“Just like a tattoo…”

Next Monday is my 33rd birthday. If you’ve read any number of my previous posts you know I’ve been talking about getting a new tattoo. Well I officially have an appointment Tuesday afternoon/evening to get it done. This way it’ll have time to heal during my stay-cation. The tattoo has 3-fold celebratory reasoning: to celebrate my birthday, to celebrate losing 100 lbs (not quite there though. at 93 lbs right now), and to honor my mom (who loves all things panda and geisha).

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to get a Panda Geisha. It’s a tad more complicated than that though, because I can’t just be easy. I want a maiko, which is an apprentice geisha. They’re characterized by longer obi, longer kimono with longer sleeves, red under-collar, taller okobo (shoes), and red silk in the center of their hair bun. When a geisha graduates, so to speak, she becomes a geiko.

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It is said that geisha inhabit a separate reality which they call the karyūkai or “the flower and willow world”. Before they disappeared, the courtesans were the colorful “flowers” and the geisha the “willows” because of their subtlety, strength, and grace.

Their jobs consist of performing songs, dances, and playing the shamisen or the koto (traditional Japanese instruments) for visitors during feasts. They emulate culture and grace.

World War II brought a huge decline to the geisha arts because most women had to go to factories or other places to work for Japan. The geisha name also lost some status during this time because prostitutes began referring to themselves as “geisha girls” to American military men. Since the war though they’ve gone through a resurgence and modernization.

 

On the obi tail, instead of the normal geometric or flower pattern, I’ve requested a lotus unalome.

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The Unalome is originally a hindu symbol that graphically recalls Shiva´s third eye and it represents wisdom and the path to perfection. The spiral shows the beginning of the path, without knowledge or a given direction, that leads to discovering the world through inevitable errors (the knots along the line, or yak), each being a teaching moment, and finally becoming a straight line leading to enlightenment, often represented by a dot or a circle (the sun).

In the Buddhist tradition, Unalome represents the path each person takes throughout their life. That road can be straight, circular, or winding. It might be filled with anxiety, fear, terror, happiness, or love. This path begins at the center of a spiral, which represents the way we’re trapped in our own weakness, fear, and uncertainty. As the path unfolds, the mind finds clarity, eventually freeing itself from the cycles of suffering. When you learn to see yourself from a more objective standpoint, you’ll realize you’re attached to a web of emotions that cloud your mind. However, since we are merely human beings who tend to commit the same mistakes over and over again, it is not easy to abandon that cycle. That’s what the spiral represents, that inability of letting ourselves go completely. The pursuit of enlightenment is what straightens the line of the spiral. This symbol is a visual metaphor of that journey: the ultimate goal and culmination of our search for awareness. Finally, the dot that appears far away from the rest of the Unalome represents the uncertainty of life. We ignore the final truth. And even if we can’t perceive it, it does exist. This is the ultimate reward life can give us.

The lotus flower symbolizes overcoming adversities towards perfection, thus perfectly integrating the meaning of the Unalome.

The lotus has been a symbol of purity since before the time of the Buddha, and it blooms profusely in Buddhist art and literature. Its roots are in muddy water, but the lotus flower rises above the mud to bloom, clean and fragrant.

The mud nourishing the roots represents our messy human lives. It is within our human experiences and our suffering that we seek to break free and bloom. But while the flower rises above the mud, the roots and stem remain in the mud, where we live our lives. This plant is known to be associated with rebirth. This is a consequence of it supposedly retracting into the water at night, and emerging afresh in the Sun the next day. The breaking of the surface every morning is also suggestive of desire. This leads to it being associated with spiritual enlightenment.

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And finally, why a panda you ask? Because my Mommy loves them. Growing up our house was covered in panda figurines, pictures, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. When she went into the nursing home after her stroke 5 years ago, you seriously don’t even want to know how much panda stuff we had to find a new home for. Also, the panda is kind of my (and hers) spirit animal, or Patronus if you will.

The panda is a powerful spirit animal inspiring tranquil strength and determination. Under its soft and fuzzy appearances, this animal totem brings forth the importance of strong personal boundaries to feel safe and grounded in life. Symbolic of the ability to find a balanced and nurturing path through life, it will encourage those who have it as totem or power animal to integrate different aspects of their personality in an harmonious whole.

The panda is a symbol of gentleness and strength. The general meanings associated with this animal are:

  • Gentle strength
  • Peace
  • Good luck, positive outlook on life
  • Connection with Eastern wisdom

The symbolism of the panda also encompasses personal and spiritual qualities, such as:

  • Integration of polarized aspects of yourself, such as feminine and masculine energies
  • Heart-centered energy, nurturing ability
  • Importance of emotions
  • Calm determination, ability to take time to reach your goals
  • Importance of private space and personal boundaries

This animal is characterized by its very high sensitivity to its surroundings and can quickly become stressed when there is too much movement or noise around. If you identify with the panda totem, you’re likely very aware of your environment and the energies around you.

The totem of the panda has affinities with bear energy. Despite its gentle appearances, it is a strong animal with an unstoppable determination. Like the bear, it provides powerful support for those who need courage and steadiness in their endeavors. Those with the panda totem tend to be able to be firm and gentle at the same time and demonstrate a gentle strength in any circumstance. The wisdom of the panda teaches us to move through life calmly and with determination. You can call this spirit animal to help you maintain a steady pace and direction. In the Eastern culture, this animal is symbol of peace and harmonious resolution of conflict.

So basically, after that very long winded, detailed description of my future tattoo, there’s multiple hidden meanings in it for me. It represents that, like a maiko,  I’m still learning, constantly learning, not only in life but on my weight loss journey. That I’ll hit bumps along the way but with determination I’ll eventually get there. I need to have grace, courage, patience, and perseverance to rise above any obstacles. This is my story of rebirth, into the person I’m becoming. I’m not only changing physically, but mentally as well. Finally, it’s also to honor my mother. At an early age she instilled a love of learning, and a love of reading, in me. She taught me to always want to know more, and gave me the strength and courage to seek it out.

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I won’t see the tattoo artist’s actual design till I physically go to the appointment. She’ll be working on it right up until then. I went in and talked with her last week, told her all my wants and desire, and she measured my leg. After that I just had to leave it in her capable hands to interpret my spew of information overload into something amazing. There’s time built into the appointment if we need to tweak her design at all though.

I’ll, of course, do a post chronically the whole thing. As of right now my loving husband is going to go with me and entertain me/feed me. I could be there upwards of 6 hours, depending on how fast she works. Since there’s going to be a fair amount of detail and color work I fully anticipate being there the whole time. My previous 3 tattoos are just small things that took less than 45 minutes. I’m hoping I can last as long as I need to before tapping out.

 

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Run Daddy Run!

 

An amazing thing happened yesterday! Dad ran for the first time in 35+ years! We were doing the track mixed with cardio circuit intervals with our group exercise class. Instead of walking between the cardio exercises he chose to run with me. Then at the end he even suggested we run 1 full lap around without stopping! Truly amazing! Our trainer said we (he) were an inspiration to the newbies in the group that were just starting out exercising.

In the afterglow of his first 5K he’s asked me to do the Mercy Mini-Heart 5K walk with him in March. Add that to the Flying Pig Marathon we were already planning on in May and I think it’s official that we’re starting to like this whole exercise thing.

The Flying Pig has a timer cut-off, even in the 5K. You have to average a 16 minute mile. They can only have the streets downtown closed down for so long. They open them back up behind the runners. If you’re too slow they have you move over to the sidewalk when they open them back up. Not a big deal really. I think that’s what put a fire under his butt though. He’s determined to shave off some of his time to get closer to the 16 minutes. Right now he averages 20-23 minutes a mile.

Thanksgiving and Dad’s first 5K

Happy Belated Thanksgiving to the people of the interwebs!

This was our first Thanksgiving since weight loss surgery last April. I would like to say that I did ok, but that’s not really the case. The day itself was really nice. Family, friends, food. The meal was yummy and I didn’t over indulge, at least not right away. In case you’re curious what a plate for someone with a 5 oz stomach looks like:

img_20171123_174335217412539304.jpg This is on a desert plate. I ate probably 2/3 of this, and I will admit I was very full. We do a potluck every year, with my husband and I hosting. This year I assigned myself the potatoes. If you’re trying to lose weight or have had weight loss surgery you know that carbs are a big no-no. So I decided to experiment and made mashed cauliflower for the first time. I’m not a cook by any means, so of course I went for the easy microwave version. The taste was decent. The texture however reminded me very much of snot. Slimy and just gross. Big nope. It came out of the microwave with a layer of water separated from it. No matter of stirring would combine the separated layers. Maybe it would have been different if I was talented in the kitchen and made it from scratch, but I very much doubt I’ll ever find out unless someone else makes it for me.

Aside from my mashed cauliflower debacle everything tasted very yummy. My fallback came from grazing, specifically on the sweets. My brother was a pastry chef in a past life, so his deserts are always to die for. Add that to my friend making my favorite desert, white chocolate oreo truffles, and I couldn’t resist. Granted it was a lot loss than it was last year, but still significantly more than I probably should have had. For my second dinner later, because I’m actually a hobbit, I even had a piece of my brother’s butter rum apple pie for a meal. It was delicious and I have no real regrets.

Later when I was posting my pictures from the day’s festivities I decided to look back at last year’s photos for some reason. I couldn’t find a single photo of me. Then I realized that I just didn’t recognize myself! In the only photo, it was taken from the side with me not looking at the camera. Totally didn’t even look like me. My body language in the photo was just depressing too. You could tell I wasn’t comfortable or happy. I looked back the year before that too, two years ago that would be. Again only 1 photo of myself and this one was just a selfie. I actively avoided the camera. Compare that to this year where I sought out getting photos with people. I wanted proof I was there. My cousin even remarked that my body language was more confident, that I was brighter. My friend commented that I was more myself again, the Breanne she remembered from years ago when my weight hadn’t yet hampered how I interacted with the world and myself.

I was curious for a comparison photo from last year to this year. I had to go into my girls’ birthday party photos to get it. Their birthday is November 11th. Close enough.

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I seriously don’t remember looking like this. I barely recognize myself. At this point, November 2016, I would have just had my first appointment with the surgeon and nutritionist. The  ball would have just started rolling for the 6 month preop diet and all the prerequisite hoops I had to jump through to get my surgery. I still can’t get over how much I’ve changed.

As I’ve been going through my plus size clothes that are now too big, for me to sell/donate them, I’ve noticed that after a certain size I had no cute clothes. I started dressing primarily in jeans and men’s t-shirts. I didn’t feel cute therefore I didn’t dress cute. I didn’t want the spotlight on me. I didn’t want to be noticed. When I did dress girly, or at least less frumpy, I felt incredibly uncomfortable. Nothing fit well, nothing flattered, and I’d be tugging at myself the entire time.  Now my biggest issue is finding something in my closet that isn’t too big!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving Dad and I walked his first 5K. This was my second. A year ago I never would have predicted that I’d have done one, let alone two, 5Ks. Our goal was just to finish, specifically to have Dad finish without stopping once. We achieved that goal!

We didn’t finish dead last overall, which is good, though we did finish last within our respective age groups. The race benefited a program called Whole Again that provides meals for underprivileged youth. A coworker signed up at the last minute to join us too, though she ran it. She even earned second place in her age group! At the finish line we received our medals for being finishers and a huge cinnamon roll, which I found kind of ironic. It was super yummy though, the 3 bites of it I had. We also got these swanky hoodies as a memento.

 

Now we’re talking about signing up for the Flying Pig marathon in the spring. I need to research if you have to finish in a certain amount of time though. With the hills I think it would be a challenge for Dad, but a good challenge for sure. This track was completely flat in a loop at a local park. The flying pig is through the streets downtown, up and down hills with thousands of people. This time around we beat our weekly walking/hiking times, but I think the challenge of the Flying Pig would slow us down a bit. There’s a while though to work up to it though.

Holiday Sale!

I haven’t really mentioned my Etsy store on here yet. If you can’t tell from my screen name I love to quilt. I have an Etsy store that features handmade baby/toddler quilts, decorative pillows, tooth fairy pillows, and table runners. As mentioned in my previous posts I’m trying to raise money for my 100 lbs loss celebratory tattoo. To that end I am having a sale! Take a peek if you will 🙂 I am shamelessly self promoting. 🙂

Holiday Sale! All quilts 10% off and if you buy a quilt your second item is 50% off! #etsy #bedding #babyquilt #nerdy #quilt #geeky #sale #holidaysale http://etsy.me/2jyI0jG

Failed Adulting!

I know I sound like a broken record but I really need to get better at taking of myself. Adulting! I sometimes greatly miss when someone else would be the adult and take care of me.

This past Thursday I didn’t realize until it was nearly time for bed that I had only drank about 8 ounces of water the whole day, outside of my daily protein shake. I’m supposed to average minimum 42 ounces so as to not get totally dehydrated. I very rarely reach that goal unfortunately. I know that when I’m dehydrated I’m much more prone to migraines and yet I still do this to myself. I don’t even think about it and I really need to. I’m also starting to get the occasional dizzy spell from dehydration. Not good, I know.

So of course I woke up Friday with yet another migraine. In addition to my heavenly medication I take when I have one, I also spent the majority of the day force hydrating myself. In the picture my big blue water bottle holds 42 ounces and the pink one holds 32 ounces. By the end of the day I had drank 2 pinks and 1 blue! Goal more than achieved. I literally had an alarm set for 2.5 solid hours on a 10 minute snooze. Every 10 minutes I would “chug”, which amounts to 6 tiny sips for me. That’s all I can drink at a time without feeling uncomfortable. By afternoon, early evening, I was right as rain! Now I just need to get better at doing this everyday without the threat of a migraine literally hanging over my head. img_20171110_1714599141588174163.jpg

Thursday while I was ignoring my body and not drinking I was running errands. After writing the last post about my amazing disappearing boobs I decided I was going to get sized and purchase a properly fitting bra. Not only do I miss my girls being actually boob shaped and in their proper location, but my back has been hurting from lack of adequate support. So I went on an adventure! Somewhat aggravating and depressing adventure, but an adventure nonetheless.

Started at Meijer’s, thinking I’m small enough now that I can buy cheaper bras at a “normal” store. Nope. No idea what my size was so I just tried ones on willy-nilly. Didn’t work out so well.

Since I’m significantly smaller now that I have ever been in my life I thought I’d see if I could fit in Victoria’s Secret now. I go in and get measured since I don’t know what my actual current size is. Reminder that I started this process last year at a 44H. This kind lady measured me at a 38D. Ha! Doubtful but you’re the professional. I put the prescribed size and it was comical. So many rolls everywhere! My cup definitely runneth over, and the side boob, and the back fat. Yeah… So then she went got me a 38DD. Not so much. And with that I sized out of Victoria’s Secret . DD is the biggest cup size they have. Alrighty then… Too big for Victoria’s Secret still.

I then went a few doors down to Torrid. Most of my current bras came either from Torrid or Lane Bryant. At this point I’ve decided that I needed a 36 DDD. The 38 was on it’s tightest rung and since I’m still loosing I wanted one with room to shrink into. Torrid only goes down to a 38. I’m too small for Torrid.

I then go across the street to Lane Bryant. They also only go down to a 38, but could special order a 36 in for me. I’m too small for Lane Bryant store stock. They order a 36DDD in for me. When it came in on Saturday I tried it on and wore it around for a bit. It almost mostly fit correctly. Still have a bit of spillage of saggy skin escaping, enough that I’m self conscious. I’m going to return it. I give up. I’m just going to live in sports bras and older bras that I outgrew while I was gaining weight before. They fit me well enough. Maybe as I lose more I’ll go down even more and can revisit cheaper stores.

After recovering from Friday’s fun migraine induced water-drinking extravaganza, this weekend we celebrated our twin daughters’ 6th birthday.

Saturday afternoon we let them choose what we’d do, any activity. They chose to go ice skating for the first time. I love ice skating. Once upon a time I even took a class so I could learn to be better. I only really can go forward and backward. Nothing fancy. I can’t even stop properly. I just kind of slowly coast to a stop or ram into the wall. But after the class I no longer fall on a regular basis! My girls cannot say the same. We got to the rink about 30 minutes before the close of public skate. There was just enough time to take one lap around the rink with each kid. One sat on the bleachers with my husband while the other skated with me. I cannot even count how many times they both fell, but they both got right back up and kept on trying! They were troopers. We then went to a kid’s arcade for a bit and let them go crazy playing video games.

Sunday, after Sunday school, we had a little mini birthday party with family at my mom’s nursing home. My brother and his awesome fiancé gave them little roller skates, which they then lived in for the next 4 hours. After the party we even went to a local mall that is pretty much abandoned and roller skated around for an hour or so. I even got in on the action. We swung by the house first so I could dig my old skates out of storage so I could join them and teach by example. They fell a fair bit while skating around, but very minimal compared to ice skating.

Something I noticed between the ice skating and roller skating: as long as I can remember, excluding from earlier childhood, my feet would hurt like a mother early on. This time around my feet didn’t hurt at all after an hour of roller skating and 30 minutes of ice skating. The only difference I can really attribute this to is the weight loss. Less weight on the feet and my feet have actually gotten smaller too so the skates probably fit better. A happy discovery 🙂

As the cold weather hits and I’ve had to break out my winter coats I’ve found that they’re comically too big. Sunday after the party my brother noticed this as well and commented. His awesome fiancé then chose to give me the coat literally off her back so I had one that fit properly! Did I say she’s awesome yet? She’s awesome.

The Case of the Incredible Shrinking Boobs!

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“Do your boobs hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie them in a knot? Can you tie them in a bow? Can you throw them over your shoulder like a continental soldier? Do your boobs hang low?”

Yup, yup they sure do.

The other day I observed that I’m in major need of some quality bras that fit. I looked at the size of the current ones I’m wearing and found that they’re 38DD. I started this process over a year ago at a 44H. I know. Ouch, right?! No wonder my back always hurt. Even though I’m wearing a significantly smaller size I bet I could even go smaller if I wanted to spend the money on new ones.

I decided to look back through my comparison pictures with the intent of just comparing the boobage and it seriously has disappeared! I knew I was fairly large before but I never really realized just how large I looked. I was walking around with a shelf on my chest! I’m sure I’m not done loosing volume either, scary as that is. Without a bra on it’s a depressing situation, for sure. I lay down on my back and the girls disappear into my armpits. I know eventually I’d like to do some plastics to put them back in their rightful place, and shape, but that’ll be years off probably, if ever. Money just doesn’t support it right now. At the same time I fantasize about having a tummy tuck. Maybe eventually… A girl can dream…

 

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It’s been a bit since I did a comparison photo of Dad so here it is! It’s amazing the difference! I wish I had taken one of him at his heaviest. I’ll have to search the archives to see if I have a candid from that time period.

We’re still working out at the gym twice a week and doing something outside the gym on the weekends. Usually we go hiking, but every now and again switch it up to something else. Now that it’s starting to get cold though we need some suggestions for things to do that doesn’t involve going to the gym or things like walking the malls. It needs to be something that holds our interest and is inexpensive or free. Open to suggestions!?

My most recent weigh in was at 179 lbs. Crazy talk! I feel positively skinny when looking at that number. At the beginning of all this I set myself 2 main goals: 1) Get under 200 lbs and 2) Get to 168 lbs, which is 100 lbs loss total. Anything after these goals is just gravy. I’ve achieved the first goal and now am only 11 lbs from achieving the second goal. I have been saying for awhile that when I reach that 100 lbs loss I want to reward myself with a new tattoo. Unfortunately I don’t think our finances are going to be able to support it. I need to schedule a consultation meeting with my tattoo artist of choice though to get a better price point idea. With the size I’m thinking that I want I’m betting it’ll be outside of affordability right now though. I’m even trying to sell random stuff around the house that we’re not using to drum up my tattoo fund, but it’s not really putting that big of a dent into it yet. Maybe I’ll change the tattoo reward to my 1 year surgiversary in April. I might be able to save up the money by then. One can hope…

 

6 Months post-op

Last week Dad and I celebrated 6 months post-op. As of this week he is down to 211 lbs and I’m down to 179 lbs. So for him that’s 70lbs total so far and 89 lbs total for me.

Dad also had a visit with his endocrinologist (kidney doc) who talked about potentially taking him off his blood pressure medication. He has to self-monitor and report back the numbers to determine if this is possible. He also hasn’t had to take an insulin shot in well over 3 months, which is all kinds of awesome. If nothing else this entire process, for him and me, the improvement in his health has made it worth it to me.

At Dad’s 6 month appointment, the nutritionist said he needs to work on incorporating more veggies into his diet and increasing his fluid intake. They said the same thing to me. Both are something I acknowledge that I’m still struggling with, along with remembering my vitamins. I am getting better at the vitamins at least. Fluids are a bit better, but nowhere where they need to be. Veggies are pretty much nil. After eating all the protein we’re supposed to eat I just don’t have any room left for veg, even if it is just a bite or two here and there. That extra bite will usually put me over into being uncomfortably full.

Yesterday was Halloween. This year the girls and I were witches and my husband was a black cat, our familiar. Zoe was Maleficent (which is adorable to hear her try to say). Phoebe was a generic witch but her skirt lit up so apparently that was everything. I was Winifred from Hocus Pocus (sans expensive wig). And I guess you could call Aaron Binx, the black cat from Hocus Pocus. This was the first year I was able to purchase a costume in a regular size (large!). Usually I’d just get creative with what was in my closet to avoid buying a plus sized costume. Below are the past 5 years of Halloweens for your enjoyment:

 

Migraine City

First some general information about migraines:

  • Migraine is a neurological disease with extremely incapacitating neurological symptoms.
  • It’s typically a severe throbbing recurring pain, usually on one side of the head. But in about 1/3 of attacks, both sides are affected.
  • In some cases, other disabling symptoms are present without head pain.
  • Attacks are often accompanied by one or more of the following disabling symptoms: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.
  • About 25% of migraine sufferers also have a visual disturbance called an aura, which usually lasts less than an hour.
  • In 15-20% of attacks, other neurological symptoms occur before the actual head pain.
  • Attacks usually last between 4 and 72 hours.
  • Migraine is the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households includes someone with migraine.
  • Amazingly, 12% of the population – including children – suffers from migraine.
  • 18% of American women, 6% of men, and 10% of children experience migraines.
  • Migraine is most common between the ages of 25 and 55.
  • Migraine tends to run in families. About 90% of migraine sufferers have a family history of migraine.
  • Most people don’t realize how serious and incapacitating migraine can be. 
    • Migraine is the 6th most disabling illness in the world.
    • Every 10 seconds, someone in the U.S. goes to the emergency room complaining of head pain, and approximately 1.2 million visits are for acute migraine attacks.
    • While most sufferers experience attacks once or twice a month, more than 4 million people have chronic daily migraine, with at least 15 migraine days per month.
    • More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine.

 

(http://migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine/migraine-facts/)

I have suffered from migraines for as long as I can remember. I have a headache nearly everyday of my life. It’s just a matter if it’s a “normal” headache or migraine level. I experience auras, light sensitivity, dizziness, motion sensitivity, extreme pain and throbbing coupled with a feeling like a vice, sound sensitivity, nausea, and very rarely vomiting.  Before surgery my triggers, that I knew of, included stress, too many carbs/sugar, lack of sleep, and weather. After surgery I’m having to relearn because my triggers are changing. I’ve found that my main triggers are now dehydration and too many carbs/sugar, but the main culprit is dehydration.

Staying hydrated has been my number one challenge lately, and thus my migraine frequency and intensity have greatly increased. The first few months post-op I found the frequency had decreased but I attribute that to less stress and less weight pulling on my shoulders, neck, and head that normally would cause tension headaches that would in turn morph into migraines. Now though, as I struggle to stay hydrated or give into bad eating habits once again, the frequency has increased again.

I’m prescribed Imitrex, which I take when I feel like my “normal” headache is going to tip over into migraine territory. If I wait too long I have to seclude myself in a quiet, dark room and wait for the med to kick in and hopefully bring relief. I try not to take it too often though as I’m only prescribed 12 a refill.

My mother has suffered from headaches her entire life. Though I only know of 2-3 that she would actually quantify as a migraine. She had a major, disabling, stroke 5 years ago that her doctors said was caused by “cluster headaches”. Before her big stroke she’d had mini-strokes occasionally for years, also attributed to the mysterious cluster headache. To me the term “cluster headache” sounds like a bogus diagnosis off a soap opera. Oh no! Not the cluster!

The main differences between a migraine and a cluster headache is that a cluster headache is always unilateral, will self resolve within 1-3 hours, and is not worsened by movement. It also can have symptoms similar to a mini-stroke with facial drooping and uneven pupil dilation.  (https://www.medicinenet.com/cluster_headaches/article.htm)

Seeing the progression of my mother’s headache history to her eventual major stroke has me slightly terrified that the same could eventually happen to me. My headaches are different than hers though. Different triggers, different symptoms. That does little to comfort me though. I know Dad is worried about it too.

There’s not too much you can do to prevent migraines other than try to avoid your triggers, but even that’s not a guarantee. As I lose weight and my body changes, I’m having to relearn what my “new” body likes and doesn’t like. This includes my migraine triggers changing. They say that knowing is half the battle and they weren’t lying. I need to start taking better care of myself and be more proactive with my self-care. My husband tries not to say “I told you so” when I make poor choices, but I know he agrees. He lets me do my own thing, knowing that if he tries to remind me that my poor choices are not going to turn out for the best that I’ll just turn stubborn and want to do them all the more. So he lets me learn by my mistakes. Now I just need to actually listen to my body when it’s trying to teach me not to be stupid…

My First 5K!

This past Friday I participated in my first 5K. In the past I’d always said that the only way you’d see me running is if something was chasing me. Through this process I’ve weirdly, at least weird to me, started to really enjoy exercising and physical activity.

My friend, Jessie, and a retired co-worker, Randy, and his grandson and I walked it together. We did run the last 50 feet though. Our finish time was 1 hour on the nose. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. The 5K was at Kings Island Amusement Park. The route was super cool and made it worth it by itself. It went back behind the entire park along the service drives, under some of the coasters. It was really cool to see the behind the scenes aspects.

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Part of the course even went through the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit, which normally you would have to pay extra in addition to the park ticket. Good timing too since they’re getting rid of the exhibit next month and I’d never felt the need to pay the extra money to see a bunch of animatronic dinos.

Included in the price of the 5K registration fee was entrance to the Haunt and park afterward, so of course we took advantage of this. Over the course of 4 hours Jessie and I went through 3 haunted houses and 6 roller coasters, including the newest coaster, Mystic Timbers, and a new haunt that we haven’t been through before, Blackout. In Blackout you’re literally in pitch darkness feeling your way through. It was really unique. The wall changed texture as you went, with things hanging down getting in your face and things brushing along your legs, with the occasional person jumping out at you in the dark. Riding the coasters I found that they hurt a lot more than I remember. I have less padding than I did the last time I rode. I also slide around in the seat more. Tiny victories 🙂

Growing up with Jessie we used to go creeking all the time in the woods behind her childhood home. For her birthday a few years ago we went down memory lane and recreated some memories, and broke a few trespassing laws while we were at it. I remember feeling incredibly out of shape, even though it was very fun. Between the creeking adventure and the 5K just a few things have changed 😉

Now I’m trying to talk Dad into doing another 5K with me for Thanksgiving. He’s seriously thinking about it. Just last weekend we walked 3.8 miles in 1.5 hours with only stopping once for him to sit. I more than think he can do it. Now I just have to convince him…

 

 

5 Months Post-op

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So it’s been 5 months since our surgery and over a month since my last update. Fair warning, this is probably going to be a fairly long post and picture heavy. 🙂

In the time since my last post my husband and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary (we’ve been together 14 years though). It was an ordeal trying to agree on what we wanted to do to celebrate. Between the different sets of grandparents we were granted a wonderful reprieve of 48 hours without the kids. Since loosing the weight I’ve wanted to be more active, to do more physical activities vs sit in front of a screen or in a restaurant. I tried to talk the husband into camping out, hiking, going to Mammoth Caves, etc. He wasn’t really feeling my options. So I gave up and turned the planning over to him, with the only stipulation being that at some point we had to go see IT in the theaters. Every activity we did ended up revolving around food. It was fun and very nice to spend an extended uninterrupted time with him, but still.

Friday we went to see my movie. For those of you that don’t know, I am a huge Stephen King nerd. IT is a reboot of a mini-series from the 90’s based on one of his novels. I really enjoyed it. They tweaked it a bit, as they always do, but I didn’t mind so much. Friday night we went out to eat. I decided to dress up and ended up wearing my homecoming dress from junior year high school! Even in high school it was tight. I randomly found it in a bag in the basement with a bunch of other high school clothes I had saved. Some of them were even too big! We ended the night with some alcoholic ice cream and a local place called Buzzed Bull Creamery. I got cherry vodka based cherry ice cream with moonshine cherries and Reese pieces. It was sooooo good! Granted, I was only able to eat maybe a quarter of it, but it was such a yummy quarter!

Saturday we slept in and then did a walking tour of Findley Market, a local open air market close to downtown. This was our compromise activity. I got some walking in and he got some food in. We also learned some really interesting behind the scenes stuff that I never knew. Saturday night we attended a cooking class at Sur la table. The food was yummy but it wasn’t anything special, and since it was in a teaching classroom in the back of a store I wasn’t allowed to take any leftovers home so 3/4 of my meal was wasted.

Then Sunday morning we picked up the little demons again! They had fun had their grandparents’ houses and we had fun with our little taste of freedom, and I had enough leftovers to survive the zombie apocalypse.

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As I’ve probably mentioned before, every weekend Dad and I are working out in some form or another. During the week we go to the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On the weekends, usually Sunday, we try to do something outside. We’ve been mixing it up to keep some variety. Hiking at various parks, etc. Recently we went biking along the Loveland Scenic trail. You might recall awhile ago I had gone by myself here along with one of the munchkins in one of those pull-behind trailers. With the extra weight and not being in any kind of good shape I did not last long. This time however we did really good! It was surprisingly relaxing. The portion of the trail we were on was mostly covered with pretty trees and mostly flat. It’s been probably 20-25 years since Dad’s been on a bike. We ended up doing 10 miles total. He did really well and enjoyed it too. Though, afterward, both our butts are pretty sore from the seats.

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At my last weigh-in I’m officially down 83 lbs. Dad is down 67 lbs. These numbers are from our heaviest weights before we started the pre-op diet program. Dad also had some lab work done recently. His A1C is down to 5.8 and cholesterol is down to 145. Pre-op his A1C averaged 9.6. Since surgery he’s barely had to use his insulin too to cover. These numbers make me happier than my own weight loss.

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I’ve finding myself randomly staring at my hands and feet lately, when watching tv or something. I can’t get over how skinny they look. You know how in the media they talk about “thigh gap” with models? I have toe gap 🙂

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If you’re on a weight loss forum for any length of time you’re guaranteed to come across someone curious about how the body bounces back after major weight loss, extra skin and the like. Well below you’ll find pictures demonstrating how my body is after 80+ lbs loss. I have some loose skin but overall it’s not terrible. I opted to not include any examples of what it’s done to my chest. To give you some idea though I started at a 44I at my heaviest. I’m now a 38DDD and could probably go down to at least a DD. When I lay down flat my boobs disappear into my armpits. Looking down my chest is literally nearly flat before I fold my boobs up into my bra. Weight loss combined with breastfeeding twins did not do the girls any favors. On the opposite side of things though, I’ve found my clavicles again and no longer have double chin! You can also see my cheekbones trying to come out to play a little.

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Over the last month I will admit that I’ve started to fall back into some bad habits. I’ve been stalled in my weight loss for 5 weeks (up until this past week) but that most definitely is down to a combination of the natural stalls that come with weight loss and my habits not helping things along. I’ve been eating too many carbs, not eating enough protein, not drinking enough water, and not taking my vitamins. This last week I’ve renewed my resolve. I’m tracking my food again, which I had quit doing several months ago. I’m making more of an effort to get my water in and to remember my vitamins. I can feel the difference when I take my vitamins and when I don’t. When I don’t my energy is lower for sure. Same with my protein and water intake. When it isn’t up where it should be I can tell in my energy level. If I allow myself to become too dehydrated or eat too many carbs too quickly I’ve found I’m more prone to migraines. I’ve always had migraines, but since surgery they have drastically reduced. If I didn’t self sabotage I’d bet they’d go down even further.

Since I’ve started tracking again I finally broke my stall and am under 190, down to 185 as of yesterday. I seriously don’t remember ever weighing this little in my entire life. I’m pretty sure that I had never really paid any attention to the number on the scale until I got to around 200 in freshman year of high school. I had thought that 200 was sooo big. Little did I know!

This Friday I have my first 5K, which is just crazy to me. I’m running/jogging/walking it with a friend and retired co-worker. I’ll do a whole post on it afterwards at some point. Hopefully I won’t let another month pass again.