Crazy Talk!

So I’ve always said that if you see me running you should be running too because that means that there’s something chasing me. Well I’ve decided to do something completely out of the box for me and sign up for a 5K. Crazy talk, right?! I’ve even roped one of my friends into doing it with me.

This isn’t just any normal 5K though. It’s at night, at King’s Island, glow-in-the-dark, and during the Haunt. This means there’s going to be people in costume jumping out at us while we run through a dark and spooky course. At the end of if all you end up inside the park and have “free” admission to the Haunt. This is the kind of 5K I can get behind, in theory. Also, the running is going to be more like walking fast and maybe the occasional jog. My training plan is to follow the program in the Couch to 5K app on my phone. It’ll eventually work me up to jogging/running the majority of the time. Again, in theory.

If you’re local and are interested here’s the link to the 5K page: https://www.runandriderace.com/kingsislandglow The same weekend they have another marathon during the day with fun runs and stuff for the kiddies.

Another huge victory, at least for me, is that this week I was able to move to the other scrub cart at work! For those of you not in the surgical field, let me explain. We have our scrubs provided for us and laundered for us because of all the gross gooey things we encounter on a daily basis. Those scrubs are organized by size on wire shelves/carts. Small, medium, large on one and 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x on the other. My entire nursing career I’ve been on the other. Yesterday I officially can fit in large scrubs and thus I’ve moved to the other cart! It’s a big thing for me.

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Happy Fourth of July!

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This fourth of July my family joined me on memory lane. We went to a local private amusement park called Stricker’s Grove. It’s only open to the public maybe 3-4 times a year, otherwise it’s rented out for events and such for local companies. Aside from the tradition fair food of funnel cakes and cotton candy they have some super yummy cookout food. Ride wise they have a fair few festival type rides and two mini-roller coasters. Growing up I used to go here with one of my friends and her family when her dad’s company had a thing there.

My shorties aren’t quite up to the height requirement for a bunch of the rides to go by themselves yet so I knew that my husband and I would have to be the designated responsible adults and ride with them. I had a bit of anxiety about this going in. From memory I knew these rides were not that accommodating to a bigger derriere. Was I going to fit? Was I going to get stuck? Was I going to be incredibly uncomfortable? I was very pleasantly surprised though! For example: The tornado.

These tiny bench seats are actually divided in two by a little padded divider. Combine that with not only a bar belt but an actual belt belt and I thought there’s no way I’d fit. Not only did I fit but I had enough room to where the bar came down without hitting the belly and I slid around a little bit on the turns! I had a few inches on either side of me between the sides of my little portion of the seat. I was also able to get in and out of all the rides mostly with ease! You have no idea how happy this made me. I’ve been seeing my weight loss in my clothes, but this was just another concrete piece of evidence to show how far I’ve come.

Another pleasant discovery of the day is that I have two little thrill seekers on my hands. My girls went on their first roller coaster and loved it! All of the thrill rides they went on they begged to go on a second and third time. That also made me incredibly happy. It probably made my husband a bit happy too since he’ll be off the hook once they’re tall enough to join me on the big coasters. So excited!

To the pain!

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One of my friends put this on my facebook wall and it is so appropriate that I thought I’d share.  (Double points to Gryffindor if you get the reference in my post title 🙂 )

Last week started my new exercise routine. I’m attempting to do something everyday, even if it’s just walking. Tuesday was the first group session with our trainer. See my previous post to see how well that went.

Wednesday I did yoga for the first time on the Wii. From a previous let’s-get-healthy kick a few years ago I had the Wii version of The Biggest Loser. It has many different workout routines and the digital versions of the trainers lead you through them. I chose Bob 🙂 It also creates a digital version of you, based on your weight and details you put in, that works out alongside the trainer. After loosing 55lbs my digital self is still overly fluffy. I wonder what weight I have to be for her to change too.  Since I’ve never done yoga before I didn’t really know what to expect, though I did it would be easier than it was. In my mind I thought it was all meditation and concentrating on your breathing. In reality it’s holding an awkward position for a whole minute while sweat drips into your eyes and digital Bob tells you not to forget to breath.

Thursday was my second group session, and Dad’s first. Wishy washy shrill trainer lady was a bit better this time. We worked out first and did the kumbaya circle last, during which she only commented for maybe a minute on everyone’s challenges/successes. Dad didn’t want to share. He felt as silly as I did. I come by my social awkwardness naturally. I was really proud with how well he did throughout the hour, especially since he started the hour with his hip and knee hurting.

Friday I opted to not workout. I was on call at work and ended up staying over. By time I got home I was so hungry that food was first and foremost on my mind. Post-op hunger is weird. It’s not what you really think of as hunger, but more of an emptiness along with a feeling that your blood sugar is tanking.

Saturday’s goal was an 8am zumba class. I did not make it. Anyone who knows me knows I love my sleep. 2 guesses what I did instead, and the first one doesn’t count. Dad went to the gym by himself though, to make up for not having the Tuesday session! So proud 🙂 I still needed to do something though. So in the afternoon one of my daughters and I went to the Loveland Bike Trail. We rented a bike and kid’s trailer. I lasted about 30 minutes before deciding we needed to turn back before I wouldn’t be able to get us back anymore. There and back equaled about 60 minutes biking with an extra 100lbs ish being dragged behind me. Not too shabby for not having biked in over 6-7 years. Phoebe and I then had a mommy-daughter date at a nearby restaurant, walked to a local nature reserve to do some geocaching, hit up a cute little ice cream shop on the way back to the car, and then drove home. She lasted all of 5 minutes before crashing 🙂

Sunday consisted of my first ever kickboxing class. It should be called buttkicking class because that’s what it did. It kicked my butt, hard. I couldn’t do it all and definitely couldn’t do it at the pace that others were able, but I didn’t stop and I didn’t quit. Not sure if I’ll go back. We’ll see. Here’s how lovely I looked afterward:

This was probably 15 minutes after the class ended and I was still red-faced! When I got home I vegged/recuperated for a little bit while we ate lunch. Then we all spent the next 3 hours outside. The girls doing sidewalk chalk, running in the sprinkler, and “helping” me. I, however, did not have as much fun as them. I spent the 3 hours doing major labor intensive yard work. Cutting down trees, vines, weeding, trimming bushes and hedges. Chainsaws are fun 🙂 I’m definitely a girl who likes her power tools. The husband even got in on the outside action and cleaned out his car.

After all this I woke up this morning and practically needed a walker! I hurt so much! The plan for today was a dance class similar to zumba after work. If my muscles don’t let up some before then I might flake and just rest for the day. We’ll see…

Deep breaths…

This past Monday marked the beginning of week 8 post-op. Dad is down to 227 and I’m at 215.

This week I had a NSV (non-scale victory). At work occasionally we have to wear lead aprons for cases involving x-ray. Usually I have to hunt for the 1 apron that fits semi-comfortably or deal with feeling like I’m, as my mother would say, 10 lbs of shit in a 5 lb bag. Well, this week I had extra room and was actually fairly comfortable! And I didn’t hunt for the 1 xl apron! Tiny bit excited about that.

At our 6 week follow-up appointment, which was really during week 7 due to scheduling conflicts, we were released to exercise. As part of the program we’re in we get a 12 week long “free” membership to the gym associated with the hospital. During those 12 weeks we have 24 group sessions with a trainer. Last Thursday was our orientation to the gym and we met our future trainer. Neither Dad nor I were very impressed. She’s so scatter brained! I’m usually a fairly laid back person but one thing I absolutely can’t stand is someone being wishy washy and indecisive. This individual couldn’t stay on point, couldn’t make decisions, and couldn’t remember what she was doing one moment to the next. Also, her voice was very annoying, at least to me.

Fast forward to yesterday, Tuesday, when I had my first group session with her. Our initial impressions were confirmed in my eyes. Dad got to miss out on our first session. Instead he had the lovely evening of getting a crown done at the dentist.

Because of the way the program is organized it’s a rolling admission of sorts. Myself and another patient were the newbies in a group of at least 12 that had already been together for a week. They had already been taught the fundamentals of what we were doing. At the beginning of the session, in which our trainer was 5 minutes late, we spent nearly 25 minutes going around introducing ourselves and telling a challenge or success to the group. All this is well and good and I don’t mind at all. However, our trainer felt the need to comment on everyone’s challenge or success for several minutes. While I’m sure she thought her comments were helpful I found them to be neither supportive or helpful. For example, someone had said their current challenge was transitioning in the post-op diet to the next stage and figuring out more variety to eat. The trainer responded by going on a diatribe for 3-4 minutes about how we shouldn’t use the word diet because it makes one feel restricted and causes people to fail. That we should use “healthy eating” or “mindful choices” instead of diet, while at the same time we shouldn’t restrict and should eat whatever we want, including ice cream. I’m sorry, but in this instance, in our new reality as bariatric patients the word diet is not an evil 4 letter word. It is actually a noun. A word that describes our new food situation. Maybe it’s the nurse in me that thinks of diet first as the food options available/allowed medically vs a restrictive plan meant to loose weight.

Finally after 30 minutes into the session we started working out. 14 circuits of 45 seconds doing leg or arm exercises she had spent a scatter brained 5 minutes explaining. The entire next half hour consisted of listening to her talk in a shrill, wishy washy voice while we went through the circuits. Of course the circuits weren’t organized so when we would move on to the next thing we had to decide what we were doing and hope it wasn’t taken. If everything was taken you were relegated to arm pinwheels or jumping jacks. I nearly knocked myself out with the boob floppage, but I got a compliment from a fellow group member on the quality of my jumping jacks so there’s that at least.

I’m hoping it’ll be better this Thursday when Dad joins me. We’re also planning on doing a Karate class the gym is offering. The times work out perfectly for when the session should be over. If she starts to annoy me I’ll just take out my frustration there afterward. Maybe I should also look up yoga or meditation or something too. Try to zen myself out, otherwise it’s going to be a long 12 weeks.  Deep breaths…..

Beware the She-Hulk!

“You won’t like me when I’m angry!”

I’ve noticed that lately I have a shorter fuse than usual. I’m a lot quicker to yell at the girls and a lot quicker to criticize the husband. My temper has not always been the best, especially when the girls are pushing my buttons, but this is extreme even for me.

So what do I do when something is out of wack or I want to know more? I research the crap out of it. My research regarding mood swings and hormonal imbalances after bariatric surgery actually resulted in some very interesting information. It also verified for me that my recent mood change isn’t totally on me and that I just have to ride it out, and find some different coping mechanisms, till my body normalizes again.

There are many reasons why one’s mood would go cray-cray post surgery. The first and easiest to explain is that we no longer have our go-to coping mechanism when things get tough: food. Without learning other ways to cope with stresses and emotions we can tend to become a bit wack-a-do temporarily while we learn.

Another reason that’s a bit more complicated to explain is hormone imbalance. When one is overweight their body produces more estrogen. As the weight comes off the amount of estrogen is decreased and testosterone in increased. Testosterone is linked to higher energy and sex drive. While the body is re-regulating itself, learning what it’s new normal is, these hormones are all over the place.

Hormones are also affected by the change in diet itself. The lack of, or dramatically decreased amount of, carbohydrates alters serotonin levels, and thus neurotransmitter activity. “It is the insulin release after carbohydrates are eaten that indirectly allows more serotonin in the brain to be made. Insulin changes the levels of amino acids in the blood and this enables one amino acid, tryptophan, to enter the brain. Serotonin is made from tryptophan, and thus is dependent on its brain availability.”

“Dietary regimens before and after bariatric surgery often create the perfect storm for serotonin depletion. High-protein/very low-carbohydrate diets are imposed on pre-surgical patients so they will lose some weight before surgery. Post-operatively, patients eat only protein and supplements to prevent muscle, vitamin and mineral loss. Even though tryptophan is one of the amino acids making up protein, studies done over several decades at MIT showed that when protein is eaten, little or no tryptophan enters the brain.”

“Low and/or inactive serotonin is associated with depressed mood and anxious mood, anger, irritability and fatigue.” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-antidepressant-diet/201403/depression-after-gastric-bypass-surgery)

Serotonin is basically the feel-good hormone. It is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood. So combine a lack of calories (thus decreased energy), a probable decrease in sleep amount, removal of go-to coping mechanism, and a decreased level of serotonin and you get an occasional episode of hulking out.

I think that this lack of carbs/serotonin depletion occasionally affected me pre-op too, though not to this extreme. It’s called getting Hangry. I’d totally turn Betty White until someone gave me a snickers if I went too long between food stuffs.

I feel better being a bit more educated in the why and how-to of the hulking out episodes. Now I just have to learn a new coping mechanism and try to space my tiny meals a bit better throughout the day, especially when I’m out with the girls by myself.

Week 6 update

This week marks 5 weeks post op. Dad is at 230lbs, down 50 lbs, as of last Thursday. He saw his renal doc for the first time since before surgery and was upgraded from stage 4 renal disease to stage 3, which is awesome! To give this perspective stage 5 is when one goes on dialysis, so that means he’s getting further away from it and already accomplishing one of his main goals of having the surgery.

As of Monday I’m down 51.4 lbs putting me at 216.6 lbs. Last Wednesday I had my annual health screening for work. This involves getting labs, height/weight, and “counseling”. Once the results come back you can compare to last years to see just how much of a fatty you’ve been over the last year, or in my case actual numerically presented benefits of the surgery and pre-op diet. Below are my results:

————           May 2016             May 2017              Normal Range   —————

BP                      124/84                      110/72

Waist                 44″                              38″                     less than 35″

Glucose              96                              80                       less than 100 fasting

Triglycerides     118                          104                      less than 150

HDL                   57                              35                         greater than 50

 

So I improved overall except for my HDL level. Still out of range for my waist circumference but that’s no surprise. Look how close I am though! According to my doc’s medical assistant one of the best ways to bring up your HDL is exercise, so it’s not really all that surprising that it’s low right now. I’m just coming off recovering from the surgery and light duty so I haven’t really been moving around all that much up until when I came back full duty to work a couple weeks ago. In theory it should come back up after I start actually exercising, which I can’t do till I’m released to do so at my appt next week. If you don’t know what HDL is, don’t feel bad. I had to look it up too. Basically it’s your good cholesterol that ushers out the bad cholesterol from your system, promotes cardiovascular health. If it’s too low your heart disease risk goes up.

At the last appt before surgery they took our body measurements. Seeing my waist circumference at the screening made me curious so I did another round of measurements to compare the pre-op ones. I know my clothes have been significantly baggier than usual lately but I was still very pleasantly surprised at the results. All of the measurements are in inches:

—————————-                  March 28                            June 6    ————————–

Right upper arm                          15.5                                      13 3/4

Right forearm                              12                                           10 3/4

Chest  (above breasts)                47                                           43

Waist                                             51                                           45

Hips                                               53                                           50 1/2

Right upper thigh                        32 1/4                                    29

Right mid thigh                            28                                          25 1/2

Right calf                                      19                                           17 3/4

 

Most notably I’ve noticed a big difference in my waist and chest. My jeans are literally falling off me. I’m trying to wait as long as possible to buy clothes so I’ll be investing in a good belt soon. Luckily I have a few drawstring pants that’ll come in useful. My chest is also shrinking fast, probably much to my husband’s chagrin. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very well endowed but instead of being a 44 H I’m now a 38F-40DDD. When I went hunting in my dresser drawers I discovered that as I outgrew my previous bra sizes I would just shove them into my drawer, so the deeper you go the smaller they are. In theory then I shouldn’t have to buy new bras for awhile. In theory anyway…

A recent NSV (non-scale victory) I experienced was that I was actually able to chase my 5 year old girls around the splash park this weekend. It didn’t hurt, I didn’t get out of breath, and I didn’t feel self-conscious. I also bought my first 2 piece bathing suit in my life. Granted it’s a tankini top that I’m going to pair with a pair of boy’s trunks, but still potentially belly exposing which is big!

Since I’ve been back to work full time I’m still working on what my daily eating/drinking schedule looks like. Right now I’m drinking half a protein shake on the drive in and then finishing it on my morning break plus some other fluids. Lunch is protein based something, around 3-4 oz. If I get an afternoon break I have something else protein based, usually a greek yogurt. All the while I’m sneaking drinks of water between cases. On the drive home I’m drinking my powerade zero like it’s going out of style, while also trying not to overdo it and get sick. It’s a fine line. I’ll get home about 6 and have a protein based dinner, 3-4 oz, while waiting for the girls to finish their dinner I’ll tend to be able to get outside the 30 minute waiting period and be able to drink something again. After the girls’ bedtime till my bedtime I try to get as many fluids in as I can.

If I’m under my protein goal for the day, which 90% of the time I am, I’ll have a cup of fairlife milk turned hot white chocolate with the help of some sugar-free flavor syrup. Just recently I’ve been able to eat and drink just a little more at a time so I’ve reached my protein goal 85-90% of the time, and if I don’t reach it I’m really close. Same with my fluids goal. Not quite there everyday but super close.

Another goal that I’m working on is making sure I get all my vitamins in. I’ve been really naughty about taking them. I know, I know. Not good. But I’m a work in progress and I think I have a schedule down for them that’s working. I’ve been able to remember all of them for 3 days straight!

Last but not least we had a new addition to the family yesterday! We adopted a stray 5 week old kitten from a family friend that rescued her. She’s been named Stormie, short for Stormageddon Dark Lord of All. We’re assuming she’s a she. If she turns out to be a he then the name works either way. She’s an adorable tiny ball of fluff. Right now we’re keeping her isolated in the bathroom to protect her from the other 2 cats and the messy house. This week’s project is to kitten-proof/clean the house so she can have some freedom. It would be just our luck that the first day we let her out she eats a rubber hair twisty or lone bead on the floor.

 

The Vajayjay Queen Returns!

I know you’re looking at that title and thinking “WTF?” Well this last week my lifting restrictions were lifted so I was able to return to my job in the OR. In our surgery department we don’t have formal specialized teams so everyone does a little of every specialty. With that said the same people do tend to be in the same cases/rooms more often than not. Most of my cases tend to be gynecological related. I’m also one of the nurses that are on the robotic surgery team, which is used for gyno related surgeries 75-80% of the time. So, like I said: the vajayjay Queen returns!

For the time I was on lifting restrictions they had me in preadmission testing calling patients with instructions and questions for their upcoming surgeries, and collecting whatever paperwork was still needed.  I enjoyed it. There was a certain sense of satisfaction to be able to finish a patient’s file in a timely manner. On the other side of the coin I am soooo glad to be back in the OR. It’s so nice to be moving throughout the day instead of sitting in front of the computer, and to be using my brain for what I’ve been doing for the last 9 years. And even though the ladies in PAT are super nice and welcoming, there’s a certain atmosphere and community in the OR that is special only to the OR that I missed too. If you’ve never had the opportunity to shadow or observe in surgery all I can tell you is that we’re a special breed.

Today marks my third day on full duty. I’m having to figure out how to get my protein and fluids in around my cases, which I knew would be a challenge but I’m doing better than I thought I would. I’ve found that the last couple of days I’ve been able to “mini-chug” my fluids, which means I can take 5 sips in a row comfortably rather than just 1-2. This is helping me tremendously in getting closer to my fluid goals. I still haven’t reached them but I’m really close. Every time I’m getting a patient from pre-op or dropping off a patient in PACU I’m making sure to get a few sips in.

Everyone is commenting on my progress when they see me, saying they can already see a bit difference. I’m not seeing a huge difference in my torso yet but I am noticing my hands and feet. When watching tv or something I find myself staring at my ankles/feet or wrists/wrists. They’re definitely getting slimmer. You know what the thigh gap is? Well I have toe gap. Sounds strange, but you can see a bit of light between my big and second toes! My toes look weirdly long now.

My energy level isn’t really that different yet, which could be down to bad sleep habits. I’m too much of a night owl and always have been. I am discovering though that I’m moving around easier. Just walking I’m moving faster. Bending over and lifting things is easier. I’m actually kind of looking forward to being released at 6 weeks to work out, which is a really strange notion for me. I’ve never looked forward to working out. Maybe it’ll actually be enjoyable since I won’t be hurting walking into it.

I’m trying to restrict myself to only weighing in on Mondays so I don’t obsess over the scale, so I don’t have any weight update this post. I can see myself very easily getting frustrated if the numbers didn’t move and I was weighing daily so I made a conscious decision to not even start down that road.

Dad and I are both experiencing shoulder and upper back pain occasionally. After thinking about it we’ve decided it’s because of our posture. Immediately post-surgery we weren’t straightening up all the way because of the incision pain. Now as the weight is coming off and we’re healing we’ve found we both have really bad posture. We don’t have our belly rolls to lean on as much when sitting  and our core muscle strength is so poor that we slouch forward more. After realizing this we’ve both made a concerted effort to pay more attention to our posture and to straighten up if we find ourselves slouching too much. I’m not sure about him but I’m already feeling a difference. I do know though that he’s making an appointment for a body massage as a birthday present to himself to help with the muscle soreness.

 

No longer a “Very”!

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I’m officially only severely obese! This last week I’ve slipped under the line from very severely obese, also called morbidly obese, to just severely obese on the BMI scale. Where else but in the bariatric world would that be an “only”?

Since surgery I’ve lost 15 lbs, 43 lbs total since my heaviest. Dad has lost 47 lbs total, 27 lbs since surgery. Today marked us 4 weeks post op. I’m currently 224.8 and Dad is 233. Also, since surgery Dad has had to take very little to none of his insulin.

Even though my loss isn’t exactly what I’d like I’m still loosing, and even though it’s only half a pound a day it’s still more than I would have done before. It’s very common around the 3-4 post-op week to have a stall. You’re body is getting used to the decreased calories and just the general stress from the surgery itself. To add to that I’ve not been successful yet in reaching my daily water goals. I’ve been decent at reaching my protein goals though. I also haven’t been eating as many times in a day as they’d like. Ideally I’m supposed to be eating 2 oz 4-6 times a day. I’m only getting 3, maybe 4 “meals” in daily. I’m just so full for so long that, right now anyway, it seems like an impossibility to eat 6 times in day and still be able to drink half of what my fluid goal is.

Today not only marks our 4 weeks post-op but also my Dad’s birthday. He’s 66 years young! As a birthday present I bought him a plushie version of his new sleeve. Of course I couldn’t resist getting one for myself while I was at it. They’re just so darn cute! If you want to get one for yourself visit the following link to the etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/Plusheez). The owner is super nice. Meet Madame McSleevey and Pierre (Dad named his own)! They even feature our surgery date embroidered on the back.

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A few observations since I’ve been moved onto the soft and mushy food stage:

(1) it is really really weird to me how little fills me up. I realize that’s kind of the whole goal but it’s still really strange to me. Before you don’t even want to know what I could eat in one sitting, and still be thinking of what I could eat next. Now I’m full after half a yogurt! The other day for lunch I had one large cocktail shrimp. One! In the past I’d have defrosted half the bag, eaten them all, and then had dessert. For Dad’s birthday dinner we split a cheeseburger (not fast food) without the bun. I only could eat less than half of my half. Even then I probably had a bite or two too many.  Just weird. It’ll take some getting used to for sure, which is of course the end-game.

(2) I’ve had to reteach myself how to drink. I’ve always been a big chugger or gulper. If I drink more than 3 sips in a row it physically hurts. 3 is even a bit much sometimes, especially if it’s something thicker like a protein shake. Super cold drinks also hurt no matter how much I drink at one time, but at the same time room temperature is gross and turns me off. If something has warmed up to room temperature I just can’t do it. Nauseates me just to think about it.  I’ve found that I’m more likely to drink more in a sitting if the beverage is warmed up hotter. My favorite so far is to heat up a cup of Fairlife milk with a dash of sugar free vanilla syrup, creating a healthy version of a “hot vanilla”, as opposed to hot chocolate. It’s super yummy, I drink it all every time, and it counts as protein and fluid. Good things all around!

(3) When I’m full one of three things will happen. Either I’ll hiccup just once, my nose will run, or I’ll get a rush of metallic tasting saliva. Sometimes by themselves, sometimes in combination. 

I’ve created and updated a progress pics section. You’ll find it at the top of the website page. The embarrassing picture of me at my heaviest I’ve talked about previously has been included. Please be kind.

Speaking of photos, below you’ll find some photos from since my last post. I haven’t included the full body shots since I just put them in the progress pics page. You can look there if you’d like to see those.

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Not a huge difference but you can definitely see one, especially in the double chin and chipmunk cheek area.

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Here’s what my incisions looked like at 3 weeks post op after the surgical glue came off. There’s a tiny bit of bruising still around the bigger incision on my right, but as of last Wednesday (day 23) I’ve had very little to no pain.  It was kind of strange actually. I went to bed with the same pinching soreness I’d had and then woke up with nothing. I can only think that the internal sutures finally dissolved and that’s what was pinching. I’ve also noticed that as the swelling has gone down, and as the weight has gone down too, that my divot has decreased. I was really quite worried that I’d always have a divot in my right side from the big incision. Silly little piece of vanity I realize since I’m probably going to have quite a bit of loose skin at the end of all this, but it was still there in my mind nonetheless.

Below are some progress pics of me and Dad together. On my official progress pics page I’ve only included individual shots so far. That may change in the future though.

In order from left to right you have December 2016, April 2017 (weekend before liquid diet), and May 2017 (Mother’s Day). Not that you can tell too much but my jeans are barely staying up and I’ve lost enough mass in the massive boobage that my bra has a definite gapping action happening. Dad has had to put new holes in his belt too.

Well that’s all my calorie deprived brain has to say for now. Be sure to tune in next time!

The Good, the Bad, and the Stinky

The Good: Today was my 2 week follow up appointment, really 10 day follow up, with my surgeon. Since surgery I’ve lost 10 lbs and he says that my incisions are healing well. I will say that the larger incision on the right still smarts some to be sure, especially with movement.  It’s manageable though. I haven’t taken the percocet in a couple days and have been just sticking with icing my tummy.  My bruises from the failed IV attempts are healing as well, however they are definitely a matter of looking worse before better situation.

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So as of today, since my heaviest last summer, I’ve lost 38 lbs. I find this both amazing and saddening at the same time. I can’t believe I let myself get to the point I was at. Looking through my previous posts I realized that I blatantly lied out of embarrassment in the post chronicling my weight via photos. I had said that I didn’t have any photos of me at my heaviest. This is untrue. I actually do have one. I took it in the dressing room at Lane Bryant. I even put my phone on silent so the clerks wouldn’t hear the picture taking sound and know what I was doing. It was taken the same day I had my epiphany. I found out how close to my Dad’s weight I was and decided to try to do something about it. I went to Lane Bryant in search of workout clothes and fell into a depressive funk when I saw myself in the mirror. I took the picture to remember that low, just in case there was a high in the future. I’m not going to post it here. When I get around to filling out the Progress Pictures gallery I may put it there. Maybe when there’s more of a drastic before/after. I’m still embarrassed.

Dad doesn’t have his follow up appointment till next week but he visited today so I accosted him with the camera.

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In the last 10 days since surgery he’s lost 12 lbs, putting him at a total of 38 lbs from his heaviest at the start of all this. At this point he says his main pained spot is right about the umbilical incision.  He’s also barely had to take any insulin at all!

We’re both struggling to get our water and protein goals. We feel like we’re literally drinking the whole day and only get half way there. Our nutritionist doesn’t include the water in our protein shakes towards our daily goal total, so that 16 oz minimum that’s drank but not counted. Soup, jello, and popsicles don’t count as liquids either even though they’re part of the full liquid diet.

One of the things that I’ve found that’s hindered me reaching my goal I think is that I like to sleep entirely too late and then stay up too late. Not working is not really encouraging me to get up at the ass-crack of dawn since I don’t need to. The husband gets the girls up and to school so no need there either. When you wake up at noon or later, after going to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning, it does certainly cut into the hours of the day you have to drink. Add to that the 30-30-30 rule we have to follow and there’s just not enough time. I know, problem easily solved if I just get my well-rounded tuchas up earlier but that is easier said than done. Ask my husband.

The Stinky: If you peruse the bariatric forums you’ll soon find that one of the main topics of conversation is constipation. Before surgery I was never really what you would call regular, which more than likely stemmed from a crap diet from crap food with no fiber or real nutritional value. It was not unusual for me to go a week without having a visit to the golden thrown for a constitutional. After surgery it was approaching 9 days with no sign of impending poodom, aside from some really nasty letting of air, so I decided to take matters into my own hands so to speak. One dose of Miralax later and I did indeed accomplish my goal, stupendously. Never having taken Miralax before I did not know what to expect. Holy fire out of my butt Batman! It worked fast and was a bit too overly thorough in my opinion. Since that lovely experience I’ve decided to add some Benefiber to my daily regimen, at least till I’m on more solid food. If I can avoid it I would rather not have a repeat performance.

The Bad: Thursday morning at 3am my husband’s grandfather passed. He was diagnosed only a week ago with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and a mild-moderate heart attack. He was a kind and gentle soul. Very intelligent and very giving. He was one of the nicest men I have ever met, if not the nicest. FB_IMG_1493956617767

So Saturday our little family of 4 are going to drive 8 hours to upper New York to attend his funeral on Sunday, and then back again on Monday. Just in time for my husband to go back to work Tuesday night and for me to go back on Wednesday. So far I’ve managed to not eat my emotions as I would have before. So far…This evening after my husband went to work it fell on me to tell our 5 year old girls the news and the plan for the weekend, explaining what to expect. At the end I asked them if they had any questions, and they did of course. My girls are very practical with their questions, as with all things. They asked the standard ones about never seeing him again, where was he going if he wasn’t here anymore, etc etc. But then with a very concerned look, one turned to me and asked very seriously, “Am I going to get a new dress to wear?”. Priorities…

I asked my nutritionist today for food suggestions for the drive since I’m still on puree stage and don’t really plan on traveling with ready access to a blender. Her suggestions were a little to be desired. She wanted me to prepare ahead of time by freezing puree tuna, beef, chicken, etc in ice trays to unfreeze later as I need them. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea if I was traveling with a microwave strapped to the back of the van. Just what someone with no appetite wants to eat. Cold, slimy, puree meat. Yum… Instead of taking her up on her awesome idea I’ve bought a few different favors of cottage cheese/fruit puree, yogurt, and I’m going to experiment with baby food versions of puree meat. They’ll probably be disgusting as well but at least they won’t be frozen and I won’t be upset that I put effort into them before I chuck them in the trash bin.

I did conduct one cooking experiment today that was a grand success though. As a way to diversify my protein sources my NUT (nutritionist) suggested I try a ricotta bake. Look it up on pinterest. It’s awesome. Basically you melt a few difference cheeses, egg, and marinara sauce together and bingo bango you’ve got a crustless pizza/lasagna type thing. It was glorious! I’m serious. It was so flipping good I might just live on it now. It was so nice to taste something somewhat savory, or at least a different flavor palate. Most of the options I’ve been eating, even since the preop liquid diet, have all been mostly sweet flavors. It was really nice having something that wasn’t, and wasn’t soup.

 

And we’re off to the races!!!

Fair warning ahead of time: this post is going to be very picture heavy with some somewhat graphic photos.

This past Monday, April 24th, my dad and I both had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy performed.  One of the first things they do after you go through registration is to weigh you.

Collage 2017-04-28 13_07_57I weighed in at 240 lbs, which means I lost a total of 9 lbs during the preop liquid diet and a grand total of 28 lbs from my heaviest last summer.

Dad weighed in at 257 lbs, which equals 12 lbs lost during the preop liquid diet, and a grand total of 26 lbs from his heaviest last year.

All in all not too shabby at all in my opinion.

Next thing they do is have you strip down to your birthday suit and put on a patient gown and some lovely bright neon yellow textured socks. The nurse puts in an IV and asks a bunch of questions about your medical history and medications that you take. My nurse was super nice but wasn’t exactly the best at putting in IVs.

Collage 2017-04-28 13_05_57She tried first my right forearm and blew it really terrifically, then tried my right hand and also blew that one. She then went to get another nurse to try who got my left forearm on the first try with no issues. So now I’m rocking some pretty awesome bruises on my right arm and hand, while you can barely tell that the IV was in my left arm at all.

Dad’s surgery was an hour behind mine so he and my aunt came a bit early to hang out before he had to get pre-oped. After they he was ready and we were just waiting they let me go down to his preop room to wait with him till the OR was ready for us. Our surgeon was running a bit behind, so that was nice. And let me just tell you one thing, Versed is awesome! It’s a relaxing med meant to decrease your anxiety and also has an amnesia affect so you don’t remember the scary later. It felt like I did about 4-5 shots of hard liquor in under 2 minutes. The room didn’t quite catch up to my eyes, if you know what I mean. If they offer it up to you, do not turn it down.

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These pics are from after we’d been transferred up to our inpatient rooms. They kept us overnight . This was done in order to do a test in the morning to make sure there were no leaks, make sure our pain was under control, make sure we could pee once our foley catheters were removed, and to make sure we could keep fluids down.

After surgery you’re not allowed to drink anything until the next morning at your leak test, so your mouth gets extremely dry. Like after 5 minutes of swabbing with a moist swab it feels like you just walked though the Sahara kind of dry. The contrast they have us drink was terrible. It tasted a lot better than I thought it would. The radiologist stands you up in front an x-ray machine, swallowing the contrast while they shoot a series of images. I was totally falling asleep in my wheelchair while waiting on him. The dilaudid pain pump is a wonderful thing but it made me so freaking sleepy I could barely keep my eyes open for any length of time. Within 3 minutes of pushing my pump button I wanted to take a nap. Anyway, the images he’s looking at show if the contrast travels easily through your esophagus into the new gastric sleeve and then out again. I passed with flying colors. Dad did not. His contrast got stuck in his esophagus. They blamed inflammation causing swelling and kept him an extra night to give it time to settle down and try again Wednesday morning. He passed on his second time around and was given his freedom.

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The above are the intra-op pictures taken by my surgeon of my new sleeve, who’ve I decided to name Madame McSleevey. Awesome right?

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One of the main things the nurses and aids try to encourage you to do is to get up and walk at least every hour. It helps with the gas pain, helps prevent blood clots, and just generally gets you moving. It felt very weird walking around with a foley dangling from my very drafty girly bits. A sensation I’m not really wanting to repeat in the near future.

FB_IMG_1493188028336After the leak test is passed they remove said awkward foley and then it’s just a waiting game till you can be discharged. You have to pee at minimum 200-250 ml to prove that you can before they’ll give you your wings. If that isn’t accomplished by shift change at 730pm you get the privilege of spending an extra night. I succeeded at exactly 655pm, just in the nick of time.

Once home I attempted to sleep in our bed, but it stretched out my abdomen too much and I kept wanting to turn onto my side which hella hurt. In the wee hours Wednesday morning we had a venue change due to this and moved downstairs, where I’ve pretty much been camped out since. I rotate between icing the belly, sipping water and protein shakes, taking my lovely percocet, eating jello etc, and taking mini walks around the house.

My loving and incredibly supportive (figuratively and literally) husband has been right there next to me the entire time in case I need something. I know he’d rather be sleeping in bed rather than on the couch but I haven’t heard a single complaint, other than he wishes he could give me a big strong hug but is afraid he’d hurt me. Right now he’s even running an errand to get my sewing machine repaired for me so that I have something other than the TV to do during my convalescence. Collage 2017-04-28 13_10_19

The main pain I’ve been having hasn’t been the from the gas as I was expecting. I expected pain from the actual incision sites and some discomfort from the gas they use to inflate the abdominal cavity.  What actually hurts the worst is caused by the abdominal swelling around the incision sites. The swelling is pulling on the suture lines, shifting every time I move, hurting like a mofo. Keeping up on the icing and perocet help some. Coughing. Coughing also sucks great big hairy monkey balls.  I’m thinking that it’ll improve as the swelling goes down. The worst one is the site on the right. I’m betting this is where they removed the gastric remnant, the part of the stomach they removed to create the sleeve. The swelling is centralized above the incision line, creating a little dunlap of tissue which is pushing down on the incision line when I sit upright. So right now my abdomen looks weirdly lumpy bumpy.

If you’re in the process of getting a sleeve done, or any weight loss surgery, you’ll find lists everywhere with suggestions of what to bring to the hospital. Here’s mine: comfy slippers with traction bottoms, long phone charger cord and phone, chapstick, and clean undies for when you get discharged. Everything else I brought I didn’t end up using. I wore the exact pajamas out that I wore in, and didn’t wear them at all while actually in the hospital. I had brought a book but was never awake long enough to read, thank you dilaudid. I had also brought a bunch of toiletries but taking a shower there was the last thing I wanted to do. When I did eventually take a shower it was glorious, though I did need major help from the husband. It hurt to raise my arms too high, pulled the tummy. My Dad didn’t even use a bag. His overnight bag was a plastic Kroger bag consisting of pajama bottoms, undies, and socks. My husband actually had the most of all of us. He stayed overnight with me. He had pajamas, laptop and charger, phone and charger, clean clothes, and snacks.

On a slightly hilarious sidenote, the husband just came home from his errand of dropping my sewing machine off at the repair shop. While out he stopped off at one of his favorite places for lunch and was challenged to an eating contest. Not one to back down he accepted and won! His prize? An awesomely tacky baseball hat he’ll never wear, a major stomachache, and double the bill (they didn’t cover the food). But hey! He won! Ironic, no?