Silver cloud, rusty lining
Monday, July 30, 2007
I've exercised in some way, shape or form on 5 of the past 7 days and my ass, it is aching.

I've gotten an average of 64 grams of protein in, and I always get 64-72 ounces of water in.

Yesterday, I put on a pair of jeans that is a size smaller than the jeans I've been wearing lately; those jeans haven't fit since before I broke my wrist (and gained 20 pounds while recovering).

Every shirt I own is fitting me differently (half of them are too big now), and so are my shoes.

My husband noticed yesterday that when we're spooning, his arm doesn't have to reach as far to get around my middle.

My boobs are still ginormous, but my bras all fit better.

And today when I did my weekly weigh in, my scale said I had gained 3 pounds since last week.

That's how it goes. There's all these other things telling me that hey, I am losing weight! My body is shrinking! Things are going the way they are supposed to! And then along comes the evil, stupid scale to try and convince me that no they're not! It's failing, I'M FAILING, just like every other time.

Luckily, those jeans still fit me perfectly this morning, so I am (mostly) able to ignore the evil, stupid scale. And right now I am debating whether to weigh myself at home at all. I'll be seeing both doctors on a regular basis, so it's not like I'll never get weighed. At the very most, I'm only going to weigh myself on the monthly anniversary of the surgery, because bodies are too finicky. Those 3 pounds are probably water retained by my body to help heal the muscles that are aching from all the new working out I've been forcing them to do (that happens pretty much every time I start working out in earnest), but hopping on and off the scale all week is not going to make the water go away any faster.

I know that I am supposed to be obsessed with that number on the evil, stupid scale, especially now, when I am supposed to be losing weight LIKE CRAZY. But I don't want to be. I don't want to obsess about that number because I have other numbers I'd rather be obsessed with. Numbers like my jeans size and my inches and how fast I can walk 5 miles are so much more important to me in the long run. And numbers like how many grams of protein I've eaten and how many ounces of water I'm drunk are so much more important to my body that those are the numbers I need to pay attention to.

So tonight, I'm having my husband put the scale away until the 9th of August, and it will only be taken out again on the 9th of each month for the first year. I think sacrificing one morning a month to the stupid, evil scale is plenty.

Especially since I've already sacrificed 32 years to it.

Progressing apace
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I realized this week that I am so very, very blessed to have the doctors that I have. I chose my PCP based on the fact that not only is she about my age, her main area of interest (aside from internal medicine) is weight management. And just like I hoped, she's actually well-informed about obesity research and treatments, which means that she actually knows how to take care of me post-op. I can't help but think that I'm not her only bariatric patient because she really knows her stuff, which was demonstrated really well when I saw her from my post-surgery follow-up on Wednesday.

She asked all the right questions, made sure I really knew what had been done to me (she told me she's actually had patients say "Oh, they moved some things around inside and...*shrug*", so she was pleased when I was able to tell her exactly what Dr. Mueller did to my insides), looked at my incisions to make sure they were okay, and scheduled me for a follow-up with bloodwork for September. It's nice to know that I have a PCP who knows what to watch and how to make sure I'm healthy afterwards.

What's even nicer is the fact that Dr. Mueller and Dr. Falquier are part of the same healthcare system, so Dr. Mueller's been sending reports over to Dr. Falquier this whole time to keep her updated. Again, so lucky to have such a good team behind me on this.

Dr. Falquier did bring up one thing that made think; she asked what kind of weight loss rate goal Dr. Mueller had given me. And I realized that he's never once said "You should be losing X pounds per week." The focus from his office has been almost entirely on behavior modifications...learning to eat right, getting back on the exercise train, etc. So I told her that really, I'd be happy with an average of 2-4 pounds a week, and she said that sounds pretty well doable. (And then she reminded me that yes, I will have weeks without big losses, so be prepared.)

Speaking of food and exercise, soft foods have been an adventure. I'm learning the new ways for me to know when to stop eating (my pouch makes me a little nauseous when it gets full), and I've tried a bunch of different things. So far, no adverse reactions to eggs, green beans, peaches, cottage cheese, string cheese, deli meat or canned chicken. We used to always joke about how I had an Iron Clad Stomach that could tolerate just about anything; I guess now I have an Iron Clad Pouch. At least for now I do!

As for exercise, I did a 2 mile walk on Tuesday, we rejoined the gym and are going to Tai Chi on Sunday morning, and today I did my first Slim in 6 workout, which kind of kicked my ass with the 10 million squats and plies. On the good side, my ass will look AWESOME if I keep doing them.

And now I'm going to go make some uber-protein pudding, because it will definitely be easier to get that down rather than Yet Another Shake.

Momentous occasions deserve shopping
Friday, July 20, 2007
Today I got up and I worked out.

If you had told me 6 months ago that I would be getting up and working out (aerobically! and with weights!) a mere 11 days after someone stuck a bunch of probes and instruments into my gut and rearranged my intestines, I would have laughed myself into oblivion. But there I was, sneakers on and weights in my hand, sweating along with a perky blonde DVD exercise leader. And I am both amazed and awed by my body's ability to let me do that.

And instead of taking a nap (which oh, I wanted to do) I then proceeded to celebrate my half hour workout by going outlet shopping with a couple of friends. See, I have clothes for right now (and probably about another month) and I have some clothes for when I get down to a 14, but I have nothing for in between. So we hit the stores and I bought and bought and bought, until I had a big pile of clothes in varying sizes which will keep me clothed enough to not get fired for public indecency.

And then, just for fun, I bought some shoes. And two of them are polka dotted and AWESOME.

In other words, I rewarded myself by spending a lot of money that I probably shouldn't have, but the reassurance that I have a serviceable skirt to wear in 3 months makes it worth it.

In other news, I am so very,very bored with the full liquids stage. I am so very bored that I am daydreaming about tomorrow, when I can start drinking protein shakes again. I am missing protein like you would not believe, especially in light of the Period From Hell that hit me this week. and then! On Monday I start my soft foods diet, which means I get to eat CHEESE (and other stuff too, but the cheese is the best part). And since I get to eat cheese, I paid an ungodly amount of money in shipping charges to get the best string cheese in the whole world shipped to me from Wisconsin. It will be the best Monday ever.

I'm just hoping I still remember how to chew after all this liquid diet crap.

Excuse my annoying blissfulness
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
My best friend is here with me this week, and it is awesome. Right now she is working on PhD homework and I am...well, I'm puttering on the internet until she's done. She and I have been friends since we were 8, and at this point we're sisters more than friends. When I told her I'd decided to have the surgery, she was nothing but supportive, and she's stayed that way the whole time. She's a teacher, so when I told her when the surgery was, she immediately said she would come down and spend a week with me while I recovered.

Both of us figured that I would be in much worse shape then I've ended up being; we thought she's be doing some nursing me back to health action this week. Instead, we are planning shopping trips and excursions to Balboa Park, long walks to get me back in shape (in between homework, of course). Today she took me to my follow up appointment but now I'm released to drive, so she doesn't even have to do that anymore.

When she got here on Tuesday morning, she brought this big duffel bag full of clothes she had culled from her closet, and she handed them all over to me. There's some cute dresses and tops, a couple pairs of jeans and dresses. They're just about all size 14 or large, which logically I know I will probably reach. But I held up a pair of jeans as we were going through everything and the ass on them was just so impossibly tiny. I looked at her and said "There is no way these are every going to fit me. They're so TINY!"

And she looked me right in the eye and said "They are going to fit, and they'll fit sooner than you think." She was so confident about it that I couldn't do anything but believe her. So I folded up the jeans and I packed them away for Someday.

This morning I sorta stopped believing they would fit, ever. I haven't been a size 14 since I was a sophomore in high school, and that? Was 17 years ago. So you can see where my hesitation is when it comes to believing that those tiny little jeans are ever going to fit my big ass. This, despite the fact that as of my follow up with Dr. Mueller today, I have officially lost 15 pounds since surgery day. I mean, of course they'll fit someday if I keep doing that, right?

In other follow up news, Dr. Mueller said I am doing awesome, can go back to bowling, and that I better be doing something other than walking for exercise the next time he sees me (because "we all walk everyday, go do some other stuff too"). In fact, he told me I could go climb Mt. Everest if I wanted to. (I won't though, because Mt. Everest is cold. And makes people die.) Sounds like it's time for us to go sign up at the YMCA again. Oh, and I ordered some new exercise DVDs so there's that to look forward to.

In other words, things are looking good. Great, in fact. And I'm just hoping no one and nothing pops my little balloon of happiness anytime soon.

A good way to start the week
Monday, July 16, 2007
I've always joked that my husband and I are essentially 12 years old. We enjoy a good joke about just about any bodily function, and our minds are constantly in the gutter. Before the surgery, I used to be the belching champion in our house and every time I let loose with with an especially loud one, Kevin would laugh. I have never had to pretend like girls don't fart or poop or otherwise behave like a normal human being.

And I am so very, very glad of this because whoa nelly! The gas that happens after the surgery! And you know, if I don't let it out when it hits, I feel a little bit like dying because ouch. The farting has been a constant source of amusement for my husband and I, and for that reason, I feel blessed. Every day this week I've thanked the universe that I am not one of those women who has never farted in front of her husband before because I have HAD to let some go around Kevin this week. I do not know how those women survive after the surgery, you know? Big props to them.

So other than gas, life is pretty good. my blood pressure was finally back to normal this morning, and I got to sleep more than 4 hours last night. And I got to eat Cream of Rice this morning and oh, it was tasty. I added some Splenda and cinnamon, then sprayed a little I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray on my serving and it was like eating rice pudding. So tasty! And hooray, I'm out of my 45 calorie a day zone!

But hey, I did my one week weigh in and holy moly! In one week, I've lost 13 pounds according to my home scale! So I guess it can work even if it is going so easily.

Of course, I am still reserving the right to completely and utterly freak out sometime in the next few months.

In which I know more than my doctor
Saturday, July 14, 2007
So I was going to get up this morning and write a whole entry about how oh my god, no one told me that insomnia would be a side effect of the surgery! And now I can't sleep! And it sucks! Because I am tired!

But then I remembered the stupid clonidine patch. And figured that maybe, just maybe that fucker was doing something to cause me this insomnia because you know, I was able to get comfortable this morning at 4:30 but still wasn't able to fall asleep until 5:30. Hell, I'm even sleeping on my stomach again, and this morning I felt like I'd only done 50 sit ups instead of 10 million. So it's not pain or discomfort keeping me awake.

And after last night's 100/67 blood pressure (I am borrowing my mom's home check one), we had already decided that the patch needed to come off if it was still that low today (normal for me is 125/78), because I was feeling oddly worn out yesterday...tired but couldn't nap, low energy, etc. So I check it this morning...97/63! AND! I looked up side effects of clonidine..dry mouth (got it), insomnia (got it), restlessness (got it), and fatigue (got it). Oh, you mean I'm sensitive to the drug? Maybe that's because I DIDN'T NEED IT. Man, I cannot wait to tell Dr. Mueller about this little adventure.

Needless to say, the patch is now off. Here's hoping it leaves my system fast enough for me to get a good night's sleep tonight.

In other news, I bought myself presents since I was up at 7:30 on a Saturday morning.

First: a ticket to San Francisco in October, because Southwest is having an insane sale and the ticket was under $100. And that is a good enough excuse for me to go to San Francisco on a whim.

Second: Since my surgeon's office (and a few other people) strongly recommended I get a medical ID bracelet, I bought myself this; it'll match everything I wear and actually be pretty...and potentially save my life, so awesome! Functional jewelry!

And now I'm going to go have a Popsicle for breakfast. Kids everywhere are jealous of me.

Chicken broth is my new best friend
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Amazingly enough, my vision is back to normal today, which indicates to me that miracle of miracles my high blood pressure has resolved itself! And you want to know why?

Because last night I got to sleep in my own bed, on my side, with one of my kitties curled up on my feet. (Riley, the smaller, younger one has been seriously clingy since I got home. I think he missed me.) No matter how good a hospital is, there are just some things they can't offer.

Today I got to start "eating" clear liquid stuff...Jello, chicken broth, Popsicles, etc. I am very glad that we decided to splurge and buy a ton of this really good organic free-range chicken broth at Costco, because that shit is GOOD. It's like a liquid chicken, and since I've been craving savory flavors, it was the perfect lunch today.

Last night, I dreamt about booze. Other post-ops dream about food but I dream about giant mugs full of rum and coke. Figures.

In other non-typical patient news, today I went to the donut shop with my husband. Hey, it was time for a walk, he wanted some donuts, the donut shop is the perfect distance away from out house for a decent post-op walk so we went to the donut shop. And because I'd much rather have a plate of nachos than a donut right now, it was zero problem.

I keep thinking that this has been way too easy for me. I'm getting my energy back really quickly (although I did take a 2 hour nap today), I'm getting my water in no problem, I don't have any bad pain, and food cravings pass in a moment. If it's this easy, how can it possible work, you know?

And I know it's stupid to think that, but I can't help it. I just can't stop thinking that nothing this big should be this easy if it's going to work.

But I bet everyone thinks that, right?


The adventure en toto
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
First of all, 5:30 in the morning is just an unholy hour for someone to be expected to be at the hospital, ready to be cut open. But I was there, bright and early with my mom and Kevin in tow. The prep work was painless enough; the woman doing my IV was awesome and it did not hurt even a little bit. On the outside I was super calm and collected, making jokes with my loved ones and reminding Kevin about the doctor's appointment he needed to make. But apparently, I internalize my stress utterly and completely, because my blood pressure was a whopping 155 over 105. 155/105! Good lord, it's never been that high before. We all wrote it off as white coat syndrome and I went on about my surgery having business.

I couldn't help but think that it was a good sign that when the surgical nurse came to talk to me beforehand, she made sure to tell me that A) I picked the right surgeon because he was the best one at the hospital out of all the surgeons who do this surgery, B) the nurses actually FIGHT over who gets to be on Dr. Mueller's surgery teams, especially for this procedure and C) Dr. Mueller has AMAZING HANDS and does the best stitches she's ever seen. Apparently, I picked the doctor who's a combo of all the Super Docs on Grey's Anatomy.

All I know is that I was out before they even put the mask on me, which was good because it wasn't until I was kissing my mom and Kevin goodbye that I started getting teary. So hooray for being put to sleep before I could get all emotional!

The surgery went really, really took him about half an hour less than it usually takes him because it was so easy for him to work on me. I guess I did a good job shrinking my liver down to a manageable size! Next thing I knew I was in recovery and I could hear all of them talking about how I had had a reaction to the telemetry sticky tab things because my skin was all red; I knew it was just because my skin is sensitive to having things ripped off of it, but I was too out of it to be able to tell them. Luckily they figured it out themselves.

I got to my room and hoo boy, I was spoiled because I got my own room! And it was a double room so it was nice and big so I could have more than 2 visitors at a time, which was the best part. Technically, Kevin could have stayed the night but the recliner didn't look comfortable so I sent him home to get some sleep. Figured I really needed my home care person to be well rested.

I didn't have a morphine pump ( but I did have really responsive nurses); they gave me morphine when I asked for it and Gas-X when I asked for it. Most of my pain was taken care of by an On-Q Pain Pump. It was basically an epidural for my abdomen, which meant zero incision pain. The only thing that hurt was my diaphragm, and my lungs at first. And that was pretty much gone by yesterday afternoon.

They were actually talking about discharging me yesterday afternoon since all the dang nurses kept telling me I looked like I'd had surgery a week ago. I certainly didn't FEEL like I'd had surgery a week ago! Luckily (and ironically) they kept getting high blood pressure readings on me during the day (mostly because they kept taking it either right after I finished walking or right when I was having a gas pain attack), so I got to spend one more night while they waited for a my clonidine patch to work its magic. It makes it hard for me to focus on things in the distance, but it got my blood pressure down enough for me to be discharged this morning, and I was home by 10:15.

I'm doing really, really well. I've gotten in my 64 ounces of water, we've done a few walks up and down the block, I even went to Walgreens! It's not all roses, of body has decided to get every last bit of digested food out, which means diarrhea, cha cha cha. What I wouldn't give for just some plain old gas, you know? At least I know it'll run out eventually, right? I also discovered that Liquid Tylenol does not set well with me...I don't know if it was the corn syrup or the taste or what, but right after I took it, I was MISERABLE. My stomach hurt and I couldn't get comfortable anywhere. So I've switched to Children's Tylenol meltaways and that is way better. I am totally stoked that I don't need the prescription painkiller; for once, my high pain tolerance is working in my favor.

So anyway, things are good. I'm good, I'm hydrated and I'm able to sleep. Thank you all SO MUCH for your good wishes....I know it's cheesy, but I really believe that all the good vibes I got from my internet community had to have helped things go well.

And now I'm going to go watch TV and sleep. Yay for being home!!

I'm alive!
Home and shaky but sucking down my Propel and being a good little patient.

Everything went amazingly well, and the hospital took great care of me but I'm glad I'm home.

More later.

A better frame of mind today
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Waffle Report:
Dude, this pre-op diet has changed my appetite in a major way. I ate half a Belgian waffle, 2 strawberries, half a sausage patty and like 6 bites of scrambled eggs. And I was stuffed! Six months ago the whole plate would have been emptied. But it was tasty, and it was finished by 9 so my insides get almost 24 hours before the surgery to empty itself out.

In Other News:
I was obsessed yesterday with getting the apartment straightened and cleaned up, and then I was obsessed with getting my car cleaned out and washed. So we cleaned and washed and vacuumed and everything's done. I told my husband (Kevin) last night that I wasn't sure if the obsession came from me wanting things cleaned up just in case I die or if it came from me wanting to have everything clean and organized for my new fresh start that starts tomorrow. We decided it was the latter, since I did he same thing before the wedding, and again right before I went back to work after my wrist-mandated disability time.

After breakfast we ran a few errands..Bed Bath & Beyond for a Magic Bullet and a third place setting of our fine china (we only got two sets when we got married and I really want us to have at least 8 sets...hooray for those 20% off coupons I keep getting!), then Costco for Kevin food (the man doesn't cook, so he gets microwaved food for a couple weeks) and Propel and chicken broth and bottled water (Kevin drinks it too, so it'll disappear even if I hate it). Oh, and vitamins. And tampons, which came in a big enough box that I probably won't need to buy them again this year.

Then I came home and packed (robe, slippers, comfy PJs for the ride home, Chapstick, a book, a brush, and socks), and I think I will go take a nap before I make dinner for Kevin. We're bowling tonight, my last night for at least month, and then I get to come home and take a Hibiclens shower tonight and tomorrow morning. The Hibiclens thing is a little annoying but considering that I am A) allergic to sulfa, which is what works best on MRSA and B) had to battle a MRSA infection a couple of years ago, I have no problem doing anything that will help prevent me from going through that again. (And woohoo, my MRSA cultures came back negative last week so I won't have to go through contact isolation!)

To Sum Up:
I'm all packed up, I've got my Propel and chicken broth and Jello and sugar free popsicles and even a Magic Bullet. Let's do this thing!

How may minutes in 34 hours?
Saturday, July 07, 2007
I have spent the last 3 days dealing with car problems and in-laws, and I am perilously close to a nervous breakdown. But I am only 34 hours away from when I am supposed to check into the hospital.

I think it did not really seem real until Friday, when my boss hugged me goodbye at the end of the day. Hugged me! The only other time he has ever hugged me was at my wedding. Everyone was wishing me well last week, telling me they'd keep me in their prayers and asking me to have my husband call or email them and let them know things went well. And most of them don't even know what kind of surgery I'm having; I told about 10 of my closest coworkers about it, but I told my boss I was having some preventative maintenance done; I think he figures I'm either having plastic surgery or I have "female problems" (which would explain why I'm still not pregnant after being married for more than a year).

I've been spending hours lurking on Obesity Help, reading message boards and profiles. If I'm not there, then I'm lurking on blogs of people who had the surgery, reading and re-reading about their experiences right after the surgery. I still need to pack for the hospital and run to Costco to stock up on Propel and bottled water and chicken broth. The house is clean and the car is fixed and tonight I'm going to wash my little Civic so it'll be clean when I get home.

I am so, so lucky; my surgeon does not require a bowel cleanse, just a two week mostly liquid diet. So tomorrow I get to "enjoy a regular breakfast" (I am totally having waffles at Brians) and then liquids for the rest of the day. I much prefer that over super poopin'.

Anyway, I'm finally starting to freak out a tiny bit. Luckily I am so tired from the last few days I should be able to sleep through most of the next 34 hours.

A different view from here
Sunday, July 01, 2007
"This surgery is all about you," she said. "And your friends and family need to know that it's not about them, it's about YOU. It's time to get selfish."

I thought about that, over and over even after the support group leader had finished her presentation to my pre-op classmates and I. She was saying this to us to emphasize the fact that our success with this surgery depends entirely on us, on how selfish we're willing to be about taking care of ourselves and following the rules for post-op living.

I have, from the very beginning, assumed I would do incredibly well after the surgery. And the reason I assumed this is because I have always been a teacher's pet (and a doctor's pet). I am eager to please, a rule follower who wants to be the best at everything, a person who thrives on being told "Good job!"

When I broke my wrist, I did everything my doctor told me to, just so he could be impressed the next time I saw him. He wanted me to be able to make a fist so I spent hours forcing my thumb to bend down so I could do it. My physical therapist called me a star student, with my mobility getting better with every visit since I would go home and do my exercises religiously. I was obscenely proud of the fact that my doctor told me at the end of my treatment that he was impressed because I had recovered much better than he thought I would since my broken wrist was "way high on the scale of bad."

I am crazy about praise, in other words. And I want Dr. M to tell me how awesome I am when I go in for my follow-ups, I want my nutritionist to tell me that my diet is exactly what I whould be eating, I want the program coordinator to ask to use my before and after pictures on their website. In other words, I want to be the star pupil.

I have not been perfect with my pre-op diet, I will fully admit that. But I have been pretty darn close to it. All liquid protein all day, and only 1 meal a day. I had a cupcake yesterday, but I didn't have the lasagna that was offered. On Friday, I went to Target and bought little toddler sized forks and spoons to start eating with, and I picked up a couple of sippy cups so I can make sure to sip my water after the surgery rather than do my usual glugging it down. (Luckily for me, Target had 10 ounce sippy cups with zero cartoon designs on it, so no one needs to know what they are.) It takes me as long or longer than my husband to eat dinner now, despite my smaller plates. My mindset is shifting over to the place I want it to be in after the surgery, and it's a relief, because I was afraid I never would get there.

Despite my few moments of imperfection this week, I've lost 8 pounds, which I'm sure will please Dr. M. It's like a weird preview of what's going to happen after the surgery, and it's nice to know I'll be under 300 when I climb up onto that operating table. When the program coordinator took my official "before" pictures on Wednesday, I had her take some for me on my camera. And oh, my lord. I remember now why I never let anyone take a picture of me from behind. So I'm kind of glad that my ass will maybe be a smidge smaller by the 9th.

I'm tired and loopy and my mind is running a zillion different directions. If I can just get through this last week of waiting without going crazy, I'll be happy. I'll also be happy if someone decides to make a white Russian flavored protein mix. That would be awesome.