One Year Down, A Lifetime to Go

These pictures show so much of the story. The top is from Christmas 2014, and the bottom is from this Christmas. Three years and at least 200 pounds lost.

Today I celebrate the anniversary of the day I officially got my life and my health back. This has certainly not been an easy year in many ways, but it truly has been worth it.

I wanted to take some time today reflecting on the year, and offer insights on the struggles and things I have learned along the way. There are many things that you honestly can’t fully prepare for or appreciate until you experience them.

First a recap of the positives since surgery. I am no longer diabetic. I am down to one blood pressure medication, from 3 or 4 previously. My CPAP pressure went from 17 to 11. My activity and energy levels are increasing every day, along with my self-confidence and independence. My clothes are less expensive because I am buying smaller sizes. Those are just a few.

Now to some of the not so fun aspects. Just a warning, the first one may be gross to some, but it is important. I never realized just how much my life would revolve around going number two. This struggle is very real. I find if I don’t go at least once a day that when I do try to go it’s incredibly painful. And with the way my stomach is now, straining is very bad. Every time I go is like a new celebration. A couple months ago, I almost went to the ER because I was incredibly bloated even after taking magnesium citrate. Fortunately, my lymphedema pump therapy helped stimulate things and saved me an embarrassing trip to the hospital. I am on a probiotic daily now, which has been a big help and has kept me from having to take Miralax daily.

Another physical struggle is what they call dumping syndrome, which is not exactly what it sounds like. Basically it’s your body reacting to something with lots of sugar, fat, or grease. The symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, among others. Everybody is different, in what causes them to dump and what they feel. I have only experienced this a couple times, but it is enough to bring you down for the day. Funny enough, it has been from things from restaurants that I had no problems with at home, so it had to be the way they were prepared.

One mental challenge is that I find myself thinking about food even more now than prior to surgery, just in a different way. I am constantly considering if I eat this, what does that mean for the rest of the day. Also making sure I have enough of the right groceries stocked, which leads to something else: I don’t care what they say, it IS more expensive to eat healthier. The less processed foods are pricier, and I have to shop more often due to the freshness of everything along with a small freezer.

One last struggle is that head hunger definitely returns sooner than you think, so it is definitely about having the right things on hand.

I am trying to combat the lasst few, however. I think I am going to start meal planning for the week and write it down, so that way I think it will be easier to stick to a plan if it’s in writing, as well as save myself some daily stress. I have stocked up on sugar free hard candy to have between meals if I feel I need something.

One solution I’m most excited about is that starting today, I can have raw carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. They were probited for a year as they can be harder to digest. These will be great to have on hand to grab a couple pieces to have something to munch on, or to have as an afternoon snack with nonfat Greek yogurt and dry ranch mix. I am thrilled to have these again!!

I still have a ways to go, and the scale is my enemy the last couple months. But looking at the overall picture and my body still changing and losing inches, I am very proud of what I have accomplished.

And I am not even close to throwing in the towel. I am going back to basics on my meals, and planning will definitely help with that. I am also becoming more active. Last month I had the epiphany that I can get steps in even just in my apartment. This has been a godsend because getting to the gym has been challenging between the weather and finances. Last month I had the most steps ever, and I should beat that in January. I am going to pick up a couple 5 pound weights soon and add them to my apartment walking workouts. It really is all about making the most of what you have.

My major goal this year is to lose enough weight to become eligible for my skin removal surgery. According to the weight center, I have to be at a steady weight for at least six months. Using their goal weight, I have another 70 to 80 pounds to lose. I would be happy to just get under 300, because I know that the skin they would remove is at least 30 pounds.

I hope you are still reading this ha-ha. Even with the struggles of the past couple months, I do not regret anything. I get so excited seeing my future: driving again, working a fulltime job outside of home, and who knows, maybe even start dating and having a social life. The possibilities are endless!

I have some exciting changes coming in the near future, and I don’t want to jinx anything, so I will let you know as they happen.

I continue to be awed by your constant support, love, and friendship. This journey would not be the same without all of you. You keep me going!


Checking In

I apologize for not writing recently, but i guess as they say, no news is good news! There has not been very much exciting happening, but nothing very bad either.

I did go for my sleep study in November, and I think it went okay even though it felt like I was awake most of the time. I had to switch CPAP supply companies as the one I was working with no longer carries the type of headgear I use, so now it is a waiting game for the new one to process my prescription. Then I will find out if my pressure has changed.

Due to issues with my sinuses, I have been taking benadryl at night, and seem to be sleeping somewhat better with that.

The number on the scale is still not moving much, but I do know that my body is continuing to change and shift. I think next week I will mix my diet up some, and switch to protein shakes for two or three of my five meals each day, and try to trick my body. It can’t hurt!

I am still doing a variety of exercises at the gym, and walking more around my close area on days I don’t make it there. I love the gym so much still, I just have to make sure I can get there and not go broke.

On that note, I have a side story from earlier this week that pretty much sums up all of my negative and positive experiences on this journey. I went to the gym on Wednesday, as I know some of you saw the picture I posted. I did 8 minutes on the arc trainer, over two miles on the treadmill at various intensities, and my arm resistance strength training.

Well then an idea popped into my head. There is a regular bus that goes between the gym and my apartment. I am not at a place yet to take it on the way there, as I don’t yet feel comfortable crossing two very busy streets. But on the way home, both getting on and off is on the correct side of the road. So I decided to give it a try.

I had looked before, and used the bus system’s app, to figure out where to stop to get on should be. I set out from the gym to Eureka Road, which is past a couple stores in a strip mall and a CVS. Then I cross the mall entrance and walk along Eureka.

I could not find the stop!! I don’t know if the sign came down from a storm or a person, but I walked up and down that road with no luck. I ended up having to walk back to the gym and request a ride from Uber as usual, and pay over $12 compared to 50 cents for the bus.

I was infuriated with the bus system, and still am not real thrilled with them, but then I changed my perspective. In trying to do the bus, I walked probably between a half and three quarters of a mile, after a workout!! It amazes me what I am able to do now!! How cool is that?

I realize that probably sounds silly to some, but as I have learned, I have to soak up all these experiences and bask in them to truly appreciate just how far I’ve come, literally and figuratively. And how important perspective can be as well.

On the housing front, I am moving closer to an interview with the complex in Romulus. I got a letter last weekend that they needed another signature from me. They also needed the Social Security benefits letter from the agency directly, even though I printed one out for them from my account. When I called her to verify, the woman said my packet was done very well and she was impressed with my thoroughness. I just got the new letter, so I am going to fax it either today or Monday. So hopefully I will have that interview in the next week or two.

Also coming up this week is my next set of eye injections on Monday morning. They are pretty routine at this point, but still my least favorite procedure. I always get scared that my eyes are not numb enough.

Well, for not having much to say, I guess I have said quite a bit! I will close for now, and promise to check back with all of you more often.

Have a wonderful weekend, I love you all!

Appointment Updates

Happy Friday to all. I haved been do I’m by good, fitting into more and more 2x shirts recently, so that is very exciting!!

Yesterday I returned to wound care. My groin wound has not been causing any issues, until I got to the exam room LOL. The nurse took me back, and she has to measure and take pictures, etc. At first she thought it was healed, and I was thrilled. But then she gets a flashlight and determines it is very superficial but not healed. Then another nurse had to come in to take the picture. When they try to take it, they realize the first one made it bleed!! I compare it to a scab or pimple that you pick at. So, of course when the PA comes in, it looks good but not as good as it should have. She said to just keep doing what I’m doing and see here in about a month. I think it won’t completely heal until after I get skin removal surgery. At least it is not too bothersome.

Today I went to the pulmonologist for my sleep apnea, and the most important thing is I get an order for a new sleep study, as well as a prescription for new supplies. I will call to schedule the study on Monday morning. This will determine if my pressure on my CPAP needs to be lowered, which is quite possible and may also be the cause of the mask seal issue I have been experiencing. He said he wanted me to increase my sleep hours every night, and I wanted to say DUH, don’t you think I would if I could! Haha!! Unless the sleep study shows major issues, I shouldn’t have to go back to that office until my weight loss is complete.

That pretty much sums up my week. I just keep plugging away, because all the little things are adding up to huge gains (or losses, if you will)! This weekend, probably Sunday, I will be sharing two new recipes on Facebook, so be on the lookout for them.

I love you all to the moon and back. Thanks for reading!

Odds and Ends

Good evening. I have a lot of little things going on, so I thought I would put them all together in one post.

First off, I saw my primary care doctor yesterday. Everything went well and fairly uneventful. One thing is she mentioned she would like me to take a baby aspirin daily. However, after bariatric surgery, patients are advised not to take any aspirin products for life. She still thinks I will be okay taking it, so I have to contact my surgeon to ask him.

The bigger news is this: I fasted so that she could do bloodwork if she wanted. The results came back today already, and the exciting thing is my fasting a1c was 5.1!! Pre-diabetic is considered between 5.7 and 6.1. And my blood sugars have been consistent around 100 since I stopped taking metformin last week. The doctor noted on my labs that all of my levels are in normal ranges, and I go back for my annual physical in February.

I have an appointment with the pulmonologist next Friday for my sleep apnea checkup, and the day before I go to wound care again. My wound has not been an issue for a while, so I just want to go and see what they have to say.

I find myself continuously blessed in so many little ways so often. I just got an email from Uber for a promotion of 50 percent off my next 10 rides through this Sunday, so Planet Fitness here I come!! That is too good of a deal not to pass up. I might taked one of those days and do something fun if I can think of anything! Also, I should be able to restart the door to door transportation service on November 1, so that will bring my costs down as well.

I haven’t heard anything on housing yet. I do have another place to go apply to. It’s a senior and public housing complex in Melvindale. I thought I had applied with the others last year, but apparently I never submitted the paperwork (probably because I got into my current place so quickly). So I will have to get up there to pick up the application, fill it out, and submit it soon. I wouldn’t be so far away from everyone, and the high school is right next door with a track I could go walk on for exercise.

I mentioned previously about having to return and exchange the 3x shirts for 2x. Unfortunately one could not be exchanged so they refunded my cost, but the other shirt arrived today. And guess what, the 2x fits perfectly!! I am still shocked! Of course, it all depends on the brand how things fit, as all shirts are not made equally LOL.

So was this all random enough for you? I warned you ha-ha!!! I love you all, and I thank you for continuing to come along this journey with me!

Weight Center Appointments

I saw the dietician, exercise physiologist, and nurse practitioner today for my 9-month postop checkups.

I will start with the biggest news first. As I posted on Facebook earlier, my NP took me off of metformin and Norvasc (blood pressure)! That makes no more diabetes meds and only one blood pressure pill, greatly reduced from the 3-4 I was on not too long ago. It’s non-scale victories like this that reaffirm the surgery was the best thing I could have ever done!

The NP said she is so proud of how far I’ve come. When I go back in January, they will do another bone density scan, which will be interesting to see how much has changed. I mentioned to her that I would love to be down in the 200s by that time, but we both agreed that I am not going to get too stressed out over it or be disappointed if I don’t quite get there.

The visit with the dietician went smoothly, and we did not really have any issues to discuss. She did give me ideas suitable for both sweet and salty cravings, as well as some appropriate dessert recipes. I haven’t really had bad cravings yet, just some quick passing thoughts about foods, usually after seeing a commercial for something LOL. When I try some of those recipes I will share them, and I will be available for any upcoming holiday gatherings haha!

I had never met this physiologist yet, but he was very nice, and I always appreciate getting different insights and approaches. He said a lot of what I am currently doing is great, but did have some recommendations. With strength training, he said the exercises that are multiple muscle, I should concentrate on more weight and less reps. I can keep on doing the same on the single muscle ones. He also gave me better positions for squats, and suggested that I do them in front of a chair but don’t sit all the way down. It would just be there if I need it. I tried a few in front of him and felt comfortable. As for walking outside, he had an interesting suggestion that I might look into: he said some people are now using ski poles as walking poles to help with balance as well as use their arms more. I am going to see how expensive they are.

All in all a great day! Next Monday I see my primary care physician, and this week I am going to call about scheduling a sleep study as I am sure my cpap settings need to be adjusted, and I may need a new mask. I will keep you updated as always.

Have a wonderful night everyone, I love you all!

Month Nine Check In

Tomorrow will mark nine months since surgery, time is racing by!

I saw my surgeon today, and weighed in at 345 pounds!! That’s 93 down since surgery, and 213 total! I may be losing at a slightly slower pace, but I am still losing, and so proud of how far I’ve come. This is definitely not the easy way out, as some critics say!

The surgeon’s visit was very quick, but he seemed pleased with my progress and I will see him in 3 months. My hope is to be in the 200s by then, but I will not stress out too much or make myself sick over it.

It is feeling great going back to the gym again on a more regular basis. I like to get the most of my trips, so I will try to do 1.5 to 2 hours at each session as long as I am up to it. It’s amazing to feel exhausted and energized at the same time!

With it starting to get cooler, I had to take an assessment of my clothing situation, and I realized I only had 1 long-sleeve shirt and no jacket. I had grown (or shrunk) out of my clothes from last winter! I found 3 shirts and a jacket online on sale, and I ordered a 3x for each of them. The jacket I haven’t received yet, but I tried on the shirts Friday. Get this – I actually have to exchange two of the shirts for a smaller size!! I am starting to fit into 2x shirts!!!! And this is more proof that I am dropping inches left and right. No wonder I am feeling better and better!

I am so happy to be getting those clothes, too, because as most people were enjoying this gorgeous fall cold front over the weekend, I froze!! I had sweasts and my one long sleeve shirt on the whole time LOL. Being cold so easily still does not feel right to me haha!

I think I will go for now. I have my next round of eye injections tomorrow. They’re not physically painful, but they are a pain in the butt!

I love you all so much, talk to you again very soon!

Eight Months Since Surgery

This year is really flying by! I honestly can’t believe it has been that long since my surgery. Despite some of the troubles, it has gone by very quickly.

Medically speaking, I am in kind of a lull time with no appointments scheduled until next month (although we all know that is subject to change). I just keep plugging away at my journey, and even though the scale is still a fickle friend, I, and others around me, can tell I am still losing inches a lot, so the numbers should catch up any day now.

A funny little side story: if you follow me on Facebook, then you saw me dressed up for my niece’s wedding last month. I looked and felt great, and the whole experience gave me even more confidence. I had to laugh though, because I had just bought the pants a week before the wedding, and the day of I had to keep pulling them up because they were loose! Even the belt was only doing so much help. When I shopped for them, the saleswoman measured me at a 59, so I was swimming in a 60, and the 58 I bought at the time seemed just right with a belt. I never even dreamed of trying on a 56, which I may have been able to use LOL!

Last week was a mentally-exhausting week for me. Everything was coming due financially, including my first increased rent payment. Of course this was also after the expense of the wedding (which I wouldn’t trade for the world!). I am going to have a couple tight weeks money-wise, but I should be okay by the middle of the month. I have had to take a little break from the gym, however, as it costs over $20 per trip to go there. (More on the gym and exercise later).

The big stress last week though was with my insurance matters, which I thought were all settled. I had found a state program through Aetna that I was told would cover all of my existing services, so I switched over in August. However, I found out from my county caseworker that Aetna and other companies have a history of not paying for the home help that I wanted to stay with, who has been a complete Godsend. Apparently, they tell clients that they can stay with their agency of choice, but then don’t pay them, and don’t ever send their own people to do the care, and just take the money from the state. Last week was several dozen phone calls, totaling over 8 hours of time, going back and forth between my county office, Michigan Benefits Enrolls, Aetna, Social Security, and Medicare. Now, I am back to straight Medicare and Medicaid, but had to sign up for a no-cost Medicare Part D prescription plan, which won’t go into effect for 2-3 weeks. I should still be able to see my most important doctors and centers, and hopefully this is the last of the stress. It was so draining at times that I was in tears. I wouldn’t wish this kind of trouble on my worst enemy.

So, on to happier things! Despite not being able to get to the gym, I have found new things to do at and around my apartment. I have started doing both chair and standing squats a few times a week. I almost always go down the steps in my building if I have to leave, check mail, or meet someone, and sometimes go up. If I have extra trash that I want to get out my apartment before trash day, I take it outside to the back of the building and put it the dumpsters. And, last week both Monday and Friday, I walked to the post office! The best part is that even though I still have to be cautious walking on all the uneven pavements and cracks, I didn’t feel like a complete drunk like the first time I did it! Yesterday, I got in over 6,000 steps and never went to the gym, just a couple stores, and most of the time in those I was not pushing a cart. Confidence and self-esteem continue to grow exponentially!!

When I do get back to the gym, I have so many options available to me that I am really excited to mix things up even more. Of course I have my leg and arm strength training (remembering to check the resistance from now on LOL), and for cardio I have the treadmill, recumbent bike, regular bike, rowing machine, stair climber, Ark trainer, and soon again I will try the elliptical. I don’t know about you, but I know that I never imagined I would be interested in so many choices, and that I have arrived at a place where I can comfortably try them!

My housing search continues, with both setbacks and progress. I put in pre-applications for three different co-op complexes that are primarily senior-based but I thought had units for mobility-impaired as well. These were in Ecorse, Belleville, and Dearborn Heights. Well, Saturday I got a notice that the first two are only 62+ apartments, so I guess I am on the waiting list for Dearborn Heights. This week I am going to look into some complexes in Taylor that are closer to expressways than I originally thought.

I will close for now. I apologize for not writing a report in a little while, but last week really took so much out of me. I know things can only go up from here, and still believe that everything happens for a reason, even if that reason isn’t immediately clear. Thanks for reading and continuing to be interested. I love you all immensely!