Big to do
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
So I was looking at my calendar the other day and realized that hey, this week would be my sixth visit with my PCP since I started all these WLS appoinment shenanigans. And also, hey, I really need to try and make sure that I get the surgery done the week of July 9th in order to squeeze my disability time in the middle of everyone's vacations.

And that's how I found myself on the phone with Sarah, the very nice CNA who does all of the insurance and paperwork wrangling for Dr. M's office. I told her I had gone to see Dr. D, the shrink, and that she should be seeing his report by next week (and oh ho, how I can't WAIT to see that report because I had to complete an MMPI and I can't help but wonder how crazy I will turn out to be). Oh, and also, by the way, this week would be my 6th visit with Dr. F so what are the chances that we'll be able to apply soon? And should I send over my Weight Watchers records?

And Sarah said no, she just needed copies of Dr. F's notes from each visit and Dr. D's report and we'd be set. I had my consultation with Dr. M and his nutritionist, I've got my six months of medically supervised weight loss attempts, I've got my psych consult and my blood work and my PCP's authorization. I finally have everything, she said, and she would probably be able to send in the authorization request within the next couple weeks (as soon as she gets Dr. D's report). And then she told me that yeah, the second week of July sounds totally doable since my insurance usually replies in about a week (two at the max) and since they're a PPO with a flexible clinical policy bulletin about WLS, she doesn't see any reason they will turn me down.

I hung up the phone and did a little gleeful butt wiggle, then promptly cancelled my Weight Watchers Monthly Pass. Only then did I look at the calendar to see just how long I'd have to wait.

Did you know that the second week of July is only 6 1/2 weeks away? Neither did I, which is why I promptly FREAKED RIGHT THE FUCK OUT because crap on a cracker, that is not very long at all!! That is less than 2 months! That is only 46 days!! It's practically TOMORROW, for crying out loud!

So yeah, my now suddenly much more likely surgery date is right around the corner and I am both freaked the fuck out and excited as all hell. I have so much to do. I need to shop for clothes, I need to buy protein shakes, I need to exercise so much more than I have over the past couple of weeks. I need to drink the two bottles of wine on my fridge since I've decided to just not drink any more after the surgery (a topic for another day). I need to make pumpkin cookies because they won't be a Christmas staple for me anymore and they are the best cookies in all the world. I need to write an "in case I die" letter and get my husband set up with FDSL so he can stay home and take care of me and oh dear lord, I need to tell my boss I'm going to be out for 2-4 weeks because oops, haven't exaclty mentioned that to him yet.

I had no idea that this surgery was going to take as much planning and as many to do lists as getting married did.

Funny, I had this same weird feeling right before I walked down the aisle too. And since that marriage thing has worked out pretty well, I'm thinking this will too.

Exactly the same, only skinnier
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Yesterday when the shrink (who got his BA the SAME DAMN YEAR AS ME) was doing my pre-op consultation he asked me how long I'd been overweight, and I glibly replied "My entire life! Since the day I was born a 9 pound, 9 ounce baby!" And that answer was just so absurd because hello, overweight since birth? What kind of crazy idea is that? So what if I weighed 9 pounds, 9 ounces? I was also 23 inches long and 3 weeks overdue, but that's not what I talk about, I just talk about how I was a GIGANTIC FAT BABY.

The thing is, I cannot remember a time when I did not think I was fat. My earliest memories of elementary school involve me chasing some boys, intent on punching their daylights out because they had called me a fattie. I had dimpled knees, meaty thighs, pudgy little fingers. I was the class chubster, keeping my rounded belly well past the kindergarten years unlike my classmates who slimmed down and sprouted up as we dashed through the playgrounds. I turned into a semi-bully and a complete know-it-all, responding to the taunts with occasional punches and making sure that I was always the first one to wave my hand in the air with the right answer. Little did I know that being a know-it-all smart fat kid was pretty much a million times worse than being a not smart fat kid in the eyes of my classmates.

And somewhere along he way, I stopped believing my lovely, pudgy grandmother's declaration that it was just baby fat, that I would shoot up like a sprout and become lovely and slender (she believed this would happen despite the numerous butter-and-jelly sandwiches she would make for me). Instead, I started believing the kids at school, the ones who called me fatass and lard butt. And once I believed it, fully and truly believed that I was a fat kid and there was nothing I could do about it something clicked and my subconscious decided that hey, I might as well eat the whole world.

So I did. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I would share pizza with my friends at school, I would come home and eat stacks of cinnamon toast with pitchers of Kool-Aid. I joined a soccer team but only for one practice; fat girls weren't supposed to get sweaty and run like skinny girls. Fat girls were supposed to be bookish and hate the outdoors, so I eschewed fresh air in favor of piles of books read while curled up on the couch. Oh sure, I rode horses competitively for a couple years, but that wasn't really exercise, that was just me living out a girlhood dream.

And so it went, through elementary and middle school, right into high school. I was the really smart, really funny fat girl, the one who had friends in all of the social groups because I wasn't a threat to any of them. I ate gigantic cinnamon rolls during my breaks, I drank oodles of Pepsi, and I didn't care about things like fruits and vegetables because hey, I was the fat girl so I got to eat whatever I wanted to with no thought about diets. And after high school came college.

Mm, college. Binge drinking, binge eating, binge sleeping. I would occasionally drag myself into the gym on campus on a regular basis just long enough to drop a few pounds. And then I would get lazy again, head back to the cafeteria for a giant baguette with 5 pats of butter and a 32 ounce Pepsi for lunch. But I was healthy! I rode my bike (for 10 minutes at a time)! I walked (across campus a few times a day)! I was pretty and I had people to make out with and guys grabbed my ass at parties and I had friends and an awesome job at the bookstore and I even had some other fat friends. I was the fat girl, so it didn't matter that I was steadily putting on 10-15 pounds a year, it was expected of me.

Except I didn't even realize that being the fat girl had become such a big part of me. I was so unaware of it that I was a little shocked every time I saw a picture of myself. Who was this giant woman? I was only chubby, so that couldn't be me! And there was a little voice in my head that kept telling me it's just baby fat, it'll go away eventually. Except...wait, it was supposed to go away a long time before I got to college, wasn't it?

Eventually (really, pretty damn recently) I realized that the big assed woman in those pictures really was me. And so now I'm finally accepting that I am the fat girl, the fat chick, the fat woman, the big hot piece of buttery goodness. These days I finally realize that being fat doesn't mean that I can't work out or that I can't be giddy over a pile of fresh veggies and fruits from the farmer's market. It doesn't mean that I can't turn down a dessert or that I have to wear sweatshirts embroidered with sparkly cats. It means I am who I am, and I can be active and healthy and dance and lift weights and be in love and have a great job and be awesome.

How might my life have been different if I hadn't believed them, those schoolyard hellions with their taunts about the size of my thighs and the largeness of my butt? Would I have run with more abandon? Would I have found joy in playing soccer, in running around and getting sweaty and exercising? Maybe I would have discovered my love for fresh, cold watermelon rather than my obsession with hot, buttered toast. And maybe my grandmother's prediction would have come true and I would have grown up and stretched out my baby fat and become a lovely, slender swan instead of staying a fat, fluffy duck. Maybe I would have been prom queen, or one of those impossibly bitchy cheerleaders. Or maybe I would have been exactly the same, just skinnier, which is exactly what I'll be after the surgery. Maybe I wouldn't be needing bariatric surgery now if I hadn't believed them back then.

Regardless, I hope that the little girls in my life never have to go through this, the daughters of my friends, my honorary nieces. I hope I am able to tell them not to believe the mean kids at school, that they don't have to become what they are called. And I hope that I am able to tell them (and convince them) that even if they do become part of the fat girl brigade, life can still be pretty damn cool. And I hope it doesn't take them 30 years to figure it out like it did me.

Let's check out the headlines, shall we?
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Time for my occasional trip around the internet....

Wow. I'm never going to complain again about my six-month wait. As annoying as all the insurance hoops are, at least I know that it's a matter of months and not years that I'll have to wait. Add that to the fact that other hospitals are shipping their patients to the very city I live in and I feel incredibly lucky.

WTF?? While the wellness program is a nice idea, I don't think that any of those board members were really thinking about anything other than the money factor, and I'm sure that all of them neglected to compare the cost of the surgery with the current cost of his medical care (which would be drastically reduced post-op). Again, counting my blessings becaus A) I'm covered and B) I'll get paid for my time off.

This is kind of neat. My own surgeon is very aggressive about things like clot prevention etc for all his patients, but this would probably help surgeons get their patients better prepared physically so that their recoveries would go better. Of course, I'm sure the insurance companies would love to use it so they could start turning down the high-rick patients. Double edged sword right there.

So, what do you think?

Dream deferred
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Yesterday I was walking with my friend Tracey, the coworker who's doing the Breast Cancer 3-Day with me this year. She's already registered, but I still haven't managed to, mostly because I keep forgetting to do it when I actually have the money for it. I usually remember right after dropping a bunch of money on shoes. Or makeup. Essentials, you know.

Anyway, the walk is in November. And my surgery will (hopefully) be in July, so I figured that hey, no problem! I can walk 60 miles in November! It'll be almost 4 months after surgery, which means at least 60 pounds lighter, which means AWESOMENESS and easier walking. And so I started working out now, walking and doing aerobics and being all healthy with the food because if I get in good shape before the surgery then I can recover super fast and be all kinds of fit and ready to walk those 60 miles. And the hills! This year I will do all the hills! Because I will be so much skinnier!

Now, this is going to be my third time doing the 3-Day. I did pretty good for a fat girl, especially considering that the first year I ended up with gaping wounds on the arches of my feet which made the medical team pull me off the walk for an entire day. The second time I did way better, and I think we figured out that we walked somewhere between 45-50 of the 60+ miles. Both times it was the hardest, most insane, fantastic thing I've ever done. So I'm really looking forward to doing it this year, especially considering I'll be doing it lighter than I've been in 10 years if all goes as planned.

But yesterday I realized that maybe I'm being too optimistic. As I told Tracey, I'm pretty much going to have to bring my own food for the entire weekend, since I won't be able to eat the plates of pasta that they like to load us down with, or the yummy, yummy PB&J sandwiches they hand out as snacks along the way. No oranges either, and no salty potato chips to help replace my electrolytes. So okay, I'll pack my fanny pack with protein bars, right? Except oh my GOD, you burn what you eat so fast! I already felt like I was constantly eating when I did the walk with a normal sized stomach, but I think I would literally have to be eating every half hour to have enough energy to make it through.

But what worries me even more than the eating is the hydration. When you walk up a big giant hill and it's hot and you are sweating so much that there is salt crusting your skin, tiny sips of water are not enough to keep you from dying. You need big giant gulps, alternated with gulps of Gatorade or PowerAde or something else with those precious, precious electrolytes in it or else you end up hallucinating in the medical tent while they hook you up to an IV.

So the only way I can see myself being able to make it through this is by doing the entire walk with a protein bar (or shake or something) in one hand and a bottle of water in the other hand, and me taking a bite every 5th step and a sip every 10th step. And quite frankly, I am just not that coordinated (see: broken wrist of 2006 & broken ankle of 2002, both suffered while I was walking without distractions).

I'm a little heartbroken that it seems that this will not be the year that I finally do all 60 miles, because I have a feeling that when I sit down with Dr. M and discuss this he's either going to say don't do it or he's going to limit me to something like 8 miles a day, either of which are both bummers. And I know, I know, I can do the walk again next year and that will be my year to conquer the entire 60 miles. But...I wanted to do it this year. I wanted to conquer it this year with my brand new body.

I've waited long enough, dammit.