Thursday, June 23, 2016

One Month

So it has been four weeks as of today.

Here's the lessons from the last two weeks:
1. It takes a long, long time to eat cauliflower if it's puréed.
2. Walking may not be my favorite but at least I am doing something.
3. I don't have time for snacking.
4. Sometimes you need prayer to quiet the voices.
5. Netflix will be your friend.

It's been good and bad. I gave you the run down of the first two weeks last time. These two weeks have set me up for the long haul. It's more mind over matter.  I was able to shift from liquids to pureed foods and yesterday I'm now on soft foods. But really what I want to eat is something with a crunch. I haven't crunched on anything but ice since two weeks prior to surgery. I get to crunch in eight more weeks when I hit my three month mark. Then look out salad here I come!!

In the pureed stage you can have two ounces of protein (eggs, refried beans, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese) and a quarter cup of pureed fruit or cooked veggie. Did you know that if you take a head of cauliflower and cook it, puree it, it takes almost two weeks to eat it all? By then you are so sick of it you don't want to see anymore.

Through this process I have realized that my stomach doesn't handle some food that was my staples prior to surgery such as protein shakes, yogurt, squash, humus, or certain flavors such as bananas. I can eat a banana but don't make me drink something flavored banana. I have also realized that grapes with the skin on it, upset me stomach so if I want a grape, I have to peel it.

Besides the food changes, there has been a lot of other changes or struggles- mostly in my mind. It's hard in just four weeks, or even the year in preparation of surgery, to get rid of the voice in my head that has always been negative. Some will understand this voice, it's a constant looping tape saying- "you can't leave food on your plate (container), you are going to fail at this, it won't work, you couldn't do it on your own, why do you think you can do it now,  why are you eating that, just work out" and on and on. In the quiet hours of the late night when I used to snack to quiet the voice it sometimes would come back. One night it was strong and I panicked. I new I was going to fail. I had weighed myself that morning and hadn't lost weight. I have heard this voice in my head and from others my entire life. Imagine being in grade school and told you can't sit on that side of the car because you weigh too much and the shocks will rub or if you eat that it will make you fat,

It doesn't help that your only form of exercise is to walk and you hate walking unless it's with friends and you get coffee at the end (I don't get to have coffee yet, either). So I was a cranky, tired person the third week of recovery. Last week was a little better but the scale hadn't moved much. I had lost 18 pounds in the first two weeks and barely any (in my mind) the last two. I knew I was going to go to my doctor's appointment and be a disappointment. What got me over the hump that terrible night was reaching out to two of my cousins and asking for prayer.

Yesterday I was hoping my doctor would let me go back to my crossfit gym and let me at least get into a pool to swim. I had a ton of questions for the nutritionist because I was still tracking my food and was slowly creeping close to the 1200 calories a day. I was hitting my 60 grams of protein and working towards my 55 oz of water. Both the nutritionist and the doctor must have thought I had lost my mind. The nutritionist explained that I will be at 1200 calories and that I still do my 3 meals a day and if I need more protein to do a shake or snack to get it. Eating a snack takes an hour and 15 minutes to fit into my day. She also explained that I was suppose to lose more during the first two weeks post op because I was on liquids, As I transition to solid foods, it will slow but that I will continue to lose weight for the next 12-18 months just from hormones and crazy stuff my body is experiencing.

The doctor did not release me to the gym and told me to keep walking but did let me start swimming. So now I'm going to be hanging out at friend's houses that have pools. I talked with him about my slowing weight loss as well. In my mind the 20+ lbs lost in the four weeks doesn't seem like a lot but then I remember that when I would go to Weight Watchers, I'd follow the program and lose half a pound. He said the goal of the program is to get a person to lose 35% of the total excess weight by month three. I asked him where I was on the measurement of that goal. He laughed and said that I hit the benchmark in my first month. Surprise!! He went on to say that I was an ideal patient that followed the program and was making results. It just goes to show you what your mind will make you think.

I do think these last two weeks have been a struggle in my mind and I do believe some of it has been a spiritual war. My book club is reading This Present Darkness and it explained a lot of what was happening to me mentally. I have to fight the voice in my head and now that I know its a battle, there may be times that I will be fighting in reality when someone isn't supportive. I've come to realize that I don't have the time or the energy to deal with added negativity. The voice in my head is just fine and doesn't need any outside help in making me feel bad about choices.

Physically, I am feeling better. I'm not as tired and I've dropped a size or two depending on the cut. I've also lost half a size in my shoes so I had to say goodbye to quite a bit of my clothes and hoping that I say goodbye to several more in the next coming months. I even have an accountability group for walking so that I do it and not just sit around. And I have goals.

Some of my goals are weight related but my friend Ann encouraged me to set some goals that had nothing to do with a number on a scale. I will tell you that I am only 14 pounds away from what I weighed when I started my senior year of high school at 16. That is mind blowing in and of itself.

My non scale goals are to do a pull up at the gym unassisted, also do a handstand pushup (they kind of scare me). Out of the gym, I want to learn to swim, try paddle boarding, finish a half marathon in under 3 hours so that I can do a marathon and finally, hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim. There are other ones that are mental that are going to sound strange but eventually I want to never have to think "Will I fit there," or "Will this chair fit/hold me," an so many more thoughts that skinny people don't ever think about but some of us extra fluffy people usually think in any situation.

I'll update again at the three month mark. It's been a journey. I feel bones that I have never felt before and it's strange but fascinating.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Two Weeks

Today marks two weeks since my surgery and a lot has changed but a lot is the same.

I had some thoughts and things I learned from this experience. So like David Letterman- here's my top ten lessons.

1. It's nice to hear a pre-op nurse tell you your "just a tiny little peanut." I've never been called tiny in my entire life.

2. It's nice to have a friend that will take you to the hospital at 5 am and stay with you three days. And you really get to know them and how they grew up and what they like to do or not do.

3. I am not much of a talker when I'm recovering. For those back home, you won't find that startling but for those down here it's shocking that I would usually only answer with a yes or a no and not talk much to anyone.

4. Your body doesn't want food but your mind still thinks about how food on commercials or what those around you are eating tastes. My dr said it's boredom hunger. Which is true. I was so bored at home but now that I'm back in my office I don't think about it.

5. A couple people offered to do a meal train for me but it just wouldn't work with my surgery and diet restrictions but someone needs to create a walking buddy train. I was so bored at home and so bored on my walks that it would have been nice to have someone walk with me. I didn't walk far .25 to 1 mile then finally 1.5 miles and very slowly.

6. I'm going to save a ton of money on groceries.

7. The nursing staff and doctors are some of the best and really put up with a lot.

8: I loved my flowers from Ann and my board. They were so pretty and made me realize that I shouldn't wait for someone to send me flowers, I should just get them myself to brighten my day.

9: I have worn a dress or very baggy shorts since surgery and I have found that I don't mind wearing dresses which may be a big shock to some people- especially my dad.

10.. This is going to be a long road and I'm ready for it but I've decided that I'm no longer going to put up with negative or unsupportive people. I don't need that in my life and if I come across as a bitch for saying something and your feelings get hurt, then so be it. You obviously never learned - "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

If you want to read in more detail about the last two weeks you can below.

First, a huge thank you to my friend Ann. Most people say they want to help or ask what I need. I really had no idea and I still don't really know how people can help. Ann has walked this path before me and I was thankful she was there, by my side for me. If she wasn't a teacher- she would make a great nurse. Her son is a nurse and I think he gets his bed side manner from her. And thank you to all who texted to see how I was. It was nice to know that I was missed and loved.

Ann came the night before and spent the night at the house then we were up at 4:30ish to get to the hospital by 5:30. We had to check in as a patient and then go upstairs to check in for the surgery. My pastor came and prayed with us. Then it was time to go back. I could not take the pregnancy test for the life of me. Even though I guaranteed I wasn't pregnant they still wanted me to pee in a cup and it took a lot of IV and about 40 minutes before I could. And it came back negative!!! Just as I predicted.

The admitting nurse made my day- maybe my year. I came to my room/bay and my gown and socks were laid out along with all the stuff they needed to attach and the bag to put my clothes in. She looked at me and said "You're just a tiny little peanut, I don't think that gown is going to fit."

Once I was all hooked up to IV and the monitors,  the stream of anesthesiologists, surgeon, assistant surgeon, assistant anesthesiologist and a few other people came through. Then Ann came back and said good bye. And that's all I remember. I don't remember moving to the operating room but I vaguely remember having an asthma or panic attack waking up as I was rolling out of someplace and someone feeding me ice chips- at first I thought it was snow because all I saw was a blurry white thing. Later I realized that was the spoon (I didn't have my glasses on to see).  The next think I remember is waking up in my bed in my room.

The doctor said that I should expect surgery to be around an hour to an hour and a half, that I would be on pain meds for awhile and that I would possibly bruised. My surgery was only 45 minutes and I stopped the pain meds and the nausea meds on Monday and was home by Tuesday afternoon and have yet to bruise. I am thankful I had a fairly easy recovery. Except for a few times that I had nausea it hurt more the actually being sick than anything. Oh, and my doctor gave me pictures of the different parts of my surgery. Nice color 4x6s. I joke that I paid for the spa package version.

I hurt a lot when I first got in the room and I remember trying to be on my side and gripping the bed handles because it hurt so bad- worse than any pain I've felt. I slept a lot that first day but I read on the board that I was to start walking by 2:30 and so I did. I think Ann and I made 2 laps the first time and I tried to add to it each time. By Tuesday we were bored with our floor so we walked around the 2nd floor too. Ann was great at helping me get unhooked from all the monitors and get my IV unhooked so I could either walk or use the bathroom.

Gib, Ann's husband came by for a quick visit and so did the Hipke family. I don't remember a lot because I would doze off then remember they were there and try and wake back up again. I did that a lot for the next couple of days. The nurses were amazing and on Tuesday again there was a parade of doctors and residents and nurses that came in to see my incisions- all five of them. I should have sold tickets because a couple of people came twice to check them out.

I had a hard time with the food which was strange for me on so many levels. The first day the food was broths and teas and jello maybe. I couldn't keep any of the broth down and usually I would take one or two bites and be done. Ann was a champion at getting me my bucket to be sick in and even when we went for a walk Tuesday morning, I had taken about about three steps out my door when I knew I was going to be sick. I said something and the poor nursing assistant was running back and forth trying to find something when Ann darted into my room and came back with my bucket. She was a life savor.  Ann would encourage me to try and eat a little more food at the meal times and to walk and move more.  Tuesday they said if I could eat lunch and keep it down I could go home. It was pudding, protein shake and creamed soup maybe. I ate the pudding and most of the shake but barely touched the soup. But I got to go home.

Tuesday my friend Emily came by. It's a good think that Ann was there because she and Emily visited while I slept. I was worried before the surgery that Ann would be bored at the house but she totally kept busy. She pruned a tree and other stuff. Getting into bed Tuesday night was crazy. It hurt to bend or sit or anything so I sort of flopped on the bed and wiggled my way (in a pain) into a place I could sleep.  I think on Wednesday she and I ran errands which was I sat in the car and walked around the two places we went. Thankfully they were short errands so I didn't have to sit and rest.

Then Wednesday night I was on my own and it wasn't bad. By then I had a bit of a routine down and I was managing well. I adapted some things since I can't lift over 10 pounds like- taking each individual thing out to the garbage and getting undressed/dressed in the laundry room so I don't have to carry my laundry basket. I even went on some short walks. I watched TV and tried to read but I went through all my saved shows and then tried to watch My 600 Pound Life on TLC, I can't watch it those people made me so mad. I tried Netflix and completed Call the Midwife and tried to watch a few new shows but just couldn't get into them. I attempted a couple books but just couldn't concentrate.

My doctor was pleased with my surgery when I saw him on Friday. He said I'm doing really well and should be able to go back to the gym at 4 weeks instead of a month. I still have some pain if I over do it and I still get really tired but I'm slowly getting back into my normal routine and self. I think on Friday I was more excited to see the nutritionist because she let me move from liquid to pureed foods. For the two weeks prior to surgery it was jello, sugar free pudding and broth. The two weeks after it was 2 ounces of Cream of Rice for breakfast, 2 oz of yogurt of lunch and 2 oz of creamed soup (straining out all the bits- mushroom, broccoli, or celery) I was so tired of those three things that I don't know if I'll ever eat any of them again- and some of you know my love for yogurt!

Now I can eat 2 oz of protein (refried beans, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, mashed up hard boiled eggs) and a quarter cup of cooked veggies or smashed fruit. It's like heaven to have variety! I found that I had to have a schedule to eat and drink and if I get off the schedule or don't plan well then I miss a meal or don't get enough fluids in. Each morning I have to crush my two pills I took before surgery and have added a priolsec  to the mix. At first I tried chewable vitamins but I had to take 4 plus three calcium tablets. I switched to liquid vitamins and now just chew the calcium and vitamin D during the day. At night I take another priolsec pill. I'll have to take the priolsec for a year to protect my stomach from ulcers and such. And I'll be on the vitamins the rest of my life. I have also discovered that when my new little stomach is full that I hiccup twice. A good warning system to have so I don't overeat. I've also realized in the last two weeks that this is harder than I thought it would be but I'm glad I did it because it's leading me to a healthier life.