Saturday, December 27, 2014

Taking care of myself

Yesterday I had posted about, among other things, seeing a wonderful new man in my life.  I deleted the post in a moment of extreme emotion.  This person, a scientist here where I live, was amazing.  Intelligent, attractive, easy to talk to and we were both having very strong feelings for one another.  I talked to one of my friends about the intensity and she advised me to pull back a little.  She was right, really right as it turns out.  I decided it was time to research him.  I started by searching his name.  Everything seemed in line there with what he told me.  Then I decided to do a picture search.  I learned this from watching that "Catfish" show.  I took the images I had of him and searched through Google.  The second picture rocked my world.  It linked me to a dating profile.  Not too shocking because we met online.  Except for his pictures and the fact that he is a scientist living in my city, everything else was different.  In the profile, he was looking for kink.  He wanted a woman with a certain look to come into a room, dress in a sexy bikini and humiliate him.  There would be no sex but he wanted to be talked down to for an hour each time.  He would pay for this "service".  I sat there with my jaw open initially.  Then, the more I read, tears started to fall down my face.  Who was this man?  We were talking about our hopes and dreams, possibly having children in the future, amazed at our similarities.  All the while, there was this other side to him.   The work he had done with me was absolutely elaborate, if, in fact, it was all a lie.  So I confronted him and ripped him a new one.  I wouldn't let him explain because, really, there was no explanation.  The profile was accessed the same day so I knew it wasn't old. I told him to never, ever contact me again.  And I told him that just because a person is intelligent doesn't prevent him from being a prick. 

I thank God showed me his true colors before it was too late.  The only problem is that I already was having feelings for him.  What he did was cruel and I know it was a sickness on his part.  I took a sleeping pill so I could get some sleep.  When I took up, I made the conscious effort to not eat over this and go work out.  I did an angry work out.  My body took s pounding for the next hour and a half.  I needed it, though.  I can't eat over this.  That gives him too much power over me.

I know that I will move on and he was a toad on my way to finding a prince.  That doesn't make it hurt any less.  However, I will not eat over this.  My body won't let me after the weight loss surgery and my heart won't give him the satisfaction.  The sting of this will get better, I know.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Updates in my world

Oh my goodness, I had absolutely no clue that I have not been blogging as infrequently as I have.  All I can say is that I am incredibly sorry.  Sincerely.  Things have just been so busy with work, dating and graduate school.  No, these are not excuses but I have to own what has been going on. So let's see if I can update a few things.

I went to see my surgeon this past Monday for a check-up appointment.  He is absolutely thrilled with my progress.  Here I was thinking I wasn't doing great because I'm in a stall right now but he actually told me that I'm doing amazing.  Amazing?  Yes!  At three months, their hope is to have Bariatric patients at a 60 pound loss.  As of that morning, I think I was at a 73 pound loss.  He said all of my numbers looked fantastic and that, basically, I'm a very healthy girl.  Let me tell you, that was absolutely wonderful news.  I always worry that I'm not getting in enough protein.  I know I certainly don't get in enough water and I have to do a better job of drinking it.  It has always been my challenge to get in enough water, but it is even more of a challenge now that I can only take sips.  However, the sips are bigger now so I need to remember that the drinking is for continued good health.

On the dating front, I can't even begin to tell you how crazy that has been. I was seeing someone exclusively but there were issues there and so I decided to stop that relationship. So I have been dating other people and getting to know them. Online dating is not an easy adventure at all but it has been fun and certainly entertaining. I keep telling friends that I need to keep records of the various people who contact me - their pictures,  their comments, their messages - because it will make a fantastic book one day, certainly entertaining.  The one thing I can say is that of the various men who have contacted me, I certainly have felt incredibly beautiful and pretty. When I started this online dating adventure, I was hoping that perhaps I would be contacted by one or two people but it has been amazing to me that it's been quite the opposite experience. On a daily basis, I have no less than about 10 men contact me who are interested in getting to know me better.  Obviously there are some that are just out for sex but that's not surprising when it comes to online dating.  You take the good with the bad.  They have been distracting, however, so I have to be aware that the time I spend talking to various people takes me away from other activities so I need to be careful about that.

Grad school has been going great. It certainly is a lot of work, don't get me wrong. However, I am really enjoying the program and the fellow students in my cohort that I work with.  I love my program and I'm so glad that I decided to pursue this masters program.  Right now, the work I need to do in the program has to take priority over dating certainly and any other activities that I choose to participate in that distract me from spending the time on my graduate work.

Today I have myself s very special treat, one that has been in the works for quite some time.  I have always wanted a tattoo and I decided to go for it and get myself one for my birthday that's was last week.  I had something very specific in mind.  I wanted to commemorate the fantastic journey I have been on since getting the weight loss surgery.  I'm about halfway to goal and so I wanted something special that symbolizes the things I have been through.  So my idea was to inscribe the date of my surgery and a beautiful, colorful butterfly flying away from it.  It would symbolize freedom, hope and a new beginning.  Through a friend, I found an artist who was able to bring my vision to life.  Now, I have never had a tattoo before so I was imagining a world of pain.  People telling me that it would be crazy painful didn't help things at all.  But I figured that if I was brave enough to have gastric bypass surgery, I was brave enough for this.  It took three hours of me laying in my tummy, but I did it!  Thanks to my good friend who stayed with me the entire time and took pics.  That meant so much to me.  In terms of the pain, it wasn't bad at all for the most part.  Most of the time, it felt like just a deep scratching.  There were times, though, where it hurt because it was near bone.  That tends to hurt more.  Anyway, I put together a little pic slideshow.  Click on the following link to view it: 

Here is the finished product.

This was an amazingly emotional experience but one that I would do in a heartbeat.  The tattoo artist accidentally left out a line in the date, so it should say 8-22-2014 in Roman numerals.  That's an easy fix so he will work on that this week.

Okay, I think I have you all caught up for now.  I do have to work on blogging here more though.  Thanks for continuing to follow along!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Spending time with family

Hi my lovelies,

Happy belated Thanksgiving.  I hope everyone had an awesome holiday full of thanks with family and friends.  My mother and I went to visit my brother and sister-in-law out in Las Vegas.  Overall I would say it was a good visit. I discovered bow bad my mother's foot and mouth disease really is though. She was going on and on about how bad she felt I looked after I gained weight at the conclusion of the Optifast program I was on.  And I quote...

"After you got off Optifast, you got really fat really fast.". 

I responded with, "Gee, thanks mom.". I was fuming. She said this in front of everyone.  I told her that was incredibly rude to say and she responded by telling me that she was just "keeping it real.". I told her that just because someone says they're keeping it real does not mean you can say whatever.  People have feelings and emotions.  Later I told her I was still mad but she just didn't get it. I raised my voice at her and told her she was rude.  How would she feel if someone said she was "incredibly fat", especially in front of other people?  Getting off the safety and security and Optifast was hard, made even harder by gaining weight back.  I stood my ground though.  If she wasn't talking about my body post-Optifast then she was talking about how much I'm dropping now.  I totally get why people say they don't want to tell any family.  Other than all of that, the rest of the visit was perfectly normal. Well, as normal as can be expected. 

Over the holiday week, I upgraded my iPhone to the 6+ and I'm typing this post on my new Microsoft Surface Pro.  New gadgets are fun, aren't they?  I bought the tablet for my master's work but the phone was an upgrade for me.  Now I can be all over my house doing my work.  Heck, I can even be outside in my back patio while using the Surface.  That's what I'm talking about!  Grad school is completely challenging so anything that makes my life easier is a good thing.

I have been really lax on posting to this blog.  I swear I'm not doing it on purpose, but its still happening.  So I'm committing here and now that I will post something everyday for the next week.  I want to get back in the groove of doing what I know works.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I'll have you know that I'm perfectly normal

I have had a very long relationship with my primary care doctor.  She has been overseeing my healthcare for about 20 years.  As such, she's seen me go through so much with declining health as well as all the improvements I've made.   Since I had the gastric bypass done, she continues to monitor me.  Recently, I had some lab work done to check on my A1C level for diabetes.  This is a certain test to determine your average blood sugar readings over the past 2-3 months.  The ultimate goal is to have a diabetic at a level 7.1 or lower.  I've had times when my level was at a 12!  My diabetes was absolutely out of control and no amount of medication, diet or exercise was keeping my levels healthy.  Well, I'm pleased to report that I'm now normal.  The A1C I just had done says my level is 6.9.  Happy dance time! 

I don't know how it works in the body that after you have this sort of surgery, your diabetes goes into remission.  All I know is that it has.  For all intents and purposes, I'm no longer a diabetic.  Yes, I continue to monitor, but I no longer present as someone with diabetes.  I can't even tell you how thrilled my doctor is.  She has told me she is absolutely proud of me for taking control of my health and being so brave.  Having the surgery is incredibly scary.  Putting your trust in the care of a surgeon who will ultimately change your life is mind-blowing.  Yet, it was the best decision I ever made.  Period.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and don't recognize my own face.  Who is that staring back at me?  This is really about meeting myself all over again.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekly weigh-in

Hi gang.  I weighed in this morning and I lost 4.4 pounds this week, bringing me down to 284 pounds from my top weight of 420 pounds.  It's been so fantastic seeing the weight dropping off my body.  I am also working really hard, so it's not falling off by itself.  For example, I knew that I would have class tonight, so I got up early this morning to exercise.  I also went on a couple of walks during the day.  At this point I'm already over 15,000 steps and it's not even 5pm.  Feeling pretty damn proud of myself.

Speaking of school, I did start my master's program last week.  It has been thrilling and absolutely exhausting at the same time.  When I was working on some reading for class, it hit me that I'm really doing this.  Me, little Kathy, who always doubted herself, is in a freaking master's program.  That is so rad.

On the dating front, things hVe been going well overall.  I did decide to stop seeing the hot 23-year old.  He was certainly a LOT of fun, but we're just in different places.  Not to worry though, I somehow have my pick of guys interested in me.  I just have so many contacting me.  And here I was thinking no one would be interested.  So right now I'm just having fun, dating around.  Don't worry, I'm being safe and careful.

Got to head in to class.  Until next time!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Constipation woes and shocking other people

One of the issues people have to deal with that have bariatric surgery is constipation.  I know that I have to use aids to help me because things just don't "flow" correctly (I seriously am trying not to be vulgar).  What works for me is that I stay regular when I drink one cap full of Miralax with a beverage in the evenings.  As long as I do that religiously, then I have no problems.

Well guess who has not done that religiously?  I know, hanging my head in shame.  Now it's uncomfortable to sit.  I have been drinking more to get things moving again, but it may take a day or two to catch up.

Not to place blame, but I have been preoccupied.  Since I started dating or preparing to do so, I seem almost addicted to it.  It's a strange feeling.  I can acquaint it to a young teenage girl getting excited about meeting a boy she's interested in and everything becomes about that boy.  I'm experiencing the same thing, but as a 42-year-old woman.  I have the butterflies in my tummy.  It just amazes me how much I think about him and what possibilities lie in front of me.  It's not even just with him but dating in general.  When you're an obese or overweight person, this part of life often times feels like it is not attainable for you, as if everyone else is in on a secret you are just not privy to.  Yet, here I am, right in the thick of it, feeling beautiful and worthy.  I pray we should all feel that way.  We all deserve to feel that way.

Today my mother came over for a visit and she hasn't seen me in about a month.  She has a key to my house so she came in while I was in the restroom.  When I walked into the room, her jaw just dropped.  She said the weight difference is incredibly noticeable.  When you look at me, you can clearly see it in my jawline and around my hands.  It's the little things that become noticeable, like collarbones and seeing actual wrists.  I know you guys know what I'm talking about.  These non-scale victories are huge.  I did tell her about the new guy in my life and that she should not be using that key unless she gets my permission to enter beforehand, for obvious reasons.  She blushed when I told her that.  I did admit he is younger and she was trying to guess how much younger and she wanted me to show her pictures.  In time I will share with her the details, but for right now we are having fun and I don't want things to dampen that.  There definitely is an age difference, but I don't want others (including myself) judging the situation unfairly.  Besides, he pursued me, not the other way around.

Anyway, here I am trying to be a better blogger!  Off to bed I must go.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Trying to find balance

Kathy has been a bad blogger!  I'm sorry.  Things are going not so great on the work front and fanatastic in my personal life.

I can't go into specifics in terms of what's been happening at work so I'll have to be in generalities.  My position is classified and not certificated.  However, there has generally been a healthy mutual respect.  Over the last 6 months or so, a certain group of certificated people have been treating me and a co-worker like shit lately.  After trying to ignore the problem, things have just gotten worse.  So we recently confronted them and got administration involved.  It's not just us who have been dealing with this.  Other people have used the word "toxic" when describing the work environment.  So anyway, we have stood up for ourselves. In some ways, things are better.  In others, not so much.  It's caused a great deal of stress and anger.  I'm trying my best to hang in there though.

And now onto the fantastic part!  I decided that it was time for me to start dating again.  It's been three years since I've been in a relationship so I was really nervous.  I decided to try online dating as a way to meet people.  The first day I signed up, I had 30 men contact me.  From the time I put my profile up until yesterday, I'd estimate 70 have contacted me.  It was absolutely overwhelming.  Some were trying to be scammers, but most were not.  I had my first date last night with a guy I really like. The whole day through, I had butterflies in my tummy.  He is 6'1" to my 5'10" so even that excited me.  His pictures did him no kind of justice.  He's very fit, sexy and just amazing.  I didn't feel self-conscious at all being around him.  And he told me how beautiful and gorgeous he thought I was often. Oh, then there's the age thing.  Friends, I am officially a cougar.  He is so much younger than me but you couldn't tell from how well we connected.  He was so sweet with me and we had a great conversation.  We already made plans for date number two next week.  No matter how bad things have been at work, being the target of affection with someone I'm so attracted  to just makes it so much better.  

So anyway. On the whole, things are fabulous!  I need to improve with my bad blogging habits.  I do have Blogger on my phone now so I can write from anywhere. Hope everyone is doing well.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Can I just have a rewind on my day please?

I had a rough day.  Icky day.  These are the exact times that I realize I needed to have the tool of the surgery because it prevents me from picking up too much food to make myself feel better.

I started out my day at a 7 a.m. appointment at Kaiser.  It was time for me to see my physical medicine doctor to talk about my back and how well it's (not) doing.  I've been having ongoing, chronic back pain for several years now.  If you have some chronic pain, you know what I'm going through.  If you don't, count your blessings!  It's extremely difficult to feel pain every single day but I do.  I have it in my left leg, too.  After seeing a physical therapist and having a year of acupuncture treatments, it just isn't better.  Based on this morning's examination and previous interventions, the doctor determined that its muscular.  While the physical therapy and stimulation therapy takes the edge off, it's not really helping for day to day functioning.  I even explained to the doctor that weight loss isn't helping.  I'm down 120 pounds from my top weight, let alone 57 pounds since the gastric bypass surgery, and I still have the pain in the same intensity.  So she's going to try a compound cream and muscle relaxer, see how I do for 3-4 weeks.  I'm scheduled to see her for follow up the day before Thanksgiving.  At that point we'll see where I'm at.  I almost cried talking to her, just feeling extremely emotional.  I'm frustrated and the pain doesn't help.  I held it together, though.

When I got to work, I got busy with things I needed to do there.  However, two issues have come up in the last couple days that are upsetting.  While I am not going to go into specifics here because some friends from work read this blog, I will say they are staffing issues and I am not taking mistreatment towards me or similar co-workers lying down.  I am confronting people when necessary so that we can discuss issues going on.  In some ways that helped, in others things got worse because the reality of the situation reared it's ugly head.  I almost cried there, too.  I just was so upset that I got very emotional and was inches away from tears.  Yet again, I pulled it together.  Even if nothing is resolved with my confrontations, at least I know I am doing everything I can to take care of myself while still remaining professional.  On top of that, I'm also feeling emotional where work is concerned because I'm going to be starting my graduate program on November 10th.  While it's exciting for me, it's also very bittersweet because it likely means the beginning of the end of my time with my current school district.  They have rules that forbid me to be able to do school counseling (which is what my master's degree is for) in my district, even though I have 25 years with them.  It's very upsetting and incredibly emotional for me.  I'm a product of my district and have worked there since I was 17 years old.

Later in the afternoon, I had to go to the dentist.  I somehow lost part of a filling on the left side of my mouth.  Every time I drink something cold or eat something on that side, I'm in extreme pain.  As I was driving to the dentist's office, I was still feeling emotional from what happened at work and I remember thinking how badly I wanted something to eat.  As a person who has had a lifetime battle with weight, food is my go-to "drug" of choice to numb out.  Some people choose alcohol, I choose sugar and grease.  Instead, though, I focused on what I needed.  The dentist injected nova cane and drilled into my tooth then filled it.  They put headphones on me so I could blast tunes in my ears to prevent me from hearing what was going on.  Trust me, I heard!  At one point, I had my eyes open and smoke was coming out of my mouth.  I can totally see why people avoid going to the dentist.  Afterwards, I was in a lot of pain.  Half my face was numb, including my lips and jaw.  I was still upset about the first doctor's appointment and things that transpired at work and now I was dealing with numbness and pain.

When I got home, my first response was to want food.  I knew, though, it just wasn't going to solve anything.  I mean, truly, when has it ever?  I need to learn how to deal with life without going to food.  Obviously if I'm hungry and need it for nourishment, that's one thing.  In the moment, the last thing I wanted to do was eat something.  Have you ever tried eating or drinking with half your face numb?  I can just imagine the drool!  I did decide to take my contacts out and just go take a nap, even though it was later in the afternoon.  It was the best thing for me in the moment.  I just needed to rest and let my day go.  The only bad part of that is that it's just past midnight right now and I'm wide awake.  Oh well, you can't win them all.

I just need to keep suiting up, showing up and putting one foot in front of the other.  That's the best I can do because, ultimately, God's the one in charge.  I'm so happy it's officially Friday now.  Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Weekly weigh-in

I lost 3.4 pounds this week, bringing my total to 56.5 pounds since the surgery.  Hooray!  Even better is the fact that I'm in the 200's now.  That is very emotional for me.  I remember the day when I was regaining weight lost after Optifast and I was telling myself that was 300 pounds was my limit in terms of the highest I was willing to go again.  That was my line in the sand.  Sadly, that turned out to not be true at all.  At the beginning of this, I was wearing a size 30/32 and now I'm fitting into 22/24.  Holy smokes, that just blows my mind on so many levels.  Needless to say, I'm glad I chose to have the gastric bypass surgery.  It is a tool ... it doesn't do all the work, I do.  But it has been a beautiful gift to me.  I continue to be frustrated by my tummy that seems to be upset with a lot of different foods, but I'm finding my way.  Hope everyone is doing well!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Weekly weigh-in and feeling beautiful

Sorry I'm a few days late postings stats for the week. This week's weigh-in had me with a loss of 3.5 pounds.  It was that time of the month so I was glad to lose what I did.  In fact, I'm happy for every single pound.  It's so amazing to be going through this experience of watching my body shrink before my eyes.  You know how it is just gaining and gaining, feeling clothes tighter and tighter.  Now when I look in the mirror, I'm experiencing clothes not fitting but because I'm swimming in them.  So surreal.  I'm just a few pounds away from being out of the 300's.  Praise God on that!!

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have already seen the pictures and post below but I wanted to share it here on my blog as well.  Occasionally, people will participate in various challenges on Instagram on posting certain kinds of pictures just for fun.  One, for example, is called #stopdropselfie where, if you're tagged by someone else, you take a selfie and post it.  So one of things going around now is to post five pictures that make you feel beautiful.  So here's what I posted, both the text and pictures.

As I started seeing pics people were posting of five photos that make them feel beautiful, I started loving what I was seeing in others and their evolution into seeing their own beauty. At the same time, I was secretly hoping no one would tag me. It's not because I didn't want to participate but because I don't think I'm attractive. I hate admitting that but I vowed to myself that I would always keep it real here. I am of mixed ethnicities so I always felt like I didn't fit in anywhere. Men weren't fawning over me except for one night stands and so I had myself convinced I just must be awful, never mind the fact that I have people calling me beautiful everyday and my ex boyfriend told me that all the time. Anywho, while I was hoping not to get tagged, five amazing and beautiful women did tag me. And to them I wanted to say thank you - @joye_in_the_journey@mindfullyweighting @aubreystrawb_rny@lizzle_rny @teesocray . God really knew what He was doing with me and all of you today. It really helped me see that beauty is there and I don't have to be so freaking self critical! The pics on the top left and middle left were recent after having surgery and losing about 45 pounds. Bottom left is the day I received my undergrad college degree a little over a year ago and I absolutely glowed from the inside out. And the two right pictures are me at my lowest weight of 227 pounds in a size 16. That was two years ago when I was on Optifast and dropped 192 pounds in 8 months. I hope that I am on a continuing road of a healthier life and so much joy I won't be able to stand it. Since surgery two months ago, I'm down 55 pounds, 120 pounds from my highest weight, diabetes is in remission, normal cholesterol and normal blood pressure. All of that makes me feel beautiful. If I tag you, it's your turn! #beautiful #joy #transformation #wls #wlsjourney #wlsjourney #wlscommunity #rny #vsg #weightlosssurgery #postop #newlife

I received some very lovely and incredibly touching responses.  I am so moved by the wonderful people I have met online who give me support (and vice versa) as I travel this curvy road.  This includes all of you reading this right now. Sometimes I am in complete awe of how blessed I am.  I hope my journey touches someone else as well.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Weekly weigh-in

My loss for this week was 5.3 pounds.  I can't express adequately enough how great it has been to see the weight coming off.  After losing so much weight on Optifast only to steadily regain a lot of it over time, it has been such a battle.  I desperately tried Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig before again considering getting weight loss surgery.  I was trying so hard and then I'd get frustrated and so I'd eat.  The cycle was so difficult emotionally, let alone the toll it was taking on my poor body.  I have a lot of gratitude with the process I'm going through now.  Some sort of switch has happened not only physically but mentally as well.  I'm making taking care of myself a priority and that's not something I have always done.  I do things like take my lunch with me to work instead of stopping to get something or skipping meals.  I took the extra time to pack my gym bag so that I could head there right after work to get exercise in yesterday, which I did.  Last night when I had dinner out with a friend and I was starting to feel full (granted, just after a few bites of food), I stopped whereas before I would have kept going beyond the point of being comfortable.  As I go further and further out from surgery, I am seeing how differently I am approaching my life. Even my smile is much bigger these days.  People notice it all the time.  They have told me I have a glow about me and they love to see my smile.  Isn't that sweet?  I definitely know I'm in the honeymoon period after the surgery, but I'm not gonna knock it.  I'm just going to appreciate the beauty of each day as it comes, with it's highs and lows.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dining out and letting go of Twitter

I went out with some friends tonight for dinner.  I believe it was my first time out at a restaurant since the surgery.  They were very supportive and wanted to be sure to go somewhere that I could find something to eat so I suggested a Mexican restaurant.  I knew I could probably order beans or fish.  I settled on grilled fish tacos that came with refried beans and rice.

Before you ask yourself if I'm allowed to eat that food yet, the answer is yes and no.  Don't worry, I made sure to take very good care of myself.  I received my statement from the hospital showing that the cost of the surgery and hospital stay was $85,439.  Thankfully my awesome insurance covered it but I'm not about to screw around with my food.  I gave up a lot to have this surgery and it's a huge commitment for the rest of my life.  I ordered my grilled tacos in corn tortillas that I wasn't planning on eating and asked them to serve them without cabbage since it's a bit early for me to eat veggies, especially veggies that aren't well cooked.  I didn't touch the rice at all.  I ended up having the fish with some salsa on top to keep it moist and then the refried beans.  I ate very slowly and thoroughly.  I took the rest home in a box that is enough for probably four more meals!  I really didn't eat much, but I wanted to err on the side of caution since I was away from and I really didn't want to run to the bathroom to throw up.

Switch of topics.  I have had a Twitter account for quite a while, but I've decided it's time to deactivate.  I just haven't been that active on it and I really don't like the feeds that include posts I'm not interested in from accounts I'm not following.  So if anyone is following me over there, this is the reason I won't have any activity going on there any longer.  I'm very active on Instagram, so that account will keep going.  And, of course, I will be continuing to be active on this blog, MyFitnessPal and Fitbit.  I love the accountability of all these social networking avenues.  It's a great way to have so much wonderful support.  I have found that I really need the support after surgery. You'll  never believe how intense things are after having had major surgery that rearranged my insides and forever effects the way I eat food.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cooking with Kathy: Ricotta

I have been moving slowly with adding new food since surgery due to limitations of my new pouch, Katrina.  My surgeon is cautious about moving too fast through the stages, which I appreciate so much.  My insides are adjusting to the changes so I can't do too much too soon.  I've been in the soft foods stage for a few weeks now.  Since starting that, I have been able to add seafood.  Unfortunately, Katrina has not been happy with fish.  So I have been trying to be creative with my meals given the parameters I have to work with.  I have found some beyond yummy ricotta dishes from friends on Instagram that I love and felt compelled to share.  Ricotta has a lot of protein and is very gentle after weight loss surgery.  These are their recipes but my pictures.  If you are not on Instagram, there is a huge weight loss surgery community there with a ton of support.  My username is misskathyjean if you want to follow me over there.

The first one is courtesy of vsgcountrygirl9.18.14.  She had the vertical sleeve done in September and is finding great success.  Go visit her page for sure!

Ricotta Alfredo Bake
Nutritional value:  Calories 131, 8g protein.  Makes 6 servings.  Yum yum for the tum tum.

8 oz of part-ski ricotta cheese
1 beaten egg
1 tsp Italian bread crumbs
1/2 c. Alfredo sauce
1 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

  1. Mix the ricotta, beaten egg and bread crumbs together in a bowl to almost a whipped consistency.
  2. Spread the mixture across the bottom of an oven-safe dish.
  3. Spread the Alfredo sauce on top of the mixture.
  4. Top with the mozzarella cheese.  You can use 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese if you'd like it a little less on top.
  5. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe number two is beyond deliciousness!  I have it often, especially now that I've returned to work.  This recipe is courtesy of rocktheshade at Instagram.  This woman is an amazing inspiration, having lost 320 pounds after having a gastric bypass four years ago,  She uses this as a snack, but since my surgery was not that long ago, it is a nice meal size.  I usually have it with a Laughing Cow Light swiss wedge.

Ricotta Whipped Cinnamon
Nutritional value:  Calories 100, 10g protein.  Makes 1 serving.  

100g fat-free ricotta (6.6 tbsp)
20g sugar-free Cool Whip (1.5 tbsp)
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
1 packet of Splenda

Mix all the ingredients together well and enjoy!  I had part-skim ricotta and light Cool Whip, so my calorie count is a little higher at 168 per serving, but I'll get different ingredients next time.  This dish is a great way to get protein in and it tastes sweet, too.  It's not high in sugar, so it's great for gastric bypass pouches and could even be considered a dessert.  I like it because it's very easy to whip up and easy to digest for my very sensitive Katrina.

Even if you haven't had surgery, both these dishes are still great sources of protein.  I happen to love them!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Weekly weigh-in

I had a pretty kick-ass week with a loss of 6.3 pounds.  Hooray!  I have to say that the weight loss is feeling great.  Just in case you may be under the assumption that the surgery did all the work, think again!  I have been exercising a lot and watching the food I eat like a hawk.  I weigh, measure and record every piece of food I have and I'm one hundred percent honest with myself.  The surgery is but a tool.

I had a post-op visit with my surgeon today.  It went really well.  He told me that I am doing a fantastic job on my weight loss.  In fact, he said I am on the high end of loss for those at the same stage as me.  That was a great boost.  I did talk to him about what should be the primary focus - how much protein I get in or the amount of calories.  He told me I should be focusing on both.  I shouldn't get in too much more than 600 calories a day on average, even when I exercise.  He explained that most of the significant weight loss will happen in the first six months.  After that, things drop off dramatically so I want to be sure I'm in the weight loss mode now more than ever.  He is strict on how fast I progress through the stages of adding food back in.  Some doctors move their patients pretty quickly to foods such as chicken or red meat, but that isn't what he does.  Something he explained to me that was surprising is that he said your tummy actually shrinks even more in the weeks following surgery before it gets to a point that the restriction isn't as significant as in the initial phases.  So basically he told me to keep doing what I'm doing.  We talked about other issues I'm having, such as the low blood sugar, light-headedness and more.  He was very patient with all of my questions, which I appreciated.  Sometimes I feel like I ask too many questions, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Change of gears.  A couple of days ago, I posted a picture of myself online in Facebook, MyFitnessPal and on Instagram that was an updated shot of what I'm looking like now after six weeks post-op.  Here it is if you didn't get the opportunity to see it.
I have been floored at the sheer volume of people that have told me I look beautiful and pretty. Sometimes I expect comments like that from friends because it's just something we do:  "Oh, you look so beautiful today" or "Oh my gosh, don't you look pretty!"  However, I posted this picture in a gastric bypass group and on my Instagram feed, so not everyone in those places knows me personally.  They have no vested interest in saying I look pretty except if it's coming from an honest place.  This has been so shocking to me, on one hand, and difficult to deal with on the other.  Of course a woman always loves to hear compliments, but one of my biggest self-esteem issues has always been that I think I look ugly.  I always had a different kind of look.  I wasn't a blonde Barbie but I also wasn't the typical Asian girl either.  My ethnic background is very unique with me being Filipino, German, Hungarian, Norwegian and Scandanavian.  I never really felt like I looked like anyone else and, therefore, on the outside looking.  But here are perfect strangers telling me quite the opposite.  It just helped me realized that I can stop hiding behind my body and come to accept myself just as I am right in this moment, a creation of God, and that's better than just okay.  I don't have to beat myself up by saying that I'm ugly.  Besides, a person is only truly ugly if they're ugly on the inside and I know I'm not.  These are exactly the sorts of things that keeping on weight does for me.  It convinces me that I'm some sort of monster dragging her hands on the ground when that's just not true at all.  When I embrace myself, I am happy with who I am.  Look at that smile in the picture ... that's not fake.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Been Miss Sicky this week

Well, I was supposed to return to work this past Thursday, October 2nd, but that didn't work out so well.  I got really sick and actually thought I had strep throat.  I ended up going to see a doctor to make sure because, if I did, I would have to stay home.  Since I work in a high school and that is highly contagious, that would be horrible.  The doctor I saw, who is not one I usually see, was excellent at being gentle when he swabbed my mouth.  They did two tests, one that had instant results and another that would send cultures to the lab to be on the safe side.  I was negative so he determined that I had a virus and should stay out of work to heal, especially after recovering from major surgery.  After contacting my surgeon's office, we felt it was best that I wait to return until after I see him for a follow-up appointment on Monday.  I've been trying my best to stay at home, don't do things to make my illness worse and just put myself in the best shape to return to work.  I was really disappointed, but I also agreed that it was for the best.

During the week, my blood sugar dropped incredibly low, down to 44, in the middle of the night.  I am so grateful for the amazing work the body can do in protecting against death.  44 is very dangerous and could lead to a diabetic coma.  Thankfully, my body was doing it's job when it started sweating and shaking, waking me up from sleep.  The hard part of it was dealing with getting my blood sugar up and keeping it there.  It went from 44 back up to 107, down to 55 and up again to 85 throughout the night, despite my best efforts.  The next day left it on the lower side as well.  The weird thing is why it happened in the first place ... I don't have any clue.  It's one of the things I need to discuss with my surgeon on Monday.  I've also had more dumping.  I think this makes it nine times now that it's happened.  I'm not eating sweets or anything like that to cause the typical dumping to occur.  Mine has been focused around food that has turned out to be too dry.  I am having to experiment and find different ways of preparing things.  For example, I can only have 1 ounce of crab before I feel like I'm about to dump.  However, if I put it in the food processor and make it into crab salad with light mayo or some sort of sauce, I can have more and I'm perfectly fine.  Dumping is an awful experience, that's for sure.  As I progress, I'm learning to spot warning signs and to really listen to my body.  It speaks to me if I just stop to listen.  Sometimes, though, that's the hardest thing to do.  I don't know about you, but life gets very busy and it's difficult to stop and listen but it's also what I need to do.  I'm trying to do things that will help me change habits that no longer serve me.  Taking care of myself has never been a priority and now I see that is the most important thing.  If I don't have my health, I can't be there for other people, let alone myself.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekly Weigh-In

I am thrilled to report that I lost 5.1 pounds this week!  I worked out every single day for that, along with following the surgeon's instructions for this stage after the gastric bypass.  Even better, I'm 102 pounds down from my top weight.  That feels incredibly amazing.  If you've been reading my blog for a long time, you'll know that 420 pounds was my top weight and the time when I started my journey in Optifast.  After losing 192 pounds through that program, I started a quick regain of almost all of my weight, except for about 60 pounds, after I got off of the shakes.  It was a devastating time and I just really felt so lost.  Fortunately, I kept some of my smaller clothes, the ones that were really hard to let go of when I had lost that weight before.  I now fit into a bunch of those, as well as other clothes friends have given me. I'm excited!  By the way, I put a new page on here at the top of the screen with my weekly weigh-in numbers for those who are interested.  This will especially be helpful for those who are pre- or post-op to see how I'm losing each week.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Two left feet and my bout with fish

I have been really kicking butt with the exercise this past week.  I walked every day for at least an hour or more, if not doing other activities in addition to that. While the surgery is a tool, I'm the one that has to do the work.  There are people who have a gastric bypass or other form of weight loss surgery and manage to regain all of their weight.  I want to learn from their examples so that I don't repeat those mistakes.  I sacrificed too much and underwent a major surgery just to throw it away.  I know that I need to continue working on the emotional and mental part of this journey, as it is just as important as what I do physically.  My therapist has been wonderful and I'm so glad to be seeing her every two weeks or so.

Speaking of the physical, yesterday I decided that it was such a gorgeous day here that I needed to be outdoors and not stuck inside a gym.  I went to Discovery Lake, which is a regular place I've been to many times before.  Surrounding the lake are beautiful homes up in the mountains with trees, hiking trails and a paved road.  One lap around this road is about three quarters of a mile.  Since I was walking alone, I decided to bring my iPhone with me to listen to music.  I had a big bottle full of Crystal Light and went about my merry way.  In no time at all, I was moving at a really good pace and starting to sweat.  Every time a song came on from my music library that was a little bit of a slower pace, I would skip it to something more upbeat.  That really kept my pace great and my heart rate was definitely up.  On the fifth lap, I decided it would be my last one.  It was about noon and the sun was high in the sky.  It wasn't as hot as it has been, but still in the 80's.  As I was rounding a bend about halfway through the lap, I fast forwarded the song and I started to feel light-headed.  I was drinking my Crystal Light the whole way through but I was also starting to get hungry.  Then, the next thing I knew, I lost my footing.  I'm pretty sure it was caused by the light-headedness because I had been changing songs the whole way through and hadn't had a problem up to that point.  I stumbled and actually tripped on the edge of the pavement.  I knew I was going to fall so I tried to brace myself, still holding my phone in my right hand (I was more worried about that thing than anything else!).  I ended up landing elbow and hand first on my left side, I hit my left wrist and my knees hit the pavement.  Actually, my elbow and hand sort of slid into third base, so the pavement was like a huge grater on my skin.  It was not a graceful fall in the slightest.  No one was behind me but there were people walking far ahead of me.  I motioned to them that I was okay when they turned around to help me.  I just thought to myself that if I could just make it to the bathroom by the parking lot, I could wash everything off.  I did take my t shirt and tried to stop the gushing blood from my elbow, but that wasn't doing much for me.  By the time I made it to the bathroom, I was a hot mess.

After a few minutes of trying to clean up and pulling gravel out of my arm and knees, I called a friend who lives a few miles away to see if she had some bandaids.  She was so great ... by the time I got to her house, she had a whole triage thing set up in her kitchen!  There was hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin and guaze galore, along with hugs.  The pain, on the other hand, really hit me last night and especially today.  I feel like I got in a fight with a brick wall and the wall won.  My whole left arm is in pain, I lost a lot of skin when I slid and I've got bruises all over.  Taking a shower was painful and touching anything against my skin stings.  Geez, if you're gonna do something, do it all the way, right?  I know things will feel better in time, but it just reminded me that I have to be very careful with my body.  Having a tiny pouch now, even though it doesn't have room for a lot of food, still can very much affect my entire body.  

My pouch, I have discovered, is a very sensitive girl.  I've dumped eight times now.  It's not as if I'm keeping count, but it's a pretty traumatizing event and hard to forget.  I haven't even dumped on sugar or high-fat things, which we were warned about with gastric bypass surgery.  I'm being very diligent about reading labels to ensure I don't have more dumping.  Mine has been on food that, I think, has been too dry or the consistency just didn't work with my body.  A dear friend [hi honey!] suggested I try very moist tuna since there is so much protein.  In just a two ounce serving, it provides 11 grams of protein.  I figured I just had to give it a try and make sure that it's extra moist.  One of my friends, who had the gastric bypass done just like me, ate tuna that was too dry and ended up dumping by throwing up for an entire day.  I obviously didn't want to do that!  When my mom was staying with me after the surgery, she brought some food I could have after I was feeling well enough.  One thing was a can of tuna.  Now, when I say a can of tuna, most people envision a regular-sized can you can buy in any grocery store.  Oh no, not my mom!  Instead, she brought me this.

Just for the sake of comparison, I put a regular-sized can next to it.  That sucker that she brought me was over four pounds!  I didn't know they even made cans that huge.  After opening and draining it, I had to put most of it in the freezer.  Can you imagine how long it's going to take me to eat that whole thing with my little pouch?  Gotta love moms though.  Anyway, it went down very well.  I made sure it was super moist.  Maybe that's the reason I have dumped on other food.  I have to always be sure to have some sort of sauce or moistening agent with all of my more dense food, just to be on the safe side.

This process is all about learning and doing the work.  For those that think you can just have surgery and the weight will magically disappear, that's just not true at all.  It's especially tough for people, such as me, who have always been overweight and have battled food issues my entire life.  The coping mechanism I have always relied on - food - is gone now.  When I'm bored, happy, sad, frustrated, feeling joy or whatever emotion is going on, I can no longer turn to food.  I have to learn new ways of living and treating food just what it is supposed to be, nourishment.  Don't get me wrong, I make my food tasty.  But, when I can't eat more than about two ounces at one sitting, it's just a few bites and then I'm done.  I have this amazing salmon I bought, but I can't eat more than one ounce of it because it's so dense.  That blows my mind!  I also need to move my body a lot with exercise.  The way people treat me is already different and so there are many challenges along the way.  Welcome to my new reality!  I don't regret this decision, not at all. It's just not as easy as many people in society think it is.  Who knows, maybe someone reading my blog will be affected by my experiences and what I write about them.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Exercising my butt off (literally)

Each day that passes since the surgery, I find it easier and easier to exercise on a more regular basis. The pain that I was experiencing on my left side under one of my incisions seems to have subsided.  So, I have really been kicking up my exercise.  I started going back to the gym this week. I cannot lift weights yet because of surgical restrictions, but I am doing things like walking on the treadmill, using the stationary bike, and elliptical machine.  Believe me, I definitely am sweating hard doing those things.  I also have been out walking in my neighborhood or at the beach and really enjoying the weather. I am pretty amazed at what my body is able to handle.  Today a dear friend and I went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and got in exercise but also had a great time hanging out together and seeing all the various animals at the park. Here are some great pictures of us enjoying our day.


We somehow managed to get in about 10,000 steps walking all over the park.  It was my first time having food away from home. It's a little scarier being away from the safety of my home but I just had to trust that something would be available to me. We ended up ordering a fish taco plate. I know that doesn't sound like the best thing in the world to have, but it actually worked out pretty well given I'm still limited to soft foods and seafood. Yes, the fish was battered and it came with a mound of tortilla chips and other things I couldn't eat. However, I took one of those battered fish while she had the other and removed all of the breading. That left me with about a one ounce piece of cod.  It also came with pinto beans that we both shared and a dipping sauce I put on top of the fish.  It actually worked out pretty well. Everything was moist so I did not experience dumping at the park. I was really grateful for that because I was worried that might happen while I was out in public.  After surgery, many people worry about having food in public because of the fear of dumping.  This is something I cannot take for granted because there may come a time when I will experience that away from home. But, thankfully today, I just was able to have a good time with no worries.

We got in some great exercise and I got a lot of sun on my face. By the time we came home, I was exhausted and needed to rest.  I do need to pace myself and remember to rest when I become tired. This is something that I take for granted sometimes because I forget that my body went through major surgery. That's a blessing, but also a curse at the same time.  I will be returning to work next Thursday, so I need to listen to the cues my body gives me when it's telling me I'm tired.  I am still in recovery mode so I need to be especially alert.

One other thing I'm working on right now is going through some of my clothes that have become too big on me. I know it's a nice problem to have!  The thing is that a lot of my clothes are hanging on to me, especially my pants.  For some reason, it's just so hard to let go of those bigger clothes. I remember that when I was on Optifast and I had lost a ton of weight, I gave away a bunch of my bigger clothes and, when I gained weight back, I had nothing to wear. Now I look at it as a different experience.  I don't want to live in fear that I am going to need to keep my bigger clothes so that I can perhaps one day fit back into them if necessary.  I want to be able to move forward and know that the process I'm going through is one of health and that when it's time to let go of things like those clothes, it's okay.  In fact, one of my girlfriends gave me a bunch of clothes that are in the next size down for me and they actually fit now.  I'm a little hesitant to start wearing them yet because they fit perfectly and I like things a little bit looser but I know that that's something I can work on in time.  I'm grateful to have the experience of having clothes that are too big. I will take that any day of the week!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Weekly weigh-in

I'm winding down from a busy but great day.  I lost three pounds this week, making my loss 32 pounds since surgery and an incredible 97 pounds from my highest weight.  Maybe this next week will put me over the top!  That would be awesome.  I know I shared this on my Facebook page and Instagram, so I'm sorry if you're seeing it again, but I wanted to share some side by side photos.  Below left was taken a few months before surgery and the picture on the right was taken today.

A few people commented that I looked younger and happier in my most recent picture.  You know what?  I am happy.  Recovery from this surgery hasn't exactly been the easiest for me, but I absolutely, one hundred percent, do not regret this decision.  I know my journey is just beginning with Katrina (my new pouch), but I already feel a lot better.  Even though I would love to look cute in cute clothes, that is not why I did this surgery.  It was about desiring to have a decent quality of life, to be healthier.  That is what makes me happy.  Now, if I end up feeling more confident and rock the hell out of some jeans, I'll be okay with that, too!

This new life is so weird to navigate at times, I must admit.  I can get so full on just little bits of food.  The more dense the food is, the more full I get on just a little.  The dumping is also something that is difficult to contend with.  I have dumped on tilapia, a thin white fish, twice.  And I have gotten extremely full having imitation crab.  So then I wondered to myself if, in fact, seafood was just not agreeing with me.  Today I bought some salmon to see if maybe a thicker cut would help.  I don't have a bad reaction to shrimp, but I want to expand my possibilities if I can help it at all.  I am so thankful that, yes, Katrina was very happy with salmon.  Here's how little I had to eat when I had it for dinner.

All said and done, that is 1.75 ounces of cooked salmon and a one ounce cup of refried beans.  This is actually on a salad plate, not a regular dinner plate.  I doubt I'll ever be eating with those again!  The more dense fish is a lot more filling than beans.  In fact, that amount of fish made me more full than when I would have an 8 ounce serving back before the surgery.  Who am I kidding?  It probably wasn't even an 8 ounce serving ... it was more likely 12 ounces.  I had so much food before and now my tummy is like a baby.  I'm definitely not complaining, but it's just a different reality for me these days.  When I got the fish, I went to the seafood section in the supermarket and got fresh fish.  I asked the man helping me if I could get roughly one and a half pounds of the salmon.  When I came home and cut it up for meals, it made enough for me to have twelve meals.  That is how tiny Katrina is!

As part of having a healthier life, I am pursuing more treatment on my back because I have been suffering from chronic pain there and in my left leg for quite a few years.  There's a point where you just say enough is enough already.  I'm there now.  So this morning I had an appointment with my physical medicine doctor and then with my physical therapist right afterwards.  The doctor gave me an exam and feels the damage may be weight related and it may also be muscular.  She gave me several cortisone injections in my back.  I'm talking about six or so.  She wanted to cover the entire area that hurt and, to be fair, she did warn me that she was going to do that.  No matter how much you're prepared, though, it still freaking hurts.  She also prescribed a topical cream for me to apply to the area three times a day.  I have to wait for that to come in because it's some sort of compound that they have to special order.  Afterwards, the physical therapist gave me stimulation through a tens unit on my back.  It felt amazing.  So I'll be doing that at home, in addition to exercises to strengthen my back and leg.

As a person who is always taking care of other people, it's sometimes very difficult for me to do things to take care of myself.  Yet, I know it's time to do that.  My health has to be a top priority.  So if that means I need to do more things to care for my body, then that's what I will need to do.  Without even realizing it, I'm doing things throughout the day that fits in the category of self-care.
I logged these miles into my Fitbit today without even realizing how much I was doing.

It's the most I have walked since having the surgery.  And it felt amazing.  I wasn't feeling pain on my sides from my incisions like I have been these last several weeks in recovery.  It just felt nice to be active and know that every action I take towards my health is a win for me.  Like I said, I feel happy and I'm just going to roll with it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dumping, doctor's appointment and weekly-weigh in

I have had a very interesting week.  I have thought so much about doing updates here, but it didn't happen.  I've been trying to take recovery day by day.  The pain that I have been feeling on my left side under one of my incisions has been feeling a whole lot better.  Every time I would walk for more than 10-15 minutes, the pain would be excruciating so I'd have to stop.  Then one day, I tried walking again and it didn't happen any longer.  So I've been trying to increase my exercise little by little.  Some days I do great and other days I do feel pain so I know my body is telling me to not push it.  Overall, the healing is going well, especially given it was major surgery.  I often forget that I had a huge operation.  When I look down at my tummy, I see five very small incisions.  It blows my mind a little bit about what went on underneath.  I still can't watch a video of the surgery.  If it's animated, that's fine but I just can't watch a live procedure.  I know what went on, but I'm a bit squeamish with watching an actual operation, even more so when it's my own body.

On Friday, I had my first dumping episode.  If you're easily grossed out, you might want to skip to the next paragraph because I'm going to describe what happened.  I know there are people reading this who are thinking about surgery and it's only fair that you know every part of it.  Besides, I don't ever want to forget what I went through.  Friday was the day that I was allowed to add seafood into my diet.  I decided to get a mild white fish, tilapia.  I looked online to figure out the right temperature to cook it so that I wouldn't dry it out.  Everything went fine in terms of that.  I had a very small amount with a little bit of dipping sauce so that it wouldn't be dry.  One of the things we are warned about is to make sure our food is moist.  Otherwise, our pouches may not be very happy.  I had dinner and everything was fine, but I did have a very small amount because I was worried about adding fish.  Later on, against my better judgement, I had a little bit more because I felt hungry still.  People say you're not hungry after surgery, that it's head hunger.  Um, no, not true, at least not for me as well as other people I know.  I get hungry.  Anyway, I took some leftovers out and put it in the microwave for a few seconds so that I wouldn't overcook it.  I then put a tiny bit of guacamole on it to make sure it was moist.  I read specifically about guacamole on a bariatric eating website, so I decided to follow their lead on that.  I had the fish and didn't notice anything unusual.  A few minutes passed and then I started to feel this incredible pain in the middle of my chest.  That's when the burping started.  I couldn't stop burping no matter what I did.  Next the area where my tummy is started hurting.  I don't know if it was the stoma, the pouch or my actual stomach but all I know is that it was very painful.  I was actually doubled over in pain.  I was rubbing my stomach and that didn't help at all.  I couldn't sit still, so I started pacing around my house.  That wasn't helping because the pain was all over my body by that time.  I was nauseous, shaking, sweating and felt so sick.  I hate to throw up.  I'll do anything to avoid it.  However, by that time, I was calling on the name of Jesus to help me.  I proceeded to throw up seven times.  Every time I thought I was done, I'd have to run back to the bathroom.  I was so upset and I was all alone at home. This all started at about 9pm and, by 1am, I finally decided to reach out to the doctor on-call for guidance.  I wasn't sure if I should drive to the hospital, which is about 35 minutes away, or what I should do.  I could have reached out to family or friends, but I was afraid to wake people up.  I know, it's silly now when I think back to it, but that's what was going through my mind at the time.  When you can't breathe normally and you're trying not to panic, weird things go through your head, that's for sure.  The doctor told me to go back to clear fluids, even if that makes me throw up more (which it did), and then return to things like yogurt to eat the next day.  Eventually, by 3am, I felt like I could finally go to sleep.  Since that time, I have had two other dumping episodes, one yesterday and one again today.  When I look at the common denominator, it's all food that have been leftovers in the fridge that I have reheated.  The first was the fish, yesterday was cream of wheat and today was an egg muffin (egg made with cheese in muffin tins).  So my lesson here is that I can't reheat certain foods in the microwave, even when I add things to them to make them moist.  There's just too much danger of things getting too dry.  The only exception would probably be canned foods that haven't been cooked or soup.  Dumping is not pretty, but this is the reality of negotiating with a new pouch.  Some things will go down well and other things will not.  I thought I'd have to worry only about foods that were high in sugar or fat, but I guess there's no textbook definition of when it happens to each person.  It's trial and error.

Okay, enough of that!  I saw my primary care doctor on Monday.  It was my first time visiting her after the surgery.  She came in to the room and just beamed at me.  I'm now officially off of every single medication except for my anti-depression pill and a cholesterol pill.  She thinks I may be able to pull off of that soon, too.  The swelling I used to have around my ankles is gone.  My blood sugar readings are normal on their own now.  And my blood pressure is 117/64, so that med is gone, too.  I have lost 29 pounds since the surgery three weeks ago, 94 pounds from my highest weight of 420.  She told me that I am going to be the poster child for a gastric bypass success story.  She just couldn't stop smiling and she even told me she's proud of me.  That made me feel like a proud little girl!  She likes me, she really, really likes me.  This doctor has overseen my care for about 15 years, so she's seen me through the worst of it.  She knows how hard it was for me to decide to pursue surgery, but she has been 100% supportive the whole way through.  I did tell her I've been frustrated because I seem to have been in a weight-loss stall for the last week or so.  I lost 21 pounds the first 10 days and then everything seemed to come to a screeching halt.  She reminded me that this is a process and that I am still going down, so I don't need to worry.  I did lose a couple of pounds this week, so I'm clearly not stopped all together.  I am trying to weigh in only once a week, but oh my gosh that's so hard for me.  I finally gave in and weighed myself this morning after only a couple of days.  I feel like I'm more obsessed with knowing the number when I don't weigh myself versus when I just do it once in the morning and then go about my day.  I don't live by the number on the scale, but it just tells me where I'm at and keeping me accountable, even with little fluctuations.  Who knows, maybe in time I can let that stuff go.  For now, though, it is what it is.

Okay, this was a longish post.  Sorry about that.  I need to get back to posting more often.  I have been also posting short updates on my Instagram account.  If you want to follow me over there as well, my username is @misskathyjean.  Don't worry, I'm not letting go of this blog.  It has been an important part of my journey for several years and it will continue to be.  I just find support in many different ways.  The Instagram community of weight loss surgery folks is pretty amazing as well.  I have also found some gastric bypass groups on Facebook and on MyFitnessPal that have been tremendous in addition to amazing friends who are traveling on this road with me and just those that support me as a whole.  Between that and the support of you wonderful readers, I feel more than blessed.  I feel humbled and honored to have met such incredible people.  It takes a village!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Weekly weigh-in

During the last week, I lost 3.4 pounds.  My doctor did warn me that I will drop weight very fast the first 10 days or so after surgery and then it will slow way down.  He was right!  I dropped 21 pounds in less than two weeks, and then it seemed to halt fast.  I'm not going to let a slower loss this week frustrate me because I know my body has gone through some major trauma with the surgery.  I'm getting in less than 700 calories a day, so I know it's not as if I'm overeating.  I wish I could get more calories in right now, but my little pouch does not allow me to eat more than I'm already eating while staying on soft foods.  Even my dinner was a little bigger than I've been having and it was 120 calories.  I had one ounce of tiny shrimp, one light Laughing Cow wedge and three ounces of split pea soup.  Believe it or not, it made me full.  It's such a different world for me now.  Some people have stated that their desire for food has gone away with the surgery.  Mine has not.  I see sweets or other delectable looking things and I still want it.  Yet, I just can't go there.  Even if my pouch allowed me to eat ice cream, there's no protein in there and that's what I'm surviving on right now.  Besides, when has there ever been enough ice cream, pie or cake for me in the world?  In time, I know I'll be able to eat more than I do now.  The truth is that I'm learning a new way of eating so I'm trying to be patient and gentle on my body.  One of my friends from the Kaiser pre-op program has landed back in the hospital after surgery due to some complications.  While I am praying for her healing, I also need to remind myself that I can also develop complications if I don't everything I must to take care of myself.  That means getting in all my protein, drinking enough water and not pushing my body beyond it's limits.  Sometimes this means I need to rest when I don't want to or staying on a schedule to meet all my nutritional needs.  There's absolutely no room in there for ice cream!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dumping and a compression belt

One of the things I always vowed when I started writing this blog was to keep things real.  I wanted to write about a journey that, while it was my own, was an honest glimpse into my life as an obese person (technically "super morbidly obese") trying her best to become a healthy person.  Sometimes the days are wonderful and beautiful with rainbows and kitties.  Other times it might include depression or bodily functions polite people don't always talk about.

Well, I'm about to become very impolite.  My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Reynolds, would not be very pleased.  Sorry, Mrs. Reynolds, but I just have to go there.

Yesterday marked two weeks that I had my rebirth and underwent gastric bypass surgery.  I have a new tiny little pouch in my body.  I call her Katrina.  That name is the amalgamation of all the ways people have messed up my first name over the years.  (My legal first name is Kathryn, although I go by Kathy or Kath, even Kat.  People have called me Katty, Katie, Kristin, Christine, Katrina.  Seriously, how hard is Kathy?  Anyway, I'm deviating.)  I have been adjusting well to Katrina, but it has not been the easiest thing in the world.

There is a phenomenon that people who have had a gastric bypass go through called dumping.  As I understand it, dumping occurs when you've had something to eat and instead of your body digesting this food, it dumps right into your small intestines.  This occurs because perhaps the item you had contained too much starch, sugar or it just didn't agree with your system.  Some of the symptoms that come along with this include nausea, cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea.

I'm always a little fearful of experiencing dumping.  I mean, it doesn't sound pleasant, does it?  I have had two episodes that might fit into this category.  First, I drank a protein shake pretty quickly.  I didn't down it or anything, but I just sipped it consistently until it was gone.  My doctor warned me not to drink protein too fast, but it's hard to remember all the rules when you're new to all of this.  I had my Premiere Protein shake in about 30 minutes.  Maybe that's normal for a person with a full-sized stomach, but I have a little pouch now.  It made me practically run to the bathroom.  I didn't vomit but something equally as unpleasant.  Your imagination right now is spot on.  The second episode was when I think I had too much to eat.  It's not that I was eating a lot because, frankly, I can't eat that much.  However, one extra bite is enough to send pouches like mine to dumping.  After I had a particular meal, I was burping consistently for quite some time and my tummy felt like I had a stomach ache.

Oh the adventures of my life!  I know this is temporary and it will pass.  I am having a positive attitude about everything because what else can I do?  Already it looks like my diabetes is in remission and that right there makes me very grateful.  The weight is dripping off my body pretty quickly and so I'm just hanging on for the ride.  I am experiencing pain on my left side under one of my incisions, so I know I can't resume normal activities yet.  I went walking the other day and decided to go for more than ten minutes.  All of a sudden, the pain came on and it was pretty unbearable.  I walked very slow so that I could get back home in minimal pain.  I put on my compression belt to help keep everything tightly in.

As you can imagine, it's hot when I have it on.  While it feels good for awhile, I have to take it off to breathe comfortably.  I know things will get better in time, but for now I tire pretty easily and that pain reminds me that I can't return to normal life quite yet.  It is still there on the left side, so I know it will take time.  I'm on sick leave from work for six weeks, but oh my Lord am I bored.  I've been reading books, watching crazy daytime TV, playing Candy Crush and trying to exercise when I can.  Recovery takes time and I need to always remember that.  Just because my incisions don't look like much looking at them from the outside, a lot of twists and turns did occur inside my body.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I can eat and drive now

I had a visit with my doctor yesterday for the one week follow-up appointment after surgery.  The first thing he asked me was how I was doing and I said, "I'm hungry!  Can I pleeeease have some food now?"  He kind of chuckled at that.  After surgery, you have to stay on full liquids for about a week to ensure your body can handle more.  Even at that, I was limited to one protein shake a day in addition to liquids.  That's only 30g of protein.  When I wasn't getting in any other sources of real protein, I felt light-headed and hungry.  I know they say that I'm not supposed to be hungry and that it might be head-hunger, but I can testify that it was real, bonafide hunger.

During the visit, he said that I could add in soft foods.  Those are things like scrambled eggs, egg salad, yogurt, refried beans, other types of beans, baby shrimp, cream soups, that sort of thing.  The foods should be fat-free as much as possible and strained if it's soup.  I should now increase my protein to at least 60g of protein and continue having the one protein shake a day in addition to the new foods so that I can get there with no problem.  I also got the release to drive again, as long as I'm not feeling light-headed.  At that moment, I was a little light-headed, so my mother drove us back to my house.  I then had some of a protein drink and, as soon as I was feeling better, I got my butt in my car and drove to the grocery store.

When I got to the store, it felt a little scary for me.  Of course I was going to have to read labels thoroughly.  I needed to look for high-protein items, as well as low-sugar contents.  I just didn't want to mess up because my body could very easily go into dumping syndrome.  I didn't want that, of course, so I spent probably 20 minutes in the soup aisle alone.  For my first meal, I settled on fat-free refried beans and tomato bisque soup on this saucer.

Now, I know this doesn't look like the most fabulous first meal, but it was good to me and my new little pouch.  The doctor said to eat no more than three ounces in the first few days when I have my meals.  So I measured two ounces of the refried beans and one ounce of the soup.  I ate all of my beans but could only have half of the soup.  I was full after that.  How weird is that?  I remember times in the past where I would spoon a whole can of refried beans into a bowl with cheese and salsa, heat it in the microwave and eat the whole thing in one sitting.  Now I couldn't possibly imagine doing that now.

This morning I made egg salad for breakfast with one egg, one tablespoon of light mayo and seasoning.  I pulsed it in my food processor and oh my goodness did it taste amazing.  It's funny how the little things make such a difference, isn't it?  I've also been doing better on getting more fluids in.  When I came home from the hospital, I could barely get in the minimum of 30 ounces of liquids the doctor required.  Now I'm drinking four and a half cups now.  I'm sure as the days go, I will be able to get even more in.

Things are going well so far.  I am limited to how much exercise I can do.  I overdid it yesterday morning and was really hurting on my left side near one of my incisions.  I was walking very slow, slower than I've ever walked, but it was just too much on my healing body.  I do think I need to start weighing myself less now, though.  I'm not necessarily obsessed with getting on the scale, which is good, but I do find myself getting on it every morning.  If anything, I need to limit it to one day a week.  The doctor recommends weighing once a month, but that seems too far for me personally.  Once a week will allow me to have my weekly weigh-ins again and leave it alone for the rest of the week.  The surgery was on August 22nd and I'm already down 26 pounds just twelve days later.  That's fantastic, of course, but I think I'll go back to Monday weigh-ins again.  I need to focus on my new eating habits and new lifestyle in general.  It's exciting to see the numbers dropping so fast, but I don't want to focus on that.  My life has changed and I have had a rebirth.  Adjusting to these changes will take time, but I'll get there.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Feeling a bit unladylike

My gastric bypass surgery was a week ago.  It seems like much longer than that, but I suppose that's also because I've been trying to adjust to an entirely new way of doing things.  The weight is flying off my body and that's been insane.  In just these seven days, I've lost 23 pounds.  That's pretty mind-blowing!  I feel like a newborn in so many ways.  My little pouch is very sensitive.  I can only take tiny baby sips when drinking something.  In fact, I was drinking water yesterday with my mother and I accidentally gulped my water down.  I remember taking one swallow and then the next without a break in between.  As soon as I did it, I gasped and remembered I wasn't supposed to do that.  I told my mom and we sat there, waiting for something to happen.  Nothing did, so we eventually let it go.  That's when the very manlike burps came out of my mouth for the next hour.  Buuuuuurp.  I sometimes accompanied them with hiccups.  Have you ever had to burp and hiccup at the same time?  Not fun.  My belly felt like huge bubbles were trapped and I had pain in my chest.  Even later in the night, they kept coming as I laid on my side and tried to breathe.  Then the farting came to the surface, too.  That made me start to laugh, which didn't make things any easier.  I swear, I need to write a book someday about the things I'm experiencing!  At least I can laugh about it now.

I did see my surgeon yesterday because I was experiencing some swelling around my ankles and he wanted to see me to be on the safe side.  I was full of questions for him:  Should I be feeling this? What about that?  He was so understanding of me and reminded me that I have just been through major surgery and I'm going to need to give my body time to heal.  Oh yes, I think that was another way of saying, "Kathy, you just need to be patient."  I don't do well with that, in case you haven't figured it out yet. My steri-strips are starting to fall off the incisions and so I'm fascinated with feeling how these new cuts on my body feel under my fingers.  The thing with laparascopic surgery is that your mind is fooled into thinking nothing major really happened inside because there are just five little cuts.  

Something major did occur, though.  For the first time in a long time, I am listening to my body and doing everything I can to take care of it.  That means I have to be on a schedule in terms of when I take my medications because I can only take one pill per hour.  That means I absolutely must keep myself hydrated and make it my top priority.  Above all, that means that I have to be very aware of what I'm doing.  I can't go all day long without eating something any more and I definitely can't be lax in what I'm doing to take care of myself.  In many ways, my new pouch is like a baby.  I have to treat it as well as I would a newborn.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Are you okay, Kat?

I know it's time for a major update!  After a three night stay in the hospital following my surgery, I was discharged to go home yesterday morning.  Thankfully my doctor did his rounds nice and early so I was able to leave there by 10:20 a.m.  He reviewed my list of medications with me.  Because my blood sugar numbers ended up great in the hospital, I have already been taken off my diabetes oral medication and injected insulin.  I'm still monitoring my blood sugar levels to turn in when I visit my primary care doctor in about 3 weeks, but things look great.  My blood pressure medicine has also been cut in half.  For so early after the surgery, this has been incredibly encouraging.  Some new meds were added, but that was to be expected due to the malabsorptive nature of the surgery.

My post-op care included all of the following until I meet with the doctor on Tuesday for a follow-up appointment:

  • Continue on a clear liquid diet through Tuesday evening, limited to water, Crystal Light, broth, Popsicles, Diet Snapple, and Gatorade Zero.  Must drink a minimum of 30 ounces per day with no more than 2-3 ounces per hour.
  • On Wednesday, add in one pre-made or powdered protein shake with about 30 grams of protein.  Continue with the clear liquids, but do not add more than the one protein shake until meeting with the doctor next week.
  • Begin taking medications, dosages indicated by the doctor on Tuesday.  However, because I may only sip my liquids, I must take only one per hour.  This means I have to space meds out through the entire day.
  • Walk frequently to prevent blot clots from forming.
  • No driving a car until cleared by the doctor and no longer taking pain medication.
  • No lifting 15 pounds or more.

While I was in the hospital, I was a walking champ.  I wasn't trying to be Miss Overachiever (no, seriously!) but I ended up that way.  On my last full day there, I did 42 laps around that floor of the hospital, complete with my rolling IV cart.  I was donning a tshirt, sweats and every chord known to man in the medical world hooked up to my heart, chest, tummy, wrist and more.  It was a real challenge to even go to the bathroom, but I rocked it.  I was just feeling so good ... that was until I walked outside of the hospital.  My mom and one of my friends were there to take me home, but first we all decided to walk across the street to the doctor's office to pick up some paperwork for my mom.  She is staying with me for two weeks to take care of me and she needed some FMLA paperwork signed by the doctor.  We looked on my phone and the distance to the doctor's office from the hospital was 14 feet so I thought it would be fine.  What I forgot was that the floor in the hospital was indoors, an even platform with no steps and a very controlled environment.  Walking across the street to the doc's office winded me by the time we got back.

On the ride home, I forgot the suggestion so many people had given me to be sure to bring a pillow to put over my tummy so it would be a less painful experience getting home.  Let me tell you, I felt every single bump.  My friend was driving the car and she missed an exit so she jerked the car to the left and that pulled at my seat belt.  I'm sure you can just imagine the pain I felt in that moment!  Thankfully the seat belt was not laying directly on any of the incisions, but it hurt no matter what.

Finally, when I got home, I just laid with my kitties on my own bed.  Ahhh ... it was such a nice feeling to be outside of that hospital.  Now, it seemed for the time being, the biggest challenge for me was to continue to sip my drinks and pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy ordered by the doctor.  I must have either drank some water too fast or drank too much of it because when I was in the middle of the pharmacy, I almost threw up.  Seriously, right there while I was talking to the pharmacist.  I'm not even mentioning the gas pains, which were horrible because of all the gas they pump into your body during the surgery.  At times, I felt like I couldn't breathe or I would have sharp pains on my sides.  The nurses assured me those were gas pains.  It was incredibly uncomfortable.

When it was time for me to take a shower, I went into my bathroom, took off all my clothes and then looked at myself in the mirror.  I have five tiny incisions on my tummy as well as some bruising.  It's not bad overall, but they are definitely reminders of some major work being done inside my body.  In that moment, I got so emotional.  I got under the water in the shower, let the drops run over my head and then I just wept in the corner.  I thought to myself, "My God, I can never take another sip of anything without possibly throwing up," coupled with, "You know you did this, don't you Kathy?  If your eating wasn't so out of control, you wouldn't have resorted to major surgery where they rearrange your freaking intestines in order for you to lose weight and maybe have a normal life."

Now, please understand, these are not my true feelings.  The enormity of everything just got to me.  I can never eat like I did before without hurting myself.  I have a lovely new tool that will help me have a healthy, good quality of life.  In the process, though, there will be mourning.  I don't regret this surgery, but it is an adjustment that I just can't adequately describe.  It's not an easier path by any means, but it's one that's designed to help me and I have to be willing to accept that help, even if it's not on my terms.

Since I had that shower, things have been feeling good.  I do have some pain, but it's pretty manageable.  Having my mom with me has been wonderful, but every time I start coughing or take a moment to breathe deeply because I'm feeling pain or burping rises up, she asks, "Are you okay, Kat?"  I'm talking every single time.  Every one.  I have explained to her that there will be times that I will cough and it will sound bad.  I might even throw up or feel like I'm having a heart attack.  That's my body's way of telling me it doesn't like something.  As a case in point, I was having a Popsicle earlier today and I put too much of it in my mouth to swallow before it melted all over my fingers.  My pouch didn't like that at all, so I could feel a sort of bubble sensation in my chest and I started coughing violently.  I even excused myself from the room so I could do my hacking in the bathroom.  "Are you okay, Kat?"  Of course she says it out of love and concern, but she doesn't understand the logistics of the surgery very much so she's asking me that question any time I make a peep out of my body that doesn't seem to be normal to her.  I am reminding myself, though, that even though she doesn't understand the surgery, she loves me and doesn't want me in any sort of pain.

Tomorrow is another new day with a fresh start.  And a fresh batch of one ounce cups to at least get in my 30 ounces for the day.  I am having five friends coming to visit tomorrow at different times, so I'm looking forward to that so much.  I'm sure I'll be lifting my shirt a lot to show them my tummy with the incisions and bruises.  Never before in my life have I showed so many people my tummy and not blinked twice about it.  It reminds me of those women who get breast implants put in and want to show everyone their new boobs.  So proud!