Tag Archives: gastric by-pass surgery

Fun Facts Friday!

I weighed myself this am and I see I am down another pound.  I thought I was down two pounds.  The first time I weighed myself, the scale said 170.  I ran and grabbed my phone to take a picture. Then weighed myself again and it popped up to 171.  Mean old scale!  Still, I’ll take it.

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Here’s the proof!

Another Friday fun fact, I can now wear a size 12 jeans!  I did not think I could ever get here.  Granted, the first time I tried them on, I could not really button them.  So, I laid down on the bed and I was able to get them buttoned!

I told my mom this qualifying my news with the, “Well, they don’t really fit yet.  The only way to button them was to lay down on the bed.”

Her response?  “But if you can button them while lying down, that’s how you know they fit!”

And I wonder why I have body image issues.

Well, the good news is, I’ve lost a couple of pounds since then, and I do not need to lie on the bed to button the size 12 jeans.  I won’t lie.  They are a tad tight, but still. I CAN FREAKING WEAR A SIZE 12!!!!!

That makes me officially out of the plus sizes in pants.  I was always a little bit top-heavy, so it will be a few more pounds before I come down to only a large and not an extra-large in tops, but I’m pretty happy with where I am right now.

I have three pairs of size 11 jeans in my closet.  I tried them on and tried to button them.  Not even close.  I have been wearing the size 14s since March I think  And it’s taken me about 40 pounds to go from 14 to 12.  I’ll give it another 15-20 before I try the 11s again.

So, when I saw my former work buddies last weekend, one of them showed me a picture from two years ago.  I had her text it to me.  This was taken December 2011.  I had already decided to do the gastric by-pass surgery to help me lose weight.  Compare that to this other picture which is me from about a month ago.

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Aug 2012

Aug 2012

What a difference, huh?  I guess that picture was two months ago, now that I look at it.  I have to get some new pictures I think.

If you would have told me two years ago that I would look like I do now, I’m not sure I could have believed it.  I would have wanted to believe it, but the possibility that I could look and feel as good as I do now was something I just could not fathom.  It just goes to show you that you can make big changes in your life.  The results may not come quickly, but if you keep plugging along day by day, you will get there.  And the results can be bigger than you imagined.

Never give up!

To Reveal Or Not To Reveal…That Is The Question

Yesterday, apparently Mika Brzezinski from MSNBC’s Morning Joe tweeted her weight and this made news.  Not only did she tweet her weight, she took a picture of the scale while she was standing on it and tweeted that picture.  I’ve never done that, but you know what…I will do it some time this weekend!  Furthermore, I promise to always take a picture of what the scale says when I post my weight on my blog.

mikaI’m not sure this is actually news but, considering I that my blog is all about weight loss, I wanted to take a minute to talk about it.

As someone who put her weight on her blog from day one, I have to say, Bravo Mika!

Conversely,  this was discussed on theToday Show, and the female host there would not reveal her weight.  At first I was like, “Oh come on, it’s no big deal!”  But you know what?  That’s her choice.  And she made some great points about what the focus on the scale says to young girls.  I applaud her decision as well.

http://www.today.com/video/today/52763659#52763659

This is not an easy decision.  Once I decided to blog about my weight loss journey and my gastric by-pass surgery, I decided that the best and most honest way to do that was to openly tell people my weight.  I had never done that before.   Weight and emotions are so tightly wound together, it can be a real struggle to openly discuss.  It was very difficult for me to put my weight up on the internet for the whole world to see when I weighed close to 300 pounds.  It was embarrassing.  It was also really admitting to the world and myself that yes, I am fat…really, really fat.  Even though I knew I was that I was fat, as long as I did not reveal my weight openly, I could continue to pretend it was not the problem that it was.

Let’s face it.  When you weigh close to 300 pounds, there is no way to really hide it, even from yourself.  So for me, to put it out there and to be really, truly honest about how much I weighed, was liberating.  I was finally able to take steps to fix the problem, even if that step was extreme.

Today, I have no problem telling people how much I weigh.  It’s still on my blog.  I weighed myself this am, in fact.  I tell people all of the time.  I weigh 176 pounds.  I am proud of that.  I’m delighted to tell people that.  I tell perfect strangers.  Openly.  Willingly.  “Hi! Guess what?  I weigh 176 pounds!”

You know what else I tell people?  I used to weigh 298 pounds!  I have lost 122 *&$##ing pounds!  I so totally rock!

(I love to see the look on their faces when I tell them that!)

Yeah, I’d like to lose another 51 pounds.  My goal is 125.  I would love to get there.  But you know what?  If I don’t I’m OK with that.  What I’m not OK with now is pretending any longer.

So, thank you Mika for keeping it real and being truly open about what you have been through and where you are now.  I hope to always be as candid as you!

Follow Mika on Twitter here.

Follow ME on Twitter here!

Home At Last

I am home from my long week in Pittsburgh.  Finally.  It was a very, very long week.  My mother had surgery on her arm which she had broken.  We buried my step-father.  I saw family that I have not seen in years.  It all felt kind of unreal and was very stressful.

I tried as hard as I could to stick close to my diet plan.  I did have a couple of hiccups though.  Then I developed horrible constipation during my last couple of days there.  It got so bad my mother wanted to take me to the ER.  It finally cleared up last night and I was able to make the drive back home safely.  I think it was brought on by a few bad choices and the stress of a very difficult week.  Needless to say, I am very glad that week is over and I am glad to be home.

All that aside, I had three really great experiences I would like to share.

The first, of course, is everyone’s reaction to seeing me 112 pounds smaller.  My stepbrother, Bill, last saw me a couple of years ago.  He and his wife have been getting updates from my mom with pictures.  But pictures really do not do the change I have undergone justice.  When they saw me, they were absolutely flabbergasted.  Bill picked up my baby sister and her husband from the airport and dropped them off at my mom’s house.  He helped bring the luggage in.  When I said hello, he replied with, “OMG Colleen!  When I saw you from the street I thought you were Sandy (my other sister).”  He then gave me a big hug and told me how great I looked.  As we stood there and talked, he just kept shaking his head and saying, “Unbelievable!”  When his wife saw me, she reacted the same way.  Pretty much everyone who saw me had the same reaction.

The other experience had to do with my other stepbrother’s wife.  Michelle had the gastric by-pass surgery a few years ago.  She was so excited when she found out I was getting the surgery.  She has also followed my progress through my mom.  I have not seen her for maybe seven or eight years.  She was always a big woman.  The day of my step-dad’s funeral this tall, thin, gorgeous woman came up to me and gave me a hug to tell me how good it was to see me and how wonderful I looked.  My mouth fell to the floor.  It wasn’t until she started speaking that I knew it was Michelle.  Talk about the tables being turned.

The last and best news that I have to share is I weighed myself when I returned home.  I’ve lost 3 pounds.  I am now down to 183.  At least there is something good that came out of a very long and difficult week.

My Recovery From WLS – Answer To Question #1

Yesterday, I asked what kind of questions people had about my gastric by-pass surgery, recovery, and weight loss.  I actually got several great questions!  I am going to pick a new question each day and use that question as the subject for my blog post.

Today’s question comes from Carrie K.  She asked:

What was your recovery like and how long did it take for you to recover?

That is a great question.  I think to properly answer that, I need to discuss the kind of surgery that I had because there are several options and they each have their own recovery time.  Back in January, I did a whole blog entry about the different types of bariatric surgeries.  The Mayo Clinic has a great site that discusses all of the options as well.  Their site is obviously much more comprehensive than mine.

I had the open rouen-y gastric by-pass but instead of slicing off a portion of my stomach, the doctor stapled off a smaller portion and rerouted my intestines to the new pouch.  My surgery is reversible should the need ever arise.  The surgeon made a 5 inch incision in my belly just below my breast bone.  That is what made mine an open surgery.  Most of the bariatric surgeries are done laparoscopically which reduces the recovery time.

For example, I have a friend who just recently had the gastric sleeve surgery.  I believe hers was done laparoscopically because she is a lot further along in her recover than I was a month after my surgery.  She’s already eating solid/soft food.

I had my surgery October 24.  I was in the hospital for two days after the surgery.  I had my surgery on a Wednesday and was released on a Friday.  I think that I should have stayed one more day, but I let them send me home.  I had a very rough night that night.  I took one month off of work, which was covered under FMLA and I collected short-term disability.

It was probably two weeks before I could actually lay down comfortably and get up out of bed on my own.  I slept in my sister’s big overstuffed chair for about two weeks because I could not lay down and get up by myself.  It was probably two weeks before I could bend over and pick up stuff that I dropped on the floor.  Even still, my sister would not let me bend over because she did not want me to hurt myself.

I went back to work November 19, but at the time, I was working from home.  If I had to commute, I probably would have stayed out of work another month.

I stayed at my sister’s house for the first month after the surgery until the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I went to the mall, Target, the library, etc with her or my brother on almost a daily basis while I was there to walk.  It was pretty cold out at that time and walking inside was best.  So, even though I was off work and still recovering, I was mobile and up and about.

I’d say it took me until about two weeks after the surgery to feel that I could move around somewhat normally with minimal pain.  I was off the pain meds by the fourth day home from the hospital.  After my second day home, I only took the pain medication at night when the pain was really bad.  By the time I was back at my place in November, I was walking about with no problem, which was a huge improvement over my life before the surgery.

I ate pureed food for the first six weeks.  Then soft food until the end of December beginning of January.  I am basically eating somewhat normally now, albeit very, very small meals.

I had a pretty invasive surgery which accounts for the long recovery.  Also, while the doctor was operating, he noticed that my liver was not in the greatest of shape.  It was covered in fat and enlarged.  So, he took a small sample of my liver for tests.  I had some pain and irritation on the right side under my ribs as a result.

Fortunately, the pathology from the liver test did not reveal any major problems, which is a huge relief for me.  There is a hereditary illness in my family called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency which affects the liver.  I am a carrier, but to date, I have not experienced any symptoms.  My liver was fatty, which is bad, but the surgeon feels sure that after I lose weight, the liver will correct itself.  I am glad to hear that.  Having a fatty liver also explains why my triglycerides were out of control high before the surgery.  Now, 110 pounds smaller, my triglycerides are in the normal range.  My personal doctor will probably want me to get my liver looked at again once I have lost some more weight.

I hope that answers your question, Carrie.  Each person’s recover will certainly be different.  The type of surgery they have, their own personal reaction to the surgery, their health before the surgery will all affect the length and quality of their recovery.  Mine took a while, but I was in pretty bad shape before the surgery.  Now, I’m doing great!

Keep the questions coming!!

What Do You Want To Know?

Lately, I have not been blogging quite as much.  I was on quite a tear there for a while blogging every day or nearly every day.  I seem to have run out of ideas lately.  My weight loss has slowed down.  I have been walking a lot more, exercising a little bit.  And in many ways, my life has become much busier recently.  And I seem to have run out of ideas to keep the daily posts going.  I fear that I am repeating myself a lot.  Still, I feel guilty about not blogging every day.  I feel that I should at least say something, because after all, the struggle to lose weight and make healthy choices continues every day even after weight loss surgery and losing a huge amount of weight.

I know that I have lost a lot of weight, I have purged my closet of big clothes several times.  I have bought some new outfits.  I even bought some used clothes.  And I inherited a large number of t-shirts, etc from my sister.  Even after all of this, I am still not done losing.  To reach my goal, I have 63 pounds to go.  If I never reach that goal, I’m OK.  I have achieved a lot thus far and I am happy with what I have achieved.

I can walk.  I can breathe.  I can walk and breathe at the same time.  I have a lot more energy.  My blood pressure is controlled without meds.  I no longer use the c-pap machine.  My cholesterol is under control, and my triglycerides are normal.  That last one makes me very happy because heart disease runs in my family.

I love the blog and I do not see an end to it, but I guess I need to find some more topics to cover.  I have written about a lot of different subjects.  I have tried to be as truthful as possible about my experience with gastric by-pass surgery, the good and the bad.  I have described the surgery, the recovery, what it is like to be fat, what it is like to feel invisible, what it’s like to no longer feel invisible, all kinds of subjects.

So, I am going to turn this blog around a bit and I hope this experiment works.  I want to hear from you guys, my readers.  I know most of you are friends and family and I have talked to you guys endlessly about the surgery.  But I also have a couple of readers I do not know personally.  In either case, I am looking for questions from all of you.

Tell me what you want to know.  Is there a subject that I haven’t covered that you want to know about?  Do you have a question about weight loss surgery that I have not answered?  Are there things in my life that have changed that I have not shared with the blogosphere that you want to know about?  Ask away.  I will use your questions as new subject matter for me to explore and write about.

I will answer any serious question about weight loss surgery or changes in my life as honestly as I can no matter how personal.  I know that opens up a can of worms for people to ask all kinds of ridiculous things, but I trust my readers.  If I come across questions I feel I cannot or will not answer, I will address that as needed.  I also reserve the right to mock people who ask questions that are intended to insult fat people, women, me, or otherwise corrupt what I am trying to do with this experiment.

So, tell me…what is it you want to know?

Commuter Colleen

“This is my right; it is the right of every human being. I choose not the suffocating anesthetic of the suburbs, but the violent jolt of the Capital, that is my choice. The meanest patient, yes, even the very lowest is allowed some say in the matter of her own prescription. Thereby she defines her humanity.”  (emphasis mine) – Virginia Woolf, The Hours by Michael Cunningham.

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I love the violent jolt of the morning commute into our Capital city.  I don my commuter gear, my sunglasses, my ipod, and a thick veneer of commuter indifference to protect myself from the crowd, screaming street vendors, and panhandlers alike. I take a bus to the Pentagon every morning, which is cool in and of itself.  I arrive one minute before my blue line train arrives.  Today I had to charge my fare card again, but being a pro by now, I can add money to my card and run (yes, I said run) to catch my train, weaving between yellow line commuters to get to the doors.  Because I have done this 1,000 times, I know the perfect place to stand so that  am as close to the doors as possible. 

I stand on the train because there is nowhere to sit.  Besides, sitting is for sissies.  Commuter Colleen stands.  I hold onto the rails for dear life while sifting through songs on my ipod and turning epages on my electronic device.  I wear my sunglasses on the train which helps me ignore the crushing hordes of people on either side of me. 

I exit the train at Foggy Bottom, the center of GWU and GW Hospital.  I push my way up the escalator.  I know the unspoken metro escalator rules.  Stand right, walk left.  I emerge from the metro tunnel in blinding sunlight, weave through the crowds to begin my 5 1/2 block trek to my office, my feet pounding on the sidewalk in time to whatever fast-paced music I am listening to.

I know it is a grind.  Waiting for the bus, dealing with the crowded metro trains that are forever delayed.  The crowds in the city.  The increased potential for crime.  But still, I love it.

Some days are worse than others.  One day on the way home the trains were so crowded that I was crushed up against the exit doors.  I had to step out of the train at the Rosslyn station to let other commuters off.  But that station was so crowded, I could hardly take a step back.  One guy, in his frustration reached out and pushed me hard as he exited the train.  I pushed back and loudly called him an asshole.  Commuter Colleen is aggressive and tough.  She takes no crap!

My brother and sister each live out in the ex-urbs of DC in a far away land called Sterling, which is a mere 25 miles from where I live in Arlington.  It might as well be a different country.  My sister lives about 2-3 miles from where she works and would not have it any other way.  My brother does work in Tyson’s, but still prefers to live as far away from the city as possible.

I have to admit, where they live is very nice.  They each have a big yard and land.  They live in nice, quiet neighborhoods with lots of children.  Play dates and nice leisurely strolls through well manicured streets and parks galore. 

I pay probably about the same, maybe a little less, for a studio apartment.  The best place to go walking has many shops and restaurants.  And I’m not far from a bike path.  The area where I live is pretty nice, but just down the road is a much more modest neighborhood that is sometimes kind of sketchy.  Still, I love living this close to the city.  True denizens of DC consider where I live in Arlington to be the boonies, and I am six miles from my office.

When people ask me why I live here or why I don’t move out to nowheresville, I am always surprised.  I usually give them my stock answer…it’s closer to work and I would hate to commute into the city from out in the middle of nowhere.  And that is true.  It’s more true, however, that  I would probably die a slow and lingering death living out in the safe, calm, anesthetic land of manicured driveways and safe clean parks. 

The most exciting part of the commute for me is that I am able to do it at all.  Just a couple of years ago, I used to commute into DC for my job.  I worked a block from the Metro station and I really struggled to get there.  Between back pain and an inability to breathe made the short walk and ride on the metro train unbearable.  I used to sometimes take a cab into the city just to avoid the hellish commute.  But that’s $20 each way, and I cannot afford that often.

Now, the commute is not quite so hellish.  I look forward to my morning and afternoon walks to and from the metro station.  I’m thankful, even that I have such a hike to give me a chance to get some exercise in.  I even find that long walk is not enough.  I am going to have to add an evening walk through my neighborhood or even on the treadmill, which I can hardly believe.  Before the surgery, I could barely walk to the bus stop.  Now I’m standing on the metro, running to catch trains, walking through the city, and planning additional walking because apparently 10 blocks a day is not enough.

Besides, not every commuting experience is stressful.  I was in the “commuter zone” during one of my morning jaunts into the city.  The blue line train was taking forever.  I can take a yellow line to L’Enfant Plaza, which by-passes Foggy Bottom.  I then have to change trains and back-track through the city to Foggy Bottom.  It’s not my favorite route, but sometimes I just cannot wait.  I had to do that one day.  I walked onto the crowded blue line train in L’Enfant Plaza and nearly tripped over a baby stroller that was sticking out from under someone’s seat.  A man with a baby on his lap apologized to me and told the child sitting across from him (clearly his other child) to make sure she kept the stroller folded and under the seat.  I told him it was fine and stood there tuning him out for the rest of the ride. 

Shortly into the ride, I felt a tug on the front of my jacket.  I looked down and this adorable little girl who was maybe ten months old with cute brown eyes and little brown pigtails looked up and smiled at me through her pacifier.  She reached up with one hand and took the pacifier out of her mouth and curled her cute little fingers on her other hand into a small wave.  She smiled again and said “hi.” 

What could I do.  I felt the commuter veneer of indifference melt away and I smiled and said “hello” back to her.  Her father immediately corrected her and said, “Leave the nice lady alone.”  I just smiled back and said, “She’s just fine.”

Closet Clothing Finds

I am now down to a size 20 in blouses.  I can hardly believe it.  Today, I wore a shirt that I purchased the last time I was a size 20.  I think that was in 1999.  Yes, I have some old clothes.  But I am thankful that I saved those clothes because I can wear them now.

I tried to get a good picture of me in this blouse, as I do not have a full length mirror, this was difficult.

blouse

I love the blouse and it looks good on me.  I have few outfits I feel I can say that about.  As I have been losing weight, I have been trying on different outfits in my closet that I have been holding onto for years.  Some of the clothes I bought when I was thinner and only wore a few times.  Some of the clothes were a gift from a friend who had the surgery herself.  These are three of my favorites.  Not great pictures, but trust me, cute clothes.

 

I love finding these clothes in my closet.  Of course, finding them was made easier by some of the pre-surgery purging and cleaning that I did.  Yes, I had a bunch of clothes in storage bins in my closet, but because I purged a lot of clothes that I either did not wear, that I hated, or that I thought was no longer wearable because of stains, holes, or other damage.  Or if I just thought something was ugly and had no intention of wearing it ever again.  Once I made room in my closet by purging the crap, I was able to take all of the clothes that I had in storage out in anticipation of being able to wear them during my weight loss.

Well here I am, deep in the throes of my weight loss, and I am enjoying finding new clothes to wear every day.  Now that I a working in DC, I have a place to wear these outfits.  Many people are encouraging me to go out and shop now for clothes.  I really do not want to spend money on clothes that I will not be able to wear in a month or two.  That seems like a huge waste of money to me.  Yes, I’m running low on pants and skirts.  I will need to replace those as I lose, definitely.  While I saved every blouse or dress I ever laid my hands on, I did not do the same for pants.  I just got rid of a pair of jeans, three pairs of dress pants, one pair of casual pants, and two skirts because they do not fit anymore.   I also have two other pairs of jeans, the size 24 jeans that I purchased in December and excitedly blogged about, that are on their way out.  I can barely keep them up.

I will then be down to, one pair of jeans, two pairs of yoga pants, one pair of leggings and three black skirts.  I do have about 6 other skirts that I can just about wear, which is good, but no additional pants.  So, unless I want to wear skirts everywhere, or run around looking like I’m in my jammies, I will need to get more jeans and pants as I continue to lose.

Once I get down below a size 14, I will need to basically need to replace my entire wardrobe.  I have nothing below a size 14 in my closet.  My sister has some clothes that she will give to me, but she wears a size 6.  There are a lot of sizes under 14 that I need to go through to get a size 6, if I ever do.

But before I get to the shopping spree or the hand-me-downs, I am enjoying finding cool outfits in my closet that I am able to wear again.