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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Things I've learned....

... And things people will say to you.

I can't believe I'm almost 3 weeks post op. I meant to do this post at the 2 week mark, but I went back to work, then had a really, really crappy weekend. I had no energy, didn't feel good, and it wasn't very fun.

So here are some things I've learned, and then some things people say to you. I know they mean well, but it's really funny. I think a lot of people miss the fact that I have: A surgeon, a PA, a nutritionist, a General Physician, a personal trainer, and a support group all around me giving me the info and advice I need. :)

Things I've Learned:

  • You will forever be drinking water (or some sort of sugar free beverage) all. day. long. In order to get 48-64+ ounces in a day. Sip. Sip. Sip. Gulping down half a bottle of water is out of the question. 
  • You will be tired. All. The. Time. Not the kind of tired you can sleep off. The tired-to-the-bone tired that you think might never go away. 
  • Currently, I can eat about the equivalent of half a string cheese stick. No I'm not kidding. 
  • Full, is FULL. And it's usually after the last bite that I realize I'm full, and uncomfortably so. 
  • Eating with kids utensils is kind of funny - and helpful in bite control. (Yes, I eat with kids forks, and on a small plate)
  • Some days you win, some days you lose. Yesterday, I felt great - especially coming off a horrible feeling weekend. The days before that? I started to wonder if I was ever going to feel normal again.
  • Did I mention tired? 
  • I eat 400 calories a day or less. Yes, really. 
  • Sweet stuff is really not on my list of things to eat. YOU try eating pudding, yogurt and "liquids" for 2 weeks straight. You'd be sick of it too. 
  • Peanut butter = love
  • I'd kill for some Mexican food right now. 
  • Some days I wonder if I really will ever feel "normal" again
  • ChicFilA has an 8 piece grilled nugget option. I can eat exactly one. Nugget, that is. 
  • No matter how many times you wash and dry your shorts, they are going to get bigger, and forget putting anything in your pockets when that happens. 

Things People Will Say To You: 
  • "You really need to eat more" (I wish I could, but when they take out 85% of your stomach, then staple it ... there's really NOT room for more, right now... it's small AND swollen)
  • "Are you sure that's enough calories?" Nope... I'm not, but it's all I got right now, and I'm following doctors orders. 
  • "You should get a lot of exercise, that will help." Yes, it will. But right now? I'm so tired some days being one with the couch is about as active as I can be. (On that note, I will be walking more daily... )
  • "How much have you lost?" (I understand I made this journey public, but for some reason, I find it off-putting when people ask me that. When I'm ready to share, I will share.)
  • "It's really not healthy to only weigh in once a month, you need to do it weekly or more." Oh really? Because my doctor was totally on board with my plans at my 1 week post op, not to weigh in again until I saw him for my 1 mos post op. And after that... it's up to me. I don't own a scale, and I'm not sure I'm going to get one. I can weigh in at the gym ... It works for me. 
  • "You're going to be so skinny..." Or healthy. That's what this is about. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Surgery Story

So ... the day of surgery... This was such a surreal day. I was afraid I wouldn't sleep well the night before as I hadn't the night before that. I slept great. I woke earlier than I intended, but got some final work notes sent out, and then... time. Nothing but time. I had to pack my bag still, and shower etc. I wasn't so much nervous as anxious. I was the last surgery of the day at 1:30p - and didn't have to be at the hospital until 10:30a. Finally the time came to leave. We got to the hospital, checked in and within minutes, I was headed back to preop. My parents had to stay in the waiting room for "about an hour". If I had any real complaints, it would be preop. I had to wash my stomach for 15 mins and then wait. And wait. And wait. I should have had an IV much sooner and my parents should have been with me. They waited almost 2 hours to see me, and were there when I got my IV. I'm not a fan of needles, but I'm used to blood draws now. The IV pole was to my left, and I noted that it was easy to get blood from my left arm (they try to use the arm vs. hand in case they need to give Phenergan for nausea), BUT I was ok with my left arm being used. I should have known when the  nurse kept looking over both arms and hands, and then put the tourniquet on me...and STILL had to tap my veins to "get one" that this was not going to go well. I was apparently holding my breath and making faces (there's a pic to this effect that I've yet to see) and my parents were highly amused!). She FINALLY got the IV in...and I almost passed out. I got clammy, white as a ghost and light headed. It passed, but I'd like to never go through THAT again.

IV in... and we waited a bit more. Dr. Fontana came to talk to me and my parents. As he was walking away, Dad said "please do a good job and take care of my girl", as he shook the doctors hand. Awwwww. Next think I knew, Anesthesia was there, they gave me a GREAT cocktail that hit me immediately and we were off to the OR. It was quick in the OR. they started putting electrodes on me, we were laughing a bit...and then  the doctor says "this is just oxygen, take a few deep breaths". The next thing I know, I'm in recovering and I'm moaning that it hurts. The recovery nurse worked quickly to take care of the pain, and I kept apologizing for being a wimp to her. She assured me I wasn't, and also taught me the ways of the PCA pump...full of Dilaudid. I'm sure I hit the thing a million times in between the 10 mins I could, but in my defense, I was pretty out of it and couldn't tell when it was "lit up" to be able to actually get anything. I spent about 3 hours in recovery - not because of me, but because my room wasn't ready.

Once I got back to the room, it was a bit of a blur. (That might be understating things...) My parents and Melinda were there - Dad left to go take care of Molly - and every time I woke up Mom and Melinda laughed at me. I'm pretty sure it was the effect of the Diluadid that made me funny. We'll go with that.

A doctor stopped in, I couldn't keep my eyes open and had no idea why he was there. I didn't like him though, that's for sure. I said something to a nurse at some point... and she must have passed it along because he came in on Friday to apologize - but I couldn't figure out who he was. He was upset I didn't remember him. Hi... Dilaudid, surgery, I pretty much forgot MY name.

So Friday was uneventful...lots of sleeping on my part. My parents and Melinda came in the afternoon ... and I walked some - slept some more... oh and Mel brought the BEST popsicles EVER. (Wylers Light Lemonade)  I really wasn't having much pain at all and wasn't hitting the pain pump must Friday morning. They took it away on Friday afternoon and I had liquid vicodin later in the evening - but my pain was really, truly, minimal. I couldn't believe it.

Saturday I was discharged around 1130a - and headed home. I took one dose of vicodin when I went to bed that night - but really, the pain was nothing. After that I managed it with (minimal) children's Tylenol. I lazed around on the couch trying to get in my water. You can no longer gulp..it's sip, sip, sip. I had some soup, pudding etc. My stomach can only handle about 3oz water MAX ...still.

My recovery has really been uneventful - in comparison to those I know who had surgery around the same time as me. I've had a little nausea - but I figured out that was because water and my sleeve first thing in the morning, not friends. I need something flavored. I have no idea... but I quickly figured it out. I've not had much pain, or soreness really. My incisions itched a lot (they still do now and then) but really... I'm just knocking on wood.

Friday I was cleared to eat "soft foods". I came home... craving a string cheese stick. I was all ready to do some damage...and damage I did. Half the cheese stick demolished... and I was done. Yes... half. Dinner was a piece of deli turkey with 1/3 piece of cheese on it, warmed up. I got through about 2/3 of it. Yeah... that little. My stomach can only handle about 1oz of "real" food still. Full is an interesting feeling now. Maybe not so interesting, but it always shocks me. One bite too much and I can totally feel it, and it's a little uncomfortable. It's an adjustment...slowing down eating, small bites, and learning what "full" for me is. Eventually I'll be able to handle 2oz and slowly up to maybe 4oz at a time.

First Dinner - before and after

I've been hanging out with my Mom - and having fun playing cards, we made it to the beach one night, and I finallllly!! took her for her first ever pedicure. She loved it. She's been a little spoiled - I gave her a smaller Coach purse I don't really use any longer as well. Pedicures and Coach, she might never leave!

So... that's what's been going on w/ surgery and after. I'm doing well - walking... learning to eat again... drinking my fluids. I'm ready to go back to work, and considered going back to work early, but decided I'd take the last few days and enjoy it - as the fall is shaping up to be a busy one!

I'll leave you with my favorite new saying - it speaks to me!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

You Find Out Who Your Friends Are

This is where the rubber meets the road, this is where the cream is gonna rise, this is what you really didn't know, this is where the truth don't lie. You find out who your friends are. Somebody's gonna drop everything, run out and crank up their car, hit the gas, get there fast, never stop to think, 'Whats in it for me?' or 'Its way too far'. They just show on up with their big ol heart. You find out who your friends are
- Tracy Lawrence

No truer words can be spoken right now. I'm humbled by the texts, calls, emails, messages, from  my friends. Humbled and blown away. When I made the choice to have surgery, I made the choice mostly on my own, and kept it quiet until I was solid in my resolve. I met some resistance, or jealousy, I'd say, but nothing that made me think twice. Hater's gonna hate. It's there, I can feel it, but ... this is about me. When I finally started letting the info out, as it got much closer to the date, the positive comments were overwhelming. I grew up in small town Vermont (no, really... 1000 people small!) and I smile every time I get a comment from one of the people I grew up with. There's something about home...and those connections that are always going to be there.

One of the moments in my mind, is having my parents sign my advance care directive and immediately scanning it and sending it to my best friend, Lee Ann. She and my parents are listed on it as those who can make choices in the case I can't. (Yes, I have an amazing BFF!!!) That spawned a convo with Dad about "what to do....in case....". I asked to be cremated and passed that along to Lee Ann. I'd not broken down in tears until her reply came: "You tell Uncle Marty if anything should happen, I'm going to need some ashes...we'll have our rocking chairs on the porch, damn it". Yeah. That's my best friend. Sister, really.

So. I'm a week  plus post op. What?? A week. That also means...I go back to work in a few days. (That doesn't sound like fun, but if you know me, you know I'm getting bored...and welcome it!) I'm feeling pretty good. Still a little sore first thing in the morning, in the longest incision (VSG is done laparoscopically, but one incision is longer for removal of the part of the stomach they take out), but the soreness isn't anything worse than a bad-ass ab day with Joe. The incisions ITCH like mad. (And while we're on that topic... glued incisions are... weird!). Other than that... I feel good. Really good. I'm knocking on wood daily and thankful that I've had no complications.

I had my one week post op on Friday and I "passed" with flying colors. The doctor was very pleased with my progress and gave me his blessing on moving to "real" food. Soft foods, but still food that requires chewing. How much can I eat? It's quite laughable, but when you've been on liquids for 2 weeks, it's GOOD! Lunch Friday was half a string cheese stick, and dinner was one piece of deli turkey with 1/3 piece of cheese warmed. I at about 2/3 of it. Lunch today? Most of the other half a cheese stick, and some marinara, both warmed. But it was so yum!

I'm working on a blog about the surgery itself (well, not the surgery exactly ... I saw a video before surgery I wish I hadn't, but the parts I recall and being in the hospital, but that was getting wordy so I split it up.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This Is My Last Goodbye

I really have no words... but this works.

Last Goodbye - Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Long before your rusted chains
Busted walls and barb wire cage
Tried to hold me down

And time was just a fist of change
Tossed in the water just in case
You ever came around

I could lose myself
I could curse like hell
But I've lost the will
To even try

If you ever doubt
Listen to the sound
No lies, no no no
This is my last goodbye

Now pardon me if I appear
To see beyond the now and here
To try to save myself

I'm not the kind to pin the blame
But I can't take more of the same
Livin' on your shelf

I could lose myself
I could curse like hell
But I've lost the will
To even try

If you ever doubt
Listen to the sound
No lies, no no no
This is my last goodbye, oh yeah

Door closes
Another one opens
I feel the cold wind blowin' over me

Hey, long gone but not forgotten
I might be lost
I might be finally free
I'm finally free

Long before you're rusted chains
Busted walls and barb wire cage
Tried to hold me down

And time was just a fist of change
Tossed in the water just in case
You ever came around

I could lose myself
I could curse like hell
But I've lost the will
To even try

If you ever doubt
Listen to the sound
No lies, no no no
This is my last goodbye

This is my last goodbye
Yes it is, yes it is

Monday, August 4, 2014

Here's to Us...

Here's to us
Here's to love
All the times
That we messed up
Here's to you
Fill the glass
Cause the last few nights
Have kicked my ass
If they give you hell
Tell em to go fuck themselves
Here's to us
Here's to Us - Halestorm

This song makes me think of all the awesome women in my life. It's fitting...and if you knew my girls, you'd agree!

I think my last post (vlog) was... 40 days pre-op. Little did I know a few days later I'd find out that we had to move the date from August 11 to either the 14th or...the 7th. I wasn't waiting till the 14th, plus my parents have obligations at home that they need to be back for, and would barely have been here for 2 weeks. As has been happening lately, they are able to come down sooner, and work was ok with me moving my PTO by a few days. (Has it really been that long since I posted? Apparently...)

So today marks 2 days and a wake up until surgery. I'm not entirely sure that's sunk in yet - but I'm also on day 3 of my pre-op liquid diet. That's about as fun as it sounds. Strained cream soups, sugar free pudding, SF Jello, SF Popsicles and 30g of protein max, a day. Oh and lots of water. I thought it would be worse than it was - but I'll admit, I'm not sure I'd do this voluntarily. Although my girl Mel ... is doing it with me. Who does that? Oh right... MY awesome friends. (In her defense, she's been through it, had VSG and needed to kick-start a plateau she's been at.)

I think this is going to be wordy...oops! I have some really amazing friends. From my friend in FLA who's been checking on me all weekend to make sure I'm keeping busy and not thinking about the liquid diet, to Mel... who... well yeah. She's the catalyst for this whole process. She encouraged me to go to the info session with Dr. Fontana. My girls here locally for just being there... and of course. My best friend (let's face it, the sister I always wanted), Lee Ann. From the day I told her about this, to her doing her research, being scared, the email asking me if I was REALLY sure, to her undying, never ending support, I couldn't do this life without her. We've been through just about everything in our adult lives together - and I can't imagine doing this without her. That all being said, every now and then I'm taken back by snarky comments that come from people I care about. They are few and far between, but they always catch me off guard. I'm sure I should get used to that... as I have heard "it's the easy way out" more then once. Easy, yup, we'll go with that.

I'm already ready to be back in the gym with Joe. My last day with him. last Wednesday, was a bad ass leg day (yeah, he's mean like that)... and "before" pics. I seriously had a melt down thinking about the pics, and changed days we were doing them. Then, I cried most of the drive to the gym. In the end, it wasn't the most horrible experience I've ever had, but it wasn't all that fun, either. Joe assured me I'd want them one day, and I know he's right. I saved the pics and have looked at them exactly once. I'd be pretty lost without Joe - he's been the person to push me past my limits, to figure out that some of those limits were just in my head, he's been a therapist, made me laugh, been a friend, and most of all, supported my choice from day one. I remember asking him if it was cheating and he said absolutely not. He was one of the first people I talked to about surgery... and he's supported me from Day 1. So now my countdown after surgery is to be back in the gym, lifting.

I signed up for the Townebank 8k the day before the Shamrock Marathon in March. Um. what? Yeah... b/c we ALL know how much I love to run, so why not run 5 flipping miles. My girls are planning to do it with me, my sweet friend, Fran, who goes to the same gym said she'd be there w/ me for it (even though she's running the half the next day)... Lucky girl I am. Remind me of this when I'm thinking about running 5 miles.

Life after surgery is already starting to look busy. A 3-4 day trip to Boston & Cape Cod is in the works. a 2-3 day trip to NYC, (both work related) and hopefully ... a couple of personal trips to Fort Lauderdale and Chicago. There's been talk of a birthday trip ... as well, but now I'm not sure how to fit that all in before the end of the year AND make it home for Christmas. (Chicago wins out ... for the record! It's 15 years in the making!)

So... that's my update for now. Day 4 of the liquid diet in the books. Amazing support from all over... I'm a lucky girl... I can't say that enough.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

10 Things - updated

Shortly after the wedding was called off, I did a "Ten Things" post on FB. I updated it just about a year ago here - and I'm thinking it's time to update it, in part. This exercise is always cathartic.

Ten Things I Wish I Could Say to Ten Different People:

  1. (This one has not changed) You are the best friend I could ever ask for, and more. Neither time nor distance will ever be too much for us and I’m grateful every single day to call you my best friend. Thank you for supporting me, every single day. I can't do this life without you.
  2. I will always be convinced that our paths crossed for a reason, and I can't thank you enough for gently pushing me towards the start of my new journey. Thank you will never seem like enough.
  3. 15 years... it's just time, and I can't wait.
  4. I'm glad I finally ended it. It was... toxic. Enough said.
  5. While we don't see each other often - I can't thank you enough for the texts, calls, peptalk, bitch sessions. We must live closer, soon!
  6. You cross my mind all the time. Messy, painful, fun, smiles, frustration. All words I use to describe you and our interactions, and yet you're never, ever far from my thoughts.
  7. Our relationship started rocky at best - admittedly on both our parts, but I couldn't be happier at how we've turned it around and how much you support me. Grateful for second chances.
  8. Thank you for being one of my biggest supporters, for always encouraging me, being a therapist, and pushing me beyond the limits I think I have.
  9. It wasn't always easy, sometimes it's still not, but I am grateful for your unending, unconditional love and support.
  10. I'm so, so happy that things are working out. You're too far away, but that doesn't mean anything in our friendship.