Thursday, September 3, 2020

Giving myself permission

 I'm coming up on a year post-op. I haven't kept on this like I had planned and hoped, and then there was so much to say I didn't know where to start.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been struggling with a lot with feeling like I should be farther along than I am. Some days are better than others, but it's there. I had thought about posting about this on some of the online groups I'm a part of, and just haven't. So I decided to ask in the virtual post-op support group meeting put on by my hospital.

The people in my group are so awesome and supportive as is the therapist who moderates the sessions.

I got a lot of great advice, but one thing the therapist caused a lightbulb moment.

I'm down 90 pounds from my highest, and 60 from surgery. I want to lose another 50-60 pounds. Even though I'm not where I want to be, that's ok. It's also ok to be proud of what I have done so far. It's ok to be proud of taking charge of my health. It's ok to be proud of myself, period. She said I need to learn to give myself permission to be proud. 

It's ok to give myself permission to be proud.

I have no idea why this struck me so hard. Of course it is ok. But sometimes we need to hear it from an outside source.

Other suggestions from folks in my group:

  • Reread the letter I had to write as part of the approval  process for surgery
  • Go buy some new clothes and get rid of the stuff that doesn't fit
  • Keep track of Non-scale victories
  • Go back and look at pictures
  • Stop comparing myself to others

I do have a stack of clothes to sell and a stack to go donate.

I need to dig out my journal and write more NSV's down. I used to do that a lot, and I need to get back in the habit.

I haven't taken a lot of pictures the last 6 months because of the pandemic. I need to take more.

I will dig out my letter and reread that. I should also dig out the binder from the doc and refresh myself on some of that.

Remind myself  more to not compare myself to others. It's so hard to not do, but comparison is the thief of joy. This is my journey, and no one else's.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Random thoughts and struggles

 It's been a long time since I've written.  I've been intending to write and log this process so I can look back on it and remember. So I can see how far I've come. Maybe I can help someone else who wants to take this journey. Some of it is I don't know what to say. Some of it is I don't know how to say it. Some of it is that after my day at work I don't want to be on the computer anymore. Which is just a crap excuse because I get on to browse Reddit or play video games. 

The last 6 months have been a struggle. The pandemic has been hard. I felt like I was really hitting my stride with working out and eating, then everything shuts down. The gym did open back up in June, but I haven't felt comfortable going out. I'm not at too much of a risk, but I don't really feel like going swimming is worth the risk of getting Covid.

I'm getting antsy now though. I'm still supposed to swim 1500 meters in mid-October as part of the relay triathlon. I still want to do it. I know I can do it. I don't want to back down to 750 meters or quit at all. My mom has said as much that I should. I'm not even going into the issues behind her attitude on that. There's just too much to unpack there. 

I had been trying to get out and walk a couple times a week, but it just doesn't work out. Part of it is with summer the heat and humidity just aren't fun. The good thing I've noticed is that I don't immediately start sweating when I go outside now though. So that's been a nice change. Hell, I'm starting to enjoy the heat more now since I'm always cold. 

I have tried jogging on my runs too, but I haven't been consistent. I had gotten up to jogging 0.8 miles without stopping to walk or rest. I was so proud that day. 

I don't know what my issue is and why I'm struggling so hard.

I know I'm beating myself up that I should be farther along than I am at this point. I see what others have lost who had surgery at about the same time I did and I just get down. I get stuck in my own head. I'm down 90 pounds from my highest. I need to remind myself of that. I need to remind myself that I can fit into XL workout pants now and that I can get rid of my 3X pants.

Reading that last sentence, a lot of it doesn't seem real still. I still feel trapped in my body at times. The loose and sagging skin doesn't help matters. I know I can get surgeries to fix that though.

I'm having a hard time feeling beautiful and sexy too. Part of that is due to the pandemic as well. I'm rocking the work mullet of a nice shirt and shorts or workout pants. I don't make much effort to do my hair. I've put on makeup twice since I started working from home. Once was for a BIG meeting at work. The second was to go out for a late anniversary celebration.

There's just so much running through my head and so much to unpack right now mentally. I don't know what to do. I don't know where my mental blocks are.

I'm scared I'm not going to get as much weight off as I wanted. I'm 60 pounds from the goal I wanted to try to hit. I'm so close and so far. 

I'm not sure if I want to journal here or actually write. I should probably find some good journaling prompts too. 

I feel lost and lonely tonight. 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

6 Month Update

This week marks 6 months post-op. Time has flown so fast. Here's where things stand currently:

Total weight lost - 71.8 lbs
Lost since surgery - 49.8 lbs.
Percent weight lost - 21.8%
Total inches lost - 33.5

Between my last post and now I'm shy of 20 pounds lost in 3 months. I have to keep telling myself it's not just "only" 20 pounds lost. I'm still in the supposed honeymoon phase and supposed to be losing around 10 pounds a month. It's been one of my mental blocks for the last couple of months. I'm slowly working around it.

It's odd when I sit here and say to myself I've only lost so much weight when I look at the total amount I have lost a lot. It's also been rough mentally because I don't see it a lot of the time. I'm still wearing old clothes because they still fit. Although just barely in some cases. It's left me guessing if it's the style of clothes I purchased or if they fit that bad on me 6 months ago. I think it's a bit of both if I'm honest. Some days I see it. Some days I don't. It's kind of what it is at this point. I think it's going to stay this way for a while.

The biggest struggle recently is just the number on the scale. Not the fact that I'm not as low as I want. It's more of the fact, I'm closest to the lowest I've been in my adult life. The last time I was in the 250s was when I was still living in South Dakota and had first joined T.O.P.S. Getting under 250 will be a huge milestone for me. It has lead to a mental block and scares me at the same time. I have tried and failed so many times. To get past this number will be a relief and I know it's not just going to be for "now". I don't feel like I'm explaining it well.

There's also a lot of unknowns on the other side of that number. I do truly see it as a wall in my mind to get over. Or maybe under, around or through. Who the hell knows. I'm just tired of the mental struggles with it. It even led to me eating things I wasn't supposed to and I know that played into my stall. I also wasn't tracking my food. Now that I've gotten back on track the last couple weeks the scale is moving in the right direction.

Aside from the usual mental games I play with myself, things are going really good. Dr. Greene is really pleased with how well my scars are healing and my general progress. I need to do my best to stay away from grains and fruits still even though I can eat them in small quantities. As for other foods, I can eat damn near anything and be ok. I'm finding chicken, ground turkey, and fish sit best in my new tummy. Steak is far too heavy and sits like a rock. Ground beef is ok. It depends if I've cooked it into something like burritos or if it's a burger.

I joined a gym at the beginning of the year. I've been missing not going the last 10 days. At first, it was because I was getting some of my scarves ready to sell at a convention this weekend. So I was focused on that.  Then with the coronavirus starting to spread so quickly, I decided it was best to stay away as gyms can be very gross. Which bums me out a bit. I've gotten back into swimming and I'm loving it more than ever before.

Right now I'm swimming about 1400m in an hour. In October I'm doing the swimming portion of a triathlon relay with a team from work. I'll have to swim 1900m. So I've been working on endurance mostly. But it's still so easy for me to get lost in the swim and not realize an hour has gone by. I've also been getting back into strength training which is helping me swim faster. So all around I'm loving my workouts.

Here are some of the other non-scale victories I've had over the past 6 months:

  • Better balance
  • Not getting winded walking up 3 flights of stairs
  • Lunges don't hurt my knees anymore (or at least as much)
  • Wrap a towel completely around me
  • Smaller shoe size (from 9-9.5 to 8-8.5)
  • Ring size from 8 to 5.5
  • Less low back pain
  • Can buy XXL shirts and skirts it the normal sizes section
  • Had to move the seat forward in my car
  • Discovering I actually have collar bones and a tailbone (note: I have to be careful how I sit and for how long)
  • Finding I do, in fact, have knees
  • Feeling more comfortable in pictures
  • Playing a game of "do I still like this food?" or "will I like this food"
  • Daring to take part in a triathlon - even as just part of a relay
  • Can walk for several miles without issue and not be dead afterwards
This morning I also got a notification when I put in my weight into MyFitnessPal. I didn't realize I was so close to the halfway point, and I'm actually at 51% of the way to my goal weight. That blew my mind. Then I started thinking and realized I'm less than 40 pounds away from the top end of the range I set as my goal range. I put in a 40-pound range because I didn't know where my body would end up being happy and what would be maintainable. To actually feel so close to goal is....different. I can't explain it beyond that.

That's it for now. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. :)

July 2019

February 2020

Monday, December 16, 2019

3 Month Update

For those who actually keep track of dates, my apology for this being nearly a week late. I was crazy busy last week getting ready for a craft show.

The last month has gone pretty well overall I think. Here are the current stats:

Total weight down - 55 pounds!
Since surgery - 32.8 pounds
Percent body weight lost - 16.9%
Total inches lost - 26

I'm feeling really good and moving a lot more. I'm starting to feel antsy and need to work off energy sometimes. I'm also able to go on longer walks, keep up with Marshall, and even just stand on my feet for more extended periods of time. This weekend I stood at my booth for almost the entire 6 hours.

I'm down 2 shirt sizes and now 2 pant sizes. Soon I won't have much in the way of work clothes left in my closet. Some of my clothes are truly starting to hang on me. It's a good problem, but I need to become much more friendly with my local thrift stores! I  may also check out Poshmark.

Food-wise, I'm cleared for all protein. This is awesome. I do ok with ground beef, but steaks are too heavy and rich for me right now. I eat so much chicken I think I'm going to start clucking soon. The only foods I can't have are fruits, potatoes, and grains. I need to stay on a lower-carb diet for a while yet. Once I hit my goal weight I can slowly start introducing them. Although I have had some fresh fruit at work as a sweet treat now and then. Much better than partaking in all the baked goods this time of year.

My tastes are still changing. I'm having to force myself to try foods I really didn't like before surgery. Some things are small and easier to try. Like the kale salads. But I don't know if or when I'll try canned tuna. But who knows? Salty and sour things are tasting better to me. I like slightly sweet alright. The few times I've tried a nibble some pre-surgery foods I can't stand it. Usually, it's too sweet, the texture is off, or it sits like a rock in my stomach. 

It's been an adjustment with cooking and eating post-op. I'm finding out what foods sit ok and that I want to eat as well as making food that Marshall wants to eat. We definitely don't eat out near as much as we used to. I still love to eat and go out to eat. I just have a hard time justifying the cost, especially in the DC area. A full-size dinner portion is now anywhere from 4-8 meals for me. You get sick of that stuff fast! There are some restaurants where I can order an appetizer that works for me, but even then that's 2-3 meals for me. It would be easiest to just share with Marshall, but sometimes he wants foods I can't have and that's ok. I'm not going to get upset when he wants something deep-fried when he's good about eating whatever I make at home.

I'm going to do some experimenting this week. I was looking in an air frying cookbook at Barnes and Noble and got some ideas to play with. We loved steak fingers or chicken strips, but I've been hesitant to do our homemade ones because I'm trying to watch the carb count. So this week I've gotten some pork rinds to grind up and use as the breading. We'll see how that turns out. Tonight I experimented with my shepherd's pie recipe. I made a traditional one for Marshall topped with mashed potatoes. I made individual portions for me that I topped with mashed cauliflower. They turned out really good and were just enough to satisfy me without being overfull. A total serving is about 3-4 ounces of food.

Shepherd's Pie with mashed cauliflower

Marshall's shepherd's pie

My hair loss finally just started slowing down this week. I'm not pulling as much out as I was when brushing it out in the evenings or after I shower. That said, there is hair EVERYWHERE in our apartment. I've been scared to vacuum because I know it will just wrap around the brush and cause an even bigger mess to clean up.

I'm not seeing the changes all of the time, but I'm seeing them more often. Feeling more bones and muscles, realizing that my kneecap actually exists and that I'm gaining flexibility definitely help. It also helps when I'm wearing clothes that I've never been able to wear, or worn once 6 years ago. I'm almost to the weight I was when I got married to Marshall and that makes me feel pretty good. 

Here's a comparison picture between June in Custer, SD on our road trip/move to MD and 2 weeks ago. It's the first time I've worn a button-down blouse in years.

Areas To Improve:

While I have been doing really well, I need to be more consistent with planning my meals and measuring my portions. It will help manage my hunger and blood sugar levels better.

I also need to get back to the gym. This last month has been crazy between work and personal stuff. I'm going Wednesday to check out one new gym in the area. I'm hoping to check out the other on Thursday or Friday. I'll go from there if I want to look at more gyms or go with one of those. The first 6 months after surgery are called the honeymoon phase and when weight loss is easiest. I'm doing great, but I feel I could be doing more to help myself. Even getting to the gym a couple days a week will help immensely. If for no other reason it will help manage my back pain. I can really tell when I haven't been working out. It's better than it was, but it still hurts like a bear.

If I don't post again before the new year, may your holidays be magical and full of love. May the New Year bring you all abundant blessings. I've been blessed this year with all the love and support I've received, and I could not be more grateful. To my dearest family and friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there for me. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

2 Month Update

I finally feel like I have the time to sit down and write a proper update! The last month or so has been really busy for me and I have barely had time for me and doing the things I want to do, much less writing down an update.

So here are my current stats:

Total weight down - 39.1 pounds from my highest
Since surgery - 22.6 pounds since surgery
Percent body weight lost - 13.8%
Total inches lost - 20.825 inches!!!

I had a follow-up with my surgeon and his PA on 11/1. They are really happy with my progress and how I’m doing overall. They have no concerns that they can see. I’ve not had any issues with eating or nausea still. I don’t have to go back until the end of January. If I need them they are there though. I have been cleared to add beef and pork back into my diet as of 11/12. I have had some here and there, but not a lot. I’ve mostly been eating chicken, turkey, cheese, and eggs for my protein.

The one funny part of the appointment was when she checked my incisions. She had to double-check when I had my surgery. She said they were healing exceptionally well and looked like they were 12 weeks and not 8-week incisions! I’ve always been a fast healer, but that made me feel really good.

Overall I’m really pleased with how I’m doing. I’m having an easier time meeting my food and water goals. I struggled a lot for a few weeks getting my water in especially, but it has gotten a lot better.

I’ve also been cleared to start strength training again! I am so excited about getting back into a routine. It’s been so busy at work that I’ve been lucky to make it downstairs at lunch 1-2 times a week to workout. I will say I’m so over walking on the treadmill and biking at the moment. I am going to start looking for a new gym soon. I really want to find a gym where I can swim too.
I’ve had to start shopping in my closet too! I don’t know how long it will last that I can wear the clothes in my closet, but I’m not arguing with getting to wear clothes I haven’t been able to in a long time. I’ve gotten some good leads on some nice thrift stores in my area as well.

Things I’ve noticed:
My tastes are changing. There are foods I wasn’t fond of or hadn’t liked that much before surgery. The big ones so far are:
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes (i used to only eat them on sandwiches or cooked into things, never just eaten)
  • Dill pickles

I’m having an easier time keeping up with my husband when we’re out walking around.
My back, hips, and knees are feeling better. I’m having less pain overall.

I’m finding bones I haven’t seen/felt in a while. My collar bones are the most noticeable, but I’m noticing it in my knees, ankles, and hips too.

I’ve been handling social situations fairly well. It’s not been too hard for me to stay on track overall. I do treat myself and indulge a little bit here and there. We were at a fancy dinner last night for a friend’s organization. I did have a tiny bit of the chocolate cake served. It was delicious but super-rich and sweet. It was nice to enjoy a bite or two and be done. It’s just hard to waste so much food that comes with most portions. If we eat out I usually try and order something off the appetizer menu if I can. Most times I can.

The bad (so far):
The one side effect I wasn’t looking forward to has started a month earlier than I thought it would. Typically at about 3-6 months after surgery, most patients lose some of their hair. I’ve been shedding a LOT more than normal the last week. I cleaned out my brush before I started styling my hair one morning and by the time I was done, it looked like I hadn’t cleaned my brush out at all. It looks worse than it probably is since my hair is fairly long right now. It’s still disconcerting though. This should only last a couple of months and then my hair will start growing back. It’s still just a pain. I lost my hair after the crappy diet I did before my wedding. It took me a while to figure out the reason why and it took years for my hair to get to where it felt healthy again. I just hope I don’t lose that much total.

With that, if you made it through here are some pics for your enjoyment.

Aug 2017


November 2019


Day before surgery


Halloween as Velma (I did cheat with spanx on this one)

Image may contain: Danita Scott Broyles and Amber Day, people smiling, people standing, shoes and indoor

Friday, September 27, 2019

2 1/2 Weeks Post-Op - Struggles & Updates

My two weeks off from work to recover flew by honestly. My recovery went really well, thankfully. I did much better than I expected too. I've been able to drink fairly easily without any nausea or vomiting, which is awesome. Overall I have felt really good physically.

Mentally, this has been rough. It's been especially rough the last few days. It all came to a head yesterday. It's been a combination of things. Diet, lack of progress, and my hormones being out of whack have all contributed to it. I'll get into the rough stuff below, then into the better stuff from today.

I'm almost 5 weeks into my liquid diet. I am so over it. Beyond over it. I want to actually chew something. For those who know me, I have a massive sweet tooth. I can't stand anything sweet at the moment. Also, my tastes are changing. Protein shakes and water enhancers I loved before surgery I can't stand now. It's not just that though. It started Wednesday and got really bad yesterday, but I don't like the taste of anything at the moment. Plain water, water with flavor, any of my protein shakes, the protein soup mix, jello, none of it. It all tastes bad. I can't describe the flavor and I really don't want to. I have to drink 3 shakes and get 50-60 ounces of liquids in a day, and I don't want any of it. So I'm literally choking down stuff to make sure I don't get dehydrated. To top it all off, I found out my lactose intolerance is back. Lucky me.

All of the food issues would be bearable if I was seeing some sort of progress, but I'm not. The scale hasn't moved the last week. It's basically a nice flat line on a graph within a 1lb. range. I'm also looking at my clothes and not seeing any changes there. This is beyond frustrating given all the work and pain I've gone through these last months.

One of the other fun side effects of surgery is it plays havoc with your hormones. First off, by removing 80% of the stomach, you are removing a lot of the area that produces and secretes the hunger hormone ghrelin. The stress of surgery puts all of your other hormones out of whack, including all of the lady hormones. It can cause your period to start early and make the mood swings worse. So this week has been a bit of hell for me. It hasn't been all that fun for my husband either.

Yes, I know I'm only 2 1/2 weeks out. Yes, I know it takes time. These are logical thoughts and great ones. I was telling them to myself last night in an effort to get out of my funk. My emotions did a big old "Screw you!" and ignored all scientific fact and logic.

All of this built up in my head over the last couple days and the dam broke last night. I was absolutely regretting the surgery last night. I know most everyone has seen this picture:

"Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor." -Alexis Carell

I didn't feel like I was carving my way out of this body. I felt more trapped than ever. I felt like I was trapped in this horrid cage of a body and clawing madly with no way out. It was not a good night.

I woke up feeling a little better today thankfully. I also had follow-ups with my surgeon and dietitian since I start solid foods next week.

I talked to Dr. Greene about everything. It's all normal. Because of my starting weight and how long I've been on the liquid diet, stalls at 2-3 weeks out are exceptionally common in his patients. He was expecting it. Since I'm starting on solid foods next week, I should start seeing the scale move soon.

It's also normal for tastes to change. I knew from research and talking to Dr. Greene that my tastes would change. I thought it was just what I would and wouldn't like, but it's not. It's even how food tastes in general. They aren't sure what causes the tastes to change. The current theory is that between removing a lot of the hunger hormones and the changes in the bacterial biome in your gut, your tastes change. He apologized for it being so rough, but it happens to almost everyone.

Overall he is very happy with my recovery. I have no hernias at my incision sites. I'm almost done with my blood thinner shots. Thank heaven. They cause the worst bruising. If anyone needs some ideas for a color palette for zombie makeup, I can send pictures for your Pinterest board. I'm calling my belly a zombie dalmatian.

The dietitian is pleased with my progress too. We went over what I can and can't have the next couple of weeks. I'll get into that in another post.

So yeah. I'm doing better than I thought I would be. In some ways, this is harder than I thought, and I knew it would be a struggle going in. Thankfully no one has told me I took the easy way out by doing this. The way I feel at the moment I would bitch them out until kingdom come if they did. There is nothing easy about this. Worth it (from all I've been told), but far from easy.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

On the road to recovery

Right about a year ago I started struggling more and more with the scale. It seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn't get it to budge. Eat more, eat less, lift more, lift less, number of reps, how much cardio, all of it. Talking with Dr. Hendrick we were both at a loss of what to do next. The other solutions he uses are ways to jumpstart the weight loss, not for long term use. So I decided to look into bariatric surgery.

This is not something I have ever wanted or considered doing before. It was not up for discussion. So for me to finally start researching it says a lot for those who know me best. By the end of 2018, I decided to start talking with surgeons. To find a doctor I liked I had to go to Denver.

My insurance at the time wouldn't cover it so I was looking at around $13000 out of pocket. The upside to paying for it myself is that I didn't have as many hoops to jump through. So by the end of March, I was ready to schedule the surgery.

Then it got postponed, but for the best reason. I have been job hunting hard for several years, but I've been picky. Very picky. For the first time, I had the luxury of looking for a job I wanted, and not just working for an organization for a paycheck. The time, frustration, and patience paid off in spades. I pretty much got my dream job at a company I have wanted to work at for a very long time. I moved out to Maryland at the end of May to start my job. Then I went back to Colorado in mid-June to get Marshall, pack our stuff, and hit the road.

While I was out in Maryland by myself I started researching surgeons out here and found an office I liked the looks of. I went to a class sponsored by one of the surgeons and set up an appointment with her. Things seemed to go well, and she said she could use my visits from Dr. Hendrick and the surgeon in Colorado to submit to insurance. I just had a laundry list of paperwork to bring in. The day before my next appointment, when I got the reminder call I was told she had left the practice and they had moved me to Dr. Joseph Greene. I decided to see if I liked this new surgeon and go from there. Luckily I did, and I think it turned out to be the better choice in the long run.

I turned up with all of my papers and was told that I was the most prepared patient he's ever had. I just wanted everything to go smoothly. After some running around with phone calls and signing waivers, all the paperwork got sent to Dr. Greene. Well, everything except my psych evaluation. We found that out the morning of surgery. Luckily we were able to get the right people on the phone and get it faxed over. Before Dr. Greene could start talking to me about surgery though, I had to sign the waiver from the psychiatrist. I was in pre-op when all of this happened.

The surgery went really well. It took longer than planned because of some surprise scar tissue, but I'm glad he took the time to make sure he worked around it. They have a really good pain management plan and I've been doing really well. I took some of "the good stuff" to sleep last night, but I've only had Tylenol today. I'm up and moving around pretty good. The only thing that really hurts is my throat from the breathing tube.

So there's what I had surgery for. I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. They sliced off about 80% of my stomach. Because of where hormone receptors are I won't feel hunger anymore, or not as much. Considering I've been on a liquid diet the last 3 weeks, it has been a godsend. I still have 3 more weeks of liquids before I move back to solid foods.

I kept this very quiet because I had enough doubts in my head. I had all the thoughts of "if only I had more willpower" or "If I just tried one last time". But after all these years of trying, if I could have done it on my own, I would have.

Feel free to ask me anything.