One Week Check Up, and Emotional Check In

Hey, guys! How has your week been so far? Looking forward to the weekend? I am because my sister is coming home from DC, but I am dreading the organizing that will have to take place to get everything ready for the visit. I love the holidays. I love spending time with family and friends, I love to buy and give gifts for people, and the general feeling of joy that people have for each other that they may not have throughout the year normally.

Most years I also looked forward to the food. Christmas Eve breakfast, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas breakfast/brunch, and Christmas night dinner. Not to mention the treats that Santa brought to our stockings. That does not even count the candy that would be consumed throughout the holiday season. This year, however, is different. I will be on a soft food diet, thank goodness, I will be able to eat some real food. That will be so nice. The idea of humus or refried beans with cheese brings me such excitement that you would think it was a delicacy. I am very fortunate that I have not really had any “head hunger.” I have not really had any hunger period, so the idea of eating that sandwich or cookie does not make me feel like I am missing out. Actually, I find it hard to get in my three protein shakes or soups each day because I just do not feel like eating or drinking. It is the same way with water. I just do not feel thirsty either. Plus, as I may have said before, I worry about the “sip, sip, sip,” and not my “gulp, gulp, gulp.” I have become paranoid about what goes in and how.

This Tuesday I went to the doctor for my one week visit after sleeve surgery. I was a little nervous because of course I wanted to know how much weight I had lost, but also because they were going to remove my staples. I have a high tolerance for pain, but things like that freak me out, I will tense up, and it hurts even more. I went in and had a small wait, enough that I got more and more nervous. When I was called back they went and weighed me. I had lost over 14 lbs. in one week! 14! I was so excited. I know that at some point I will hit a stall while my body catches up according to what I have read, or might gain/lose/gain/lose the same couple of pounds on a small plateau, and eventually slow down the weight loss as I get towards my goal. But for right now, I have so much weight to lose that I am getting excited over these large losses.

After the weigh in they took my blood pressure, which was good, it had been high before. I think it was all the stress, running around, and extra weight I was moving. While I have only lost 18 lbs. since the day I started my liquid diet, I can already feel better in my body. My feet are normal size and fit back into my beloved Penny Loafers! My back does not hurt as bad, I feel like I have more energy, I do not feel like I get as easily winded, etc. I know this will just continue to trend in the right direction. Next came the big guns. This woman with the sweetest, yet firm and a little gruff voice came in all cheerful and said she was going to remove my staples. I asked if it would hurt, and she reassured me that she had been doing this for thousands of surgeries, it only felt uncomfortable if it was bent or twisted a little, and that she would be extra careful. After telling me that it would not really hurt, I was ready. She started out with the incision that was tiny and only had one staple. She removed it, and if I did not know that she was doing anything, I never could have known. She was AMAZING!!! She went on to remove about 8-10 staples, and I never felt any pain at all. She then placed a little glue on the incisions, and some butterfly bandages over them that she said I leave on, and even shower with, and they would eventually curl up and come off on their own. Then… I was done! I was totally worked up over nothing! I also was given a card that let restaurants know that I needed to eat off the children’s menu. I had been sent a laminated one in the mail from the Weight Loss Coordinator, but this was good because I have a tendency to lose things. Okay, that was being nice, I always lose things. I am going to laminate that one too, and keep them with my ID. I would think that this would not be a problem at a lot of places, but I was once at a restaurant where they gave my friend a hassle about eating off the children’s menu and she brought out that card, and it solved everything.

I have not really dated seriously in a few years. Not just my weight, but for other reasons. Although, my weight plays a huge part into it. My sister says that if I date a guy who is only interested in me because of my looks and weight, then he is shallow and not worth my time. But here is the deal. I am not comfortable in my own body. I do not want to put myself out there. I feel like if I cannot love myself right now, how can I feel comfortable for someone else to love me too? I know that sounds crazy, but if I am being totally honest, and I am… I am an open book, that is how I feel. Plus, I am attracted to a very specific type of guy. I feel to get someone who is that person, I want to be like the old smaller me. You may wonder where in the world this came from. This ties back to the dining card. When I go out on a date, I plan on excusing myself after being seated, speaking to the hostess, our waiter, or manager, explaining the situation, getting it taken care of beforehand so when I order, there is no discussion. I feel this is good planning on my part, and like me, OCD and organized. My car may be a disaster, my dad calls it the motor-sicle, because only one person can ride in it. My desk may be a “mess,” but it is organized clutter. I know where everything is. Everything has its place. I may have three Yeti cups on my desk right now, but they are all in specific places, at certain angles, and hold various beverages. See, there is a method to my madness. That may sound over the top, and I might even call ahead if I know where I am going, but I feel it is better than trying to explain this in front of a new date, stranger, or someone who I do not want to try and explain my situation to right away. See… I have thought all this out. I always say my mind is like a ping pong match. I am constantly thinking and bouncing around ideas and thoughts. It is at night when I have to go to bed that I have trouble.

Also, I have something a little more personal to share. While driving home from the doctor’s office one of my favorite songs came on. The first few times I heard it I cried. A lot. Probably not a shocker, but I cry a lot over anything. When I am mad, hurt, happy, frustrated, excited, at weddings, funerals, books, movies, at work when I read something sweet over email, I have cried over celebrity deaths like Andy Griffith while sitting at my desk at work. But this song hit a particular heart string with me. It is Try by Colbie Caillat. This is a song that has received critical acclaim, though you do not hear it as much as songs about degrading women. It is empowering. Let me quote the parts that really hit home:

“Put your make-up on Get your nails done Curl your hair Run the extra mile Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?”

“You don’t have to try so hard You don’t have to, give it all away You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up You don’t have to change a single thing”

“Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you Do they like you?

Wait a second, Why, should you care, what they think of you When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you? Do you like you?”

“Take your make-up off Let your hair down Take a breath Look into the mirror, at yourself Don’t you like you? ‘Cause I like you” ~ Colbie Caillat ~ Try, June 9, 2014 (Selected portions)

So many times when we are overweight we can let it define who we are. It can also depend on when you began to gain weight and become overweight. It can take someone confident and outgoing and make them insecure, depressed, and turn inward. It can make someone jaded and bitter. It can soften someone’s heart and make them a better, more caring, person who is more forgiving and sympathetic. It can make you “funnier,” make you have a “fat heart,” and let out your pain by making a joke before being a joke in your own eyes.

For me this song says a lot. I have always been one who was constantly looking in the mirror, wearing makeup everywhere I went, checking to see how I looked. I was told I was vain by an authority figure who hurt me terribly, while he did not know the entire reason I did that was I was looking for flaws. I was afraid if I did not look perfect (or as good as I could get), I was not worthy of love, I was disgusting, people were staring at me and laughing. I never did it because of the fact I thought I was pretty and wanted to look good. This section says a lot:  “Put your make-up on/Get your nails done/Curl your hair/Run the extra mile/Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?” I want to be slim because in my warped mind I think people will like me better, respond to me better, just all around care more for me. I know this is a crazy train of thought because I am super friendly and cheerful, and people usually gravitate towards me. Funny how you beat yourself up when you have no reason to at all. Then this:  “Take your make-up off/Let your hair down/Take a breath/Look into the mirror, at yourself/Don’t you like you?/’Cause I like you.” No. When I see myself without my makeup, my hair a naturally curly mess, look in the mirror and I am devastated by what I see. There are so many people out there who care for me and love me, and I do not love myself. When they read this, they will be shocked and hurt. They will offer words of encouragement, and one cousin will give me tough love, but I cannot listen to them. I hear it, I just do not feel it.

But let’s also face the truth. I have been in therapy for over 8, almost 9 years. I have not been overweight that entire time. During my sessions over the past 5 years I discussed my weight often. I also talked about depression as well. She pointed out, and we both talked about the fact that, “What if you do lose the weight you want to lose?” Just because I lose the weight, my problems are not going to magically disappear. I am not going to go from a clinically depressed person to someone who is sincerely deep down “On” all the time. My problems will not melt away with the pounds. There could even still be a new depression from the fact I will have loose skin. I may not have that tight tummy I have longed for all my life. My arms may not be made of steel. My rear end will be just as flat as it has always been and not have the nice curve that every girl wants. I have to be realistic. We want to lose weight to be healthy, so we can find answers to fertility problems, feel like our lives can finally begin, be more active in our kids or family’s lives, to look good in that little black dress, or for me… in a sexy trench coat and pair of strappy heels and nothing else. We all have our reasons. Mine may be more superficial, along with medical. But we all need to come to an understanding of why we are going through this process, this journey, and think of our futures. Where do you see yourself 18 months after the surgery when you lose most of the weight, if not all, that you have set as a goal? Will you be working on you on the inside too? Will you be preparing yourself for loose skin? Hair that might thin? New worries like making a forever life change in eating to keep up the weight loss. Will you gain confidence now that you are smaller? Will you be willing to put yourself out there more? I hope and pray for each one of you that you will get all the positives of losing the weight, and let the tougher times not control you. Do not let loose skin define you. Let it be a reminder of where you came from. Know that just because you get into those smaller jeans, it may not all be kicks and giggles, and do not let it control your emotions or feelings of self-worth. You are beautiful. You are a child of The King. You are amazing, and special, and smart, talented, and loved. You may feel, who loves me? There is a higher power of love for you, but on a human level, I love you. I may not know you by name, but I do. Every time someone likes my post, or comments, I think of you and you are on my mind.

I am a religious person, but I am not going to be preachy. But let me leave you with these words that, yes, bring me to tears and have gotten me through very tough times:

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well With my soul It is well, it is well with my soul.” ~ Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss. First published in Gospel Songs No. 2 by Sankey and Bliss (1876)

Know this this worry, stress, hurt will pass. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and let your heart say, “It is well with my soul.”

~ A


Surgery Day, It’s Is Finally Here!!!

Surgery day!!! Or it was on December 6, 2016. Let me tell you what led up to the big event, the day of, and what has happened since.  

The week before my surgery I had to do a full liquid diet. Thank goodness it was not two weeks, because that would have been a true testament to how far I was willing to go. And it would be hard. I had never been told that I had a fatty liver, so I was able to do one week, unlike the unfortunate souls who have to do a full two weeks. If you fall into this category, you have all my respect. You, my friend, are a hero. From Tuesday – Sunday I was on full liquids, and then Monday I would have only clear liquids. Boy, would I be a pleasure to be around. It was already a Monday. I do not like broth, I can barely handle Jell-O, and I had to sit inside since it was rainy (thank goodness for the rain) and watch everyone else eat their veggie soup, chicken and dumplins, taco soup… you get the picture.

The week and weekend before my surgery was fun. I did not go crazy and stuff my face and eat until I burst. We did have some of my favorites though. We had Thanksgiving foods, we had pizza for the Iron Bowl, Mexican on Sunday, and Captain D’s (class, class, class) for my final supper. Well, the pizza, Mexican, and fish was all part of my final supper. The next day I began full liquids. It was tough, and especially tough, for one reason. On Saturday I started to feel sick. I thought I might be getting strep, or something, and I was so afraid they would call off my surgery. Then I realized that I was not hurting. My face, throat, tongue, teeth, cheeks, ears, etc. were all numb. I had done this once before as an allergic reaction to medication, but nothing had changed in over 5 years. I googled my symptoms and the least scary option was anxiety. This fit the bill because I already have an anxiety and panic disorder. It was so frustrating because I could not taste, gauge temperature, hear well, and had vertigo. All those delicious meals I had tasted like nothing. It was so upsetting. I had been saying all this time that I was not nervous or scared, and suddenly my body was betraying me. It had turned against me! As the surgery got closer and closer the symptoms did get less because I was eliminating caffeine from my diet, but it was still annoying.

The second day of my full liquids diet was my nutrition class at the hospital. This was expensive, in my opinion. I had to pay $80.00 for a class to go over what the surgery entailed, what to do afterwards, and nutrition tips. I feel like have so many questions still. I was a good little patient. I took my coat (because it got chilly), my lunchbox with my liquids, and a notebook for me to write down everything they said. I even brought my mother along to keep notes as well. After being admitted, getting my patient admitting testing paperwork, nutrition class paperwork, paying the deductible, and class fee, I was ready to head to the classroom. They gave me a baggie of calcium citrate chews to try out, since you will need them after the surgery. The girl handing them out, who was thin, said, “You do not have to eat the whole thing. You can take a bit and throw the rest away.” They are the size of a Starburst. Are you kidding me? It was FOOD!!! I was told to eat them!!! INSTRUCTED! You better believe I ate every single morsel. Everyone was like, “EW, I did not like that one…” I was like, “I cannot decide which is better!” I finally went with the caramel.

Class began an hour and 15 minutes after we had to be there. I was so worried we would be late because we had to stop by Wal-Mart. I found out that morning that I did not have enough Cashew Milk to make a single protein drink. I needed two, one for breakfast, and one for lunch. Good thing too, because we left the house at 5:00 am and did not get home until almost 6:00 pm.  My protein of choice is Matrix powder and Nectar.

Class was interesting. We were given a lot of information, and I found myself listening so intently that I forgot to take notes. Also we had a PowerPoint, but not all the info was in the handout. How frustrating, right?! Ilooked over, and my mom was not taking a single note! That was her main goal! Great job, mom. Her main thought was, “How can I slyly eat the crackers I have stuffed down my boot leg without causing a stampede. There were lots of people there, and we were divided into three sections. Well, really four. Lap Band, Sleeve with Miles or Schmitt, Sleeve with another doctor, and Gastric Bypass. From there we were even divided amongst private pay and insurance. My doctor does not even do the Lap Band anymore because he feels that it is just not effective and feels the sleeve or bypass is the most effective method. I asked how he decided who got what, and he said he just felt some patients were better suited for one over the other. 

We discussed our leader’s own journey with weight loss surgery, what exactly it entailed for the various procedures, thinks like Dumping Syndrome, possible vitamin deficiency, the loss and thinning of hair. We went over and over and over when we would start taking our various vitamins. Things like B-12 that melts under your tongue, B-12, Multivitamins, Biotin, and how, when to take them, along with then level of nastiness they will be. I have not started that multivitamin yet, and I am dreading it like the plague. We discussed various supplements and what foods were considered good foods, bad foods, good fats, and bad fats. They even had these little stations set up with examples. The nutritionist came in later and reviewed how our plate should look after surgery, the good, the bad, and the ugly. This included weight loss, gas, and constipation. Told you, good, bad, ugly.

But, now to the main event. The surgery. What you all want to know about! I made it through the clear liquid diet the night before just fine. I told people during my liquid phase, “I hope I do not accidently eat food.” Mom told me could not figure out how that was possible. Let me tell you how. I was organizing my room getting ready for the big day when I stumbled upon my “Brunch Candy Corn” that you could only get at Target. I saw it and was like, “Ooh! I’ll have a piece.” I was about to open the package when I realized, what am I doing? Am I crazy. It was then my mom realized you can accidently eat food.

The morning of we had to be at the hospital at 7:00 am. We left around 5:00 am or so in order to be there a little early just in case. They went ahead and sent me back and let me get into bed. I kept going to the bathroom because I was so nervous, and my mom realized I still have on my black underwear and black bra. Mom questioned me, and I said, “Do you think I have to take it off. To which my nurse replied, “Yes.” I also told them that I was not taking out my nose ring. I would take out my cartilage earing, but not my nose ring. They put tape over it and that was that. So I thought. Later the nurse came back and said, “The doctor said if you do not remove it, he will cancel the surgery. So, I took it out, after some serious (yeah, right) consideration, and informed my mother that if I was dead unconscious, she had to jam it into my nose. She promised. Next, the poor nurse tried to put in an IV. I am extremely afraid of needles, so this did not go as one would hope. I screamed a little, jerked, which meant that she could not get it into my already barely there veins, and gave up. The anesthesiologist would have to do the IV she said. I was given a patch that would help with nausea, and  finally wheeled away. The anesthesiologist came and gave me a “numbing shot,” let’s be honest, it hurts more than it would without it, and it did not fulfill its duty. Then she got in the IV. Once it was done though, I looked my hand was a tiny murder victim. She said she hit a “Juicy Vein” which was a pleasant way to say that blood shot out all over my hands (which I felt), the sheets, gown, just everywhere. I felt like it exploded. She tried to clean me up, and later when I looked at it, there was blood coating my fingers, all in the cracks, in the tape, and through my fingers. Man, this was already not looking good. I hung out there for quite some time, and whenever anyone entered I asked about this fantasy “relaxing drug” they were going to give me. I WANTED MY LEGAL HIGH DANG IT! I take a lot of medication for various conditions, but I have never abused drugs ever. I wait until a migraine is killing me before I give into the good stuff. I have medication that I have to show my ID for, but I take it on a rare occasion when it is only absolutely necessary. So I say that to say that I wanted that drug to keep me from flipping out ASAP. Then they wheeled me to surgery. I moved over into position, and they had me breath oxygen and I guess the relaxing drug, and before I knew it, I was under and then semi awake again. I kept telling my nurse when I woke that my throat and chest hurt, not my stomach. I told her that I wanted something to drink. I told her that I wanted my mom. I kept apologizing for being so needy. I apologized, and apologized, and apologized. If she poked me by accident, I apologized for being in her way. I told her how sorry I was that she was having to take care of me. This went on for quite some time. Actually until I made it to my room. I assume because when I got there it seemed to be in the blink of an eye.

I kept asking for something to drink. The nurse promised me ice chips, and I was like, Girl. Where are those ice chips?! My mom finally got me some and placed them in the baby measuring cup with a spoon. I told anyone who would listen that my throat hurt. Comes to find out they did a hiatal hernia repair while they were in there too, so that did not help matters. Most of that day was a blur. I kept asking for these pain medications that everyone spoke so highly of while you were there. I was back in my room around 1:00 – 1:30 or so. I did not get pain medication until 7:30 at night. Or maybe even later. Comes to find out, someone screwed up my chart and said I was allergic to all pain medications. I AM. NOT. But, I was a little trooper. I still got out of my bed and walked the halls like I was supposed to with my friends in what we called The Zombie Walk. They had pain meds all day. No one could believe I was doing all I was doing without any. That was when I also learned of something magical. YOU GET POPSICLES. As many as  your little heart wants. First I got a cherry as I took my stroll. They had banana which was my mom’s  favorite. I would later ask for two, to include a banana, and they brought them, but sadly no banana left. When I finally got my pain meds, I was happy. I was incredibly sore, I had about four incisions, less than 10 staples, and a huge drain. Do you want to know how much tubing is in you when you have a drain? No? Sorry, but I am going to tell you… over a foot. When they removed it, it was very painful at first, and then it felts like the most painful tickling session ever. So hard to describe. It felt like a tickle, but you knew it was not good. But, I digress.   

My friend Kaite was such a sweetheart and took the time out of her day to come and see me. She brought me a bag of goodies to include People, Southern Living (keeping it real, yall), and a crossword puzzle. Oh! And the most amazing slippers you can ever put on your feet. I may live in them. She told my sister later, I do not know if Autumn even remembers, or knew, I was there. Let me tell you why. This was me all day. I would be texting and randomly drop the phone and my head and sleep. I would be talking and stop in the middle of a conversation and sleep. I would be holding a cup of ice chips/water, and the cup would be on my chest with water running down my front, and my head on my chest. Kaitie was talking, and after she would finish saying something I would be like, “So… what was that again?” Ever Southern, I felt like the rudest hostess. I felt like I should have had snacks for everyone who came in. My last major surgery I did. I fed everyone.

Let me interject and say, I also have other amazing support systems. My friends and family have been great with texts, calls, my sister and her boyfriend sent me the most beautiful flowers in my signature color – pink. And my friends from Auburn sent me the most beautiful flowers too! Everyone has checked in on me, and are proud of what I am doing.

Other than feeling incredibly sore, and hurting in my throat and chest from the hiatal hernia, I really did not feel a lot of pain. If my drain got dropped around, that would hurt, so I kept it tucked in my pocket. Overall, I would have to say I felt great! I felt amazing compared to how I thought I would feel. I was up walking not long after, went to the bathroom with little assistance, or none, from my mom. Getting out of bed, laying back down, getting comfortable was the worst part. Also, my tushy hurt quite a bit from sitting in that bed so much.

My mom was the best assistant ever. She came with me the day before, and left the hospital to make the hour and a half drive to work on hardly any sleep. She had to sleep in that uncomfortable chair. She’s a beast. No, she is a unicorn.  

My dad… well he came to pick me up and take me home. He was nice, but not my mother. He ran a few errands while we were in Bham and town, I told him that it was okay. I was glad I took some pain medication before the journey home because the road bouncing was not great. We went home, and I sat down and relaxed. I was so excited because The Secret Life of Pets came in the mail. When we started to watch it, I just could not hold my eyes open, so I went upstairs and went to bed. They tell you not to climb a lot of stairs, but, eh. Whatcha gonna do?

 How have things been so far? I have had no nausea, not one single bit. I have not vomited anything, although many people do. Other than being sore, I have no complaints whatsoever about the process. My biggest worry I have is the fact I worry over how much I am consuming, and if I “sip, sip, sip” and not my usual gulp. My doctor was a gem, the nurse over the weight loss surgery team was great, and I could not have asked for better people to take this journey alongside. I will not be making my journey public because of people who would love to know this about me, and use it to hurt me. But for you, my friends and family, this is just as much your journey. You have seen me at my best, happy, bubbly, outgoing, talkative, loud, joking, confident and you have seen me gain weight and turn into the exact opposite. We will get through this together.

BTW, any weight loss success or NSV (non-scale victories)?

Highest Weight – 312

Surgery Weight – 297

Current Weight – 285

Not too shabby. And a HUGE NSV. I have worn some type of sandals since the summer. My feet were too swollen to fit into anything else. I am happy to report that as of Wednesday, my feet are normal sized, no swelling, and I can wear my beloved penny loafers again! Hallelujah! Now on to those coveted Frye boots I so desperately want!

Cannot wait to share more!!! And I cannot wait to hear from you!




Nutrition Class for Sleeve Surgery!

On Wednesday, November 30, 2016, I went to a nutrition class at St. Vincent’s East that was required for my gastric sleeve surgery. I had to be there early, 6:30 am, which means that we left at 5:00 am. We also had to stop by Wal-Mart on the way because I was out of Cashew Milk. Once we got there we had to register and pay, the class was $80.00! We also got out Patient Admission Testing out of the way, along with a doctor’s visit.  We left home at 5:00 and got home around 6:00 pm.

I learned a lot in class. We learned what the procedure entailed, vitamins that we would need to take, what was considered good protein and bad “protein,” meaning protein shakes that advertise as great sources of protein, but are not as good as they say. We went over what would our plate look like once we ate after the surgery. Protein eaten first, then good veggie, and finally a starch if we have room.

I am looking forward to the soft stage diet. I will post about the surgery later, but I am going to post about the diet today. The full liquid diet was not terrible, the clear liquid was not awful, but right now I want food! I want really food! I want to put something in my mouth that I can chew! This is the difficult part. I have 8 more days to go before the soft stage is over. I already have some things lined up to eat. Refried beans with cheese. Humus. I hate to keep thinking about food because I am not really hungry, but it is everywhere. I want some of it. I do not even eat something like potato chips, but I want the taste of that sour cream and onion flavor in my mouth. I do not want to do anything wrong, but I want to taste it so badly.

This was the totally right choice for me, but it comes with sacrifices. I am willing to make those sacrifices, but some times are hard than other. I have not tried my Carnation Instant Breakfast, but I have been enjoying my sugar free hot chocolate. That has been a life saver.

Well, I will write about my post about the surgery so we can discuss it soon.