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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today, I am 57 years old.  Fifty-seven!  Where does the time go?  I remember dropping a bottle of cologne (Heaven Sent) out of my locker onto the tile floor of my high school.  The bottle shattered and the locker (and the lockers next to it) smelled of Heaven Sent for weeks!  It seems like it was yesterday...not 40 years ago!

Where DOES the time go? It's been more than three years since I had my surgery, and even that seems like yesterday.  But it's been a good three years...with ups and downs, of course, but a good three years, nonetheless.  

And I know that it's three MORE years than I might've had if I hadn't had the gastric bypass when I did.  I saved my life the day I decided to have the surgery.  There are few moments of absolute certainty in life, but the surgery saved my life--of that I am completely certain.

I was almost diabetic.  My blood sugars were borderline for a year or more before the surgery.  My blood pressure was high--to the point where my doctor was getting ready to put me on medication for it.  My cholesterol was always pretty good--but trust me, that's a reflection of good genes more than it is indicative of my previous lifestyle.

My life is very different.  I am able to do more today than I've been able to do in years.  There's a stable close to my house, and when I get paid again (this once-a-month pay is ridiculous!), I'm going to go horseback riding.  I haven't been on a horse since I was about 14 years old.  But I love horses--I love all animals, and I cannot wait to ride again!  On October 4, I'm going to Carowinds in Charlotte with a few of the teachers from school (all three of them are in their 20s!) to ride roller coasters and to scream and to have a FABULOUS day! 

Who says life begins at 30?  Or 40?  Or even 50?  For me, it started on August 5, 2011, six weeks before my 54th birthday.  Talk about a roller coaster ride!  Peaks and valleys and screams of glee...I am SO happy to be alive!

So yes, happy 57 to's looking forward to another 30 or so!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Little Girl Lost...

Before one has gastric bypass surgery, one has to go through some rather rigorous testing, including consultations with a cardiologist, gastroenterologist, nutritionist and psychologist.  I passed all these tests with flying colors, or I wouldn't have been able to have the surgery.  However, even with all the tests, with all the support, no one prepared me for what's going on in my life today.

I feel lost, for lack of a better term.  I don't recognize the person I used to look like, but I don't recognize the NEW body, either.  Here's a photo that my friend Dorothy took the day I had  my two-week post-surgical visit where I was (finally) allowed to eat solid food.  The photo commemorates my first bite of mashed potatoes.
By the time this photo was taken, I had lost about 20 pounds (and I had lost 5 before the surgery), so I probably weighed 280.  I honestly don't remember being THAT big. I KNOW that I was, but I never saw myself that big.

This photo was taken yesterday by my former student, Naomi.  We went to lunch and then shopping where I had to buy a belt.  (For the first time in my life!)  I wasn't sure that she was taking a photo of me--I actually thought she was taking a photo of the little dog sculpture.)

I'm not sure who that woman is.  Seriously.  It's MY shirt and purse, but whose BODY is that?  When people see me for the first time in a long time, they blurt, "You're so small!"  Cherry, at the Thai restaurant, said it.  Deborah, whom I hadn't seen in ages, didn't recognize me until I said, "It's me, Rhonda!"  Her reply was, "You're so small!"  So it must be true, right?  And yet, I don't FEEL small.  It's a bizarre paradox...I don't think I'm as big as the old photos show me to be, but I certainly don't FEEL as small as I look in this photo.  Having a concept of "self" is just foreign to me today.

I've had a hard time articulating this to the people in my life--and even to myself.  I hope this makes some sense...and if anyone else has had this body-image issue, PLEASE leave me a comment!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Move, a Milestone and a Problem

It's been a long time since I posted, since May, in fact.  I'm sorry.  I know that it's not fair to those of you who read this--I hope you're still with me even though my posts are infrequent.

First the move.  I'm living in North Carolina again; this time in Rocky Mount in an adorable house in the country.  My neighbor across the road (it's a narrow, private road) is a horse.  :-)  There are crops to the right of my house as well as behind it.  It's quiet here, except for the crows, which are noisy boogers sometimes.  

I'm teaching again; I really missed it, and I love the school I'm in.  I love my principal, my kids and my coworkers.  I really feel blessed, and returning to NC felt like I was going "home".  I have great friends here, and after working in the hospital for a year, I am really glad to be back in the classroom, which also feels like "home".  And I'm letting my hair grow out--here's an updated photo:

The milestone?  Well, it was three years ago August that I began this adventure, and as of today, I have lost 147 lbs, which takes my weight to 158, which is FIVE POUNDS less than I weighed in September, 1974 (the beginning of my senior year.)

How do I know this?  How do I remember?  I had knee surgery that September.  The nurse who weighed me for my admission had me step on the scale.  Those non-digital scales have those weights that get moved over, and she must've forgotten that she had moved from "100" to "150" because when she slid the little bar over to "13", she said, "Okay, 113?"  I didn't correct her.  It was the first time in my life I "weighed" 113--never mind that I didn't really weigh that; for one hospital stay, my weight on paper was 113!  So I remember it clearly.  I weighed 163.

And that was the last time I weighed even CLOSE to 163. And now I weigh 5 pounds less than that!  It's incredible.  People who I haven't seen in a while don't even recognize me.  My skinny jeans are size 12.  If I could afford to have plastic surgery, I would probably weigh about 130 and wear a size 8.  I'm small.  Seriously...for the first time in my adult life.  Remember three years ago when the naysayers told me all their hateful stories about people who gained ALL their weight back?  Well, it's three years later, and I'm not there!!

And the problem?  Sigh.  I almost hate to admit it.  I look great in clothing, but naked is another story all together.  No one prepares you for how you look naked when you have this surgery.  Seriously.  There is no preparation for the deflated balloon look that is so hard to view.  I try to avoid mirrors when I'm naked, probably more than I avoided mirrors when I was fat! I almost think I had more body confidence before the surgery than I have now, because when I was big, it was pretty much "what you see is what you get."  That's not true anymore, and I think my lack of confidence is one of the reasons I'm not dating at ALL.  I miss dating.  I do.  I'm just not sure about dealing with the excess flesh.  I think counseling may be in order...