Wednesday, February 29, 2012

3 Months Post-Op: Pics and Measurements

Today is my 3-month surgical anniversary - which means progress pictures and measurement reports!

I'm still really unhappy with these pictures - the boob droopage does not match my mental image of myself (new bra needed? Probably yes!), the fat on the back of my upper arms is disturbing, and clearly I'm going to have a hanging panniculus (the apron that droops down off my waist).

I know I've lost a bunch, and that I still have a long way to go, but at least this month, these aren't as motivating as I'd hope they'd be. The only thing I do notice, is that I'm "flatter" in front looking at the side view.

Anyway, here they are.


Now the part that does make me feel better, measurements:
Current Loss Total Loss

Oh! And completely forgot the weight totals:
Beginning weight338
Weight at surgery304
Current weight256.6
Total loss81.4
So what do you think?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Non Scale Victories

While losing weight on any program, surgical or not, it's easy to get tunnel vision and focus just on the number on the scale. Many of us celebrate what is known as "non-scale victories" to keep a well-rounded view of our success. These can be as simple as fitting into a favorite old pair of jeans (see Progresso Soup ad: is there a woman I can talk to?), or running into an old acquaintance who does a double-take after not recognizing you at first.

I have several recent non-scale victories (or NSVs) to report - each of them made me happy in and of themselves, but this mini-collection all coming within a few days really was a bit of a mood boost.

1. My wedding rings were getting loose enough that I was worried they might slip off - plus the solitaire was constantly spinning around and getting in the way while I type. I took them in to the jeweler for my semi-annual cleaning and inspection, and asked if there was a temporary spacer of sorts that I could use - I'm not done losing weight yet, and I only want to get them sized once, when I'm done. The jeweler happily put on what she called a "ring guard" - it's a small straight piece of metal that fits inside the circle of the ring, it's ends bending around the outside - creating a flat "bottom" to the ring that cuts down on the amount of space in the middle. They fit perfectly now! Plus after the cleaning, they're nice and extra sparkly again :)

2. Way back in ancient history (junior high and high school), I was actually quite a decent long-distance runner. Obviously running, or even jogging, at over 300 pounds is not very practical. However, as I'm zooming in on 250, I decided to give it a try during my treadmill workouts. I have now incorporated 2 minutes of jogging at the 10 minute mark in my workouts. I feel like a lumbering water buffalo, but y'all - I'm jogging!

3. Today I decided to switch up my exercise routine a bit and instead of the treadmill I pulled out my copy of the Biggest Loser "Power Sculpt" DVD. I hadn't really done this in almost 2 years - I stopped after Baby J was placed with us, and never really took it back up. I learned three things from doing Level 1 of that video:
  • Your balance changes significantly when your body shape changes with 80 pounds of weight loss. It was nearly comical how frequently I started to get wobbly and almost fall over when doing any move that required some balance. 
  • I can actually sit cross-legged now - it's not comfortable, but I can do it. 
  • I can lace my fingers together behind my back - when  first did this video, I couldn't grasp them at all. 
4.  I ordered a new sports bra.  Those things are supposed to keep you firmly in place, so when things really start puckering and dangling during "Down Dog" - it's time for a smaller one.

So what have your recent non-scale victories been? Please share!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Things I Don't Want to do for $1000, Alex

I don't think anyone really wants to exercise - at least not the walk/run on the treadmill, or other timed mechanical options. I get that people enjoy bicycling, kayaking, skiing, etc - recreational activities that also have a component of exercise to them - I used to be one of those people, I was actually on an amateur bicycle racing team back in high school.

With all that's going on right now, heading downstairs to the basement and my treadmill isn't super high on my "things I'm just dying to do" list. But, even at the immensely reduced caloric intake I have right now, exercise is still a key component of my weight loss - so it's really not an optional activity.

I woke up early again today - but talked myself out of going downstairs - I just "didn't wanna". Then I saw Tracy , one of my weight loss surgery (#wls) twitter twibe members post about her exercise - and my brain started throwing on the guilt.

I really didn't want to - but when lunch time came around, I put on the sports bra, filled up the water bottle, and went downstairs and did my work out. 30 minutes on the treadmill at 2.3mph, 1% incline, for a total of 1.15 miles. I have a TV and DVD player set up down there, and I'm currently rewatching the entire series of Battlestar Galactica - today was Season 2 Episode 1 - which has one of my favorite lines from Kara Thrace (Starbuck). As she and Helo argue about Cylon Sharon, Sharon slips away and escapes in the modified Cylon raider that Kara had flown to Caprica. Kara and Helo run outside to see the ship taking off, and Kara says "Bitch took my ride".

I love Starbuck - and Katee Sackhoff is truly an amazing actress.

But anyway - I didn't wanna, but I did.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Not in a Good Head Space

It's been a rough week, on several fronts. We're still trying to figure out why I'm having trouble with some meals - things I've eaten successfully suddenly cause me to vomit. In the TMI department, I've been constipated for over a week, despite 2x daily doses of Colace and adding Benefiber to my morning shake. The second dose of Colace has helped a bit, but it's generally Not Fun to have your anus feel like it's clamped down tighter than security at Fort Knox.

I think I've hit that point where at 12 weeks post-op I'm at the "impatient" stage - I want to eat a wider variety of foods, even in small amounts, but my body isn't quite ready. I know this will improve as I pass the 6 month and 12 month marks, but when I really have to hunt for something to eat that won't come right back up at me, it's frustrating.

The other issue, is that I just can't seem to kick the blues. The Man and I used to be foster parents. We had an adorable baby girl (J), who was placed with us at 8 days old, and we were on track to adopt her. We also had a 3 year old girl (T) who could be very sweet, and was clearly in need of love and direction. Unfortunately, due to the extent of her negative previous experiences, she also had some pretty severe issues. We begged for guidance and help with her, and were refused at every turn. "She's just 3", or "You're inexperienced parents" - both facts that were true, but not facts that explained the depth of her behaviors. We were committed to T, and wanted the very best for her, but were struggling.

I won't get into the gory details here - I'm likely to eventually write a book about the entire experience. I think I need it for the cathartic value it may have. But what I will say, is that things came to head with T's behavior and the agency's refusal to act on our requests, and the decision was made to remove her from our home. When they did so, they also removed J. To say we were heartbroken is a laughable understatement. J was taken from the only home she'd ever known, quite frankly as a punitive measure against us. A legal battle ensued, shenanigans occurred at the agency, we spent a lot of money and a lot of heartache trying to regain custody of J (we realized that however much we loved T, that her placement was never going to be back with us). 

We ultimately lost that battle. Devastated again doesn't even begin to describe things. Wrapping up the last of all of it took some time - 451 days from the day it began, to be precise, but my lawyer called last Monday to tell me it was finally complete. While I knew exactly what was being done, and it was simply a matter of waiting for bureaucracy to spin it's wheels, when he called it felt like the loss all over again.

Between not feeling well because of the food and digestion issues and the weight of that loss coming back over me, I'm just not in a very good head space right now. I do see Libby tomorrow afternoon - thankfully - but I think it's going to take some work to get past this again, not just a single session.

For my followers that know the whole story, your love and support have meant the world to me. For a few followers from elsewhere who think they know what happened but really don't - go away! You do not know the truth, and your need to harass me about it shows just how shallow and sad you are as human beings.

For those who have no idea what I'm talking about - a virtual hug is always nice. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Clothes Shopping - Still Demoralizing

I have a confession to make - I hate clothes shopping. Lots of women do, and not just heavy women, I know. I'll also confess that my weight and fit issues made it easiest to wear "pull-on" type pants - you know, granny pants with elastic waists. Sure, they were denim or twill, but still - not exactly fashion forward. My jeans of this style have been progressively falling off my ass - that's good, right? You'd think with 75 pounds less on my body, I'd certainly be needing smaller clothes. I went through the sizes I had in my closet, plus the next smaller one I'd bought right before surgery. It was time to get a pair in the next couple sizes down.

So the Man and I went shopping yesterday afternoon - I figured I'd try a pair of zip-front jeans, after all, I was working in 4 sizes smaller than I'd started out, something should fit, right?

How wrong could I have been? First issue, was that Catherine's appears to have stopped carrying the jeans I've been buying for years. The store had a pair in both 18 and 16 - the 18 will probably fit in about 5-10 more pounds, and the way I'm dropping, picking up the 16 probably was a wise idea. But then I tried on some "curvy" styled zip-front jeans. The 22 was laughable - not a chance it was coming up over my hips. So I snagged a 26, thinking that had to work. Wrong - I got them up over my still-substantial ass, but there wasn't a chance they were going to button and zip.

I just wanted to cry. 75 pounds, and I still can't wear a normal pair of pants. I know I still have a long way to go - but my god, 75 pounds is like a 5th grader, shouldn't that be making more of a difference? I know that the Man and I agreed that after my loss is at goal, and we resolve the IVF issue one way or the other, that we'll get me the plastic surgery needed to remove excess skin and get the girls back to where they belong, etc. But I can't help but feel like I'll be a freak for a couple years - trading fat freak for drooping dangling skin freak.

I just want to be normal.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Treasures from the Closet

I think most women do this: you have a favorite outfit or a few pieces of clothing that you just can't bear to get rid of even if they no longer fit. They hang in your closet (or live in a box) until that unspecified time at which you might be able to wear it again. Never mind if it has shoulder pads worthy of a linebacker that went out of style in 1987 - it was something you absolutely loved.

I have a few of those gems still. Clothes that survived multiple moves, Hurricane Charley, and my two-car-load escape from my previous marriage. The first item that I could potentially wear again is a spring dress. It's a black cotton princess-seamed button-front dress, with tiny little red and pink roses on it - almost giving a polka-dot effect. I distinctly remember wearing it when I weighed 265 - a time when a man I was dating came to visit me where I was living in Pacific Grove, CA.

I'm struggling with two major things right now: my perception of myself, and the realization that coming back down through some of these numbers isn't quite the same as being at them on the way up - I've got bigger, wobblier arms than I did back then, and while it's shrinking, I still have a belly that's deflating, rather than completely disappearing.

So what does this have to do with clothes? Quite simply, I'm scared. I want to dig that dress out of the box it's sitting in at the bottom of my office closet, give it a fresh wash, and look absolutely smashing in it. I'm quite fearful that I'll try and put it on, and my arms will look like sausages in the short sleeves, an my belly will stick out weirdly instead of having the fabric flow nicely over it, and the whole thing will make me cry instead of being a happy celebration of wearing a favorite pretty outfit.

So far I keep staring at the closet, but haven't worked up the courage to even open the door.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Endoscopy Results: Tight But Not Too Tight

I must say I have mixed feelings about the results of my endoscopy on Wednesday. It was a little rough getting started, I was somewhat dehydrated (again - we seem to have a theme going on here), which made getting my IV started difficult. I now have a beautiful 4 inch long bruise down the underside of my left arm where one of my veins blew out while they were trying to thread the IV. The nurse anesthetist was the 3rd person to try, and she finally got it in the back of my right hand. Owie.

The anesthesiology team recommended, and I agreed, that general anesthesia would be a better option for me than the standard sedation; my issues of excessive burping and vomiting could have signaled that food was spending an inordinate amount of time in my "pouch". Should that have been the case, once all my muscles were relaxed with the sedation, it's possible that any trapped food could readily move up into my esophagus and be in danger of aspiration - something that would likely result in infection and a good week in the ICU. With a general anesthetic, the breathing tube would protect the airway. Sound reasoning to me.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (WFBMC) is not only a world-class medical center, but a teaching hospital as well. One of the benefits of this is access to doctors doing cutting edge research on a huge gamut of diseases, conditions, and new techniques. Several of the GI doctors are working on a study of a new screening technique for upper GI issues - using a trans-nasal scope that can be done under light sedation in an office setting vs. the standard endoscopic procedure which needs to be done in a hospital/day surgery setting with much stronger sedation. I was asked if I would be willing to participate in their research study - the study doctor would use the trans-nasal scope to take a look and see if they could identify a stricture, ulcer, or other complications. The study doctor would record his findings for the study, but not relay them to the doctor performing the endoscopy - he would proceed as if the trans-nasal procedure had not been done. Afterward, they would compare notes to determine the efficacy of the new technique.

At first I was a bit hesitant to undergo a second procedure - but after discussing it with the study physician who indicated they had only had one complication, and it was slight abrasion just inside the nose, I agreed to participate. I have volunteered for a couple other studies at WFBMC in the past, but none that involved a procedure like this one. I think it's important that people do allow doctors to conduct this kind of research, as it can eventually benefit other patients and lead to lower health care costs - both Very Good Things! So off we went to the endoscopy suite - the anesthesiology team was awesome; I'd relayed my previous bad experience to them, and rather than using a mask over my mouth and nose he let me put my lips around the tube and breathe as if I was using a snorkel - it really helped ease my anxiety as they put me under.

Both procedures went well, they found that I did have a slight gastroenteric anastomotic stricture - a tightening of the gastrojejunostomy - the new connection between my stomach pouch and my intestines. It measured 9mm in size, where the ideal diameter is 11-15mm. So slightly constricted, but not hugely. The doctor chose not to attempt a dilation of it at this point (they would have used a balloon to stretch it), as I'm only 9 weeks post-op. They did also find a few staples that were working their way out and removed those, which could have been causing some occasional blockage as food passed by (which may have explained the inconsistent reaction I had to different foods). I'll admit to feeling a little ambivalent about them not doing a dilation - they don't want to make the opening too large, as you lose some of the benefit of the bypass procedure, but at the same time - even just an extra millimeter or two could make a difference in how I process food. But I'll trust in my team for now - they've been fantastic.

I did end up with an odd muscular reaction to the general anesthesia. I felt pretty good when we got home, but as bed time approached I started feeling very sore and stiff particularly in the smaller chest and side muscles that you don't use much unless you're coughing or stretching. I woke up Thursday morning feeling like I couldn't even move my neck - I spent about 5 minutes rolling my head from side to side, flexing my calves, and trying to roll to my side to sit up and get out of bed. Stiff and sore is an understatement, practically rigor!

I decided to take a second day off work. Although I do work from home, and didn't have to get dressed and go be sociable at an office, even the mildest twist of my torso was quite painful. The Man brought home some liquid tylenol for me, which eventually brought some relief. The good news, though, was that I successfully had a normal dinner last night: 2 ounces of beef tenderloin, a few bites of broccoli and a few bites of yukon gold potatoes and sauteed onions. Barely any burping and no vomiting! Hurray! Time will be the true test of whether I'll need additional follow up for the stricture, but I'm crossing my fingers I would need to go in for another procedure.