Monthly Archives: April 2013

Meet Grady

For the past couple of days, I have been cat-sitting for a friend.  My friend Andy went on vacation with a couple of friends and I have been in charge of taking care of his cat Grady.  I stop by, check on the food, water, litter situation, give the cat a treat or two, spend some time petting Grady and listening to his complaints.

He does not seem like a complainer cat in general, but he is a rather particular cat.  Please see his list of “concerns” below.


  • What have you done with Andy?
  • What?  He’ll be gone for how long?  That is unacceptable.
  • You only gave me four treats.  I need more.
  • By the way, I knocked some of my cat food out of the bowl.  Clean it up.
  • I have used the litter box since you’ve been here.  Scoop it again before you leave.
  • You’re a good petter, but you’re not here nearly often enough nor long enough and Andy does it better.
  • That’s enough petting for now.  I’m done with you.  Come back tomorrow.
  • You have my permission to withdraw.
  • Tell Andy I have a special surprise for him when he returns. hehe.


Surgeon – Six Month Post-Surgical Update

Today I saw my surgeon for my six month update.  I had blood taken last week so that they could test my vitamin/protein levels in my system to make sure that I am receiving the proper nutrients. 

Everything looked good.  I still weigh 196.  My total weight loss to date is 102 pounds.  He cleared me to kick up the exercise.  I am going to join a gym, do yoga, and I have been meditating.  The surgeon then wants to see me in three months.  In between, I will have my annual physical with my primary care doctor.

So far, health-wise, I’m doing pretty good.  I know I feel great, so much better than I did before.  Just the fact that I can walk as much as I like and not struggle to breathe or stand is a miracle to me.

Spring Cleaning Sunday

Today is a day of cleaning.  I thought I would start in the kitchen.  I emptied the dishwasher and loaded up my breakfast dishes along with a few random coffee cups.  Then I opened the refrigerator and decided I needed to start in the bathroom instead.

Now, I keep my bathroom relatively clean.  I cleaned the tub last weekend and wiped off the sink twice this week.  I also wipe down the toilet regularly.  Then the maintenance crew from the building came in this week to replace the filters in the air unit.  They decided that the light in my bathroom needed to be changed.  When that did not improve the lighting situation, I was informed that they needed to replace a part in the light fixture.  I left them to their task and went to work.  When I came home, I discovered my sink was covered in crud.  The dust from the fluorescent light fixture in the bathroom deposited itself on my sink and consequentially, my toothbrush.  I have since replaced the toothbrush.  I dusted the crud off of the sink, but it still was not quite clean enough.

Today, I began the process of de-crudding my sink.  This led to me cleaning the tub and toilet again, which caused me to pick up everything off of the bathroom floor.  Once I pulled up the floor mat and removed the cleaning bottles from around the toilet, I was horrified.  It’s amazing what proper lighting in the bathroom reveals.  I got out my vacuum cleaner and hosed up all of the hair from the floor around the toilet.  Then I sprayed it down with disinfectant and scrubbed until shiny.  I worked my way around the bathroom, cleaning the tub, toilet, and sink along the way.  Now my bathroom sparkles.  I had to turn the light off, it was blinding.  I’m afraid to use it.  I don’t want to mess it up.

Next stop, kitchen and the dreaded refrigerator!  If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, send reinforcements…

A B-e-a-utiful Day in the Neighborhood

Today is a gorgeous day and I just could not sit at home.  I found that I could not sit at home last night either.  I came home from work, changed my clothes, and walked down to the village to have some tea and read for a bit.  Shortly after I arrived and started reading, my friend Andy sent me a FB message asking me to watch his cat while he is out of town.

A bush of azaleas I walk by on my way to Shirlington Village.

A bush of azaleas I walk by on my way to Shirlington Village.

I let him know that I would be happy to feed and water his cat while he was gone, and by the way, I’m at the coffee shop, come meet me now.  He did and we sat and talked for quite a bit.  It took me a long time to actually work up an appetite to eat.  My work had catered lunch from a barbecue restaurant (Rocklands OMG yum!) and I was not hungry for a good long time afterwards.  When I could eat, I made my friend walk down to a local restaurant, which was just a block away.  I had chicken salad and fruit.  After another long talk, I finally paid my bill and we walked back over to where he had parked.  I then made the short trek back up the hill to my apartment.  He would have given me a ride, but I made it clear that I wanted to walk, especially since I had just eaten.

This morning, I was actually very lazy.  I had breakfast in bed, cheese and fruit.  I watched romance movie after romance movie.  That was such a bad idea.  I actually woke up at about 5:00 am and turned on the tv.  Never a good idea.  Out of Africa was on and I immediately tuned to that channel.  I just love that movie.  I fell back asleep with that show in the background.  I allowed the romance between Karen and Denys to influence my dreams and I awoke again to Karen reading a poem at his funeral, but in my dream, the poem did not have the heavy, bittersweet feeling of loss portrayed in the movie.  Dreams are strange that way.  Then, just before I was fully awake, I dreamed that I heard a knock on my door.  Three quick raps.  It was 7:00 am.  I went over to the door and peeked outside and of course no one was there, but now I was up.  The day began with a strange sense of hope and possibility.

I took my time getting ready.  I watched the last half of Sense and Sensibility as I had my breakfast and then showered.  I read a little bit.  Then put on another movie.  I did my hair and carefully picked out my clothes for the day.  I tried on a new pair of shorts that I bought at a second-hand store.  They are a size large.  They are snug, but they fit.  I was elated.  I’m not sure where “large” fits into the size-scale.  Does that make them a 14 or a 16?  I think they might be in the 14 range.  My size 18 jeans were practically falling off of me yesterday.  I think I’m solidly in the 16 size because my size 14 jeans do not quite fit me yet.  It’s hard for me to tell since I do not actually own pants that are a size 16.  I’m not going to worry about it though, as I will probably be a size 14 soon enough.

I finally drove over to my sister’s house.  By the time I arrived there, it was probably 1:00 pm and we went to lunch.  I insisted on sitting outside because the day is so beautiful.  I had salad with warm goat cheese and pecans.  So delicious.  Unlike me, my sister spent the morning digging and planting in her yard.  I don’t have a yard, just an apartment.  Once she ate, she was exhausted.  I took her back home and came here to Starbucks to write.

When my sister first saw me, she said she could not believe how small I was.  I looked in the full length mirror at her house and I was stunned.  I do look small.  “I look almost like a normal person,” I told her.  “Yeah, but you’re anything but normal, Colleen!”  Aren’t sister’s great?

me 4-27-13

I had her take this picture of me outside the restaurant.

I am not sure what other events this day will bring, but I am so happy the weather is finally warm enough to enjoy some outside time.


Day Of Reckoning

Monday I have my six month follow-up with the surgeon’s office.  I am actually quite nervous.  The last time I saw him three months ago, I had lost about 50 pounds.  Now I have lost over 100 pounds.  That is 50 pounds since I last saw him.  I know he will be happy for me.

I was apparently quite a mess before the surgery.  My triglycerides were dangerously high.  My good cholesterol was low.  My liver was enlarged and very fatty.  I was morbidly obese.  I could barely walk or breathe.  I was a mess.  The surgeon told my mother how worried he was about me, but he did the best he could and had high hopes that I could recover if I followed the plan.

I have been very strict with this diet.  I am walking for exercise.  I am doing really well.  I have had my blood checked and my cholesterol and liver numbers were very good.  I think the surgeon will be pleased.  I am just waiting to hear from my doctor to see what my vitamin levels are.  I have not had those results yet.  My primary doctor is supposed to have the results faxed to my surgeon’s office.  I hope he has the results by Monday.

When I look back to October 24 and think about how far I have come and the difference this surgery has made to my life, I am so glad that I did this.  I feel so completely different than I did before.  I feel like a completely different person.  I can’t wait to see what the next six months brings.


That’s how I feel today.  I had to go get some blood work done.  Of course, I had to fast, so no food since dinner last night.  I also did not have much water this am.  I have since eaten, but they took 7 vials of blood, so I’m still a bit woozy.

I went to my primary care doctor, who I have not seen since just before the surgery.  I had one phone conversation with her after the surgery, but all of my follow-ups have been with surgeon.  I am scheduled for my annual physical, which is coming up soon. 

The nurse in her office did not recognize me.  I saw the look of confusion on her face as we walked back to the dreaded scale.  “I’m going to have to weigh you,” she tells me.  I knew she would definitely be surprised.

Most of the staff in her office knew that I was having the gastric by-pass surgery.  I’m not really sure what they expected.  The nurse weighed me and then entered my weight into the little mini lap-top they carry around with them.  Everything in their office is very high-tech. 

“Wow! Oh my God!”

“I know.”

“A hundred pounds!” she continued. 

“I know.”

“Oh you look so good, Colleen.  I didn’t recognize you.  Wait until the doctor sees you.”

The nurse takes me back to the little room.  She does the standard, “What brings you here today,” routine.  Checks my temperature, my blood pressure, my pulse.  All are normal.  Still no meds on my part. 

The nurse leaves and I hear excited chatter up at the nurses station, but I cannot really make out what they are saying.  Then I hear the hurried clicking of high heels on linoleum getting closer to the door.  A quick rap and my doctor enters not waiting for me to say anything.  She is all smiles when she enters the room and I can tell she is excited to see my progress for herself.  “Wow, Colleen! One hundred pounds!  You look so good!  How are you feeling?”

We had a nice conversation about everything I have been through.  She asked me specific questions about different things.  I told her about my struggles with constipation and feeling unsteady.  I also told her all of the good things like being able to breathe and walk. 

She’s very happy that my blood pressure is normal.  I shared with her the blood test results from the health screening my employer did.  She was happy to see my triglycerides were way down.  My blood sugar is normal.  My cholesterol is normal.  My good cholesterol still needs to come up some, but she’s not overly worried about that just yet.

After the appointment, she sent me across the hall to get blood drawn.  The surgeon’s office wants to check my vitamin levels to make sure I’m taking enough vitamins.  Malabsorption is a serious problem after the gastric by-pass surgery.  They take so much blood for that test though.  It may take me all day to recover.


Fifteen or so years ago when I weighed what I weigh now, I had a completely different outlook on my health and what I actually looked like.

I had at one point weighed about 245-ish and had lost enough weight to get me down in the 190s range.  I worked with my doctor and a nutritionist.  Shortly after my father passed away in 1996, I stopped going to the nutritionist, gave up on my weight loss progress, stopped exercising, and stopped doing yoga.  Obviously, I became depressed in my mourning and I allowed that to derail my health goals.  I bounced around the 200-220 range for a couple of years and in the early 2000s, my weight jumped up to 300-315 range and never came back down.

I will forever regret allowing my health goals to fall my the wayside, but looking back I can see my weight loss progress at that time was ultimately doomed to failure.  Allow me to explain.

It all boils down to perspective.  During that time period, after I had lost about 50 pounds, you could show me pictures of myself before and after the weight loss and I could see no discernible difference.  In my opinion, I looked the same.  All I saw was a fat girl.  Furthermore, the people I had in my life at the time also only saw a fat girl.  Whether they saw a difference between the 245 Colleen and the 195 Colleen was immaterial, to them, I was still fat.  Furthermore, if they did see a difference in my weight, they never mentioned it to me, or never mentioned it in a way that let me know they were happy with the progress that I had made.

I’m not blaming anyone for my inability to stay on track, mind you.  I merely want to point out that I had a serious mind-body disconnect and seriously unhealthy, unproductive relationships with people in my life.

Maybe I have lived alone too long.  Maybe I have developed a healthy dose of skepticism in other people’s opinions.  Maybe years, time, and experience have changed my outlook on life.  Who knows.  But I do know that I have changed.  While I value other people’s opinions, I find that I have stopped letting how I think they see me dictate how I see myself.  I also try to look at my life and behavior more honestly than I have in the past.  I’m not perfect at this, but I do try.

When I look at myself in before/after pictures now, I really see a difference in my weight loss.  Recently, I found a picture that a friend of mine posted on Facebook from her wedding.  The wedding took place in 2003, I think.  I know that I moved back to DC in 2004, so it definitely took place before then.  I was huge in this picture.  I think I was at my maximum weight, which was 315.  I was a mess.  I compared that picture to a pictures that a friend of mine took this weekend, and wow…the difference is staggering! (I am the one in pink.)


This is a picture a friend of mine took this weekend.


What a difference, huh?

Maybe I needed to fall that far to really appreciate where I am now.  Who knows, but I sure am glad that I made the decision to change my life.

Do I still look at photos of myself and see that I am still overweight?  Yes, of course I do.  Sometimes, I look at current pictures of myself and all I see is how much work I have to do.  But unlike before, I also see how far I have come.  I feel better.  I know I look better.  And mostly, I don’t care what other people think or what they think they see when they look at me.  I know what I have accomplished.  I know that I will one day get close enough to my goal to make a real difference.  Most importantly, I know that I will never go back!

Shoe Frustration At DSW

So, I almost bitch-slapped the sales person at DSW Pentagon Row today.  First let’s start with the fact that all of the parking at Pentagon Row is metered.  It is also dreadfully difficult to find an open spot.  The only other alternative is to park in the garage and pay an a lot to park.  That already has me a little hot.

Then I spent about 20 minutes wandering around their store for shoes in my size.  As I have discussed in a previous post, I have wide feet.  I have always had wide feet, even as a child.  So, shopping for shoes is really a horrible experience for me.  I do not like to buy shoes online because they never fit.  I always end up sending them back.  I much prefer to go into the store and try them on.

Well, apparently, only girls with normal sized feet have that privilege at DSW.

After driving around looking for metered parking and then paying $2.00 to park in the garage, I get to DSW to have the snooty sales rep make a disgusted face at me and say, “Oh we only sell THOSE shoes online.”  And the look he had on his face made it seem as if I was asking for something so distasteful as to activate his gag reflex.


So, I said, “That’s discriminatory. What, you don’t think fat chicks wear shoes?”  I turned on my heel and walked right out of the store.

I am furious.  When I’m done blogging, I am going to their website and lodging a complaint.  I know it will get me nowhere, but still.  I am doing it.  I am so offended.  So, because I have wide feet, I have to pay for their shoes first and have them shipped to me before I try them on?  And if they don’t fit?  Do I then have to pay to ship them back to you and wait for you to give me my money back?

You know, I went out today with the intent to spend my money to do my share to keep the economy rolling.  If my money isn’t good enough to keep my size shoe in your store, I will shop somewhere else and keep that store in business. F#%k DSW.  Seriously.

I am tired of going to stores and finding either no plus sized clothing or one wall sparsely covered with the ugliest clothes I’ve ever seen.

I’m overweight, yes, but I still like to look nice.

I know I won’t be a plus size for very much longer, but I will still continue to be outraged by the sub par treatment larger women receive from clothing and shoes retailers.

Yet Another Closet Purge

Now that I have lost over 100 pounds, I feel the need to purge my closet again.  I am already up to three garbage bags of clothes that I need to get rid of.

I have to get rid of nearly all of my pants.  That means I am down to one pair of jeans that are too small.  My sister insisted that I buy a pair of size 14p jeans.  Not quite to a size 14 yet, but getting there.  I also have a couple of pairs of stretch pants and one pair of shorts.

I am going to get rid of all clothes, mostly blouses, that are a size 24 or above.  I’ve purged my closet of all sizes above that, I think.  Now I’m going to concentrate on the size 24s.  I want to get rid of size 22s as well, but I’m a little bit concerned because I will be running out of clothes soon.

Yes, my sister did just buy me $350.00 worth of clothes and I supplemented with another $100 or so, but still, my wardrobe is thinning.

I almost bought three dresses and a skirt at Macy’s yesterday, but that was another $150-ish.  I really cannot afford that.  I need to save my money for when I drop out of the plus size clothing, which I see approaching rapidly just on the horizon.  Now, my wonderful sister is going to be giving me a bunch of clothes that she has purged from her wardrobe, but they are a size 6-8.  I’m not quite in that size range yet.  Some of the blouses are a large size, which I may be fitting into soon, but still, not quite ready.  Not to mention, I don’t think I was ever a size 6.

I haven’t added a cat picture in a very long time.  Here is an adorable picture of my sister’s adorable kitty Oscar.  She is a Ragdoll and is so cuddly and cute.


Drum Roll Please…

Today is a momentous day.  I had my gastric by-pass surgery October 24, 2012.  Today I am 4 days short of the six month mark,  Today I surpassed a major milestone.

Today, I weigh 197.  I have lost 101 pounds in six months.


I can hardly believe it.  I am overjoyed that I have passed this milestone, but I have to admit I have been struggling recently.  Not really with the weight loss.  I have been losing weight pretty steadily.

I have been feeling this restlessness and a growing emptiness inside me.  I’m not sure what it is, exactly.  I think part of it may be loneliness.  I have lived nearly all of my adult life alone and on my own.  I have watched all of my friends and family around me build lives, get married, have children while I have stagnated.

But I do not think what I am feeling is just loneliness.  I have been really struggling over the past few weeks to define it.  I have had many semi-sleepless night going through my emotions and everything I have been through.  I think part of my introspection is a result of this blog.  I also think part of it has to do with several of the personal essays I have written recently.  I have spent much of the last year really delving into my life.  I have examined many reasons why my life has turned out the way it has.

Ultimately though, I think this restlessness and emptiness are necessary.  I have this growing, overwhelming desire to fill my life, that emptiness with something substantial, but what that is I really do not know.  I’m not sure that I can really narrow down that desire to just one thing.  It feels more like I want to fill it by experiencing everything.

I think the emptiness was always there.  I just buried with food, video games, anger, and depression instead of dealing with the problems in my life.  I let that behavior go on for far too long.

This surgery, this weight loss has given me the opportunity to change all of this.  The question is, what do I do now?