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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.