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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brain Game

It's common, or so I'm told.  My brain doesn't see the truth.  I suppose for years I didn't really see how incredibly obese I was.  Now, I struggle to see a difference in the mirror...even in pictures I can't quite grasp the difference.  Yet, I am 100 pounds lighter.  I am wearing mostly large tops as opposed to XXXL and my 16 pants are baggy when I use to wear 28 pants that were tight.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Missy loaded me up with three bags full of clothes...mostly large tops.  I loved them, but wasn't expecting them to fit.  Most did.  This past weekend, my sweet friend Randee convinced me to try on a shirt that she bought for her.  She's very fit, and I was convinced there was no way it would fit.  I thought it was tight, all the ladies there told me it fit. (I was actually kind of embarrassed by all the attention I got about it!)  Granted, it would have looked much different on her. CME bought me a nice sweater...again, a large...I wasn't sure that it fit well...seemed a bit snug.  I've been told otherwise (by CME and my friend Macie!).  I can wrap a normal size towel around me..  Yet, even when I see the pictures I don't see the drastic change everyone is talking about.  How messed up is that?  

It sounds bad, but I am starting to understand how anorexics see themselves.  They look in a mirror and see fat.  I'm still seeing fat, folks.  Really I am.  I see the same person from this time last year.  Thankfully I have a wonderful support team of friends and family that I know will help me see the reality, even if my brain continues to distort it.  Mary and Randee have already addressed the "that's too thin" issue when I thought I still needed to lose 50#.  CME is incredibly supportive and someone today even said, "You look so different...you look like a little kid now!"  (Not sure exactly what that meant, but ok!)  I'm so thankful that God has placed so many amazing friends in my life!  Add that to my amazing family and I couldn't be more blessed!

So, in order to try to "see" clearly, I'm going to upload some comparison pictures...

January 20 - October 30  Sweater compliments of CME

Where I see the most difference.

Randee's top on a very tired and embarrassed me!

My Colts fleece from Missy and my 12-14 athletic pants.

"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

Monday, October 29, 2012

This NSV is Brought to You by the Letter T

T is for terrific!
T is for totally psyched!
T is for towel!

Yes folks, I'm psyched about a towel!  "Why?" you may ask?  Well, let me tell you!

For as many years as I can remember, I've always used a beach towel when I shower.  It was the only towel that ever fully wrapped around me...and even some of those were a close call.  This weekend, I was out of town without my trusty beach towel.  As I was drying off, I began to wonder...and so I tried it.  I wrapped a REGULAR SIZE towel around me!  Guess what!  THERE. WERE. NO. GAPS!  Nothing exposed to the world!  

Was I excited?  Oh let me tell you how excited I was!  I was so excited that I ran out of the bathroom to find one of the other ladies I was with to share in the excitement (and to have someone witness this NSV!).  Bless Virginia's heart...it's the first time we have been on a trip together and SHE was the lucky recipient of this event!  I must admit that she took it like a champ and was excited for me too!

So thank you, letter T and thank you Towel.  And of course thank you Virginia for your support.  Most of all, thank you God for these NSVs!

"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

Friday, October 26, 2012

Milestone of a Century

It's official!  As of this morning, I have lost 100.1 pounds!  I am soooooooooooooooooo excited about that milestone.  I am sooooooooooooo thankful that God provided me with the courage, strength and means to the tool of gastric bypass!

Now off to start my day.  Must find clothes to wear that will accessorize this silly grin that's going to be stuck on my face all day!

"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Since I posted the Horror Stories entry, I figured I'd post the responses (with their permission) I received from the online forum I visit.  

I just read your blog and let me assure you about a few things. Having the surgery "open" is already more dangerous, than laproscopic, or so I've been told. It depends on the patients starting weight, starting co-morbitites and many other factors. One person's health CANNOT be compared to another. I have a step-daughter, who was just 100lbs overweight. No diabetes, no co-morbitities, just 100lbs overweight. She had the RNY, like myself. She CHOSE NOT to take care of herself. She still to this day, does NOT take any vitamins or follow any of the other rules, we must live by. She has ended up with several complications. Crohn's disease, has had 2 more surgeries to correct bowel problems because of her bodies reaction to NO nutrients.She's a mess and it is her own creation. I'm not saying your friend was in any way at fault for her complications, not at all. The point is, we CANNOT and MUST NOT compare our journey with someone else's. We are all different and so are our bodies reaction to the surgery and the how we take care of ourselves afterward.  I did a lot of praying (still do) for no complications and have God guide me in my journey. To this day, all is still well.  No worries! You'll be fine! I just ignore the nay-sayers and concentrate on my OWN journey.
You'll find that EVERYONE has a horror story about someone who has had this surgery. It's just the way it is. I choose NOT to listen. I am 8 years out. I never did have any complications (knock on wood, no guarantees, even this far out). Even though I've had some "transfer addiction" (different subject entirely) I STILL do NOT regret for one second, that I have had this surgery.   There are dangers with EVERY surgery. A person can go in to get their tonsils taken out and end up with complications!  Sometimes, I wonder if people bring up conversations out of jealousy, fear of having the surgery themselves or some other hidden agenda. I am 8 years out and it was the same way back then. I just ignore it.
Just my two cents! Yes, you can post this on your blog.
Lyn (surgery 6/8/2004)

I still hear horror stories even at this stage of the game....."so and so died", "so and so gained all their weight back", "so and so has been in and out of the hospital dozens of times", etc. etc. etc........
To date I've had 2 episodes of reactive hypoglycemia due to too many carbs in one sitting, but other than that, I have NO ISSUES....no complications at all! I feel great, I'm at a normal BMI, my labs are perfect, and I'm off all my meds except for my vitamins/supplements!
I wish I had done this 20 years ago, but better late than never!
Nancy  (surgery 8/25/2010)
"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Teacher Makes a Difference

The past couple of years of middle school were difficult times for my oldest son.  He had a severe case of "minimumeffortitis" going on.  Last year was the worst when his affliction became compounded with a couple of teachers who just didn't seem to be able to properly instruct/guide the students.  Yes, even the "honors" courses can have some sub-par teachers.  (I found out from SEVERAL other parents that my son was not the only one struggling in two particular classes.  Common theme was the lack of instruction/accountability on the teachers' part.) Please do not get me wrong.  Regardless of a teacher's own shortcomings, I expect my children to do their best 100% of the time.  So I'm not blaming his lackadaisical effort on anyone but him.  However, I do know that teachers can make a world of difference for the students.  This year has been much different for my son.  His teachers have been amazing and he is excelling in his classes.  He's bringing home his best report card since entering middle school.  His teachers have made a difference.

Another example of a teachers making a difference was revealed to me last night.  I was spending time with some International students from one of the local universities and I asked how classes were going.  Most said, "ok", but one student was very clear in his response.  He is in the ESLI - Level 1 class. (English as Second Language).  He told me it was very boring.  That the teachers just write what's in the book on the board and then they test on it.  He looked at me and said, "they need to find way to make it (interesting) so students want to come. they need to make learn English fun."  I wondered how many others felt that same way.  University ESLI classes are intense, this I know.  But from the student's perspective, he's bored and not sure he's really learning.  I wonder if those programs can be fun and still get in all the required material so the students can advance to the University classes.  I'm sure somewhere there is a teacher who could make that difference...if only allowed.

So how does that all tie in to this blog and my journey?  Well, my friend Missy posted this entry about her experience of a Body Pump class she attended last week.  Interestingly enough, before I read it I attended a different class with a different instructor.  To be as kind as I possibly can be, I was not thrilled with how the class went.  The instructor spoke a LOT about his recent doctor appointment, his young grandchild learning to speak another language before English, his recent trip to MO where they have the best BBQ ever (same story I heard the week before) among other things.  Personally, I don't need those distractions.  Then, on top of that, he decided to change one of the workout sections because he "didn't like the seven 'bottom halfs' at the end...it was too hard" and he messed up the music and/or the movements a couple of different times.  My thoughts on that were, "I'm sure the Les Mills company knows what they're doing and why they placed the the bottom half squats where they did" along with "I'm not an instructor and I know the new music/movements..."  Plus, there is one lady in particular who just joined about a week ago.  Her form is dangerously bad and is truly asking for a back injury if not corrected.  (rounded back, swinging motion with the bar, etc.) He never mentioned it to her.  Maybe some people need to talk during workout, I am not one of those people.  I just want to do what I need to do.  I left the class a little annoyed.

Today, I went to an 8am Body Pump class.  The instructor was really good.  Even though there were no new people in class, he made sure to demonstrate every combination and stressed form.  Throughout the class, he would remind everyone of where the hands should be placed, where the bar stops, proper posture, not to lean forward during lunges, etc.  He'd watch the class as we went along and would correct the form of anyone he saw that needed help.  There was no idle chit-chat during the class; it was all instruction.  He was a good teacher.  I felt like my workout was better and that overall, the class was better.

And then the thoughts moved on from school and Body Pump to the fact that I am a teacher as well.  My family will learn from me.  For way too many years, they have observed and learned some not-so-good habits.  And if the teacher makes a difference, like I know they do, I am glad that I am changing a lot of how I'm influencing and instructing my children.  I thank God for opening my eyes to so many unhealthy situations and for guiding me through this life.  I pray that as He continues to reveal His ways to me that I can teach my children those same lessons.

Truly, the Teacher makes all the difference!

"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

Friday, October 19, 2012

Letting it Go

Almost a week has passed since I was "enlightened" by the horror story of an acquaintance.  I'd be lying if I'd say I'd not thought about it since.  But I have.  More than once.  Hoping to hear long-term success stories and not getting any replies here or on the forum I visit left me a little despondent.  Almost in a funk, even.  

So, I'm vowing to let it go.  As I've known from the start, everyone's experience in this journey is different.  I can't say that her story would have kept me from having the surgery myself.  So, I will continue to follow the plan.  I will continue to take my vitamins.  I will continue to exercise.  I will continue to pray for C and her struggles.  I will continue to...

"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Horror Stories

We've all heard them.  The gastric bypass horror stories.  The stories from a friend who knew someone whose relative had gastric bypass and it was horrible.  As in that old "telephone" game, the story is usually exaggerated by the time it's retold the 1,000,000,000th time.  So, usually I don't listen to those.  I knew before the surgery that there are stories like those out there.  I knew the risks associated with the surgery.  I chose to trust God with this decision (not to infer others didn't) for my life and proceed with this journey.

Yesterday, I heard a snippet of one of those horror stories.  This time was different.  This time it was from the patient herself - someone I've known for about a year.  It wasn't a second-hand story and it wasn't hearsay.  It was her life and her experience with gastric bypass.  Not only that, it was through the same bariatric center and surgeon that I have.  Obviously it caught my attention.  She didn't start the conversation, I did.  I had heard the second-hand cliff notes version so decided to ask her about it.  I'm glad that I did, though I must confess it put a tiny bit of concern into my brain.

Disclaimer...excuse me if I mess up some of the medical facts, or forget some.  I am relying on my memory and was trying to absorb all she said.  (Again, it's like that old telephone game!)

Some years ago, she was the second patient of surgeon when gastric bypass was started in our city.  Her surgery was open, not laparoscopic.  She didn't have any complications and the first 12-15 months were glorious for her.  Weight came off, she felt successful, etc.  The one thing she kept experiencing after the initial year or so was a constant pain in her stomach.  Though she kept addressing it with surgeon she felt as though her concerns were brushed off.  According to her, bariatric center even suggested that she see a psychologist - which she did since she was also dealing with depression from the pain.  Long story, but after a scope was done, they found an ulcer.  She said she felt as if surgeon thought she had done something wrong to get an ulcer...that she wasn't following the plan, etc.  (I do understand that not everyone's feelings are reality, but I do not dismiss the fact that it's truly how she felt!)  Meds wouldn't fix it so they made the decision to do surgery and cut out the ulcer.  That's when they found out that her stomach had perforated...to her liver??.  Not sure if that's what she said, but it's what I remember and I know that's NOT a good thing.  So they fix the pouch and a little later she suffers from another ulcer, another perforation and another surgery.  Add to that the fact that she had to be sent home with a feeding tube. To make a long story short, her health was NOT good...and NOT improving.  She could barely walk around her house, had no energy at all and was pretty well bedridden.  It was so bad that a nurse told her she was in stage 3 starvation and sent hospice to talk with her.  After literally being on the brink of death, the decision was made to do a reversal.  Since her reversal - her stomach doesn't work properly.    The vagus nerve that communicates between the stomach and the brain is pretty much broken so she has no concept of hunger or fullness.  (That nerve also has other functions, but I didn't ask her if those functions were affected as well.)  She says she's doing "ok" as she puts it... 99% better than at her worst.  Still, she cannot eat more than 2 oz at a time and has severe hypoglycemia.  She wasn't complaining, necessarily.  She just said that she has learned to "deal with" the life she's living.  She did say that she wished she had never had the surgery.

I really didn't think our conversation affected me negatively.  I was wanting to know so I could be informed.  But as the day went on...and as today has gone on, her story has had more of an impact on me that I originally thought.  I'm really trying to keep the worry out of my thoughts, but here's what's happening in my brain:  I feel good. (So did she at my stage).  I placed this journey in God's hands.  (She's a believer too...think she didn't?)  I'll be sure to bring issues to the attention of surgeon/bariatric center as soon as they arise.  (She did that...but felt dismissed.)  Yes...these are the games that the evil one is playing with me today.  Today's message at church was on the healing power of prayer and the timing was perfect.  I will continue to be in prayer as I progress in this journey and ask that you pray for me as well.  I will add this person to my prayer list.  She needs prayer as much or more than I do at this point!  She's not in anyway angry at or blaming God.  She is, however battling feelings of guilt of having the surgery done and is still suffering through the complications she's experienced.  Praise for her though...she's not been in the hospital in the past 9 months which she said is a record since her problems began!

So I'm needing to hear some positives.  Some encouraging words.  If you've had gastric bypass and are years out, please share your experiences.  If you've never had gastric bypass and have some encouraging words or Scripture, please share that as well.  You can comment anonymously on my blog...feel free to do so in order for others to hear those encouraging words as well!  But most of all, please keep "C" in your prayers.  He is the Healer!
"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

Friday, October 12, 2012

Better with a Friend

I'm happy to report that I didn't have one lightheaded episode during my Body Pump class last night!  I did some things differently yesterday - like drinking a giganto bottle (1 liter) of Propel Zero (which I'm sure upped my blood pressure a bit with all the sodium) prior to class; went from lying to standing up slower than I have been; made sure that I had some carbs about 30 minutes before class; sipped my water during class.  All in all, it was a good workout!  I know that I work harder if I go to class in the evenings.  I just don't like to be all sweaty and stuff heading back to work after the noon class.  -shrug-  Anyway, the best part of class last night was that my friend, Missy, went too!  We're going to try to keep each other accountable with our exercise.  She's going to encourage me to do more cardio and I'm going to encourage her to do more weight training!  Exercise is just better with a friend!  Thanks, Missy!

Oh...and bonus?  Missy cleaned out her closet and gave me three big sacks full of clothes!  Some I can wear now (wore one of the shirts today even)...some will be good for Spring.  I seriously have the best friends!  
"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Date with a Vampire

Remember how I've told you that I like the staff at bariatric center?  Well, that's not changed even though RN drew 11 vials of blood from me today!

RD called me yesterday because she finally got the okay to schedule me for blood work a little early to see if there are any deficiencies that could possibly be causing the lightheadedness (maybe slightly anemic??).  So today, RN became a vampire and sucked out 11 vials of blood.  I won't know the results until I see MD on Nov 7, but at least they've started the process.  I'm sure if there's anything alarming they'll call me.  RN also checked my blood pressure while I was there.  It was low for me at 98/64.  That in itself is a miracle.  For years (as early as in my 20s and 30s) I had high blood pressure off and on.  Though some of it could have been situational, I'm positive the extra 100+ pounds didn't help.

Oh!  I almost forgot!  I also got my flu shot today!  I endured two needles today!  (trying for some sympathy here...)  

So, until I get my lab results, I'm going to continue to drink plenty of fluids and have some carbs before Body Pump class.  It's an exercise regimen that I've actually started to enjoy.  I'm not going to let a little low blood pressure make me stop!  

"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Excuse me? Do I know you?

Want to know what's fun?  Going to a family reunion and not having your relatives recognize you!  That's what happened to me yesterday!  Relatives who saw me last October didn't even know who I was.  As I approached and said hello to a couple of my cousins, they both said "Hi" but I could tell it was not a "Hi Deedra!" (if that makes sense).  

I found my parents and hugged/kissed  them and that's when I heard my cousin, C, say, "Girl!  Oh my gosh!  I didn't even recognize you!  I asked [brother] who you were and he said, 'I have no clue!'"  I'd be lying if I said I was upset that they didn't know who I was.  I was so giddy, I think I actually jumped up and down as I head back over to hug C.  It's a fun feeling!

Again, I was surrounded by a ton of food that I knew would be delish, but truly the only thing I felt like I missed out on was some of my cousin's fudge.  He's got the best fudge ever!  I'd pit it against any contestant in the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival!  This year he fixed chocolate, chocolate mint, butterscotch, peanut butter, white chocolate and candy corn flavored.  Instead I ate a small amount of BBQ chicken, some broccoli slaw (substituting sugar with Splenda) and a small amount of chili.  (I'm kind of chili'd out to be honest! I had it 4 times in a week!)  

It was good to see so many of our family again.  It was fun to not be recognized.  I'm thankful to God for both!  :)

So, I survived the Fall Festival AND a family reunion and lost 4.2# this week.  I'm so close to hitting that 100# mark!  And then I'll only have 50 more to go!  Can't remember the last time I only needed to lose 50 pounds!!
"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

A Celebration?

Yesterday finished up our city's 91st annual West Side Nut Club Fall Festival.  We claim (and no one has proved otherwise) that it's the 2nd largest street fair after Mardi Gras.  

When CME moved here he was really confused when I mentioned a festival.  He expected "some" food booths, but was anticipating more of a Festival of the Arts like he was use to in Grand Rapids.   But alas, our city's celebration is not art...no...it's food.  Seriously.  The main theme of the Fall Festival is to fix as many deep fried things as you can possibly deep fry.  Deep fried Oreos?  Absolutely!  Cheesecake?  Without a doubt! Candy bars...key lime pie...pickles...green tomatoes?  Of course!  Deep fried Kool-aid?  What?  Yes! Deep fried Kool-aid.  And this is just a short list of the odd deep fried foods you can find there.  That doesn't even take into account the brats and burgers and pronto pups (they are different than corn dogs) and chocolate covered bacon or chocolate covered crickets.  Yes, I said crickets...as in the insect.  Oh and who could forget the brain sandwiches?  Yes, our city celebrates food.  For many non-profit organizations it is a HUGE fundraiser as well.  I probably wouldn't have gone at all, except that the boys' Scout Troop has a parking lot where we collect $5/car for parking.  It's a fantastic way for our Troop to make money.

Thanks to M for letting me borrow her picture of one of the signs for the Fall Festival!
Here's where I may step on some toes, though it's not the purpose of me saying this.  The place was packed.  The lines at the food booths were long.  I had chili (and one bite of a kraut ball) as it was one of the "safe" options for me to eat there.  But as I stood there I remembered the survey last winter when our town was designated as the most obese city in the USA. (Read that post here: Stupid Reality TV Show)  As I looked around, I felt a huge sense of sadness.  How many of these people were struggling with the hurts I struggled with for so many years?  How many were there eating all the things that they knew were bad for them because it's what our city does? How many diabetics, heart patients, food addicts were ignoring their health to take part in this "celebration"?  Maybe there was no one there that would fall into those categories...maybe I was the only one for all those years.  Maybe.

One side of the street.  The other side of the median was just as packed!

Please do not read any judgement into those concerns.  It's just I know that for most of my life, I was blind to what I was doing to my body.  It would have been nothing for me to consume enough food at the Fall Festival to get a full week's worth of calories in one evening.  Some years I'd go home and beat myself up for eating so much...letting all the worldly damaging words surface back into my mind.  If it was during one of my weight loss attempts, I'd nearly starve myself the following week to make up for my overindulgence. It was another part of a bitter cycle of battling obesity.  Granted, it's a once-a-year event and there are plenty of people who can use self control when there or have no weight or health issues.  Regardless, I'm glad that God has opened my eyes on the damage I was doing to my body.  I hope to never celebrate food again.  I hope to keep it in the category that it was intended: nutrition. 

"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Frustration Station

Until I can get my bloodwork done (still haven't heard from bariatric center) I've got to figure out why I'm getting lightheaded.  It happened again today during my Body Pump class.  This time my vision went black for a couple of seconds and the instructor next to me asked if I was okay.  I didn't get nauseous and I didn't pass out or anything like that, but I was definitely feeling lightheaded.  My friend, M, wondered about my electrolytes being off, so I'll ask them to look at that when my blood work is done next month.  Things I intentionally did today before class: had a total of 32 ounces of water and then about 30 minutes before class had a protein bar.  Still not convinced it's a food issue, but it could be the fluids.  Could be low BP.  I'll try to get in even more fluids before class on Thursday to see if that helps.  

In all honesty, it's frustrating.  I've found an exercise that I'm kind of enjoying, but am not sure how "safe" it is for me right now.  Luckily the lightheadedness doesn't happen when working triceps where I lay on my back and lower the weighted bar to my forehead.  It would be quite painful to drop the bar on my noggin! 

Anyway, until I get bloodwork done and results in I will try to drink. more. water.  Not sure how to do that before noon, but I'll figure out a way.

(side note - I just got lightheaded when I got up from the chair to walk into the kitchen...it's annoying!)

"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14