Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A New Year, A New Me!

So much time has passed since my last post and I apologize for being so slack!  The holidays have a way of eating up a lot of time!  Things have continued to go well in my journey with gastric bypass surgery, I feel I am truly blessed!  I know that there are others who have complications and other struggles and my heart goes out to them. I am grateful that things have gone very smoothly for me....I even managed to survive Thanksgiving and Christmas and really not feel deprived, which is something I was concerned about.

For Thanksgiving, I made a couple of new recipes.  One was for caramel pecan sweet potatoes.  Oh my, it was quite yummy!  I also made a sugar free chocolate raspberry trifle where I layered crushed sugar free chocolate sandwich cookies with sugar free chocolate pudding, cool whip, and fresh raspberries, which was also super yummy!  Both of these recipes are "friendly" to our nutritional requirements! Score!  The main thing I had to keep in mind was to just take a tablespoon of everything, eat the protein first, and then sample from the rest.  I was successful with this, but I admit it was hard not having any rolls. But what I did have was great and I really felt like I was still able to participate like I have every other year, I just ate better things and less of them.

Christmas was easier because we had already been down the road with the food. But then you have holiday parties to consider, etc., etc.  I will admit that we did splurge on some sugar cookies, maybe a chocolate chip cookie here and there, and a little bit of pumpkin bread, too.  Luckily nothing made me (or Bart) sick...which may be a good thing or a bad thing. :)

My biggest accomplishment came on Tuesday January 3rd when I weighed in that morning.  It was the first day I weighed UNDER 200 pounds and officially joined the "ONEderland" crowd!  I am not even sure when the last time was that I weighed in at under 200 pounds, it's been THAT long (TOO long)!  I will admit that it is almost a freeing feeling, kind of like I felt like I could fly or something!  Since that day, I've lost 2 more pounds and am up to a grand total of 68 pounds lost.  Not too shabby in just barely over 4 months time!

I have noticed that walking the stairs isn't as challenging as it used to be. I have better balance and stability (still not great, but better than it used to be!).  I can keep up with all of my exercise classes now and have progressed in difficulty with a lot of the movements and the best thing is I don't have to walk funny for the three days that follow anymore!  The only exception to this is PiYo class - a combination of Pilates and Yoga.  OH....MY....GOSH!!  SO hard....I don't think I've ever sweated that much exercising where I wasn't doing any aerobic workout at all!  But I enjoyed the class and took it a few times over the Christmas holidays when things at work at slowed and I was able to work at home since it's only offered on Friday mornings.

I am amazed everyday how many things have changed in my life for the better since this surgery.  I am grateful that I can share this journey with my husband and for all of the friends and family I have that have been so supportive along the way.  Even my hair loss seems to be slowing down and hopefully soon will be on its way to replenishing itself!  There is just so much to look forward to this year!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

After all, it's just hair...

One of the "side effects" of gastric bypass surgery is hair loss. Everyone is different as to when they start losing their hair, how much they lose, when it starts growing back, etc.  I had read that on average, hair loss starts about month 3, but for me it started immediately.  The first shower I took when I came home from the hospital and quite a bit of hair came out in my hands as I washed and conditioned my hair.  The problem has just continued since that day.  I have started using Nioxin shampoo and conditioner, which is supposed to help slow hair loss and make hair stronger. But I am not sure it works for me because I seem to still lose hair and some days, I lose a lot.  I don't really have anything to compare it to, though.  Maybe it would be worse if I used regular shampoo?  Who knows.  Right now I think I can "hide" the thinning with the way I style my hair, but I have to wonder what will happen if this keeps up.  If I keep losing hair at this rate, will I end up with bald spots?  Will I need to shave my head and start over?  My hairdresser is so sweet and has offered to go with me to buy a partial wig, an enhancer for my hair to help with the thinness.  I am not sure I am at that point yet, but it is something I think about, especially if this keeps up.  I know my hair will grow back, but it can take a while for that to start happening...like 9 months to a year after surgery.   That is a long time for hair to continuously fall out. The problem wouldn't be as great, I don't think, if I didn't already have thin, fine hair to begin with.  If I started out with a head of thicker hair, I probably woudn't be as concerned about developing bald spots.  Don't get me wrong, I don't regret having the surgery, the hair loss is a minor thing to deal with in the scheme of things and the weight loss is by far more important.  After all, it's just hair, right?  It's just a new insecurity I have to deal with for now...until my hair decides to grow back!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Two Months and 40 Pounds Later...

It is hard to believe that this past weekend was the 2 month anniversary of my surgery.  Time has gone by faster than I thought it would in the beginning. I had my 2-month follow up with the surgeon last Thursday and I found out that I had been calculating my weight loss wrong!  I was starting 3 pounds heavier than I actually was, so my weight loss hasn't been what I thought it was.  But that's just fine, we're only talking about 3 pounds here. I'll lose that in a week!  So far, then, the grand total is 40 pounds lost, including what I lost before surgery.  This is all good for sure, and I can see how things are changing - physically and mentally.

Since the 4 week mark, I have pretty much eaten whatever my stomach will tolerate.  Thankfully I have not had much in the way of issues with that. My breakfast is always a protein drink, followed by various things for lunch - leftover dinner, tuna or chicken salad on crackers with cheese, lettuce roll-ups with meat and cheese, or salad with some kind of protein. I like taco salads with refried beans, taco meat, and cheese.  For dinner, it's just meat and vegetables and the crockpot helps!  I have avoided bread, rice, pasta, and white potatoes. I have not tried any of those yet, and I really don't see a need to go back to them. I am eating probably about 4-6oz per meal now.

The mental changes come in terms of choices. Choices on what to eat and choices on what to do with my time - as in to exercise or not to exercise, that is the question! Could I have followed this same dietary plan before surgery and lost weight? Yes, I probably could have, but it also would have been much more difficult and I probably wouldn't have stuck to it. It's amazing the hold carbohydrates have on our lives until we are forced to live without them for a little while. I know eventually I would have given in to that. It also amazes me how many carbs are in so many everday foods. It has been incredibly eye-opening to say the least!  I also know that my stomach and intestines have been forever changed on the inside and I know that not sticking to the "plan" could result in me feeling sick...and in the long run, result in regaining the weight. What is the "plan"?  The nutritional guidelines that I am supposed to follow is no more than 20g carbs/10g sugar/10g fat per meal.

I also believe this surgery changes more physically than just the size of the stomach. I just don't have a craving for a lot of things I used to eat. Maybe my tastes have changed, or maybe so much time has passed that I just don't crave or miss it anymore. Either way, it's not a bad thing and it makes it easier to stick with the "plan".  Although I am not eating most carbohydrate-rich food, I do eat whole wheat crackers and have had some of a baked sweet potato with nothing but a little butter added (which was super yummy, I might add!). I occassionally have a handful of Cheez-Its to get that salty snack fix.

I joined the Rex Wellness Center last month and have been going to water aerobics classes. I really like them and I just tried my first body shaping class last night.  I learned the hard way that when class is over I need to take the elevator, not the stairs. My legs wobbled a whole lot!  I am looking forward to trying yoga, and pilates, too. Of course I have days when I don't feel like going, but on the whole I do like it and there are days when I miss it if I don't go due to other things going on. This is also part of the mental change! I love relaxing in the hot tub after classes.  I find having some of that relaxation time after class makes for a happier, less-stressed me when I get back home.  I'm sure hubby, Dylan, and the cat appreciate that!

All in all, I am very blessed to be doing so well!  My accomplishments since week 2 are:

-Losing a grand total of 40 pounds as of 10/27
-Getting OFF of my blood pressure meds - yahoo!!!
-Joining the Rex Wellness Center and getting there 2-3 times a week
-Moving down 1 jeans size
-Moving down 1-2 pants size (depending on the make of the pants)
-Fitting into shirts I haven't fit into in 3-4 years

I am so blessed to have such supportive family and friends to walk this walk with me!  My husband has started out on this journey now, too, and is entering his third week on Friday.  He is hanging in there and seeing results, too (of course, who wouldn't when you're only drinking liquids, eh??).

I will get some new pictures this weekend and post them up here. The last ones I posted on Facebook were at 34 pounds lost (it actually says 37 pounds lost, but that was before I realized I was 3 pounds off!).  Since I've lost at least another 6 pounds since then, I will get some updated ones and post on here soon!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

"T" is for Two

This past Monday marked my 2-weeks since surgery.  It also meant a follow-up with my surgeon.  I went to that appointment on Tuesday morning and  I weighed in 14 pounds less than I did on surgery day, so I've lost a total of 25 pounds so far.  I can already see the difference in my face and my clothes are fitting a little looser.  The surgeon was pleased with where I was and told me that my weight loss will slow over the next couple of weeks, and that it is normal to go through periods of more rapid weight loss, and then slower weight loss, and even plateaus on the scale while my body catches up.  But even when this happens, he says, I should still be losing inches.  My next follow-up is on the 9/29 - exactly 1 month to the day of my surgery.

Food-wise, I have progressed to the pureed stage - yummy! LOL  My diet this week has mainly been 2 protein shakes a day, supplemented with 1/2 cup of refried beans & salsa for lunch and 3oz of greek yogurt for a morning and afternoon snack.  So my shakes are my breakfast and dinner.  The problem I found going back to work is...I forget to eat.  I'm never hungry, I don't know what hunger really feels like anymore.  Whatever it feels like, it is not the same as it was before.  If I don't set reminders for myself to eat, I will easily forget.  I am struggling to get my 64-oz of fluids in daily, which I knew would be a problem for me. I was never really good about drinking that before surgery. I am much better now, but still not where I need to be.  I am, however, managing to meet my minimum protein requirements each day...as long as I don't forget to eat!

Accomplishments this week:

1. A 14 pound loss since surgery!
2. Blood pressure meds were cut down to half per day!
3. I was able to wear a shirt on Monday that I hadn't been able to wear since I bought it around Christmas last year.  I bought it without trying it on and then realized it was a little too tight when I got home. Since I bought it in Alabama, I never returned it.  I was happy to see that it is no longer "a little too tight" and fits just right! 
4. I can now wear my wedding ring again without shoving it on my finger.  I developed dermatitis from the nickle in the ring about a year after we got married.  It was from about a 10 pound weight gain after our wedding. I have since not been able to wear it except every so often.  I have been wearing it all week now and so far, have not had any issues. It seems to fit much better now...YAY!
5. Went back to the office.  Yes, this is an accomplishment, although I really miss working from home!

Goals for the coming weeks:

1. Exercise more!  This is a biggie for me!! I need to find something to do and get into a routine!
2. Find a local support group and go!

This has certainly been a process for me, as I know it is for everyone who goes through this surgery.  One good thing, I really have no desire to eat anything sweet. The thought turns my stomach!  However....I would LOVE to be able to have a nice juicy cheeseburger or a big ole slice of pizza! LOL  But alas....I can not....and that is okay.  I am bummed for a moment, but remember the ultimate goal and the tool for the second chance I've been given to make it happen!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One week Post-Op and So Far, So Good!

Well, my surgery went as planned on Monday Aug. 29th. I arrived at the hospital at 5:00am and they got started prepping me pretty quickly.  I think the surgery started around 8:30am, which was about a hour later than scheduled.  Thankfully, all went well during the surgery. I did have a small hernia that they fixed during surgery, but other than that, everything went smoothly.

From the surgery, I developed something called subcutaneous emphysema.  It is where the air that is pumped into the body cavity during the surgery migrated it's way up into my collar bone area, neck, and face.  My eyes were extremely swollen and I could barely see out of them. I had no peripheral vision whatsoever. I also couldn't breathe well because of the air constricting the airway in my neck.  Once they got me set up on the CPAP machine, though, I was good to go and could breathe much better. So my face and neck looked swollen, but it was from air, not fluid.  It was really a strange feeling. Thankfully it has mostly gone away and my voice has returned to normal.

I had to stay 2 nights in the hospital and was discharged Wednesday evening.  The best thing about coming home was being able to SHOWER!  They did not let me shower in the hospital because I had a drain hooked up to me and I couldn't shower until the drain was removed. They didn't take the drain out until Wednesday afternoon and by that time, I figured I'd just wait til I got home!  It was good to be home again.

So far, so good with the diet. It has been tough, I won't lie.  This has probably been one of the hardest things I have done in my life.  Right now I just long to taste something other than water, Crystal Light, jello, and popsicles. I long to be able to chew my food instead of having to sip it!  Those are the hardest things.  Last night, the boys made popcorn for themselves and it was really hard for me because I love popcorn and that smell just permeated the house.  But I am staying positive and trying to remember that it's just popcorn and one day, I might be able to eat some again, just not right now...and if I never do, the end result will be worth it and it won't matter.  The biggest thing that excites me right now is the fact that I am "graduating" to smooth soups and dairy products so I can finally make my protein shakes with milk again and I can have some Greek yogurt and things like that. It will be such a welcome change from the clear liquids. In another week, I can start on the soft foods and I will be able to do scrambled eggs.

I know I said I was going to post before and after pics, but I got busy before the surgery and didn't have a chance to post the "before" pics.  But...look at any of my Facebook pics...and that is what I looked like!  I will post after pics...I'm aiming for once every month, but we'll see how it goes!  So far I am down 17 pounds total.  I dropped 11 pounds in the 2 weeks prior to surgery by doing protein shakes and then I've dropped another 6 pounds since Monday. 

So that about sums up my week!  I am overall doing very well and feeling good and praying it continues this way!  I am thankful for everyone's support, thoughts, well-wishes, and prayers!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Two More Weeks and Counting...

I had my follow up with the surgeon today and I actually managed to drop 3 pounds since the last visit at the end of June. He was happy about that and so was I considering we were on vacation last week and I certainly wasn't watching what I ate! Starting Monday, though, I have to seriously start my protein shake regimen - 2 per day and a "sensible" dinner. I already went down this road with the Pure brand protein shakes that are ready to drink. I did not stay full, so it was a challenge. Somehow I am going to have to manage to get through this. It's only for 2 weeks and then after surgery, I will be full because my stomach will be so much smaller!

I have been on this online support group for gastric bypass surgery and the stories are just amazing. One lady is 7 weeks post-op and has already lost 56 pounds. It's hard to believe that in mid-October that could be me.

Next time I post I will have my official "before" pictures to post!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Hot Date with a Surgeon....in the OR...

Two days after my last blog entry about being submitted to the insurance for approval, I received a call from my caseworker at the surgeon's office that I was officially approved to have the surgery. That sure didn't take long!

Yesterday was my follow up with the surgeon to go over my test results from all of the pre-op tests and assessments that I had to endure. I think waiting the 2.5 hours in the waiting room just to wait my turn was the most painful part (and I was 20 mins EARLY for my appointment)! He said that my test results all look good and that I appear to be in good shape physically, mentally, and emotionally to have the surgery. He said my risks of complications appear slim given my age and test results. My only orders are to try and lose 5-10 pounds before surgery with the "liver reduction diet" - similar to the SlimFast plan - 2 high protein shakes a day and a "sensible" dinner. I had to laugh when he said that, he sounded just like the commercial for SlimFast! The only difference is, I won't be drinking SlimFast shakes, I will be drinking high protein shakes that they sell there or they gave me a few "over the counter" options to try. I think I will start next week, maybe I can drop a few pounds before going on vacation the first week of August. I sure am not going to worry about it on vacation, except maybe to have a shake in the morning. I'm not much of a breakfast person anyway.

So with that, my "date" with the surgeon in the operating room is Monday August 29th. I have to be at the hospital at 5:00am to get ready and be prepped for surgery at 7:30am. The surgery should last about 1.5 hours and I will be in the hospital probably 2 nights, maybe 3. I am hoping for only 2 nights, though! I am definitely praying for a smooth surgery and recovery. Since I don't get paid for being out of work, I am hoping 1 week off and 1 week working from home will be all I need so I don't lose more time (and money). And afterwards, comes the weight loss...and I will be truly on my way to a healthier, and thus happier, me!