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Sunday, December 30

Auld Lang Syne


There is really no point in stating my New Year’s Resolution this year because my resolution has already been 9 months in the making.  Like millions of others on this gluttonous earth, it would be simple to say that my resolution for 2013 is to “lose weight.”  If you have been reading my blog like the good friends I know you are, you know that I have a very well established plan on doing this and barring any unforeseen forks in the road that only God himself can muster, this WILL be the year I do indeed lose weight once my body inherits my Lap-Band. Now, technically, I still don’t know when this will happen and I have yet to see an official document stating that it is going to be a go, but in my very determined mind it is only a WHEN it happens and not an IF it happens.

2013 is also the year that I turn 35-years-old and in the past  1/3 of my life a few things have come to my attention. I will share those now, instead.

1.       I hate clothing that has a print. I am okay with stripes, but a print really bothers me. I also only like very specific colors of clothing such as black, grey, red, blue, and green.  I am fine wearing seasonal themed clothing or colors on the specific day in which that clothing is called for because sometimes when you are a mom, and especially if you are a teacher, you do that shit for  kids.

2.       I am coming to terms with the fact that no matter  how old I am I will continue to have long, black, one –length hair with no bangs, that is worn in a messy bun except for the once per quarter that it is blown strait for various occasions. These occasions may include but are not limited to weddings, job interviews, family photo shoots, and funerals. I therefore will not pressure myself to consider making a change over the next 12 months simply because I think it’s “time.”

3.       I will no longer put food into only two categories.

A.      Foods that I will eat.

B.      Olives.

This is one (of many) reasons I have continued to have a weight problem. There are many foods that I do not like but I continue to eat them because I can tolerate them enough to keep eating them. I will make a better effort to not ingest foods that I do not like just because they are there. Some examples are chicken broth soups, turkey and ham cold cuts, Asiago cheese bagels, salted peanuts, and Baconnaise sandwich spread (trust me on this one).

4.       I will not secretly worry that I have a strange obsession because I chose to dress my daughter like she is my American Girl Doll that I never had. I don’t care how ridiculous the huge ass bows look on her head.   She is beautiful beyond words to me at a time when I am not and I would put her in a display case if I could to keep her precious and safe and pretty. This momentum will only continue to grow throughout the New Year, or until she starts refusing the bows at which time I will die a little inside.

5.       I will continue to be my son’s best and worst fan, at a time when he is trying his independence. I will be up his ass at all times to keep him in line, will have eyes installed behind my back, and will shoot him down myself when he gets crazy. I will also continue to love every inch of my first baby, shout the loudest at soccer games while wearing as many soccer ball themed clothing materials as possible, and secretly brag about how he’s the smartest second grader this side of Chicago (well…one of them for sure anyways!)

6.       I will continue to adore my husband in every way I possibly can. Very few things bring me greater happiness in this life.  

7.       Every day I will say a prayer and keep perspective in this bat-shit crazy world. This will include everything from the insanely trivial (it’s okay that my daughter and I spilled red glitter nail polish on the family room carpet, we were planning to and have money to replace it anyways) to the insanely unjust (I can work through my child’s rude back-talking, they came home to me alive from school today.) Because, after all, at the end of the day it’s always about perspective.

And last but never least…

8.       KEEP WRITING!!!  Keep reading, keep dreaming, keep reaching, keep inspiring, keep motivating, and keep sharing my story. If only one person reads this blog and is inspired to make a life change as I have, in any regards, I will be humbled. If no one does, I will still be heard.

Happy New Year to all of my family and friends, old and new.  

Sunday, December 23

Dear Santa,


Dear Santa,

I have been very good this year. I have gone to all my appointments, I have read countless articles and researched, I have planned menus and recipes, I have networked and read blogs, and I HAVE PRAYED about my Lapband. It’s time Santa to make my wish come true.

 
P.S. (I am very glad that the world did not in fact end on Friday. All that I have put into this journey would have been wasted and I would have had to give up. I feel like I have been training for a marathon since March and I am ready to run the race. Bring on 2013. Let’s do this!)

Love Always,
Rosie

Thursday, November 29

Time.

 
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

It was a very odd feeling when I realized that December is going to be the first month since March that I do not have an appointment, consultation, blood test, support group meeting, evaluation or hot date scheduled with anyone in the medical field.  I am also looking at my daily planner thinking about how I spent the past NINE months of my life engulfed in  Lap-Band world, pouring  out my blood, sweat, and tears (that’s not a figure of speech, either) and I still don’t have my baby. I have literally been through the length of a pregnancy and now the only thing to do is…..wait.
So I will do what all expectant mothers….ahem, Lap-Bandsters do and I will take this month to "nest".  Just like you would prepare a nursery for a newborn, I will prepare myself and my home for my new life. I will try out blenders and recipes for my month long liquid diet.  I will enjoy and indulge in some of my favorite guilty food pleasures. I will enjoy the beautiful weather and spend time outside. I will investigate hand weights to combat the inevitable chicken arms. I will not worry about diets, or food journals, or daily quotas of anything besides chocolate and alchohol. I will become one with my CRAP machine.
As we all know, there is always a calm that happens before the storm, nature's way of allowing us time to prepare before the chaos, a last chance to take a deep breath before taking the big plunge. 

This is my time to prepare physically and emotionally. To ENJOY, ENGAGE, and EVALUATE. 

My time to be me, as I know me, for the last time.

 

Monday, November 26

Lap Band Annonymous


About a week ago, the technician from my sleep study contacted me to say she was bringing my CRAP machine over to my house.  When she came by she was in her scrubs, my kids, ages 7 and 5, peeking out from the steps upstairs. I had explained to them that a “nurse” would be coming by to set up a new machine to help me sleep better and not wanting them to wander down the hall on a dark and stormy night to find a deep-sea-diver in my place, I wanted them there for the whole experience.

Upstairs we went, my nightstand already cleared off and ready for the hook up.  We plugged the machine into my surge protector and she explained all the components to us. There is an air filter, a memory card slot, a humidifier which needs distilled water, various setting options, and of course the hose and mask. Debbie the technician (whose real name apparently is Diana, but that is neither here nor there) had me lie down on my bed and try out five minutes with the machine.  My kids watched but really were very uninterested….I guess it really is no big deal to anyone but me.

When you grow up in a vanity rich environment, you worry about dumb shit like what you look like sleeping with a mask even though not a damn soul can see you except for your spouse who by the way is sound asleep themselves.  It’s bad enough to walk around with a weight problem, where your addiction is carried around you like a neon sign, then to also have to add insult to injury with medical equipment strapped onto your head. And ridiculous as this is, even though I decided I was going to grin and bear the whole thing to get my approval for surgery, It was KILLING me that the first thing you would see when you walked into my bedroom is a goddamned CRAP machine on my nightstand. I did what any logical person in my shoes would do and I BEGGED my husband of ten years to switch sides of the bed with me.

Just a little adjustment, I thought. I have to make major medical milestones, the least he can do is sleep to the East, I thought. Supportively, he went along with it but truth be told, while I am sleeping better than I have in years, he is still struggling with the transition.  I would gladly trade places with him, but then again, we would be back where we started, and that’s no good for anyone.

I can’t complain of course, he really is fitting into his role of my “support” person rather well. In fact when I told him I had to go to my required Lap-Band Support Group meeting tonight at the hospital, he asked to come with me.  Call it a date night if you will, but together we went, just one more thing to check off my list.

The support group was lack luster, with the only other damn person in the room from my age bracket being the dietitian. A few people had been banded already, and quite a few had not and were just sitting there like I was trying to fulfill just one more thing on the list of to-dos.  I’m not going to go as far as to say that it was completely pointless, but for someone who has been on this journey for 8 months now, researching, reading websites and online forums, reading books and memoirs, and looking through WLS cookbooks, there really was no new information that was useful to me.  And for the whole hour and a half, my beloved husband sat there listening like a champ, even if he did wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

Tuesday, November 20

Thankful...


Although everyone is posting something they are thankful for EVERY day on Facebook, I have decided to wait and share it all now, in all my brutal honesty.

1.       I am thankful for my Husband Brad. I don’t know how I would live this life without him and every day I am thankful for his support through thick and thin (literally) and sickness and health (hello fighter pilot sleep mask!). I am thankful that he works hard, I am thankful that he makes me laugh with his bad jokes, and I am thankful that he is so sweet and romantic.  I am thankful he gets out of bed to bring me aspirin and a glass of water when I have a headache. I am thankful he knows when to keep talking and when to stop. I am thankful that our marriage brought me two beautiful, healthy, and smart children. I am thankful that I found someone so selfless that we ALWAYS come first. Always.

2.       I am thankful for my two babies, a boy and a girl exactly two years apart. I am thankful that they are healthy and strong and playful. I am thankful that they have character and confidence. I am thankful that they are strong-minded and assertive. I am thankful that they are smart and love reading and learning. I am thankful that they are not fearful. I am thankful for their hugs and kisses and I am thankful they are best friends.  And mine too.

3.       I am thankful for my family, my parents and in-laws, who give us love and support when we need it and know when to let us be our own family. It truly takes a community to raise a child and with their help our kids are lucky to be surrounded with loving memories and traditions. I am thankful that my family has my back when I need it most.

4.       I am thankful for my career, and the opportunity to share my love of learning and music with the children in my community. I am thankful that I have work to do that is fulfilling and gratifying and shows my children the importance of family contribution.

And last but not least…

5.       I am thankful that I live in a country where I have the choice to make medical decisions to improve my health. I am thankful that in our careers we are blessed with health insurance that allows these decisions to be made. I am thankful for sleep CRAP machines, and Lapbands, and Bariatric surgeons, and nutritionists, and exercise specialists, and pulmonologists. I am thankful that when I went to talk to my primary care physician, she listened. I am thankful that I have had the COURAGE to stay on this path since March to a better me. I am thankful that a year from now I will be BANDED, I will be HEALTHY, and I get (yet another) second chance of taking control.

 

God Bless you and your family this Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14

Hang on while I hook up my CRAP machine...

Oh, I'm sorry, I meant my CPAP machine...


If you read my last post you already know that the Sleep Study I underwent a week ago sucked. I knew things had to be pretty bad since they didn’t even let me finish sleeping through the night before they strapped a mask on my face. I didn’t imagine however exactly how bad things really were…

It turns out as per my results that during my first two and a half hours there sleeping, (before the gatekeeper came in with her lantern) I stopped breathing an average of 69 times in an hour.

In case you didn’t read that right……69 TIMES IN AN HOUR!!

Hearing this news left me speechless, bewildered, and downright horrified.  It is absolutely unimaginable to me that a person can stop breathing at least once every minute during an hour and have no recollection of anything. In a crazy way, it’s almost as if you have been living a lie, your slumbers hiding a dirty little secret from you.  I want to just scream into my pillow about this whole shitty thing.

The tech that called me explained that in a few days someone from whoever comes to set up your equipment would call me and come to my house with my CPAP machine and show me how to use it. It will come with a memory card and when I have my follow up appointment after the New Year the Pulmonary specialist will evaluate my results (which means see if I do in fact use it) and he will clear me for surgery.  I started talking to my kids about it so they don’t wander into my bedroom in the middle of the night and get a terrifying surprise. My five-year-old asked if it was the blue cream mask I put on my face to help my pimples. My seven-year-old explained to her that it would be the plastic mask that he once saw watching the NFL when a player got a bloody nose.  Either way my vanity is getting the best of me and it is KILLING me that I have to do this, good for me or not, getting to my goal or not. I hate it, I’m not gonna lie.

Moving along, today I also saw the bariatric exercise specialist. Once again, people are starving from unemployment and someone else entirely actually gets PAID to tell you that you need to exercise in addition to just dieting to lose weight properly.  I am wondering if a single soul has ever sat in that uncomfortable chair opposite this person and said, “Really? Tell me all about that?”  I assured her that I know what to do…it’s actually DOING it that is my problem. It’s not about finding time either. It’s about choosing to dedicate time for myself and then choosing to use that time toward fitness. The nice thing is that this woman was not cut from the same cloth as Jillian Michaels from the Biggest Loser. All she prescribed was walking for 20+ minutes a few times a week, and investing in some light hand weights to use while watching TV which I can probably muster. She then had me stand on a scale with handlebars and took a fat analysis of my body.  Yep, I’m fat, thanks for playing.

Based on the current timeline, there is no way my surgery will happen in January like I had hoped, but now I am praying for late February or early March. Looks like when they say this process takes up to a year, they aren’t kidding.

Still going. Going with a mask on but going just the same…

Thursday, November 8

Getting my ZZZZZs


Warning: this is a LONG one. This is just as much for my personal documentation as it is for the education and entertainment of my LOYAL readers =) So here goes…

Last night I had my scheduled sleep study. As the evening approached I started to have more and more anxiety about the whole thing. I’m not sure what I was most afraid of but the short list included not being able to fall asleep while there,  doing or saying something weird while  asleep, and succumbing to needing a CPAP machine which had been on my mind as a worst-case scenario since I heard that this was part of my qualifying process.  Many people are starting to admit to having Sleep Apnea, but not many people are following protocol and sleeping with gas masks strapped on their faces.  Sleeping next to my husband while looking about as un-sexy as Darth Vadar (literally! Just picture it!) has not been on my recent agenda.

Still, I knew that this was one more step I had to take to get where I want to go so to the Sleep Institute I went. Hours of operation were 9pm until 5:30am (I know, being woken up at the ass-crack of dawn seemed like it would be the worst part of this experience but little did I know…) My instructions were to have clean hair and skin, to be in comfortable two-piece pajamas, no caffeine for 24 hours, and to bring my pillow/blanket if desired.  I chose to wear black and white star-spangled pajama pants, my husband’s very worn and soft as a bear hug t-shirt (which btw says “Titanic Swim Team”) and brought my pillow from our king-size bed and my Snuggie. Before I left for the study I showered, washed my hair and shaved my legs, and took my contacts out. After putting the kids to bed I was all ready to go and drove over to my suite for the night.

When I got there the parking lot has about three cars in it. Otherwise it was a typical medical building that I was familiar with from my doctor’s group, just clearly closed for the night. Once inside I am greeted by young receptionist in a hoodie and sweatpants. A great perk to this job I’m sure. She gets my technician for me and I am escorted to my room which looks exactly like a hotel room except for the medical wires strewn all over the bed.  My tech is a woman named Debbie and she is in normal nurse scrubs. She tells me I have to turn my phone off and put it in the closet, so I text my Hubs for the last time and follow my instructions. I am then given five minutes to brush my teeth, pee, and get ready to be hooked up. Before she can start I have to look up at the camera and state my name and the date.

Before the tech hooks me up she washes my face and legs with scrubber pads. I close my eyes and try and convince myself this is like a free facial. She then measures my head with a tape measure and marks my scalp and face with a red pencil.  Next comes the electrodes which are applied with a GLUE STICK….six on my head, one on my chin, two on my neck, and two on each leg with the wires sent down each pajama pant leg. Two straps go across my abdomen, one by my lungs, a second by my diaphragm. Once I’m all hooked up I get one last trip to the potty and it’s time to lie down in the bed. I am VERY glad at this point that I have my own pillow, and in contrast to the scratchy bedspread my Snuggie feels soft and warm under my face.

She explains that she will be monitoring not only my sleep pattern, but my breathing, leg movements, and teeth grinding.  Depending on how things go (or how my breathing doesn’t go), they may or may not need to intervene in the middle of the night to apply a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine is basically a humidifier that sends moist room air through a tube into a mask on your face to keep your body breathing in distressed sleep. Debbie tucks me in and leaves the room pitch black. I am okay but my heart is racing. I hear her voice on the intercom after she’s left the room and she has me do some “exercises” like looking left and right, and flexing my feet. After that all is silent. It’s time to sleep.

I am told to fall asleep on my back, which luckily is decently easy for me to do. Sometime later I wake up and Debbie tells me I can roll to my side and I do. I fall back asleep for the second time. I have no recollection of anything going on at this point; just these two short sleep spurts.

The next time I wake up is a little startling. Debbie is coming into the room with a goddamned lantern like in the fucking Headless Horseman story and says, “we need to fit you with a CPAP machine.”

“Oh, no!” I say and I can feel the tears start to well up in my eyes. I am trying to hold it together but I feel the inevitable happening and I suddenly hate myself with a passion that I don’t have a Xanax in my system.

“It’s okay, we are going to try the least intrusive one, just over the nose.” She fits me with the mask but my tears are coming faster and faster and now my sinuses are starting to mess with this whole ordeal. “You can only breathe through your nose. If you feel the need to open your mouth, try to resist.”

Seeing as that I have not been able to keep my big mouth shut for over 34 years, I am seeing flashes of RED in the dark, fake hotel room I’m in sending a warning to me that this is not going to be pretty.

“I don’t think I can do this.” I whimper.

“Just try,” she tells me. She helps me lay back down and leaves the room. The machine feels awkward and I am struggling to keep my mouth closed. Every few breaths I open my mouth and take a deeper one to compensate and my eyes are running tears and my nose is clogged with frustration. I don’t last five minutes before I call out and Debbie comes back in.

“Please!” I say, “I need to blow my nose and I need to open my mouth, I can’t breathe!” Debbie calms me down and finds me a full mask that will cover both my nose and mouth so I can breathe however the hell I want. Even though this one is larger, it is instantly more comfortable. I start to relax more but once she leaves the room again I feel the wetness from tears and snot both inside and outside the mask and I keep having to swallow and catch my breath. This is not working. My mind is screaming that I am not going to be able to do this after all and I want to go home. I am exhausted and scared and frustrated and embarrassed.   I knock on the headboard with my hand since my face is covered with tubing and Debbie comes in one last time to take off the mask. I don’t even know why I’m crying anymore but I want so bad to wash the icky sticky off my face and go to the safety of my husband’s arms.  

No.         I am going to do this.

I have not invested the past 8 months into this commitment to have a stupid sleepmask take me down. Time to put on my big girl panties!! Strap it the fuck down and make it happen!!  And just like that, somehow by the grace of God, I am able to pull myself together enough to stop crying like a blubbering baby. I say a few “Our Father’s” for good measure and I drift off to sleep…

Debbie wakes me up at 5:20am. She said she gave me a few extra minutes because I was in a dream state. The weirdest thing is that I am awake. Like, really awake.  I am more awake than I have been in years and I am done with this whole joint and can go home.

For the optimum success of my weight-loss surgery I have to get this Sleep Apnea under control so I am choosing to get over myself and do what I’m told. My personal machine will be ordered and coming in about two weeks.  No,  I am not in any way okay with this. I am still sad and pissed about the whole thing. What is keeping me going is knowing that my future health is like a puzzle and when one piece doesn’t fit you can’t see the clear picture.  So keep on going it is.  

Thursday, November 1

Just Breathe

Today was my appointment for my pulmonary function test and evaluation with the pulmonary specialist.  This was my first appointment at the hospital that I would be going to by myself.  Luckily, I found parking easily and took the elevator up to the fourth floor. While in the elevator I wondered if any hot doctors have made-out in there like on Grey’s Anatomy, and I post it on Facebook.

When I arrive in the suite, I have a déjà vu moment.  I had been in this waiting room before. It was a multi-specialty suite and my husband had his vasectomy in this very office 4 years ago. I guess if he can get snipped here then I can get my lungs evaluated in here too.

I texted my husband that I had made it there but was starting to feel panicky and he texted me the phrase he always uses to help calm me down.

“Just breathe.” Because, after all, that is what I was here to do….breathe.

The technician came to get me and brought me into the testing room.  What I see first in there is a vertical glass coffin with a swivel chair and a tail pipe inside.  He tells me to sit inside and slips a heart rate monitor on my finger. My heart rate reads 130 bmp and he takes it off and tells me close my eyes and take some deep breaths. He explains the testing procedure, that he will close the door but that I’ll only be in there less than five minutes…also making sure to let me know the door does not lock. Once inside I would hear his instructions via intercom. The technician handed me a plastic nose plug which is a cross between a swimming nose plug and a clothespin.  He shows me how to put my mouth on the tail pipe and reminds me not to break the seal with my lips. Not realizing that this story is going to be great to tell my coworkers in the morning ,  what I am thinking at that moment is WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING HERE?

I almost start crying.

Instead I close my eyes and tell myself….you are doing this!!

And I did, and it was okay. The tech let me out of the coffin and we filled out some questions…back to the waiting room I went until the Doctor was ready to see me.

I am looking around and thinking that I must have been crazy to sign myself up for this shit. I am committing to a lifestyle to include regular trips to the hospital. But like so many others in varying degrees I am fighting a disease (obesity) and I am doing what any mom who loves her family does when faced with a medical condition they can’t handle on their own.

Yes, this is why I’m here.

The doctor calls me in and he is Hispanic and handsome. I notice his first name is Jaime and I wonder if he goes by “hiy-mey,” but I don’t ask him.  The doctor asks me if I know why I’m there and I say, “Because it’s required?” He scoffs at this but his smile is kind and his eyes are warm.  He tells me that 80% of bariatric patients suffer from some level of pulmonary dysfunction or sleep apnea and that if I want to get the best bang for my buck with my surgery, getting my sleep apnea under control (if I have it) goes hand in hand. That metabolism and weight management is directly affected by lung function. He says my lungs look terrific and he can tell I’m a non-smoker. (Hi-five!) He also says he can also see that my lungs are a little squeezed in there because of my weight.

I have to do the sleep study. Ugh. I admitted that I both snore and stop breathing in my sleep (which is only an observation from my husband since who would know if they did either of those things?? If you lived alone who would be responsible for this information, your goddamned dog?).

I zip up my soccer mom sweatshirt and get back to my car. I exhale and let a tear run down my face and I call my husband’s office praying he is actually sitting there to answer.

“It was scary, but I did it,” I say.

I am doing this.

Tuesday, October 30

Keeping Score


This weekend I celebrated many things.  As I go through each celebration they are becoming known as, “the last __________ before I’m banded.”

Friday night was the last Husband’s Birthday party before I’m banded.  It would be the last time I sat at the table for a whole hour eating a first pasta course that really is more than enough food for a human to eat in one sitting, and then going on to eat a second course of meat and potatoes that really has no business in my overstuffed stomach. It also would be the last time that I will have to hide behind my family in the obligatory birthday cake photo, sticking my neck out so that I don’t have a turkey gobble, and hiding my true size behind everyone else.  I have become such an expert at doing this that a friend of mine who hadn’t seen me in person in a long time confessed that she didn’t know I had gained my weight back because my pictures are so deceiving.  Um…thank you? I feel so goddamned proud.

Saturday was the last college Homecoming before I’m banded. It would be the last time I graze all day on popcorn and hotdogs, drinking glass after glass of alcoholic drinks. It would also be the last time I would have to wear a MAN’s XL size t-shirt and jacket instead of the cute ladies spirit wear they sell at the field.  Most importantly, it will be the last time I am embarrassed that I have let myself go when my husband is every bit as dreamy as he was ten years ago at graduation. (FYI, he get’s pissed when I tell him this like a true gentleman would.)

Sunday we took the kids to the last pumpkin farm trip before I’m banded.  It would be the last time I indulged in the traditional corndog, curly fries, and big sugary fried elephant ear.  It would also be the last time that I would have to sit by the sidelines while my family went up the big curvy slide because my fat ass gets  tired of walking up the hundred stairs to the top (and let’s be real, those fucking stairs are so narrow the sides of my ass are rubbing along the rails while I climb up) and then has to maneuver itself to be able to sit at the top and slide down on a burlap sack with a child in my lap.

Long story short….what I am realizing (and reaffirming) as I continue to have these last moments before I’m banded,  is really the only things I am giving up are the amount of food I will be able to have, and sometimes the type of food.  What I will be gaining is priceless in experiences, confidence, laughter, companionship, and being able to be truly PRESENT for my family. Anyone can keep score here and see where I’m going with this.

So to end the first of many weekends here in the next two months of “lasts” ….I had my last head shrinker appointment before I’m banded and I passed!! I am not crazy and I am cleared for surgery and I paid my $50 for the letter saying so!! WHOO HOO!

My reward was my sweatshirt from a previous post =) Hubs said to hang it in the closet like the girl in the Yoplait commercial who is trying to fit into a bikini.

It’s the little things.

Tuesday, October 23

Last Dance


This past weekend, I attended a family wedding. I was very excited because it’s not every day that I get to dress up and pay a babysitter to watch my kids while I dance the night away with my husband.  When I’m getting ready, I curl and tease my hair into a big poof and I start taking “artsy” pics of myself in the mirror with my smartphone. I am careful to make sure that my chin isn’t double. Because I have what I call massive Jersey Shore hair, my face actually resembles the face that I remember, the face that is me.  I have big, long black hair and dark eyes and lucky for me my husband is a big Kardashian fan.  I am taking pics of my big hair because I am stalling putting my dress on.

It is always stressful when I put my dress on because there is that moment for fat girls where in the back of your mind you are just hoping it zips. My dress does zip but because of the empire waist, I feel like I look pregnant. I’m not, of course, and my family and friends know too well that it’s not a possibility, but I LOOK pregnant and that pisses me off. I am past the point of being embarrassed by it and I’m just pissed.  What is pissing me off is that I now have a difficult choice to make. I can either wear my spanx and shrink down my belly but be left with a major muffin top and back boobs….or, I can wear some ginormous slenderizing underwear to smooth out what I have and just try to ignore my 7-month faux baby bump. I opt for the smoother because quite honestly, I would rather someone I don’t know across the room mistake me for being pregnant than think my back needs a bra.

When I see my husband after he has dressed, I am reminded of a few things.

1.       I am damn lucky to be with such a hot man (as you know not many men don’t look hot in a suit and tie)

2.       Even though my husband can stand to lose a few himself, the fashion industry allows him to wear pants and a coat that could make jaba the hut look studley.

3.       He looks hot and I don’t.

I am frustrated, pissed at myself, and crabby about the whole situation. And then, then as we are driving to the wedding, my glittery heels in my lap because my feet are like stuffed sausages in them, I remember something very important….

This is my LAST wedding pre-lapband.

The next wedding on my calendar is in May, it’s the one that my daughter and I are standing up in together. Assuming everything continues to go as planned, I should be having surgery in January which means that I will have four months to adjust, recoup, get back on my feet, and LOOSE WEIGHT.   No matter what I weigh at the next wedding, if it’s less than this one, I will feel like a boss.

After that realization hit me I didn’t give a shit anymore. I danced my ass off the whole night.  I slow danced with my husband and enjoyed the scent of his aftershave. I fist pumped with my family and “got low”. I enjoyed the wedding cake and high-cal cocktails and I decided to have a great time.  Because after all,  at the end of the night when the dress is hung back up and the heels are back in their box and my husband’s suit is on the way to the drycleaners the fact still remains… today I am HERE.

Monday, October 15

New Title...Still Me!!


pan·de·mo·ni·um

n.

1. A very noisy place

When I first decided try my hand at blogging, I knew I wanted a title for my blog that was a play on words, and that was both academic and ridiculous. Although nothing came to mind, not even after Googling  idioms with the word “band” in them, I settled on “Band With Me.” It was short and sweet, and I thought maybe could reflect my need for camaraderie during this crazy time.
Recently I was reading Jean McMillan’s book “Bandwagon” and she had used the word “pandemonium.” It hit me like a Red Bull…HOT DAMN!! It was the title I had been looking for!!
Here is where you will hear my voice, loud and ringing in your ear.
Here is where I can be myself, sometimes bitchy, wannabe sexy, mostly an emotional mess… but real.
I’m only at the beginning of my journey and the pandemonium has just begun.

My Bandemonium.

Saturday, October 13

ME


Can’t wait to feel like me again…

Unlike many weight loss bloggers, I am not someone who has always been overweight. In fact I have been 6 different sizes in my adult life…from 10-20 and so I not only know how it feels to be fat, I also know how it feels to be thin. Don’t get me wrong, by “thin” I mean “thin for me” which is still curvy in the right places with a soft stomach and the ghetto booty my husband first fell in love with 14 years ago. Like Heinz ketchup, when I’m “thin for me” I am still thick and zesty.

What I don’t know shit about is how to just be “thin for me”, how to just eat standard amounts of food to maintain a healthy size. I am always dieting or gaining with nothing in between. In fact, I have never even hit a plateau while on my hundreds of dieting days in my life, which has become an urban legend to me.

After I had my daughter in 2007, I suffered from post-partum depression. If you are reading this Tom Cruise just go ahead and leave my blog because it is a real thing with real side effects. I wasn’t working, had a newborn, my husband had just been let go from one job and (God bless) just started a new job, and I had a rambunctious two year old to take care in the meantime who’s idea of a nap was staying in one place for a while 5 minutes. Between our lack o f money and my lack of sleep I was in a fog most days. Because I am not an emotional eater (one blessing for me) I actually LOST weight during this time. In fact, my weight was the only thing I could be in control of and so it was therapeutic for me to measure meals and follow up with weekly weigh-ins.

As things got better, so did I, I finally got the courage to speak up at my doctor’s office and get the help I needed. I was feeling like ME again, happy, sexy, fun, a spirited mom with lots of energy and small pants.  What sucks is that because things were better, and so was I, I slacked on my diet, I took my kids for Happy Meals, and filled the freezer with goodies from Costco that was now once again in the budget.

The weight that had taken me two years to loose was back in about 6 months, with 15 pounds more a year later, and 15 pounds more a year after that.

So here we are today. I am not ME again. I am trapped in this body that I hate, that makes me uncomfortable and sick, that I have no energy in, which makes me feel like a failure.

I went into Victoria’s Secret to pay my bill (don’t get excited, it’s mostly make-up and clearance bras; even while plus-size I still can fit into their now extended sizes) and  no I wasn’t jealous of the bins of lacy butt  floss but I saw the CUTEST  Chicago Bears sweatshirt with the bear head all blinged out in blue and orange sequence from their hipper PINK line. I almost cried when I saw that sweatshirt. The ME inside can fit in the sweatshirt and roll around in the leaves with my kids on a fall day. The ME inside can sit on my husband’s lap in the recliner during a Bears game and not break the fucking thing. The ME inside can walk my dog in that sweatshirt and have neighbors secretly admire how cute it looks on me, the sequence and my smile shining in the sun.

But the ME outside has to walk past. The ME outside always misses out. The ME outside is FED THE FUCK UP.

Next Tuesday is the Psych, November 1 is the Pulmonary, then my blood tests and letter saying I’m good to go from my Primary doc and BCBS IL should have my file in their hands by the Holidays. And then, it should be a happy new year, with the new/old ME fighting her way back out of the darkness.

Thursday, October 11

Ten Things Thursday


(Apparently in Blogger World this is what all the cool kids are doing…)

1.       Today a Kindergarten student looked at my school ID and said, “Who is that?”…  “It’s me!” I said back… “Oh, well the person in the picture is skinny.”  Well said, Kindergartener.

2.       I have decided that since I was able to basically stop altogether my acid reflux but not eating crap at night before bedtime,  that is just one more reason I can trust myself to eat right with the band, because I will not want to have to become a PB aficionado.

3.       I am sitting here watching Cong. Ryan get schooled by VP Biden and I have to say, regardless of what side you are on, it’s quite the comedy show. Malarkey!

4.       Even more fun than watching the debate is watching the status updates that go up on Facebook during the debate.

5.       Found on Pinterst…


 

6.       My love/hate relationship with McDonald’s continues to grow. Why does it have to be so convenient? Why does it have to have new pumpkin milkshakes?? Why does it have to have MONOPOLY?? I feel like shit after I eat it and then I think, hot damn I just won a medium fry!!

7.       Next Tuesday I have my psychiatric appointment. I guess my appointment is covered by my insurance by its $50 for them to write the letter saying I am sane enough to have surgery. Really? How about I write the letter and you just sign it? How about you just type up the notes and e-mail them over? How much is the fax being sent? 50 cents? I would go apeshit over this BS but then I won’t look sane enough for surgery.

8.       I just added “apeshit” to my spell check.

9.       My back is killing me and my husband is working late so he can’t facilitate the back massager for me. =(

10.    This list was harder to come up with than I thought.

Saturday, October 6

Meeting the Surgeon


I finally did it. I did it. This week I met with the SURGEON!

And I can’t lie, it scared me shitless.

My hand was shaking as I filled out my paperwork while sitting in a double wide seat out in the waiting room of the Bariatric Center. They had put a Hospital bracelet on my wrist and a second bracelet that was scarlet red and said "allergy". Right away I asked, "I'm just talking today, right?" Yes they assured me, I would get bracelets every time. Our Bariatric Center is located in our nearby Hospital which is one of the best in the Chicagoland area, thank God. When they finally called my name, my Husband and I followed the nurse and I was weighed on a ginormous scale right out of an episode of “The Biggest Loser.” I realize my overweight self still represents only a fraction of what some of the overweight patients weigh who come in, but even so I felt like a cow being weighed for slaughter. The scale only weighed in kilograms and my weight then had to be converted and my BMI documented.

After this I sat with the registration nurse and she asked me some basic questions and took my blood pressure which was a towering 183/something I can’t remember. It is an understatement to say that I was nervous as hell. I kept grabbing my Husband’s hand with my sweaty palm and he kept smiling his just-chill-the-fuck-out smile which instead of making me feel better kinda started to really piss me off. This was no laughing matter; this was weight-loss surgery!!

The next part of the appointment took place in an examination room but I just sat in yet another double wide chair while my Husband made himself comfortable in a double wide recliner. I gave him that if-you-take-out-your-phone-and-send-an-email-I-will-gouge-out-your-eye look and thankfully he obliged. The first person to enter was the Nurse Practitioner who oversees the whole operation. We went over my entire 13-page health summary and she gave us the basic lowdown of what we would need to accomplish after the appointment. The Nurse was able to answer basic questions about our insurance coverage and what to expect in a broad sense, I felt comfortable talking to her and I was finally starting to breath normally again.

After she left, the surgeon came in. Dr. Vallina was a thin man who was in his mid-fifties. He was very casual and personable and talked a lot about his family and interests. He told us about some of his patients and then went into his tell-all mode about the surgery options. I know that he had to be real with us, no other way to do it, but I started to feel confused and scared again. My husband in his recliner with his shit-eating-grin on his face was adding insult to injury. Even though the surgeon knew I was there for gastric banding, he still took liberties talking about the other procedures which are the Sleeve Gastrectomy and Gastric Bypass. He gave us statistics and percentages, outcomes and complications. He told us that from this initial consult to surgery was a three month process assuming I can get in to see the psychologist and pulmonary specialist in decent time, and then he left after telling me to “look into my heart on which surgery to have.” Please, I need to lose weight, not invest in a romantic partner!

When the surgeon left, I started to cry. As my eyes swelled with tears, my Husband cut the crap and started to talk me through what had just happened. He reminded me of why I was here, that of course it is going to be clinical and scary and that the doctor’s JOB is to remind me of the pros and cons. Once I got it back together, the third and final person came into the exam room.

This Nutritionist was very different than the one I did my 6-month supervised diet with. She was young and dark haired and very beautiful. She asked me what my typical day of eating looked like and then told me the good news is that since I am a “volume eater” (industry term) and not a “grazer” or “emotional eater” I could expect a good outcome with the gastric band option. She also told me that she would help me through my pre and post-op diets, and see me at every appointment there after once the band was in place for Nutritional counseling. As difficult as it is to make a drastic decision like this one, I wasn’t going to be alone, the staff was going to be with me every step of the way.

Needless to say, it was a roller-coaster of an appointment.

When I got home I posted a note on my favorite online forum about my experience feeling like getting cold feet before a wedding (which incidentally didn’t happen to me). This is a lifelong commitment to my health and wellbeing and as much of a no-brainer it seems like it should be to improve my quality of life, it’s still incredibly nerve-wracking. My “friends” on the forum all gave me support and encouragement and calmed my fears. Long story short, yes there could be complications, yes there will be a lot of maintenance, but YES it is the right choice for me.

I also started reading Jean McMillan’s book “Bandwagon.” Her no nonsense approach to gastric banding answers many of my questions and puts the ups and downs into great perspective. I wish I would have read it before my surgery consult so maybe I could have sat in there like a boss instead of like a toddler going in for pre-K shots.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I am still on the track running circles, but I am STILL RUNNING. The finish line is not in sight yet but the starting mark is now far enough behind me that I can’t quit now.

Wednesday, September 26

October Suprise!


WHOO HOO!

I just got a call from my Bariatric office to say they have a pre-surgery appointment available to me next Tuesday on 10/2/12 instead of waiting until the 23rd!

The sooner I get there the sooner I can get this thing going….never thought I would be so excited for a doctor’s appointment all about my weight gain.

LOL!!

That is all.

Monday, September 24

IN LIMBO


I want to write a blog post, but really, since I am just sitting here WAITING for my surgeon’s appointment, I’m not sure what really to say. Instead I figured I would post some random thoughts that wouldn’t be a real blog post on their own…

1.       I find myself eating things because I CAN. I’m not an emotional eater by any means, but I find myself neither hungry nor full and yet stopping for a Nachos Bell Grande just because I have five bucks in my pocket and well….I better eat it now…I know this is a very shitty reason to be eating junk food but for some reason it’s reason enough. Afterwards I too feel shitty and am always reaffirmed that I need help and hopefully being banded will help with some of the poor choices I am making.

 

2.       So far I have three people that have expressed to me that they think me having weight loss surgery is a bad idea. None of the three is in any way shape or form going to sway my decision, but I find it interesting how people can have an opinion about something that does not affect them. If you know someone who has a hard time seeing and it is affecting their life, and they have tried correction with glasses and contacts for many, many years….would you try and talk them out of getting Lasik?? I’m guessing no. The same goes for someone getting a Lap Band like myself. Yes, it is FOR SURE the same.

 

3.       Thank God for pinterest.com because I am seeing more and more fall soup recipes. I look forward to some of these recipes because during the time when I am on liquid and mushies I hope to ADAPT some of these recipes to my diet. The thought of drinking protein shakes all day makes me want to gag, but if I actually get to cook something that I can have it may feel more like food. I also received a tip that Sam’s Club sells a ginorm bucket of protein powder which I can add to some of my homemade foods.

 

4.       In regards to number 3, I have realized that I need a Magic Bullet (the one for smoothies, not the one from Lover’s Lane). I think it will be easier to stay on track if I can just throw some things in, blend it up, and drink versus taking out my big blender every day. I also realized that I need one of those hand held soup puree devices that you just stick in the pot to blend up your ingredients.

 

5.       Originally I wanted to have surgery over Christmas break since I have two weeks off….now I am thinking that is CRAZY and I need to have surgery when the kids are IN SCHOOL. I have more than enough sick days and I can get the week off with a doctor’s note which I am not worried about. Because both kids are in school from 9-3:30, I can take it easy while I am recovering.

 

6.       I cleaned out my closet this weekend and moved sizes 14 and 16 into nice fabric under-bed storage bags. Keeping four sizes in my closet pretending that it all fit was actually stressing me out instead of keeping me inspired. I figure, I’ll keep the just-too-tight 18s in my closet along with the 20s and as I lose weight I can dig out the clothes that I put away and they will feel new. I really need some new things for this school year but I REFUSE to spend any more money on the size I wear right now.

 

And that’s about it for today I think. Nothing left to do but WAIT. By the time I see the surgeon at the end of October it will be almost 8 months since I started this mission. I’m very interested to see how long things take from there.

As always, I’ll keep you posted!

Friday, September 14

Is it EVER a good time??


As the joke goes, Monday is the only day of the week you can start a diet. If you try to start one on Monday and you fail, OH WELL your sorry ass has to wait another week.

We all know it’s not true, and yet it’s the excuse for MANY of us that are serial dieters.

I really saw the irony of this when I shared with a few fellow teachers that I finally had an appointment set with the surgeon for October 23. They thought I meant for my actual surgery, and one commented, “Right before Halloween? That SUCKS!?” I reassured her that it was just a pre-op appointment, but it got me thinking…..whenever my surgery really does get scheduled it’s go time, and if it falls during a shitty time of year to be on a liquid diet then OH WELL.

When would a “good time” be? It’s a non-existent state of being of course.  Because,  if not Halloween, then…

Thanksgiving? The Holiday whose sole purpose is to gorge yourself and pretend that it’s in the spirit of being thankful?

Christmas? Where every damn day is either a Holiday party, lunch and shopping, cocktail hour, or fried fish feast?

Valentines? The ONLY acceptable day of the year where you can stuff your face with a whole box of heart shaped chocolates?

My Birthday? But my kids make me a cake!

Easter?  Lamb, and candy, and egg salad…oh my!

Summer? (Which yes, this is a HOLIDAY all of its own, especially if you are a teacher.) BBQ food is so much healthier for you, and beer is patriotic!

…which brings us back to Fall, one of my favorite seasons. Fall means that it’s time to exhale, that the earth needs rest from growth. So no, the moral of my story kids is that there is no such thing as the perfect time of year to have weight loss surgery.  I know the two week before and after liquid diet is going to SUCK. I know I will have many moments of temporary insanity. I know I’m going to wonder if I’m doing the right thing.

Then I will look in the mirror, I will hug my children, I will dance with my husband, and I will know. The right time is NOW.

Tuesday, September 11

Phase 2!!!


Phase 1 complete!

Yesterday was my last appointment with the dietitian which means I have finished Phase 1 of having Lap Band surgery. I am officially documented and ready to go! I remember back at Easter time thinking that it was going to take forever to get to this point and yet, here I am signed, sealed, and delivered to the Bariatric Treatment Center. From the jump, it always seems that time is going to take forever; from the splash you realize that it seemed like no time at all. This was one of the “Aha” moments that I had to start this journey. I know that I am going to wake up one day,  be in my forties, and wish that I had taken care of this shit in my mid-thirties. Wish no more future me…I’m doing it!

I have also started telling more and more people. It just seems to come up. I have never been an overly private person and I know that the more people around me that know the truth the more accountable I will be overall. I have found that I am getting three main reactions from my family and friends:

1.       You are so LUCKY!! I ENVY you!   (Half of my overweight friends)

2.       Wow. I could never give up gorging on Brazilian Buffet just to be thin. (The other half of my overweight friends)

3.       Oh. Okay. (Non-overweight family and friends)

The good news is no one has said that I’m crazy, ruining my life, or making a terrible decision. I mean, I have made this commitment come hell or high water so there is no way I’m backing down now, but no one needs to hear negative things when they are making a life-changing decision.

I now have the referral to see the surgeon and I CAN’T WAIT. I have talked to others that have used him as well as Googled him and have gotten a lot of positive feedback. I’m just so happy to finally be entering Phase 2!! Bring on the sleep study! Bring on the psych evaluation!! BRING ON THE LAP BAND!!!

Sunday, September 2

Don't Judge!!


I am guilty as charged. I judge people, and I know I’m not alone.  But here is my secret if you must know, and that is that I don’t just judge anyone, but mostly overweight people. Yes, my own kind.

I am not someone who can say I have always been overweight. Extra curvy? (or thicke as my husband used to like to say).... yes. But I have not maintained an overweight status for the past two decades but rather yo-yo dieted up and down. I have been a registered member of the popular diet center Weight Watchers over twenty times since I was 13 years old and most of those times I was successful, until I quit to “do it on my own” and gained it all back and then some. I feel like I have enough information stowed in my head to be a goddamned diet and exercise expert, if only I could follow my own advice!

Right now I have been back at my top weight for three years (rebound gain after a two year struggle to take it all off, over 80 pounds worth!) and I am miserable. We all know that misery loves company, and I seem to have a weird magnetism to other overweight people. Though, I can honestly say that it’s not my friends that I am judging (seriously) because I can TALK to them about how they feel. It’s those I see across a room that I am thinking about. I am looking at the woman whose bottom is too big for her dining chair and I am thinking:

How did she get so big?

Does she realize how big she is?

Does she work?

Does she hate being fat, or does she not care?

Has she ever even tried to diet?

Does she wish things were different?

 

I hate that I do this, but I know on a subconscious level that it’s because I am still answering those questions for myself. I feel like people are staring at me the same way.

 

As for an update on my Lap Band journey, I am ANXIOUSLY awaiting my first meeting with the surgeon. Because I am using insurance benefits, I have to wait until my 6 months of dietary monitoring is over and that will be on SEPTEMBER 10! It’s crazy that I made this decision on Easter weekend and I am still waiting to get things going, but I knew this was part of the game, and I’m still in the race.