Thursday, August 13, 2015

Time flies when you're melting!

Oh my....has it really been 9 weeks since my surgery?!? 

Every Wednesday, I mentally celebrate the day I was reborn. Yesterday was 9 weeks of today, I'm down 43lbs! 
And now I'm 250lbs!

Most recent pic- smaller scrubs, baby!

So much has happened that's non-weight loss related: my husband and I are buying a house and, come the end of the month, I'll be getting one hell of a workout moving! 
I take my pre-nursing exam in two days, so I'm cramming and stressing (but not feeling the urge to stress eat- thank you, Sleevie Wonder!)
I've also been working like crazy since I returned to work full-time .

The downside to working full-time, 12 hours shifts at a job that is constantly chaos (welcome to health care) is that I've had to leave work and go to the E.R. for IV fluids. I promised myself that I wouldn't get behind on my fluid intake...but when you're running yourself ragged for 12 hours at a time, it's easy to get behind. I was staring at my computer screen and my vision went blurry, I felt light headed and dizzy, and the room was spinning. I realized this must be what it felt like when the dehydration kicked in- it was 5p.m. and I'd only had 20oz of fluid for the day at that point. 
I sat at the nurses station and sipped water with my eyes closed, trying desperately to shake it but, after 15 minutes, decided I'd be safer going to the E.R. and getting IV fluids in me so I'd get re-hydrated quicker. 4 hours and 1 bag of fluid later, I was good to go.

Know how it feels to be in the bed so you're humble when you're standing next to it

Another problem I've had is the dreaded hair-loss; it has begun. The hair loss happens for two reasons: first, because it's a normal reaction to anesthesia. Second, it's because eating and drinking for the first week after surgery is difficult, and you can't get much protein in. I'm not too concerned about it because I have a ton of hair...I think my temporary hair loss is will help me know how it feels to have average hair thickness. I'm also not worried because, early on, I was pretty good at getting my protein in. I've started taking biotin...I'll let you know how that works.
Drain hair after one shower!

Lastly, another problem I've run into is pain- not from surgery, but just from life in general. I have a bad back and a bad knee; since I can no longer take ibuprofen and Aleeve, my doctor prescribed me Ultram, a non-narcotic pain medication. The problem is, it does nothing for me! My back pain was so bad yesterday, I could barely get out of my car. I've had my tens unit running non-stop....I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow to figure out what we can do. No doc...please don't suggest massage therapy =)

Because of my knee and my back (and killing myself at work), I'm not getting in my exercise like I should. My goal is to get better habits and make exercise a regular thing as soon as I'm physically able. Part of me is a bit nervous about exercising and sweating...I'm worried I'll just dehydrate myself again. I need to find the perfect balance.
I'm happy to report that I still can't eat much; I'm so full so quickly! I've been doing great with getting all of my protein in just eating real food. I haven't had to have a protein shake in a long time. 
Even with these problems popping up, I'm still thrilled with my results and I'd highly recommend this surgery. In fact, I've had a few friends talk to me and share that they're starting this journey. I'm so excited for them and happy to help them as much as I can; everyone deserves to feel happy and healthy! 

HW: 380lbs.
SW: 283lbs.
CW: 250lbs.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

It's easier than being obese

Hell, lots of things are easier than being obese.
Society isn't kind when you wear your problems on the outside.

At four weeks post-op, I went back to work. I'd been dreading this because it was already hard to get in all my fluids and protein when I'm sitting at home doing nothing- I'd anticipated it to be really difficult when I returned to my job as a nursing assistant in a hospice center. I spend 12 hours running after call lights, bed alarms, phones, bathing, feeding, bending, lifting,'s hard to take time to take care of yourself when you're taking care of others.

On top of that, I went back to work to a full-time position and on day shift; ultimate craziness. When you're house hunting though, full-time income helps.

The title of this post comes from a conversation I had with a colleague my first day back; everyone knew why I was gone for 5 weeks. I have a blog about my surgery, so it's no surprise that I'm pretty open about it. She stopped me in the hallway to ask how I was, did I have any complications, and what my life looked like now- "how much can you eat? How about drinking?"
Lots of people ask these questions and I don't mind patiently answering them. After I explained to her that I have to measure out 3 oz of food every time I eat, she asked "isn't that hard?" My response popped into my head instantly: "it's easier than being obese". The look on her face made it seem like my answer really struck home for a light came on.

Yes, my new lifestyle is hard. I'm constantly measuring food, liquid, checking the time to see if it's been 30 minutes so I can resume drinking, has it been three hours already? I need to eat again, tracking my protein intake, tracking my water, being sure to exercise, and lately, fighting off nausea every time I eat or isn't the easy way out. It's not for everyone. It takes discipline and commitment, same as losing weight any other way. The difference is, this way is more efficient and effective.
-stepping down from the soapbox-

My first day back went fine...I got all of my protein in, despite my nausea, and came in a little short on my fluids despite stopping and sipping every time I passed by the nurses' station. I only felt pain in my abdomen a few times when bending/lifting. My coworkers were great about not letting me do too much lifting, but's part of the job.
On July 1st, I was graduated from pureed foods to soft foods- canned chicken, tuna, greek yogurt, soft cooked vegetables, things like that. I think that's why I'm having the nausea; my system may be in shock after being on liquids/pureed foods since May 28th when I started my pre-op diet.
The scale is stuck at 30lbs lost. It's frustrating, but to be expected. I'm still losing inches. The clothes I wore before surgery are now too big and the smaller clothes I had when I lost weight the first time are now fitting me. I'm trying to get out and be more active, but it's hard when you're so exhausted from taking in minimal calories. I feel like I could nap 24/7.

Another problem that's reared it's ugly head is my menses- between my polycystic ovarian syndrome and my endometriosis, periods are rough for me. Guess what weight loss triggers? For me, it was a two-week long period coupled with some of my ovarian cysts rupturing. Before surgery, the only thing that moderately helped was ibuprofen, and lots of it. I'm no longer able to take ibuprofen because it can cause stomach ulcers in my tiny new stomach; my only option is Tylenol, which is USELESS when it comes to ruptured cysts and endometriosis. I had to call my doc and ask her for Ultram, a "narcotic-like" pain reliever (I put that in quotes because, seriously? This stuff isn't stronger than tylenol, though is is better at taking care of period pain....but whatever).

As of Wednesday, I'll be 5 weeks out. Stats so far:
HW: 380
SW: 283
CW: 263
I'm gonna buckle down and see how much ass I can kick this week.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The things you learn after surgery

After having weight loss surgery, you have to learn your new stomach- you have to learn how to eat, how much to eat, what not to eat, how fast/slow to eat....I can understand why doctors advise taking at least a month off after surgery.

I'm pretty much healed up 23 days out...I still have some tightness/burning/pulling from my incisions, but nothing too bad. I go back to work next week. Honestly, I'm kind of nervous about it. Even when I'm home and not busy, I have to constantly work at/focus on my eating and drinking- getting enough fluids and protein in is hard with a 2oz stomach. How am I going to do it working in a field like healthcare where I'm constantly running for 12 hours? I had a hard time eating and drinking at work with a full-sized stomach!

Other things I've figured out include:

- When I get the hiccups, I'm full.
- I can now rattle off the protein content of nearly every food.
- My body DOES NOT like sugar (cue dumping syndrome)
- Bariatric vitamins are the DEVIL- they taste horrible and I have to eat 3 a day.
- My stomach is so noisy and loud after I eat, I can't be around sleeping babies.
- I have so much energy, it's ridiculous.

Also, 23 days out and I'm down 30lbs! (from starting my pre-op diet)
HW: 380
SW: 283
CW: 263

Thanks for being a part of my journey- I hope to inspire someone reading this and give them hope that there is a way to win this battle.

Everybody have a safe 4th!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Starting the after

Wow...I can't believe tomorrow is two weeks since my surgery. It's been such a hectic two weeks; I should have blogged sooner.

I had my surgery June 10th at 11:30- they got me into the pre-op area where I was gowned, started my IV fluids, got my vitals, took a pregnancy test, weighed in, yadda yadda...

They gave me something on the way into the OR to start the process of putting me under; I remember getting into the OR, transferring over to the surgery table, talking with the staff, and then it was lights out.

Surgery took about an hour and a half- waking up took me another two hours.

Waking up from anesthesia is the hardest and most miserable thing: you're in pain, you're nauseated, you can't feel like the biggest complainer in the world. Nurses in recovery have to be the most patient people in the world. I got dose after dose of every pain and nausea medicine they could possibly give me. I had a catheter inserted during surgery which really wasn't a terrible thing; what was horrible was having a crotch full of goo from the lube they use to insert it.

Have I mentioned that anesthesia removes your ability to filter what you say? I saw a good-looking male nurse walking around in recovery and told my nurse that, if I were single, I'd have asked that male nurse to help me with my itchy crotch-full-of-goo situation. She laughed and told me he played for the other team (true story- he ended up being the nurse helping me to my room and helping me put on a clean hospital gown/transferring me to the bed...and I think he had heard about my earlier request for his assistance....I still wasn't embarrassed). 

Once in my room, I was hooked up to a pain pump that gave me .2mg of Dilaudid every ten minutes (another true story- I watched Jeopardy that night and pretended that it was my episode. EVER). I also had continuous IV fluids. My family didn't stay long because it was after 3 when I woke up, and I told them to go so they wouldn't have to fight rush hour traffic. I laid there and dozed off and on most of the evening anyways...who wants to sit around and watch that? 
After surgery selfie!

The pain pump did its job, but I did have some intermittent nausea, so I had to request some IV Zofran every now and then; the first 24 hours after surgery, you're NPO. The next day, I had to go down to x-ray and swallow some contrast so they could check and see if I had any leaks. The contrast tastes as good as it sounds; it's thick and syrupy as well. I thought several times that I was gonna puke on the poor guy doing my x-ray. When I got to turn around and see my new stomach, it was shocking; it looked like a Twizzler. It was so small that even the doc, who sees sleeve gastrectomy stomachs on a daily basis, remarked "wow, he made it really small". This isn't my actual stomach, but this looks very similar (and just a bit bigger)
After my surgeon came in and checked on me, I was discharged home with Zofran for nausea, Percocet for pain, and Omeprazole for acid reflux, which is common after this procedure. The ride home was painful- it definitely makes you realize how many holes are in the road. I settled in with some Percocet and went to bed. A few hours later, I woke up to a huge wave of nausea; fortunately, I had a pan next to the bed because it was anticipated. Unfortunately, it was behind me and I was so sore, I couldn't move fast enough to grab it, so I ended up puking on the bed. It was all yellow bile except for one, pea-sized blood clot. I probably should have been more concerned about it but, at 2am, I wasn't. I was still NPO, so I had water and Jello the next day. I probably didn't take in more than 200cc's of fluid, it was so hard. I was so sore; sleeping was horrible because it's hard to get comfortable sleeping on your back when you're a stomach sleeper. I ended up doing a lot of sleeping in my recliner. 

The first 4 days after surgery were horrible because of the pain, nausea, and trying to stay hydrated.I have 5 incisions; the incision that hurt the most (and still does) is the one furthest to my right- that's the incision where they insert the hook that lifts up your liver so they're able to get to your stomach.
incisions 3 days post-op

We went on vacation 4 days after surgery. Nothing too far away or extravagant- we just went a few hours away to the Indiana Cave Trail in southern Indiana. It was a little hard at first because I was taking in so few calories and had little energy. I ate mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and drank protein shakes. I could only eat about 2 oz at a time. My biggest struggle was getting in 48-64 oz of fluid a day. Even now, 13 days out, I still have to sit here and focus on drinking constantly. I'm just getting to the point that I get in all my fluid plus 40-60 grams of protein. 
I'm no longer needing my pain medication, but I do still need my anti-nausea and reflux medicine. I've backed off from the protein shakes (I may have one every other day) and I'm eating things like scrambled eggs with cheese (1 egg), italian baked ricotta (super delicious), refried beans with cheese, and string cheese. I made the mistake one night of having some canned chicken and it was incredibly painful....Sleevie Wonder wasn't ready for that yet. 
My only complication at this point is that my top incision is getting infected- I noticed it looked red yesterday and when I was cleaning it, I gave it a gentle squeeze and a pea-sized ball of green pus came out, followed by serous fluid. My two week follow-up is tomorrow morning, so I'm just keeping it clean and watching it.

I went into surgery weighing 283 lbs- today, 13 days later, I'm down to 272. Counting my pre-op diet weight loss, I've lost 22lbs since May 28th. 

So, my stats are:
HW- 380lbs
SW- 283lbs
CW- 272lbs

Can't wait to watch those numbers drop!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end....

13 days ago, I started my pre-op diet; I've been surviving on protein shakes, Carbmaster yogurt, sugar-free jello, oatmeal, raw veggies, sugar-free pudding, and soup. Lots and lots of soup. I've been hangry the entire time; my road rage is off the hook. I'm just thankful I haven't been at work terrorizing my poor coworkers and patients. My poor brain is suffering from the lack of calories- I feel like I've been in a fog for a good week now. And don't get me started on the exhaustion....
My life for the last 13 days

I'm not nervous about the surgery; I'm more excited than anything. I'm excited to gain back my confidence. I'm excited to not feel self-conscious every time I go outside. I'm excited about my back not hurting me. I'm excited to actually enjoy buying clothes. I'm excited about enjoying life.

I want to try ziplining. I want to try aerial yoga. I'd love to take up horseback riding again. Oooh, surfing....definitely gonna try surfing at some point.

It's also a break-up from one of the longest and unhealthiest relationships I've had. I've been over 200lbs since I was in the 6th grade. I wore women's size 16 pants in the 6th grade. I've always been the biggest person out of all my friends, my graduating class, hell....even my family there for a while.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about living a healthy life from my two years living a low-carb lifestyle...I was wrong.
I had no idea that I was a stress eater. I caught myself doing it a few times. I'm breaking up with that bad habit. 

I'm breaking up with seeking comfort from food.
I'm breaking up from celebrating life with food. 

I'm moving on and I'm gonna enjoy everything else life has to offer. 

My highest weight is 380lbs- I got down to 237lbs after two years on a low-carb diet with Phentermine. Then it stopped working and I gained back almost 60lbs while still living a (mostly) low-carb lifestyle. Surgery is an extreme measure, yes, but I'm an extreme situation; I can gain weight without batting an eye and I've seen how high it can get (PCOS+poor diet= BIG PROBLEM). Even after starving myself for the last 13 days, I've lost 11lbs. It would take nothing for me to put it back on.

The exciting thing is, after I get below 237lbs, every day that I get on the scale, I'll be at my new lowest adult weight.

So here's how my stats are gonna read from now on:
HW(highest weight): 380
SW(surgery weight): 284 (the scale may be a pound or two lighter in the morning)
CW(current weight): ???

I'm ready for tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Counting down...

As of yesterday,I'm officially scheduled and educated for surgery (have I mentioned it's June 10th?)

I was nervous because of the 4lbs I was told I had to lose before I could be approved surgery; I was committed the entire two weeks to replacing meals with protein shakes, exercising, food journaling, eating right....with my clothes on, I just barely made it. I'll admit, the night before my appointment, I took stool softeners (every bit helps). My appointment wasn't until 1pm, so no eating all day.
I had my morning coffee and a protein shake- that's it. Standing naked on the scale, I came in 6lbs lighter! I took a pic, in case my clothes put me over the limit. I was the third one to sign in, and the first to be called back (probably because my ass was on the line if I didn't lose the 4lbs). I got on the scale at the office- tah dah! 

Still 6lbs lighter- and I'm still bloated and on my period(yes, mine can last 2+ weeks). They also took pictures and measurements so I can see and measure how much I'm shrinking when I go for my two week, six week, three month, six month, and yearly follow-ups.

Along with my weigh-in, I had my consent signing, pre-op, and post-op nutrition class yesterday. Being that I spent 2+ years living a low-carb lifestyle, I already knew a lot about protein intake and how to maximize it. I learned that I'll have a catheter inserted before surgery (ugh...yay) and that I get to start soft foods only three days after surgery; I'd thought it was only liquids for the first two weeks! Not that soft/pureed foods sound appealing.....

I spent all yesterday evening looking at David and just squealing "I'm having surgery in less than a month!" and his response was just a blank stare- he's 170lbs on his heaviest day, so he has no idea how exciting this is. 

Nobody knows how exciting this is for me. Today, I start crying every time I think about this because I'm so damn happy...and hopeful. I haven't felt this much hope in a very long time. I was 237lbs at my lowest adult weight, and that was with starving myself and living at the gym; that's no way to live life, drinking 1 protein shake a day and being miserable and hungry all the time. 

I was 292lbs yesterday at my weigh-in. Granted, my heaviest weight ever is 380lbs, but still...gaining back 55lbs that you've already lost is incredibly depressing. I have so few clothes that fit me anymore, I hate to leave the house because I'm so uncomfortable in my body, my knees hurt, my back hurts: I'm more miserable now than I was when I was almost 100lbs heavier.

Someone asked me a few days ago if this surgery would shorten my life; realistically, because of how much this is going to improve my health, it's going to prolong it. Honestly, I'm to the point that I would still do it if it shortened my life by five years- it's not about quantity of life, but quality. I'm depressed and miserable right now: if my weight stays like this (or, most likely, I'd keep gaining), my quality of life isn't worth it.

I just want to be able to live a full life without being depressed, in pain, self-conscious, and miserable. I firmly believe this is the solution. 

I'm ready.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Take the bitter with the sweet (surgery date!)

...........June 10th! My surgery will be on Wednesday, June 10th. It's not the two-week window of the last two weeks of May that I was given, but I'll take it.

Now we just have to re-work our vacation, work schedules....but, whatever. 

I go back on May 11th for my pre-surgery nutrition seminar and to sign consents....and to get re-weighed.

I started my period yesterday and it did me no good to explain to my MALE surgeon that I tend to gain about 10lbs of water weight around my period (hey, I have PCOS and endometriosis....there's a lot in inflammation going on there).

He didn't believe me and said that, to show that I'm still committed, I have to lose 4lbs in the next two weeks.

Ugh.....fucker (that's kind of the period talking, but not really).

I also have to go see my PCP for a pre-op physical, which I've already got scheduled for June 1st.

So for now, I'm just working on making a birthday cake-flavored protein shake since my birthday is 9 days after surgery.....happy early birthday to me!
(this will easily be the most expensive (and best) birthday present I ever get).