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It’s already been two weeks…?

Today is two weeks from surgery and so much has happened. My amazing family provided exceptional care during 10 days of recovery and they remain diligent with daily calls for status reports. My mom, dad and sister sacrificed quite a bit to be with me individually, during crazy times in their own lives, to care for me and for that my gratitude is overflowing.

The image I chose to associate with this post is a painting I purchased a week before surgery from one of Mom’s artists. I have always loved Marion’s work, but this one particularly caught my eye. It represents not only my turning 53 on December 19th, but fact that she uses old book pages is a connection with one of the things I love, reading. Also the “scratch, stores, scream” just makes me giggle. They seem more like instructions than statements. Regardless it touches my heart and it will always represent this journey and transition.

Now to catch you up on the post surgical journey. As a quick reminder I began the journey at 280 lbs this summer and on the day after surgery, December 14th, weighed 270 lbs at the doctor’s office, though I had lost about 6lbs more during the pre-op diet. This weekend I weighed 251 lbs.

Ah….December 13th, the surgery. The day was long, though I was unconscious for much of it. We, the parents and I, were at the outpatient surgical center at 7am and entertained each other until 11am when the nurse came to take me to the surgical suite. Unbeknownst to both the patient and the parents, the nurse had neglected to have me sign the release for surgery. Parents had gone for food, finally, and I was gleefully “put under”. Shortly after the lack of signature was discovered, the search for the parents began. They were enjoying a Subway lunch on the other side of the hospital opposite the surgery center when the call was received. Eventually surgery commenced but it was late in the afternoon before I was conscious enough for transport to the hotel. I don’t recall much from the day, or night, but I can say that short of the signature confusion, everything went very well.

My recovery has been without issue. Dr. Lee Schmitt did an incredible job and I am overjoyed with my decision to have the surgery as well as to have used Alabama Weight Loss Surgery. I follow a few support groups on Facebook and see how different people react following the procedure. I have been so happy with my own recovery as I have been able to handle varying liquid temperatures, getting daily protein and liquid requirements, and have experienced none of the severe gas pain others describe. Much of my success I credit to the fact that I not only was walking the day of surgery, but continued to increase my walking each day until I was at 3 miles this past weekend.

I am learning to “eat” more solid foods following three weeks on liquids. I am in the pureed stage and am handling everything well. I cannot stomach, no pun intended, artificial sweeteners, which has been a big surprise. I have a feeling I will learn quite a lot more in these next few weeks as I work towards January 24th when I will be back on regular foods.

This journey has been filled with teaching moments from the very beginning and it is only starting to really ramp up. My outlook on food selections/tolerances, exercise and even social choices is constantly changing. I cannot imagine where I will be, what I will look like or how my thinking will change this new year of 2017, but am looking forward to each day and the surprises they will bring!

And I can’t wait to share it with you….

 

Here I go…

I sit in the dark of our hotel room listening to my mother talk. It’s 5:15am and we will be at the surgery center in less than two hours. Tears stream down my face as I touch my body and realize this blanket, this cover, that has surrounded me and protected me will soon begin disappearing. I didn’t expect this rush of emotion. It almost feels like grieving which I think in a sense it will be. I expected changes, but in my excitement I never thought of the loss. Not only the weight but exposing me, without the insulation, which has been my comfort. Now there will be nothing but me to hold accountable for the victories and defeats. It will only be me that people see. Not the fat girl who gets some extra slack. People will see ME.

At last…

As the sun is rising on this new day, change is on the horizon. Today there are projects to complete, bags to pack and the journey to Birmingham to make. This day has been a long time coming and I am excited, anxious and ready for the next step.

The last few weeks have been filled with much preparation. I have organized all of my clothes by size in separate bins so as the body changes, transition will be easily made. The house has been cleaned to prepare for six weeks of physical recovery (i.e., no lifting above 10 lbs). The refrigerator is filled with only liquids which has been my mainstay for the past week and will be for two more. I have attended classes and met with my surgeon, Dr. Lee Schmitt, for the final time pre-op. Tomorrow I will officially join the “losers bench” and I couldn’t be prouder!

Following surgery I will be up walking within the hour to start “working out” all of the gas that will be pumped into my abdomen, which creates a dome where all the work is done. As soon as I leave recovery I will become a walking fool until all the gas is expelled. I’ll just leave you to that image.

I will continue on clear liquids for 6 days then transition to full liquids which includes strained cream soups and yogurt. On the 27th I move to pureed foods and a week later to soft foods. I don’t think I have ever looked forward to eggs so much! On the 24th of January it’s regular food in my new 3 oz capacity. There is so much to look forward to and I am so excited to make this major life change in order to enjoy all of you and my wonderful family for decades to come.

Thank you for your love and support as we continue together on this journey or as my sister Kallyn calls it, Go Team Lisa!! Will be so thrilled to share the transformation including the struggles and the victories from the other side. See you soon….

Gratitude

There is so very much to be grateful for this year. It has been a whirlwind of events, procedures and emotions. Today I stand in support of a dear friend who will be changing her life with the gastric sleeve surgery. We began the journey together and in just under two weeks I will join her on the “losers bench”.

I am constantly asked if I am prepared, scared or anxious about the surgery and the life change. I am even a little amazed how calm and sure I am in this decision. There is great hope and opportunity in taking all of the things you are grateful for, holding them close to your heart and taking a leap forward to a new path. My life is already so enriched by my family and all of you. There is no way to express the gratitude for all of the love I experience in my life.

This weekend my mom and I watched the actual surgery procedure on YouTube. It was VERY interesting to see the process and how large the stomach is once it is removed from the abdomen. If you can stomach watching the procedure, pun intended, it will provide a glimpse into part of what I am currently preparing for. This opens a place for dialogue and  questions, should you have anything you’d like to ask, as I have made it clear that I am committed to being an open book through the process. I am providing a link to the surgery video, click here. This is not my surgeon but it provides a thorough view on what will happen inside my body during surgery.

Moving forward the liquid diet begins this weekend. From Sunday on everything that passes my lips for the next three to four weeks will be in liquid form. One week will be clear liquids during immediate recovery. After liquids there will be the puree stage followed by soft foods before returning to regular foods in about six to seven weeks. The process is so well designed for a successful adjustment to the new stomach. I will share the experiences as transitions occur.

As the date moves closer, know that I am secure in the decision and this new healthy life course. As always thank you for your support and partnership in this journey.

Listening….

As I prepare for the new birthday of my body on December 13th, I continue to read material, research diet/exercise/preparation steps and as well as the following of three different bariatric surgery support groups.

One of the recurring posts I read are examples of how people are completely disconnected from their own bodies. The questions and the posts from people who are post-surgery complaining about how they “feel” are all so telling that they are not aware that their bodies speak to them at all times and in so many ways. Whether it is pressure, discoloration, pain, balance or “feelings”, there are a symphony of indicators that play the tune of how our bodies are working at that exact moment in time.

What I have learned is the stomach is a muscle bag. Being a muscle it is easily stretchable and when you remove 85-90% of said muscle, many things are going to change. Capacity for food goes from approximately 34 ounces to 4 ounces. Thus eating too fast or too much can cause upper stomach pain and pressure. Not chewing food to the consistency of applesauce or taking larger than minuscule bites may result in food lodging above the stomach. And drinking liquids before/during/after meals will wash the food through making you hungry sooner and you greatly reduce any nutrients absorbed. All of these actions are going to cause adverse effects. These are lessons we are taught early in the preparation process. Why these prescriptions to a successful experience are ditched early on is beyond my understanding.

There is much joy to be found in the journey and in the sleeve, which is simply a tool to success. Failing to listen to how our bodies respond to the changes can be our demise.

One of the most important lessons I have learned is to “listen” for the cues of when my stomach is full and to STOP eating. I have learned that these signs are different for everyone. Some will experience a small burp or hiccup, while others notice their nose begins to run. I invite you, this week of Thanksgiving, to “listen” for your sign of fullness, and recognize how “full” our lives are as we give thanks for all that we have and all the love that surrounds us.

Surgery or not, each day is a gift and our body the messenger of our health. So take a moment to stop, to look and to LISTEN.

 

 

 

Landslide

For decades this song has had a profound impact on me at pivotal points in my life. The intense connection with the song began in 1985 as I was driving away from a man who had just ended our relationship. Since that night it has appeared on the radio at just the times I have needed to hear it and feel the strength the words provide.

As  you can imagine I am in serious change mode in preparation for this new road. With every step I take, every move I make I am imagining the changes to come. How my body will feel with each step, as I sit, as I move, as I take flight above the fears of the past. Silly things, like how much more room I will have in the bed, where I struggle nightly for space between ZaZa and Junie who command more area than 7 lbs and 12 lbs should occupy.

I am very aware of everything right now and, as uncomfortable as I am with the bulk that surrounds me, I am enjoying this phenomena immensely. This is a journey I am preparing and prepared for…

I hope you will listen to the song, which should play above and share your feedback, if it has affected you in life or any thoughts you might have about it now.

 

I have a DATE!!!!!

So it is finally coming to pass….I have my surgery date! On December 13, 2016 I will have gastric sleeve surgery, also known as the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. As you can see on the photo above 80% of the stomach is removed laparoscopically and a vertical sleeve of a pouch stomach is left. I have a wonderful surgeon who actually brought the procedure to Alabama originally, Dr. Lee Schmidt at Alabama Weight Loss Surgery. Unfortunately my company does not have bariatric services of any kind as a part of their policy, so I will be private paying for this life changing and life extending procedure. I am so very excited to share this all with you as you are my cheerleaders.

I reflect now on how initially I wished upon wish that the process would move quickly and I could begin this new lease on life as soon as possible. In retrospect I know this happened exactly as it should have been progressing as it has provided the time to psychologically and physiologically prepare for the incredible changes about to occur. I can’t wait to share the step by step process and for me to be able to share the transformation!!

Stay tuned for more….!

 

 

Fight or flight…ugh, not another flight!

Reminiscing 34,000 ft above the planet I realized that although I have an amazing life and family, there are things that I struggle with that soon I hope to remedy.

This past weekend I flew to Colorado Springs to join my family in celebrating the life of the sweetest woman, our Aunt Helen Eppley, whom we recently lost. It was a difficult but joyous time for her family who adored her so. These rare times together mean so very much.

While in my twisted reality the flight had been booked with much trepidation that had nothing to do with a fear of flying. So here begins the list of the many things that demonstrate how the “weight” weighs me down.

Flying: let’s face it, my clothes are bigger, thus packing is usually not in an overnight bag. I check my larger roller that houses my larger clothes. No overhead bag for me on a weekend trip. Next I spend my “thought” time from the very second I book the flight until I arrive home again worrying whether the seat belt will fit. I don’t wish this on anyone. I was so fearful about this trip that I actually ordered a seatbelt extension on Amazon to carry with me, just in case the seat’s own belt didn’t reach across my lap. Now you’ve probably seen these, the flight attendants use them to demonstrate how to properly use/wear a seatbelt, like we’ve never been in a car before. Once the pre-flight safety demonstration is complete they are happy to let you borrow one of the sample belts to use as an extension during the flight, but it is beyond embarrassing to have to ask. Luckily on the four different legs of this particular trip, I didn’t have to utilize the extension I secretly hid in my tote bag even once. “Audible sigh of relief” I never want to have to do that again.

Squatting: I have mentioned in earlier posts how when I want sit or need to get down on the floor that I always require a strategy. I must know exactly how to get up, what props to use in order to levitate my mass. This also means that I cannot kneel nor can I squat. My knees have been worn and the fat in my thighs prevents these normal actions. I often watch other just crouch down to small kids, animals or to even clean the floor and I do this with great envy. The floor is not my friend.

Making myself smaller: As I composed this post I was curled in a huddled mass in the corner of my seat during the flight from Colorado Springs to Houston. I am very aware of my size, at all times, and never want to make others uncomfortable so a make myself as small as I can so not to invade another’s space. It is very uncomfortable and requires me to hold muscles tense and compact as I can. No joy, no rest.

Baby got back: Something interesting is how my butt affects my life. As I have expanded so has it and that creates different challenges. On the upside it does make me taller in my seat thanks to layers upon layers of padding, whether I am a desk or table or driving in a car. Sadly it also causes discomfort as my spine is always at an odd angle in order to fit my girth into chairs, sofas or any seating. At these times my back, thus my spine is not properly aligned as it should be. This makes me a bit cranky and sore. I constantly suffer from numbness in my left thigh that I am certain is a result of how the weight affects the spine.

Sleevage: Ok, this may border on TMI. I’ve broached the butt subject, now I’m moving on to boobs. As my weight has increased there has become an abundance of breast tissue. As mentioned in a previous post, the mere existence of breast tissue resulted in having a to endure a precautionary heart cath not long ago. Some may not realize that our breast tissue isn’t just what goes into our bra cups, but also includes the tissue that extends under our arms. This is the difference between cleavage and sleevage. Sleevage is the fat under your arms that causes a cleavage look when you are going sleeveless.  I never thought I’d say this but I am looking forward to great reduction in both!

Crossing my legs: Can’t do it! Thighs are too big, enough said.

So I have given you a small, nasty taste of my world as a fat woman. Now as a non-caloric treat, I am hoping to have a happy announcement later this week. Stay tuned for more to come!

Entertaining…

While I wait patiently to learn the outcome of the insurance filing, I have filled the days with great distractions. One has been a reduction in entertaining pieces. Now this may seem silly, since I will be able to entertain even after surgery, but I am foreseeing changes in my life moving forward.

I had always “stocked up” on the latest, greatest essential entertaining and cooking pieces from Pampered Chef and other great places, including my cousins’ fabulous cookware store in Colorado Springs. This represented my investing in the fairytale of how my dream household would one day look. This eventually cost many, many dollars and much space in my home. Though I reduced my possessions by more than 60% when I moved to Alabama, I still have a long way to go and too much in the greater scheme of things.

This led to me reflect upon the dream that I built in my mind and heart for decades that one day I would have a family of my own. Now, know that I do have an amazing family and support system, but as a child and young adult I never in my wildest dreams imagined that at 52 I would still be living alone, sans two loving four legged “kids.”

I have lived an exceptionally wonderful life in incredible cities and known so many amazing people. There are so few regrets and so so many joys. I see that the dream of a “family of my own” has evolved into a family group of people I have chosen to be a part of my life at one time or another. Because of the love of others I have never lacked love or support, have never lacked for anything and for that I know how fortunate I am.

Our dreams may not be our realities, but if we chose to see and celebrate daily blessings I believe you will see our realities can become our dreams coming true.

Those “one last times”

I follow three different online support groups currently for those who have had surgery and those who are pre-op. Ninety percent of the posts are either before/current or before/after pictures, which I must say are all quite inspiring. Included are motivating stories, questions about the actual procedure, post surgical basic living questions. You also have the “BOT” posts, back on track. These are people who have experienced a regain of some level and now they are working to “re-lose” the regain.

As I sit in my “high-seat” of observation, not of action, I am quick to mentally criticize those who have gone before me. I have commented to others how I cannot understand how people can take such drastic measures with their body only to look for post-op recipes that convert pre-op foods into post-op options which allow them to eat the foods that got them to where they were pre-surgery.

I comment on these particular these things as I have eaten my own way through the “things I will miss or not be able to eat again” and have put on weight instead of using this time to lose some initial weight in order to begin the process.

I worry that I am setting myself up for failure. I have not begun a regular exercise program, as I promise myself each week. I have not cut down on my portions, though it is also been a goal. I have not started logging everything that goes into my mouth, though I did purchase mini-notebooks yesterday. I HAVE stopped drinking sodas. I need to cut out the sugar and carbs, up the protein and increase lower carb vegetables. I say all of this in order to “come clean” and be accountable to all of you….my team.

I want and need to make this a success. It is a part of my thoughts most moments of the day. That said, I am making a commitment to you, TODAY, to truly begin this journey. This morning I have just weighed, granted post two cups of coffee, and the scale reads 276.8, I commit moving forward that I will share here with you, each Sunday, my progress on eating, exercise and weight from the week, in order to begin what I believe will be the most important part of new life disciplines.

Today the work begins….