Wanting to Give Myself the Best 30th Birthday Gift I Ever Could: a Second Chance at a Healthy Body - Portland, OR
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I also watched a video of an actual sleeve being done. Once I got over the ick factor of looking at a real life surgery, it was pretty fascinating. Scary and intimidating, but fascinating. I'm really hoping this all works out! I miss my confidence.
The other frustrating thing I'm finding is that I am about 1 BMI point away from actually being eligible for the sleeve. I could get the lap band but I don't feel that option is right for me. Am I really going to have to gain more weight before they'll let me start this process? Because believe me, it'll happen. I've been gaining consistently for the last four years. I don't want to have to wait for another ten pounds to pile on before they'll say ok! I want to start this process now and change myself for the better, not put myself in another ten lbs of danger before I can move forward. ARRRGH RULES!!!
Too many emotions and too much exhaustion
I suspect heavily that this is the food addict side of me talking.
Who would give up feeling happy throughout the entire day to be able to continue having big meals when they go out with family occasionally? Who would choose to have more of those unsatisfying (and yet still so good) snacks at Taco Bell over fitting into cute clothes at regular stores? Who would choose shame over activities? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to go out dancing, but have stayed home instead because I didn’t want to be seen at this weight. I’ve avoided old friends visiting town who I haven’t seen in years because I don’t want them to notice how much I’ve ballooned up. I am living a lesser life because of this weight, and yet the fear (of surgery, of losing my closest lifelong friend (food), of failing even with a tiny stomach) is still trying to keep me from moving forward.
I think that voice is having its last say. It’s getting loud right now for the last time as it takes its dying gasps and loses the “don’t move forward with your life” battle. Because let me tell you, friends: there is nothing more motivating than going to a photoshoot and seeing the results.
A little background about myself: I am a burlesque performer. I am lucky enough to live in a city that has a thriving performance community whose motto is “everybody is beautiful and every BODY is beautiful.” The only problem is, I don’t believe that anymore. I don’t feel beautiful, and I haven’t performed in a long time due to my own self-image issues. I know a lot of people don’t understand why anyone would want to do burlesque; isn’t it just stripping, how crude, etc. I can assure you, I’ve heard it all and I get that it’s not for everyone. But it is terribly empowering. I love it and I miss it and I want to be back up on stage wearing beautiful costumes covered in rhinestones and feathers and hearing the cheer of the audience as I perform. I love it. But when a friend and I got together for a photoshoot this weekend and I saw the results, I wanted to cry. Beautiful black and white soft focus shots couldn’t hide the giant belly that drew focus from the rest of the picture. Lighting and makeup couldn’t hide that I don’t have cheekbones anymore, nor that my eyes look like tiny little specks in a fleshy wasteland of a face. My wonderful friends encouraged me to go, told me I was beautiful, promised me I’d have fun. Told me I looked great. But when you can’t find yourself within the giant person looking up at you from the camera screen, it’s NOT fun and it’s definitely time for a change.
The fear needs to stop winning. Reality is setting in, and it’s time to accept that I cannot (or will not, or both) do this alone. That surgery isn’t taking the easy way out. That there’s nothing wrong with my path not looking like the path of anyone else I know. That even on this unexpected path, it’s not going to look how I thought it would look. I’m afraid of a surgery in a different country, despite the awesome reviews (and shockingly few negative issues) of the surgeon I’m looking into. Realistically though, I can’t afford this surgery in the US. And I’m pretty darn close to Tijuana, so it’s not even that big of a deal to get down there. Did everyone else have these freak outs as they went through the process of committing to a life-changing surgery? What are the truly negative sides to this? I’m not finding much and I don’t want to be blindsided when I go into this.
I’m so tired. I’m tired of being sad and self-conscious and bored because I’m choosing to hide at home over doing the things I love to do. I’m tired of my feet hurting after walking for an hour. I’m tired of not living the life I planned on living because I don’t like the way I look and because I feel too tired to really get up and out and into things. I’m tired of being tired.
Questions! Needing help!
Finally posting some photos
Looking at a mid-February, early March surgery date!
180 turn, yet again!
Dr Patterson is amazing. She is calm and easygoing and really put me at ease about the surgery. It helped that she has a mini dachshund who comes with her to all her appointments and sat in my lap the entire time we were talking! She thinks I'm a great candidate for this surgery and says my results should be great and my healing time minimal due to my age and being at the lower end of the weight spectrum. That made me feel good. It's been a long time since someone has said I'm at the lower end of anything involving weight! Everyone in Dr. Patterson's office has been really nice, although they seem a bit disorganized (they forgot to have me get blood drawn one time, so I got a frantic call the day after my appointment asking me to come back for that...then another call later down the line where the nurse had forgotten to ask me about whether I had a family history of blood clots...that conversation turned into another request for ANOTHER blood draw). Aside from this slight theme of flakiness, the staff couldn't be nicer. I actually ENJOY going in for appointments! Such a relief after all the agonizing I went through about whether or not this surgery was the right choice for me. Definitely feeling confident about my decision now.
I don't have to do any sort of pre-op diet (except for two days ahead of surgery), just eat healthy and try to lose ten pounds. I feel very blessed that the pre-surgery preparation is so mild. Looking forward to this!
Feelings of letting myself down
Then why, 14 days before my surgery date, have I gained a pound?
I'm so afraid my food addiction is going to cause me to fail on this journey. WHY can't I stop eating? Even when I'm eating healthier foods, I'm not losing weight! I'm working out regularly with a trainer, I'm trying to make healthier food decisions, I've traded two meals a day for protein shakes, and I have gained weight. I'm afraid I'm going to be a disappointment to my surgeon, to myself...what if this is just the most expensive fail ever? That would....well, that would really suck.
I'm off to meet with my trainer. Hopefully I'll feel better after moving and being in the sun for a little bit. But SERIOUSLY, does anyone else sometimes just feel that it's exasperatingly ironic that a surgeon would tell someone who needs weight loss surgery to lose weight on her own? Obviously this isn't where my strengths lie. Harumph.
The Crankies have set in!
Ok, not HUNGRY hungry, but definitely not satisfied with my raw greens and protein shakes. I work for a meat company that is experimenting with a new smokehouse, so every day they are sampling different types of bacon about ten feet from my desk and the entire building smells absolutely DIVINE....and here I am drinking another protein shake. My weight has come down, so the ten pounds they want me to lose by next Wednesday will be no problem (I think I have 2 lbs to go), but HOLY LORD ALMIGHTY I have no tolerance for ANYONE! I am crabby, I can't stop thinking about wanting food (or at least another protein shake...hooray), and my temper is hovering just below the surface so this is definitely an exercise in hiding my emotions, because lord have mercy. If someone even says something slightly dumb around the office I want to bite their heads off. Friend gets flaky? I am chewing the inside of my mouth to keep from getting all over them. I knew this would be an emotional battle and I'm prepared to take it, but holy cow. I do not like it. Six more days and I'll be sleeved and maybe then I'll at least feel full. Full and cranky, lol! No, hopefully not. Then I'll be focused on watching the weight fall off!
Highest weight: 262
Weight at last check-up: 258
Goal weight for surgery day: 248
Current weight: 250.5
My Dr's office messed up the other day and rescheduled my pre-surgery class but forgot to tell me. So now I have to have a lightened version of the class over the phone on Monday. Everyone in that office is SO nice, but I have been pretty disappointed in their scatteredness (I know, not a word. Whatever). I will give it to them that they are transitioning to a new computer system, and that is NEVER an easy task. So I don't know if they are usually like this...but there have been other instances of flaky behavior that weren't computer-related. I was also surprised upon trading stories with a friend who was sleeved almost a year ago that she had met with her surgeon MUCH more than I've met with mine (she saw him about four times before her surgery, I've met my surgeon once), and she received much more comprehensive paperwork about what she should be eating pre-surgery, what vitamins she should be taking, etc. I'm a little worried about that, to be honest. It makes me wonder if I'm missing out on information.
Anyhoo, whatever. I'm having a lot of ups and downs where one minute I just want next week to be here and gone and the next minute I'm having a panic attack, crumpled in a ball and crying while my poor boyfriend tries to figure out how to comfort me. I didn't think I was scared up until about two days ago, but obviously I am. We'll see how things go.
Can't wait for yet another boiled chicken breast for dinner, along with some plain lettuce leaves! *grumble grumble grumble*
I GAINED TWO POUNDS!!!
Current weight: 252.4
Goal weight before surgery: 248
T-minus 5 days
Taking a moment for the positives (and also some new pictures)
Firstly, a positive: I've been working out with a personal trainer for three months now to prepare for surgery and get in the habit of working out. I can't say I love it, but it's getting better. My trainer is great. I didn't really feel like anything was "happening" and was getting pretty discouraged, until I went to a rehearsal with my burlesque troupe last night and realized that dancing in my heels was a LOT easier than when I was dancing in them a month ago. I have more muscle than I had before! This was the first instance of "life is easier when you work out" for me. I hear people say it all the time and it NEVER has been so it sort of goes in one ear and out the other, but holy cow. They're not kidding. It was such a small win, but it felt so good.
I stole a piece of steamed broccoli with peanut sauce on it today from my general manager's lunch (it's fine, we're friends). It was seriously the tastiest, most satisfying thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. Thank you, 1/16 tsp (or less) of peanut sauce, you have restored my sanity.
Finally, the pictures I'm posting (and the reason for the disclosure at the beginning) are from my most recent burlesque performance with my troupe. It was a month ago, at the end of February. We have another show tonight, my last one before surgery. I'm not saying I hate everything about myself or bemoaning the fact that I don't look like the other women in my troupe, and I understand the urge people have to say "don't compare yourself to anyone else" and I'm NOT, I just want to give an example of my size vs two other women. Women I perform with frequently. It takes a lot of confidence and moxie to get onstage and perform burlesque. It takes even more to perform it with people who are in better shape than you. The first time we ever performed together, a very well-meaning (I assume) woman came up to me after the show and said "It is so refreshing to see a troupe that doesn't all look exactly like each other! Good work getting up there with those ladies, looking like you do!" I was so crushed. I don't want to ever feel like I did in that moment ever again. And it's tough when you look at photos taken during a show where you felt really sexy, and you realize you had such an epic double chin that it's impressive anyone noticed anything else. Or that you take up twice the space onstage as one of your co-performers. I'm really looking forward to seeing pictures of myself performing that look the way I feel when I'm onstage, rather than looking like a whale of a woman I don't know is standing in the spot I should be in in the photos.
On my way
My meds are hitting me pretty hard right now so it's definitely nap/bedtime. I'll write a more thorough description of my experience tomorrow. So glad to have this behind me and be able to move forward now!
Adjustments to this new life
I got to the surgery center at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning. They took me back and gave me some pills for nerve pain, along with a little dot to wear behind my ear for nausea. After that they placed my IV- definitely the most painful part of the morning- and proceeded to ask me the same questions over and over and over again. When did I last eat solid food, when did I stop eating the night before, am I allergic to any medications, etc. I sat with my mom and boyfriend until it was time for them to wheel me into surgery, whereupon they had me scoot from the hospital bed I was in onto a surgical table. The people were really friendly for the most part. I only saw my physician for a few minutes before surgery, then she didn't say much to me in the operating room. The anesthesiologist was talking to me and asking me questions about myself, and my vision started warping and then I was asleep. I woke up to the anesthesiologist calling my name and asking how I was feeling. After that it was pretty much just resting/napping/sitting in the recovery room. I had a really odd experience where the nurse who was there at that time blatantly didn't give a rip about checking on her patients, because I didn't see her for over two hours. Finally I asked my Mom to go see if I was allowed to give myself liquid (they had left gatorade and a little cup next to my bed) or if I had to wait for her. She (the nurse) tried to tell us that I was only allowed to drink 1 ml an hour! This was definitely not what I had been told, and I was pretty upset. Turns out she was reading the paperwork wrong, and I was allowed an ounce every 30 minutes. It really concerned me that in a place that does these surgeries all the time this woman didn't know what was up. The other nurse was sweet, but he had only been working at the place for two weeks and was very young. Overall I was pretty upset. They didn't even give me a call button to push, so I had to shout for them when I needed something. Which was extra difficult because during surgery they had put a breathing tube down my throat so I was incredibly hoarse and scratchy. When I had to get up the first time to use the restroom I thought my stomach was going to rip in half from the incision point. Standing up was awful, walking was worse. I couldn't get back in bed fast enough. The nurse came in and gave me a warfarin shot in my arm to reduce the risk of blood clots. The shot stung, but the way she was pinching my arm to get it in hurt worse! By this point my family had left for the evening. After a while a new shift of caretakers came in, and they were wonderful. Walking to the bathroom hurt a little less each time, I worked to stay on top of my medications better than I had before (the first nurse didn't come in with meds on a schedule, she just waited until I told her I was in pain). That helped a lot. I drank a ton of gatorade (one ounce at a time) and felt really full. No cravings whatsoever. It was amazing! One of the nurses was even eating pizza at his desk and I remember thinking "oh no, please don't let this trigger a craving" but instead as I walked by I just enjoyed the smell of it, rather than feeling any desire to eat it myself. I swear to you, that is a miracle like nothing I have ever experienced before. Because I love eating, and being full never stopped me in the past! I slept in about 20 minute increments and drank gatorade in between. I tried an ounce of protein shake at one point, but it didn't stay down well and I was afraid I was going to get sick so we backed off of that. They'd ask me to cough, which hurt terribly (it still does). The next morning, I went home! I got nauseous a few times once I was back, so I switched to water and that seemed to help quite a bit. My body is simply refusing sweet things. I can't even take the children's liquid tylenol and Advil I bought because of how sugary it is. I got really nauseous and had to run to the bathroom when I tried drinking milk of magnesia, but fortunately everything stayed down. I am really afraid of throwing up. I'm definitely constipated like everyone said I would be, so I'm going to have to try the milk of magnesia again here soon. Not really looking forward to that. I've also found that I have to sleep with a bottle of water in my lap, because each night I've woken up to such a dry throat and mouth that it feels like my tongue is about to crack open. That's been a pretty weird one to get used to, and I hope it resolves itself soon. Otherwise, I'm feeling pretty good! My stats are even starting to make me happy (although obviously I have a long way to go).
Highest weight: 262
Weight at check in: 251
Weight after surgery: 256
Current weight: 248!!!
It's already coming off and I'm hardly doing anything! I can't wait until I can move more and start working out again. I'm still working on getting the gas out of my system because that is really uncomfortable, and I know walking will help with that. In the mean time, I'm going to try some more protein shake and hopefully get some of my liquid vitamins down. Wish me luck, they're awfully sugary! If anyone has suggestions for less sweet liquid multivitamins, I would love to hear them.
Ups and downs
I've been able to eat more than a few mouthfuls of soup (tonight I probably had a little over 1/4 cup), but I had about 15 minutes of uncomfortable gas and rumbliness afterwards. Obviously I need to stop sooner. And obviously I don't know how to listen to my body yet. That's what I'll be working on for the next few days I suppose. Weight is down another couple pounds, I was at 242.9 when I last checked this afternoon. I've developed an itchy rash on my abdomen underneath my breasts and in my right armpit, so that's fun and super sexy. I'll be calling my doctor tomorrow about that.
Today was rough. I was bored, I was cranky, I was unhappy with my food choices. Based solely on the fact that I couldn't eat whatever I wanted to eat, today was the first day I have regretted getting the sleeve. I know it will get better, that the addiction will lessen its hold over time and soon I'll be able to see the difference in my body which will help encourage me when I get a little down. But man. Today was really, really tough.
Holy crap I'm so uncomfortable.
And it feels like it's been a lifetime.
I'm down to 240 as of this morning, and I'm definitely feeling lighter. I can see changes in my face. And here are the unrealistic expectations: I expect everything to be fixed already.
In a week.
I am a college-educated, intelligent adult who looks at the world through a relatively sarcastic, bitingly-realistic lens and yet I feel let down when I look in the mirror and don't have a flat tummy yet, or a tiny little waist.
Patience, child. It's time to learn patience.
In case you haven't come across it before, Pho is an amazing Vietnamese beef noodle soup that starts with a beef broth they simmer for hours to get just perfect. If you haven't tried it before, I highly recommend it. Think of the world's highest quality top ramen.
Anyway, I ordered some pho for takeout from our local restaurant. They package the noodles separately, so the broth was already separate and ready to go. It is SO TASTY and fits phase one of this diet perfectly! And I really don't think I could ever get sick of these amazing flavors. Anyone out there thinking about getting the sleeve, just trust me on this one and try it out. It will make this phase during the first two weeks post-op a total treat!
Mini meltdown and first weight loss stall
In fact, I gained two pounds three (two?) days ago and the scale has not moved since.
I know this isn't supposed to be all about scale victories, and I know logically the weight cannot NOT come off at this point in the game. Even if I were to gain weight again long term, it would not begin a week and a half after surgery. I get this. I should f even be weighing myself every day.
But I'm freaking out.
I immediately spiral into my fat girl thinking. What if it's because I'm eating broccoli cheddar soup because the chicken broth didn't fill me up? What if I'm ten days out and already failing? Why am I not as dramatically full all the time as everyone else? Should I eat less, and even with this surgery be hungry all the time?
I need to breathe. I need to take a step back. I need to accept that this surgery is done and my years of weight gain will not all disappear by the end of the weekend.
I'm sure I will be ok.
Putting away my scale
The stuck number two weeks out.
I have not lost a single pound in over five days.
I cannot tell you how incredibly disheartening it is to have to drink broth and protein shakes and increasingly boring soup day in and day out without having the numbers budge. It feels a hell of a lot like life before surgery, except now I have (only slightly) painful ugly scars on my belly too. So I'm even less attractive than before. That one is rough. I'm trying so hard to stay positive, but with tomorrow being the switch to more substantial (ie: pureed) food I'm terrified that the weight might not only not come off, but start piling back on. Is this where I am? Eat between 600-900 calories a day, NOT be stuffed the way everyone said I would be, and still fear GAINING weight? Even when I'm doing everything right?
That first week was so encouraging. I lost sixteen pounds! This is how it's supposed to go! This surgery was worth it, it was all worth it! I had finally found the missing piece of the weight loss puzzle! I went from 251 before surgery, to 256 right after surgery, to 240. What a wonderful feeling. This was really going to work, just like they said! And then it all stopped.
I am 30 years old. that is not that old. I am completely healthy, aside from being fat. I have stalled and I am so terrified that this is going to be the most expensive, most extreme diet I've ever done that's ended up like every other one, except I've permanently mutilated my body in the process this time. Two weeks out, and I haven't lost weight for a week. I'm being active (I'm getting in more than the 30 minutes of walking that my doctor wanted each day), I'm drinking my protein shakes, I'm consuming broths. Today I will start tracking all of it, because I feel like that's the only thing I can do at this point. I feel so discouraged.
Apparently this happens. I just didn't think it would happen so soon. So I'm doing all that I feel is left to me. I'm doing what I hate more than anything on the planet, tracking my food.
And I'm putting the scale away.
Nauseated and upset
Anyhoo... yeah. Now I'm feeling sick and instead of meeting with them to see what's up in two days, I have to wait. A long freaking time. I don't know what's going on and I'm not scared, but definitely unnerved. I'm hungry, but I can't get anything down. And one of my incisions, while healing really nicely, has the tip of one of the internal stitches poking out of it. Which is uncomfortable and scratchy. These are things I wanted to talk about at my appointment, and I can't help that my work is sending me to a seminar. Not to mention, this surgery is secret. Only one person in my office knows, and I can't keep missing work for dr appointments without arousing suspicion (our company is small, everyone is in everyone else's business all the time). I have to prioritize my job! Particularly when the surgeon's office is blatantly not prioritizing me.
Last night I had a major food withdrawal attack. Or maybe it's just how I handle stress without my previous coping mechanism (food). I can't even take a bath yet, which was my other coping mechanism. So my two main sources of comfort have been taken away from me, and I just had a major surgery, which is a secret so I can't even really talk about what I'm struggling with to people, and then the appointment rescheduling fiasco happened. I just snapped. It was like I was broken. I cried, I was incredibly angry, I was paralyzed with bad mood juju all night long. I just laid on my bed and watched Netflix, getting up occasionally to try to convince myself to go do something (go work on that project you're doing! It's beautiful out, go take the dogs for a walk! Clean something!) and would end up flopping back down to waste the entire day.
I knew this was going to be hard. I knew a lot of emotional stuff would take place, and there would be an adjustment period. I knew the surgery was just a tool to use on my weight loss journey, and that it wasn't a magic button that would fix all my problems.
I just thought I would have the support of the people I paid to do this to me.
Surgery Day weight: 256
Putting it all in perspective
Not Ready for Raw Vegetables
Sugar addiction and weight stall
Update and some photos
Would not recommend. Dr. Patterson herself is very enjoyable to talk to, but I spoke with her for fifteen minutes in one meeting before the surgery, then saw her as she came in to check my file before doing the surgery when she was very rushed. I felt like I was a number instead of a person here, and not a very valued one at that. Appointments were rescheduled without telling me, then I was expected to miss work or cancel other (important) appointments I had to make up for their errors and make up the appointment(s) they screwed up. Or someone would be gone from work on the day my appointments were scheduled and I was expected to have the meeting over the phone instead of getting in-person one-on-one talking time and the paperwork that would have come with that meeting. When I had to re-schedule an appointment four days ahead of time they scolded me and did not work with me in what I feel was an acceptable manner at all, and wouldn't agree to reschedule me until I brought up all the times I have been flexible with THEIR errors. The scheduler was arguing with me and telling me it has to be as close to three weeks out after surgery as possible. After I brought up their errors in the past and expressed my frustration that she would not be flexible with me this time, she rescheduled me for SIX WEEKS AFTER MY SURGERY. Before surgery they called me and asked me questions I already answered and had watched them write down, they called (multiple times) and asked me to go back for a blood draw "because they forgot to have me do it while I was there", and overall I felt like the only person who cared about me in this place was the physical activity doctor who, unfortunately, told me I could expect to lose 30-50 lbs each month for the first few months after surgery. This led to wild disappointment as I adjusted to my new life and the (significantly slower) weight loss I have been experiencing. No one has called to check up and see how I am doing since surgery. Payment information was scattered, they provided the names of establishments checks had to be sent but did not provide addresses. The surgeon's assistant gave me different information about my post-op rules than she gave my family, leading to confusion and frustration. I am happy I had the surgery and am happy(ish) so far with the results (I AM losing weight, just much more slowly than they said I would), I just very much wish that I had gone through a different company. Because this is very clearly run as a business, and I am the commodity they can make money off of. Very disappointed.