Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Grief leads to perspective

I am so fortunate to work in a place that not only loves children but is full of staff that truly loves one another.  Our high school is full of fantastic kids.  There's no two ways about that.  We very rarely have fights on campus, even though we are not immune to typical teenage concerns.  It seems as though every adult cares an awful lot for them and each other.  So when something happens to one of us, we are there to grieve and support one another.  Yesterday we learned the devastating news that one of our staff unexpectedly passed.  This person was and is beloved by so many and clearly affected their lives in an infinite amount of ways.  Being in the position to guide children, it's difficult to feel our own grief while also being a comfort to the kids.  I was so grateful that today was a late start day for us that gave us the time to feel our sadness without having to put on a face for others right in the moment.  When the doors opened to our kids, we could sincerely be there for them.

Grief is a very unique thing.  Its one of those things in this world that brings things into perspective in a hot second.  Earlier in the day, I was being overly dramatic about something that right now seems inconsequential and downright stupid.  I don't even like to use the word "stupid" but it seems appropriate here.  We received an email earlier in the day regarding participation in graduation.  The person coordinating the ordering of caps and gowns for staff needed to know where we graduated from college, what was the highest degree we received as well as height and weight of each person participating so that the appropriate size could be ordered.  I didn't participate in the ceremony last year, but had my stats on file from the year before.  I was trying to explain that to the person, going back and forth with her in emails because, bottom line, I didn't want to give up my weight.  Why?   I felt shame.  She's cute and petite, so here I was coming to tell her that I'm a tall, big freak.  In fact, when I sent her my final e-mail, my response was absolutely pathetic.  No, seriously, it was.  I told her my weight and then I typed, I kid you not:

"Hopefully it'll be less by the time we walk at graduation.  Working on it and getting weight loss surgery in the summer ;-)"

I mean seriously, why did I need to explain anything?  She wanted the numbers and facts, not an explanation.  I felt shame and I knew I needed to explain the weight away, at least in my own head.  Then I heard the news of the death.

This lovely woman was only two years older than I am, was in good health and did not have an enemy in the world.  She will be incredibly missed by all of those who had the fortune to know her.  All of a sudden, in that moment, it didn't matter how much I weigh or what I thought someone else might be thinking about my magic number.  It's a moment to say the things that perhaps I hold inside.  It's a moment to hug my family and friends just a little longer than I normally would.  It's a moment to look in the mirror and sincerely love the person staring back.  I often times live in so much regret about the things I have or have not done.  There's no time for regret.  Obviously, as we have been forced to recognized, life is so fleeting.  I made sure to tell people I loved them today and I meant it.

My takeaway from all of this is that I am able to look at my own mortality and know that I have choices I can make today.  I went on a lunchtime walk with my friend, I had healthy food and a great dinner.  I'm done eating for today and I have no regrets for the choices I made.  I'm still here and for that I'm incredibly grateful.

Water Challenge Day 42:  Drank 182 of 182 ounces

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pre-op class #6 and weekly weigh-in

I connected with my primary care doctor today to discuss the low blood sugar reading I had yesterday.  In fact, looking over the last two weeks of numbers, yesterday was not the only time I was way too low ... it was the fourth.  She is making an adjustment on my medication, so hopefully things will improve.  I'm glad I consulted with her because I actually had another low reading today when I came home after my pre-op class.  I hate even typing that to be honest because I know people are concerned.  Trust me, so am I.  This keeps me accountable.  Somehow posting what's going on for whoever happens to read my blog keeps me really honest.

Speaking of the class, I lost another two pounds for the week.  Yay me!  It's been a slow but steady decline, so I'm happy with that.  When I look at the alternatives of either gaining weight or staying the same, I'll take it any day of the week.  Tonight our topic was about assertiveness.  I can really see how assertiveness, or lack of it, can cause me to go to food instead of dealing with something.  When I think of situations, I completely see how that works.  I have a simple but good example of this.  When I have to order more contact lenses, I do it at Costco.  When I did that last month, there was only one person working at the counter with a long line of people patiently waiting.  A person came up and actually cut in line, even though a bunch of us had been waiting for a while.  Instead of saying something, I let it go.  Something about not wanting to cause a fuss because I think I would have been rude if I would have said anything.  Of course, no one else said anything either.  Then later on, when I got home from shopping, I found myself munching on food even though I wasn't particularly hungry.  At the time, I knew it was because of Mr. Line Jumper and the fact that I didn't say anything.  Sometimes I have no problem being assertive, yet at other times it's a struggle.

Our facilitator discussed the fact that, in her opinion, overeating is a misguided attempt to fulfill unmet needs.  She's right.  Did I really have to pick up food to deal with the fact that I was mad at Mr. Line Jumper and even madder with myself that I didn't say anything?  What purpose was the munching going to fulfill for me?  Honestly, all it did was make me feel bad for having snacked unnecessarily, making me then want to keep on doing it.  It's such a negative cycle that feels like a vortex I can never get out of once I start picking up the food in the first place.  It reminds me of that movie "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray.  Have you seen it before?  It's such a perfect example of this cycle.  They guy is living the same day over and over again.  No matter how hard he tries to get it to change, somehow he can't get out of the trap he's in of playing the events over and over again.  That's what a food addiction is like to me.  I say to myself that it'll be different this time.  Yet, when I go to the food for reasons other than nutrition to fuel my body, the guilt of that then convinces me to carry on until I've eaten the whole thing.

I really need to spend some time in reflection of how my overeating has been a cover to fulfill unmet needs and really identifying exactly what those unmet needs are for me.  Awareness of that will go a long way to continued good health.  At the same time, I need to keep moving my feet and my seat.  Using the MapMyWalk app on my phone every time I exercised, it showed me that I walked 10 miles last week and burned 3419 calories.  That seems pretty awesome to me.  One step at a time.

Water Challenge Day 40:  Drank 183 out of 183 ounces

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Number that scared the #$%^ out of me

I have had the last week off of work.  I work in education and it is just one of the breaks we are fortunate to have.  This time has been a great opportunity to refresh, renew and prepare for very busy weeks that are coming up.  When I'm on vacation, not that I'm complaining, I sometimes have a hard time because I'm thrown off my regular schedule.  Normally on Sundays, I go walking in the morning to start off my day.  Today, however, I went to church with my friend I normally go to church with but we switched from Saturday night's contemporary service (loud music and younger crowd) to Sunday's classic service (standard hymns with older crowd).

Because of the change, I didn't have breakfast until I got home around 9:30.  I really wasn't paying much attention to what I was doing.  I prepared my standard breakfast, oatmeal and eggs, and took all my meds/vitamins.  I spent some time working around my house and then I decided to take a nap later in the afternoon.  I didn't sleep great last night.  I just kept tossing and turning to the point where I turned on the light and one of my cats was sitting up, staring at me and giving me that Will you pleeease stop moving? look.  It actually was pretty hilarious.  If I would have had my phone next to me, I would've taken a picture of her face.  Anyway, I took the nap and dreamt about having the gastric bypass surgery.

This surgery for me is something I look forward to having, but there is also a voice that pops up every now and then that asks me if it's the right decision, if I'm really that far gone that I need surgery to help me to lose weight and other thoughts along that vain.  I think it is healthy to ask questions because I want to make absolutely sure that I'm making the right decision.  From where I stand right now, I am inclined to go with gastric bypass but my dream was about whether or not I should consider getting the vertical sleeve done instead since it's much less invasive.

When I awoke from my nap, it was with a startle and not at all feeling as though I had just gotten good sleep.  In fact, I felt horrible.  I felt tingling in my feet and fingers and I noticed I felt clammy with sweat on my forehead.  That meant one thing to me from previous experience ... my blood sugar was too low.  By the time I made it into the kitchen, where my glucose meter is kept, I was shaking.  I pricked my finger with the lancet device and had a hard time even getting a drop of blood to test.  Here's what my meter read (70 is considered low for reference).

My first thought was I hate fucking diabetes.  Sorry for just putting it out there like that but it just pisses me off.  It makes me want to cuss like a sailor.  I have been diabetic since the year 2000.  I don't know if I ever shared the story on here of how I found out so I'm going to digress for a paragraph (you guys should be used to my shift-changing by now!).

I was taking a shower at home alone.  I remember reaching for the shampoo to wash my hair and then the next thing I knew I was grabbing the shower curtain and rod on the way down to the ground as I was fainting.  I hit my upper thigh on the edge of the tub and landed on the tile.  The water was still running but I was somehow awoken by my then two concerned cats.  Thank God for curious kitties.  I somehow was able to get up, although the pain in my leg was excruciating.  I called one of my friends and told her what happened.  She was insisting that I go to the hospital.  She used to be a paramedic, so she was immediately concerned.  I told her no, I would be fine.  Besides, Kaiser was pretty far from where I lived at the time.  After a few minutes, I called her back and asked her to take me to the hospital.  The pain was just too insane for me to handle.  By the time we got there, the pain in my leg was beyond anything I can describe.  I could barely get out of the car with having to bend my leg.  All the time I was in the ER, here I was worried about the pain in my leg and the doctors were more concerned about why I fainted.  My leg turned out fine with contusions, but the rest of me was not.  My resting heart rate had gone up 40 points and they had to fill me with two bags of saline because I was so dehydrated.  I remember the night before I had gone out with a friend and I had two humungo daiquiris.  Apparently that was the thing that helped me discover I have diabetes.

Okay, back to the low blood sugar.  After I spent a few seconds being mad, I had to get over it and take action to increase my blood sugar.  I've had my blood sugar lower before, but I definitely was not going to wait around to see how low I could go.  I have a bag of frozen fruit from Costco in my freezer so I had a cup of that to get my blood sugar to go up.  As it was hitting my system and making me feel better, I wondered why I had gone so low.  It didn't make any sense to me.  It wasn't as if I had gone and worked out.  Sure, I did do things around my house but I don't think enough to have the sort of effect.  The only thing I could figure was either I waited too long to have breakfast or I injected too much insulin.

Once I was out of the woods, I had to let the episode go as much as possible.  Having diabetes is the reason I have been opting for the gastric bypass instead of the sleeve, but I suppose that's something I'll need to keep thinking about and talking to the surgeon about when it comes time.  To be free of this disease is a great motivator to keep moving forward.  In the interim, I will keep doing my best to take of myself right now with exercise and clean eating.  Who knows, I may decide not to do the surgery in the end.  Right now I find that highly unlikely, but all I can do right now is take it a day at a time and watch my blood sugar.

Water Challenge Day 39:  Drank 100 of 183 ounces

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Now I understand why keeping track of food is so important

When I started the Options program, which is the six months of educational classes before bariatric surgery through Kaiser, I was open to whatever suggestions and "rules" I was going to have to follow.  Basically I was (and still am) willing to do whatever they ask of me because I know it's going to prepare me the best for a different lifestyle after having the surgery.

One of the first things we were told in the classes was that we would have to keep track of all of our food and then show it to our facilitator each week.  I have to admit, I inwardly rolled my eyes and thought to myself, Really?  You're going to make me show you what I'm eating, as if you don't believe me?  Each week when we go to class, we either turn in our written logs or show our app with all of our food, water and exercise documented.  I use the MyFitnessPal app (my screen name is MissKathyJean if you want to follow me there).  I love it because it's super easy to use and I can scan everything using my iPhone.

After doing it for over a month now on a consistent basis, I finally saw why it is so important.  It's one thing to write down the food you are eating or planning to eat but it's quite another to really see it.  Up to now, I had been noticing my daily totals and seeing that I haven't been eating enough.  Today, however, I got a huge jolt when I logged in my lunch.  I wasn't planning today, just sort of opened the fridge to see what might be good.  I decided on some salmon with stir-fry veggies over quinoa.  It was incredibly delicious ... until I logged in my food.  Quinoa - 110 calories for a half cup, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil - 120 calories, and a slew of veggies - 40 calories.

Then came the salmon - 340 calories.  Shit!  I had to look at the package again to make sure that scanned correctly.  When my dad was here, he bought this package of salmon from Costco because it was portioned individually, which I thought was a great idea.  I remember logging in my salmon the other day when we had grilled them, but I just did a generic salmon and didn't look up the specific details.  By scanning the actual package, not only was it 340 calories, but I discovered one portion was seven ounces, not the three to four that I would hope to aim for.

I really got to see that this exercise of turning in our food every week is not an effort in futility but really about changing bad habits into good ones.  I think it's very important to stay aware of what goes into my mouth or something I'm considering eating.  It brings to mind a commercial I've been seeing on TV a lot lately from a national pizza chain.  They keep talking about this new cheeseburger pizza that they're now selling.  To me, it's not something that looks even remotely appetizing because all I'm imagining right now is how long I'd have to work out to have just one slice of that stuff.  Out of curiosity, I looked it up online.  For just one slice of their original crust large size pizza, which is apparently 1/8th of the entire thing, it's 410 calories, 22 grams of fat, 950 milligrams of sodium and 38 grams of carbs.  Let's be honest - when is the last time you had 1/8th of a pizza??  It's usually like 2-3 slices, if not more.  I went to the lake today and burned almost 800 calories walking around it several times.  If I would have chosen to have that pizza, that exercise would have burned almost two slices.  Doesn't seem worth it to me.

I completely recognize my awareness is because I'm being forced to document all of my food.  Turns out that's a good thing for me after all.  It all adds up.  I'd be frightened to see how many calories I was ingesting on a binge.  I mean, honestly, if I had eaten a half of the pizza I mentioned above, that would be 1640 calories and that's just half.  That is slap you in the face reality right there.

I'm not done with my water for today, so I'll document how much I had tomorrow at the bottom of the post like usual.  I think I'll do that from now on so I'm not feeling as though I can't post before 11 p.m.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Low-carbing as a diabetic

I spent my day being lazy.  I could have gone out and got some cardio, but I didn't.  Actually, that's not true ... I did spend some time working out in my backyard.  I always forget how tiring gardening can be.  What I did today really shouldn't even be called gardening.  It was pulling weeds.  Let's call a spade a spade.  Gardening sounds much nicer though, doesn't it?  I imagine lovely tulips with blades of green grass.  I have carpel tunnel in both my wrists with tendinitis in my dominant hand, so I haven't spent as much time on my backyard as I probably should have.  The pain is manageable, as long as I don't do too much at once.  Some some weeds are still alive and will be attacked on another day. The combo of my hands and bad back and I just had to call it quits.

I decided to spend some time today working on my food plan.  While I'm in the pre-op six-month educational portion of bariatric surgery, I have been advised to aim for a ten percent reduction in my body weight, although it is also okay for me to stay right where I am as long as I don't gain any weight.  A standard 1200 calories a day has been given to us as a guideline.  However, I always have to remember that I have some unique needs because I'm a type-2 diabetic.  Lately, though, I have been trying to see if eating a low-carb diet full of veggies and protein would serve me better.  That doesn't mean I haven't gotten in any carbs, but only from those that come with the foods I have been consuming.  Needless to say, my carb count has been pretty low.

The problem for me is that I have been feeling pretty weak.  I've been trying to push the feeings away, convincing myself it's just because I'm eating less calories.  Yet I know that the last thing my doctor would want me to do is to starve myself.  So I started looking back at some of my paperwork I've received from the doctor and diabetes nurse educators over the course of the last year or two.  Time and time again the point is made that I should not be avoiding carbs as a diabetic because that's where I get energy from.  Intellectually, I do know this.  I think that sometimes I forget how severe my case of diabetes is.  I have to take oral medication along with injecting insuling.  When my dad was here visiting, he was eating low-carb and he is also a diabetic.  However, I have to remind myself that he's doing it outside the advice of his doctor.  And he does have ongoing weight issues of his own.  Perhaps that's not the example I should be following.

Looking at the diabetic food plans I have been given that were tailored specifically for me, as well as research I did online, it's clear I've been taking the wrong course of action and can explain why I have been feeling so famished.  The dietitian wants me eating 2-3 servings of carbs per meal (up to 45 grams) with a daily goal of at least 6 servings of starches, 2 fruit servings, 2 dairy servings, as well as other guidelines.  When I step back and look at it, it makes a ton of sense as to why I'm feeling so hungry.  When I have more carbs in my diet, I do feel more satisfied with my food.  I used today as an experiment to see how my blood sugar would do.  I added a serving of black beans to my lunch and a serving of quinoa to my dinner.  When I checked my blood sugar each time, it was 115 a couple of hours after lunch and 117 a couple of hours after dinner.  Hmmm, exactly in the zone it should be.  .

Surprise, surprise, I'm not hungry right now.  I feel satiated, which is what I'm supposed to be feeling.  These are novel concepts to most people, but I guess not for me.  I tend to forget I'm diabetic a lot.  Or, I should say, I tend to act as if I'm not diabetic ... I never forget I have diabetes.  It's a disease and is always reminding me that it's a part of my life.  I have to somehow let go of the dieter's mentality that tells me that less is better and that feeling hunger all the time is good.  Sure, I should be hungry when the time comes but not all the time.  It's difficult to gauge when it's physical hunger versus head hunger when I'm not getting enough to eat.  I feel like a child relearning things as if for the first time in some ways.  My goal for tomorrow is to add more starch in, even if it's just a serving at a time.

Water Challenge Day 38:  Drank 183 of 183 ounces

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Feel the burn

I did much better on my water today and got all 183 ounces in.  It's a lot, obviously.  I'm still working on the water challenge, which has been a great thing for me.  I'm not perfect at it by any means, but I especially do a happy dance when I get my daily goal in.  I feel like it's a homework assignment I have to finish before I can post on my blog.  I was reading in the Options class materials about what eating and drinking will be like after the gastric bypass surgery and it's nowhere near what I'm getting now.  However, for the little pouch I will be having for a stomach, a few ounces is a lot let alone eight glasses of water.  

I got up so refreshed this morning.  Being able to sleep with the CPAP machine now has been heavenly.  I always knew it was going to help me get good quality sleep, it was just a matter of figuring out how to sleep on it.  After I got up, I had a great breakfast, read a few blogs and then decided it was time to get my exercise on.  I've been trying to make sure I'm stretching and doing the exercises that my physical therapist gave me for my legs.  In my bedroom I spotted resistance bands and thought that would be an awesome way to stretch.  

Oh man, I forgot how much those lovely bands really work my muscles.  Right now as I type this, my biceps are screaming at me to stop moving.  That's just with typing this post ... can you imagine what real movement feels like?  I also have one of those weighted balls, six pounds, and exercised with that, too.  I have a feeling my arms are gonna be none-too-pleased with me tomorrow.  After all of that, I put on shoes and decided to go out for a walk to get in some cardio.

Where I live in Southern California, we haven't been having much of a winter.  Usually it gets down to the 30's and 40's overnight and heats up a little during the day.  Right now it's in the 80's during the day.  Yuck.  I'm not complaining since I know people are experiencing much worse, but it would be nice to have cool weather while walking outdoors.  I had intended on going three miles today but my legs were having no part of that.  With the knee and leg pain I have, I definitely have to listen when my body tells me not to push it.  When I try to ignore it, I have to pay painful consequences.  I ended up walking 2.2 miles.  The MapMyWalk app told me I burned 755 calories so I'll take that for sure.

Sometimes I get really frustrated with my limitations.  I just want to get out the door and run like I see so many people doing.  Even when I'm walking, I'd love to do it with no pain or at least a minimal amount of pain.  It sometimes makes it very difficult for me to want to exercise because even though I really want to do it internally, my body feels the results of years of being obese.  Oh how I pray that someday I will be free from the pain.  Many of us have challenges in our lives, that's for sure.  I'm extremely grateful that I have the ability to walk on my legs and that my heart lets me get this exercise in.  It's just hard when I'm in pain all the time.  This is another reason I have chosen to do the right thing for myself in pursuing weight loss surgery.  My health and a long life are so important.

Water Challenge Day 37:  Drank 183 of 183 ounces

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Yummy Deliciousness

For the life of me, I couldn't get all of my water in today.  I tried, but it just was impossible without feeling like I was going to float away.  I am on vacation this week and actually woke up later this morning (yay!) so I was behind.  I'm doing so much better than I used to do with drinking my water, though.  It's an incredible improvement.  Speaking of waking up later, I can't believe this but I have been actually sleeping on my CPAP.  Yahooooo!  Regular readers of this blog know how much I have absolutely struggled with it.  I still am having some problems sleeping on my back and on my side, but to be able to even get a night's sleep with it on my face is some sort of miracle.

Today my food was rockin'.  I took a couple of pics of some of my meals to share.  First up was my lunch.  Spring salad with tomatoes, artichoke hearts, tuna, Parmesan cheese and Walden Farms Chipotle Ranch dressing.  I love, love, love Walden Farms - no fat, no calories, no carbs, gluten free.  I get mine at Sprouts, but they are also available at Albertson's or on their own website.  My dad was even won over and this man hates anything that seems too "diety".

Next up is what I had for dinner.  My dad bought me a gas grill while he was here so it was my attempt at making something on my own with it.  I must say, for my first time, it was sooo yummy.  The salmon I made on the grill and the sauteed peppers I made in the kitchen.  I guess I could have cooked it on the grill as well since I have a gas burner on the side.  I was pretty darn proud of myself.  It came out good and I didn't burn down my backyard!

I have to learn to take better pictures for posting on my bog.  I see some blogs where the food pics look so professional.  Not mine!  While my food was wonderfully clean today, my blood sugar was low a couple of times today so I need to make sure I incorporate a little bit more carbs.  I aim to eat lower amounts of carbs but, as a diabetic, I can't remove them completely.  It's dangerous to do so and leaves me very shaky and clammy.  I will be so happy when my diabetes goes into remission.  It pretty much blows.

I'm trying to do the best I can to practice healthier eating habits to help prepare myself for the transition to surgery.  It's months away from now, but habits take a while to formulate.  Besides, there's nothing wrong with eating healthier.  I can't even describe the feeling of going to bed having had made good food choices and not in regret because I ate a whole carton or bag of something.  I haven't done that in a while, but the memory is never far from me.

Water Challenge Day 36:  Drank of 110 of 183 ounces

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pre-op class #5, weekly weigh-in and meeting my new therapist

This week's Options class was about the benefits of exercise.  I don't know about you, but I would always internally roll my eyes when a doctor or P.E. teacher told me that it would be good for me to get more exercise.  Of course it would but it's much easier to talk about how great exercise is when you don't weigh 200, 300 or 400+ pounds.  Zumba class is a lot more fun when you can actually move around and enjoy yourself.  Even water aerobics hurts when you have osteoarthritis in your knees.

Yesterday I went for a 3 mile walk around my neighborhood, which was fantastic.  It was the same course I used to do when I was 150 pounds lighter, but I have to be honest and say it hurt a lot more yesterday than at other times.  Yet, keeping up with it will make it hurt less and less over time.  It felt great to give that to my body because I know it craves the loving care that exercise gives it.  One of the things I will need to do after surgery is walk a lot to help with recovery and so now is the time to make it a habit.

My weigh-in was good - I lost another two pounds.  I'm starting to see the scale making some progress heading down and that's terrific.  As my dad was leaving my house this morning after visiting for a few days, he asked me to come and visit him in June.  Since I'll still be taking my classes, that means I'll need to fly on a plane since that's quicker than driving 700 miles each way.  It's a pretty great incentive to keep up on the walking so I fit better in that airplane seat!  Sure, I can look to other wonderful benefits, such as improving my circulatory system, improving tension and reducing my appetite, but I also do know it's a great motivator for me to keep up on an exercise regiment knowing that I'll fit better in an airplane seat.

I had my first meeting with my therapist tonight.  My other one retired at the end of January and I felt it was important to keep up with therapy, especially as I walk through gastric bypass surgery.  It's such a major surgery and I need to continue working on the emotional issues that come with food addiction.  It's amazing to me how easily tears can come when I'm having a real, honest conversation with someone and all the walls are down.  I went through two tissues!  It's all good though ... obviously I needed to cry.

One of the things we talked about is my desire to go to food for many things, not just happiness or sadness but everything in between.  It's been my way of living life, almost second nature.  I'm bored - go to food.  I'm angry - go to food.  I'm depressed - go to food.  I'm in love - go to food.  Here's an example:  my dad left today.  While he was here visiting, my food was fabulously healthy, just as it was before he came.  My blood sugar was in control, even a little on the low side.  Yet, after he drove away, all I wanted to do was go in the house and eat.  I wasn't hungry and I wasn't thirsty.  That seems to be my response for a lot of things.  It seems like it's such a learned response that I need to do some serious work to break that pattern to move away from it.  The therapist suggested a great group that Kaiser offers called Mindfulness Meditation.  It will be an opportunity for me to go through guided meditation so that I am more aware of what's going on, which will then lead to new habits instead of going to food.  I'm all for that.  I so badly want to heal and turn things around towards a healthy, positive light.  That doesn't mean the meditation will magically take the desire away, but it's a huge step in the right direction.  The next group doesn't start until March 18th.   However, she did give me something to think about in that regards when I'm faced with a situation that makes me want to overeat in the meantime:

R - recognize what emotional state you are experiencing
A - acknowledge state
I - investigate, be curious
N - non-attachment

So here I am, placing one foot in front of the other making progress towards a different way.  I'm grateful that I have the courage from somewhere deep down inside to do everything that I am to be healthier.  God is so powerful!

Water Challenge Day 35:  Drank 110 of 183 ounces

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Telling my parents about the surgery

Deciding to proceed with the gastric bypass surgery was a very difficult decision for me.  It's one thing to say, "Yeah, it's time for me to have the surgery," but it's quite another to actually move forward with it.  There are so many emotions to go through - Could I have tried another diet?  Is this really necessary?  Am I really so far gone that I actually need a surgery to lose the weight?  I go through so much with this, but then I forget how much it impacts other people.

I really learned that on the day I told my mom back in November.  She cried and I cried with her.  She was so very afraid that something bad was going to happen to me during the surgery or that maybe I wouldn't wake up after the surgery.

Then there is my dad.  The person I have stressed over and worried about the most when telling the news of the surgery is my dad.  Of course I'm an adult and of course I can make my own decisions regarding this.  It's just that I want my parents to be supportive.  Maybe we don't always see eye to eye on everything, but having their support is important. When I brought up the idea of having surgery 6-7 years ago, he was so adamant about me not doing it.

My dad is visiting me for a few days right now, so I decided it was the right time to tell him.  I wanted to tell him in person with none of the other family around, just a discussion between father and daughter.  I gathered up the courage and told him that I have decided to have the gastric bypass surgery done.  His response?

"That's fine, but you should just know that it only works for one in five people."

There you go.  The judgement I knew he would have was there.  He sat across from me with his arms crossed, an internal decision made.  So I asked him where he got his statistics from.  He went on to tell me about the friend that he knows that got the surgery that was unsuccessful.  This one person represented all people.  I asked if that person was compliant with the rules laid before him.  He admitted he had not been compliant.  Of course that person won't be successful if he's going to do it that way.  I asked what kind of research he has done and he admitted he hadn't done any.

I went on to have a conversation with my dad that was as full of as much courage as I could possibly possess.  I said, "Dad, you know I have struggled with weight my entire life.  You know I have tried so many different programs and diets.  You know how devastating it was for me after gaining weight back when I stopped doing Optifast.  My decision to have this surgery is about health, pure and simple."  My dad recently had two knee replacements done and I asked him why he had those done.  He did reply that it was to feel better and be out of pain.  I looked at him and told him that's exactly why I'm having this done.  I have diabetes, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, bad knees, back pain and the list goes on and on.  This procedure will help, if not reverse, most of these conditions.

As my dad thought about all of these points, he brought up the past and told me he wasn't a very good example of what healthy eating should look like.  I reminded him that my mom had those issues as well.  Besides, we all make our own decisions.  I stressed to him that I'm not placing blame, that I just want to live without pain.  It's clear to my dad that I've done a lot of research and have answers for every counter-point of his.  I even looked up current stats to see what the success rate is.  For those that are curious, the current numbers show that eighty percent of those who have the surgery are successful.  That's a pretty good outcome, especially for a guy who is math-oriented.

Now we're at the point where my dad has done a complete 180 turnaround about this.  He told me that he is proud of me for making this decision for my health and he's hopeful it will work.  He even told me he will be here to take care of me afterwards if I need it.  It was more than I could have imagined.  The stress that I had been feeling has now left me.  In fact, I was able to get an amazing four hours of sleep on my CPAP machine last night.  That doesn't sound like a lot, but I find it no coincidence that this happened right after I told my dad about the surgery.  Releasing stress is such an important thing to do.

Now both my parents know and they are supportive.  That's what I have wanted - their support.  This is a scary decision for me and I just need my family at my side.  I'm so glad I'm free of that worry and can keep moving forward.

Water Challenge Day 33:  Drank 150 of 185 ounces

Friday, February 14, 2014


I had my appointment with the doctor at the sleep clinic.  He was a very nice man who really listened to me.  I don't know about you, but I have had times when I have gone to the doctor's office and he or she just seemed to not be hearing me.  Not every time, but enough to drive me feeling like something was wrong with me.  When he asked me how my sleep was going using the machine, I looked at him and simply said, "Horrible.  I have slept twice on the machine ... two hours last night and a half hour the night before."  I was grateful for the two hours, trust me on that one, because up to the night before that, I had not been able to string together enough will in me to even fall asleep.  Actually, it isn't my will, but just a pure inability to fall asleep on the machine.  Getting the half an hour and then the two hours felt like a freaking miracle to be honest.  After much discussion with him regarding exactly what was going on and doing a physical examination, we developed an action plan together.  I could tell he wasn't going to just let this go and check with me in six months.  He understands that I'm not sleeping now and need help now.  To be honest, I practically cried while talking to him.  I have spent so many nights in tears from the sheer frustration of not being able to fall asleep yet being so tired.  This has been going on for a solid month.  That might not seem like a long time but I can assure you that not being able to get a somewhat restful night of sleep night after night is a horrible feeling.

To begin, the doctor is changing the two sleeping pills I had to a more intense one that is solely to help with sleep (I guess the other two pills were anti-anxiety meds with a side effect of being drowsy).  My new pill is called Ambien.  You may have seen commercials for it on TV.  It's the one where the person is sleeping and a butterfly flies all around them while they're sleeping.  When I would see that commercial, it would make me jealous that that person could sleep and I couldn't.  Then I remembered that I heard something about people sleep-walking using that med.  The doctor did say that has occurred with a small number of patients.  So he told me to watch out for signs that I had done things in the middle of the night that I hadn't done before bedtime, like making a full meal and then leaving it out on the stove.  The thought of that just cracked me up.  He told me that if I do have those episodes, I am to stop immediately and then we'd go to a different med.  I was looking at the medication guide they gave with it and I had to do a double-take.  In the section where they talk about sleep-walking, it says:

"Reported activities include:
  • Driving a car ("sleep-driving")
  • Making and eating food
  • Talking on the phone
  • Having sex
  • Sleep-walking"
That made me laugh even more.  I just had this image in my mind of me going to bed.  After a while, I got up to use the phone to call someone.  I then got in the car and ended up eating food at a fast-food restaurant instead of having sex with the person I called, which apparently was my original reason for using the phone in the first place. Ha ha!!  It just struck me as hilarious.   Getting that sort of image in my head is what made me laugh at that.  I'm sure it happens to people, but to think any of those things can happen while I'm dead asleep is pretty laughable.  Apparently people do have functional episodes while sleep-walking to the extent that others around them feel like they are their normal selves.  It's such an interesting phenomena to me.  Of course this is nothing to take lightly and I think you guys know me well enough by now to know I don't take things like this lightly.  On the flip side, I do have funny images that pop into my head at the most inopportune time.  I'm happy to report that none of the above happened when I took the pill last night.

I need to check in with the doctor in a week or two.  If the med doesn't work, the second thing the doctor wants to look at is having me studied more in the overnight sleep clinic so they can monitor everything going on.  He said that, according to the data from the CPAP machine, when I'm wearing the nasal pillow, I am not experiencing apnea.  In fact, I should be able to sleep in any position with that machine on.  He is thinking there is something going on in my brain that is psyching myself out in not being able to sleep on the machine.  He says I may be thinking about it too much and preventing myself from falling asleep.  He didn't say it in a dismissive way, but just that it doesn't make sense based on his experience with other patients.  He does feel that a recliner could help on a short-term basis now and when I have the surgery due to the different body positioning.

We did talk about the possibility of a device that goes in my mouth that will force my tongue forward, thereby opening up the passageway.  Unfortunately, I can't qualify for that device until at least six months after my gastric bypass surgery.  They want to see that I have lost weight first before going in that direction.  Speaking of the surgery, he did say that many patients end up no longer having sleep apnea or a very mild form of it afterwards.  I was reminded that even thin people have sleep apnea, which I know to be the case because I've had class members when I learned how to use the machine that were thin.

I'm beyond thrilled that I slept last night!  Not all night long, but a couple more hours on the machine.  I was so tired that I decided I needed to take off the nasal pillow and just sleep on my own so that I could be as functional as possible today.  The lack of sleep I have been experiencing really has taken a toll not only on my body but on my mind.  I've been slurring my words a little bit and even having to try a couple of times to say one word.  That has all been from being extremely tired.  

Speaking of which, my med is starting to kick in now.  My dad is coming for a visit tomorrow.  I am going to move forward with telling him that I'm pursuing the gastric bypass surgery.  I'm nervous and feeling a bit anxious about having this conversation with him.  I just worry that he won't approve and that he won't be supportive.  It's important for me to have his support.  In the end, I know he does back me in whatever I do, even if he doesn't agree with my choices.  Ultimately, it is my choice and I have to remember that I'm a grown-up and not that 13-year-old that's trying to get the courage to tell her daddy something important.  I'll let you all know how it goes!

Day 31:  Drank 186 of 185 ounces (I rock!)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Relationship with food

When I went to my Options bariatric class on Monday, I didn't have my course materials with me.  Another classmate was gracious enough to share some of what we were covering.  One of the activities we had was to look at a checklist of statements in regards to the relationship with food and place a check next to the things we identified with.  Then we discussed our answers in small groups.

I brought my binder home today since we'll be off of work next week and I didn't want to accidentally leave it behind.  I opened to the class lesson and decided to really look at that list again.  An example of one of the statements is, "Once I start, I can't seem to stop eating."  So I went through the checklist again and really was as honest as possible with myself.  Of the 35 statements, I affirmed that 26 were issues for me.  That is more than what I did during class; at that time, I checked yes to 22 statements.  Some of the things were about the emotional reasons I eat, that it feels out of control, certain foods that can't be resisted, hiding food, deprivation, celebration, compulsive activity around food (like eating right from the box/bag/carton), having guilt and shame around food and so many more reasons.

When I looked at the checklist with my results, I thought, Wow!  You really do have a problem with food.  This is not some sort of revelation out of the blue of course.  Any person that is 50, 100, 200, 300 pounds overweight has a really big problem with food.  Look at the example of the people that are on The Biggest Loser each season.  Do you seriously think someone gets that overweight just because they love to cook or that willpower will fix it?  It's just not that simple and for anyone to think that it is really is in a place of ignorance.

Going further past the checklist were some exercise questions related to the list.  I thought it was important for me to answer from the depth of my soul.  I have to do that or I will never overcome these habits around food that have taken a lifetime to build.  I would like to share the questions with you, as well as my answers.  The questions are for you to ask yourself, keeping the utmost honesty at the forefront when answering them.  The answers I put down are for me to be honest.  Putting them on this blog will definitely keep me honest because it doesn't paint me in the best light but I am owning my truth.

  • Why do I think I overeat?  Searching my soul, I really feel like there are so many deep-seeded issues - child abuse, sexual abuse, fears I have, lack of self-confidence, feeling ugly.  Some issues started in the past but they really affect me now.
  • Am I more likely to overeat at certain times of day or days of the week?  What times of day or days of the week?  Why these times?  The hardest times are when I return home from work and then through the rest of the night.  I come home to a place with no one there and I think the loneliness overtakes me.  I become really hard on myself.  Somehow the food provides comfort until more food's needed.
  • Am I more likely to overeat when I feel a certain way?  What feelings lead me to overeat?  Why?  Definitely when I feel loneliness or that I don't have friends.  It's not true ... I do have friends, but it's just what my head tells me when I'm alone.  When I get critical of my body or when I feel ugly, I tend to escape into food.
  • Am I more likely to overeat with other people?  Who?  Why these people?  The majority of my overeating is when I'm alone and have privacy to indulge in whatever.  No one can see what's going on.
  • Am I more likely to overeat at night?  What do I think causes me to overeat at night?   Night is part of it.  I get really lonely being single.  I need more and when I don't have it, the food provides a false sense of comfort.
It's not easy to honestly answer these questions because, if you're anything like me, you have to deal with what you've written down.  I don't want to admit that I feel lonely or that I beat myself up for where my body is right now.  Yet, I also want to change.

At the high school where I work, we were fortunate to be blessed with a guest speaker today.  His name is Brent King.  His daughter, Chelsea, was murdered here locally by a man who took her while she was out running in a public place in the middle of the day.  She was abducted, raped and left for dead.  She was 17 and had a lifetime ahead of her.  The same person also murdered another girl around the same age, not too far from where he killed Chelsea, in the same manner.  The message of Brent's message today was about conquering hate by living in love.  He had every reason to live in anger and hate towards the evil monster who did this to his precious daughter.  Instead, he and his family choose to live in love and treat others in such a way.  They have taken was was an incredible tragedy and turned it into something positive.  They helped bring together a law, Chelsea's Law, to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.  They began a foundation that directly helps kids and the community.  They have grown stronger together as a family.  As I listened to this man's words, I thought about my own past and present.  I asked myself if I have chosen to walk forward in love or in hate.

It's a hard question to answer because I really want to say that I have walked forward in love.  In many ways, I do ... I'm kind to other people, giving to the kids I work with and do the best I can to leave a positive mark in this world.  However, when I look deeper, there is also hate and anger inside of me that I don't embrace enough to bring it out.  While I don't sit here in tears any longer when I think about being physically and sexually abused, there is hate inside of me towards the people that did those things.  While it was not my fault, I took those events and let them impact my confidence level as a human being.  I viewed myself as ugly, unworthy, disgusting.  I did things that helped to only confirm those things in my mind.  I hurt people, and myself, believing that I was no good anyway.  The truth is that there is good in all of us, but I have a hard time seeing past the weight and my looks.  My last boyfriend always told me how beautiful I was.  I have a friend that always calls me pretty lady when she sees me.  Yet, in my mind, I feel hideous a lot of the time.  Those feelings lead me to going to food to somehow comfort me.  It's a horribly vicious cycle that I pray I can get out of.

You may be reading this and thinking that I'm being brave for sharing this so publicly.  I do so because I know that we are as sick as our secrets.  I don't want to harbor ill-will towards anyone, no matter what they have done to me.  The only person that hurts from that is me.  It's easier said than done to say that I choose to be positive versus negative.  Habits take practice and consistency to change.

Water Challenge Day 29:  Drank 100 out of 185 ounces

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pre-op class #4 and weekly weigh-in

Our fourth class was great, although I barely made it there.  Classes start at 5:00 and if we're not there by 5:15, we are considered absent and have to make up the missed class with another group or we have to start all over again with our six months of classes.  I got tied up at work, trying desperately to finish writing our counseling newsletter and sending it out to over 7,000 people before I could leave for the night.  The clock was ticking and I knew I had to leave.  I hardly had time to proofread, so I'm hoping there was no glaring mistake.  Trust me, if there is, I'll hear about it from parents.  I finally got it sent, grabbed my stuff, shut down my office and hauled ass out of there so I could hurry up and sit in rush hour traffic.  There was the constant stop and go, as well as following people who were afraid to follow too closely so they were driving 40 miles per hour with several carlengths in front of them (could you tell I was a tish irritated?)  I made it ... with seven minutes to spare.  Added stress I didn't need!

Weigh in time ... bom bom booom.  I lost another two pounds.  Yay!  I'm so amazed that I'm willingly accepting two pounds here and two pounds there.  In my Optifast days, I would have considered that week a failure but now I'm counting them as successes because I'm working my way towards a goal of healing and being healthy.  

The topic for tonight's class was about emotional eating.  One of the things I absolutely love about the classes I'm going through is how much they focus on the emotional component of being overweight.  Our facilitator pointed out that if we don't get to the crux of why we eat, we won't be successful with the surgery.  Sure, we may lose the weight, we might even keep it off for a while, but it will invariably creep back on and with a vengeance if we don't get at what's eating us.  So she posed the question, "What is the difference between physical hunger and psychological hunger?"

That's a darn good question to ponder.  Truly, what is the difference and can we even spot it?  So, being a good student who always wants to understand and learn, I raised my hand and told her I honestly don't know the difference.  Of course, intellectually, I know there is a big difference between being physically hungry and thinking I'm physically hungry.  So I gave a little scenario of what happened to me today. For breakfast I had oatmeal and Egg Beaters.  I had a mid-morning snack of baby carrots with spreadable Laughing Cow Cheese.  Then my friend and I went for a walk at work during lunch.  I felt pretty darn proud of myself asking her and saying what my physical limits were as we went walking.  So we did that, came back to work and ate our lunches in my office.  I had a homemade delish salad with spring salad mix, mushrooms, artichokes, skim mozarella cheese and a few chunks of chicken.  I also had a Fuji apple with that.  Sounds like a pretty hearty lunch, and it definitely was.  Then, not a half an hour later, I experienced what felt like true hunger to me. My tummy wasn't grumbling but my stomach felt so empty and it felt like real hunger.  I decided to just have more water instead because it felt like it was impossible for me to be so hungry so soon.

One of the things our leader told us to do when we're in situations like that was to ask ourselves what is really going on.  Not sometime later, but right in that very moment.  It may be feeling strange and a little curious that those hunger feelings are going on at the time, but sitting in it is very important.  So I thought back to everything and I could see that I was feeling a little down on myself because my back was hurting during our walk and I was sweaty.  I mean I could feel it drip down my neck.  I looked over at my friend and she didn't look hot in the slightest.  That made me mentally beat up on myself a little bit.  I was completely comparing my larger size to her barely-there size.  Geez, even in that comment, I'm building myself to be this sort of ogre compared to her petite littleness.  That's such a horrible way to treat myself and I know she'd be the first one to point that out.

I shared with the group, when we were posed a question by our leader, that I had gone to food as a coping mechanism when I was a kid, growing up in a rough household.  It was my go-to response when my parents were arguing or I was being hit or when I felt poor.  As an adult, I don't have any of those troublesome things going on but food is my body's go-to response.  If I'm feeling anxious, bored, lonely, scared, worried  - whatever the emotion - I go to food to help me through the moment.  Maybe those things I was feeling after lunch were things I didn't even recognize at the time.  I was reminded in our group tonight that if I am eating something about every 3 hours or so with some sort of protein included and that I'm getting in enough fiber and water, that feeling I'm having is head hunger more than anything.  Time and making new, healthy changes habits are what will help me overcome those uncomfortable feelings.  At least I felt better sharing this with the others because most everyone else was nodding their heads in agreement.

There are many reasons we overeat and it was the question our leader had us think about for the week - why do we think we overeat?  What are your answers to that question?

Water Challenge Day 27:  Drank 175 of 185 ounces

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Saying no to ten more years

I'm not even going to talk about the non-sleeping CPAP situation.  No news means no sleep.  Ho hum.  Someday soon I'll sleep again through the night, at least I hope so.

I was going through my mail earlier today, just trying to catch up on not having checked the mailbox for a few days.  One of the catalogs that came screamed this headline:

Kathy B.
Exclusive offer for being a customer
for over 10 years

This particular catalog was from Roaman's, with the other two coming from Woman Within and Jessica London.  I just have to say that I really want to end my shopping relationship with these companies.  They sell only larger sizes and, except for Jessica London, the clothes are just awful.  No offense to those of you out there that love their clothes, but everything has huge flowers, horrible 60's patterns and polyester everything.  I have always viewed them as catalogs I had to order some clothes out of because I had outgrown the sizes in the stores or were at the tail end of what was available.  I have found some things that were palatable, but really they have always made me feel much older than I really am.  Oh how I wish my relationship with them had only been 10 years.  My need to go to the big clothes store or order from catalogs specializing in plus sizes has been for something like 35 years.  I'm 42 by the way.

That's the thing with being overweight ... it just makes me feel old.  I look like a completely different person when I'm thinner.  I must also admit that I smile more.  Maybe it's because I feel happier, who knows.  I know I definitely feel healthier and can wear cuter clothes.  That's not the reason I'm planning on doing the gastric bypass surgery, not at all.  It's all about feeling and being healthier.  Of course, if I can be cuter along the way, I won't fight that.  I think feeling more attractive, though, is really about how we feel about ourselves on the inside.  Some of the those most beautiful people in the world aren't necessarily beautiful in the conventional sense, but ooze it because of their inner beauty.  Being thin isn't the answer in all times, but there is a boost in self-confidence I feel when I am in a healthier place.

For this coming week, I really want to focus on getting exercise in at least three days a week.  During this last week, I only exercise one day this week and that was today.  That wasn't enough for me.  In fact, it actually made my body hurt more.  So I'm committing to doing that here and now.

Day 26:  Drank 145 of 185 ounces

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Experience of others

I'm posting late tonight because I wanted to make sure I got in all of my water beforehand.  Ugh, it's definitely filling!  I don't know how anyone gets all their water in and overeats without feeling like they're going to burst.

On the sleep front, I still haven't been able to sleep with the machine.  However, I did call the surgeon's office and they told me I would have to meet with him in order to get questions answered about my specific situation.  The person who spoke with me did share that they have had patients who are tummy sleepers.  Okay, that was encouraging.  Wanting a little bit more information, I went onto my Facebook group that deals with gastric bypass with members who have either had the surgery or thinking about having it.  I was seeking responses from people who might have had the same experiences after their surgery.  Below is my original posting with their responses.

My post:

I have a CPAP-related question. I've got severe sleep apnea. My problem is that I can't sleep on my back or side. When I start to fall asleep in those positions, my breathing stops and I wake up. I have a CPAP now and my sleeping is worse than ever. I can't sleep with it on, no matter what I try and how long I try. The few times I have started to fall asleep, I not only wake up but it feels like a shock with the machine trying to do it's thing. When I take it off, I'm asleep in 5 minutes when I sleep on my tummy. I know it's important to use the machine and I do have a consult with a sleep doc next week. But has anyone who has already had the surgery that is a tummy sleeper have problems? The doc who approved me for surgery said my sleep position should not affect the surgery, but I'm curious how that would work. Did you sleep on your tummy after the surgery? I'm starting to worry that my inability to sleep on my back/side will prevent me from getting the gastric bypass done.


  • Try a different mask for your cpap. They have some less invasive masks that tend to freak people out less. You really will feel better if you use your cpap just got to find a mask that is comfortable for you.   And I have no idea about the belly sleep to answer your question. Sorry !
  • [This message is from me ... I was annoyed by the message from the person from above - I didn't ask for advise about how to use the machine,  Yeah, okay, I was irritable but lack of sleep with do that to you.]   I should have put in my post that I have tried every type of mask. This has been an ongoing problem for years. Tried the machine a couple of years ago but decided to try again. This is why I'm asking the specific question about other people who are tummy sleepers.
  • Your sleep apnea will go away pretty quickly as you lose weight. You won't be able to sleep on your tummy for a few weeks at least after surgery while your incisions heal. After that you'll be good. It's worth getting over the few weeks with not great sleep though because you won't need that machine anymore.
  •  I couldn't wear my cpap either.. it gave me migraines.. on a good note, I am two months out, and my bf has told me I o not snore anymore.. I breathe heavy off and on, but nothing like I used too. After surgery u cant sleep on tummy for a bit, it hurts.. even after I was fully healed I tried it, and felt a pulling pressure.. I can now. but def not for first month.
  • My sleep apnea and snoring went away within a month after can sleep however you want after surgery but tummy might be uncomfortable for a few weeks...good luck.
  • Love my CPAP and as the weight falls off they keep reducing the pressure and now I fear I don't need it anymore. It's like having the breeze brush up against my face. Different mask might help, also loosen the mask, and I have no trouble sleeping in any position. For the first month adjusting to it seemed difficult, but then was much better. Also, I got the humidify inc attachment.
  • I loved my bi-pap. Please go back to the place that sold you your cpap and tell them what is going on. People die in their sleep, and your body will never renew itself for the next day.
  • Bipap is way to go pressure lessons when exhaling much easier to breathe.
  • I. Am the same way with my machine. I never used it. And I can only sleep on my tummy. Day I came home from hospital. I was. Sleeping on my tummy. You'll figure it out if ya wanna get to sleep. Lol
  • [Me again.]  Thanks for all the great feedback. I'm definitely not giving up on the CPAP or whatever treatment is going to work for me. I have an appointment with a pulmonologist from the sleep clinic next Thursday. He will be looking at the data from my machine as well as have me bring the entire machine in (I'm guessing to make sure I'm wearing it correctly). I have tried loosening it, tightening it, sleeping on my back, on my side, different masks. I've pretty much tried it all and I'm completely at my wit's end. I pray something works soon otherwise I think people will find me in a corner crying from the pure exhaustion and frustration.
  •  I felt like that until I joined a internet group, and I asked one questions detailing the masks I had tried, the levitating nasal pillows lol, and someone said "try this one". And I did, and it worked. Used it for about 6 years.
  • I have a machine and I sleep in all positions except for the first month after surgery- I couldn't sleep on my stomach. I usually place my hose above my head when I lay down as it allows the air to flow freely. If the tubing is twisted I find I don't sleep well. I also have the full mask and the CPAP pillow which have cut outs for the mask and neck support.  Some times I do wake up with a headache but I believe the temperature need the be adjusted that night which sometimes affect my sinus.   Sometimes the temp that you have it set can make your sleeping uncomfortable. Mine is set at 70 degrees at the moment.
  • Kathy, another thought I had is you might want to start and use the CPAP for one hour and gradually work the way up. You are ramping right?

It's clear from the messages that I'm not alone in the inability to sleep with the CPAP.  That made me feel better, as well as knowing that some were even able to sleep on their tummies.  It's so hard feeling like no one understands the things we go through, only to then realize there really are others that understand from personal experience.  It's really hard to describe the frustration I have gone through with this.  The inability to sleep is just awful, especially when you need to be somewhat functional throughout the day and particularly when driving behind the wheel of a car.

What I have decided is to try to let it go as much as I can.  Otherwise I'll cause myself (more) unending stress and anxiety.  That's the last thing I need to bring on for myself.  I have an appointment with a doctor from the sleep clinic on Thursday, so I'll see what he has to stay.  In the meantime, I'll do the best I can to get some sleep.

Speaking of which, I have an early morning walk with Sara and her two doggies.  I'm not going to use the machine tonight so I can ensure I will have enough energy to walk tomorrow.  Looking forward to that!

Water Challenge Day 25:  Drank 186 of 185 ounces 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Trying not to stress about it

It seems like this issue with my inability to sleep with the CPAP machine has been overtaking most of the space in my head.  Last night I decided to sleep sans the machine and I fell asleep in about five minutes.  I remember my head hitting the pillow and then I was out like a light.  The truth is that I sleep so much better without the machine that is supposed to help me sleep better.  Ironic ain't it?  Two reasons keep me trying the machine.  First, it is incredibly dangerous for my heart and overall health to live with unregulated sleep apnea.  The research I have done has more than convinced me that I have to keep trying.  Second, I am going to have the gastric bypass surgery later in the year and if I can't sleep on my back, how am I ever going to recover after surgery?

This issue with surgery recovery has been really weighing on my mind a lot.  I know that, for many people, they no longer have sleep apnea sometime after the surgery.  Imagine, having this incredible surgery to have a healthier and longer life.  You're in the recovery room and all of a sudden you can't breathe because you wake up every time you fall asleep.  And the doctor tells you not to lay on your stomach because your incisions need to heal.  So you're lying there in a dark room, struggling with a CPAP machine that only keeps you up and prevents you from sleeping.  Your eyes hurt from being so tired but you Just.Can't.Sleep.  No matter what you do, you Just.Can't.Sleep.  Tears are falling from your eyes out of frustration in not being able to fall asleep without losing your breath.  This is what I'm going through right now.  I lay there with every good intention that this will be the night that I will fall asleep with the machine, even if it's just 15 minutes.  It never happens.  I'm talking never, ever.  

I decided to be proactive today.  Instead of sitting here in wonder, I decided to send a message to the doctor who approved me for the surgery.  I am seeing a pulmonologist next week, but I don't know if he can answer questions about the specifics on the surgery.  I know I'm being impatient, I completely own that.  Yet, the worry about what will happen after surgery is messing with my head so much that I just had to ask some questions to find out if I should worry or if I can relax a bit.  So here's what I asked the doctor in my message:

"Hi Dr. R,

I am currently participating in the Options program leading to a gastric bypass surgery.  I have a question I'm hoping you can help me with since I don't have a surgeon yet with it being too early in the process.  I was diagnosed with sleep apnea a couple of years ago, tried the CPAP machine but gave up because I just couldn't fall asleep.  However, I have decided to try again because I know how important it is to be on the machine.  I am still having extreme difficulty and cannot sleep on my back or side.  I lose my breath and wake up.  I have an appointment with the sleep clinic to see how I'm doing.  However, in regards to the surgery, is it possible to still have the surgery if I'm a tummy sleeper?  I'm just worried I won't be able to have it if I can't sleep on my back/side.  If you could provide me with some insight, I'd appreciate it.  Thank you."

So I sent it off with bated breath, hoping the doctor would help me feel better or at least alleviate the worry I have going on inside.  Here is his very detailed response:

"The condition or way you sleep should not interfere with surgery.  Thanks."

Okay.  Mr. Personality he is not.  I might look into whether or not I can contact one of the surgeons that actually perform the surgery just to be certain because his response left a lot to be desired.  He does not perform the actual surgery, but does the final approval for Kaiser members in the San Diego area that want to move forward with the surgery.  

These are the things that take up space in my head and make me want to eat when I'm left with more questions than answers.  And I have to admit that I really wanted to eat today.  Instead, I drank water.  Ho hum ... water.  It didn't give me quite the thrill that a scoop of ice cream does, but it shouldn't be doing that anyway.  Sorry I seem to be talking about all the CPAP trials and tribs lately.  It's just all-consuming for me because I'm very tired, physically and emotionally.  It has wiped me out and I feel non-functional lately.  I'm sure I'm handling things better than I think in my head but I'm just exhausted.

Water Challenge Day 23:  Drank 185 of 185 ounces

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Seriously not trying to complain but ...

So my saga with that freakin' CPAP machine continues.  Have you ever been so frustrated with something that you just wanted to cry because you just honestly don't know what to do with yourself?  I passed that place last night.  My doc prescribed some deliciously yummy sleeping pills that, under normal circumstances, would be a special treat for any problem sleeper.  Imagine floating on a cloud the moment your head hits the pillow and then waking up like Sleeping Beauty in the morning.  Doesn't that sound heavenly?  How about the sleeper that is very tired but is fighting a machine to see who's gonna win?  Side note:  the machine won.  Grrrrrr.

I honestly feel like I'm at the end of my rope.  I'm still trying, I promise.  I am going to bed each night with renewed spirit and a hope that this will be the night that I fall asleep on the machine.  I try to block it out of my mind and not think too much about it.  Yet, when you're trying to fall asleep after 3, 4, 5 hours and just can't get there, what else can you do but practically weep in your pillow?  There is a point that I just have to take the straps off so that I can get at least some sleep.  I do need to be functional in my job somehow.  If you're a praying person, please throw out a prayer or two on my behalf.  I would appreciate that so much.  I know how dangerous sleep apnea is left untreated, so I will continue trying until I see the pulmonologist.  Hopefully he'll wave a magic wand at me and I'll become Sleeping Beauty.  Dare to dream, right?

Totally changing topics, I shared a few days ago that I got into grad school to pursue my master's degree.  After spending the weekend thinking about what is the best course of action for me, I've decided that I'm going to wait until the Fall term to start my classes.  If I start now, I would have to start in second year classes and that feels a bit backwards to me since I'll then need to take first year classes afterwards.  So now that I have more months without school, I'll need to work on scholarships and different ways to pay so that I can avoid taking out more student loans if at all possible.  I hate borrowing more money, although I will if I have to do that.  It's important for me to get the master's degree so that I can move on to the next level in my profession.  One of the things I do in my job is help students with obtaining scholarships.  I guess now I'll have to use some of those skills for myself!  Alright, time for me to take that sleeping pill and then have a great night of sleep (positive thinking all the way man!!).

Water Challenge Day 21:  Drank 52 of 186 ounces (yeah, okay, I did bad today)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pre-op class #3 and weekly weigh-in

This week's Options class was about embracing change.  Ah, change ... one of the most difficult things for most people to deal with.  I don't know many people that really love change.  If anything, most of us just deal with it.  Of course, it can be very positive as well.  I recognize that my process leading up to the gastric bypass is a series of many different changes.  My challenge will be how willing I am to handle them head-on or if I will try to bury my head in the sand.  With change comes choice.  The fact is that I can choose to change or I can choose to stay stagnant.  That's the beauty of this entire process - all these things are up to me.  I am challenged to look within and see if I am really willing to do the work or if I just want to get away with the base minimum.  It's an interesting thing to think about.  Obviously I want things to be better and to feel healthier.  But the question is if I really do want it.  Do I want to be able to eat whatever I want, whenever I want or do I sincerely want to live a healthier life with healthier choices?  There's this pouty little girl inside of me that says, "Ick, how boring!  Enjoy that life eating rabbit food."  Yet, there's that other part of me that is tired of feeling aches and pains all the time.  She wants to breathe better, no longer have diabetes and just live a longer, more vibrant life.
There were some practical things I can do to continue countering negative beliefs and feelings into positive ones.  One of the challenges for me this coming week will be to immediately counter any negative thoughts I may have about myself with something positive.  Many people who have weight problems say a lot of negative things about themselves, myself included.  I can't even express how many times I'll pass a mirror and say something negative as I look at my reflection.  It's horrible that I do that because no one deserves it and, really, that's the whole point of the exercise.  Speaking of making change, one of the charges we have throughout the classes is to start incorporating practices now that will help us transitioning after the surgery.  One of the great tips was to try to eat slower by using baby utensils or, even better, use chopsticks.  Sounds like a great idea but I can't use chopsticks!  I never mastered that skill. I'd be sitting at the dining room table 2 hours after everyone else has left if I ate with them. The more I thought about it, though, the more I thought it was a great idea.  This will definitely slow me down if I'm hurrying and I'll learn something new.  See, I'm picking up all kinds of talents and skills along the way in this journey.

My weigh-in this week was pretty nice - I lost a couple of pounds.  I'll gladly take it!  My water intake has been pretty good overall.  I just need to figure out what's going on with using the CPAP machine and I think I'd be feeling fantastic.  Lack of sleep is extremely frustrating.  I saw one of my doctors today and she prescribed some sleep meds to use in conjunction with the machine, so hopefully that'll just knock me right out.  I pray I will fall right into bed and sleep the whole night through.  Mmm, that sounds devine!

Water Challenge Day 20:  Drank 168 or 186 ounces