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.