Saturday, January 30, 2010

Re: How is it possible to be invisible at 300 lbs?

I honestly don't see how I can get any more cynical. I lost 100 lbs a few years ago, and I remember well how much better people treated me. I was still positive and social during my regain, but it was difficult not to notice the positive attention - and any attention - toward me drift away. I know how the world chooses to ignore people; it drives you to becoming a caricature, a jester, a nursemaid - anything that would make you more likable than your outward appearance. I'm sick of fronting. I'm looking forward to finding out who I am going to be when I'm not fat.
So there's that,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Deep Seated

I went to see Baby Wants Candy on Friday night, and barely noticed my new "wow" moment.  I could sit in the auditorium seats without the arms crushing my thigh fat.  I didn't have to "commit to a thigh" and sit with an unnatural leg cross all night.  I fit in the seat!  And I could use the arm rests!  I didn't have to hold my arms across my chest to keep them from flopping onto the person next to me!

I would think there aren't many readers who know what this feels like.  Just imagine if everything you currently do feels completely awkward, uncomfortable, painful...pretty much contrary to the way things should feel.  Then imagine that you start gaining comfort one step at a time.  The chair in your doctor's waiting room doesn't buckle beneath you.  The elastic on your underwear doesn't dig into your thigh.  You can cross your legs without going numb within a minute.  It's pretty awesome, the freedom.  You'd blog about it, too.

So there's that,


Sunday, January 24, 2010

To the Hesitant Pre-Op

I'm 28 years old, no comorbidities besides hypothyroidism, 47 BMI, family history of diabetes, and about 150 to lose. I'm six weeks out, and it's probably been the best 6 weeks of my life. No major pain after surgery that wasn't managed by good meds in the hospital. The day after surgery I felt sore, as if I'd done a bunch of sit-ups. I walked 2 miles worth of laps around my hospital floor that day, and I've been moving ever since.

I went back to work after 3 weeks, and had a hypoglycemic episode on the bus on the way to work. Totally my fault - I thought I could wait to eat until I got to work. Lesson learned - eat first thing in the morning! I've been fine ever since. I started hitting the gym again at 3 weeks, taking it easy on my upper body and core. Tomorrow I start working out full force. I haven't been tired or depressed since surgery.

Obviously not everybody can say their recovery was as good as mine. Everybody's different. My advice is start working out now; I credit my quick recovery to a regular workout regimen for the past 2 years. I work for surgeons, and that is always their advice. Do right by your body now. Also, don't be too "strong" for pain medication. They give it to you so that you can feel comfortable enough to live your life without the pain in the foreground. I took my meds regularly and was off them after 1.5 weeks. Haven't taken a pill since.

Most importantly, be positive. There's a good possibility that your recovery is gonna suck for at least a hot minute, but it will get better. Manage your expectations. I truly feel that this has been a gift for me, and I'm so happy to have done this now than to waste any more of my precious life worrying about my diet. This surgery has given me everything I need to move on and enjoy the things in my life that don't involve food!

So there's that,


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Has Beans

Today was bagel day at work, so I brought in a gluten free frozen waffle to give myself some normalcy. I can only eat half of the waffle with some peanut butter, but it's something.

For lunch I made a date with an old high school pal who just started a job near my office. He'd been in Chicago for a year and a half, and until now I hadn't made any effort to hang out with him. I was too much of a hermit.

Anyway, I knew he loved Popeye's chicken, so I suggested we eat there. I had a side of red beans and rice. It went down really well, but daaamn Gina! I could have slept for 5 hours when I got back to work. Carbs make me sleepy!

This brings me to another topic - smell. This sense is getting stronger.

I used to eat beans all the time. Now the smell of refried beans makes me want to hurl. The other night, I made a mini tortilla pizza with refried beans, chicken, cheese, and salsa, and I could barely stand it. Now there's 4/5 of a can of refried beans in my fridge, and even though it's sealed in Tupperware, I can smell it as soon as I open the door. I have to throw them out. It's so bad that I don't even want to open the Tupperware; I just want to throw it down the garbage chute and never deal with it again.

I used to love this herbed turkey breast from Trader Joe's, but now the smell of rosemary and sage makes me gag. It's too fragrant!

I can smell people's breath on the bus. I can smell their hair. I hated the smell of cologne before? Now I want to put anyone who wears too much cologne into "work" camps. Give them a "haircut" and a "shower." Is it so much to ask for a nation of olfactory purity?

So there's that,


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

That '70s Show

I had a delightful weigh-in today, clocking in at 279. I probably haven't seen this number since 2006 when I was on the climb after my last big weight loss.

So far I've lost 29 lbs since my pre-op weigh-in, and 56 lbs since I began this process in May 2008. I feel awesome.

So there's that,


Monday, January 18, 2010

Wow Moment #2

When I sit in a forward-facing bus seat, my knees aren't wedged against the back of the seat in front of me. I took a picture:

I've lost my butt shelf. I can now feel the entire length of my spine resting comfortably on the back of a chair, or against the back of the bathtub. It's a strange feeling, not having that gap between my butt and the center of my back when I sit down. I don't think the small of my back has had contact with anything other than my bed in a LONG time. My back feels better too!

So there's that,


Sunday, January 17, 2010

The $25 Bite

I was out window shopping yesterday afternoon, and it had been about 4 hours since I drank my morning protein shake. I needed a protein rich meal, stat.

I decided to stop by The Counter for their burger in a bowl. From what I remembered, the portion size wouldn't be too difficult to handle - you get just over 5 ounces of meat served over spring mix greens and your choice of garnishes. I figured I could get a serving of their fried pickles, too; in my pre-op days, the pickles were positively paltry.

You can see where I'm going with this. What arrived was an insurmountable obstacle of food. There were probably 20 thickly sliced fried pickles in front of me, and I could only deal with one before digging into my main course. I went for the monthly special - an easily digestible crab cake with bacon cole slaw. I should've asked the server to bring me the crab cake by itself; I couldn't even contemplate the lettuce and attendant condiments. I asked for a little plate so that I could dose out my crab cake, which was beautiful and full of lumpy crab and very little filler. I'm sure the server took one look at my untouched plates and thought I was some kind of freak.

It took me 90 minutes to eat the 5-ounce crab cake plus one more fried pickle. I passed the time enjoying this guy's book. With tip, my meal came out to $25.

I learned a few things. Don't go to a sit-down restaurant when I'm starving and by myself. Go someplace with soup. Go to the grocery store and get something at the deli. Get the right portions for a better price. If I do go somewhere, it's gotta be the best of the best; I don't mind shelling out cash for a once-in-a-lifetime meal. But a crab cake? Bitch you high.

Most importantly is that I was confronted with how I saw food portions before surgery. I used to think those fried pickles were a rip-off because I could still see the bottom of the plate when they arrived. Now they look Brobdingnagian, as if I could use one of them to slide down a snowy hill. I had to break down that crab cake and move it section by section to a smaller plate so it didn't look so bestial. Eating? Not as easy as it used to be. And that is good.

So there's that,


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wow Moment #1

I was in the dentist's chair today, and noticed that my arms fit inside the arm rests!  They rested comfortably on my waist and thighs, my elbows not buoyed by my FUPA and hip fat.

This is a pretty big event, as I normally have to hold my arms hoisted on top of my belly while I'm lying back in the chair.  Otherwise, they would just flop out over the sides of the chair, knocking the drill out of my dentist's hands and into my eyes.  Then I would be blind.

I was not blinded today.  This is good.

So there's that,


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baby's First Dump

Guh.  I had my first episode of dumping syndrome today. 
I went out to lunch with friends and chose the protein-rich chili at Potbelly Sandwiches.  The chili went down quite well, but my mistake was to follow that up with a couple of Zapp's Creole Onion potato chips.  Pretty soon, the flakes of potato swelled and queued up in my esophagus like Netflix.
I spent the rest of my lunch time trying to comfortably wait out the push through my Mini Fridge.  After the walk back to work, the Fridge started to defrost: I spent the next half hour hovering over the toilet, sweating, dry heaving and spitting up foam.  Blech.
It's not pretty, but it passes.  This was yet another lesson - ease up on the carbs, stop eating when you feel the pressure.  You can't ride a bike without having training wheels first, and even then you're bound to get some scraped knees.
Tonight's my first RNY Support Group meeting at the hospital.  I'm pretty pumped to meet all the other people who've had the procedure, and I'll be sure to submit a full report in my next post.
So there's that,


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stuck in the Middle

When food gets stuck on the way to or from my Mini-Fridge, it feels like a heart attack.  The only thing that makes it better than a heart attack is that I know stuck food will pass.
Yesterday rice was the culprit.  I had a cup of jambalaya soup from Whole Foods, and the combination of swelling rice, chicken and broth made my stomach say "fuck you" to my body.  When it happens, I have to take a few laps around the office or find a quiet corner of the handicapped bathroom stall and have a silent freak-out session against the wall, my arms stretched overhead.  Last week it was tuna that made me re-enact my own version of The Crying Game.  No matter how moist tuna, rice or chicken is, it's never moist enough.  That's what she said.
Lesson learned.  I'm watching for the signs of stuck food so I can stop it before it starts.  The signs:  pressure underneath the left ribcage, lower back pain, tightness in the chest as a morsel of food raises its middle finger to me.  Well joke's on you, stuck food - I can't see your middle fnger.
But I can feel it.
So there's that,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thoughts on Why

I think there are a few reasons behind my obesity. I've always been overweight - as a kid I had an adorable layer of dimples and baby fat, and that turned into cellulite and stretch marks in my teens. I had a great childhood, but there was trauma. I think what's most influential is that food has always been associated with love and family. Every one of our big family events were centered around food and the kitchen. I spent time in my grandma's kitchen every day, and I remember watching her cook and helping her, eating little dough balls that she'd give me from the dumpling tray, helping her whip egg whites for cream pies and make bear-shaped pancakes. She always had treats for us - gum, sugar cereal, ice cream.

At home my mom was diet crazy, for my sake. She was thin, my sister was thin, my dad was big and muscular, but I was chubby. I associated her lame corn flakes with punishment and my grandma's Lucky Charms with reward. My grandma died when I was 9, so the food shackles went on full force after that. When I got my first job at 15, I used the first paycheck to buy Cookie Crisp cereal and Fruit Roll-Ups...all my long lost treats.

I guess I started to feel entitled, too. When I kicked ass, I would reward myself with food. Unfortunately, I kicked ass all the time. So what do you do?

So there's that,


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wurq It!

I started my day off with a cool glass of skim milk and a few tablespoons of thick Greek yogurt.

(Hey 'Mantha, doesn't "skim milk" and "thick Greek" make you laugh like the old Boardman days?)

I scored a seat on the bus, and I didn't sweat my makeup off during a Shelby attack, strangers hovering over me yelling for juice. Cooperate please!

Today was my first day back to the gym after 3.5 weeks! I fell back into the routine with no problems, taking it easy on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes. I felt good afterward, and I hope regular aerobic exercise will help me have more energy. Lots of post-ops report feeling fatigued after the first month, some saying it lasts until the 6th month. Someone said she started feeling more energy in her 6th month only because she started exercising. I figured it wouldn't hurt me to start early.

Of course, I don't plan to over-exert myself until I'm fully cleared for exercise at the end of the month. The doc and nutritionist told me that elliptical machines are fine for now, as long as I don't do too much with my arms.

I truly believe my physical fitness played a huge part in my easy recovery. It's a blessing that I adopted healthy habits years ago; I can't imagine going through this surgery without some idea of what good nutrition and physical fitness is. I'm not repulsed by the protein drinks and high-protein foods I have to eat. The only thing I don't like so much is that all my fruits and veggies have to be cooked until they're soft. You better believe that when I'm cleared for all foods, I'mma head out for a salad, first thing.

I get to be creative with food, and Lord knows how much I love that! I must include protein-rich foods at every meal, with a goal of 60-80 grams per day. Tomorrow's menu excites me:

Breakfast/mid-morning Snack (This is my office bagel day splurge):
1 gluten-free apple-cinnamon waffle, toasted
1 pack Justin's Cinnamon Peanut Butter, spread on waffle
1 c skim milk

Lunch/mid-afternoon snack:
2 chicken/bean burritos - refried beans and cheese rolled up in deli-sliced chipotle chicken breast and topped with salsa verde and cheese
1 applesauce cup

Salmon croquettes (recipe later)
2 oz canned peaches, baked with Splenda, cinnamon and cracker crust

As the post-ops say, I'm "working my tool," and having a fun time doing it. I'm packing the "Mini-Fridge" with good treats, and I be up in the gym wurqin' on my fitness!

So there's that,


Monday, January 4, 2010

Passed Out

Today was my first day back to work in 3 weeks. I thought it would be difficult to get up in the morning after 21 days of sweatpants and unscheduled sleep. Instead, I popped out of bed like it was the first day of school.

Against my better judgment, I left the house with barely a cup of water and some essential meds in my belly. I hadn't had anything in my stomach (henceforth, the "Mini-Fridge") in 12 hours. That's not good.

I figured I could make it to work before needing a protein shake. Hell, I'd lounged around for over an hour before eating on other mornings. Surely this wouldn't affect me.

Oh, it did.

I got on a crowded bus this morning, even though an empty one was right behind it. I wanted to get to work early on my first day, packed bus be damned. I was doing all right for awhile, standing in the aisle, bothered only by the unnecessary closeness of the guy behind me.

Then I got that spotty sparkly feeling that I get just before I pass out. I remember thinking, "Okay, I should probably ask someone for a seat. Nah, I'll just concentrate really hard on not passing out." Instead of concentrating, I ended up having a pleasant dream about singing the song Breathe from the hit musical In the Heights.

I came to, a blurry vision of my purple coat lapels splayed before me, a woman's voice, hands unbuttoning my coat and untying my scarf. A guy said, very sweetly, that I could have his seat. People in the front of the bus told the driver I was awake; the bus had been stopped on the shoulder of Lake Shore Drive, and once my safety was confirmed, he slowly merged back into traffic. "Are you diabetic?" No - just low blood sugar. "Are you okay?" Yeah, I just need to breathe. I breathed, shallow panting. I realized a woman's foot was stuck under my ass, and she was kind enough not to say anything about it or attempt to move it out from under me. After some breathing, I crawled into a seat.

We reached my stop a few minutes later, and the same nice lady that helped me asked me again if I was all right. I told her I was, thanks so much. I was still too shaky to feel embarrassed yet. I hustled the block to my office, and thankfully an empty elevator was open to rocket me to the 25th floor. I went straight to the bathroom and continued to shiver, sweat and shake. By this point, my shirt and sweater was drenched with sweat, and my long hair was soaked through.

It took all my strength to get my phone and call my friend/coworker Lyzz. She saw me come in, and asked me where I was. I told her, and asked if she could bring me some milk. She did, and she brought KH, one of the nurses who works in our office. KH was very nice, asked Lyzz to bring some sugar packets dissolved in a little water. I slowly downed the milk and sugar and began to feel better. KH took my pulse and blood pressure, and after a half hour or so, I felt good enough to get to my desk and deal with emails.

I learned my first post-op lesson: Always eat something FIRST thing in the morning! It's not worth spending the day wondering how many fellow commuters you crashed into on the way down to a dirty bus floor.

So there's that,


Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's Not You, It's Me

I'm breaking up with my boyfriend of 7 months today. Give me strength.

I drafted a pansy-ass email to him, but I don't really want to be the kind of person that breaks up over email. I've decided to call him tonight.

I'm not hurt or upset; I'm just very ready to end this. There's no passion there, and I feel like we're both holding out for the BBD - the bigger better deal. Neither of us deserve to be placeholders. I think we'll both be relieved at the end of the day, honestly.

This ends the civil tone of this transmission. Begin the bitchy tone: Two subs do not make a dom. He's too shy to make any moves, and so the hell am I. We even talked about this, THREE MONTHS AGO. Nothing. I'm just done with him. The guy's 36, and I completely understand why he's still single. He's not unattractive; he just has no MOVES. In that HE DOESN'T MAKE THEM. I never thought I would dislike someone who was so nonthreatening. Gah!

I know what it feels like to be desired, and to desire in return. I deserve to be desired. There's nothing - nothing - I crave about this man. Plus, he puts up this front all the time, that he's so blase about everything that nothing affects him. He acts like he's the authority on every subject. I've had very few real and frank conversations with him. I like him when he's honestly himself, but that's only 5-10% of the time. He's honest, but not genuine.

So, I guess it's time to break up.

So there's that,


UPDATE: He hasn't responded to the email yet. I take that to mean he's amenable to the terms...but he's not getting his book back.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year

Well hello!

These last few months have been a whirlwind of activity. I've worked, eaten, slept, watched endless hours of TV, slept some more, avoided people, and worked. I've been a sad little crab, content only in the shell she'd been living in for 3 years.

Oh...and I had gastric bypass surgery.

This was a fairly recent event. I went in on the morning of December 14th, awoke from the anesthesia in pain, slept until the next morning, and woke up feeling pretty ducky. It just felt like I'd come out of a three-hour ab class, sore from too many sit-ups.

My dad stayed with me that week, and my recovery went perfectly. The surgeon said I was the first patient he considered releasing on the day after surgery. The only issue was that I couldn't pee on my own after they removed the catheter. I didn't pee for 24 hours - until the morning of the 16th - then they said I was free to go.

The day after surgery, my dad and I walked laps around my hospital floor. This was so easy, we worked out 2 full miles throughout the day, and I went FAST! The only thing that held me back was the IV cart I had to drag around with me. The nurses were pretty stunned by my progress. The next day I did 2 more miles before I peed and was released, then dad and I walked around Michigan Avenue and the Apple Store before getting a bus home. It was pretty punk rock. That is, they didn't make me leave in a wheelchair, and we didn't go straight home to rest. I guess that's about as punk rock as you can get after surgery.

Dad and I did 3+ miles of walking and browsing the next day. After he left on Friday I did more of the same. My sister and nephew came up on Sunday, and we spent a few days together before driving home to Indiana on the 22nd. I had a follow up appointment that day - I dropped 7 lbs since surgery, and I was moved from liquid diet to soft foods. Lunchmeat, bitches!

I got back to Chicago on the 28th, and since then I've been experimenting with new ways to get protein into my diet. I have to eat 60-80 grams of protein everyday, and drink at least 64 oz of water. I've had no pain, no stuck food; I haven't overeaten. I can drink water like a mofo. I don't miss food; what I eat is limited to what I need. My whole day is an uncomplicated equation. I love it.

The last few nights I haven't been able to fall asleep until 1 or 2 am, only to wake up at 8 the next morning. That kind of sucks. And I've been grinding my teeth - that's not new, I hold stress in my jaw. I'll be sure to address that at my next dentist appointment in a couple weeks. I'm tired, but still active.

As of 12/28, I'm down 20 lbs since before surgery. I haven't seen "288" on the scale in probably 3.5 years. What's amazing is that I'll never have to see it again.

To say that I'm looking forward to what's ahead is an understatement. Never in my life have I been normal, and I know I never will be. It'll be interesting to see how I'm both looked at - and overlooked - as a thinner person. As usual, I'm not going to have high expectations about it. I just want to take it one day at a time and chew through this new life as slowly and completely as I have to with every bite of food.

So there's that,