volatile cocktail


Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Yes, it’s been a while. Too long. Work, hospitalizations and the holidays and too much on my plate, and time gets away. Best make amends, no?

On the OH boards, someone was talking about body image issues. How she looks in the mirror at a size 4 and still sees “obese.” What to do about this. I don’t have a good answer — in fact, I have no answers. If I ever get to a size 4, maybe I will. But I started reflecting on body image and why I did this whole surgery thing. I’m coming at it now at five months out and 105-110 lbs. lost.

Am I “fat?” Why, yes. I’m still over 100 lbs. to goal, so I’m still “fat.” But I’m a thinner “fat,” if that makes sense. I am excited to see my size 5x go down to a 2x, size 32 jeans to 22. I don’t see myself as “obese” but I guess I never did — I know it intellectually, but maybe I was good at just not seeing, or not admitting, or (as I like to spin it) making the best of what I had. I now see that I am thinner. I see the numbers on the clothes and the scale going down. I have collarbones now, damnit!

Honestly, and you may be horrified at this, the thing that pushed me over the edge of knowing I had to do something about being morbidly obese was that I read that airlines were going to charge more for “passengers of size” (nice euphemism), and I didn’t want to buy two seats. Call me shallow if you want, but that was my tipping point — everyone has one. Yes, I had sciatica, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and other comorbidities, but that really sealed it for me. I used to think about fat as a feminist issue, and still do, but I can still advocate for feminism and fat acceptance at a smaller size.

It was that advocacy issue that made WLS not appropriate when I was younger. I wanted to be a fat role model. I wanted to advocate for fat students, fat faculty. I wanted fat people to know that you could be fat and successful. Fat and happy. Fat and beloved. I was all those things. I still am. But I am thinner too. A hundred pounds didn’t change that, for better or worse. It really was what was inside that mattered. Back then, though, the surgeon’s office told me I wasn’t ready for WLS. I wasn’t ready to be thin. Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know. But it took me over 10 years to get surgery. Was I ready last October? Readier, yes. I don’t think one is ever fully ready, because until you’re on the other side, you can’t truly know what it will be like.

I had a hematoma in late October, bled out all over my family room floor. I had three procedures for strictures, the last in early February, the day my grandma died. I threw up daily, for weeks and weeks. I went days on water, yogurt and peanuts. I am still learning to eat correctly, to read labels. I could have done a lot more research. But most days, I am OK where I am. As long as food stays down, I’ll be happy. I won’t always make the right choice, but I’ll be happy.

Now, that said, there are those in my career and life paths who have said hurtful things about my chances of success and happiness while obese. How I will never be successful if I don’t lose weight. I hold those things in my heart. They don’t go away, even though I’ve tried. But every overweight student I encounter — I want to connect with him or her. I want to tell him or her that what’s inside matters more. These students probably will not believe me. But, having come now to this place, where I am no different now inside than I was 100 lbs. ago, I believe it.

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Today is three weeks out. Apologies for not updating — haven’t had the time and/or energy to do it. I’m down a total of 42-45 lbs., depending on when I weigh myself. Twenty before, now about 22-25 after.

Had a scare Friday, which I posted on OH. I went in for my two-week post-op last Monday and pointed out a similar lump on my largest incision — it was oval, about the size of a goose egg and firm, although not hard. The PA said it was just normal swelling and not to worry about it.

On Friday, I had (fortunately) taken the day off because I was feeling a little sniffly and didn’t want to risk anything worse. I stood up from the couch and noticed a little leaking from that incision, which had never happened before. As I took the first step toward the bathroom, the leaking turned into a gush, and out poured over a cup of blood and yellowy stuff (didn’t smell too bad but a LOT of it) onto the floor! After that yellowy blood, it started bleeding regular red. I called my husband home from work, and the surgeon’s office said to go to the ER, so we did. I looked like a Halloween costume — I was covered in blood from the waist down, soaking my socks.

After a lot of tests, including a CAT scan, the ER doc said it was a hematoma. I didn’t have any infection, so they just dressed it and sent me home with instructions to be inactive and follow up on Monday. It was scary, and I can’t help but think that the PA should have looked a little closer at the swelling, because it was a good size…could have been drained in the office instead of all over my floor. (Fortunately, it was a Pergo floor, and the blood missed the area rug we have in the family room!)

Today I went in for a wound checkup, and it’s all fine. These are pretty common, but good lord, scary and disruptive.

I had a scrambled egg yesterday for my first “mush” food, and it was heaven. Now I’m off to the kitchen for some cottage cheese. Small pleasures, right?

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

The surgery is Monday — it was moved from 9:45 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., and that means we have to be at the hospital at 5:00 a.m. Did not make DH happy, as for him “early” is 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. I’ll be in the ICU the first night, I believe, and then in a regular room the second night; should be able to come home on Wednesday.

I’m down about 20 lbs. with Optifast. Won’t say it’s been easy. Chocolate and vanilla vied for the taste winner. Strawberry was the clear loser.

It’s been a long journey. I went to the first meeting for this process on Oct. 18, 2008, and the surgery will be Oct. 12, 2009, just shy of a year. There are a lot of hoops. I guess I understand why, now that I’ve gone through it all. I didn’t think there were any superfluous steps. Even the psych eval — I think I understand the rationale there.

Today, DH and I went shopping. Got a bunch of protein powders, a few other things for after surgery, including a Brita pitcher because our water is so bad. I laid out everything I want to take with me to the hospital — see pic.

Stuff for the hospital.
Stuff for the hospital.

I am not sure that I will have any need for most of this, other than the magazines (bless my colleague for her kind gift of Patricia Cornwell, magazines and a brainteaser book) and a few of the toiletries. I have a ton of reading, writing and thinking material. I’ll also throw in an oversized jacket for the walks, maybe slippers. Some folks on the OH boards have suggested taking your own pillow (which I will) and a journal, so I got one of those. I also have the little refurb iPod in its handy-dandy case. All in the trusty Timbuk2 bag.

I’m pretty sanguine about the upcoming surgery. I had DH take some pics for the “before” me, and I’m being as upbeat about this as I can be. Everyone has been very supportive. My sister is ecstatic about it, and my folks seem pretty happy, too. DH is nervous. He doesn’t say much, but, as he puts it, he has a lot more to lose if things go awry.

Still to do before The Big Day: A grocery run for all the liquids for the first week. The mortgage and bills. Finishing the midterm for one of my classes. Posting grades for the other two. Tomorrow is “clear liquid and milk of magnesia” day for food, so I think I’ve had my last Optifast for a while. That is more than OK. Interestingly, I have to shower twice before the surgery using a special soap they gave me — once the night before, once the morning of. Never had to do that before for other surgeries.

I don’t know if I will have time to post tomorrow, as I think I’m booked solid with stuff to do. More than likely, the next time I post here, it’ll be AS (after surgery), as opposed to BS (before surgery). I wonder if my life will be like others say — celebrating a “surgiversary” rather than, or in addition to, a birthday, for example, or marking one’s life in two halves, AS and BS. I think I’d like to think so.

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Been on Optifast for almost a week, and although I’ve not been completely faithful with five drinks and a lettuce salad with lemon juice per day (actually, I shake if I don’t have SOMETHING a little substantive) I have lost about 15 lbs with a week of the Optifast still to go.

I’m nervous, I admit it. Last night I was at a 60th birthday celebration, and I watched every bite. (I did drink a bit of Dewar’s, but even the good Lord does not object to scotch.) But I was thinking as I was eating the chicken marsala: I won’t be able to do this for a long time after surgery.

Still, on balance — I have not spoken to a single person who has regretted it. They can’t know my personal situation, but if I’m going with the odds, they seem pretty good.

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

DH and I have been trying to eat ourselves out of everything “bad” in the house. I doubt we will be wholly successful but I’m doing the best I can. I’ve been collecting food-based blogs in the blogroll so I’ll have places to go when I want to cook. The biggest issue for me will probably be the Coke. Hubby won’t drink the diet stuff (says it gives him tummy rumbles) so we have the Real Thing in the house — and I swear, I can smell it. It smells sooooo good. The diet cherry-vanilla Dr Pepper is pretty good but oh, real Coke. Be my downfall tonight.

Bought an iPod refurb 2nd generation Shuffle (not the cool new ones that talk to you) from eBay for $30 to take to the hospital. Spent some of yesterday filling it with good stuff. If it gets ripped off in the hospital (I’ve heard lots of stories), I’m out $30 instead of $200. I am also considering my reading options for the hospital; more on that later.

About a week to Optifast, and counting.

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

One thing I’ve read on OH over and over is the need to get in the protein. I live in terror of losing my hair, and though I know it’s likely, I want to avoid as much of the trauma as possible. So I’ve started to research options.

I read tonight about a small company called Vitalady where you can get samples of the different kinds of proteins out there for about $2 each. Guess I’ll be making an order in the next few weeks.

At work in the soda machine they have SoBe diet cranberry-grapefruit drink. The non-diet is SO much better tasting but I can stomach the diet, so that’s currently drink of choice. I’m mostly off the caffeine now — my daily coffee is primarily decaf. Haven’t had a regular Coke in ages. A diet cherry-vanilla Dr Pepper is open on the desk beside me right now.

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Met the surgeon on Tuesday. He spent most of the time we talked reinforcing what I’ve already learned about how my life will change post-op. Pouch the size of a shotglass. Half a sandwich in an hour. This is a tool, not a magic wand. And so on. Still, it was good to hear it again, and he has had a lot of experience with this surgical procedure, so overall I’d call it a good meeting.

Two weeks before the surgery I will go on Optifast to lose some weight. This is to reduce the fat infiltrating my liver and make it less likely that the RNY will have to be open. While having a scar on the stomach doesn’t stress me out, I would prefer a faster healing time to a slower one, and smaller incisions will heal faster than a long one. Ergo, the Optifast.

The toughest thing, I think, overall, will be eating slowly. Hubby told the surgeon that he’s never met anyone who eats faster than I do. This is probably true, and it probably stems from hating to eat foods cold that should be hot, and vice versa. I have heard several times that tepid food is best initially because of the lowered impact on the pouch.

It will all be worth it when “the pounds melt off,” as I’ve heard and read over and over. Eat to live, not live to eat. Nothing tastes as good as thin feels. Etc.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

One of the things I know I’m not going to be able to take post-surgery are the marvelous little pills of wonder that relieve pain and take down swelling. Given that something weird happened to my back, I really need to take that swelling down before the surgery. Tylenol won’t cut it.

I told my students the whole thing: I’d rather not manage the game of Telephone that will happen if I don’t fully disclose. So far no one has said much, and if they have it’s been positive, so that’s all good.

Off to make some dinner. Trying to be supremely good. One-on-one dr. visit is Sept. 8th, surgery Oct. 12th.

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Ah, the last weekend of (relative) freedom. I like my job and my students, but as always, I could use a couple more days or weeks off. The summer seems to go faster and faster every year.

I have to decide how much info to give my classes about the impending surgery. My gut reaction (haha) is to provide full disclosure about the surgery taking place. Rumors spread so fast in this place that if I don’t manage the info I’ll end up with student emails asking if I’m dying of cancer or something.

My online sites are mostly up. Maybe DH and I can go out shopping or something for the last hurrah.

Monday, August 17th, 2009

I’ve been reading Obesity Help and have discovered something new from the collected wisdom of the posters: a fat-free thing that really does not taste fat-free.

Now, a caveat: I am really picky when it comes to substitutes. I haven’t tried all the sugar subs yet (I guess stevia is next on the list) but if it tastes “wrong” I simply won’t eat it — I’ll select around it. Same with low-fat or fat-free stuff.

But…Greek yogurt, ah! I tried the Stonyfield Farms Oikos Greek yogurt, which is fat-free (the vanilla does have sugar in it). It’s smooth, creamy, and tastes full-fat. I cannot tell the difference, and believe me, I tried. I don’t really care if it’s organic or not (who knows, these days, really) but it’s really stupidly good. I have had the vanilla and the honey. I haven’t gotten to plain yet which doesn’t have as much sugar. The vanilla, plain and honey are all they have at the local store, but I imagine a bit of shopping will net me the blueberry. I tossed a few raspberries into a vanilla one for breakfast — ohh heaven.