Existential Crisis

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I think I’ve been going through an existential crisis of sorts. Either that or I am going bat-shit crazy. Since having weight loss surgery I have undergone so many changes so fast that it would make any sane person’s head spin and sometimes I don’t feel so sane. Some days it feels like my mind is about a month behind what’s going on with my body. For example, I recently purchased some new clothes in my new smaller size. One specific piece of clothing is a cotton top that is periwinkle, my new favorite color. I put it in the washer and then the dryer. When I got it out of the dryer I really thought that it had shrunk. I was starting to feel upset that the new shirt had shrunk when I got the idea to try it on just to make sure. Lo and behold, it had not shrunk, I had. It was a bewildering moment. My brain was clearly not in sync with my body.

I’ve also noticed that as I lose more weight some of my interests that have lain dormant for years are resurfacing. I am much more interested in fashion and beauty products. I’m actually considering going to Cosmetology school in a few weeks. Me? Going to Cosmetology school at the age of 40? I’ve wanted to do for more than 20 years. I specifically remember a time when I was around 20 years old that I seriously considered it. I visited 3 different schools in the area and gathered all the necessary information to enroll. At the time, I ended up deciding not to pursue it. I had just recently begun giving private music lessons from my own personal studio space inside a large music store. At the time I really thought that I was going to become very successful as a Musician. Teaching music was my “day job” and I was going to become the next best Music Composer or so I thought. I had aspirations of writing theme music for movies and TV shows. My dream was to get signed by a record company as a New Age pianist. Wow! All the things we dream up when we’re young!!!! Only a couple of years later I became a Mother for the first time. Over the next 15 years I taught piano and violin lessons as a way to make extra income for my growing family of three sons.

I have recently been looking for a job again. It’s been about 10 weeks since surgery and I’m ready to get out there and start making some money. I have had no luck so far in finding a job. I’ve only been searching for about 4 weeks. I have had a couple of interviews but I have not received any job offers. Since weight loss surgery I really can’t stand the thoughts of working in an office. I have worked through a temp agency for the last several years as a medical office associate. I’ve done it enough to know that I absolutely cannot stand the thoughts of doing that for the rest of my life. Now that I’ve lost about 35 pounds I have so much energy now that it would be really hard for me to sit behind a desk all day long. During the last few weeks I have taken several personality and career aptitude tests on the internet. None of them have ever suggested that clerical type work would fulfill me. I know that…without taking a test to confirm it. So….it dawned on me today…..while I was feeling rather low and sorry for myself….maybe now is the time to revisit the idea of going back to school. For the last several years I have contemplated the idea of becoming a Licensed Massage Therapist, an Esthetician or Hair Stylist. I have this idea of becoming both a Licensed Massage Therapist and Esthetician. I’ve though about going to school to become a Massage Therapist first. It only takes about 6 months to complete. Get a job and then take Esthetic classes part-time while working. Or vice versa. Then I think about just taking the whole Cosmetology course so I have more options.

I live in an area that is economically depressed and there really aren’t many job options except working in healthcare AND hair, of course. I’ve come to the conclusion that most women are very particular about their hair. One time when I was at my hairdresser’s waiting my turn I noticed an elderly lady waiting patiently in the lobby area of the salon. When it was her turn to have her hair done she slowly stood up and steadied herself on her walker. A few minutes later my hairdresser announced that she was ready for me. As I sat in the chair she explained that the elderly lady was her 87-year-old grandmother who still came in for her weekly wash and curl. The lady had pretty advanced dementia and could barely walk, but “by grannies,” (pardon the pun), it was still a top priority for her to have nice looking hair. She couldn’t remember her children’s names half the time, but she knew when it was time for her weekly hair appointment.

The last temp job I did was at a women’s cancer center. I sat at the check-out window collecting co-pays and making future appointments for the patients after they saw the doctor. You would not believe how many women would schedule their doctor appointments and chemo treatments around their hair appointments. I am totally convinced that there is definitely a demand for a talented and hard-working hair stylist these days. I look at it this way: anything worth having in life takes hard work and I’m not afraid of a little hard work. I’ve thought long and hard about the longevity of a cosmetology career for myself. I’ve asked myself what will I do when I’m 50 or 60? Will I still be doing hair or waxing old lady’s upper lips? There are far worse jobs out there. I can’t really worry too much about what I’ll be doing when I’m 50. That’s 10 years away. I might not even live another 10 years. With my Dad having been diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago and my Mom’s recent Lupus diagnosis….who’s to say that I’ll even live that long? Yes, I totally get it that all of us need to somewhat plan our future resources. I am fortunate and blessed that my husband’s job allows for not only his retirement but mine as well and I don’t work there, he does.

I envision myself going to school, finishing at the top of my class, getting an awesome first job, working under a brilliantly talented boss learning as much as possible and then one day opening up my own hair salon. That has been my dream for so long. Maybe I will do just that and by the time I am 50 I will have a successful career and a profitable business. I have the guts to do that very thing of what I just mentioned at the age of 40 than I would have at age 20. I realized something else today, too. Each of us were meant to be different from one another. I can’t compare myself, my life, my successes with others. I am unique and my family situation is unique. I’ve done what I’ve supposed to do with my life up to this point in my life. I did what I was meant to do. Having weight loss surgery is the catalyst that has finally helped me to pursue dreams from long ago. I’ve also learned throughout the years that what I do for a living has nothing to do with my intellect. In fact, I am more interested in pursuing something that will allow me to be creative. I value my creative and artistic abilities much more than intellect. Although it takes a bit of intellect to create a successful business. I have decided that I will be happy no matter what I do, but I would really like to be able to have the best of both worlds. And if that means I need to go back to school to make it happen then that is what I’ll do.

 

Until next time……..or until my next existential crisis………..Peace & Love – may you find it, embrace it and spread it around!

There’s Nothing But Blue Skies Ahead

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I can’t believe it’s been a month since I’ve written a post! No wonder I’ve been going around with a crazy-eye look…..it’s been scary around here. So much has happened since my last post. Oh my goodness, I don’t even know where to start and to be honest, I’m not sure that I should really share that much of my personal life with the entire world anymore – not that it has stopped me before.  Suffice it to say, many things have transpired that needed to. Have you ever heard the saying, “all things happen for a reason?” I wholeheartedly believe in that concept.

I have been busy working on myself and pondering life-altering questions, like “who am I? what do I want out of life? what am I willing to sacrifice?” I watched a You tube video a while back and the person that posted the video posed the question of what is it that you are most resistant to doing in life? What suffering have you gone through that has created a passion inside you that you must now fulfill as your calling in life? After much consideration….let me tell you, I have driven myself crazy with that one, I decided that I am most passionate about helping others through nutrition and counseling. So that sort of sums up the first two questions. The last question stumped me. I don’t currently have the education or credentials to jump right in and become a nutritional counselor, but I am willing to sacrifice time and money to get to the place where I can. Now that I’ve come to that conclusion, I’ve also realized that there was a reason that I started this blog. Of course, I started it as a way to log my progress and hopefully along the way could inspire others who are struggling with weight loss, too. But now I also realize that this blog could be so much more. This blog is my jumping-off point, so to speak.

I have so many ideas of how I want to implement “my calling” into every aspect of my life. I will be changing this blog from time to time as my vision becomes reality. I have so much information that I want to share. I feel like the life that I’ve always envisioned for myself is finally coming to fruition. It doesn’t happen overnight like a fierce thunderstorm, but more like a light and steady rainfall that you hardly even notice until you step out in it and you feel the first raindrops upon your skin. I currently have two other blogs on WordPress and I am contemplating how to incorporate all of them into one. It’s going to be a huge blog.

Back to weight loss, I have lost a total of 35 pounds so far! Woohoo! Yay for me! The first two to three weeks after weight loss surgery were the hardest. I used to get depressed when my family came home with candy bars and junk food and I couldn’t eat it. The most tempting for me was diet sodas. Thankfully, all of that has passed and I no longer have any desire for those things. It really took several weeks for me to get over the sugar withdrawals. Nowadays, I’m doing good if I get 10 grams of sugar for the entire day! Most days I don’t even get 10 grams.

I am eating a low-carb, low-sugar, low-fat, moderate protein diet. About 95% of the carbs I eat come from vegetables and fruits. I do eat 3-4 whole wheat crackers every other day or so. I still haven’t had any bread. I tried pasta last night and it made me want to gag. The texture is so gross to me now. I have finally got to the point where I eat 3 meals and one snack. It was a very gradual transition for me to go from eating 6 small meals to 3 meals plus a snack. I usually eat my snack after my last meal of the day. I try to get in a daily walk. I try to walk a different route each time so that my muscles are always guessing. I have got to the point where I can walk 1 mile within 20 minutes, which is awesome for me. Before weight loss surgery it took 30 minutes for me to walk 1/2 mile. Usually twice a week, I go on a short hike up in the woods and I usually walk for an hour or more. Again, I like to keep my body wondering what I’m doing so that my body will not get used to the same routine all the time and only use certain muscles.

I have taken pictures of myself over the last several weeks and I can tell a big difference. I’m actually able to see my jaw bones in my face again. I have gone down two dress sizes. I’ve sold most of my bigger clothes on eBay. I visit my local thrift shops quite frequently and buy inexpensive clothes to replace the ones that swallow me now. Overall, I feel lighter. Weight loss surgery has not been a cure-all for everything though. I still have to work hard at weight loss. It is an everyday struggle. However, the surgery is an awesome tool to have. I eat until I’m full and that’s it. I don’t worry about food again until it’s time to eat again. I don’t think about it. My family has gradually begun eating healthier, too. I don’t have cravings. I did have a strong aversion to food for a while, but thankfully, I am pretty much over that now. It’s really hard to follow a strict diet when you don’t want to eat and you feel nauseated when you do.

Another by-product of weight loss is quite interesting. With each pound that comes off, more and more of my true authentic self rises up. I don’t put up with anyone’s crap anymore. I let people know how I feel and also let them know if they have crossed a boundary with me. When I’m upset I don’t hold my feelings back. I have every right to be treated well. I am becoming more social. I have contacted some friends that I haven’t seen in a long time and we are making plans to get together. All in all, things are pretty good right now. I can foresee a better future and I’m looking forward to it.

 

Until next time…..

Find Your Colors….Find Your Happiness

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A couple of days ago I took a photo of myself sans makeup. I have been studying seasonal color analysis for the last few weeks. I figure that when I lose all this weight I will be buying a new wardrobe of clothes and I want to make sure and buy the right colors according to my skin undertone, eye color and hair color. And, do I even have the correct hair color? Obviously, my current hair color is altered or I wouldn’t ask myself that question. Anyway, I finally figured out that I have a warm complexion. With all the information out in the world-wide web about this very topic there is some conflicting information. Back in the 1980’s I was draped with fabric swatches and after much consideration I was told that I was a “winter.” I was given a card telling me what colors would look the best on me and all of them were some kind of jewel tone along with black and white. For twenty plus years I bought and wore all the colors that I thought brought out my best features,  skin undertones, hair and eye color.

Over the years there have been several people in my life that have suggested that I would look better wearing lighter and brighter colors instead of wearing so much black. I’ve also struggled with finding the right hair color. I have dyed and bleached my hair so many different shades of blonde, brown and even red. For years I colored my hair in all the wrong shades and I wore the wrong colors, so much so, that it literally changed my perception of my own eye color. This sounds completely crazy, but I thought my eyes were green. My driver’s license even says that I have green eyes. The truth of the matter is that my perception of my own physical attributes were skewed because of what I just explained but also because I never really looked at myself in the mirror all that much. When I looked in the mirror all I saw was imperfection and flaws. I saw failure and disgust. I saw a person that I didn’t recognize and I saw someone who I never wanted to become. I saw a person who just existed while watching everyone else live their lives from the sidelines. I lived in a fantasy world inside my own head and thought that I would never get to escape back into reality. I saw someone fat and ugly.

Six weeks ago today I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy procedure done. I faced my fears and went through the surgery. Let me tell ya – it took alot of guts and desperation for me to go through surgery. I will freely admit that I have a needle and blood aversion. I could never work as a clinical practitioner. I don’t regret it at all…..except, I should have done it sooner. My whole outlook on life has drastically changed in such a short amount of time. I haven’t been this excited about life in years!

Anyway, back to the original topic – seasonal color analysis. After much deliberation I have concluded that I have warm undertones. I cannot understand why anyone including myself ever thought that I was a “winter.” First of all, I have golden brown freckles all over my body including a few on my face. I have a peachy complexion and there is quite a bit of golden-yellow that shows up in my face without makeup on in natural light. Instead of having blue or purple circles under my eyes, mine are deep yellow in color. I have a fair complexion which means that I will most likely burn in direct sunlight, but I will usually tan by the next day or the day after. My natural hair color is a medium brown with natural golden highlights. My mother tells me that I was born with auburn-colored hair. Then it turned blonde as a toddler. As I grew older my hair darkened. When my hair is the right shade and I’m wearing the right colors my eyes are a very light gray color with a dark gray ring around my irises. I also have gold flecks mixed in with the gray and one eye has a few dark freckles. Again, what was the color analyst thinking all those years ago? My mother has strawberry blonde hair with the same golden brown freckles and light gray eyes. She and I can wear the same color of foundation makeup. She is most definitely some sort of “spring.”

My eyes seemingly change colors according to what color of clothing I wear. My eyes can appear muddy and dull if I wear the wrong colors. I cannot wear dusty, muted colors at all. They make my skin look gray. Really dark colors, especially black, make me look pale and sickly. Oh and by the way, when I dye my hair in ash tones my skin looks pale and my eyes are nondescript in color. I have discovered almost by accident that my best colors are coral and turquoise. My skin practically glows when I wear those colors and I look like I’ve got a tan. Me? A tan? Recently I visited http://www.taaz.com and uploaded a photo of myself without makeup and my hair pulled back away from my face. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the site, it is a website that allows you to upload your photo and then you can “try on” makeup and hairstyles. The best part is that it’s free. I decided to “try on” auburn colored hair. After all, Mom told me that I was born with the color. I was really surprised by the results. The hair color makes my skin glow. My eyes look brilliant and sparkling like they are made of glass. I couldn’t believe my own eyes. I was so impressed with the results that I saved the photo to my computer and printed a copy. I keep looking at it from time to time and can’t believe that the picture is of me. It looks so good! I can’t believe that I’m actually saying this, but I really look good in the photo. I have lost about 30 pounds so far in the last 6 weeks and I can really see the results. My face is much thinner and  I look younger.

So after many hours of studying all about color analysis I think I finally understand that at the very least I have warm undertones. I refuse to be labelled again and put into a box of a few colors that I should wear. Instead I have decided to embrace my natural coloring, which is something I’ve never done before. My hair is golden blonde right now with lighter blonde streaks and medium golden brown lowlights. I plan to gradually add more and more lowlights over time and hopefully by this fall I will have mostly auburn hair. As I shed the excess weight I will begin buying clothes in colors that actually suit me. Another thing that I’ve realized is that when I wear the right colors for me I don’t have to wear as much makeup. I have created an inspiration board with that copied photo of me with auburn hair. Around my face I have placed outfits that accentuate my coloring such as, coral, terracotta, charcoal gray, warm blush pink, warm cornflower blue, french blue, aqua, turquoise, teal, camel, taupe, ivory, rust, kelly green, warm chocolate-brown, flame red and amethyst and aubergine. For any of you reading this and are familiar with seasonal color analysis, you can see that I’ve decided to use some colors from the spring and autumn color palettes. Again, I refuse to be labelled. Labels are confining and I won’t be pigeon-holed into believing that I am something that I’m not. I accept myself just as I am, imperfections and all. After all, there is not one other person on the planet who looks exactly like me. I am beautiful in my uniqueness and it feels good to finally say that out loud!

My wish is for you, the reader, is to accept yourself just as you are. Find something good to say about yourself everyday. Do whatever it takes to make you feel better about yourself. Realize that perfection is an illusion and learn to love your flaws. After all, they are what make you different from everyone else. How boring would it be to look like everyone else on the Earth? Celebrate your beautiful self and find something that makes you happy and do it!

Peace & Love….may you find it, embrace it and spread it around!

Short & Sweet Update

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It’s been almost three weeks since I posted on here. Where did the time go? To be honest, I’ve been very busy. My husband applied for a job three weeks ago and it has been a roller-coaster ride around here ever since. He applied for a job four states away on a Saturday night three weeks ago and by the following Monday morning he had been contacted by the HR Department to set up an interview. Needless to say, my mind has been preoccupied with the possibility of moving and starting a new life in a new state. It’s amazing how life can seemingly go on and on with no change in sight and then all of a sudden something throws a cog in the wheel of life and everything begins to feel wobbly.

During these last few weeks I have been learning how to eat. The most disconcerting thing that I’ve dealt with so far is that some days I don’t even feel like eating. On those days nothing is even remotely appetizing to me. There are foods that I really liked to eat before surgery that I no longer even care about. For the first four weeks I pretty much ate meals according to the time on the clock. I tried to eat every 3 hours as I was directed by the nutritionist. In the last few days I have stopped watching the clock all day and have really tried to pay attention to my body. Although I don’t have hunger pains I can tell when it’s time to eat. When my body needs more fuel I start to feel really tired/sleepy and light-headed. My brain doesn’t function as well and I feel like I’m in a fog. I’ve learned that when those feelings emerge that it’s time to put more food into my system. It is still really important to keep up with how much fluids I take in. I can become dehydrated quite easily now due to my small stomach.

I am happy to say that I have lost 25 pounds so far! I was able to buy a smaller size of jeans the other day and that was encouraging. Today’s post is short and sweet. I definitely want to start posting regularly on here again. This blog actually helps me by making me accountable and at the same time, hopefully, my posts about this weight loss journey might help someone who is reading this and considering weight loss surgery. It’s been 38 days since surgery and I don’t have any regrets………except, maybe one……that I didn’t do it sooner!

Until next time……Peace & Love, may you find it, embrace it and spread it around!

Joy in the Journey

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It’s been 18 days since I became permanently altered through weight loss surgery. I am so ready for my new and improved self to enjoy all the things I’ve fantasized about for so long. My fantasies these days consist of wearing “normal” sized clothes and feeling comfortable again in my own skin. It’s been awhile since I’ve done either. In the recovery phase of surgery I have watched more TV in these last few weeks than I have in all the months combined since January; we had alot of snow back in January. In my humble opinion, TV sucks!

Something happened to me yesterday and it is the weirdest thing to try to explain to those who haven’t gone through this kind of surgery. I have been able to subsist on 3-4 ounces of “food” for several weeks until yesterday. Even after I had eaten my breakfast of 1 scrambled egg and 1 slice of turkey bacon, I felt weak and lightheaded. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I have also been living on lean protein, almost exclusively. Finally I decided that enough was enough. I broke down and ate 1/4 cup of Cheerios cereal with 1/8 cup of milk and 1 strawberry. Almost instantly I felt better and also felt the most “normal” that I’ve felt in weeks. I had decided just a few days ago that I was going to try the Paleo diet which eschews all forms of grain. The level of satiety that my body craved and was finally able to attain completely overrode my desire for the Paleo diet. However, I realized that there is no way that I could begin the Paleo diet until I’m able to eat more than 1-2 ounces of veggies and fruits at a time. I have to get fuel from somewhere. Although lean protein provides a steady supply of nutrients and my liver has been pumping out glycogen for weeks now to be used as energy, my brain actually prefers glucose. The few grams of sugar provided by the cereal was enough for my brain to make some much-needed serotonin, the feel-good hormones. Besides, it’s not healthy to continue on and on in a state of ketosis. I’m still consuming less carbs than protein at this point and I hope to continue that until further notice from my physician.

Emotionally, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m only having to lie down and rest about once a day now. I still get a little irritable if I am late eating one of my meals. I’m eating about 5 times a day and continuously drinking fluids in between meals. I’m so worried that I’m going to mess up and stretch my stomach out. I’m so afraid that I’m going to gain back the 20 pounds that I’ve lost so far. I’m so afraid that I’m doing something wrong. I’ve met many other weight loss patients on the internet and it seems each person’s eating plan is different. I’ve been eating baked chicken, turkey burgers, scrambled eggs and low-fat cheese. I’ve had cooked carrots and potatoes, strawberries and yogurt. I’ve eaten crackers and low-sugar cereal. When I write it down it I realize how irrational I’ve been worrying about eating too much or eating the wrong foods. How in the world is eating 1/4 cup of food too much? How am I going to gain weight by eating 1-2 ounces of baked chicken? Or 1/8 cup of Cheerios, 1/8 cup of milk and 1 sliced strawberry? I think I get worried I’m doing something wrong because I’m eating so often on this diet. It feels so strange to eat all day long and lose weight. It feels weird to lose weight without feeling hunger pangs.

I was at a weight-loss plateau for several days. I actually ate more and lost almost a pound overnight. I went from eating 400-500 calories a day to 700-900 calories a day and it has made all the difference in the world. When I eat more which means I am consuming more lean protein I have more energy to go for a daily 30-minute walk. I have more energy to interact with my kids. I have more energy to go shopping and then come home and cook food for the family. The hardest part during this whole process is learning to listen to my body and thereby learning how to eat again, just like a newborn baby. Foods that I absolutely couldn’t live without before surgery, I can’t even stand to smell it let alone eat it. I used to crave sweets like crazy before. Now I want salty foods. I feel……….discombobulated. That’s the only word I think of that accurately describes it. My eating patterns have definitely changed. Even my sleeping patterns have changed. I no longer wake up with night sweats. I don’t wake up having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. When I go to sleep, I sleep very well for 8-9 hours. I haven’t had any caffeine in weeks and I really don’t miss it. Because I went through all the things that I have including the surgery itself, I only want to put the very best into my body. I finally understand the idea of revering one’s body as a temple of God – in the literal sense, that is.

For any of you considering weight loss surgery, do what is right for you. I don’t regret it. However, weight loss surgery is life changing. You will never be the same again, but that’s the point, right? I finally decided to take my own advice this time last year and made the decision to pursue this. It was a long, uphill battle, but it was worth it. I feel amazing in the fact that I did it – I had the surgery. Losing all this excess weight is going to take time and I’m going to have to be patient and find joy in the journey.

Until next time……Peace & Love, may you find it, embrace it and spread it around!

In The Present Moment

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In The Present Moment

I’ve lost 19 pounds and counting……..since going on a 10-day pre-operative diet and having subsequent weight loss surgery two weeks ago. Yay!

Now on the flip side of all this excitement, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster ride while drunk on Tequila. For the most part I’ve been able to tolerate most everything I’ve eaten. I am blessed. I’ve also had my fair share of unsolicited comments and opinions from family and friends. Is it because I have, on purpose, permanently altered my body from its original design? Is there some kind of inherent aversion inside each of us that instinctively eschews any differing from the norm? Is it because of evolution? Strip away all the so-called advanced forms of life as we know it in today’s modern society and we are no better than any animal living in the wild. We share the same instincts of survival and procreation as our animal counterparts do. Is this how those who have tattoos all over their bodies feel when they go out in public? The only difference is that my alterations are on the inside of my body and no one would ever know unless I tell them.

I suppose the meat of this conversation is why do others feels as if they should or could say something to me about what I chose to do to myself? How does it affect them? How does my elective surgery reflect upon them? Although I’m voicing these questions out into the vortex of the world, however cyber, the truth of the matter is that I really don’t care one way or another what others’ opinions are of me. I suppose I am simply curious as to why people do what they do. Why should it matter what any of us do to our individual selves? Maybe these questions are typical first-year textbook questions. Maybe I missed my calling and should have become a Psychologist or a Philosopher. Whatever the reason, it’s definitely been an eye-opening experience.

Would I, if possible, go back in time and choose to stay unaltered with having a stomach as big as a soccer ball? No, I would not. I believe that in time all this excess weight will drop off. I am hoping to find the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I am hoping that my overall health will vastly improve. I am hoping that one day in the near future, my being obese will be but a brief memory and over time will cease to be as if I never had a weight problem at all. I hope that I will gain a pound of confidence with each pound of fat that I lose. And the end result will be that I will become an inspiration to others who are struggling daily with the disease of obesity. Obesity destroys lives – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I simply chose to literally remove the very thing that has been the conduit for unresolved emotions. I cannot “eat” my emotions anymore. I have to deal with life in the moment, which means I have to be willing to let go and just be – in the moment. I am convinced that is where God lives – in the present moment. If that is so, then I will not look backwards. I can’t live in the past and I can’t exist yet in the future. I think I’ll just stop worrying about tomorrow and live my life for today. Carpe diem!

Life on the Other Side of the Fence – Part 3

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There are two kinds of nurses in the world. Those who truly love helping people. They are kind-hearted souls. Then there are others who like feeling as if they hold all the cards concerning your well-being. They like feeling like they are in charge and you, the patient, are at their mercy. I wonder if they were always like that or did working in the nursing profession change them over time? If the latter is true, it’s time for a change.

After Nurse Battle-Ax left, there were two new nurses who showed up for the night shift. They both seemed pretty nice. The Nurse’s Assistant was very sweet. She didn’t say much and I could tell that she was trying to let me rest without bothering me too much. The Registered Nurse came in with that same authoritative energy as Nurse Battle-Ax, but she wasn’t a day over 30 years old, if that. I remember thinking that in another ten years she would most likely take Battle-Ax’s place. I told her that I had taken my allergy medications that I had brought from home. I had been told by everyone prior to surgery that I would be able to continue taking my allergy meds. OMG! You would have thought I had just confessed to taking Meth or something. She lit in on me and began chastising me as if I were an impudent child. I suppose I could blame it on the Morphine that was steadily pumping through my veins or NOT but I began arguing with her. I told her that there was no way I was going to depend on the hospital to give me the correct combination of allergy medications that I had been on for the last 12 years. You just don’t mess with a chronic allergy sufferer’s meds! Whatever I said, she backed off and left the room. End of discussion.

The next morning after maybe a couple of hours of sleep I was told it was time to get up again, this time sans catheter. I never knew that one could walk with that detestable thing hanging down between one’s legs. It is possible. That’s all I’m saying. The morning a new nurse came in and explained that she would be taking care of me for the day. She seemed nice enough. I was a bit wary though after my dealings the night before. She was pleasant if not a bit rough. I think she thought she was starting a lawn mower or something when she began taking the catheter out. I had to stop her before I roared to life and burst into flames.

Breakfast consisted of some kind of creamy “soup?” It just looked like lukewarm milk to me. Some really strongly made orange juice flavored Crystal Light, decaffeinated coffee, skim milk, no-sugar-added Carnation Instant Breakfast and a sugar-free popsicle. I ate the only thing that looked appealing – the popsicle. It was the red, white and blue kind I used to eat as a kid. It was tasty. I could only eat half of it before air bubbles assaulted me followed by intense nausea again. By this point, I was really getting tired of the nausea. Nurse Battle-Ax Jr. came in and inquired as to why I hadn’t eaten any of my “food.”

“Well, first of all, I don’t drink coffee. I am lactose-intolerant and can’t drink regular milk. That creamed soup looks sicker than how I feel and that Crystal Light is so strongly made it is causing my lips to pucker.” I replied. I wasn’t so heavily sedated at this point and my mouth was working just fine. She shook her head and left the room.

I’m one of those people who will treat you however you treat me. If you’re nice to me I am as just as nice, if not nicer, to you. I will do anything for you. Piss me off or disrespect me and my claws come out. I am like a cat that has been cornered by an overly rambunctious hound dog. Somebody’s going to get hurt and it’s probably not going to be me. I have spent my entire life being an advocate for the underdog. After having gone through everything it has taken to get to the point of having surgery and then actually having the surgery Miss Kitty has grown a few stripes. Watch out world – I’m clawing my way out of these outer layers of fat and I will be treated with respect or you will feel my wrath! :) I can’t stuff my anger, frustrations and stress down with food anymore. All that anger has to be dealt with in the moment. I should probably join a gym soon. Haha!

Anyway, back to my story…..I ended up being discharged by the day after surgery.  Another really kind-hearted nurse, who ironically wasn’t even my nurse, came in and encouraged me. She explained that shorter people have a more difficult time with nausea and gas pains. She said that because I have such a short torso there’s not alot of room for the gas bubbles. Up until that point, I thought I was just being a big baby about the pain. I wish I could remember the nurse’s name. She was really nice and she was the first one to take a few minutes to explain what was happening to me. A kind word and a few minutes can really make a huge difference.

The three-hour car ride back home actually helped move the gas pains out quite a bit and with that the nausea subsided. As I am writing this, it has been seven days since surgery. I haven’t had any pain medications since the hospital. I have taken a few Tylenol for pain and they actually helped. I feel like a new baby on a feeding schedule. I eat every three hours and drink liquids in between all day long that I am awake. I finally slept through the night last night without waking. I feel better with each new day. I am learning how much I can eat at one time. For instance, it takes an entire hour to eat one scrambled egg. I am hoping that today I will able to get in 48 ounces of liquid. That will be my first milestone. Next, I will need to work on getting at least 60 grams of protein everyday. I don’t have all my strength back and I expect that it will take several weeks before I  feel “normal” again. I am losing weight everyday, currently about one pound a day. My clothes are getting looser. Even through all the pain and suffering, I am over-the-moon HAPPY. It is such an amazing feeling to know that I did it! I can do anything now. Life is feeling really good right now on the other side of the fence. My former fat self is just that – former.

Life on the Other Side of the Fence – Part 2

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I was completely disoriented when I first woke up. There was a nurse standing beside me typing something on a computer keyboard. I was hooked up to several different monitors. Every so often the nurse would tell me to take a deep breath. The first question she asked me was on a scale of 1 to 10 how was my pain? I croaked out an answer of 10. She asked me what kind of pain and I told her, “gas.” I didn’t have enough energy to say more than one word. I won’t lie, the pain was incredible.

About an hour later, I guess – or it could have been several, I was rolled into my hospital room. I heard my husband behind my head speaking to one of the nurses. I couldn’t see his face because it would have been too much of an effort to keep them open longer than a few seconds. I felt his hand against mine and felt reassured that everything would be alright.

Most of the first day was a blur. I remember having an oxygen mask on the whole time. It felt like it had water vapor mixed in, like I had my own personal humidifier. I can remember looking at the clock which was just opposite from my bed and noting the time of 11:15 a.m. When I woke next it felt like I had been asleep for many hours. I looked at the clock and it was only 11:30 a.m. For the most part I was left alone all that day. My husband was there with me, but seeing as how I wasn’t much up for conversation, he watched a little TV.

Around 6 PM a parade of nurses begin making their rounds through my room about every 2 hours until I was discharged the next afternoon. Up until that point, I thought my hospital stay was going to be a time for rest. It is disconcerting to be lying in bed, half out of it and people sticking my arms for blood or pushing a needle into me in various places for different prophylactic purposes. All the nurses had been kind, sweet and caring until from what I can gather a Charge Nurse entered the room. She was all about getting certain tasks done in the most proficient way possible. She was an older lady with 1980’s frosted big hair. She wore large framed glasses that took up most of her face and an air of authority about her. She was not there to coddle me. She was there to provoke and prod me out of that bed. She wore a bright red lab coat and I remember thinking that I have never seen a nurse wear such a bright color before. She came up to me and said with a sardonic gleam in her eye that it was time for me to get up. I think she expected me to balk, but instead I surprised her by saying that “yes, indeed, it is time for me to get up.” Expecting a fight but not getting one, she left the room.

The problem wasn’t putting my feet on the ground but when I went to stand up. The incisional pain took my breath away and I was not able to stand up straight. Walking as a woman twice my age, bent over almost at the waist, I began my foray into gaining my proverbial sea-legs out into the hall of the hospital. Every step I took caused all the trapped air inside my small pouch of a stomach move around and cause excruciating gas pains. If that wasn’t bad enough, nausea hit like a tidal wave. I had expected the pain. I was taken aback by the nausea. I didn’t make it that far before having to get back into bed before I starting hurling. Although I don’t know what would have come up. I hadn’t eaten anything solid in days. Nurse Battle-Ax came back into the room demanding to know why I hadn’t walked any farther. I explained to her that I was very nauseated. “Are you just very sensitive to nausea or something?” she asked a little too sarcastically for my preference. If I had more strength I would have cussed her like a dog. *(Sorry, my Southern vernacular comes out every once in a while.) I replied with a weak “yes” and she left my room. Thankfully, I didn’t see her again. It wouldn’t be until the next day that I would find out why I was having so much pain and nausea.

Life on the Other Side of the Fence – Part 1

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Well, what happened? I had weight loss surgery!!!!!

Six days ago I underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy procedure. If you have read any of my earlier posts then you know that I’ve been trying to having weight loss surgery for about a year. It really began to seem like the day would never come. I briefly lost hope a few times throughout the whole process. To be honest, I really don’t know what kept me from completely giving up. I’m so glad that I didn’t.

Exactly one week ago today I made the three-hour journey to the hospital and checked into their hospitality house. I could only have clear liquids after 1:00 P.M. that day so, needless to say, by that evening I was really tired. Hunger had given up on me days before. I had “trained” my body for nine days prior to learn how to adjust to surviving on little to no calories. I was pumped up on adrenaline earlier in the day. My husband and I talked about how this surgery would permanently change my life. We talked about all the things that we want to do once I have fully recovered and am back to eating a new kind of normal foods. We also talked about what to do with my body if for some reason I died the next day during surgery. It was a very therapeutic time for the both of us.

The nerves didn’t hit me until I turned off the lamp and laid my head upon the pillow at bedtime. I tossed and turned for a couple of hours thinking about every possible thing that could go wrong and then immediately chided myself for being negative. It was a night of waging a battle against the darkness threatening to rob me of future happiness. Exhaustion finally settled in and just about the time I was good and asleep the alarm went off. After a few minutes of preliminary straightening of the room we walked across the street to the hospital. It was still dark out with an almost full moon. It looked so huge in the night sky and I briefly wondered if it was an omen of some sort. As I walked past a few residential houses I noticed a slight breeze in an otherwise balmy night. As I neared the entrance my knees began to feel shaky. I looked over at my husband and told him that I didn’t think I could do it. He reassured me that I could and everything would be fine. I instantly trusted him. He had gone through a gastric bypass procedure a few years earlier and I saw firsthand how much better his overall health has become because of it.

About two hours later I was wheeled into the operating room and transferred onto the table. I met several nurses who were already preparing for my surgery. I lay there listening to them talking about their individual lives and what their plans were for the weekend. I could hear water running. I presumed it was the doctor scrubbing his hands. The nurse anesthetist leaned over me and explained that she was going to place a mask of oxygen on me. She didn’t say anything about counting backwards and I really expected to be awake for a few more minutes at least. Needless to say, that was my last coherent thought until I woke up.

 

 

DAY Ten…..The Time Is Near!

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Today is it – this is my last day on the 10-day pre-operative diet for weight loss surgery!

Tomorrow morning around 7 am – 8 am my body will be forever altered. I will no longer have the capacity to consume an entire hind quarter of an elk inside my stomach. Having a large stomach is just like some of the other remnants of body parts that our early ancestors needed but we no longer do. We live in a culture and society of eating on a regular basis. Culture in this country says that the common eating pattern is three times a day. Early Man needed a large stomach because he only ate maybe every few days and when he did he ate large quantities because he didn’t know when his next meal would be. Today we still have that capability. The problem is that our stomachs will stretch out allowing us to consume large amounts of food but we do it too often. Most of us don’t have to go out and kill our food either. The most intense exercise some of us get is going to the grocery store to buy the food and then coming home and preparing it.

We are bombarded with images of what the perfect male or female should look like on TV and the internet along side a plethora of ads for the latest weight loss fads, male enhancement pills, female hormone replacement, exercise equipment, etc, etc, etc. We are “told” through media what we are supposed to look like and then the government tells us how many servings of each food group we should be eating each day. Why do we as a society blindly follow all of these “suggestions?” In the midst of globalization and having access to all the information that the world has to offer, we are a growing society of unhealthy, mind-numbing, overweight people. Our culture is definitely changing, but in a dismal direction, in my humble opinion. What is wrong with the world where in one part people are starving to death everyday while on the other side of the world people regularly throw out vast quantities of food everyday? What if the restaurants in this country took all their food they weren’t able to sell during the day and instead of chucking it into a nearby dumpster give it away to the homeless, the shut-ins, the elderly who are living on fixed incomes, low-income day care centers? There wouldn’t be one person to go hungry in this country. When I think about all this I can’t help but feel ashamed that I allowed myself to get to this point of having to have 80% of my stomach permanently removed from my body. What is the solution to this worldwide problem? It is two-fold or three-fold or maybe even more sided than any of us can count.

I fear that I am just another statistic of those who have fallen for all the hype? What if one day in the future I need that 80% of my stomach again? What if the state of the ENTIRE world becomes unstable through war, pestilence, disease, crime and destruction? What will become of us who have permanently altered ourselves through surgery? Would we better equipped to survive or would we be the first to die? I don’t think there is any of way of knowing until the time comes. Besides that, why I am thinking such morose thoughts on the day before surgery???? I guess my fears have manifested into a web of fantastical proportions. I am imagining the worst when I should be living only in the moment. It’s true that the worst possible scenarios in my mind could turn into reality one day, but on the flip side, the best of scenarios could exist just as equally as the worst. What I should be asking myself is “what if I am able to help more people because of the weight loss I will have as a result of surgery? What if I can be the one of many who can make a stark difference in the lives of others because I am not lying on the couch exhausted from a day of eating?” I can become the change I want to see in the world. It starts with me. I can create the life I want to live. Having surgery and losing weight can help me by giving me energy to get up and do something about all the things I see wrong in the world. My weight problems have held me back too long. It is time to reclaim my body and take the power back.

Well, on another line of thought entirely – I can’t believe that I am here on Day 10, I survived the pre-op diet! I had all kinds of reservations beforehand. I didn’t think I could do it. I was so sure that I wouldn’t have any energy to do anything while on this diet. The reality is that I have gotten more done in these last 10 days than I have in weeks before. I have lost a total of 10 pounds!

Even after only losing 10 pounds I feel like a different person. I discovered many years ago that I was an emotional eater. I was told by a therapist a few years ago that I had unresolved anger and needed to find a way to vent my frustrations and stress instead of eating. It’s interesting that during the first two days of this diet as I was going through withdrawals from carbs and sugar that the first emotion to come out of me was anger. Pure, unadulterated anger. This diet has been many things for me, the first and maybe the most important is the knowledge that I am stronger than I thought. That is powerful. Secondly, I will never again allow anyone to treat me with less than the respect that I deserve. Before, I always felt that there were two of me. The person that everyone saw – the overweight People-pleaser who rarely, if ever, stood up for herself to the point of being everyone’s doormat and then the inner Authentic Me, the healthy and adventurous bad-ass who doesn’t take shit from anyone. I feel like the two sides of me have merged. The weaker side is falling off with each pound I lose. Authentic Me is becoming stronger. Each pound that I lose is an emotion that I didn’t deal with properly. I am getting rid of the emotional baggage that I have carried around for years. This feels – I can’t even describe what this feels like. It’s an amazing feeling! I realize as I am writing this that some people won’t know how to react to me. I am becoming the person I was always meant to become.

It’s exciting to go through this transformation. I have to remind myself of that later tonight when I start thinking about surgery and getting nervous. I’ll have to remind myself again tomorrow morning as I am being prepared for surgery. This surgery is a TOOL. It will help me attain the goals I have set for myself. I will have to continually think of the end-result. This surgery will allow me to take back my life. This surgery will completely reverse the metabolic syndrome that I have suffered with for years. This surgery will stop the disease progression of Type II Diabetes. I have been borderline diabetic for a long while. This surgery will definitely reverse the need for hypertensive drugs. This surgery and subsequent weight loss will drastically improve my overall health. An added bonus is that I will look good in my own skin. I will feel good and have loads of energy. It’s going to feel so good the day that all my clothes in the closet will no longer fit me because they are too big. It’s going to feel great when I can keep up with my three sons and go hiking and all the other outdoor activities they like to do with them. It’s going to make my heart swell to explosive proportions when my sons lose a few pounds and become healthier because I have. It’s going to be worth it and one day I will look back and wonder why I waited so long to have this surgery. One day someone will try to treat me badly and I will give them an ear-full unlike anything they’ve ever heard before. One day someone will insult me intentionally and I will take up for myself because I am worth it. One day, real soon, I will be the person I was always meant to become.

This is my last entry for the 10-day pre-operative diet. Tomorrow is a new day – it will be almost like having a new birthday. I think from now on I will celebrate my birthday and my surgery day. The first day for my birth and the second day for my re-birth. What a great way to start my 40’s!

Thanks to all of you for reading my posts and following me. It is my hope and desire to turn my weight loss journey into a book. I will be adding lots more technical-type information about diet and exercise as well as recipes. This book will be an outlet to let the healing begin – emotionally and physically. The time is near, and so it begins!