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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Take a Pizza My Heart...

(Yes, the power is back on and I'm home--thanks for your concerns!)

I've been craving pizza--or something equally spicy. Well, yesterday, I went with Dorothy and two of her adorable grandsons out to a pizza buffet.  We asked the waiter if I could qualify for a kid's buffet as I am so limited to the amount of food I can eat.  He asked if I had the "card" that proved it.  A card?  There's a weight-loss-surgery card??  Why don't I have one of those? (Trust me, I'm calling my doctor's office about it!)

Anyway, the manager said I couldn't get a kid's buffet, but that I could order from the kids' menu.  I ordered an individual pizza which took a long time to arrive--and when it did, I ate the cheese and sauce of less than one slice and quickly became VIOLENTLY ill.  I was sick almost immediately after eating--and remained so all day.  Nausea, diarrhea, no vomiting, but I felt so very awful...

Ironically, pizza was always my favorite food--and now it makes me sick. Oddly enough, I think it's blessing...I always ate too much pizza when I ate it before the surgery, anyway!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Shot in the Dark

I think that I'm suffering from PTSD.  I know that people have been through far more traumatic events than a hurricane, but *I* haven't.  First, I went over alone to empty the refrigerator of spoiling food, then Dorothy and I rode over to my house today--I haven't exaggerated the damage at all; in fact, I may have understated.  And when I was there alone, I realized something very disquieting--I don't *love* my little cottage anymore.

I *did* love being ensconced in the woods--now I'm terrified.  Seriously.  I thought I was going to have a panic attack while I was emptying the fridge.  And then tonight, while I was safely in Dorothy's cool, well-lit living room, we had two massive thunderstorms come through.  I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  I just didn't want to go through that again.

You have to understand that there were at least 25 trees around me felled by this hurricane.  Literally every twenty minutes or so, I'd hear a loud "crack!" as if a gun had gone off--and another tree fell.  I sat alone, holding my breath, waiting to see if the next crack was the tree that was going to crush me to death in my formerly beloved cottage in the woods.

The toughest part was being alone.  I am a really strong woman, but this was devastation all around me and I couldn't do anything about it.  When it was all said and done, I jumped in the car and drove for three hours to go to Sonny's BBQ in Concord, NC.  I didn't want the food--I barely ate two ounces of pulled pork--but I wanted the *control*.  I needed to do something that was under *my* control.  So with the purchase of my lunch, I got enough food for three meals (at least), and I proved that at least for a little while, I was in charge of my life. 

And no, the power isn't on in my little cottage yet--I need a new electrical meter and then an inspection and then the wires run from the road--but I'm safe and dry and staying with a good friend.  I also can celebrate that I'm not out ruining my health by eating through this traumatic time--and for that, I'm completely grateful.  Dolly Parton said, "The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."  I agree with her--but after the past few days, I am so ready for that rainbow!




Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good Night, Irene

No post today because the power is still out at my house; am staying with my friend, Dorothy--thank God for good friends.  The damage here is unbelievable on multiple levels. Property damage must be in the millions--trees are down everywhere.  Four (I think) people in the state lost their lives, including the relative of some work friends. 

So rather than quipping something cute or profound, I want to just take a minute to say thank you to my friends who have been there for me.  Yesterday was the most frightening time I've ever spent as an adult--the trees around my little cottage lay in withered ruins, as does my relationship with my (now former) fiance.  

Good friends make life worth living...and hurricanes make you appreciate those good friends even more.






Saturday, August 27, 2011

About Face!


Here in NC, we’ve battened down the hatches and are ready to face Hurricane Irene. Well, at least some of us are ready…I don’t know what to expect as my house is surrounded by trees; the worst time to live in the woods, I guess, is during a hurricane.

But I don't want to post about the weather today. (I’m writing this Friday night and posting it automatically in case my power fails).  Instead, I want to post about my face. Yes, you read that right—my face.

My face is changing.  My chin is pointier; my cheeks are hollowed, my nose is more apparent.  It’s a strange sensation, looking into the mirror, expecting one face and seeing another.  I know that this is going to become more and more apparent as I lose more weight, and I have to learn to deal with it.  I thought about it today—and how I’ve looked at other people’s before-and-after photos.   I’ve wondered if they’ve dealt with the eeriness of confronting that new person, and today, I’m certain that they have.  It’s a little scary and more than a little exciting.  But the purpose of this blog is to help myself become more self-aware, and I am definitely doing that.

When’s the last time you studied *your* face?  Better yet, when was the last time you changed things up a bit?  Hairstyle?  Hair color?  New glasses?  Time for a change, maybe?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Feeling Stronger Every Day...


Just a short post today; school is back in session, and I’m tired.  I love my job, but teaching really takes a lot of energy.  And I’m lacking a bit in that department.

I spoke to my Aunt Rosie last night, who said she could tell that I was struggling and that she felt bad for me.  I didn’t realize that that was the message people are getting from this blog.  I’m really *not* struggling—not every moment of every day, anyway.

Yes, this is hard—and it *is* a period of adjustment, but overall, I am still excited about this journey.  I have lost almost thirty pounds since July.  This is a great accomplishment.  I’m going to be losing weight every week—also a great accomplishment.  In two or three months, I’m not going to even remember feeling any frustration, I’m sure.  I look back at this blog and am reminded I was in terrible pain right after the surgery, yet today, I don’t really *remember* that pain. 

So please don’t misunderstand…none of my friends have yet policed my food—yesterday’s post was anticipatory, if anything.  I’m hanging in there, just having good days and bad days—actually, closer to good days and bad moments.  And soon, the bad moments will be fewer.
So…I just want to thank you for hanging in there with me this long.  Three weeks!! And I’m getting better every day!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ack! It's the POLICE!!


I love my friends.  I do.  But I need to put this out there.  Please…I beg you, do NOT police my food.  You can’t possibly know what I should or should not be eating, because right now, *I* don’t know what I should or should not be eating.  I’m at a stage where I have to sample a variety of food to see if I can tolerate it.  I’m not going to suddenly “go off my diet”.  This isn’t a diet—I *can’t* actually go “off it”.  

I understand that your motivation is love and concern for me.  I know that.  And I really appreciate it, but this is a period of adjustment for me.  I don’t know yet what I will be able to eat.  I don’t know if room temperature water will always taste bad to me or if it’s just a temporary setback.  I don’t know if I’ll *ever* be able to eat popcorn again.  I just don’t know.  I am learning as I go along.

Wednesday afternoon, I went to Zaxby’s and bought a kid’s meal, consisting of two chicken tenders, crinkle fries and, surprise!, a Rice Krispies bar (which is tucked away in my desk drawer for a yet-undetermined future date).  I ate one chicken tender after peeling away most of the crispy breading.  It was very tender and very moist.  Better than that, though, it was delicious.  It tasted *so* good to me.  I also ate two and a half French fries.
And that was it.  I was full.  It was better than being full, though; it was *satisfying*.  And what did I ingest?  Maybe 200 calories?  Maybe.  But I kept it down; I don’t feel sick tonight; my energy level is up and so are my thoughts.  Oh, and just so you know--I threw the rest away.  I didn’t want to overeat.  I didn’t want to eat Zaxby’s again today—or even tomorrow.  But I got to try it, and it was delicious.

So please.  No policing.  Again, I understand that it is motivated by love.  But if you *really* love me, you’ll let me fall, stumble, and even succeed, on my own.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

With Our Compliments...

Long day at school today, but I loved it.  I got to see almost half of this year’s students—a lot of new kids and many nervous ninth graders!  It was fun, but the best part was seeing people I haven’t seen in a while and having them tell me, “You look really good!” (I can’t wait until my “baby birds” come home from college in October or November and come see me!  Ohhh, the compliments then!)

I wish I felt really “good” (it’s actually “well”, but I’m going to drop my grammar guard for a second).  I’m still so tired, but boy, did those compliments feel good.  And encouraging as well.  It’s nice to know that all this hard work is paying off!

I think that there is some kind of stigma associated with weight loss surgery—as if it’s a “cheat” or taking “the easy way out”.   Well, if you’ve been with me since the beginning, you *know* that there’s nothing easy about this—at all.  If I drink too quickly, I feel queasy.  Food *sounds* much better than it tastes—I had a shrimp today, and it was dreadful—rubbery and tasteless.  I’m living on mostly liquids still—and it’s boring! I no longer enjoy room temperature water—it has to be icy cold or it doesn’t taste good to me.

But I’m pushing through, which I know is the lesson I need to take from this experience.  As an educator, I know that we learn from all kinds of situations, and I’m learning from this one.  And today’s mini lesson?  Even the nastiest protein drink goes down smoothly with a compliment or two. 



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When In Doubt, Watermelon Will Move It Out!


Just a short post today.  Yesterday was my first day back at work, and I came home exhausted.  I know it’s going to take a while before I’m at 100 percent.  Still, I love what I do and really cannot wait to get back into the full swing of the school year.

About yesterday’s post—I realized this afternoon that I was sicker because of what I had not “passed” rather than what I had eaten.  Without going into great detail, my body is still trying to recover from this surgery and while things work *better* than they did, they are still a little…how do I say it…sluggish.  I'm happy to report that things improved after eating a few cubes of watermelon...

Still, early yesterday morning, I had a friend message me that perhaps it was the chicken—and that people she knew had had better success with shrimp following the surgery.  Wasn’t that sweet?  I am lucky to have such supportive people in my life.

It’s important to remember that no matter how lonely we might get that we are never truly alone.  I love my friends!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Eating to Live...


There’s a fine line between a hobby and an addiction.  If you collect spoons from each of the United States and get one of each, you have a good hobby.  If you have five spoons from each of the states, your collection is a little out of control.  If you love cats and have three to six, you have a lovely cat family.  If you have thirty, you are a hoarder.  If you eat to live, you’re doing it correctly.  If you live to eat, then you have a problem! 


Sigh. I have lived to eat, unfortunately. My life *has* been centered around food, and now I have to change it.  The challenge is daunting, but I’m trying.  Yesterday, I went to the movies, where I did *not* get popcorn, but I went to lunch afterward, which I’ve always done after seeing a movie.  I ordered what I thought was a good choice—grilled chicken tenderloins, mashed potatoes and carrots.  I managed to eat two very finely chopped ounces of the chicken and two bites of potato and carrot which I macerated with lots of chewing.


This food tasted so good to me, but last night, I didn’t feel well.  I felt full—hours later.  I was thirsty, but I couldn’t drink a lot of water because I was fighting that full feeling.  Today, I’m going full liquid again.  I need to.  Although I didn’t overeat—trust me, I didn’t—I don’t think my new pouch is ready for food like that.  This recovery is one step forward, two steps back. 


I think it’s important to note that I *wanted* this food more than *hungered* for it.  I recognize that this is a habit I need to break.  And it’s hard.  Really hard.  Still I’m encouraged by the fact that I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to feel better again.  That shows me I’m on the right track!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

If At First You Don't Succeed...Quit???


Have you ever set out to do something and then stopped completely because you were afraid you weren’t going to be very good at it?
I have.  When I was very young, my father said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”  I interpreted “well” as “perfectly”, and for years, if I’ve not been able to do something perfectly, I stopped trying to do it altogether.

That is not an option for me with this surgery.  It’s done, and for the rest of my life, I’ll be able to eat just 2-3 ounces at a time.  Don’t misunderstand—I’m not complaining.  In fact, I like the fact that I can’t self-sabotage anymore.  If I overeat, I’m going to get sick.  Very sick.  And as I’ve previously written, I hate getting sick. 

I had a little chicken salad last night, and it seemed to be all right for me.  It came from the Red & White and was so very finely chopped that it seemed like a safe choice.  I picked out the egg (because I don’t like it) and the celery (because it was huge and because I hate it).  The salad was delicious to me, even though I ate just a forkful. (Which means I'll also have it today for lunch!)

Before the surgery, I wouldn’t have stopped at a forkful.  Or even two or three.  I probably would have emptied the half-pound container.  Now I have chicken salad to last over six meals! In fact, I’ll probably be sick of chicken salad before it’s gone, and I’ll end up throwing it out.  As good as those mashed potatoes tasted to me the other day, I’ve since thrown them out, too.  I need to invest in a Seal N Save or other sealer as I’m going to be portioning things out and freezing them for ease.  Can you imagine how far a one-pound pork tenderloin will go when I’m eating such small portions? 

The patient book from the surgeon says that we should eat the very best food given the fact that we can eat so little.  That makes sense to me—and even though initially the “best” may be more expensive, if it’s better quality and it’s going to be spread out over several meals, why shouldn’t I buy the best?  After all, (with apologies to L’Oreal), I’m WORTH it!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Do You Want 'Butter' On That?


Movie theatre popcorn is one of the worst snacks you can enjoy.  A “small” at the Regal theatre I attend is 11 cups, 34 grams of saturated fat, 550 mgs. of sodium and 670 calories! (And that’s without that fake butter stuff, too!)  Add a “small” soda—which isn’t small at all—and a matinee becomes an expensive proposition!

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, if you only do it once in a while…”, and *if* you only do it once in a while, then you’re right.  But I go to the movies nearly *every* weekend!  To my credit, I have almost always purchased a “kiddie combo” which is probably a third of the popcorn/calories, but I have done it every weekend!  And then Yahoo! Movies started a promotion for the summer where you can get a free small popcorn just by checking in at the theatre on your smartphone. Boy, did that free popcorn cost me in the long run!  Financially, it seemed prudent—I could get free popcorn but had to buy the soda.  My “kiddie combo” costs $5.25.  A small soda costs $4.75, so I was “saving money” by getting the free popcorn, right?  

Saving money, maybe—but calories?! It stuns me to think that a small popcorn has HALF the normal adult’s caloric intake for the DAY.  Again in my defense, I never ate the *entire* bag, but still! 670 calories!

I went to the movies yesterday afternoon with my friend, Dorothy.  I almost always go alone, but I was afraid that the popcorn smell would get to me.  I didn’t need to be afraid.  It didn’t bother me at all! I enjoyed the movie—we saw “The Help”—but I truly didn’t miss the popcorn.  

This was a great lesson for me—I needn’t fear that which hasn’t yet happened, and I am stronger than I realize.  I know that I keep saying things about how strong I am, but the truth is, I *am* stronger than I thought—and every day I surprise myself with small victories.  And large or small, aren’t victories what it’s all about?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Firsts...


Today was a day of firsts.  I went to the doctor for my first post-surgical appointment, and I have lost...drumroll,please...20.5 pounds! Yay!  Including the five I lost before surgery, I am down a total of 25.5.  It’s a pretty good start, I think.  I knew that I had lost some weight—after all, I’ve been on liquids for two weeks, but still—20.5 pounds! 


First number two: I got to eat mashed potatoes!  My friend Dorothy, who has been kind enough to drive to Cary the last three times I’ve gone to the doctor, needed dinner, so we went to TGI Friday’s, where she had the sizzling cheesy chicken, and I ordered a side of mashed potatoes.  Never mind that I had about two spoonsful and had to stop—those potatoes were delicious! (And inexpensive--$1.99 for the side, and I have at least two more meals in that take-home container!)  First number three: I bought some watermelon cubes tonight—my snack portion was two cubes.  It was cold and sweet and delicious, and I savored every bite.  


It is actually early for me to start “pureed” foods; I wasn’t scheduled to start them until Saturday, but my doctor was impressed with my progress and the fact that I haven’t had *any* nausea or vomiting.  Those of you who know me know that I have to be *dying* to vomit in the first place—ugh…just HATE it.  He said that I could start adding one food at a time, including refried beans (love them), soft scrambled eggs (dislike them) and hummus. (I’ve never had it but made of chick peas, it’s filled with protein.  Guess it’s time to try it…)


One complaint I haven’t shared with you is that I’ve been rather weak and fatigued the past two days.  Turns out that I’m right on schedule for *that*, too.  Dr. Enochs says that the two-week mark seems to be the time for these feelings as it’s about two weeks out of surgery that the body begins to use its protein reserves.  This means I need to step up the protein.  I need to take in 50 to 60 grams of protein every day.  Now that might not seem like a lot, but remember—that’s in 2 ounce increments!  Good thing that unflavored protein powder can be added to just about ANYTHING!


It’s been an incredible two weeks…thanks for sticking around--I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me next!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

High Style...


I’m a huge “Sex & the City” fan.  I have been from the beginning of the series in 1998 on HBO. (I own the entire series, 1998-2004, on DVD)  And I’ve followed “the girls” ever since—even though the second movie was rather bad!  Throughout the years, Carrie and company have worn some pretty great—and some pretty terrible—outfits.  Some I’ve absolutely adored while others left me cold.  Who defines “great fashion”?  What is “style”?

I’ve never really pursued *my* style.  As a fat woman, I’ve certainly been limited to styles that 1) were available, and 2) fit and covered me adequately.  It has been less about fashion and much more about comfort, too.  Pants with elastic waists.  Waists that stretched and allowed me to gain (and gain) without really even noticing.  Tops that ballooned rather than clung.  

The idea of having a different body to dress is a high concept—one that’s both scary and exciting.  My youngest brother,Kriss, who is without a doubt my *favorite* brother, said to me, “I’ve never known you thin.”  He’s right—he really hasn’t because he was only three when I first made that conscious decision to protect myself using food.  He’s never known me thin, and truth is, neither have I.  I was chubby kid, although certainly not obese.  I was a bookish kid—not at all athletic.

Yet today I was looking in to Zumba classes.  They actually have “gold” level classes for those of us who are really out of shape or just beginning a program.  I can’t join until next month because I’m still on some restrictions, but I am going to see if I can observe a class toward the end of this month.  I think it will be fun as well as good exercise.  I’m also going back to the Y…I love the pool; the hot tub and sauna are great little bonuses, too!

And I’m looking forward to this new me; even though it scares me, I’m pushing through.  This afternoon is my first post-surgical visit.  I know that I’ve lost weight—especially in my legs and breasts! My chin seems pointier to me.  There *is* going to be a new body when all is said and done…and it’s going to need dressing.  I can’t wait to find *my* style.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Food, Glorious Food...

George Bernard Shaw, the British dramatist, once said, “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”  Think about that for a minute.  I’ll wait.  Brilliant, wasn’t he?  We Americans love our food.  During any hour of television, a viewer is bombarded with no fewer than ten commercials, and the majority are food related.  We have every type of restaurant imaginable.  Food is the center of most of our lives.  Families and friends bond over it.  Love blossoms while we share a meal on a date.  It brings us joy and even healing.  Think about it--there's even a category of food called "comfort food".

I’m missing food.  Don’t misunderstand—I’m not physically hungry.  But I miss solid food.  I miss biting.  Crunching.  Chewing.  I think that a large part of this is psychological, and the part that *isn’t* psychological is habitual.

We are creatures of habit.  When was the last time you actually looked around while making your daily commute?  When did you last see, really see, what was going on around you?  When people ask how you are, do you give them a *real* answer or some perfunctory non-answer?  How many times have you eaten a meal without tasting it?  Bolted that breakfast or that sandwich without appreciating every bite?  When we do things as a matter of routine, we miss so many details.  While I’m missing solid food, I am also grateful for this interlude as it allows me to try to change some of my habits.

One thing this surgery does is force you to slow down. In taking in my limit (two ounces at a time), I have to take it over a thirty-minute period.  Thirty minutes.  When was the last time you took thirty minutes to eat a full meal, let alone two ounces?  Taking thirty minutes to savor a half of a pudding cup is an adjustment.  But this is a time of adjustments.  This is the beginning of a new life for me, and as I said before, it’s not for the faint of heart.  

I opened this with a quote from the venerable George Bernard Shaw.  Well, with apologies to Mr. Shaw, I humbly disagree.  The most sincere love of my life is not food--not any more, at least.  Today, there is no sincerer love than the love of SELF.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Overdone!


Why is it that we don’t know that we are overdoing until we have overdone?  Today, I decided I was feeling well enough to run a few errands.  Big mistake.

I went to the grocery store because I wanted to expand my “liquid” choices.  I bought some sugarless vanilla pudding cups, some sugarless yogurt and some sugarless Popsicles.  As a rule of thumb, I don’t like using sugar substitutes—I don't like the chemicals, and I think that the body doesn’t really know how to process them—but until my new little pouch is fully healed, I’m not supposed to eat anything with sugar. Apparently, my “new” body doesn’t know how to digest sugar and does some rather nasty things in its attempt to do so. 

I came home from the grocery store exhausted.  I spent maybe fifteen minutes in the place total, but between that and driving, I was done in.  I decided I’d just rest on the bed for a few minutes once I had the groceries put away.  Instead of a quick rest, I fell asleep, awaking nearly two hours later! When I awoke from the nap, I had to give myself the daily injection, and then I took Jack, my insane Corgi mix adoptee, to PetSmart.  While waiting to pay for my purchases at the pet store, I nearly passed out.  I came home, got into my nightshirt and haven’t moved from my bed since other than to get a half of a pudding cup for my evening snack.

Tomorrow is the first day of my work year, but I’m not able to return to work until I see my doctor on Thursday for my first post-surgical visit.  Part of me really wanted to go, and I was feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t.  However, after my little expedition today, I know I’m not quite ready.  After all, I had major surgery ten days ago!  And in this condition, a very little “doing” leads to “overdone”!