Monthly Archives: June 2012

I Am In Trouble

I hate to admit it, but I am a big coward.  I hate pain.  I cannot even watch someone else fall down or get hurt.  My own legs and feet will hurt and I get shivers through my body.  I always have to turn away from the movie screen or tv when someone is hurt .

People who know me would not think that I am such a big baby when it comes to pain because they all know that I have lived with some kind of pain most of my life.  One would think that I have a high tolerance for pain, but I do not.

I had a kidney stone in high school.  I lived with that pain for a year trying to pass it before they finally did surgery.  See, back when I was in high school, before the dinosaurs died, there were no cool sonic procedures or microscopic surgery to deal with kidney stones.  You either passed it or they operated.  Since I apparently could not do one, I had to do the other.  It was an unpleasant experience, but I was 16 and bounced back quickly.

I also have dealt with foot and back pain most of my adult life.

Why this sudden preoccupation with pain?

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday for my annual physical.  Two things happened that I did not like.  One, they took my blood.  I hate getting stuck with needles, but I’m willing to concede that I must have my blood drawn if I’m going to proceed with this surgery.  Two, I had to get a shot.  It really stinks getting a shot as an adult.  At least as a kid they give you candy, but not me.  When I get a shot all I get is a needle in my arm.  No lollypops, Dora stickers, nothing.  I know my niece would not stand for that, but she is just a kid.

My doctor informed me that it has been a while since I had a tetanus shot.  The shot itself is not too bad.  But today my arm is really sore.  That’s the problem with a tetanus shot.  I’ve had them before and my arm always hurts for a couple of days afterwards.    Because I’m such a big baby, I’ve been sitting at work all day thinking, “Owie my arm hurts! poor me!”

This started me thinking…I am really in big trouble.

I am really worried about the pain of the surgery.  I know it will be short lived, but I remember the pain of the surgery I had in high school and I did not like it one bit.  I won’t let my fear of pain keep me from doing it, but I am probably going to worry way too much about it and be very miserable for a while afterwards.

I have been thinking about this for a while, but I have managed to keep my fears at bay.  Today, with my arm in pain however, I am starting to think about the pain of surgery more.  I know these feelings will abate as the pain in arm starts to feel better, at least until the surgery actually rolls around, but it is a concern that I have.

I know that I will deal with it as I have dealt with many other things.  Many of the other health problems that I hope will abate after I’ve shed the pounds are much more painful difficult to deal with sometimes.  That thought gives me strength and the courage to face whatever pain I may have to endure to get through this.

But today, I am a big fat baby.

Speaking of big fat babies, this is Max.  My brother and his wonderful wife took Max in when he was just a kitten.  They kept him until they found out their little girl, who arrived a year later, was very allergic to him.  They found Max a new home, but I do miss that crazy cat.  🙂


I think I am going to do an open call for kitty photos.  If you have a cat doing something crazy, funny, or super-cute, just email it to me and maybe your little baby will get a feature on my blog.

Being Invisible

A friend of mine who had the gastric by-pass surgery a couple of years ago said something that I found to be surprising.  She told me that it took her a long time to deal with no longer being invisible.  Up until she said that, I had never really actively thought about being invisible.

Obviously, I do not mean to imply that fat people are difficult to see.  Clearly that is not the case.  I know that I am not difficult to miss in a crowd.  I am talking about social invisibility.  I think this is a phenomenon that many different people experience, not just fat people.  It can happen to anyone for any number of reasons at any time.

Social invisibility is a pretty complex concept.  The obvious form of social invisibility is when people refuse to recognize you are present, exclude you from social functions, and don’t recognize your participation in a group conversation.  Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • In the movie Some Kind of Wonderful, the lead female character after having dumped her rich boyfriend walks up to a couple of her friends who are engaged in conversation.  She greets them and they continue talking amongst themselves ignoring her as if she isn’t there.
  • If you’re with a group of your girlfriends and you meet a couple of guys at a social function, the guys talk only to the pretty, thin girls in the group. (and vice-verca for guys)
  • If you’re at a dinner party with a group of friends and everyone is talking and it seems that nobody let’s you talk.  You’re either talked over, interrupted, or flat out ignored when you try to speak.
  • You find yourself uninvited from parties or group events to which you had been invited in the past.

Like I said, social invisibility does not just happen to fat people.  I think in certain situations, nearly everyone has experienced some form of it.

There is also another side to social invisibility.  I like to think of it as social harassment or bullying.  When people do notice you because of your fat, they make sure you know how much they disapprove.  If you can recall over the past two weeks the internet has been all-a-flutter over the bullying of Karen Klein, an elderly bus monitor,  by a handful of 12 year old boys.  This is an example of what I mean.  Here are some examples of what I’ve experienced.

  • One time I went to Denny’s for breakfast with my sister.  Many Denny’s restaurants do not have tables and chairs, only booths.  Well, because of my size, I do not fit comfortably in their booths.  The one we went to was this kind.  I very uncomfortably sat in one of their booths and ate my breakfast.  A group of teenage boys sitting nearby very loudly laughed about it.  It became so bad, my sister was nearly in tears.  She finally complained to the management of the restaurant who moved the boys to another part of the restaurant and gave me a free meal.
  • I was walking to the metro one night after work when a woman walking towards me looked me up and down and as she passed me, she said, “disgusting pig” under her breath loud enough for me to hear.
  • I’ve had doctors refuse to treat me or even examine me.  Any complaint I had was chalked up to my weight.  Example: I went to urgent care with what I thought was a kidney infection.  When they took my blood pressure, it was dangerously high.  They gave me an ekg and I had an irregular heartbeat.  Now that doctor was very worried and sent me directly to the emergency room.  The ER doc ignored me from an hour and when I complained, he was very rude and mean.  He basically said, “Well, you’re obese and probably have an enlarged heart.  We can’t do much for you here but give you a couple of pills to bring down your bp.  You really should go to your doctor and lose weight if you’re so concerned.”  While it may be true that I need to go to my doctor and lose weight, that is no excuse for denying me care in a hospital.  Is it too much strain for your golf hand to write an order for an x-ray or any kind of a test?  Make sure I’m not having a silent heart attack?  Too much to ask?  Hmmmm?

I could go on.  I have many, many more examples, but this blog post would probably fill up the entire internet.  And do not mistake me.  I am not looking for sympathy.  I am simply trying to provide examples of why it is easy to feel invisible, unimportant, less than human, and unworthy of even basic human kindness or consideration.

I talked about this with a friend of mine recently.  She had the surgery and actually recommended her doctor to me when I told her I was considering the gastric by-pass surgery.  She told me that my entire circle of friends will change after I’ve lost the weight.  She said that people she was friends with before she lost the weight did  not know how to think of her anymore and many of them just stopped being her friend.  Also, being thinner, healthier, more attractive opened up a whole new world of people who now wanted to get to know her and be her friend.

I am not too sure what to make of all of this.  I am not overly worried, nonetheless, I do have a tendency to over-think things, so bear with me here.

I feel that I am very lucky for many reasons.  I do have family and friends that I know care about me and respect me.  I know who they are and I cherish every single one of them.  It would break my heart to think that my losing weight would cause any one of them to “unfriend” me so to speak.  Furthermore, I am a person that is kind of slow to forgive.  Not one of my best qualities, I know, but that’s me.  I cannot imagine that I would give the time of day to people who mocked me or were otherwise unkind to me while I was fat.  Kind of the, if you cannot be there for me when I’m at my worst, you don’t deserve me when I’m at my best, mentality.  Yet, that does not mean that I will not be open to being friends with all sorts of new people.  I actually look forward to it.  I mean, who doesn’t want to be liked?

I do wonder though, what will change and what no longer being invisible because of my weight will feel like.  What sort of opportunities will open up for me?  Will I date more?  Will I have different friends?  More friends?  Could it affect future job opportunities?  Or how much I make?  Or will I long for the anonymity that invisibility provides?

On a larger scale, I think about other people.  I know that I am not alone in feeling alone, invisible, and even sometimes unworthy.  I know that many people experience these feelings for many different reasons.  Will talking about what I am experiencing and how I am working to change it help someone else realize that they can do the same?  That they can change whatever it is they want to fix about themselves?

I do not know.  But I do know this:  You can never change other people.  You can only change yourself.  This is what I am trying to do.  Take stock of the people in your life who love you, because someone out there does.  Let go of the people who do not, they are not worth your time.  Know who you are and what you want.  Then take the step to make a change.

Sounds good huh?  Like I’m really healthy and put together mentally?  Well, sometimes.  Other times, I still struggle.  I’ve gotten stronger over the years and am more confident in myself than I ever have been.  And I look forward to the challenges and changes losing weight will bring.  Mostly though, I look forward to no longer being invisible.

Obligatory cat:

The Day After

Did anyone get the number of the truck?

Yesterday was a crazy day.  Impromptu lake trip.  Nieces Adoption Day celebration.  Yes, we are dorky enough to celebrate the day the court officially made her one of us under the law.  She loved it.  She just assumes she has two birthday celebrations.  They have never kept the adoption a secret, but she’s four.  She doesn’t really fully understand the word adoption, even though she’s heard the word many times in her short life.  So, of course, yesterday they tried lovingly explained adoption in a way a 4 year old would understand, which prompted her announcing over and over again, “today is MY special day.”  Us singing many rounds of “Happy Adoption Day to You!”  Followed by a lot of cheering.  Did I say we are dorks?

But we never got around to renting canoes, so no chance of tipping over.  Nonetheless, a fun and hilarious day.

So, I’ve been doing this new thing while eating.  It is one of my required eating exercises from my nutritionist.  I have to pay attention to my hunger level.  Eat slowly and only eat until I stop feeling hungry.  It’s an effort to practice not over eating and to develop a mind-body connection.  The problem is, I am used to eating a lot more food than that. So, I get hungry a lot sooner.  So, now I feel like I am hungry all of the time because I have to eat small amounts of food every 3-4 hours.  Now, I understand that is probably a more healthy way to eat than eating 3 big meals every day.  But it is making me a little crazy.  Plus I have to stop all of the time and say, “I’m hungry, let’s eat.”

I know that when I spend the day with my family they must think I’m nuts because every couple of hours I’m looking for something else to eat.  My sister is pretty cool about it.  I’ve explained to her what I’m doing.  She has noticed that I’m eating healthier food and a small volume.  She even commented on it yesterday.  So, that’s my progress now.  I’m also down to just a couple of cups of 1/2 caffe coffee a week.  I am going to probably just move to full on decaf some time this week.

So move to caffeine free Colleen nearly accomplished.  Dr. appointment this week.  Last nutrition appointment the week after.  Somewhere in there, I have to get the psychological review.  Then back tot he surgeon for the next steps.

Oh, and I have to say, the cat thing was genius yesterday.  I had more hits on my blog in one day than I’ve had to date.  So, I’m going to test this out again.

Here is a picture of my sister’s cat Oscar  guarding her stash of stuff:


A Moment of Hilarity

So, I heard a hilarious commercial on the radio today.  I cannot remember what it was for, but the ad-guy said that if you want a popular website, you need to include a picture of cat doing something.  So, here you go, a picture of my cat doing something.


I used to keep a clay pot I made on that shelf.  Yoda had other ideas.

OK, there’s the shameless cat plug.  Honestly, though I haven’t blogged in the past couple of days because I do not have much of an update.  I do see my doctor this week for my yearly appointment and to get the referral for the surgeon.

I am not going to have much of a post today because I am going to the lake with my sister.  We are going to rent a canoe.  Hopefully, I won’t fall in.  Update tomorrow.

Dirty Little Secret: Dealing with Cravings

From reading some of my posts, I imagine one could think that I have recently become a paragon of inner strength and restraint; that I can resist every craving, however strong and tempting.


I hate to admit it, but I battle cravings every day.  Some days I win and some days I lose.  I have been winning more recently because I feel emboldened by my efforts to make a change.  I feel supported by my nutritionist.  I feel accountable by publicly blogging my efforts.  Yet, there are days that I lose the battle.

I have listened to all of the advise that people give.  If you have a sweet craving, drink a flavored coffee.  Eat a piece of fruit.  The fruit thing I think can work.  It helped me today when I ate an apple instead of some kind of junk food.  But the coffee idea is a big fail.  I started out drinking vanilla coffee, it just increased my desire to eat something sweet.  There is nothing better than a steaming mug of coffee and a slice of coffee cake.  There’s a reason it is called coffee cake after all.  So, fruit not coffee works for me.

If I have a salty craving, I can usually satisfy it with crunchy vegetables and hummus.  I might mix in a pretzel or two for good measure to make sure I feel full.

But there are other foods I crave.  Chinese food or Indian food for instance.  And no, the veggie dishes do not cut it.  I failed miserably Saturday when I ordered crispy beef and spring rolls.  I do not order out much anymore and eat big starchy, fatty meals like that, but I just did not feel like cooking on Saturday and just caved.  Yes, the meal had vegetables.  And I had the vegetarian hot and sour soup.  And I did not eat it all at once.  I stretched it out over two meals.  But it was still a total faceplant as far as restraint goes.  I can go ahead and chalk this one up to the “Last Supper Syndrome” I talked about before.  But I can only get away with that now in the few remaining months before the surgery.

After the surgery, it will be a whole different ball of wax. I will have no wiggle room.  For the first eight weeks, I will be on a full liquid diet.  Full liquid allows some solid foods that are blended into a liquid form.  So, a can of soup, blended.  Sounds pretty disgusting?  I thought so.  So, I have a whole host of ideas for soft, blended food that is delicious.  I have been researching some homemade baby food recipes and putting my own particular spin on them.  They have to be gentle and bland, to allow my stomach time to heal, but I know I can make it work.

But as you can see, cravings for heavy, salty, sweet foods will have to be managed hard.  I do not know how the surgery itself will affect my cravings.  I know the surgery will affect the amount of food i can eat, but will it affect what I want to eat?  If eating certain foods will cause pain or potential injury, will it help me curtail the desire to eat them?   I simply do not know.

What I do know is that right now, the skinny girl inside does not always win these fights.  Right now, the fat chick is still sometimes in charge.  That bitch is in for a rude awakening!

The Before Me

My nutritionist has informed me that it is a good idea to do before and after photos so that I can measure the results of my weight loss.  Since I can now have the surgery sooner, I figured it was a good time to put up the before photos.  I chose one from my little sister’s wedding because it is a full body shot.  Most of the pictures I have of me are head shots.  I called my sister last night and told her my plan  I asked her, “Do you mind if I use this photo from your wedding?”   Her response, tongue in cheek was “I looked awesome in those photots! Sure!”  She’s too funny.

I am the only nonskinny person in this picture.  My sister Sandy is the pretty girl in the brown suit.    And the stunning woman in red is my mother.  And of course, the blushing bride Jen.  Hint, she’s the one in white.

So, there, that’s me before surgery.  I need to scan some pictures of myself in high school when I weighed anywhere between 120-130 pounds, a weight I would love to be, to kind of remind me of what I could potentially look like.  Granted, I will never look 16 again, but the body shape could be similar.  Anyway, once I get those pics scanned, I will add them.

Big News: Huge Change of Plans

I just received a phone call from the the surgeon who is to do the gastric by-pass surgery.

My insurance company has reduced the number of months I need to do the nutrition counseling from six months to only three months.  I have already had two appointments.  My third is the second week in July.  I was planning on surgery around November-ish.  Now, it is looking more like by before the end of summer.

I still have to do the psych evaluation.  I called that Dr. this am.  And I need clearance from my primary care doctor.  She’s next on my list to call.

This is a huge change.  I thought I had a few more months to prepare.  Now I have to step up preparations for my home and to get myself mentally prepared for this pretty much immediately.

I am so excited.  Deep breath!

More Preparation for Surgery

During my last nutrition appointment, my nutritionist gave me two new eating exercises to practice.  All of these new ways of eating will be very important after the surgery.  Right now, it is just practice.  After the surgery, it will be the norm.

Exercise #1

I have to take a tablespoon of food and use a smaller spoon to eat it.  I have to take 5 minutes or more to eat this food.

I have only tried this one time so far.  I was pretty successful.  Granted, I was working and kind of distracted, but it was pretty easy.  I have to try to do this when I have nothing to do but pay attention to what I am eating.

Exercise #2

I have to pay attention to my hunger level and fullness before and after all meals and snacks.  I have to eat more slowly and concentrate on the physical feeling of eating just enough to take away hunger, not necessarily cleaning my plate or eating more because it tastes good, or even just continuing to eat out of habit.  But really pay attention to the feelings of hunger and fullness.

I have not really focused on this yet.  I am going to start doing this tomorrow.  Not tomorrow as in some time down the road.  I mean tomorrow morning, June 13, 2012 starting with breakfast, then lunch, then dinner.  Even my snacks.

A Quick Update

Just a quick update on a few other things I have been working on.

I have been sleeping with a c-pap machine after finding out I have sleep apnea.  I’ve been doing pretty good with it.  I sleep with it every night.  I have had some funny experiences with it.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to find I have removed the mask in my sleep.  I do not know why I do this.  I do not remember removing it.  One time, I even pulled the hose out of the mask.  It is uncomfortable, so I guess I wake up just enough to be irritated by the mask and remove it.  When I wake up more fully, I do take the time to put it back on before going back to sleep.

I have also been waking up completely under the covers.  Again, this is a complete mystery to me.  I’ll still have the c-pap mask on, but I wake up and find that I have the sheet or blanket pulled over my head.  I never did this before.  I spent the night at my sister’s house this weekend.  She uses one of the spare bedrooms as a clothes closet.  They also keep a guest bed in there.  It’s not so bad, really.  I’d rather have the guest bed in her closet as opposed to the ominous room.  She tiptoed into the room to get some clothes only to find me totally wrapped up in sheets from head to toe.  She figured I was still alive because she heard me breathing and saw the mound of covers moving up and down.

The good news is that despite these few strange occurrences, I am sleeping better overall.  I find I am staying asleep longer and waking up more rested than in the past.

I am down to drinking two cups of half-caffe coffee.  I am eating healthier meals.  No junk food.  Reducing greatly take-out or eating out.  I am chewing more slowly and making sure my food is completely chewed.  I can do this most of the time.  Sometimes I forget, but mostly, I’m doing well.  Still struggling with the no drinking before/during/after meals.  I’m getting a little better, but I still have a long way to go.

Things I still need to do:

Yearly check up with primary doctor.

Psychological review.

I see the nutritionist again in July.  Two appointments down.  Four to go.



Today’s Lunch

Today for lunch I had some pork medallions.  At least that’s what they looked like.  So, I decided to make a sweet and spicy sauce to cook them in.  It kind of worked, but then I overcooked the pork.  It looks good, but was pretty dry.  I baked it and cooked it a little too long.  I work from home, so spending half hour to forty-five minutes cooking over a frying pan is not always plausible since I have to be close to the phone.

Here’s what it ultimately looked like:









As you can see, I had sauted spinach and a side of noodles.  I also had an apple, which is not pictured.

Here’s the recipe.  I would bake it for 30 minutes instead of 45 next time.

Port Medallions

Ingredients & Supplies

5 small pork medallions

Sauce Ingredients

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 drop chile oil

1 drop sesame oil

2 teaspoons chile powder

1 teaspoon raspberry jam

2 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

salt & pepper


1 9×9 baking dish

1 knife & cutting board

Chop up garlic and combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.  Rinse and dry pork medallions and place them in the baking dish.  Pour sauce over pork.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.


Stewy Chicken

So, since I have been cooking at home more and eating out a lot less, I have been experimenting with different recipes.  Here is one I like to call Stewy Chicken.  It’s not quite a full-on stew, but more of a braised chicken and vegetables.

So to start, I want to share a funny story.  When my family asked me what I wanted for Christmas last year, I said I needed new pots and pans.  So, my brother and his wife bought me this ginormous frying pan. I guess you really cannot tell from this picture, but it is huge.


I have used it several times, but I do not use it as often as I would like.  I am single and cook only for myself.  While it would be good for frying up a lot of chicken or something, it’s hard to use for a single serving meal. Seems kind of silly to make one egg in it.  It would be kind of like using a roasting pan to cook one chicken breast.

So, one thing I like to make is this stewy chicken dish.

Stewy Chicken


olive oil

1/2 onion

2 cloves garlic

3 sage leaves

1 cup chicken broth

splash of red wine

2 carrots

2 potatoes

2 celery stalks

3-5 random pieces of chicken

1 table spoon of flour or gluten-free Bisquick

Salt & Pepper

1 ginormous frying pan

1 knife

1 cutting board

1 spatula

Saute celery, onions, carrots, sage in olive oil.  Once soft, add a splash of red wine.  Then pour in chicken broth and add potatoes. Add pieces of chicken.  Add salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and cover.  Cook on low-medium heat for 2-3 hours.

Add flour or Bisquick to 1/4 cup of water.  Wisk until smooth.  Pour into pan and stir.  Cook another 15 minutes or so until it thickens a little.

Put in bowl and eat.  Yum!

For me, this meal lasts for a couple of days, which means I can still eat a home cooked meal, use my awesome giant pan, and not cook every day.  Win.