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4 weeks post op, travel next week, another book review

21 Jan

Well, I can’t believe I’m already 4 weeks post op.  I have 4 more days of softs and then I get to move onto regular bariatric diet.  Which is just in time, because it is looking like I will be traveling for a quick trip for work leaving on Wednesday to go to Franklin, TN. Not sure yet though.  I am kind of looking forward to it happening, not for the stressful situation that I will head into down in Franklin, but rather to see the seatbelt fit (I hope) without an extender.  I have to think with the pounds and inches I’ve measured away that I should be a bit more comfortable in an airplane seat now.  That’s cool to think about.  My incisions all look good, the one that was problematic still has a large scab that isn’t letting go, but no further issues from it.  This was my first almost full week back at work, monday was a holiday.  I have the flexibility to work from whereever, but on Tuesday I actually went in to my local office and tried to get back in the work mindset.  The last time I was in the office was pre-op, and I found it interesting that I felt like I could walk a lot faster than I used to–at lunch I walked all around the inside hallways (its a very large office) and felt energized afterwards.  Weird!

I am finding myself falling into a habit with breakfast being a premier protein drink.  I hope that is ok.  I’m not much of a breakfast person, I know its important though.  It seems like the premier protein gives me a really good start with 30 g of protein and a lot of other vitamins and minerals.  Is it really terrible if I continue to do this long term?

I also worried myself with a meal that I feel I was able to eat way too much.  I took a 5 oz can of canned chicken breast, a T of light mayo and pureed it in the bullet, and also had about 2 oz of cottage cheese.  I was able to eat ALL of this.  Folks on VST seemed to think that since it was pureed (and it was quite liquidy) that even though it was chicken it might not have been that far off of liquid so was able to pass through rapidly.  I hope so.  This evening though seemed better, we went out to a chinese buffet (what a waste of money for me, but everyone else wanted it) and I had about 2 oz of really soft cooked honey chicken, 2 oz of cottage cheese and half a hard boiled egg.

I really am able to drink very well and don’t have issues with eating anything. Nothign has upset my sleeve so far.   I do feel when I start to get full, and that is wild to me.  Preop I would have had to have the mother of all binges to feel anything close to physically full.

last week I was doing a good job of getting my steps in and this week I’ve just sucked it, other than that one day I was in the office.  Exercise really is a mental block for me.  I can give myself every excuse in the world for not doing it.

As many people seem to experience, I hit the three week stall right on time, with the scale not moving (except for up, as  the days went on without poop…LOL) this week.  It did gradually at least get back to where I was, but I am hoping now that the movement will continue on down.

The book I started this week is Beck Diet Solution, which I think is finally the nirvana I was looking for in terms of an eating focused cognitive behavioral approach.  Its a six week plan compatible with any eating plan to retrain the way we approach, think and feel about food, and hopefully then impact our actions related to food.  It has a nice format in breaking down each day into something to do to take a step forward.

The first day had me writing an “Advantage Response Card” — a card to remind me of all the advantages of losing weight.  I’m not much for paper any more, so I am using the flashcardlet app on my phone instead.  I am also supposed to write it down in one other place, so that will be here.  I used a lot of what I wrote down pre-op but here are the things I am looking forward to (and one or two already there)

1. I can fit in an airplane seat comfortably without an extender.

2. I won’t feel like I need to use the big stall in the restroom to feel like I have enough room.

3. It will be easier to be clean, shower, shave and etc.

4. I will hurt less during and after being active.

5. I might be able to try new activities or sports.

6. I will be able to enjoy amusement park rides more again (an old favorite)

7. I will fit in restaurant booths easily.

8. Maybe I can ditch the CPAP.

9. My diabetes will improve or resolve.

10. I can tie my shoes easily.

11. I can easily paint my toenails.

12. I will have energy to play with my kids.

13. I can buy pretty clothes and even <gasp> lingerie.

14. My wedding rings fit (already!)

15. I can kneel at church without leaning back.

16. My bed and furniture won’t sag permanently where I sit and lay.

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3 weeks post op, 1st wls support group (IRL) mtg, book review

12 Jan

Well, today is 3 weeks post op.  What a ride so far.  Today I am officially able to be on soft foods (though I’ve snuck some a few days early) and that is interesting.  I am not sure at this point if I am supposed to expect to get most of my proteins from food, but I am going to try to do so.  I can see how that is a lot harder than getting them from the drinks, the premier protein shakes i’ve been relying on have 30g of protein a shot, so two shakes and I’m pretty much good, and anything else was just (protein) gravy.  I have purchased some foods I’ve never eaten before that are on my list for the soft food phase, like tilapia and salmon.  I’ve never been a fish person, but I figure now is a time to try seeing if I can learn to like new things. 

I have a somewhat unrelated appointment today.  In the midst of all of this waiting for WLS surgery, I began to have difficulty swallowing and chronic sore throat.  I think I may have posted about it before, but in any case, they did a scope and diagnosed me with silent reflux, and I was put on a strong PPI called Dexilant that is working great.  I am sure that some of this was related to the hernia he fixed during surgery. The other part I am having checked out again today, and that is that they found two unexplained lumps/nodules in my throat that the doc was just thinking were a part of the irritation of the throat, but I have to be rescoped today to have them checked out.  I am not a smoker or drinker, which he said were the two big risk factors for the different types of cancer in the throat, so here’s hoping they were just random lumps and bumps. 

Last night I went to my first (in real life) support group meeting for my surgical group’s practice.  I was late because my son’s orthodontic consult ran long (and expensive) but the hour I was there for lifted my spirits.  I caught the last half of a presentation by Anita Nell Swanson, a local woman who was over 500 pounds, had gastric bypass,  and has gone on to not only lose her excess weight, but is now a personal trainer and works a lot with bariatric patients.  She runs a program that is offered at my local YMCA that is an 8 session course for getting started with being healthy if you’re super overweight.  I think I am going to start that in February.  The hard part is always that my travel schedule will likely gear up in february, so I may miss some sessions but better going to some than none at all, I expect.  One note, her website design detracts from her credibility (Anita, you’re amazing, contact me for some ideas about how to make the site support your great message) but please get past that and consider purchasing her book.  She’s amazing!  She had one of her clients speak as well, a woman who was over 400+ when she started and discussed how last year she completed 2 half marathons, and one of them was a mountainous, uphill half marathon locally called Robie Creek.  Holy cow.  I can’t even FATHOM that. 

It was also nice talking to other people in the same boat.  So it was definitely worth going to the group.  I also made a call at least to see if I can hook up with a therapist .  I called the guy who did my bariatric psych eval to start.  He does education classes for the surgical practice I go to, so I am hoping he might be a good guy to start with.  I’m a little weirded out by going to a man for therapy though. What I need is the “Anita Nell” of therapists – that would be awesome.  Someone who has lived this ride or at least understands it pretty deeply.   

From a weight loss perspective, things keep moving.  I am waiting for the “three week stall” now that I am starting soft foods.

A book I highly suggest — 50 ways to soothe yourself without food by Susan Albers.  I love all the ideas it has and how it categorizes into different types of needs and what soothing may help.

I’ve got a few other books on my virtual reading shelf — not sure what I think about those yet because I’ve only peeked and poked into them — some OA books (I have the old print versions, but these are on nook),  The Overeaters Journal, Why Cant I stop Eating, Made to Crave, Weight Loss Surgery cookbook for Dummies, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies.

Incision Troubles, the post WLS Blues

9 Jan

All in all, I should be super happy.  scale is dropping (48 lbs gone total), feeling mostly pretty good.  Two issues at this point.

First is I have an incision that is givign me trouble. The 2nd incision from the left (I incorrectly thought this was the one that was oozing a bit in the hospital, but it is not, now that I think about it)  is giving me some trouble.  It’s been fine ever since surgery, no issues.  A few days ago, it pops up open and lets loose some mostly clear ooze.  Hmm.  No fever, no real pus, minimal redness (a few millimeters) around the incision.  Call the on-call doc and he thinks its a seroma.  So basically fine, just pay attention if anything is worse.  Today, after a shower I look down at it, and the scab that had formed had fallen off and the incision is gapped open a bit, and seems redder, and has what looks like more serious looking goo, but maybe that is just from the scab falling off.

The pictures below are TMI, so if you are squeamish, look away!

Saturday:

Today 1/9/12 after shower — water must have loosened the scab off and washed it away?

So that is that.  Yum, huh?  At the moment, no one but me seems to be having kittens over it despite two calls to the doc.  I have a just in case appt on Thursday, in case it gets worse.  They told me to put steristrips back on it to reclose where it has opened in the middle.  So now it looks like this:

In other news, I’m wondering if I need to put a call into my primary care doc to up my antidepressant.  I’m not sure at this point if I’m just expecting too much in recovery or whether I am getting depressed, because I just feel like holing up and doing nothing.  Work feels like too much right now, everything is sorta blah.  I have anxiety, mild depression and SAD, so it could be I need to get more sunlight too.  I have a SAD light, maybe its time to use it again.  Hmm.

Two weeks post op

6 Jan

I think my body has finally let go of its death grip on every calorie I’m eating.  The scale is starting to move.  I wish it had started to move sooner, but hey, I’ll take it. 

Yesterday, one of my incisions’ steristrips came undone after shower, and this AM, I sat down and noticed something felt weird.  The incision is gaping on one side just at the skin level. Boo.  No infection or draining, just peeled apart a little bit, about 1/4 of an inch.  I called the doc’s office, they told me to go get wound closure strips and put it back together.  So that is what I did.  I hope it heals correctly!

Today was also my first day back at work, at least a partial day, about 6 hours.  It went fine.  I am lucky enough to be able to work from home as much as i want.  In fact, most all of my team, spread all across the country, works from home.  I actually do usually go into the office three days a week, to see other humans and feel connected somewhat to my employer.  I don’t actually work with any of the people I sit with, so its kind of weird, but I sit just down the hall from my brother, so that is cool, since he is a cool brother.  😀

generally I feel better each day, still have twinges and pains now and then, and have difficulty bending down to pick stuff up off floor.  I was able to take my longest walk yet, and no nap.  So a red letter day, I guess 😉  As far as what is going on recovery wise — still on full liquids until next Wednesday, when I start 3 weeks of soft foods.  Have settled into a sort of general routine that gets me about 600 calories a day, and 70 grams of protein, and all my water so that is good.  one nice thing about working at home is that it is easier to manage all this stuff from home.

I am doing lots of reading about other activities for self soothing rather than food, and also trying to meditate more.  its helpful.  Meditating, reading, and knitting are saving activities right now.

I had a good time yesterday calling into my first WLS support conference call with Tracy Stevenson of mytinytank.net, mandapanda and squeeziemama.  It was good to talk with others who have been down this road and learn from them.  The topic was non scale victories, and I am happy to say I’ve already seen some of these.  It got me to thinking about all the things that led up to me finally deciding on WLS:

1.  Trip to DisneyWorld in July.  For a morbidly obese person, that should be ’nuff said.  I was chafing and miserable, but still enjoyed the park.  I had to make a run to walmart to buy leggings that would keep my legs from rubbing together under shorts.  Just what a fat sweating lady needed, is an additional later of clothing. Each night, I would have to peel down to undies, use a chafing ointment and lay in the bed just trying to recover from the pain.  I had ordered some moisture wicking type shirts and packed them in their packages right into my bag.  One was a columbia size 3x, andI was so disgusted that it didn’t fit, it was gapping open and tight, I couldn’t wear it.  I wore it two days ago — it was loose.  That was an awesome NSV.

2. Traveling frequently — having to ask for a seatbelt extender each time I got on a plane.  I am sure that the next time I get on a plane, I won’t need one!  I barely needed it, but i bet now I won’t need it — NSV to come!

3.  In september — broke one of our dining chairs sitting on it.  Yes. you heard me.  I was so mad and embarrassed.  No NSV to match that, except to say that most chairs have a 250 lb limit, and I am now under that, so feeling safer.  You just haven’t lived until you’ve BROKEN something you were trying to sit on.

4.  I am getting my waist back!  Up until about the 240 lbs mark, I am lucky enough to still have a waist.  I haven’t had a waist for a LONG time.  But my hubby noticed that I once again have a waist that goes in instead of just being straight down. That makes me feel more womanly. 

Ok, so that is all I can think of at the moment! 

One last thing, spare some prayers for my BFF.  She just let me know that her dad is in critical condition and they are likely going to have to make the terrible decision to take him off life support within the next day or so. I am so sad for her, and for him.  Prayers going up for Denny.

New Year, New Me, 2012

2 Jan

I have not been in the habit of making New Years Resolutions because I never felt like I had any chance of making them real for myself, so why bother?  This year, I have a ray of hope that there is the chance of some change this year.  With the shell of one of my favorite coping behaviors stripped away, I find myself at odds with how to make resolutions, however, even though I think this year I can actually make some happen.

So the biggest thing is doign the OneWord365 idea.  I have a few ideas of choice words – nurture — so many of my issues are self-destructive types of behaviors — what is the opposite of self-destructive?  That is what I desire to be.  other choices — alive, willing, active, open, confident, diligent, serenity….hmmm.

As for traditional resolutions. Hmm.  so here goes.  These are not in priority order.  They are all important.

1.  Keep my head about weight loss.  It will be inevitable this year that I will lose weight.  My resolution centers moer around not comparing myself to others, getting help where it makes sense, and not become annoying to everyone I love because I am hyper-focused on weight loss.  I tend to really hyper focus on things I am interested in, to the exclusion of most everything else.  Its just a part of an addictive sort of personality, I guess. I’d like to keep some rationality about it. 

2.  Find a good therapist, and actually go.  I’ve talked in the past about shitty therapy experiences. I’d like to find someone experienced with bariatric/emotional eating/addiction issues whose personality I can tolerate. 

3. Figure out where I am going spiritually.   I was raised in a strong religious tradition, and for a variety of reasons, I have drifted away from the religion I was raised with.  I don’t know if organized religion is for me right now, but I do strongly want a spiritual life that I think will help with some of the other issues.  I’d like to explore meditation and understand if I need to be part of a church community, or if I can find spirituality outside of that setting.

4. Improve my career skills.  I want to take advantage of training opportunities and continue to improve my skills in key areas, in particular interactions with clients and discovery/requirements elicitation techniques.

5. Spend more active time with my kids, be a better role model. A huge reason for my WLS is to be there for my kids (from a health perspective)  I’d also like to just “be there” more for them. I am often distracted or have been unable to be active with them.  I want to do more with them that will improve all of our lives.

6. Increase connection/intimacy with hubby.  We are celebrating 20 years of marriage this year!  I would like to ensure we have a date night regularly.  That will do wonders. 

7. Put more care into my appearance.  For years, being overweight has taken all the fun out of being a woman.  I begin to see the possibilities of nicer clothing and taking more care in my appearance.  I think I will feel better trying to do this, and also will reflect positively on my career.

Ok, so nothing highly philosophical or grand, but a good start, perhaps.

1 Week Post Op, How did I get so fat musings?

30 Dec

Well, I had my first week post op visit, it was pretty uneventful.  I had my staples removed, and the PA put on steri-strips.  Got a prescription for actigall, which I am supposed to start taking one month post op to protect my gallbladder.  Wish he had just pulled the darn thing at the same time 🙂  I only lost 2 lbs according to them, but my my home scale says I lost 6.  I think its somewhere inbetween.  I was wearing jeans and a sweater because I was cold, and that is a lot more than I’ve had on at past weigh ins.  Not exactly the huge amount I would have hoped for for having spent a whole week on clear liquids consuming less than 250 calories a day.  Hmm.  But I know it will start coming off.

So how am I feeling?  Pretty good!  I’m off the heavy duty pain meds, as of yesterday.  I still have twinges and pulls in my incisions, particularly when getting up, but I am walking about 5k steps a day so that is probably ok.  I need to gradually start increasing the walking.  I have not experienced any nausea or acid issues or vomiting or any of that stuff <knock wood>  I have had some things that kind of didn’t like going down, but the feeling passed quickly.  I do have a headache this afternoon, but all in all, not bad.  I miss my friend Advil, because that works so much better for me than Tylenol.  Boo.  My incisions all look good.  One was getting irritated, the top middle one, from my bra rubbing against the staples, but its much better now that all the staples are out.  The worst one is on the far right side, which is opposite of what most people say.  My doc said he does all the hard work through the one on the right because he gets a better angle on the stapler.

I was telling a fellow VSG buddy, FavoredOne, that I have this little stinkin’ thinkin’ thought that I will be the one person for whom sleeve doesn’t work, right?  Doesn’t everyone have these thoughts?   I have to step back and look at it and try to break it down.  I came home from the hospital having lost a bit, so its not that.  I spent a week on clear liquids with less than 250 calories a day.  I got in all my fluids and protein each day.  I did what I was supposed to do.  So I just have to wait and see, the weight has to come off sometime, right?

I started full liquids yesterday, and it is a lot better.  first day out, I went to P.F. Changs and got my favorite, hot and sour soup, and they blended it for me.  1 7 oz serving has 80 calories, 3 g fat, 9 g carbs and 7 g protein.  I love it.  I got the large bowl, and just measure myself out a small portion for lunch and dinner. One bowl that cost $5.95 will last me about….6-8 meals?  Amazing.  It fills me up really quickly.

I will admit to a couple of cheats and really weird behaviors.  I let two cella liquid center cherries melt in my mouth slowly on christmas day, and spit out the cherry itself.  I also had one tiny piece of potato chip and ground it to bits and let it go down with a drink of water.  then the weird(er) stuff.   I have chewed up some things that I liked, and spit them back out and rinse my mouth out with water after each bite.  I just wanted the taste and the sensation of chewing.  I can’t be the only person ever to do that. I know its stupid, but….I figure its better than actually eating it.  B

I find it interesting how different the advice on post-op diets are.  I am a member of verticalsleevetalk.com, and there is such a continuum.  I talk to people who are on clears for 14 days.  I talk to people released from the hospital on full liquids, and one who was released from the hospital on soft foods! FOr myself, I have 1 week of clears, 2 weeks of full, 3 weeks of soft and then by week 6 resuming to normal diet.

I read a great memoir last night, called ‘Designated Fat Girl” by Jennifer Joyner (jenniferjoyner.com) and it was really interesting, so many of the ways she described her food addiction, her thinking, her rationalization, her food binge choices mirror me.   It was a quick read and made me think.  She describes these behaviors as self-destructive.  which, ultimately, eating the way I have for all these years, is destructive.  I also have at least one other fairly socially accepted addiction that is self destructive, but I don’t make the link between why I have done what I have done/do what I do and wanting subconsciously self-destructive.  I just don’t get what my reasons for doing what I do are.  I don’t get it.  i have spent time in 12 step groups, but havent’ had a great enlightenment.  When does that come?

Yes, I have sexual abuse or molestation or whatever you might call what happened to me between ages 4-5, but on the scale of how bad those things can be, mine wasn’t as bad.  I have talked about it in therapy, I know its not my fault.

I always FELT fat.  When I was a kid, I was a little chubby, but not overweight.  teenage years as I shot up and was active in school stuff, I thinned out.  When I started college, I had an extremely obese roommate, and I think apart from major personality issues (she thought it was ok to have a 1.x GPA and never go to class, I was a “square” who had a 4.0 GPA that first year)  I think I was scared to look at her to know what I could (and have) become, as I already could binge like no one’s business.  That year, I didn’t gain the freshman 15, I lost about 10 lbs, because every time I would see her in our room, binging, often on my food, it disgusted me and I would go to the gym to exercise or run out on the trails.  I got married after my freshman year weighing 132 lbs and in a size 9, and still imagined that I was a fat girl.  What I would give to weigh that now!

My weight started to balloon up after I got married.  About a year after I had been married, I went to weight watchers for the first time.  I weighed 152 at that point (still, would kill to weigh that)  I gradually just gained and gained and gained.  A lot of people assume I can blame my weight on all the babies.  But nope. I was 250 before I got pregnant with my first, and have been bouncing up and down from that point for 15 years.

So I guess I am supposed to figure out why I do this.  I’m not sure, is it necessary to know why?  Will that keep me from doing it in the future or at least understanding it more?

Post Op Day 3

24 Dec

 I really have had a pretty good first few days, relatively speaking. 

I had a NICE full night of sleep last night, waking up only to take my pain meds to keep ahead of the pain, and that was FABULOUS. I woke up feeling tons better. I know by night time I will not be feeling so great if my past experience with c-sections holds true, but I’ll take how i feel right now. This is great. In general, I have tolerated liquids great, not had any nausea, had lots of bloating and gas pain and referred pain through yesterday from the CO2, but all in all doable.

I walked 6200 steps yesterday with my small walks around the block with hubby or son. Which, ironically is more steps than I was getting in on average pre-op. LOL. Small walks add up if you do them regularly (lightbulb moment, duh)

I really don’t WANT anything to eat. but it is hard to see the commercials on TV for yummy things and to smell the foods other people are eating in the house. Hubby has felt bad and I told him, he needs to eat and he shouldn’t feel guilty about that!

My hubby has been GREAT. He always is. So helpful and uncomplaining, he is the best. He’s very supportive. He has a difficult time sleeping when I am not there, so although I would have preferred sleeping in the recliner, I slept in our bed so that he could get some good sleep. with the incline in my bed because of pre-op reflux and a stack of pillows, it worked out quite well. I slept great.

The only really bad thing that has happened was that my two year old was sitting on the lower part of the recliner I was sitting on last night, and although I had a pillow protecting my tummy, at one point he suddenly turned and wanted to lift himself up and of course somehow shoved his little hand UNDER the pillow, and shoved all his weight right on the most tender site to hoist himself….OMG. I cried. I couldn’t help it. That hurt.

One thing, I don’t know if its the meds, the wear off of anesthesia or what, but my sleep is heavy and my dreams are vivid and crazy. the last dream of the night I dreamed that I “accidentally” ate beef stroganoff and noodles during the post op clear liquid stage and was sitting there horrified wondering what was going to happen to me. It seemed SOOOO real, I woke up sure I had accidentally done that.

Also, although i was pumped full of liquids, I’ve been able to clear them adequately and I’m not really water bloated, and I would say that is confirmed by the fact that I’ve lost a few pounds since surgery when I weighed myself this AM. I was expecting to have gained some water weight.

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