounder before I realize I could have just patted myself on the back, given myself an extra hour of “me” time, and skipped the fat laden calorie consumption.

I’m down five pounds.  My goal is 30 pounds.  With less than 17% of my goal reached, now is not the time to rest on my pleasantly plump laurels.