Tag Archives: gastric bypass

Sisters Weekend and the New and Semi-Improved Me

My baby sister Jenny lives in Minnesota.  Well, this weekend, she was in Pittsburgh visiting my mother.  My other sister Sandy lives not far from me.  We carpooled up to PA to visit with my mom and our baby sister.  None of us have seen Jen since her wedding, (see previously posted pic of us at her wedding).

We were all very excited to get together and have all the girls together again.  I wanted to get my hair done before going to town.  Jen is a hairstylist.  I did not want to go to see her with that mess of a hairdo I have been sporting since the surgery.

Photo on 2013-01-21 at 21.09

She called me before the trip and told me she was bringing hair cutting supplies with her and she wanted to celebrate my 73 pound weight loss with a new hairstyle.  She also planned to stop by a beauty supply store and pick up some professional hair coloring to cover up my gray hair.  She also wanted to do Sandy’s hair.  Neither one of us are fashionistas like Jen, so we really appreciate her bringing us up to speed.

In addition to being a hairstylist, Jen has her certification as a Master Colorist.  Impressive.  As a funny aside, the day she received her certificate, she was so excited.  When I found out I called and left her this voicemail message:

“Jen, I have a serious problem and I need the help of a professional.  What two colors do I mix together to make purple?”

Yeah, I was teasing her, but that’s my job as a big sister.  We older siblings reserve the right to torture our younger siblings for being the youngest and getting all the things we were not allowed to have like their own room with a phone and lax rules for staying out on weekends.  Granted, the rest of us had moved out by the time she was a teenager, but that’s no excuse.  But I digress.

Nonetheless, Jen did not miss a beat and came back with, “You have a pen handy?  Write this down.  Red and blue make purple, crazy girl!”

In addition to getting my hair done, she and my mom wanted to take me clothes shopping for new pants since all of my pants either do not fit me at all or are starting to feel a little big, even the new jeans I bought in December.

We went to the mall on Saturday and checked out many stores.  We walked so much, we wore my mother out, which takes a lot.  We were all kind of tired except for Jen who can keep going forever, I think.  I went to many normal clothes stores with them.  Of course, there was nothing for me.  I did see a lot of clothes that I can wear after I lose a lot more weight, but nothing that I can wear now.

So, then we went to Kohls and Target on Sunday to try to find pants for me.  I do not know why we did not hit Lane Bryant or The Avenue while we were at the mall, but we did not.  I also did not want to spend a lot for pants since I will be losing more weight over the next few months.

We went to Kohls first and we could not find the plus sizes anywhere.  We finally found the section upstairs way in the back.  One or two walls filled with the ugliest clothes I have ever seen.  The only “activewear” pants they had were made from velour.  Not happening.  We were hoping to get some more yoga pants.  So, we left there and went to Target.  Again, very difficult to find the plus sizes.  Then one tiny corner of semi-OK clothes.  I did get a pair of cute purple pants, size 22!  And one pair of yoga pants in a 1x.

In December, my new jeans were a size 24.  The purple pants fit me perfectly.  The yoga pants fit me perfectly in a 1x as well.  For those of you who do not know, a size 22 is the equivalent of a 2x.  A size 1x is about an 18/20.  I am still wearing a 22-24 in tops.  I also got a light spring jacket, which my Jen insisted that I had to have since my purple jacket and winter coat are way to big for me.  The jacket is a little small, but it will fit me in a month.

As we were walking away from the plus section in Target, Jen said to me, “No offense, Colleen, but the clothes for plus sizes suck!  You get the teeniest section with the worst looking clothes.  Geeze even fat girls want to have cute clothes!”

I responded with, “Don’t I know it!  Welcome to my world!”

She went on with to say that somebody should do something about that.  I told her to let me know when she gets that fixed.  And while you’re at it, please let the clothes makers know that not all fat girls are nine feet tall.  Even the petites go down over my shoes much of the time.

My mom treated me to new pants and Jen did my hair.  I think she did a great job on my hair.  I was not in Pittsburgh for very long, but I sure had a great time!  Please enjoy the before and after pictures of me and Sandy.

I love my new hair!  It is a little Marlo Thomas-esque, but very cute.  Sandy went from gray to platinum blonde.  A true Targaryan if I ever saw one!

Me and Jen BEFORE

Me and Jen BEFORE

 

Me and Jen AFTER

Me and Jen AFTER

Sandy and Jen BEFORE

Sandy and Jen BEFORE

Sandy and Jen AFTER

Sandy and Jen AFTER

Colleen Jen and Sandy looking good!

Colleen Jen and Sandy looking good!

Other Noticeable Changes

Just a quick post today as I am getting ready to run out the door to go to an art thingy with a friend of mine.

I’ve written about changes that I have noticed in how I look, thinner face, fitting into booths at restaurants, and walking, but there are many other changes that I have noticed since my remarkable 60 pound weight loss.

1. Putting on my shoes – I have noticed that I putting on my shoes and socks is much easier.  I can now put my left foot up onto my right knee while sitting in a chair.  I could not do that before.  I would have to sit on the bed so that I had room to spread out just to put on my shoes and socks.  I am much more flexible now.

2. Pain – The back pain I suffered from is nearly completely gone.  I still have some pain now and then, but the excruciating back pain from just standing or walking is gone.  My feet also do not hurt as much.

3. Sleep – I am sleeping much more soundly, but I am still using the c-pap machine.

4. Movement – All movement is much easier.  Bending over is easier.  Getting up and down from the floor when I’m playing games with my niece.  Getting in and out of the shower.  Going up and down stairs is much easier.

Overall, I just feel so much better.  Other people have commented that I seem happier, bubblier than before.  I have more energy than before and I really do enjoy getting out of the house to do things.  I am definitely happy that I have made this change in my life even though sometimes it has been difficult.

Clearing Away Old Ghosts

Part of what I have been doing over the past year, in addition to preparing for my weight loss surgery and dealing with the aftermath of said surgery, has been trying to deal with things that I have ignored for a long time.  I have taken care of a lot of financial problems that I had.  I gave up video gaming.  I started taking care of my overall health, which I have had trouble dealing with for years.  So many things.

Before my surgery, I cleaned out my big walk in closet.  Cleaned out all of the remaining boxes I had not unpacked except for one that I cleaned out after the surgery.  I reorganized the closet, bought more hangers, hung up all of my clothes that I didn’t have room for, threw away or gave away a lot of clothes.

In the same spirit of purging and reorganizing, I cleaned out my hall closet yesterday.  Anytime I would order anything online, or if my mom sent me a box of supplies, or if I bought something that came in a box like my new coffee maker, I threw the box into the hall closet.  I’ve wanted to clean this closet out for a long time and clear out these boxes.  So, I did this yesterday.

Most of the boxes, I flattened and took out to the trash room in my building.  Some of the boxes, I discovered were filled with old bills, books, and other things I just did not know what to do with.  I created a bag of stuff to shred.  I then ordered a new shredder online.  My old one broke, you see.  I put the books on my bookshelves.  The other stuff, I sorted through.  I chucked a bunch of stuff and threw it into the trash.  I did keep a couple of useful items, which I then put away.

I feel so organized.

I have two more cleaning projects on my list.  One, I need to clean out the cabinet in my kitchen that holds all of my plastic containers.  Currently, my cupboard looks like the “before” picture in one of those commercials for better products which has the ancillary benefit of keeping you more organized.  When I put another plastic container in there now, I open it and quickly toss the container in and shut it immediately to keep anything else from pouring out of it and onto the floor.  God forbid I actually have to take one out.  I’m so ashamed.

The second project is cleaning out from under my bathroom sink.  I cannot find anything under there.  I know I have soap, lotions, shampoos, vitamins, etc, but your guess is as good as mine as to how I find these items.

I’ll probably throw a lot of stuff away in both cases.  Although, I am kind of a fanatic when it comes to recycling, so I will probably put most of the plastic stuff into the recycle bin, whether it’s recyclable or not.  In either case, the organization and purging must occur.

Organizing my life is not nearly as much fun as binge eating an entire bag of Cheetos or Doritos or fantasizing about pizza, but I feel so much better afterwards.

 

Convalescence

I was released from the hospital late in the afternoon on Friday.  Now I am at my sister Sandy’s place convalescing.  And yes, we have taken to calling her Hurricane Sandy.

Friday was rough.  They brought me pureed food for lunch in the hospital on Friday.  Up until then, I had been having liquids only.  Chicken broth, jello, and juice.  I have to say, I think they overdid it with the sweet stuff in the hospital.  Between the juice and the jello and the constant deliveries of bottled crystal light, I became  nauseous just looking at anything sweet.  The food services people refused to remove the things I did not eat because I may want them later.  I finally had to make my mom or sister throw them away because I could not even stand the sight of anything sweet.

I was never much of a sweet drinker.  I gave up drinking soda in 1992.  If I had iced tea or even hot tea, I did not put sugar in it.  The only sweet thing that I really liked was the occasional glass of cranberry juice.  I mostly just drank water.  Or coffee.

This post is going to get kind of gross from here, so be forewarned.

The goal of bringing me something other than liquid was to try to make me have a bowel movement, or at least have gas.  Then they could release me.  Instead, I became bloated, had a lot of stomach pain, took a long time to digest the food.  They finally had to give me an enema to help me along.  To say that was unpleasant would be a horrible understatement.

Eventually, it worked, but I was still kind of in pain and uncomfortable.  They sent me home with prescriptions and specific orders and instructions to call if I had any problems.

Getting the prescriptions filled was a huge problem.  The pharmacy kept telling us the doctor wrote the prescription wrong and because it was for a narcotic, they could not take a called in adjustment from the surgeon that we would have to go back and get a new handwritten prescription.  Finally, they agreed to a call in for a non-narcotic pain-killer.  Then, they gave me time-released capsules for gas and bloating.  I could not take capsules and there was no way to crush them.  Thankfully, I was able to crush the pain pills.

I could not eat anything else on Friday.  My sister did make me take my pain pills with a bit of applesauce.  Since I could not lay down on the bed without discomfort, I slept in the recliner in the living room and my sister slept on the couch.  I woke up in the middle of the night horribly nauseated.  I sat there and tried to struggle through it hoping it would pass.  It did not.   Until this point, I had been trying to be quiet so as not to wake my sister.  She was very stressed out and did not know how to properly care for me and kept wanting to take me back to the hospital.  I cannot say I blame her.

When it became clear, at 3:00am I might add,  that I might vomit, I said one word, “Um,”

My sister shot straight up to a full standing position and was like, “What?  Are you OK? Do we need to go to the hospital?”

I just told her that I thought I might throw up and she ran and got me something to throw up into.  I didn’t actually vomit, but I did heave a few times.  She questioned me about the stomach medication and I explained the capsule situation to her.  We called the doctor’s emergency number and got him out of bed.  If we had to be up at 3:00am, we certainly had no problem waking him up at 3:00am.

He told me to open the capsule and take the medication inside with a little bit of water.  He told me to call him back if I continued to have problems or go to the emergency room.  He was a little bit concerned about the heaving and told me to keep an eye on my wound to see if I had any seepage.  I did not.

Once I took the stomach medication, I felt much better.  My sister also gave me more pain medication and after that, we both slept for a long, long time.

Saturday was much better.  I reverted back to a mostly liquid diet.  I did have lentils ground up with chicken broth last night.  That was pretty good.  Lentils have protein and are vegetables, so they fulfilled all food groups.  I also had some applesauce with my pain pills mixed in.

Today is better.  I had an egg and applesauce for breakfast.  I’ve also had my protein drink and my vitamins.  I have been walking every day.  Not a lot, but I’m trying to increase the distance each time.  I get a little bit better each day.  I’m slowly trying to increase my calorie intake to match the diet that I should be following.

This has not been easy.  I’m not used to relying on other people to do basic daily activities for me such as standing up from a seated position or fixing my own meals.  Each day, I try to do a little bit more on my own.  I’m sure my sister is relieved when she sees me standing up own my own or doing anything without her help.  She’s been a trooper and I do not know what I would have done without her.  I feel bad about relying on her so much and I worry about her stress level.  I’m sure that over the next couple of weeks, things will get easier for me and I won’t have to rely on her quite as much.  Until then, I’m glad she’s been so good to me.

Three

Three more days.  I have to admit that I am getting very nervous.  This past Thursday I noticed that some  of the anxiety I experienced a few weeks ago was starting to rear its ugly head again.  I was not as crippled by that anxiety as I was the last time I wrote about it, but I was definitely feeling tense.  I recognized it right away, started talking about it, and started taking some action.

I know that it is normal to be nervous before any surgery, especially one  that will be as life-changing as a gastric by-pass.   My challenge is to not let that nervousness prevent me from doing what I need to do to get ready for the surgery.  There is no chance in my mind that my nervousness will prevent me from going through with the surgery.  I have come too far to turn back now.

I want this change.  I need this change.  I just know that I cannot continue to live the way I have been.  Being morbidly obese is difficult.  It is painful.  It is killing me.  I have dangerously too many symptoms that could eventually materialize as heart disease.  My feet and legs hurt a lot much of the time.  My back constantly hurts and makes walking and standing difficult if not nearly impossible. Being morbidly obese is not a prescription for living.  It is a prescription for an early death.

I want to live.

Seven – Game On!

Today I talked to the surgeon’s office to find out if they want me to have another heart test.  Looks like the heart doctor gave me clearance despite my abysmal ability to complete the stress test.  So, the surgery is on!  No more tests! Yay!

I am in the final stretch.  Only a week left.  The reality is starting to set in.  My Mom will be here next week for the surgery.  I’m excited to see her and I’m glad she’ll be here for me. 

I am really upset that I could not finish the stress test.  So, today I am going to talk a little about exercise and my current lack of a plan.  Exercise is difficult for me because of my back pain and weight.  Nonetheless, I need to do something.  Not exercising is clearly not working for me.

Also, after the surgery, exercise is going to be a crucial part of my medical recovery and weight loss plan.  I only have a week before my surgery, so I will not get a lot of exercise in before the surgery, but I still need to do something now.  Any amount is an improvement over my current condition.

Starting today, I am going to make my way down to the exercise room in my apartment building and start riding the recumbent bike.  I will also start using some of the weight machines.  I do well on the bike.  In the past, I have been able to ride the bike for a half hour and more without having to stop.  I do breathe heavy, but not nearly as badly as I do while walking.  And my back pain is minor.

After the surgery, I am going to join a gym and work with a  personal trainer.  I am hoping that as I lose weight some of the pain I experience will start to abate and make exercising much easier for me.  I am going to also focus on strength training.  I think some of my back and leg pain will really start to lessen as I strengthen my muscles.  I may even start going to a chiropractor to help with some of my back problems.

But today, I am going to start by riding the bike in my exercise room and using some of the weight machines.  I am going to exercise every day until the day before my surgery.

Nine

Nine days.  Can you believe it?  I cannot.  I have been planning for this surgery for nearly a year now.  It feels unreal that it will actually be occurring in nine days.  By this time, nine days from now, the surgery will be over.

Tomorrow I have my stress test.  This is the very last test that I need.  And it is the only one left that could delay my surgery again.  I had the scan of my abdomen and that went well.  No gallstones or any other problem that would prevent or delay my surgery.  I still have not received the results from the doctor who did my colonoscopy and endoscopy.  I am going to call their office tomorrow.

I have to say, I am feeling pretty good about the surgery.  Yes, I am anxious and nervous, but I am actually starting to get excited.  I am a little freaked out about the changes in food, but I know it will be good.  I look at the food I have in my refrigerator and I know that a lot of the food I have in there now I will not be eating for quite some time.  I have a small steak, some ground turkey, and a whole chicken. I also have spinach, broccoli, lemons, apples, limes, cilantro, eggs, etc.  Not a lot of food, but I think just enough to get me through until Tuesday.  I also have a bunch of chicken broth.

I will be able to have chicken, eggs, vegetables, and fruit, all of it pureed of course.  That will be my diet for the next eight weeks.  After that, I will be able to start working on more solid foods.   I will be eating four tablespoons of food at each meal.  Two protein and two vegetable or fruit.  In between I have to drink two protein drinks and take chewable vitamins.  And I have to sip water all day long.

I have to avoid fruits and vegetables with seeds and skins for six months.  I can have avocado, squash, green beans, asparagus, zucchini, all of them pureed.  I can have most fruits except berries, dates, figs, and raisins.  I have to remove the skin of peaches, nectarines, apples, for six months, but for the first eight weeks they also must be pureed.

I have a lot of ideas on the different meals I will be able to make, but boy will they be very different from what I am used to.

That is a huge change over what I eat now.