Saturday, November 30, 2013

Carrying around two and half bags of pet food

I made it back home from my trip to Vegas with the family. We left last night at almost 6:00 and got home by midnight.  I'm glad I got to spend the Thanksgiving week with them, but nothing is better than being in my own bed again.  I loved meeting my 3-year old niece and playing with her.  Life is so uncomplicated when you're that young. The biggest worry you have is which dress you will wear with your tiara.  As my mom and I spent time together in the hotel room, we got to talk a lot about the gastric bypass.  At first, she was really worried and now she has done a complete 180.  I think the more I was able to answer her questions and we could be honest about any concerns she felt, the less anxiety she felt.  Dr. Oz happened to also have a segment on it and we watched it together.  The issue I have now is her saying, "When you're skinny next year ..." It was always important for her to look good when I was growing up, fat being treated as some sort of disease.  Now that she's older, she thinks it's too late for her so she's now in the mentality to save me from that.  For now, I'm trying to let her be in her own zone about it.  If it persists, I will have to have a talk with her because, for me, this is not about me being skinny; this is about me being healthy.  There is a big difference there for me. As for my father, no, I didn't tell him.  Since he lives in Nevada now for half the year, he is planning on coming down to visit with me at some point this winter.  I think enough time will have passed and I will have progressed further into the weight loss surgery process to talk to him about it at that point.  Of course, I'm going to take it one step at a time and play it by ear and see how comfortable I am by then.

After getting back into a regular routine, I did run over to Costco to get some veggies and restock my cat food and kitty litter supply for the girls.  I buy a 25-pound bag of cat food that lasts well over a month for them.  As I was carrying that in from the car in both my hands, I was amazed at exactly how much 25 pounds really is when I think about it.  My highest weight is over two and a half of those bags on my body from where I am at right now.  If ever I don't think it's a big deal that I'm keeping off 60 pounds from my highest weight because I'm too focused on dropping bigger numbers, I just have to think about how it felt to lift one of those bags and then imagine adding another bag and a half.  How do we do that and not even notice how really bad that is for our bodies?  I couldn't wait to put that bag on the kitchen counter and have it removed from my arms.  No wonder it's such a big deal when doctors say even losing something like 10-20 pounds is so important for our hearts, legs and back.  Yeah, I totally get that.  Now how am I supposed to bring in that 42-pound bag of kitty litter??  Gotta love Costco.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Geez, patience is not my virtue

Today was an interesting day for me.  I got together with my dad, stepmother, stepbrother, his wife and their child.  My dad has a friend here who has a house where he always stays when they visit the area since his friend is in another country.  My dad has been trying to buy the house from him at a discounted price since it would be a nice little winter home to get out of the snow of Utah.  So I found the house today and when I walked in, everything seemed familiar somehow.  His particular friend was in Germany when my dad's job was also in Germany, so I figured they went around to some of the same places.  But then, as I'm looking around, everything seemed weird.  I turned to my stepmom and said to her, "Did you guys buy this place?  It looks like all of your stuff in here."  Turns out they did!  So they will be living about five hours from me half of the year!!  I'm really excited.  Although, I have been told not to share this information with my brother and my mother.  That puts me in a weird place, so we'll have to see how that goes.

Speaking of my brother, he dropped a bomb on me yesterday.  He and my dad have not been speaking for about three years.  My dad has made attempts but my brother has been unresponsive.  He told me that he's going to call my dad so that they can get together this weekend.  I have been praying they mend fences.  Of course, everyone has to do it on their own time when they are ready, just as my mother and I had to do.  The only difference with our situation was that it took us 12 years to come together.  I told my brother all along that the pain of that is really indescribable.  I pray that God gives them both courage to be honest with each other about whatever it was that has kept them apart.  I do know God answers prayers, so this one was especially touching.l

While visiting with my family today, spending time with my niece, it felt good to be around them.  My little niece is three and it was the first time meeting her, so she was a little shy with me at first.  That lasted for a good five minutes before we were putting puzzles together, painting, going down slides together and so much more that wore out this girl.  [By the way, Sara, she calls me guppy, too, just like Max ;-) ] All the activity with her just reminded me of how uncomfortable it is being a larger person in the world.  I can't get down on the floor with her and play like I would like to.  Lifting her takes effort after a few times.  Running up and down the stairs in the house was a real pain to my knees.  In fact, I was on the verge of telling my dad and stepmother about my decision to go with the gastric bypass surgery an incredible amount of times today.  I would think to myself, "Is this the moment?  Is this the one??"  Of course, I just posted yesterday about wanting to wait to tell my dad.  Nothing has changed in that regard but I am impatient.  Most of you have probably already figured that part out by now.  I want things when I want them.  I don't like waiting.  I even called the director for Kaiser's Options program to make sure she received my questionnaire.  She called me back letting me know that they have already processed my questionnaire and it is now in the hands of the medical staff to review before then requesting that I move on to the next phase of the process, which is to get a boatload of labwork done.  I could have waited longer for her to contact me, as they said they would do in the beginning, but I wanted to make sure she received everything she needed from me because I want to know if I'm going to be moving forward now.  Oh my goodness Kathy Jean, you must learn patience.  What can I say ... I don't like waiting!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spilling the beans

If you are considering weight loss surgery, how do you go about telling those you love the path you are choosing for yourself?  Some people will be very supportive, while others will question whether or not you have a brain cell left in your body.  Right now, I'm being very sensitive to how, even if, I will tell someone.  The choice to pursue the gastric bypass is very personal for me and it's a journey that I let others in my life on as I choose.  I've decided I was going to wait to tell my father because, during the last conversation we had about this path, he was dead-set against it.  However, I knew I would tell my mother at an earlier time.  I just didn't imagine that time would be now.

This morning, as I was doing final preparations to pack up my house for the few days I would be gone out of town with my mother visiting family over Thanksgiving, we talked about the medical issues I've been having and what I was doing in terms of how I would be eating over the holiday.  I told her that my doctor is still monitoring me, but that I'm following what the Kaiser diabetes nurse specialist recommends.  Then we talked about my long term goals and I felt that it was the right time to mention my surgery prospects to her.  I told her, "Mom, I wasn't going to tell you about it this early, at least until I am approved, but I have decided to pursue weight loss surgery." I said this to her while I was standing in my kitchen and she was looking at me from the adjoining dining room. Huge mistake.  She started to cry.

I went over and sat next to her and held her hand while she wiped tears away.  These were not slight little tears, they were tears of pain that kept rolling down her face.  There was deep, gut-wrenching pain.  I explained to her that this is a quality of life issue, that I can't keep going down the road I am going down otherwise I might not be here for much longer.  I explained about the Pacific Bariatric Center for Excellence that would be performing the surgery and their success record.   I explained that I have done a lot of research around this and that this is not a quick procedure.  I continued to hold her hand as the tears started to slow down.  It killed me inside, wondering what she was feeling but not brave enough in the moment to ask her.  

Later on, while we were on the road, I asked her if she was upset by what I told her.  She replied that she wasn't upset, but that she's scared something bad will happen to me.  So I went on to explain exactly how the surgery is performed, especially that it will likely be the laproscropic variety.  That eased her mind considerably.  I even brought the orientation book with me and will show her before/after photos of people who have had it done so she understands.  That really helped ease her mind and we could have a good conversation about it.  Her reaction really helped me see that my health doesn't just impact me, it impacts my family as well.  Just as she is concerned that something will happen with surgery, she likely is just as concerned with the weight gain she's seen in me over the years.  I know she always has been concerned, but I suppose this opens my eyes more than it ever has before.  

I'm glad the beans are spilled with my mother, but I also recognize that I simply can't just blurt things out.  I guess, in the moment, I was compelled to tell her but I for sure know I can't do that when it comes time to talk to my father.  That will take some thoughtful consideration on my part.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hindsight is always 20/20

I wish I could have do-over on my day.  Of course, things are always easier when you know how it will play out.  I just was so self-critical today and I really don't like that.  To start off, I had an appointment with my physical therapist very early this morning.  There's a table I lie on where he checks my flexibility and I do my exercises with him.  Right across from the table is a big mirror.  When I was done with the exercises, he asked me to sit up and slip on my shoes while he was going to go make me copies of some new exercises he would like me to do at home.  I was very much aware of the mirror so I purposely sat out of view from it.  My left arm ended up being visible and all I could focus on was the excess weight in my upper arms.  I found myself looking away, at anywhere but there.  I tried to force my sleeve down to cover up that body part.  I was so relieved when he came back to rescue me from myself.

Later on I was at home working in my closet.  I finally decided to put away some of the clothes that don't fit me any longer after I became very frustrated with what I was going to take on my vacation tomorrow.  Barely anything in that closet fits.  I know that I am working on it and, hopefully, will continue losing weight but it's so frustrating to have to recycle the same five outfits over and over again.  I remember the big deal it was last year for me to give away boxes and boxes of my "fat" clothes.  Now I regret doing that.  Of course, at the time, I didn't think I'd ever be back here.  That is not to say I'm at my highest weight.  Any time I need a reminder of that, I can look on this very blog and see the number on the right side of the screen from MyFitnessPal that tells me how much lower I am than my highest weight.  Right now, that's 60 pounds and that definitely is a big deal.

So, I'm just trying the best I can to regroup.  I'm trying to ease up on myself and not be so self-critical.  I want to walk forward into my road trip tomorrow with a positive attitude.  I can let today go, knowing I don't need to treat myself so badly and knowing I'm a work in progress.  On a brighter note, I'm headed off with my mom to Vegas tomorrow.  It's usually a five-hour car trip from here.  My brother and his wife live there as well as my mom's cousin and her husband.  On the other side of my family, my dad will be there with my stepmom from Utah and my stepbrother, his wife and my little niece are coming in as well from Portland.  I'm splitting my time between my mom's side of the family and then my dad's side.  It's great, though, that we'll all be in town together.  As crazy as my family makes me at times, I love them and am looking forward to spending time with them.  I have decided that I'm not going to tell my dad about the gastric bypass yet.  That conversation is not going to happen with him until I'm much closer to a surgery date.  I have a long time between now and then so I'll just take it one step at a time.  Off to pack my bag!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Scale vs. non-scale victories

For some reason, I woke up really early this morning.  I was still tired, but something made me get up.  I got on the scale to see how I was doing in the weight department.  If you'll recall, just two days ago, I weighed in at 368 when I did the bariatric surgery orientation.  This morning the scale said I was 361.2.  WTF?  In fact, almost five of those pounds were from yesterday alone.  I was thinking about what I did yesterday and what I had to eat.  There's no rational reason why I should have lost five pounds overnight.  I brought home a gift a student gave me, which were chocolates with macadamia nuts in the middle of each one.  And, yes, I did partake in them.  I actually convinced myself that maybe I was dreaming.  I eventually ended up going back to bed, weighed myself again when I woke up and the scale was even lower by a pound.  That's frustrating!  I always try to convince myself that the scale isn't accurate.  It actually is off by one pound, registering on the heavier side.  So I deduct that pound every time I weigh.  It's a relatively new scale and doctor's scales have confirmed that accuracy.

There is a lot of debate about how often people should weigh on the scale.  Some people say to do it once a day, once a week, even once a month.  The number can send some people off in a tailspin.  When I was doing Jenny Craig, they recommended weighing every day.  Their rationalization was, even though there would be daily fluctuations, it does tell you what direction you are headed in.  I have a friend that had the gastric bypass 12 years ago and she weighs every day.  For her, it lets her know if she's within her acceptable range or if she's crossed that magic number that says there's danger ahead.  When I've participated in my many diet attempts over the years, the majority recommended weighing in weekly.  I guess the reality is you do what works for you without making you obsessed about the number.  If I really search my soul for what works for me, I really believe weighing daily is what keeps me the most honest.  When I don't do that, I sometimes don't catch major weight gains until past the double-digit phase.  I am well aware that, as human beings and especially a female human being, there will be ups and downs. If I'm avoiding getting on the scale for fear of what it may say, that's me being dishonest.  I guess you have to do what
works for you.  Regardless, I'm glad it's going in the downward direction.

I also think it's very important to remember the non-scale victories as well.  The number on the scale is one thing, but it's not the only thing that tells me I'm going in the right direction.  I think of that the same I way I do as an holistic review of a college application.  I work in the counseling department of a high school and we often talk to the kids about how a good majority of colleges use a holistic review process to grant admission.  This means they look at the whole person, not just their GPA and test scores.  It's one thing to judge a person using just the numbers.  It's another thing to recognize the other facets that make them who they are.  In the same way, I am not just about the number on the scale.  I always need to remember that it's only a part of my process.  My self-worth does not come from that number.  Any time I start thinking that way, I need to catch myself, remind myself of all the good things about me and remember that I am a work in progress.  I want to be healthier and so that's what stepping on the scale is all about ... a tool in the process on the road to health.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Need to stay in the present moment

I confess that I have been feeling a wee bit obsessive about the gastric bypass surgery [stop laughing Z!].  Although I am able to concentrate on my work and take care of things that need to be taken care of, always in the back of my mind are thoughts about the procedure and my life afterwards.  I do have to give it props because it is a major decision and takes a whole lot of courage on my part, but I also need to be in the present day as well.  I have a lot going on that I have been procrastinating about and that's just not okay.  I received an e-mail from the graduate admissions counselor at Azusa Pacific today, gently reminding me that my deadline to submit my application for the Spring semester is about two months away.  Crap.  To my credit, I have started writing my personal essay and formulating what I will put in my vitae.  However, I do need to sign up for the certificate of clearance and taking the CBEST, let alone doing some refresher studying for it.  I also need to work on scholarships to help pay my tuition.  *Sigh.*

Something I am incredibly grateful for today, though, is that I have the next week off of work for the Thanksgiving break.  I can credit that to working in education ;-)  My mom and I are taking off to Vegas on Tuesday.  She'll be visiting part of her family and I will be visiting with family on my dad's side.  I'm looking forward to that time away and not doing any work during the week.  I have committed that to myself.  I always tend to do work during vacations and that sort of defeats the whole purpose.  On my way out of town, I will be meeting with a surgeon on Tuesday morning for a consultation.  I am quite certain everyone doesn't want me to go into the details here (trust me on that one), but I'm likely going to be having minor surgery based on the results of my recent colonoscopy.  So the surgeon needs to meet with me first, check out the area on my body that needs to be worked on and then probably schedule a surgery date.  How efficient of me for scheduling it on my way out of town.  In case you couldn't see it in my words on the screen, I was being sarcastic!  It's not exactly my idea of fun to meet with a surgeon right before heading out on a road trip, but being able to get an office visit so soon is sometimes incredibly difficult so you gotta do what you gotta do.

I'm glad to be able to relax a little bit and not think a lot about work or the things coming up in the next few months.  I will be taking my laptop with me so that I can work on my application for graduate school so I will be able to blog from the road.  Posting what is going on with me, especially the feelings that come along with activities and future surgery, is really important so that I can be honest about what I'm going through and process everything as I move along.  That's not even just about the surgery, but just my life in general.  The truth is that I don't want to go to food any more in life to have it help me deal with things that come up or used as some sort of crutch to keep me in a larger body. I definitely deserve better.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My head is spinning

I had my orientation today to begin the weight loss surgery process.  When I got to the location of the class, I wondered if I would run into my old counselor from the Optifast program or if people at the front desk would judge me for having gained weight back.  I was actually feeling the nervous nellies when I walked in because of that.  I know it's all about me, not about them.  Of course everything was fine, as I'm sure it was going to be all along.  I got weighed in and my height was measured.  My weight today was 368.  Depressing.  Of course, I had just eaten and had been drinking water all day long so I'm sure that influenced the weight.  I haven't weighed myself in a bit.  I know that I reported my weight the other day, but that was from the last time I weighed.  However, I am here to be honest with myself so, o-freakin-kay, 368 it is.  Gulp.

The session had about 30 people in attendance.  I looked around at the other people, comparing my body to theirs and vice versa. Why?  I don't have a clue.  Maybe it was to convince myself that I was actually there.  Maybe it was to see if I was the worst one in the room.  The more I think about it, it was probably the latter.  In my mind, I convince myself often that there is no one worse than me.  I can say for sure that wasn't the case when I was in that room today.  There were several people, including women, who were larger.  There were a mix of people who were anxious to be there, to get started in this process, and others that I could tell were not very happy.  I get it, though.

I took copious notes, like the lifelong learner that I am, and wanted to document everything here.  It might be useful to others considering the surgery, but it's mostly for me to remember everything I'm going through and to explain the process to my friends (including all of you!) who read this blog.  Here are my steps, at least how I understand them to be today.

  1. Attend the orientation. 
  2. Complete a program questionnaire and return it to the director.
  3. Within a two-week time period, I will be approved to move forward with the surgery.  This does not mean I have final approval, but it means I can move forward with the process.  If, along the way, there become reasons why they deem I should not be approved, they will let me know.  However, they did say it is pretty rare for someone to be turned away after they are initially approved for reasons other than medical.
  4. Attend a Lifestyle & Weight Management class.
  5. Meet with the doctor overseeing the program to discuss my history, surgical options and have questions answered.  My weight at the meeting with the doctor will be my starting weight.  They want all patients to shoot for a pre-surgery weight loss of about 10% from this date.  Even patients who do not meet the 10% goal are not turned away, although they will have to meet with the doctor again.
  6. Fitness walk to determine whether or not I am ambulatory.  The walk is five laps around the parking lot of Kaiser's Positive Choice center.
  7. Begin the 6-month group educational classes.  The classes usually start about six weeks after attending the orientation (step 1).
  8. After finishing the classes, I then attend an orientation about six weeks later through Scripps Pacific Bariatric.  The surgery is not done through Kaiser itself.  They outsource to Scripps Mercy Hospital's Pacific Bariatric Center.  They are supposed to be excellent at the work they do and focus solely on weight loss surgeries.  This orientation is also an opportunity for family/friends to attend with me to learn more about the process.
  9. Meet with the bariatric surgeon, internist and one other doctor (can't remember the specialty at the moment and, of course, I didn't write that one down!).
  10. Go through a series of tests.  Actually, I will have lab work done throughout the process, I believe on a monthly basis.  
  11. Have the surgery.  The entire process, from the time I attend the orientation until I have the surgery is about nine months, although I can have the surgery up to a year after I complete the 6-month classes.
Some of the interesting facts that I learned today were the difference between the three surgeries.  The gastric bypass is considered the gold standard of weight loss surgeries, the creme de la creme, the mother load.  People who are diabetic and have the bypass most of the time go into remission.  The gastric sleeve used to be an interim procedure, something that was temporary for patients before moving on to the bypass.  In terms of the lapband, there have been real problems.  The program director was sharing with us that, of the last 34 lapband-related procedures Pacific Bariatric has performed, 33 were to remove the lapband because of problems patients were having before performing either the bypass or sleeve.  That's pretty significant.

In terms of the surgery itself, 95% of the patients are able to have laproscopic procedures.  This means that, instead of having a surgery where the chest is opened from the breastplate down to almost the waist, five small incisions are done.  This increases healing time and leads to less complications.  The director shared that most patients are not in pain from the surgery; they just feel uncomfortable.  For those that work in an office and don't have highly physical jobs, some can return to work in 1-2 weeks.  It just depends on each person and how well they do at preparing before the surgery and following the "rules" after the surgery.

In terms of the cost, this surgery is $50,000.  Whoa.  However, if you go through all the steps and have Kaiser insurance, you are only responsible for your co-pay.  For me, that is $5 for medications and $10 for all visits or hospital stays.  Here are all the things that have to be paid for:
  • Lab work to enter the Options program
  • Medical appointment to enter the Options program
  • Lab work prior to bariatric surgery referral
  • Medical appointment prior to bariatric surgery referral (only needed if 10% goal weight not met)
  • Psychological assessment at Pacific Bariatric Surgical Medical Group
  • Internal medicine assessment at PBSMG
  • Bariatric surgical consult at PBSMG
  • Hospital and surgical costs
  • Post-surgical consult(s) with bariatric surgeon at PBSMG
  • Medications prescribed by my bariatric surgeon
This is a LOT to process, isn't it?  Imagine what I was feeling!  Thankfully, after this appointment, I met with my therapist and talked about the entire process with her.  She told me that she could tell how confident and sure I am about this and I've clearly made a decision to move forward.  As we talked about everything, we discussed my next couple of appointments with her.  Here was part of our conversation:

"Kathy, we need to talk about how often you want to keep seeing me and what you will do when I'm gone." 

"Oh, are you going on vacation?"

"When I reti ... Wait a minute, you didn't know I'm retiring at the end of January?  I didn't tell you?"

"No, you didn't."

Dang it.  Just when I got into a groove with her, she's leaving!  I get the feeling she's going to talk to me
about phasing out of therapy and perhaps using it as needed.  I don't know that for sure, but that's the way the conversation went.  My feeling is that I am doing so much better than when I first started seeing her.  Yet, I am going to be going through major, life-altering surgery and there are bound to be emotions that come up not only going into the surgery but dealing with things after the surgery is over.  However, I decided that, instead of getting myself all worked up and worried about what will be coming up, I can just take it one step at a time.  I can breathe, in and out, and just put one foot in front of the other, handling the next indicated thing and nothing more past that.  Otherwise, I could get myself worried and projecting too much.  I don't need to put any added stress onto my shoulders, that's for sure.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Made it through the procedure

Mmm, a gallon of fun ... not!
I had my colonoscopy today and it wasn't bad at all.  I do think I should be awarded the title of Dumbass Laureate because of what I did during the prep.  The day before the procedure, you can only have clear liquids, Jello or Popsicles.  So I stocked myself up with water, flavored sparkling water, green Jello, etc.  What I didn't realize is that nothing I had grabbed had any sugar in it.  This is normally fine since I'm a diabetic and try to be aware of the sugar in food. However, since I wasn't eating any food at all to off-set that, this was a problem.  By the time I got home to start drinking the fluids we're required to have, my blood sugar had dropped so low that I was literally shaking and sweating.  I grabbed some Gatorade in the store, but that tasted disgusting to me when I finally got it home.  I started drinking the solution and truly felt like I was going to to hurl any second.  It wasn't pleasant.  Thank God for friends because one of them has had this procedure four times and told me it was safe to suck on Lifesavers as long as they weren't red, blue or purple.  I did have some Lifesavers on hand for diabetic emergencies, so that really helped me feel better.

By the time I went in for the procedure this morning, my head was pounding and my tummy would not stop grumbling because I was beyond starving.  They got me situated in a bed, hooked me up to an IV and blood pressure cuff and then I just waited until it was my turn to go in.  So I laid there in the bed and thought to myself that the next time I'm in a hospital bed will probably be when I have the gastric bypass surgery.  And you know what thought ran through my mind the most?  "I hope the bed in the hospital is more comfortable than this one."  Seriously, that was the thing that I thought of the most.  I wasn't scared of the process or the skill of the medical team.  Maybe that will come in time and maybe it won't.  I think I feel that way because the doctor that performs these surgeries does these all the time.  The bariatric program they have for Kaiser here has this doctor in charge so I'm not questioning skill level at this point.  To my recollection, I haven't ever stayed overnight in a hospital.  Even when I had the melanoma surgery on my back, I went home within an hour or two of waking up from anesthesia.  It's funny thinking about the things that run through our minds.

Sara took care of me with rides and bringing me food after the procedure (thanks girl!).  I got to see her little boy, which is always awesome.  He smiles when he sees me and who couldn't love that.  So now my next step is to call surgery on Friday to book an appointment.  I'm likely going to have to have internal surgery so that's the next part of this particular journey.  The doctor today also is going to do some biopsies on me.  If I learned anything from the mammogram calling thing from the other day, it's not to panic when I get a call from Kaiser.  It can be routine or it can be major; I'll handle it no matter what.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Determining whether or not this is life-saving

I was watching the news this morning and they had a story of a man who was trying hard to have a kidney transplant.  He was scheduled for surgery at UC San Diego, but then the nurses went on strike so it had to be canceled.  This man has been on dialysis nine hours each day and had found a donor coming from out of state.  Because his insurance didn't cover a person not within the state, he had to pay the added expenses.  He shared his plight with local media and then, lo and behold, was rescheduled for surgery (funny how things shifted so quickly when he went on the news...hmm).  I watched his story and saw the joy in his face as he knew he was about to undergo life-saving surgery.  So this made me think about me and the feelings I am going through as I embark on the journey of weight loss surgery, particularly a gastric bypass in my situation.

I wondered, having just watched that story, is the surgery for me in the same category as life-
saving?  Don't get me wrong, I don't have any doubts it is the right avenue for me.  However, I am very introspective and I really need to honor any time I have feelings or emotions pop up, especially when it comes to something like surgery.  This decision is the most difficult and serious one I have ever had to make in my life.  Yes, I have had other surgeries before, one of which was certainly life-saving, but being in the super obesity category forces me to look at this with deeper consideration, especially when there are emotions connected with food.  Can gastric bypass surgery be in the same category as other life-saving surgeries?  For me, I have to think of it with a visual reference to help talk myself through any questions that might pop up in my mind.  If I fell off a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and someone was able to throw me a tool of survival, such as a life preserver, wouldn't I reach for it if I honestly have tried every other effort to save myself?  If it's between grabbing it and having it help me reach safety versus continuing to drown because I'm feeling too proud by saying that I can do it on my own, wouldn't I want to reach for it?  Of course I would!

I have been reading a lot of blogs of other people's experiences with having had the bypass.  I am so grateful they have taken the time to describe the entire process and, especially, talk about the emotions they have gone through.  I realize complications do pop up for people and there might even be physical pain that comes along with the surgery for a few weeks or even a couple of months.  One of the interesting things I noticed is that a lot of people have been talking about fear of excess skin.  I suppose I have a unique perspective because I did have excess skin when I got down to my lowest weight while doing the Optifast program.  If you look on the right side of my blog, you'll see a side by side picture of me at my highest weight and then my lowest weight.  At that smaller weight, the picture looks pretty good but it did hide skin under my clothes.  However, having been there compared to being here at 355 pounds today, I can say for sure that I would take the excess skin in a freaking heartbeat.  In a heartbeat!

For me, and I can only speak for myself, this is absolutely a life-saving surgery.  My health is in just as serious a condition as the man awaiting his kidney transplant.  People die daily from the effects of obesity.  Whether that is a heart attack, diabetes or something else, it is something to never take lightly.  I'm 41 years old and there is huge potential that things can get worse for me.  I'm certainly not saying this to be morbid.  That is not my intention at all.  Rather, it's my way of working through my process.  I have the great potential of being relieved of most, if not all, of the pain I live with constantly.  Both my diabetes and sleep apnea will likely be reversed.  My high blood pressure and high cholesterol will be lowered.  I will significantly decrease the chances of a heart-attack.  Instead of approaching the surgery with the mind-set that I have failed at other attempts to lose the weight and so now I'm "resorting" to the bypass surgery, I think of it as I have the great opportunity to turn things around to live a healthy life.  Forget the excess skin; this is so much bigger than that.  I feel there is such great potential with this road I am now traveling.  I am not approaching this in a negative way at all.  I am thanking God for this blessing and the people who have had the courage to talk to me about this with love and sincerity in their hearts.  You know who you are and I can't tell you with words how much your love for me has deeply touched me.  On Thursday, I will be taking the next step on this journey when I attend the orientation session for bariatric surgery and I'm looking forward that.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I'm putting my foot down and saying no

Last night I had the first session of a 10-week Kaiser class called "Mind-Body Connection".  The focus of the class is designed to help me move away from being an emotional eater to one in which I am purely feeding the body for nourishment.  Sounds great for any person who uses food to deal with emotions (happiness, sadness, boredom, etc.).  The class was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the middle of the county.  So I decided I would just stay late after work and head down south since I live about 25 miles in the opposite direction.  I knew I would encounter some traffic, but, hey, I'm used to it since I spend every day in traffic coming and going from work.  I gave myself plenty of time, but it took an hour just to get from my office to the street.  I had actually plugged the address into my phone so that I could use the GPS to get me there since I'd never been to that particular Kaiser building before.  Down here in this part of California, there are many clinics and office buildings, let alone the hospital, for Kaiser so I wasn't surprised that I didn't know where it was.

As I pulled onto the street, Siri told me that it was on my left side.  It was on a hill and then down into what looked like the backside of buildings in a strip mall.  There were no signs nor addresses on the buildings.  I thought maybe if I pulled out onto another street and tried to come in again, I'd find the right building because clearly this wasn't the one.  So I went around the hospital, which was on the same block, and around to the street again.  Siri told me to turn left.  Tried that again and found a nice older woman who was trying to find the same place. We ran into two Kaiser employees who didn't know which building we were looking for so they guessed it was the office building on the corner on the other side of the street further down.  So I pulled out but there was no parking near that building.  So I had to circle around and try to park in the nearby parking garage only to see a sign that said "Staff Entrance Only".  Okay, fine.  I circled around again and found an entrance to the garage a couple of blocks up.  I had to go up a level to find a spot, but I finally found one, grabbed my purse and tried to haul ass to get to the class because it was already 5:45 by this time.

I encountered the next problem, which was actually getting to the building.  There was a nearby door to cut across to the building, but it was a staff entrance with a code.  This particular parking garage is extra parking for the hospital so there's a walkway to get there from the backside of the hospital but nothing for the particular building I was going to.  So that means I had to walk down the level I was on alongside where cars barrel into the garage and to the front of the entrance down the next level and then finally to the street.  As I started doing that, I almost got hit and, by this time, it was completely dark outside.  The area was not well lit and there wasn't any security around.  I thought to myself, "F*** this, Kathy.  It took you an hour to get down here in stop and go traffic, you're going to have to walk alone down an unprotected area and back after dark and, besides, you're going to learn the same things during the six-month period leading up to the surgery with all the required classes.  Do you really want to do this?"

It took me about five seconds to say hell no, I don't want to do this, and I proceeded to go back to my car, jump in it and haul ass out of there!  If I wasn't going to be participating in months of classes beforehand, maybe it would be a different story, but seriously I don't need to subject myself to that kind of traffic to travel just a few miles (I deal with it going home, but at least we're moving at some point) where it just makes me angry to travel inches at a time and I don't need to walk down dark alleys alone.  I seriously don't want to be the headliner during the 11 o'clock news.  There are times when we just need to say no.  It's becoming easier for me to do that when I've always been the person to agree to do something or people-please in some other way.  I'm learning, as part of this incredible self-care journey I'm on, to take care of my needs and say no when I really want to do that.

As a funny follow-up to the multiple phone calls thing from Kaiser yesterday, I got more today.  In fact, while one of my friends was in my office and my cell phone rang, I showed her who was calling before I picked up.  So I've let any anxiety I was feeling about those phone calls go because it was a comical way to be relieved that I might get a call telling me they've found a lump during my mammogram.  Building up a scenario in my head and playing the "what if" game just isn't helpful at all.  Just let it go, Kathy.  Ahhhh!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cutie patootie and the phone calls

I went to my physical therapy appointment today to deal with the leg pain.  I got to meet Mr. In-Top-Shape Physical Therapist and his dazzling white smile.  He actually was very nice but a bit too good looking for an early morning appointment where I knew his hands would be on me.  It's in those moments that I am uber-aware of my body and how much I would have loved to lose 100 pounds in five minutes by clicking my heels together three times.  It's hard not to compare the unflattering parts of my body with a lean, sculpted body.  I'm trying not to compare, especially man versus woman, but I went there anyway.  Outside of all that, however, he actually was able to get to the heart of my pain.  When he was doing the exam on me, he had to touch my legs and put pressure against my muscles to see where I hurt and man alive was it painful.  He gave me some exercises to work on until our next session.  He did scold me for pushing my body too far when I'm out walking.  He said, at least to start, I really need to curb the amount of time I spend walking.  For example, I should not be walking for anywhere near an hour or more, not right now at least.  I need to build up to that to see where the pain is coming from and then we can reassess.  Otherwise, he is telling me that I need to do non weight-bearing exercises like the station bike, elliptical, swimming, etc.  It's just another reason to move forward on the surgery; relieving me of pain is a big deal.  I go back to see him on November 25th, so I'll be working on the exercises he gave me in the interim.

During yesterday's post, I talked about going to get my mammogram done.  The sweet woman who performed the procedure told me I would find out the results by mail unless something came out abnormally.  If that was the case, I would get a phone call.  So, while I was working today, I missed a call from my doctor's office.  It turned out it was just a reminder to get an eye exam since I have diabetes.  Okay fine.  Then, later on, they called again.  So when I listened to the voicemail message, it was a reminder of an upcoming appointment.  Of course, I don't know any of this when I see "Kaiser" in big letters on my phone.  All I know is that my heart skipped a beat each time.  I have had cancer before, albeit not breast cancer.  I have, however, received the call I was not supposed to receive to tell me the test results showed me positive for cancer.  Your world crushes in around you in that moment.  Feeling relieved from the second call, I was trying to convince myself that nothing was wrong with my mammogram results and to just calm down.

Then the phone rang for a third time.

Seriously??  Yes, it was "Kaiser" calling me again.  This time I was able to pick up the call.  My heart was beating a mile a minute.  The woman on the phone said:

"Is this Kathryn?"

"Yes it is." [I'm attempting to not freak out.]

"This is XXX from your doctor's office."

"Hi!  How are you?"  [Trying to fake that I have no fear inside.]

"I was just calling to ... remind you about your colonoscopy procedure on the 19th."

Are you kidding me right now?  I swear I stopped breathing.  Here I am just going in for a routine exam to make sure everything is in order, just a preventative measure, and I had a moment there where I actually started to worry.  I think it was another great reminder for me to just try to stay as calm and patient as I can unless I have reason to react in another way.  I suppose the fear was just remembering that moment in time when I learned about the melanoma coursing through my body.  I never want a repeat of that moment when I doctor tells me over the phone that I have cancer.  I can't describe what it does to a person but I'm sure you can imagine.  I don't want to relieve that difficult time all over again.  So far so good on no more phone calls coming from Kaiser.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Does it really hurt as bad as people say?

Warning:  I will talk about boobies being squished so this is your chance to stop reading this entry now if that bothers you!

Okay, continuing on ...

I had my first-ever mammogram today.  I do have a family history of breast cancer on my mom's side, my own melanoma as well as pancreatic cancer and leukemia on my dad's side.  Even though I'm not 50 yet, I am in a risky category so I did go in.  I had to face the robe that wouldn't fit me.  That was lovely.  [Oh Lord, will I ever get to the place where I won't worry about hospital gowns not fitting me any longer?  I digress though.] The person doing the mammogram told me to take off my bra and top and then come out wearing the gown with the opening in the front.  I might as well have just walked out with no top on, that would have been more comfortable.  I was going to put up some snarky little picture to go with this post, but I'll just let your imagination go wild if you've never had one before if you're a woman.  The best thing I can say is imagine someone picking up your boob, lying it on top of a flat digital scale (the kind you weigh yourself on) and then slowly putting pressure on it with another cold flat scale while you're holding your breath in for them to take an x-ray.  Sounds comfy, huh?  They contort it and do the same for the other side.  Actually, it didn't really hurt, just was a little uncomfortable.  I was kind of giggling because I never realized how big my boobs were.  I know, that's way more than you wanted to know, but it made me laugh because I never really paid attention before.  It's just hard not to notice when they are squeezing you between two panes of glass.  Then I wondered that, as I lose the weight, will they shrink, too?  Back when I was on Optifast and I had lost all so much weight, I went down a couple of bra sizes in the width.  It is truly okay by me if I lose some in that department.

Tomorrow morning I have an appointment to see a physical therapist to work on my leg pain.  I'm looking forward to that, but also not looking forward to it.  I've been through physical therapy before and while it does feel better afterwards, it is pretty painful while it's being worked on.  I'm hoping for some relief in that department.  Pain makes me not want to exercise and it becomes a vicious cycle.  I need to kick up my exercise, particularly as I get closer to the time when I will have the surgery because it's got to be a regular part of my life then.  I wish it was now, but sometimes I just don't want to work out.  Sometimes, when I get home from work, I  just want to take a nap or watch TV.  My sleep apnea could have something to do with it or it could be I'm just in a lazy mode.  Sometimes I am drained after working all day long and just feel like I don't have the energy for more.  I'll get there again, though.  I used to go to school after work, so I know I can do the exercise, it's just hard when all I want to do is sleep.  Even now, it's 6:50 in the evening and I want to go to sleep.  How bad is that?  Perhaps it is my body telling me to get a clue!

Ugh, another sleep study

I decided today that I was going to be proactive and contact Kaiser's sleep clinic to pick up where I left off from a couple of years ago in getting a CPAP machine for the sleep apnea I have.  I know that it will be required for me to get the machine if I have a sleep apnea diagnosis leading up to getting the weight loss surgery so I thought I'd give myself the six months or so to try to adapt to it on my face.  The huge problem I had before is that the machine they gave me to test on a few years ago felt like a mask a firefighter uses on his face before he rushes into a burning house to save lives.  A friend and I went on Google Images and looked up various types of CPAPs to see if all the styles were huge on your face or if perhaps there were different styles that made it a little easier to sleep.

Firefighter or ...
"Hellooo Clarice!"
In all seriousness, there are masks where I don't look like Hannibal Lecter.  In fact, they have some that are just nasal.  I called the clinic and talked to them about my various options.  My next step is to participate in another sleep study.  If anyone's counting (because I sure am), this will be sleep study number three.  They gave me the option of doing it at home first because the doctors wanted me to participate in a formal sleep study, which includes an overnight stay.  I can't imagine I would sleep very well with people staring at me from behind a one-way mirror on top of having the machine on my face.  As I thought about it, my list of medical appointments is growing and growing.  Here's what I have going on in the next couple of months:

  • 11/13 - Mammogram
  • 11/14 - Physical Therapy (which will be weekly) and beginning of my Mind Body Path 10-week class at Kaiser (which will also be weekly)
  • 11/19 - Colonoscopy
  • 11/21 - Bariatric Surgery Info Session and therapist appointment
  • 12/2 - Lifestyle & Weight Management class, part of the bariatric surgery process
  • 12/3 - Beginning of third sleep study
  • 12/6 - Meeting with physical medicine doctor to follow up with my leg pain
  • 12/9 - Therapist appointment
  • 1/7 - Follow-up appointment with GI Specialist

Is it no wonder why I am moving forward on the surgery?  While some of these things are routine types of appointments, others are weight-related.  As I have stressed before, this is a quality of life issue.  I was thinking today about how I am going to tell my father, who is extremely anti-surgery, that I will be going through with this medically necessary path.  I think, as with everything else, I am going to have to take this one step at a time.  I can't worry about his reaction at the same time that I am dealing with my own feelings around all of this.  I am walking forward in a positive light, knowing God walks with me, so I can't be too concerned about how upset my dad will be about this.  Besides, this is early on in the process so I can deal with telling him further along after I have approval to move forward.  Right now, this is about me and no one else.  My needs must come first when I am dealing with life-altering (albeit very positive) surgery.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My medical history

I contacted Kaiser today to sign myself for the next step towards the bypass surgery, which is to attend an information session.  During that workshop, they will go over the different choices available as well as discuss all facets of the surgery process.  I'm guessing they will likely have speakers who have had the various surgeries to share their experiences.  That info session is scheduled for Thursday, November 21st.  At the same time, I scheduled myself for a Lifestyle and Weight Management class on December 2nd, which is required prior to beginning the program.  There really are a lot of steps to this process.  I'm just hoping I can keep everything straight!

Thanks to those of you who have contacted me privately after I posted about wanting to pursue the surgery.  It's meant a great deal to have the support.  I've had some really great conversations with people who have already had the surgery and I was able to ask the questions that have been popping into my head.  As I shared in my last post, I am having peace around all of this.  I may not feel as peaceful on another day, but right now, in this very moment, I am at peace with my decision to move forward with the surgery.  One of the reasons for that is the potential relief from the many physical problems I deal with every day.  In an effort to be as transparent and honest as possible, here's a list of all of the various conditions from my Kaiser medical record:


When I look at this list, it really is no wonder why I am seeking relief.  Having all of these things at one time is not conducive to a good quality of life.  I'm still a young person and I want to be around for a long time.  I can hardly believe I'm sharing all of this online, but here I am!  At this point, it doesn't seem like anything is off limits anymore.  Okay, you probably will never seem me in pictures bearing me in my underwear as some other people do on their sites.  I'm brave but not that brave.  I will be sharing my process with everyone, though, just as I did with Optifast and other programs.  It's what I need to do for me - full disclosure helps me to be honest.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Doing my research

I have spent the better part of today doing a lot of research about weight loss surgery.  Right now I am
looking to the gastric bypass, although I am open to all possibilities.  There is so much freakin information out there, probably more than I ever wanted to know.  I am focusing on positive things right now, so posts and blogs from people living in negativity were not things I spent much time on.  I do want to know all perspectives, but I am not approaching this in a negative way at all.  I definitely know there are risks, pretty serious ones in fact, but I know those discussions will come in time with the medical staff at the clinic.  Right now what I want is to find out about the experiences others have had, how their lives have changed and if moving forward with this is the right thing for me.  I am particularly interested in the emotional side of this because I know weight loss surgery is just a tool.  I am the one that will have to do all the work, follow all the rules and deal with the addiction to food.  The only way for me to find out about that is to be honest with myself here (and, as an extension, with all of you who read my site).

Yesterday when I posted about the reasons for pursuing the surgery, I forgot one very important thing which was sleep apnea.  Several years ago, I got tested for sleep apnea, having gone through two separate sleep studies.  They told me that my case was one of the worst they have seen, with something like an 80% loss of oxygen in the night.  I truly can't remember exactly what the specialist told me at the time, but I just remember that it was bad.  I was going to be fitted for a CPAP, but the company doing it wanted me to go through yet another sleep study.  I finally said that it was something I didn't want to do.  I couldn't sleep at all when I did the original sleep studies.  I guess I just wasn't used to things on my face, especially with being a tummy sleeper.  So the thought of doing yet another study where I wouldn't be able to sleep was like torture.  However, now it's something I need to face, especially if I go through with the surgery.  In fact, I think doing a sleep study is a requirement.  As I think about all the reasons why I would want to have the surgery, the list keeps growing as to why it's a positive thing for me.  Do you ever reach a point where you're sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Yeah, me too ... I'm there now.  

As I think about things, I'm really in a good space with it.  The fear that I was feeling is gone.  I think it really
helps that I have read a lot of blogs from people who have gone through the surgery, including what they were going through before, during and after the surgery.  The things that I won't be able to eat or drink after the surgery, at first, seemed very permanent.  And, don't get me wrong, they are.  It was things like beverages with bubbles (soda, champagne), oranges, sweets with too much sugar.  Or the fact that I will have to take vitamins for the rest of my life.  Bigger picture though - are these things worth it to me if I will have a better quality of life, a longer life?  Right now I am in pain all the time, I mean all the time.  While I can and do exercise a few times a week, it takes a while for me to recover because of the pain. The back pain, leg pain, arm pain ... just pain coursing throughout my body 24/7, it's hard to function normally.  I try to do the best I can but behind my smile is a world of pain that I mask a lot.  Trust me, the surgery is not the easy way out, as a lot of people in society think it is.  It's thoughtful consideration on my part, not only today but in the months ahead.  As always, I am praying that God guides me through this to help me see that I am making the right decision for my health.  Forget my pant size, this is about my health.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Change is afoot

I had a very busy week of doctor's visits.  On Wednesday, I went to see both the Physical Medicine doctor and then my therapist.  It was early Wednesday morning, I mean really early so I was still trying to wake up a little bit.  I was in the room waiting to be seen by her so I decided to go on my phone to make the time pass.  As I looked around the room to check out my surroundings, I happened to notice a full length mirror on the side.  I glanced into it caught an image of myself sitting in the chair so I decided to take a selfie to share with all of you and keep for myself.

And, in that moment, my world shifted.  I am posting a big image of this pic because I don't ever want to forget how I felt in the moment.  How did I get back here?  It's true that I haven't gained all my weight back from my Optifast adventure, but I'm knocking on the door.  The doctor finally came in and we talked about the issue with my leg.  She believes it's bursitis in my hip, so she had me change into a gown, lay on my side and she proceeded to give me a cortisone shot right into my hip.  Painful, yes, but it paled in comparison to what I was feeling internally about my image in the mirror.  After discussing physical therapy options with me for my leg, she proceeded to talk to me about weight loss options.  I have been doing the Jenny Craig program and expressed how everything had been going there.  I have been experiencing digestive issues (although this goes back some time) and the fact that Jenny and the Weight Watchers program before that don't deal very well with the emotional issues that come with being obese and trying to lose the weight.  After my last visit to my primary care doctor, she was really urging me to stop Jenny because of some medical issues I had been having.  The Physical Medicine doctor I was seeing gave me a handout of options available.  One was a full-food program at the same center where I did the Optifast program.  That looked encouraging since they deal with whole foods and group counseling.  Besides, it was less expensive than Jenny.  So I thought I'd at least check into it.

The next appointment, that same day, was with my therapist.  I discussed the program I just described to her and she agreed it would be something to look into, especially when they have a focus on the reasons why we pick up food, not just what type of food we pick up.  Yet, in conversations with a couple of friends and the thinking I was doing with myself, it felt like something was still missing.  Would I be just jumping from one diet program to another?  Would I be happy with this decision or perhaps looking for more?  I did manage to call my Jenny consultant and told her what was going on with all the digestive issues I have been having and that I would be stopping for a bit to see if my system does better without that food.  [By the way, it is a few days later and, in fact, I am having some digestive improvement.]  Since I started doing this blog, I have gone through Optifast, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and now ... well, what's next?

So I talked some more with a friend and I ended up calling the clinic where I did Optifast to ask about the full-food program.  In the meantime, I went home that night and did a lot of praying for God to show me the right direction.  You're never going to believe what came out of that ... I ended up sending an e-mail to my primary care doctor and asked her if I would be a good candidate for bariatric surgery.  Yup, you read that right.  Several years before I went on Optifast, I had actually contacted the clinic to get some information on surgical options, but I chickened out at the time.  I just wasn't ready.  I remember discussing it with my dad and he was dead-set against me doing it.  Of course, I am an adult and can make my own decisions but his opinion does really mean a lot to me.  As I was praying about the right thing to do for me, I realized that possibly going through surgery is not out of the realm of possibility.  In fact, I had discussed that very thing with my friend earlier in the day.  My doctor did get back to me and told me what the parameters are for me to participate in the surgery through Kaiser, should I choose to do so.  The first thing I would need to do is contact the clinic to get started.

That night, which still Wednesday, I started doing a lot of research online.  When I do research, I immerse myself in whatever information I'm trying to gather and that's what I did that night.  I was particularly interested in people's experiences having their surgery through Kaiser since, if I do it, that is where I will get it done.  I couldn't really sleep that night, just thinking about so many different things.  The next day, I did call to get a packet of information sent out to me.  I then continued my conversation with my friend and then went in to see another friend at work who actually has had a weight loss surgery.  We had had a conversation years before about weight loss surgery, but I just don't think I was ready at that time.  There is some fear, but not necessarily even about the surgery itself.  It's about my feeling like a part of my body will be missing (which technically will be gone), it's feeling like I've "failed" at other weight loss attempts and will I fail at this, too?  I really appreciated her insight and sharing very personal things with me about her own experience.  I know other people who have had the surgery, too, and will be talking to them.

The thing with all of this is that it doesn't feel absolutely ridiculous to me.  Instead, even though I am feeling a bit scared, there's also peace there for me.  I know people will judge me, I know that will happen, but right now I'm not caring about that.  Even my dad, who will be very upset should I go down this road, is not a factor here.  This is my decision and my health is at stake.  My friend made a very good suggestion to me, which was to make a pro and con list about my reasoning for this course of action.  So, some of my pros are:

  • Most diabetic people who have the gastric bypass have the condition reversed - that is absolutely huge to me because I do worry about losing limbs or my eyesight
  • It will help with cholesterol that has become high again, blood pressure that is creeping up again and putting me in a generally healthier place
  • With weight off my body, I will have less aches and pains that I experience now
  • I really feel like I'll get some confidence back instead of usually being the biggest person in the room wherever I go
  • It is a very serious surgery and there are serious risks that I cannot overlook - some people develop complications or even die
  • It is not a quick and easy process (although this is becoming a pro), taking at least six months before I can even have the surgery let alone the time it takes to lose the weight after that
I know there are more pros and cons, but this is just the beginning part for me.  The truth is that, for me, the benefits outweigh the cons because at my current weight, this becomes a quality of life issue.  I feel like I'm trapped in a body that betrays me at every turn right now.  I know that surgery is not going to "save" me ... it is a tool.  I am in a dangerous place with my health and I need more support than I have now.  My clothes don't fit me, I am breathing heavier, sweating more frequently and am just fighting to lose the weight using my current methods.  I'm classified as super morbidly obese, even though I don't feel that on the inside, and I just want to be healthier.  This is not about the size of my jeans.  It's about my life.  

So, I received the packet from the clinic today.  It talks about the different surgical options, the stages of the program leading up to the surgery and where to go from here.  I'm still reading the information and digesting as much as possible.  Next week, after Veteran's Day, I'll call the clinic to schedule an orientation session.  I have to remember, just like everything else in life, that I need to take baby steps.  All I know is that, for right now, this feels right for me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Yeah, there's NO way

I got out of work a few hours early today because I'm conducting a workshop in the evening tomorrow and so it was comp time.  I thought to myself, "Hmm, what should I do with my few hours?"  Then I got excited when I thought where I'd go ... Costco!  Ha ha, yeah I know, that was totally pathetic.  It wasn't Costco itself that made me giddy but the very idea that there would hardly be anyone there since it was about 1:45ish on a  Monday afternoon.  When I pulled up, my face dropped when I realized that not everyone works for a living.  Dammit.  Oh well, at least I was there and didn't feel rushed.  I decided, just for fun, to turn on my MapMyWalk app to see how far I was walking in there.  I'm always curious when I go to stores and it feels like I'm going down every aisle to see exactly how far I go.  I knew I would be stopping at the counter to order contacts so it would be leisurely.  Look what it recorded.

You might want to click on the picture above to see the full detail, but it said I walked 4.95 miles in 38 minutes.  Um, there is no way on God's green earth that happened.  I was either running down the aisles or somehow the GPS had a problem connecting with the satellite because I was indoors and it was in the pocket of my jeans.  It actually made me laugh out loud when I saw that.  Almost 5 miles and I didn't even break a sweat.  Ha ha ha!!

Yeah, okay, so I laugh at myself sometimes because I'm soooo funny.  It's good to laugh sometimes.  I want to share something that happened today and if you're at all squeamish, you may want to stop reading now.  I'll even start a new paragraph so you can totally avoid what I'm going to write.

As I've alluded to before, one of the issues that I have been dealing with since I began Optifast over a year and a half ago (even though I'm not on it now) is that I've been having digestive issues.  I didn't know I was lactose intolerant until I was actually on the program.  There are problems besides being lactose intolerant, though.  Without going into very specific details, my tummy is not happy with me any time I have fiber.  Given that I am eating healthier these days, trying to incorporate a nice array of fruits and veggies into my diet, there's no way to stay away from fiber.  Yet, when I cut back on it, that also creates other problems.  My experience with Optifast created some major problems with my system.  I can only assume this because I never had them before the program and they have stayed with me up to this point.  There has been some major damage that has occurred and I am in pain all the time.  It's sort of difficult to talk about because it's probably one of the most embarrassing things to have to deal with.  I've gone to several doctors and am working with a GI specialist, all who have performed some incredible invading examinations on me that have caused me even greater pain.  Sometimes that necessary to get to the heart of the problem, I get that, but it's painful nonetheless.  After having tried several solutions, our next step is for me to have a colonoscopy performed.  They gave me an option, actually of having a procedure where I am fully awake or the colonoscopy where I am sedated.  Um, I'll take option B please.  That is scheduled for November 19th and I'm already nervous about it.  I'm trying not to be, but when I'm already in pain and I know what they're going to do, I suppose it's just a natural reaction.  

After the colonoscopy results come back, I then need to make an appointment with a surgeon to have another procedure done on the area.  This is assuming everything is normal with the colonoscopy.  I know people who have had it done and they say the worst part is the preparation leading up to it.  I understand that when they explain what has to happen to prep for it, but the hard part for me on top of it is that I know I'm going to have to have a surgery even without an abnormal reading in an area that already hurts.  I have to be  honest and say a big part of me wants to just pick up food and eat over this.  That's my emotional response, as it always has been, to difficult situations that I certainly don't want to deal with.  Yet, I also know that part of changing old habits takes practice, meaning that I can't react the way I always have in the past.  Maybe that means I have to white-knuckle it in the moment, but I have to sit with the uncomfortable feelings (ha - no pun intended) and know that I always have God to get me through any difficulty.  Oh Lord, You are my light.  Perhaps this is why I can laugh at the ridiculous that comes about in life, like me walking 5 miles in 38 minutes.  Hee hee.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

What am I doing up at this hour?

The time is supposed to change in about an hour and really I should be fast asleep, but I'm not.  For some reason, I am totally wide awake and working on my graduate school essay of all things.  Go figure!  I think I know why I was inspired to work on it, though.  First, I am the worst procrastinator ever.  I have until mid-January to get all my materials in so I think I have a world of time left.  Technically, I do have a lot of time, but there's no reason for me to wait until the night before the application is due to get everything in.

A good example of this for me is the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.  My mom and I are headed out to Vegas to spend four days there.  I have been procrastinating on making the hotel reservations.  She has comped rooms available, so we'd only have to pay for one night.  I kept putting it off and finally, when I decided to get off my butt and book, lo and behold we can't get a room for our last night there at the hotel.  She gave me this "I told you so" look.  Uh oh!  While we are there, my mom is going to spend the time with my brother, his wife, my mom's cousin and her husband.  Meanwhile, my dad and stepmom are coming in from Utah and my stepbrother, his wife and their little girl are coming in from Portland so I'll be spending the time with all of them.  The last night we're there is my dad's birthday, so we'll just have to find a room somewhere else.

Second reason I decided to work on my application is because we are busy helping the kids at work with their college essays right now.  All of us in the counseling department, me included, are having kids coming up to us wanting us to read their essays and provide feedback.  Given that I have been not turning any kids away who ask for the help, I figured it was only fitting that I work on my own essay.  As I started writing it, I realized that this is going to be no easy feat at all.  Here is what the five-page essay has to include:

"Write about your personal journey coming to this point where you want to pursue the Educational Counseling MA here [Azusa Pacific University], why you want to do it, and how you feel it will help you with your future academic and professional goals".

As I started writing, I wondered to myself how personal I should really get.  Even though it's double-spaced, five pages is a lot to avoid writing about my history that led me to want to pursue that master's degree.  If I don't include my personal history, the essay will be lacking.  But do I really talk about living in an abusive home or share that I was raped?  After going back and forth on this, I decided to just start typing and whatever comes out comes out.  I certainly can edit things out later.  As I started writing, I realized just how much I have been through in my life up to this point, including the amazing forgiveness I have been able to give others for the wrongs done to me.  As I have written before in previous posts, I now realize more than ever how important it is for me to forgive myself.  I'm not saying I had a part in the things that were done to me, but hanging on to the coulda-shoulda-woulda thinking is not helping me.  When I was a kid, I did the best I could to get through things.  I never thought about telling someone what was going on.  For a very long time, I have not forgiven myself for that.  Man alive, it's freakin time to let it go already!  I think about events later in my life where I absolutely hurt other people on a very deep level and I have never given myself permission to even think of forgiving myself.  Time to let it go now.  These realizations came about because I started working on my paper.  Go figure.

Speaking of graduate school, I finally got my bachelor's degree in the mail.  That was such a wonderful, joyous thing to receive.  Back in May, when I went through my graduation ceremony, my co-workers got me the most lovely frame to put my diploma in when it was time.  The top of the frame has an image of my campus and the bottom is where the degree goes.  Check it out below.

I know you can't read it but it says that I have been conferred the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences.  Yeah baby!!  It's a symbol of perseverance that I proudly display in my office.  May I always remember that I can do anything as long as I work as hard as possible at it.